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Old 05-05-2012, 04:17 AM   #1
derekc153
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Default yeast selection

Hey guys, I just started brewing cider (working on my fourth batch now), and I am thinking about doing a mead. I have been using Nottingham for my ciders, and I gather it's generally billed as a really good all-purpose yeast. I'm wondering though, given that mead is more closely related to wine (at least in abv), should I keep using Nottingham or switch to a different yeast? I haven't seen too many recommendations on this issue so I thought I'd ask. Also, I'd prefer a dry yeast that I can just dump in without having to do any extra work.

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Old 05-05-2012, 10:22 AM   #2
TheBrewingMedic
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There are a lot of decent wine yeasts for making mead. I personally like Lalvin strains, always work well for me, if you're looking for real dry higher abv KV-1116 is decent (potential for.998 fg range and 18% abv), for medium sweet I like D-47 (potential for 1.01-1.02 fg and 14% abv). Most Lalvin strains like rehydration temps of 104*F, pitch into ~70*-80* F must and ferment between 60*-70* ambient temps, this is especially important for D-47 as it will make massive fusel alcohols above that and leave with real "hot" mead with odd flavors.

If you google "wine yeast strains" there is an article by wine magazine that has a great chart of most the popular brands and strains of yeasts that has a lot of great info to help choose one that's best for what you want your end product to be. If I wasn't at work using my phone id post the link again, ill try to add it when I get home tommorow.

Once you choose your yeast its just a matter of deciding if you're pitching dry, rehydrating or making a starter and how much you're going to use to prevent underpitching, I like 1 pack for 1 gallon, 2 for 3 gallon and 3 for 5 gallon batches.

*Edit...Here is that link if anyone is interested
http://www.winemakermag.com/guide/yeast

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Last edited by TheBrewingMedic; 05-07-2012 at 02:15 PM. Reason: Link Added
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Old 05-05-2012, 06:50 PM   #3
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well, after doing some research and locating the info, I've used mostly Lalvin D21 and K1V-1116, especially for traditionals, as it would seem that the benefits of these strains was found by someone far greater than me (and most of the mead making world for that matter). No lesser person than the late Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey (bee breeding and mead making fame).

I also usually stick to the lalvin range, as the maker (Lallemand) seem to publish more info about their products than just about any other maker. Which helps if you want to crunch the numbers for as much accuracy as we home brewers can expect. That's for yeast and nutrient regimes......

It may be that you have to put up with whatever your nearest HBS stocks, but I usually have to rely on mail order for stuff like that........

Your choice.

Oh and a standard home brew sized pack (5 grammes) is enough for 5 gallons, and the guidance and detail found at places like the Lallemand yeast chart, is for grape musts, so use the details and info but YMMV!

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Old 05-05-2012, 07:08 PM   #4
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I really enjoy Lalvin strains for my meads (and, currently, anything that's not a beer). I also really like the detailed information available on their site, to make things even easier. I do find that the listed ABV tolerance is pretty accurate.

IF you're going to make something that's going to push the limits of the yeast, or is a very high gravity, you might want to consider either making a mead starter (different components than a starter for beer yeast, as in DON'T use DME) or start off with less honey at the start and add the rest as the yeast is going through the initial amount. Although it's possible to not do that and still get the batch to ferment fully. I didn't do that for a batch going to 21%, adding all the yeast up front (first use of Wyeast Eau de Vie yeast). Thing was fermenting for over three months. Even now, it's producing CO2 at a steady rate (not off-gassing due to temperature changes).

For an initial mead, I would recommend going with something in the ~14% range, using a Lalvin strain. I would also recommend giving it time to both clear and get the yeast to drop out of suspension. I would not try to stabilize it in order to bottle sooner. Plan on racking every 1-3 months once fermentation has finished (no less than a full month between rackings) to get it off any lees/sediment that drops out. Also, go with good/great quality honey that you enjoy eating already. Don't go for the cheap stuff, or highly processed honey found on many store shelves. Look for local apiaries and see about getting some from them. Depending on your budget, I would go with a 3-4 gallon batch to start (two of my initial batches were 3 gallons). If you go 4 gallons, then you'll have at least 3 gallons to go into bottles by the time it's ready.

BTW, some LHBS's will have good pricing on honey in bulk sizes. Such as a 5 gallon bucket at about $2.75 per pound. If you think you'll be making more mead, or can think of other things to use the honey in, and have the funds available, I would get it. Honey will NOT spoil unlike so many other ingredients. They've found honey that's thousands of years old that's perfectly edible.

Oh, and something else, for the love of all, don't boil the honey/must. In fact, I wouldn't get it above 100-110F at any point. You do NOT need to sterilize/pasteurize honey at all.
Also, be sure to take an OG reading. If you want to figure out what you'll get at the concentration of honey to water you plan to use (you can use the Got Mead calculator to get an idea but it's best to confirm with the honey you're going to use. I believe 1oz in an 8 fluid ounce solution (that's 1oz dry weight honey) will give you the equal of 1 pound of honey in a 1 gallon must. If you're thinking of doing 3#/gallon, then use 3oz in a solution that totals 8 fluid ounces. Take a gravity reading and you're set. Unless, of course, you have a refractometer that will give you the concentration of the honey without mixing it (I have one, but they are NOT cheap).

Either way, make another batch of mead as soon as you've worked out any process kinks in the first batch. Since they tend to take many months before you're drinking them, it's a good idea to start the next batch before you're bottling the first. Once you have the traditional, or initial batch, under your belt, you'll start looking at other sugar sources to make into a mead/wine/fermentation. I currently have a maple mead/wine using grade B syrup that was started in early December, 2011... I racked it in February and will probably rack it again pretty soon. I currently have three batches of non-beer fermentations going (two traditional meads, or base meads, and the maple). Plus, I have a 5 gallon bucket of honey that's taunting me since I have yet to open it.

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Old 05-06-2012, 01:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
I also really like the detailed information available on their site, to make things even easier.
This is the best thing about Lalvin yeasts. I can't imagine that the other yeast manufacturers aren't losing biz to Lalvin because they're so guarded with their own data.
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Old 05-06-2012, 01:30 PM   #6
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You may find this useful: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/strains.asp
Regards, GF.

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Old 05-07-2012, 04:40 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice, everyone. I also just noticed from gratus's link that many of the Lalvin yeasts can go up to 85 F, which is perfect since I'm fermenting in the Phoenix area in the summer (i.e. temperatures over 110 F outside).

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Old 05-07-2012, 10:45 AM   #8
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Just be aware that a lot of yeast strains will throw some funk at higher temps. D47 is pretty heavy on fusels at higher temps. I try to keep all my ferments on the cooler side of the temp range.
Regards, GF.

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Old 05-10-2012, 05:25 PM   #9
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Are there any yeasts that are better for higher temperatures and won't throw off too many fusels (not quite sure what those are but I get the general idea that they don't taste good)? My fermentation temperature will be 75-80 F (probably near 80 F during the day when I'm not there).

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Old 05-10-2012, 09:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by derekc153 View Post
Hey guys, I just started brewing cider...I have been using Nottingham for my ciders...
I know this is an aside to your actual question, but I wanted to mention that White Labs Dry English Cider strain is awesome...I'd give it a try on your next cider batch...
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