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I work a farmers market where I live to sell honey...I want to expand into providing some mead making items and would like to offer yeast as one of the items. I have never made mead yet myself. Would like to know if any of you could help me in deciding which yeasts to offer and what is most popular for your yeast making. Thanks for any help you can provide.....Corinne
 

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That is not a trivial question, as there are a lot of yeasts that can be used, with some more beginner mead-maker/retailer friendly than other.

I assume that you are targeting new/inexperienced mead makers (more experienced once are likely to buy yeast from a homebrew/winemaking shop). If that is the case, I'd suggest some of the dried wine yeasts. They are easy for you to store (keep refrigerated as much as possible), are shelf-stable for many months, and are pretty idiot-proof on the user end. There are mead-specific yeasts produced by Wyeast and White Labs, but these are liquid cultures - they don't last as long on the shelf, must be kept refridgerated at all times, and are much harder for the customer to use.

In terms of good dry yeasts for mead, I'd suggest:
  • Lalvin D-47 - accentuates honey character well and doesn't go crazy in the fermenter. But it needs a lot of nutrient (so you may want to sell that as well).
  • Lalvin K1-V1116 - good for melomels (fruit meads); adds berry flavours. Also needs a lot of nutrient added to ferment mead.
  • Lalvin 71B-1122 - also good for melomels, especially those with dark fruits (cherries, raspberries); one of the quicker finishing yeasts, need less nutrient than most.
  • Fermentas US-05 - technically an ale (beer) yeast, but is fairly clean. Will leave some residual sweetness in meads >12% ABV.

In terms of nutrient, there are good resources on what kinds to use, and how to add them. I'd suggest giving away some sort of printout, along with your yeast/honey/nutrient, to help your customers. Nutrient added properly can give you a ready-to-drink mead in a month or two; don't use nutrient, or use too little or use it too late, and mead can take months-to-years to become good.

EDIT: D47 is probably the most popular mead yeast out there, so if you're going to stock only one, I'd stock that one.

EDIT #2: An idea may be to sell a mead "kit" which comes with yeast and enough pre-measured nutrient for a batch of mead. You'd have to measure out the nutrient...but then you can charge an extra bit of $$$ for the convenience factor.
 

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The advise is sound as far as it goes. The problem is the devil is indeed in the details. Make mead with the D47 much above 70F brewspace temperature and you have produced toxic waste. Failure to rack the mead off the 71B in a reasonable time results in all the off tastes of decaying dead yeast and sludge.

Buy a copy of The Compleat Meadmaker by Kenn Schramm and crib his recipes and directions.
 

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Hi SuiGeneris,
hoping it is ok to build on this thread.

My local brewer store actually sells the D-47 and also mentions to add yeast nutricients. They also sell one called "Mangrove Jack's mead yeast" (M05) and do not comment on nutricient. Do you have any experience with this particular yeast?

Also any comments on "Bulldog mead yeast" which seems like a "turbo" yeast which will ferment in 5-7 days. I don't see mead brewing as an art of speed, but the combination of yeast and nutrition in one bag seems very convenient.
 

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I've not used M05, but it most likely needs nutrient to finish a mead in a reasonable amount of time. Mead - especially if a honey-only mead, is very low in nutrients such as nitrogen, which greatly slows yeast growth and can lead to a lot of off flavours (that age-out over time). Most mead makers today have started using a staged addition of nutrient, as experiments by several mead makers have found this approach gives the best meads. I follow the guidelines at this website, although I'll use any complete yeast nutrient, and don't worry about finding the exact brand the page recommends:

http://www.meadmaderight.com/home.html

Bulldog is simply yeast pre-packaged with nutrient. I've not used it, but the reviews on a mead-making forum I'm a member of have been largely negative.

Bryan
 

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Consider a half pound of pollen in your brew. It supplies all the nutrient and energizer and imparts a lovely color, taste and nose.
 

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You don't need that much; about 1 tbsp/US gallon (~3.75 ml/L) is sufficient, although fermentation does tend to be slower as you have to wait for the pollen to break down to release the amino acids/etc that feed the yeast.

There is a contamination risk though, as pollen can have fairly high loads of lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast - not a huge issue if you're doing a simple mead (the yeast you pitch will eat all the sugars before the bugs can grab a toe-hold), but if you're making a mead with additions that add complex sugars or carbohydrates, those wild bugs can add a character that you may or maynot like. I'm a wild-yeast fanatic, so I'd go with the pollen and forgo the commercial yeast...but that's just me ;-)
 

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Most mead makers today have started using a staged addition of nutrient, as experiments by several mead makers have found this approach gives the best meads.
This is actually what I was adviced. We add 1/4 of the nutricient day 0, 1/4 day 1, 1/4 day 2 and the final 1/4 day 7. I don't know the result yet, but it makes some sense to me that it will probably have greater effect than adding everything in one go.

Thanks for the link to meadmaderight, there is so much info to consume on this topic which could be so simple :)
 

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My experience with the staged additions is a quicker finish with less off-flavours than using the same amount as a single addition (with either of those options being superior to no addition at all).

Bryan
 
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