Yeast nutrients, if and when!

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lagerman71

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Just about to start making my first meads, and I have been doing my research on recipes on here and have become confused upon the subject of yeast nutrients.

Some recipes have them and some don’t, also those that do, some put them in before the yeast and others a few days after!! Which is best??

I’m planning 2 short meads, the mojito recipe on the recipe thread and an earl grey “iced tea” mead both for summer drinking.

I’m planning to use Young’s brew super wine yeast if that help your answers.

All advice welcome!!
 

dmtaylor

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My Best of Show mead used zero nutrients. I have used nutrients in some meads, and not used any in others. I haven't noticed a big difference. Guidance out there on nutrients is overly complicated, and nutrients are truly optional in my experience. If you never added any, you could still make excellent meads without them.
 

SEndorf

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I've always used Wyeast nutrient in my starters.
Seems to be a lot of debate as to its usefulness. Many swear they have better results after using it.
Think of it as cheap insurance.
 

bernardsmith

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Here's the thing - two things, in fact.
1. Older recipes did not include nutrient and the meads involved often took a considerable amount of time to fully ferment. It's not a coincidence that in the past folk talked about having to age their meads for years and that was not simply with the hope that the sharpness of the fusels would be attenuated with time. The yeast was unable to fully ferment the sugars in the honey.
2 And the reason why the yeast had such a difficult time was /is that honey unlike grains and unlike some fruit (grapes for example) is a desert in terms of the kinds of compounds and elements that the yeast need to create lipids which the yeast use to repair and build cell membranes. And those membranes are at the heart of how yeast transports sugar through cell walls.
There is a third point and that is that many of the older recipes included the use of a handful of oxidized grapes (AKA raisins) because it was assumed that if grapes were rich in nutrients then a handful of raisins would be rich too - and they are.. but tossing a handful of raisins in a gallon of must is like spitting in the ocean. The amount of nitrogen, zinc, manganese, and various vitamin complexes that they will add is all but undetectable. Wine makers who make wine from grapes use barrels of grapes , not a handful.

So sure you can make a "show mead" (as it is called) without nutrients (just honey , water, and yeast) but it may take you months and months and months to bottle. Or you can feed your yeast and depending on your protocol, you can be bottling and sharing your mead in weeks...
 
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lagerman71

lagerman71

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So if I do use nutrients when’s best, before or after pitching? ( great advice so far!!! Thanks guys )
 

dmtaylor

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Prolly use them in the yeast starter, if making a yeast starter. Then after that "they" say you should add a little at a time over the course of a week or three.

But I don't know if it matters, seriously.
 

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mredge73

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Not all nutrients are the same.
DAP used to be the only widely available nutrient; this can be overdosed so less is more.
What the yeast don't eat will leave left over ammonia in your mead.
There are also several proprietary blends of organic chemicals and DAP (like Fermaid K).
An easy method of obtaining good organic nutrients is to use a few tsp of cheap bread yeast. Hydrate it then boil it.
Add dead bread yeast to your mead; your live yeast will cannibalize them.

As far as methods, these really vary. Some folks will follow a strict nutrient regiment where they periodically add nutrients as the mead ferments.
The best mead makers have this down to a science, I am surprised that no one has replied with a 10 step list yet.
I just add a good bit of Fermaid K in the beginning and my yeast appear to be happy.
If you don't want to use nutrients, I would just pitch a ton of yeast so the healthy yeast can feed on the dead malnourished yeast.

Note on the earl grey tea, this stuff contains oils that you don't want in your mead. Use a similar tea that does not contain oils if you choose to do so.
Also, tea contains some good nutrients that yeast crave, like nitrogen and phosphorus. Not sure if it is enough to replace nutrient additions or not.
 
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lagerman71

lagerman71

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lagerman71

lagerman71

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Thank you all very much it’s so helpful!!

But the problem is the more you learn - the less you know!

So another query- what are these oils in earl grey and why are they bad for my mead?
 

