Shopping for honey, what was in your best mead?

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BruceH

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I decided to make another honey based brew and thought I'd do some research prior to making a bulk honey purchase.

Local honey is out for now. It's very expensive because people in this area will pay high prices for anything at a farmers market. I'll pay more for quality but will also look for the best value.

I see "Dutch Gold" and "Monarch" pop up alot during searches. Further research shows that both are filtered and heated as is any honey I've seen that isn't labeled as raw. How much does filtered and heated change the mead vs using raw, never heated honey?

Has anyone used a quality bulk honey for a base and added a more expensive varietal honey to enhance or change characteristics?

As I'm typing this I've come to the realization that I should buy several varieties from different sources and make small batches, wait a year or two for them to mature and go from there. However, this directly contradicts my ocd nature.
 

imasickboy

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Dutch Gold is local to me, so I use their honey pretty much exclusively. It makes damn fine mead. Don't be afraid of heat filtered honey.
 

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BruceH

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Thanks for the info. I didn't even think of Silverbow. That used to be the "house" honey at the local Costco.

Some more searching turned up a place that sells Washington state raw honey somewhat reasonably priced. $94 for two gallons shipped. That's a little under $4 per pound with shipping.

I did purchase some local raw honey (non-varietal) and Costco clover honey for comparison purposes. The Kirkland honey is pretty good. The raw honey is just a little better. The taste has more depth. My wife was able to taste the difference too. It's such a small difference that I'm not sure it would show up after fermentation but I will find out.

I'm also going to experiment with a few varieties of yeast.
 

koniowsky717

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Dutch Gold is local to me, so I use their honey pretty much exclusively. It makes damn fine mead. Don't be afraid of heat filtered honey.
im about to be buying one of their 5gal buckets.. which one would you recommend? im leaning towards orange blossom, but curious about their wildflower.
 

imasickboy

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OB is great. Wildflower changes with every batch of honey, so results differ. All I've had was good, though.
 

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IMO, wildflower or clover is great as a vehicle for herbs, spices, fruit or nuts or bochets or braggots. Varietals are great for traditional meads (Tupelo is wonderful). I don't make large batches but many small ones. That means I have a large variety of meads to pick and choose from. It also means that I am pitching yeast almost weekly and that means I can reuse (because I want to) yeast from one batch in another and so develop a "house yeast" that has self-selected for my temps, my sugar concentrations and my nutritional loads...
 
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BruceH

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check with these folks or a group like them near you:
https://www.pugetsoundbees.org/

A lot of local folks may not have enough honey or time to go like to a framers market, but may have enough to sell a few gallons
Thanks for the link. My sister in law wants me to start keeping bees on her property. That link is where I should start investigating if I want to do it or not.

IMO, wildflower or clover is great as a vehicle for herbs, spices, fruit or nuts or bochets or braggots. Varietals are great for traditional meads (Tupelo is wonderful). I don't make large batches but many small ones. That means I have a large variety of meads to pick and choose from. It also means that I am pitching yeast almost weekly and that means I can reuse (because I want to) yeast from one batch in another and so develop a "house yeast" that has self-selected for my temps, my sugar concentrations and my nutritional loads...
It sounds like you are an experimenter. I think that all of my hobbies have just as much to do with experimenting, learning, and having something interesting going on as they do with any practical aspects.

The more I think about it the more I'm inclined to purchase smaller amounts like 3lbs to a gallon so I can experiment more. Just finding the right yeast and or yeasts is going to take some experimenting. So far I've only used EC-1118. I have 71b, 1116, and D47 coming. I also have a few ale yeasts to try out but first I'll stick with the wine varieties.
 

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I use Dutch Gold honey as well as cheapo hone from Wegman's which probably also comes the same sources and its fine.

In your area a large wholesaler is Silverbow, they sell 12lb and 60 lb buckets:

http://www.silverbowhoney.com/bulk-honey-and-buckets/

But a better choice might be to contact apiaries directly and ask about buying bulk.
Here are three interesting ones, there are probably many more:

http://honeyfiend.com/apiary-profiles/
Silverbow closed up shop and sold off their equipment a bit over a year ago.

