A few questions from a Newbie

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MX1

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Ok Got a short list of questions for the Mead Making Community. Please come along with me:

You Too Brew uses Fermaid-K and Fermaid-O depending on dry or liquid yeast, can is there a reason? Can just one be used across both yeast?

Concentrates, Purees, and extracts; assuming they are from a good source, can they be used? If so what is the best way? Esp extracts, like maple or vanilla, orange etc.

Water-Based Food Flavoring – Bickford Flavors

Freeze-Dried items, are these good to go? I have access to a freeze drier, so apples, and other fruits would this be good to use?

As far as final sweetness, I know there is a difference between actual and perceived, but should I be fermenting to stop at my targeted gravity, or let it go dry and back sweeten? I also know that that may depend on if I want to add flavor with the back sweeting, like a flavorful honey, or a nice barrel aged maple syrup.

EDIT: One other question, Cyser, melomel, are styles of Mead? what do we call the Dry, Off Dry, Sweet descriptor?

Thanks



T
 
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bernardsmith

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Hi MX1 and welcome. Am unfamiliar with You Too Brew but Fermaid O and K are very similar. Fermaid O does not contain DAP but has an organic N substitute. Fermaid K still contains DAP. Can't think why DAP is better for dry yeast than organic N but the O is a newer product so YTB may not have been familiar with O for earlier recipes.. (That's my best guess).
Extracts are not the same as concentrates or purees. You might add an extract just before bottling. Concentrates need water to bring them back to the right dilution but you would ferment a concentrate in the primary. Purees are much the same, except that the concentrate is always expressed juice with much of the water removed. A puree is processed fruit. Less juice and more fruit. You would also ferment that, in the primary. Freeze dried fruits might be better suited to add to the secondary.

Others may disagree , but you aim for a specific ABV and the amount of fermentable sugar is precisely for that ABV which typically - for almost every table wine or mead will be around 12-14% . So we are talking about a starting gravity of about 1.090 - 1.100 . That helps ensure better balance among flavor, mouthfeel, acidity, tannin and alcohol. You ferment brut dry. Trying to stop a fermentation in mid-flight is about as easy as it is to catch a bullet between your teeth. Stage magicians do it all the time. Regular folk who try that trick at home generally don't try it twice. Ferment brut dry - rack and age - stabilize and then back sweeten. You need to have racked off the yeast several times to allow the chemicals in the stabilizer - K-meta AND K-sorbate to be able to maim and kill the few yeast cells that will remain. An active colony of viable cells are more or less immune to stabilization (yeast produce SO2 which is the effective bactericide in K-meta).

Brut or dry, semi sweet, sweet, dessert wine are what we call the sweetness of any wine , including mead. The various terms for mead- whether a traditional (only honey) metheglin (spices) , melomel (fruit), and the subsets of cyser (apples) morat (mulberry) are names with ancient histories. Hydromels are low alcohol session meads and sack meads are high alcohol meads (about 14% or more. Polish meads have their own terms and can have very high levels of alcohol ... but then they are aged for YEARS , not months.
 
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MX1

MX1

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Thank you so much for a well thought-out reply. It will help me, and many to come after.
 

MightyMosin

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MX1 said:
You Too Brew uses Fermaid-K and Fermaid-O depending on dry or liquid yeast, can is there a reason? Can just one be used across both yeast?

bernardsmith has provided some good info there. The yeast need nutrients and that main nutrient is Nitrogen. If you've seen references to YAN, it is talking about Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen. So while they need Nitrogen it has to be the right type that they can use.

Fermaid-O and Fermaid-K will both provide that Nitrogen. Fermaid-K used DAP to help provide this while the O version does not. An analogy that I find useful when it comes to DAP is that it is akin to giving the yeast steroids in place of a good nutritional diet. The yeast actually will take the DAP Nitrogen preferentially over other types. For myself I typically user Fermaid-O as I'll try and keep the mead as organic as possible but there are times I use DAP. If I am using any citrus in primary, say in a tea that has it, I'll use some DAP as it seems to help kick that fermentation off well when the yeast tend to not like the acidity of the citrus. After ~9% abv, the yeast will not take up and use DAP and you will potentially be left with it adding its flavors to the mead.

MX1 said:
Concentrates, Purees, and extracts; assuming they are from a good source, can they be used? If so what is the best way? Esp extracts, like maple or vanilla, orange etc.
Freeze-Dried items, are these good to go? I have access to a freeze drier, so apples, and other fruits would this be good to use?