Shammarr

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I would like to ask a sub-question to this question as I am working on my second batch of mead and first batch on my own. I have 5 gallons of water and 15 lbs of honey SG 1.090. I used 2 pouches of EC-1118. The must has been bubbling about once every 5 second, and I am on day 4. I am trying to decide when to put the energizer in the must. Should I wait tell it slows down, and if so how slow. Thanks for any assistance.

Sorry I forgot I added one quarter of tsp of energizer in the yeast cup after I rehydrated it.
 
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Kent88

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Some say add all the yeast nutrient before pitching, and then degas every other day, the stirring will keep the nutrients and yeast in suspension.

Others say add a little before pitching, add some each day over the next couple days, add some after a week, add some after another week. That is kind of the new(-ish) thing, staggered nutrient additions.

Nutrients get mead to ferment a lot faster, 2-6 weeks as opposed to years. Not sure how long the meads that @dmtaylor is making are taking to ferment out, he says that he doesn't notice a difference between meads made with and without nutrients, which leads me to infer that his meads are taking the same amount of time. I'm pretty curious about all this.
 
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lagerman71

lagerman71

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Some say add all the yeast nutrient before pitching, and then degas every other day, the stirring will keep the nutrients and yeast in suspension.

Others say add a little before pitching, add some each day over the next couple days, add some after a week, add some after another week. That is kind of the new(-ish) thing, staggered nutrient additions.

Nutrients get mead to ferment a lot faster, 2-6 weeks as opposed to years. Not sure how long the meads that @dmtaylor is making are taking to ferment out, he says that he doesn't notice a difference between meads made with and without nutrients, which leads me to infer that his meads are taking the same amount of time. I'm pretty curious about all this.
I was thinking the same but too polite to mention!! I’m thinking of nutrients before pitching, degas for the the first couple of weeks and lots of crossing the fingers!!! It’s only going to be 2 one gallon batches so not loosing out too much if it goes tits up!!! (Uk expression)
 

SEndorf

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You may be over thinking the issue....
For huge heavy beers, graduated additions might be beneficial.
For 2 gallon batches, not so much.
 
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lagerman71

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Over thinking the issue???? Of course I am, I’m homebrewing!!!
 

dmtaylor

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Not sure how long the meads that @dmtaylor is making are taking to ferment out, he says that he doesn't notice a difference between meads made with and without nutrients, which leads me to infer that his meads are taking the same amount of time. I'm pretty curious about all this.
I've had meads finish in as little as 4 or 5 weeks, with or without nutrients. My best mead with no nutrients was done after about 6 months but I was lazy and let it go a full 12 months. Did that make a difference? I do not believe so.
 
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lagerman71

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I’m happy with all input and experience!!! I want no fisticuffs at dawn over difference of opinions!!! I just want to learn as much as I can!
 

Kent88

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@dmtaylor 6 months without nutrients sounds crazy, I'd like some more details if you'd be so kind. Batch size, ingredients, OG, fermentation temperature, whether you saved any of that yeast slurry...

:mug:
 

Maylar

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I would like to ask a sub-question to this question as I am working on my second batch of mead and first batch on my own. I have 5 gallons of water and 15 lbs of honey SG 1.090. I used 2 pouches of EC-1118. The must has been bubbling about once every 5 second, and I am on day 4. I am trying to decide when to put the energizer in the must. Should I wait tell it slows down, and if so how slow. Thanks for any assistance.

Sorry I forgot I added one quarter of tsp of energizer in the yeast cup after I rehydrated it.
Use yeast nutrients, not energizer.

The current state of the art in mead making uses a staggered nutrient addition after the initial lag phase (like 24 hrs after pitching) and again at intervals of 1/3, 1/2, and 2/3 sugar break (gravity). Nutrients with organic nitrogen (Fermaid-O), not DAP, makes a better mead. This along with stirring to degass the CO2 and keep the yeast in suspension makes the best mead in the least amount of time. A number of people have spent a whole lot of time and effort to bring this science to the mead community.

Yes, you can make mead the old fashioned way of "pitch and forget", but the current protocol will get you a more consistent mead with far fewer problems.

See Mead Made Right for a description of the TOSNA protocol - http://www.meadmaderight.com/info.html

It ain't rocket science, but it is science.
 
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