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General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: dmtaylor on February 14, 2011, 12:34:28 PM

Title: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dmtaylor on February 14, 2011, 12:34:28 PM
I've just made a simple mead with the Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead yeast.  It is currently at 70 F.  I have made good meads at 70 F in the past; however, now I'm ready to make REALLY GOOD mead that would please even the conneisseurs.  So my question is:

What is the RIGHT temperature to ferment mead using the 4184 sweet mead yeast?

Thanks,
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dmtaylor on February 23, 2011, 03:00:19 AM
No mead experts around here, eh?  Oh well, she seems to be fermenting well at 69 F.  Probably will be fine, huh?
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dano14041 on February 23, 2011, 03:21:14 AM
Dang, I was hoping someone had answered your question.  :-\
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jaybeerman on February 23, 2011, 05:45:55 AM
I've not used this strain in a mead, BUT you're smack in the middle of the temp range that wyeast provides.  You'll be fine.  I see that it is described as having a "rich fruity profile that compliments fruit mead, " so @ 70f I bet you'll still have a pretty fruity profile.  I think a lot of folks opt for wine yeast over the mead yeast so that's an option (next time) if you don't think this batch qualifies as "really good."  Cheers, j
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: tschmidlin on February 23, 2011, 06:54:11 AM
I had originally decided not to post that I have no experience with this yeast, but now I feel like I have to.

I have no experience with this yeast ;D
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dmtaylor on February 23, 2011, 11:36:18 AM
What's the deal with meadmakers not using "mead yeast" but always opting for wine yeast??  I've used only the mead yeasts thus far and have been very happy with the results.  So maybe I, a mead novice, can teach the mead "experts" a thing or two!?  Either that, or I'm too uneducated to know what good mead tastes like... though I am a BJCP judge, and I did sleep at a HoJo last night.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dbarber on February 23, 2011, 02:08:58 PM
I've only used the sweet mead yeast on ciders.  From what I have heard this yeast is finicky and doesn't always produce consistent results. 
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: morticaixavier on February 23, 2011, 04:50:45 PM
I really don't like sweet mead so I never used the sweet mead yeast (Except once). I like really dry mead so I use champaign yeast cause it will chew through the sugars to the bone. I have never tried a dry mead yeast though so I can't really speak. temp wise I have always just gone with ambient temps so around 70.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jaybeerman on February 24, 2011, 12:12:20 AM
What's the deal with meadmakers not using "mead yeast" but always opting for wine yeast??  I've used only the mead yeasts thus far and have been very happy with the results.  So maybe I, a mead novice, can teach the mead "experts" a thing or two!?  Either that, or I'm too uneducated to know what good mead tastes like... though I am a BJCP judge, and I did sleep at a HoJo last night.

Next time try a batch with wine yeast and decide for yourself.  Personally I hated the dry mead yeast and wouldn't want the character of the sweet mead (obviously your palate may differ).  I'll let you know when i make another batch of mead; I would happily trade a bottle.  Cheers, j
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dmtaylor on February 24, 2011, 04:08:48 AM
The last time I used the sweet mead yeast (this was like 5 years ago), it finished at 1.004 -- hardly "sweet".  I agree that the dry mead yeast probably finishes far too dry.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jeffy on February 24, 2011, 12:23:12 PM
I used a big slurry of Thames Valley ale yeast in my batch of key lime melomel from December.  I kinda like how it tastes and it seems to have finished at 1.010 from an OG of 1.090 (I don't have my notes in front of me).  Hopefully I can get it to clear.  I put a two step Isinglass treatment in it Sunday, but it may have some pectin haze.
Anyway, I use ale yeast in a lot of meads (mostly braggots, though) and ferment them at the appropriate temp for the yeast.
I used Montrochet in a varietal mead last year and followed pretty much the same temp schedule - low 60F.  Even after that it took a while before the heat of the alcohol subsided.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: stlaleman on February 24, 2011, 02:33:51 PM
The problem is.......I have never made a really good mead from this yeast. Have made some "really good" meads from wine yeasts, but this one has let me down majorly.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jeffy on February 24, 2011, 05:03:26 PM
The problem is.......I have never made a really good mead from this yeast. Have made some "really good" meads from wine yeasts, but this one has let me down majorly.

Which yeast?
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: stlaleman on February 24, 2011, 05:21:26 PM
Some of my favorites are D-47,71B-1122, and EC-1118. The first two for fruit melomels, the latter for cysers (I like them dry and sparkling) and straight meads (back sweeten here).
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jaybeerman on February 24, 2011, 05:51:10 PM
The last time I used the sweet mead yeast (this was like 5 years ago), it finished at 1.004 -- hardly "sweet".  I agree that the dry mead yeast probably finishes far too dry.

