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Old 06-28-2010, 06:44 PM   #1
mindghost
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Default Wild yeast mead

Hi,

I wondering if anyone has any stories about brewing mead with wild yeast, either that you've captured seperately or just used what was in the honey? I've been reading the Lambic forum and it sounds cool conceptually, but I don't brew beer.

I've already gathered some wild yeast myself (and maybe other stuff too... we'll see if it surfaces), outside my home in western NJ and will be trying to get a starter going tonight.

Thanks,

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Old 06-28-2010, 08:34 PM   #2
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Yes, it isn't hard to capture a yeast from the wild. They will be covering the surface of any fruits/berries in the area. You can easily make a starter with a little apple juice by dropping one (or a piece of skin) in - but don't wash the fruit.

If you have been dumping the lees from other batches in the area, instead of a wild yeast you may get a feral strain that has taken up residency. If you do get wild yeast, you never know what you'll get. They may have lower alcohol tolerance or may produce more sulfur odors, or they may be great - not knowing is part of the fun.

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Old 06-30-2010, 11:59 PM   #3
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There is a local orchard here that makes hard cider (personal use) using some cooper's ale yeast and unwashed apples. He say the cooper's starts his fermentation and the wild yeast carry it to about 12% ABV. I may try that.

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Old 07-01-2010, 06:29 PM   #4
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I posted this in the "how to capture wild yeast" thread in the Lambic forum, but figured I should update here.

After putting out some apple juice which caught a few things (see my previous posts), I decided to just try to get some fermentation going for the heck of it. I figure that the worst thing that could happen was that I'd waste a little honey (I do mead, not beer), water, and yeast nutrient but I might get to see something cool grow in the jar. Over the course of a week or so, all visible signs of mold disappeared and I was left with crystal clear liquid which has a strong alcohol smell, and 1/8 inch of lees at the bottom. Kinda cool.

So last night I took a bigger jug (3 pound plastic jug the Shop Rite honey came in), put a simple must together (all tools sanitized), dumped most of the clear fermented liquid out (being careful not to lose the lees), and dumped most of the lees into the jug. Added some raisins, yeast energizer, and yeast nutrient. This morning it is bubbling away. SO COOL

I took some of the lees and put it in a test tube with some sanitized spring water and stuck it in the fridge. As to the must now fermenting, I'm going to let it go for a few days, then move up to a 1 gallon batch if there is no visible sign of infection. Even if there is and the batch is unusable, this has been a fun experiment.

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Old 07-04-2010, 01:47 AM   #5
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Update.

I've added some pics to my photobucket account (link below). The small ShopRite bottle was the starter, and now I've moved to a 1 gal glass jug, using about 2 lbs of fresh local wildflower honey. The wild yeast are going nuts and foaming like crazy, with 1 airlock bubble every 5 seconds about 5 hours after making the transfer! I'm still concerned about infection from the original capture, but right now its giving off a strong floral/citrus smell so I'm hopeful...

http://s32.photobucket.com/albums/d32/mindghost/Wild%20Mead/

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Old 07-04-2010, 12:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindghost View Post
Update.

I've added some pics to my photobucket account (link below). The small ShopRite bottle was the starter, and now I've moved to a 1 gal glass jug, using about 2 lbs of fresh local wildflower honey. The wild yeast are going nuts and foaming like crazy, with 1 airlock bubble every 5 seconds about 5 hours after making the transfer! I'm still concerned about infection from the original capture, but right now its giving off a strong floral/citrus smell so I'm hopeful...

http://s32.photobucket.com/albums/d32/mindghost/Wild%20Mead/
I've added a 45 second vid to that photobucket gallery that shows what the batch looks like this morning. Most of the foam is gone but I'm getting tremendous activity in the airlock! My wild yeast are hungry

If anyone sees anything bad in the pics or vid, please let me know. No vinegar or nail polish sell so far but I still want to be careful. Thanks.
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Old 07-04-2010, 01:11 PM   #7
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Would a nail polish smell indicate an infection?

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Old 08-26-2010, 09:32 PM   #8
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OK so I haven't updated this topic in a while, so I just wanted to poke back in to say that I bottled my wild yeast mead today. It was just a simple mead with no added elements to effect the flavor because I really wanted the wild yeast flavor present.

The first thing you notice is the smell. It's a bit sour and not altogether pleasant, which has led me to name this batch "Ole' Stinky" . It smells more like beer than mead, which causes some confusion between the brain and nose, I think.

The taste however, is not bad at all. It turned out drier than I expected (more to do with the fact that I used a slightly lower than normal amount of honey more than the strength of the yeast, i imagine) with a hint of sourness, but a little sweetness comes through on the after taste. I think it's one of those drinks that someone would say "Huh..." after trying, and then try again to wrap their brain around the flavors.

Overall I'm pleased with my little 1 gal experiment, and may try to capture wild yeast again when it gets colder.

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