Mead Lover's Digest #0366 Thu 24 November 1994


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



yeast characteristics (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #365,… (
Ambrosia Adventure/mead yea ("Daniel F McConnell")
improving smell (Rich Ryan)
beer yeasts, pottasium sorbate ("Ross I. Hastings")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #365, 19 November 1994 (John Harres)
re: Potassium Sorbate ? (Dick Dunn)
Once is enough! (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: yeast characteristics
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 12:10:22 -0500



To answer many numerous questions on yeasts…..


Prise de Mousse

Very fast fermentation, ester producer, high alcohol tolerane ( about

18% ) Primarily used for champagne. Goes to dryness. A typical trait in use
in mead is the ester characteristic, yeasty "nose"……. alas…. it is a
champagne yeast after all…..



Strong fermenter, will go to dryness Produces complex aromas, and can be

used to enhance color extraction from fruit ( melomels ).Is very tolerant to
H2S/free SO2 ( use of sodium bisulfite ). However, Montrachet is a very
tricky to use. During the onset of fermentation… it can produce more H2S
than alcohol…. thus giving that characteristic "sulfury nose "


Pasteur Red

Strong fermenter, however, VERY SENSITIVE to fermentation flucuations.

Not bad for use in meads will low nutrients. Will produce complex aromas.


Pasteur Champagne

Fast fermentation. Produces extremely compact lees ( sediment ).Good

where complexity / body is underemphasized.


Pasteur White

Fast, higher temp fermentation. however, sensitive to temperaturer

flucuations. Emphasis acidity…. good to produce dry, crisp meads.



Slow to medium fermentation rates. Enhances spiciness and fruity aromas (

good for methaglyn / melomels ). Low enzyme production, will have good


Epernay 2

Slow fermentor, . Good general purpose yeast. Best used at cooler

fermentation temperatures…VERY sensitive to
cold shock ( quick temperature changes ). Produces fruity / estery aromas.
Very easy to leave residual sugar…. best for sweeter meads, as it has low
alcohol tolerance.


71B –

fast fermentor, high ester production, yeast strain can metabolize about

33% of available malic acid……yields chardonnay buttery flavors….. I
recommend this for use will cysers……apple meads…. if you use the tarter
apples like Granny smith or the like.




Killer yeast strain. Fast starting. Excellent for use in low nutrient

musts. Ester production dependant on nutrients in must…. though tends to
have similar characteristics as EC1118. Also can be used to restart stuck



Cool fermentation temps. ( like Epernay ) VERY sensitive to SO2

Produces flowery complex aromas…. Produces meads similar to Rieslings….


Wassail and happy brewing…


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #365,...
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 12:11:04 -0500

>>Subject: Re: slow ferments/champaign yeast, etc.
>>From: Kelvin Kapteyn <>
>>Date: Wed, 16 Nov 94 16:03:10 EST

>>I also have been only adding part of the acid to the must before >>ferment.
This is based on the hypothesis that yeast are >>especially sensitive to low
ph values and the yeast produces some >>acid during the ferment.
……..below 5.5. I then add the rest of the >>acid after Does anybody
know any reasons why this is not a good >>dea? All of my winemaking books
recommend adding all of the >>acid at the beginning.

The currently wine cultured yeasts are acclimated for low pHs…

typically from 2.9 to 3.8 ( this does not include the Beer yeasts ) .
Low pH affect microbiological stability ( bacteria etc… ). Higher pH ranges
stress the yeast, and increase the chance for genetic mutation. The mutant
yeasts can produce some rather unpleasant flavors. Also, for any using
sodium bisulfite, the free SO2 concentration radically changes with pH, and
becoming almost totally useless at pH above 4.

The pH is probably the singly most important chemical parameter in making

mead. pH control biological stability, color, oxidation rate, protein
stability. Oxidation rate is dependant upon the buffering capability of the
mead. polymerization of esters is pH dependant.


Basically all this boils down to is the style of the mead you are

producing !!!




Subject: Ambrosia Adventure/mead yea
From: "Daniel F McConnell" <>
Date: 20 Nov 1994 14:38:16 -0500

Subject:  Ambrosia Adventure/mead yeasts

Hi All:

I just got my copy of Inside Mead early last week. In it was an
announcement for the 2nd Annual Ambrosia Adventure. Due dates
are Wednesday 12-28-94 through Friday 1-6-95. Judging will be
January 15th. For more information or entry forms contact:

Suzanne Price
Ambrosia Adventure Mead Competition
PO Box 4666
Grand Junction, CO

I am not involved in any way with this competition, just posting
because I believe that Mead-Only competitions promote the hobby
and I don't think that they have net access.

Dick and others asked about Wyeast and YeastLab mead yeasts, here
is my information. All are wine yeasts.