What was your SG in that mead?  A FG of 1.004 - 1.001 is perfect in my book.  I just didn't like the flavor profile of the dry mead yeast.  IMO mead fg just can't be compaired with beer fg and therefore dry is a relative term.  cheers, j

Anyway, I use ale yeast in a lot of meads (mostly braggots, though) and ferment them at the appropriate temp for the yeast.
I used Montrochet in a varietal mead last year and followed pretty much the same temp schedule - low 60F.  Even after that it took a while before the heat of the alcohol subsided.

I agree ale yeast seems to be the best fit for braggots though I plan to do some wine yeast/braggot experiments later this year.  What was the ester profile in the mead fermented with wine yeast at low 60sF?  What were your overall thoughts on the mead?  cheers, j
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jeffy on February 24, 2011, 06:13:05 PM
The last time I used the sweet mead yeast (this was like 5 years ago), it finished at 1.004 -- hardly "sweet".  I agree that the dry mead yeast probably finishes far too dry.

What was your SG in that mead?  A FG of 1.004 - 1.001 is perfect in my book.  I just didn't like the flavor profile of the dry mead yeast.  IMO mead fg just can't be compaired with beer fg and therefore dry is a relative term.  cheers, j

Anyway, I use ale yeast in a lot of meads (mostly braggots, though) and ferment them at the appropriate temp for the yeast.
I used Montrochet in a varietal mead last year and followed pretty much the same temp schedule - low 60F.  Even after that it took a while before the heat of the alcohol subsided.

I agree ale yeast seems to be the best fit for braggots though I plan to do some wine yeast/braggot experiments later this year.  What was the ester profile in the mead fermented with wine yeast at low 60sF?  What were your overall thoughts on the mead?  cheers, j

Pretty delicate, like apples and pears.  It's nice, like a sparkling honey-flavored dry champagne.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jaybeerman on February 24, 2011, 06:49:32 PM
I've used only the mead yeasts thus far and have been very happy with the results. 

I meant to post this yesterday - the nhc 2010 meadmaker of the year used sweet mead yeast.  Just as a side note the 2006 - 2009 mm of the year all used wine yeast.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: Bad Brewer on February 24, 2011, 08:25:48 PM
To try and answer the original question...

Yeasts are fickle beasts.  The "right" temp for any yeast is the temp that delivers the flavor profile you want from the yeast.  You can hold a strain at the low end of its temp range, and if you used the exact same ingredients/procedure but changed the temp to the high end of the range on your next batch... you might get a very different end product.  Each strain of yeast has a unique behavior profile across temp ranges.  Generally speaking, towards the higher end of a given strain's temp range, you will see more phenolic compounds and esters (have to be cautious of chlorophenols and fusel alcohols though), lower temp will not produce as many.  So much depends on the yeast strain....

After that you have to get into adequacy of aeration, nutrient levels, pH, sugar profile of the must or wort, pitching rates, and a couple of other variables that can alter yeast behavior.

For a sweet mead what I like to do is start a little warm (pitch at the high end of my yeast's temp range), hold it there for about 12 hours after lag phase ends, and then back it down a degree every 6 hours until it I get it do 68-70.  I like wyeast 4783 for a sweet mead, so I let it start at 75 and walk it slowly back to 68.  That is close to the top end of its temp range and usually imparts some subtle spicy ester notes along with fruity sweet profile.  Did two 5gallon batches with this yeast (and that temp schedule in primary) and some local orange blossom honey last year, my family has literally stolen every bottle! 

If I use that same yeast and held the temp at 60 for the entire primary, I would expect a good sweet mead at the end, but the flavor profile would probably change.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jaybeerman on February 25, 2011, 12:45:45 AM
Generally speaking, towards the higher end of a given strain's temp range, you will see more phenolic compounds and esters (have to be cautious of chlorophenols and fusel alcohols though), lower temp will not produce as many.  So much depends on the yeast strain....

Yes a lot depends on yeast strain BUT in general Lower fermentation temperatures restrain ester production and therefore promote perception of phenols.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dmtaylor on February 25, 2011, 04:08:04 PM
What was your SG in that mead?  A FG of 1.004 - 1.001 is perfect in my book.  I just didn't like the flavor profile of the dry mead yeast.  IMO mead fg just can't be compaired with beer fg and therefore dry is a relative term.  cheers, j

Sorry, guys, I was mistaken.  I just checked my old notes.  It seems on my last mead, when I had a FG of 1.004, I actually used champagne yeast because the LHBS was out of mead yeast and I wasn't sure what else to use.  That was with an OG of 1.087.  The batch before that, I used sweet mead yeast with an OG of 1.082 and the FG was 1.025.  So maybe my current mead will turn out quite sweet after all.  At least I know that if it turns out way too sweet, I could try adding a couple packs of champagne yeast to bring it down.