As far as a honey choice wildflower is never a bad choice for a base mead and is typically a bit cheaper than many varietal honeys. Seattle area is fairly high on the prices but if you travel around the state you can find better deals
 

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Not so much an "experimenter" if by experiment you mean making tests where everything is held constant except one variable and that variable is always controlled. I am more interested in exploring although I try to keep good notes so that I can replicate a batch at any time.
But that said, brewers tend to be drawn to EC-1118. That yeast was designed to be added to a finished wine (so it can thrive in a wine that is already full of alcohol ) to create a sparkling wine (hence , in part , the name "champagne yeast"). As a yeast used to ferment honey (or fruit) it is a bulldozer and will blow off just about all flavors and aromas. (it's also used to restart a stalled fermentation (again, because if you toss it into a wine stalled at 8% ABV it behaves as if there is no alcohol present - unlike many other wine yeasts that really need to acclimatize themselves to the presence of ethanol and might keel over when pitched into a stalled wine (actually, you add the stalled wine to the yeast but that is another story) . D47 - IMO - is a great yeast to use for mead as is 71B. BUT the key is that lab cultured yeasts all have very specific specifications - They highlight certain features of the honey (or fruit) or they mask certain features, or they enhance or inhibit features. Some yeasts produce better mouthfeel because they produce more glycerols, (DV10, for example) other yeasts handle higher temperatures better. Some yeasts are hogs for nitrogen (honey has none the yeast can assimilate so you need to provide this through the addition of nutrients. I tend to avoid champagne yeasts...
 

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D47 - IMO - is a great yeast to use for mead as is 71B. BUT the key is that lab cultured yeasts all have very specific specifications - They highlight certain features of the honey (or fruit) or they mask certain features, or they enhance or inhibit features. Some yeasts produce better mouthfeel because they produce more glycerols, (DV10, for example)
So you prefer D47 for mead? Or maybe one yeast for melomel and a different one for traditional? Is one yeast better for hydromel or "craft mead"?
 
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BruceH

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I also have some CBC-1 in the order. I had read positive things about it in regards to producing a clean, drinkable mead sooner.

Lalvin/Lallemand gives some good info about their yeasts: http://www.lallemandbrewing.com/products/home-wine-yeast/

D-47 and 71B are both described as having a very low requirement for assimilable nitrogen. If I understand what I've been researching this means that having the correct added nutrients in the correct ratios isn't as important with these yeast strains.
 
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Bernardsmith - I don't want to hijack the thread, but how do you reuse yeast? Is it as simple as taking the gross lees after primary fermentation is done (when they are dormant) and pitching them into a new batch of must?
 

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Madscoentist - I have adopted the Groennfell Meadery approach (more or less) and so tend to use D47 yeast at higher temperatures when I make session meads.

BruceH - that D47 and 71B have lower needs for YAN does not mean that they have no need or "low" needs. Honey has no nitrogen and no usable nutrients that the yeast need. The yeast may not need super high quantities of nutrient but I would at least use the quantities the labs that make the nutrients suggest you use. Mead makers generally base the usage on such things as volume and SG (check out TOSNA , for example). Unless you are using DAP (and you really shouldn't, IMO) you cannot over feed the yeast. You can easily underfeed the yeast.
growlr. - I upend what you suggest: Once I rack from the primary I simply add more water to that primary and pour in more honey and nutrient. Typically, my must uses about 1lb - 1.5lbs of honey per gallon so the SG is not stress-inducing. I also use about 4 times the suggested amount of nutrition after I have thoroughly mixed the honey in solution. Almost all my meads re-using the yeast has involved re-using WLP 066 as that is a hard to obtain yeast in my neck of the woods and is the yeast I have been playing with to make meads ready for bottling in a week to ten days...
 
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BruceH

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Madscoentist - I have adopted the Groennfell Meadery approach (more or less) and so tend to use D47 yeast at higher temperatures when I make session meads.