I generally have to agree with what bernardsmith said regarding these items and use that as a guideline. Somethings like frozen fruits can be used in primary and/or secondary and each will give you a different result. In the case of something like strawberries I tend to use them only in secondary after stabilizing as the primary fermentation uses all the sugar without really leaving much in the way of flavor. A mixed berry mix can work well however you want to use them.

MX1 said:
As far as final sweetness, I know there is a difference between actual and perceived, but should I be fermenting to stop at my targeted gravity, or let it go dry and back sweeten? I also know that that may depend on if I want to add flavor with the back sweeting, like a flavorful honey, or a nice barrel aged maple syrup.

In general figure out where you want the ABV to be and then calculate the needed honey that is in addition to any fruit or juices you will be using in primary. At that point, let it go dry. You can then taste for perceived sweetness and decide how much you want to back sweeten. That is a personal preference and for my tastes a measured gravity of 1.015 is usually at about my typical maximum sweetness... but let your palette tell you where you want to be.
I have a Buckwheat & Orange Blossom traditional mead that I make that will finish between 1.00 and 1.004 and I do not back sweeten it as the floral aroma and perceived sweetness is perfect for me. Maybe some day I'll sweeten some and see if I like it any better.

Trying to stop a fermentation or hit a specific gravity is just very difficult and not always repeatable. My personal experience with certain Ale yeasts shows that I'll get 110 to 120 points of gravity drop and I can usually target a high enough gravity to finish with sugars left over. This assumes proper nutrients, using Go-Ferm while getting dry yeast going and a fairly steady temperature. Wyeast 1388 seems pretty good at going through 120 points while SafAle S-04 or US-05 will go through 110 points and sometimes get to 120 points eaten.

With the above said, it is much more reliable to go dry and then back sweeten if you need/want to. Adding fruit in secondary (after stabilizing) can add to your gravity as the sugar extracts. I have the best strawberry field near me that produces very sweet fruit and I will use about 1.25Lb of chopped-frozen strawberries per gallon in secondary and after about 7-10 days the fruit has gone white and added about .004 to the gravity. Fruits like strawberries are, IMO, best kept in a bag for easy extraction out of the mead and it doesn't muddy it up as bad.

MX1 said:
One other question, Cyser, melomel, are styles of Mead? what do we call the Dry, Off Dry, Sweet descriptor?
As far as I know they are just general descriptors for the sweetness of the mead.
 
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DBhomebrew

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You Too Brew uses Fermaid-K and Fermaid-O depending on dry or liquid yeast, can is there a reason? Can just one be used across both yeast?

It's all about the trace minerals. In the BOMM protocol, dry yeast is rehydrated with GoFerm which has trace minerals in it. Liquid yeast doesn't get rehydrated so it doesn't get the GoFerm. It gets an upfront dose of Fermaid K to provide trace minerals and, yes, some DAP.

From the You to Brew website, emphasis mine...

What are these nutrients?

GoFerm: GoFerm is a nutrient mixture designed to rehydrate dry yeast. The lipids and sterols in GoFerm are designed to fortify the yeast cell membranes so that they are strong for fermentation. Trace minerals and vitamins are also present to give the yeast a healthy start. GoFerm has undergone improvements from GoFerm to GoFerm Protect to GoFerm Protect Evolution. Try to use the most up-to-date version.

Fermaid K: Fermaid K is a yeast nutrient that contains Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), yeast-based nitrogen, vitamins, and trace minerals. Since we wish to avoid DAP in the final product, we only add this upfront.

Note: In the USA, the legal limit for Fermaid K addition is 0.5 grams/Liter. This limit is cited due to thiamine content, despite the fact that I can find no health issues caused by thiamine.

Fermaid O: Fermaid O is an organic yeast nutrient created from a stock of yeast that are maintained with ample nutrients, lysed, then nitrogen/protein-rich fractions are purified and lyophilized into powder. Yeast are cannibals so they break down the proteins into building blocks for their own growth.


So, GoFerm and K have trace minerals and vitamins, O does not. O is our preferred source of nitrogen for any yeast. Dry yeast get their minerals in their GoFerm bath. Liquid yeast gets theirs from a K addition. But not too much, we don't want any leftover DAP in the finished mead.

 
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