By the way, it's only been a couple of weeks and my mead is down to 1.031 already, and still fizzing away, so I would be pretty surprised if it stops at 1.025.  I'll keep you posted, if anyone cares.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: tschmidlin on February 25, 2011, 05:24:51 PM
0I'll keep you posted, if anyone cares.

Yes, we care.  Keep us posted. :)
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: jaybeerman on February 25, 2011, 07:22:46 PM
1. Sorry, guys, I was mistaken.  I just checked my old notes.  It seems on my last mead, when I had a FG of 1.004, I actually used champagne yeast because the LHBS was out of mead yeast and I wasn't sure what else to use.  That was with an OG of 1.087.  The batch before that, I used sweet mead yeast with an OG of 1.082 and the FG was 1.025. 
2. At least I know that if it turns out way too sweet, I could try adding a couple packs of champagne yeast to bring it down.
3. By the way, it's only been a couple of weeks and my mead is down to 1.031 already, and still fizzing away, so I would be pretty surprised if it stops at 1.025.  I'll keep you posted, if anyone cares.

1.  1.004 did seem low for sweet mead yeast. 
2.  Yep
3.  Nice, keep us posted.

More on the original two thoughts -   I suspect that sweet mead yeast is actually medium alc tolerant white wine yeast that they found to work well with meads and slapped the mead label on it.  The sugar profile and ph of mead fermentation is similar to wine fermentation and that's why instead of using just the sweet mead yeast you can choose from a whole arsenal of wine yeast (white and red).  That's not to say that the sweet mead yeast isn't a good choice, just that there are options. 

As far as fermentation temps go, a lot can be learned by reading about wine fermentation.  Anyway, per usual this has been an interesting discussion.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: morticaixavier on February 25, 2011, 10:59:06 PM
Last mead I made I used champaign yeast and it had an FG of 0.99 or so. Didn't keep good notes so I don't remember my OG

**EDIT** I havn't tasted it yet. It will be a year in teh bottle next month and I will crack one open.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: punatic on March 20, 2011, 10:55:26 PM
Late to the party again, me.

I like Wyeast 4184 "Sweet Mead Yeast"  It is very well behaved and drops like a stone when done fermenting.  Super clear mead.  I use a laser pointer to check my meads for turbidity.  4184 clears to the point where the laser beam is not visible in the mead when shone though my glass carboys. 

Wyeast yeast strain specs say temp range for 4184 = 65⁰-75⁰F

Wyeast Mead Yeast Strain Guide (http://www.wyeastlab.com/he_m_yeaststrain.cfm)

Wyeast Wine Yeast Strain Guide (http://www.wyeastlab.com/hw_yeaststrain.cfm)
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: Brewdogz on April 20, 2011, 05:57:45 PM
Hey all,

Been off the forum for a very long time.  Time to catch up.

Fermentation temp - anything around 70 degF (=/- 5 deg) is typically fine for most wine and mead yeasts.  Bad Brewer and Jay... have a great handle on the yeast flavors and fermentation temps.  Yeast health also has a lot to do with off flavors.

Yeast types - I know a lot of people who swear by the Sweet Mead yeast and have obviously done well with it (Kibzey and Formanek from Chicago).  I plan to use it on a future batch of traditional mead, but have no experience with it yet.  My house strain (almost exlcusive) is the Narbonne (Lalvin 71B).  My favorite by far, it gives a nice ester profile (fruitiness) to the mead.  The biggest drawback is it's ability to consume sugar.

Curt
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: animaldoc on July 07, 2011, 04:11:11 AM
Hey all,

  My house strain (almost exlcusive) is the Narbonne (Lalvin 71B). ..........  The biggest drawback is it's ability to consume sugar.

Curt

As in it consumes too much or it is inadequate in drying out the final product?

-- Scott
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: ryang on August 10, 2011, 10:06:03 PM

As in it consumes too much or it is inadequate in drying out the final product?

-- Scott

I'm sure he means it dries out the final product.  That's been my experience with it.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature for Mead
Post by: dmtaylor on August 11, 2011, 04:23:05 AM
Update, for what it's worth:  I actually split this batch, adding little blue grapes to half while leaving the other half alone, using the sweet mead yeast for both.  Got very different results.  At one point, SG was 0.995 on the grape mead (not really a pyment because I only used roughly a pound per gallon) while SG was 1.016 on the unadulterated version.  At that point, I sorbated the sweet plain mead and it finished a little later at 1.011.  So I guess my point is, you'll get different results depending on what you do with adding fruit or not, etc., but if you do want to halt fermentation, do it a little early to let a few more points fall and then it will indeed quit.  Personally I'm happier with the sweeter mead, very delicious and just the right sweetness to suit my own taste, though the grape one is more tannic and earthy and it should be interesting to age it for a while.

Slainte mhath,