Yeast Lab M61 Dry Mead-Pasteur Champagne, 16-18% EtOH tolerance.
Very alcohol tolerant, ferments dry, fruity and clean, yet leaves a
noticeable honey flavor and aroma. 65-70F. [I would add austere and
well suited for very dry, sparkling meads or white wine-DSM]

Yeast Lab M62 Sweet Mead-Steinberger, 12-13% EtOH tolerance.
This strain has slightly reduced alcohol tolerance and produces a very
fruity, sweet mead with tremendous honey aromas. 65-70F. [may give
off a temporary sulfur aroma during fermentation-don't worry, it does go
away. It works well for fruity white wine when fermented cool (60-65F)

  • DSM]


Wyeast #3632 Dry Mead-Prisse de Mousse
Wyeast #3184 Sweet Mead-Rudesheimer


The Wyeast ID's are second-hand data, so take it for what it's worth.
I have not used either of these from this source. If the Prisse de Mousse
is true to type, it also ferments in the 16-18% range, dry and austere.
Great for dry white wine. Rudesheimer has a reduced EtOH tolerance,
a little lower than Steinberger (I'm guessing at 11-12%).

We have been playing around with beer yeasts in meads. They can
be coaxed to ferment much higher than one might expect with small,
gradual additions of honey during the fermentation. The interesting
thing is that there is none of that nasty fermentation aroma, they
clear fast, taste better, require less ageing and are of lower alcohol
than their wine yeast cousins (ALL advantages in my book).


Subject: improving smell
From: (Rich Ryan)
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 17:35:45 -0500

I made a sparkling mead which has been in the bottle about 7 months
now. The taste has improved dramatically over time, at 2 months it
was undrinkable, now it is quite sweet. The smell however detracts
from the taste. Is there a way to improve the honey smell? I used
15 lbs of light honey, water and champagne yeast (dry) and priming
sugar when bottled. I'm thinking that the addition of fruit might
solve my problem.


Subject: beer yeasts, pottasium sorbate
From: "Ross I. Hastings" <>
Date: 20 Nov 94 21:13:35 EST

Just thought I'd address a few questions that have popped up recently

1) Luigi Bai (MLD #364) asks how to stop a mead from fermenting out. The
neatest way to do this is with potassium sorbate. Wait until the mead has
reached its desired speciific gravity. Then dissolve 1 tbsp of potassium
sorbate in 1 cup of water or fermeted mead. Stir into the fermenter and let
sit for about a week to ensure the mead has stabilized. Proceed with
Another way, suggested I believe by Byron Burch or was it Acton and Duncan,
is to let the mead ferment out to as far as it can go. Then rack, add more
honey to bring the F.G. back up to its desired level and add potassium
sorbate. The second method "ensures" that
the yeast is pretty much finished and then the stabilizer just finishes
off the job. In my experience the second method works the best but it is
more time consuming as you have to wait for the mead to finish fermenting
before you take action.

2)David Moore (MLD #365) asks if pottasium sorbate has any off flavours. In
the quantities that I have used I am certainly not aware of any off
flavours imparted by this chemical stabilizer.

3) Geoffry (MLD #365) asks about sparkolloid. Boy this is powerful stuff!
Using 1 gm/U.S. gallon will appear to clear 5 gallons of very hazy mead in
a matter of hours. Boil 1 gm/U.S. gallon in water for about 5-10 minutes.
Pour the hot solution into the fermeted mead and stir it up. It will seem
clear within hours but it you let it sit for a few more days to a week even
more stuff will come out of solution. I found this out by experimentation.
I racked what seemed to be crystal clear mead 24 hours after the addition
of sparkolloid. I let the mead stand for a week. Some 48 hours after
racking their was a layer of misty sediment in the bottom of the racking
vessel. So wait a few days after addition or you will get a layer of
(harmless) sparkolloid in the bottom of your bottles.
There are a few drawbacks to this stuff. Firstly, it agitates extremely
easily once it has fallen out of solution in the carboy. If you pick up the
carboy and put it on a shelf to bottle from the sparkolloid will mix
trhoughout the mead. If you even breathe on your carboy the stuff seems to
swirl up!. So set the carboy in its final resting place immediately after
you add the sparkolloid. Second, sparkolloid does not fall out of solution
in a nice dense, shallow layer. Rather, its a misty, rather thick (about
1/2 -1 inch) layer. So you have to sacrifice a bit of mead to get the
benefits of crytal clear final product.

4) Kirk Harralson (MLD # 365) asks about using ale yeasts in meads. After
trying champagne yeasts and mead yeasts I have gone back to ale yeasts. I
have run side by side tests using a single large batch of must, spliting it
into several equal size fermenters and then pitching a different yeast in
each fermenter. They were fermented under identical conditions. Yes there
is a distinct difference in the flavour and aroma of meads fermented with
ale rather than wine yeasts but one cannot say that one is better than the
other. The ale yeasts produce a definite ester character that is basically
lacking in the wine meads. The wine yeasts are, not surprisingly, quite
winey. This is not a trite observation; it is interesting how much wine
character comes from yeast in addition to ingredients such as grapes. As to
final gravity, the wine and mead yeasts will virtually always carry a mead
down to lower graviities. However, I have had Wyeast London ale ferment a
mead to 1.004 starting at an O.G. of 1.085 (this was exceptional).
Personally, I like meads on the sweet side with F.G. at 1.020. Being a beer
lover and brewer long before I got into meads I guess my tastes swing
towards the fruity estery side of things so meads made with ale yeasts are
to my taste. They may however, not be to yours. However, I think as mead
lovers we should recognize that using these two broad types of yeast (ale
vs wine) will both produce very fine but distinct types of mead.

