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Old 08-28-2013, 05:57 PM   #1
STLExpat
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I started making mead last year using the JAOM recipe and have gotten some pretty good results with two other recipes using bread yeast. One was a pumpkin mead that I popped a bottle of this past weekend at a friend's party. It was a huge hit. After talking with a few folks I've decided to make a 3 gallon batch of melomel I'm going to call Viking Blood as I plan on using a lot of dark fruits in there. But I think my mouth worked faster than my brain, as I said I was going to attempt to get an abv of 25% or higher. Has anyone ever gotten an abv that high with bread yeast, or is it even possible? I'd prefer not to admit publicly to friends and family that I was talking out of my @ss, but I'd rather be an honest brewer than a bullsh!t artist.
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
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Are you trying to limit yourself to only bread yeast? Or would you consider another high-alcohol friendly yeast?

 
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:09 PM   #3
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I did a side by side last year between bread yeast and sweet mead liquid yeast, ended up with more flavors coming through on the bread yeast batch. I'd like to stick to bread yeast, but if there's something out there that could get the same results and help deliver a higher abv I'd be all for it.
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:19 PM   #4
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I was thinking you could start with the bread yeast and finish with a high ABV yeast, but I don't have any experience in that area. It just sounded the most intuitive.

 
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:50 PM   #5
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You'd probably achieve a higher strength using bread yeast if you did all the early stage agitation, staggered nutrient addition, maybe even stir plate fermentation.

How high ? No idea.....

There's plenty of yeasts that will do 18% and a few specialist and turbo yeasts that suggest 22%, but a lot of those would need considerable ageing.....
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:25 PM   #6
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bread yeast 12% on the dot, all day, every day. In my experience.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:29 PM   #7
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Fermenting a mead using bread yeast. Currently at 12%. If it ferments all the way down as I expect, it should top out at around 17%.

 
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:35 PM   #8
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As FB stated if you take really really good care of the mead then you might be able to hit a higher ABV but bread yeasts are not known for having a high ABV. Around 12% on my JAOMs is what I count on. Lalvin k1v-1116 can get up to 18% and push past that close to 20% in some well kept situations. In making my Sake last winter I estimated it at 20% ABV with 1116 yeast. But Sake is made by slowly introducing more and more rice over several days and on top of that there are enzymes that convert the starches while it ferments so the gravity of the environment never gets too high.

Possibly just slowly adding honey and berries or what ever you plan in steps as the fermentation goes and keeping a constant low gravity may help you. But I digress. Take my ramblings with a grain of salt.
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke
You'd probably achieve a higher strength using bread yeast if you did all the early stage agitation, staggered nutrient addition, maybe even stir plate fermentation.

How high ? No idea.....

There's plenty of yeasts that will do 18% and a few specialist and turbo yeasts that suggest 22%, but a lot of those would need considerable ageing.....
Aging wont be an issue, once I start it I don't plan on bottling until late next spring or summer. I'm still gaining knowledge, could you explain the techniques you mentioned above further please? Nobody laugh please, I have an idea of what FB is saying but I want to be sure I understand.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STLExpat View Post
Aging wont be an issue, once I start it I don't plan on bottling until late next spring or summer. I'm still gaining knowledge, could you explain the techniques you mentioned above further please? Nobody laugh please, I have an idea of what FB is saying but I want to be sure I understand.
Well, using a traditional as an example, if you just did some calculation to work out the sugars for, say 18%, then just used an 18% yeast, mixed it all together, maybe a little nutrient, would you get 18% ?

In theory yes, in practice probably not.

Early stage aeration is a technique for yeast health and developing a good healthy colony. Its bee found that yeast need air/O2 to develop in the early stages of ferment, so the recommendation is to stir a.k.a. aerate well for the first 1/3rd of the ferment - some people go further, but generally it's 1/3rd. ...

Staggered nutrient additions, is where you work out how much nutrient you want to use for that 18% example above but don't just add it all up front. There's an academic paper kicking around the net somewhere that explains why you can add up to 85% of the total requirement up front but add the rest later on. Yet people often work out the total, split it into X amount dosages, then add it in day 1 after the lag has finished, then day 3 and 5 or day 1, 2 and 3 or any combination, as long as its all in once youve reached the 1/3rd sugar break (as calculated from hydrometer readings).

Stir plate fermentation, is literally that. You get a stir plate and bar of sufficient ability, mix the ferment as you intend and then put the fermenter on the stir plate, switch it on and drop the stirrer bar in. Which should then start spinning at the speed of the stir plate. Its reasonably experimental, but the brew logs I've read from those who've tried it, say that it does work and batches ferment faster or can help reduce problems with the likes of "show" meads.....

In the top example of the 18% traditional, there's other issues no mentioned so far. Like why its not so much a good idea to put all the sugars in the batch up front, as you might do when making beer.

Like the gravity difference between a beer wort thats gonna make a 6% beer and a honey must for 18% mead is huge. 18% mead equates to a must thats got to drop 133 points and if you want some residual sugars for sweetness too, then that's the kind of area thats just asking to stress the yeast. So you end up having to google search for "step feeding"......

Also, particularly with traditionals, the issue of acidity and pH can become an issue. Yeast like acid environment, yet people still try and use acid up front (discredited technique). If you mixed say 3lb of honey up to a gallon with water, then measured pH with a meter, you'd likely get a pH in the mid 3.x area. Various things can affect that including just a normal fermentation, and if it swings below 3.0 pH as it easily can, it can cause a stuck ferment. Hence dont add more acid up front as you can add some later if needed, plus its handy to make sure you either have litmus strips for the 2.8 to 4.6 pH range so its easy to test and a small stock of potassium carbonate if the brew does drop too low.

The early stage aeration mentioned above can help a bit because a side effect of aeration is that it mixes the particulates and creates nucleation points for the natural build up of carbonic acid to attach to and come out as gaseous CO2.

Dunno if that lot makes it any clearer or whether its just easier to go to the front page of the gotmead forums and read the NewBee guide linked in the left side yellow box......
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