BruceH - that D47 and 71B have lower needs for YAN does not mean that they have no need or "low" needs. Honey has no nitrogen and no usable nutrients that the yeast need. The yeast may not need super high quantities of nutrient but I would at least use the quantities the labs that make the nutrients suggest you use. Mead makers generally base the usage on such things as volume and SG (check out TOSNA , for example). Unless you are using DAP (and you really shouldn't, IMO) you cannot over feed the yeast. You can easily underfeed the yeast.
growlr. - I upend what you suggest: Once I rack from the primary I simply add more water to that primary and pour in more honey and nutrient. Typically, my must uses about 1lb - 1.5lbs of honey per gallon so the SG is not stress-inducing. I also use about 4 times the suggested amount of nutrition after I have thoroughly mixed the honey in solution. Almost all my meads re-using the yeast has involved re-using WLP 066 as that is a hard to obtain yeast in my neck of the woods and is the yeast I have been playing with to make meads ready for bottling in a week to ten days...
I absolutely plan to feed the yeast. My thinking was that those two yeasts have a good mead reputation because of the lower need for feed and thus a better result even if things aren't perfect.

My plan is to feed the same as I've been feeding a melomel that's currently fermenting. a small amount of Epsom salt and inactivated yeast in staggered intervals. I've been guessing at quantities based on what I've read about others experiences.

For example: The cherry melomel was fed 1/8 tsp Epsom salt in the beginning along with the equivalent of 1/4 tsp dead bakers yeast in a slurry. Then I fed the same amount of dead yeast slurry every other day until attenuation was in the high 60% range.

So far so good but the melomel is far from being done. Starting gravity was 1.115. Today the gravity was 1.018. It still tastes hot and it has aways to go but it tastes better with every gravity reading.

As I understand yeast nutrient requirements they need nitrogen, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Dead yeast contains nitrogen and B vitamins, Epsom salt is for the magnesium. Not sure if I'll try crushing a zinc tablet and adding it.

I'll look into the TONSA recommendations.

Thanks.
 
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BruceH

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So, TONSA would have me feeding my current 5+ gallon melomel about 10 grams x 4 additions. That's quite a bit more than I think I used but I don't know the makeup of dead bakers yeast.

Based on a price of $15 for a pound of Fermaid O (according to google) the cost to feed the melomel would be about $1.34 or so. Twice that for a 5 gallon mead. Not to bad considering the price of honey.

This is interesting. Fermaid O data sheet shows it's made up of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and other things like nitrogen. It also says it smells like yeast.

http://catalogapp.lallemandwine.com...c2f90ece30fe3d2.pdf#page=1&zoom=auto,-107,368

I need to get an analysis of dead bakers yeast.
 

madscientist451

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Madscoentist - Almost all my meads re-using the yeast has involved re-using WLP 066 as that is a hard to obtain yeast in my neck of the woods and is the yeast I have been playing with to make meads ready for bottling in a week to ten days...
Thanks for the tips, I haven't heard of anyone using WLP 066 in mead before. If its "ready for bottling" in a week or 10 days, does that mean its also ready to drink at that time?
Also you ever re-use the yeast cake from D-47?
 

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Thanks for the tips, I haven't heard of anyone using WLP 066 in mead before. If its "ready for bottling" in a week or 10 days, does that mean its also ready to drink at that time?
Also you ever re-use the yeast cake from D-47?
To your first point - someone in the cider thread had mentioned about a five-day cider (from pitching yeast to drinking) and I thought that this could be done with low ABV mead- assuming that I am not looking for a medal at the mazer cup. Turns out that this yeast and a seven to ten day fermentation makes a very drinkable mead in that time. Very drinkable. I store the bottles in a fridge because the final gravity (and taste ) does not suggest a brut dry finish. Done this with chestnut honey; avocado blossom honey and "pine" honey. I have this batch of yeast now fermenting some Tupelo but this is at a higher ABV (SG was 1.105) and this may (I say , MAY) cause the yeast some stresses that might mean I need to trash the culture but I am still very hopeful that after I rack this Tupelo I can add some Neem honey (from India) to the WLP066 and see what I get.
As to re-using D47, I just started a batch where I am experimenting with nutritional yeast (and orange blossom honey: 28 oz in a gallon). The D47 came from a T'ej (Ethiopian mead) I just bottled 3/14 and which I pitched at the beginning of January.
 
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