A few tips on handling ale yeasts for mead.
1. Pitch about 400ml of apple juice starter for every 1 U.S. gallon of
mead. Ale yeast has a tough time getting going in honey must so you must
pitch at a high level.
2. Keep your O.G. at no more than 1.080. From hard experience of dumping
10s of gallons of meads down the drain I can tell you this is the critical
limit! Yes occasionally you get lucky but more often than not you'll be
dumping it (unless you like F.G.s in the 1.050s). This comes out to about 2
lbs per gallon with my local honey. So yes, ale meads will have less
alcohol than wine meads. My solution is to simply drink more mead, which
really isn't too terrible a price to pay.
3. Double up on your yeast nutrients. One of my tests was to add 2x the
nutrient level to some meads and to keep the other meads at a level
recommended by Acton and Duncan (Making Meads 1990). (Recognizing that
their measures were for imperial gallons and mine for U.S. so my levels are
actually somewhat more than 2x.) The meads with 2x nutrient levels
fermented much quicker and reached lower F.G.s than their normal level
sisters. No ale mead fermented with these high nutrient levels has gotten
stuck in the 1.040s. I use 10 gms of Ammonium Phosphate and 2 gms of
Magnesium Sulphate (epsom salt) per U.S. gallon.
4. Add a bit of yeast energizer, vitamin B, etc to your primary. I've just
cottoned on to this and boy what a kick start it gives to the intitial
ferment! (Sorry, no quanitification available yet)
5. And finally, use a good quality liquid yeast for your starters. Don't go
cheap on your yeast; its the most important quality control ingredient in
your mead. I prefer Wyeast London Ale but I am sure there are other good
ale yeasts for mead. I have heard favourable reviews of American Ale yeast.

Ross Hastings
AHA Certified Judge and obviously non-traditional mead maker

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #365, 19 November 1994
From: John Harres <>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 08:44:40 -0700

I'm almost ready to make my first batch of mead, but lacking a perfect recipe,
I've been working on concocting my own. This has lead to a few questions:

1. In reading Charlie Papazian's _Homebrewer's Companion_, I noticed that his
sweet mead (what I'm after) recipes call for ~18lbs. of honey. Is this amount
used to "overwhelm" the yeasties into making the mead too alcoholic to ferment
it all, and thus make it sweet?

2. I originally bought a package of Wyeast's Sweet Mead yeast. Is this just
an underattenuative yeast, or is it alcohol intolerant?

All of this leads me to believe that I need to either use a different yeast,
or use less honey, unless I want a SWEET mead. Correct?

Lastly, does anyone have a good recipe for a sweet blackberry mead?


John Harres | "The light works," he said, indicating the window, "the

| gravity works," he said, dropping a pencil on the floor. | "Anything else we have to take our chances with."

| — Dirk Gently (by Douglas Adams)


Subject: re: Potassium Sorbate ?
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 24 Nov 94 00:35:41 MST (Thu)

David Moore <> writes:
> …but I'm concerned about residual
> fermentation in the wine bottles. I was thinking about adding some potassium
> sorbate to the part going into the wine bottles.

OK, just realize that potassium sorbate does not *stop* fermentation. (It
wasn't clear from your note whether you understood this.) If the yeast
have gone dormant, sorbate will stop them from starting up again, but it
won't stop an active fermentation.

> Does potassium sorbate impart any flavor effects? Is there any reason why I
> might not want to do this?

There's been off-and-on discussion on USENET in rec.crafts.winemaking about
using sorbate. Some folks say they use it just fine, no problem. Others
swear that if you've used it, after a while in bottle you'll get a
"geranium" taste in your wine. I have only empirical evidence, no theory,
but I've used sorbate with no problems in mead. (I have one mead in par-
ticular in mind, bottled in early '93 and of a delicate enough character
that it should show flaws.) I suspect the folks who have had problems
with sorbate in wine have done something wrong–either using too much or
not letting the wine sit prior to bottling.

Anybody have any failures in practice using sorbate in mead?

Dick Dunn -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado USA

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Once is enough!
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 24 Nov 94 23:42:03 MST (Thu)

Folks, PLEASE if you tell anyone how to subscribe to MLD, tell them that
it's not produced daily! It's getting REALLY old to have to filter out
multiple requests because somebody sends me a "subscribe" message every 12
hours until he receives his first digest. The problem seems to have gotten
a lot worse lately…for November I seem to be running about 1.5 requests
per new subscriber, and the digest frequency hasn't changed much.

Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder, Colorado USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #366