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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Rehydrate or Starter or both??
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Old 01-04-2014, 07:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by fossilcat View Post
Biochemedic - that's exactly the type of info I was hoping to find. Thank you.

My local brew store said that all I needed to do was pitch the yeast package directly into the must, and that the 5g packet was good for batches from 1 gal to 5 gals. Just to let you know how I started.

So I will take your advice and rehydrate, pitch more yeast and forego the starter. Your explanation is sound.

I am aware of the Mr Malty calculator but I didn't think it was for mead - it didn't have mead as one of the options. I also didn't know what I was doing at the time. I find myself re-reading all this over and over, and as I learn more, other pieces begin to make more sense too. I'll d/l the app. and investigate further.
Basically, I choose Ale when I'm calculating for mead...most wine yeasts are S. cerevisiae (ale) strains, as opposed to S. carlsbergensis (lager) strains. There are some wine yeasts that are other strains such as S. bayanus, but I have no idea how to account for those types of yeast when it comes to pitch rate...perhaps some of our winemaking brethren could help with that...

Mr. Malty is good for helping calculate dry yeast amounts...it can do single starter calculations for liquid yeast starters as well, but I do like YeastCalc better b/c it allows you to calculate multiple step-ups, and has a built in DME calculator (how many oz of DME to add to given volume for desired OG).

Originally Posted by fossilcat View Post
I thought DME was for beer only...huh.
I used to think that you should use whatever you were fermenting as a sugar source for the starter, but the yeast actually can easily go from fermenting more complex sugars to simple sugars, but have difficulty transitioning the other way...I started using DME b/c it's really easy to work with, and also I don't have to muck around with adding nutrients like when I made honey starters for meads using liquid yeast...

Originally Posted by fossilcat View Post
I've read all the Stickies in this forum, including Hightest's info on SNA. He recommends that 85% of nutrient addition should occur before 30% of the sugar is consumed. And that after 50% of the sugar is consumed, the yeast has trouble processing nitrogen. So, I want to front load my nutrient scheme without starving the yeast.

I have a Mix Stir to degass 2x a day for up to 7 days depending on fermentation activity and SG.

I try to stabilize temperature. My son keeps Bearded Dragons. They require a consistent temp between 90 and 100 within their habitat, which keeps the area around the tanks at 70-72. Most yeast strains, it seems, are happy with this temp, with the exception of D47 which I keep in the kitchen (house temp is 65).
I'm fairly mellow with SNA...I add about a third at the start, another third after I start to see good active fermentation, and the other third about 24 hrs later... Quite frankly, I just don't like all the work, volume loss, and risk of contamination involved with taking serial gravity readings...

Temp control is definitely one of the more difficult things for homebrewers to control, in that to be accurate with it, it requires a lot of extra gear...basically a dedicated fridge and temp controller. I still haven't gotten to where I would eventually like to be with this one...

Be aware that ambient temperature does *not* equal fermentation temperature, especially during active primary...the yeast are tiny, but there's a lot of the buggers, and they produce an amazing amount of heat with their metabolic activity. The internal temp of an active fermentation can be several degrees warmer than ambient... Given that I currently have no good way to externally control temps, I intentionally chill my wort/must to around 62*F or so before pitching so I'm not actually starting at where I would theoretically want to be fermenting at...

Originally Posted by fossilcat View Post
The next thing I want to figure out is pH. I read that a honey must does not buffer well. So I want to try either potassium bicarbonate or potassium carbonate, I don't know which. If you've got any info about buffering, I'd appreciate it.
I haven't messed around much with pH directly, in terms of measuring, or trying to correct for it, but as far as I can tell it hasn't been too much of an issue for me. That being said, I do take measures like not adding acid blend until after fermentation is done (and then only as needed, when I feel it will enhance the taste), avoid acidic fruit additions in primary, etc. Actually, pH is the reason why degassing is important...all that CO2 in solution can significantly lower the pH, and getting it out of solution can prevent you from dropping below the threshold of where the acidity can negatively impact the yeast.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:41 AM   #12
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My "mead making philosophy" has changed during the last week or so. I originally only wanted to make an alcoholic beverage because I thought it would be a cool thing to share with my friends. My approach was to copy the recipies I found here and elsewhere like you do when you make a dinner.

I now think of the yeast as if they were pets, and my job is to create an environment in which they will thrive. That they produce an alcohol is almost incidental. I house them in temperate conditions, feed them nutritious food (no sweets or fast food ), strive to protect them from hazardous conditions. The challenge is to acquaint myself with this alien environment and recreate it in a white plastic bucket with limited resources and conflicting information without really knowing if what I did actually worked for another six months to a year.

So far it's been a lot of fun.

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Old 01-05-2014, 11:56 AM   #13
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Of course when a beer brewer steps into making something besides beer they bring their beer experience and techs with them and apply them to the new stuff. As a winemaker I do the same thing from my point of view. I can say that you beer guys can have a tendency to make things harder than they are in wine, mead and cider. We basically just go with a whole pack of yeast for 5 of 6 gallons, no calculating yeast rates. We dont think in attenuation but potential alcohol, they hydrometer tells all. Most think about nurturing the yeast, some rehydrate in GoFerm and make a starter which is I think about the equivalent of using a liquid yeast. We also add nutrients to the must which most beer guys dont need to do to a wort. We also dont boil everything in sight A little bit of KM saves a lot of work. Also the timing for wine and mead can really be streched out a little bit in the first week, a whole lot after its in a carboy. Looks like you are on the right track accepting new techs. One thing the beer guys dont have to relearn is how to be clean, you guys are paranoid about that and that is something everyone should be skilled at. WVMJ

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