What kind of yeast should I use to make mead?

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Beer Viking

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What kinds of yeast do you all use to make mead? I wanted to make a very authentic historical mead. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
 
Almost all, if not all commercial yeast produced today is grown in a lab, which would have nothing to do with any kind of historical mead. Historical meads would have been made using a wooden spoon/stir stick that they thought was the magical tool that made their batch ferment. If you want true historical, I suggest reading up on trying to do a wild ferment, as they would've only had access to wild yeast floating around in the air. Personally, I find today's yeasts are far more reliable than any wild ferment, which will produce a far superior end product.
I hope this helps you.
Happy meading 😎
 
Lalvin D-47 is a popular yeast for medium to sweet meads and retains full mouthfeel. It is tolerant to about 14% abv. Lalvin 71B-1122 seems best for melomels (fruit meads).
 

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From my notes:

Yeast selection for Mead​

Heat tolerant yeasts (try and keep in the lower 20% of range)

  • ICV D21
  • DV10
  • K1-V1116
  • EC-1118
  • Kveik (great if making mead in the summer)


Clean high alcohol yeast 18-20%


  • DV10
  • EC-1118
Increased Mouthfeel

  • ICV D21
  • D47 (Keep in low 60's)
  • D80
  • D254
Sweet & Semi-Sweet traditional

  • D47 (Keep in low 60's)
  • 71B
Dry traditional

  • K1-V1116 (floral esters when fermented below 60.8F and using proper nutrients)
  • RC212
Making Mead with berries

  • 71B (eats fructose before glucose) and also converts some malic acid to lactic acid.
  • RC212 used with RED fruits not purple. Cherry, Red grapes, red currant, raspberry.
Cyser

  • K1-V1116 (esters along with high kill factor against other yeast that might come along with apple pressing)
  • EC-1118
  • D47 (Keep in low 60's)
Pyment (dark grape)

  • RC212 - used with RED fruits not purple. Cherry, Red grapes, red currant, raspberry.
  • BM 4x4




Sparking mead


  • DV10
  • EC-1118
  • K1-V1116
  • D47 (Keep in low 60's)
Sur Lee aging

  • D47 (Keep in low 60's – spicy, tropical, citrus notes)
  • K1-V1116
  • CY3079 (typically used in white burgundy style wines)
  • ICV D21
Fruity and tropical esters also Acerglyn mead(maple syrup)

QA-23 (Low O2 and Nutrient requirements)
 
Ive used about 6 different commercial yeasts including the D47, and I used fleichmens bread yeast from the grocery store. They all worked great.

Traditional ancient yeasts would have been "i scraped this off the bread and put it in the honey water and it made bubbles" not a brand or anything.
The closest youll get to what "vikings" drank is wildflower honey and spring water, with maybe some pretty smelling flowers thrown in at the end using whatever yeast is most convenient for you.

Also I do all my brewing at house temp of around 77 degrees F, winter is around 68F.... all my brews take roughly 2 weeks to get to 14-16% abv then clarify and rack, usually drinking before they age.
 
No yeast was added to the initial honey water in documented traditional mead-making. Unpasteurized honey spontaneously ferments if diluted enough so there's simply no need. If you're able to find some, then all you have to do is find some nice water and mix the two together. You could also add some berries or leaves which would have their own wild yeasts.
I've read that some ancient mead was made by boiling the entire hive, bees and all, but it was from quite the unreliable source (Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, a real knee-slapper at times.) If you have a spare hive I guess you know what to do!

Wild fermentation is pretty varied as previously mentioned, with some batches inevitably yielding poor results. One way to regulate it a bit is to use a different wooden implement to stir each batch and keep them alongside the result, unwashed. Once you find something you really like, use the implement used for that batch to backslop subsequent batches.

Another way to regulate it is to drink the mead extremely young, basically as soon as bubbling dies down. In my experience the brew is fairly consistent at that point. It's a completely different drink from the mead we're used to these days however, more akin to a beer than to a wine. Adding some lactic acid bacteria from e.g. pickle or sauerkraut juice at the start will give you a nice sour tanginess if you prepare it that way. It only takes a few days, too!
 
How historical are you trying to be? Before Pasteur, no one really knew what yeast was only other than that stuff on the bottom of the fermenter you re-pitch, which makes the current batch bubble like the previous batches. Also, the yeasts being used in antiquity were multi-strained, meaning they were always a combination of numerous yeast and bacteria, to a degree. Going too wild can make the batch funky. Maybe it's fun to play with 1 gallon batches, but given the price of honey, I wouldn't want to take chances on a 5 gallon batch. I'm surprised no one here has mentioned Mangrove Jacks Mead Yeast (https://boomchugalug.com/products/mangrove-jacks-mead-yeast). It complements the honey flavor very well (appropriate esters), but it does have high alcohol tolerance, so use it if you are looking for a dry mean. Of course, you can always go the back-sweetening option after fermentation.
 
Thank you all for the replies, I think I'll probably go with mangrove jacks mead yeast. What flavors do you get from that yeast?
 
Thank you all for the replies, I think I'll probably go with mangrove jacks mead yeast. What flavors do you get from that yeast?
I really like that Mangrove Jack's mead yeast. It produces a good deal of esters during fermentation (technically, it is a wine yeast) like ethyl acetate, which is delicately fruity like apple or pear. Not overpowering. Really draws out the honey character. Just make sure you use good honey!
 
best yeast I've used for mead (only made a few) was be-256.
Nottingham was ok iirc, but produced better results with making a simple cider.
 
Preplan your mead for rs. Then choose a yeast with a known abv % die off. And then use the two bits of information to calculate honey to water ratio for fermentation. A nice dry mead about 2 rs and a port sweet 9/10 rs.
 
What kinds of yeast do you all use to make mead? I wanted to make a very authentic historical mead. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
I used D-47 for my first ever batch, it’s 14% tolerant, took mine awhile, but ended up with an AVB of 13.8% (long formula). Very pleased with the outcome. 😀
 
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