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yeast for a traditional sweet or semi sweet mead? Never made one before

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evilhomer

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I want to make mead, never have before. I have my own beehives in Michigan, due to problems getting jars this year I ended up with a bunch of honey left in a bucket that has solidified. Instead of dealing with that mess I thought, why not just make mead with it? So I've got plenty of honey. Being that it came off my own farm I want to try it as natural as possible, so no flavor additives. This would be a wild flower honey, I suspect it has a high clover content.

I have been researching it a bit and am starting to get some ideas but am trying to put this all together.

I'm leaning towards a sweet or semi sweet. If I'm reading this right, any yeast in that category will stop fermentation on it's own with no need for an additive? So maybe wyeast 4184(11-12%) or or 4783(14%)? Any others to consider?

Thoughts on racking or not and will that vary depending on which yeast is used? I plan on making a 5 gallon batch. Although I've got some smaller carboys and could experiment and make two different types.

If I let it ferment upstairs right now the ambient temperature will be 65-70 or I can put it in the basement for around 60 degrees. Any preferance there? Looks like mead likes it a little warmer?
 

cmac62

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Homer, you may want to check out the Bray's One Month Mead (BOMM) thread on here. He uses Wyeast 1388 and it's drinkable in 30 days. You could also go with a kveik and I understand these can be ready even sooner. Good luck :mug:
 

videojunkie1208

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I want to make mead, never have before. I have my own beehives in Michigan, due to problems getting jars this year I ended up with a bunch of honey left in a bucket that has solidified. Instead of dealing with that mess I thought, why not just make mead with it? So I've got plenty of honey. Being that it came off my own farm I want to try it as natural as possible, so no flavor additives. This would be a wild flower honey, I suspect it has a high clover content.

I have been researching it a bit and am starting to get some ideas but am trying to put this all together.

I'm leaning towards a sweet or semi sweet. If I'm reading this right, any yeast in that category will stop fermentation on it's own with no need for an additive? So maybe wyeast 4184(11-12%) or or 4783(14%)? Any others to consider?

Thoughts on racking or not and will that vary depending on which yeast is used? I plan on making a 5 gallon batch. Although I've got some smaller carboys and could experiment and make two different types.

If I let it ferment upstairs right now the ambient temperature will be 65-70 or I can put it in the basement for around 60 degrees. Any preferance there? Looks like mead likes it a little warmer?
Welcome!

Your going to need a handful of tools for your first batch:
1. A fermenter (glass carboys are traditional, but pretty much anything you can make beer in you can make mead in. - I happen to really like SS fermenters)
2. A good scale (weighs in grams)
3. A Hydrometer (if you don't have one get one of the sets from Amazon)
4. a 2nd fermenter (this one really wants to be a glass carboy or a corny keg, something that will keep O2 out of your mead while it ages for a bit.)

If you are just going to make a traditional mead (honey plus water and yeast) you will want nutrients, as Honey is a desert as far as yeast are concerned, and without proper nutrition, your fermentation will take a long time, probably get stuck, and the yeast will throw a lot of off flavors as they struggle to consume the honey.

For the love of everything yummy in mead, ignore all of the web advice to put raisins or other crap in your mead to feed the yeast. I highly recommend the TOSNA protocol, as the Staggered Nutrient Additions feed the yeast, and keep them very happy - and happy yeast make good booze. Here is a good calculator for how much nutrients to add. BatchBuildr - MeadMakr

Now, to make your mead you will want to decide how much alcohol you want in the finished product. I routinely make meads that have as little as 16% and as much as 18-20% (depending on the calculator- one of the meads I make according to one calculator has an ABV of 22%, different calculators suggest a more modest 19%) Here is a fairly reliable calculator that translates SG (Specific Gravity) to Alcohol potential. ABV Calculator - MeadMakr

This is the calculator I use for making new recipe's: The Mead Calculator
It will help you figure out how much water and honey to mix to get your desired ABV for the volume of your batch.

For primary fermentation you want to vigorously mix your water and yeast (I use a drill with a stirrer on it) this will aerate your must (pre-mead mix) then add your first nutrients and yeast.

Day 2: second nutrient addition, re-aerate (slowly - this is the most risk for degassing to go badly and foam can go everywhere)
Day 3: third nutrient addition, no mixing.
Day 5-7 (ish) take a sample, your SG should be approximately half of your starting SG (e.g if you started at 1.120, you should be around 1.060 or so.) add 4th nutrient addition, no mixing!
Day 21 (ish) Your mead should be pretty well done with primary fermentation. at this point, you will want to rack it into your 2nd fermenter. This will tend to degas your mead, and leave most of the gross lees behind (all the crap at the bottom of your fermenter. If you have space in your refrigerator, you can 'cold crash' at this stage for 48 hours and it will greatly speed up clarification of your mead. Take a sample. Your mead should be around 1.010 - 1.000

Put the 2nd fermenter somewhere you won't bother it too much for at least 3 months. maybe 6-9 months, make sure it is sealed with an airlock (check regularly). and don't bother it tooo much. The mead will do 2 things, 1, it will clarify through sediment falling out of suspension, and 2 it will finish fermenting (your FG should be around 0.995) and the alcohol will get a chance to mellow and come to life.

If you decide when your mead is good and finished that you want to backsweeten it, you can then sulfate it, and add more honey to your taste. I happen to prefer dry meads so I never do this.
 

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videojunkie1208

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I forgot, if you already didn't know, the first three rules for good brewing are: Sanitation, Sanitation, and SANITATION. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that touches your mead has to be sanitized (not just run through the dishwasher) to prevent contamination of your mead. I obsessively wipe down the whole kitchen when I am making meads. Because everything is cold side, there is no boil to sanitize the Must so an infection can be introduced at any stage. My favorite is a no rinse sanitizer Amazon.com: FastRack - 5lbs Logic One Step Cleaner Logic One Step 5 lb. - No Rinse Cleaner/Sanitizer For Home brewing Beer & Wine Making, White: Industrial & Scientific I usually make a batch of it in my fermenter, and then dump it into a bucket for sanitizing all of my stirring implements, hoses, etc.
 

videojunkie1208

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Links for the nutrients:
Go Ferm:
Fermaid O:

Nice 2 pack:
 

videojunkie1208

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A note on Yeasts. while manufacturers often have a suggested alcohol tolerance that the yeast will survive to, keep in mind that is usually a minimum, and not a maximum, or even an average. Lowly bread yeast will go to 16% ABV, and most beer strains will easily get in to the low teens (despite advertised for 8-10%)

I find D47 is a good mead yeast, ferments quickly to completion, has pleasant esters, and clarifies well. EC-1118 was my go-to for a long time, ferments quickly, very neutral esters, and clarifies well- it does tend to blow off some of the aromatics in the honey though). If I were choosing between the 2 strains you listed, I would use 4184, and target my recipe for about 16% ABV.
 

Davedrinksbeer

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I'm not a mead expert, but my understanding best practice is to let it go all the way dry and kill off the yeast with K sorbate and k meta and back sweeten to taste.
this is what I do, ferment out to 1.000with EC 1118, kill the yeast and then back sweeten with honey/sugar mixture. Then wait about 6 months till it gets tasty 😋
 
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