Staggered Nutirent Timing in Session Meads – Inorganic

Nutrient timing is complicated in session meads as standard staggered nutrient regimes are designed for standard meads, and session meads complete fermentation much more quickly. Moreover, with inorganic nutrients, it is possible to burn yeast with DAP during the lag phase, which can result in phenolic off-flavors. In this bench trial, we test: what is the best staggered nutrient timing for session meads?

In this bench trial experiment, alternative inorganic nutrient timings were testing for their flavor and aroma contributions in a 4.5% ABV, carbonated, dry traditional mead fermented using S-04. Six alternative nutrient timings were tested on identical musts at the same time and treated identically. Given the number of meads, all six meads were presented in a bench trials in front of two judges. Judges were asked to provided feedback and rank the meads.

Recipe: 4.5%, Dry Traditional Short Mead, April. 2021, 1.7 liter batches

  • 7-liters of spring water
  • 1 kg of white honey, clover and alfalfa, from Peace Valley Apiaries
  • 0.75 g of cal. chloride
  • 0.35 g of gypsum
  • 1 g of kph03
  • 0.25 g of Himalayan sea salt
  • 2.5 gram per gallon of S-04

Nutrient timing variations:

  • All upfront
  • Day 0.2, 1, 2
  • Day 0.2, 1, 2, 3
  • Day 1,2
  • Day 0.5, 1, 1.5
  • Day 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2

Nutrients (calculated using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr):

  • YAN Recommended: 57.7-low; 78.3 – medium; 108.7 – high
  • Medium-low YAN level excluding go-ferm
    • Fermaid K: 0.56 grams/ gallon (15 ppm YAN)
    • DAP: 1.02 grams/ gallon (57 ppm YAN)
    • Goferm 2.35 grams/ gallon (73 ppm YAN)
  • Total YAN: 145 ppm YAN

Specs at time 0:

  • Target OG: 1.034
  • pH 7.00

At pitch

  • Mixed honey, water, salts, Goferm.
  • Sprinkled yeast on top of must
  • First nutrient addition at 4 hours

Fermentation Notes

Regular temperature, pH, gravity and aroma tests were taken. The table below summarizes the observations.

Time 66.5°FUpfront0.2,1,20.2,1,2,31,20.5,1,1.50.5,1,1.5,2
+1d am
68.9°F
Clean, honeyClean, honeyClean, unfermented honeyClean, unfermented honeyClean, unfermented honeyClean, unfermented honey
+1d pm 66.3°FPear, apple Light phenolics
3.54 pH
1.023
Pear, apple, honey
4.39 pH
1.026
Honey, yeasty
4.65 pH
1.029
Sulfur, unfermented honey, yeast
5.60 pH
1.029
Honey, slight mothball
5.10 pH
1.032
Honey, unfermented honey
4.84 pH
1.032
+2d am 68.5°FPear
3.46 pH
1.018  
Apple, honey,
3.55 pH
1.020  
Slight sulfur, apple, honey

3.78 pH
1.021  
Honey, phenolics
4.23 pH
1.025  
Honey, pear, apple
3.96 pH
1.021  
Honey, pear
3.82 pH
1.020
+2dpm 65.6°F  
+3d am 65.8°F
Honey, pear, apple
3.51 pH
1.015
Pear, apple 3.77 pH
1.020
Honey, apple
3.87 pH
1.020
phenolics Muddled apple,
4.54 pH
1.022
Honey, apple, phenolics,
3.56 pH
1.018  
Muddled pear
3.82 pH
1.020
+3d pm 65.2°Fpear, apple
3.33 pH
1.012
phenolics
3.18 pH
1.012
Honey, muddled apple, alcohol
3.41 pH
1.015
Phenolics/ mothball
3.43 pH
1.015
Apple, alcohol 3.29 pH
1.012
Muddled pear, apple
3.19 pH
1.013
+4d pm 65.1 °F 
+5d am 68.2°F
pear, apple, honey
3.46 pH
1.008
Phenolics, apple, pear
3.28 pH
1.007
mothball
3.30 pH
1.009
apple
3.34 pH
1.007
Apple
3.30 pH
1.006
Apple, pear, honey
3.17 pH
1.008
+5d pm 65.5 °F
+6d pm 70.2°F
pear, apple, honey
3.24 pH
1.006
apple, light alcohol
3.11 pH
1.005
Apple, pear, alcohol
3.12 pH
1.004
Muddled apple
3.45 pH
1.005
Clean Apple, pear, light alcohol
3.35 pH
1.004
Clean, Apple, pear, honey
3.24 pH
1.005
+6d pm 65.0°F  
+7d am 66.7°F
pear, honey
3.31 pH
1.003
Alcohol, light apple
3.33 pH
1.001
Watery, apple 3.29 pH
1.003
Alcohol, pear
3.29 pH
1.001
Alcohol, pear 3.13 pH
1.003
Apple, pear, honey
3.07 pH
1.004
+7d pm 66.7°F   Heavy pear, alcohol
3.14 pH
0.999
Alcohol, apple
3.05 pH
0.999
pear, apple
3.13 pH
0.999
Alcohol, apple
3.35 pH
0.999
apple, pear
3.23 pH
0.999
Apple, honey
3.19 pH
0.999

Comments on Fementation

I really got my nose in during the fermentation to smell for aroma. Interesting, upfront at four hours saw some phenolics at day 1, but it quickly cleaned up. Almost all had some muddled pomme or expressed some phenolics at some point. The nutrients added at 24 and 48 hours put off sulfur, suggesting that waiting 24 hours is too long. Some of the additions that went into two days and especially three days did put off some phenolics. Day two is when the meads hit the 1.022 or 1/3 sugar break hit. It was clear you didn’t want to go much beyond that, similar to standard meads. My impression from fermentation was that the day 0.5,1,1.5,2 threw off the least phenolics, so my hypothesis is that it would do better in the bench trials. 

Secondary

  • Most meads had dropped clear so transfered directly from primary to botttling
  • Carbonated with 3.6 grams/ 500ml of white honey

Tasting Notes

Meads were tested at 2 months. Judges were asked to provide brief tasting notes and rank from best to worst.

Nutrient TimingJudge 1Judge 2
UpfrontAroma: strongest aroma of pear and apple, clean.
Taste: Clean, balanced, some diacetyl
Rank: 3rd
Overall: most flavor, depth, best
Rank: 1st
1,2Aroma: diacetyl-butterscotch, slight funk
Taste: apple, bright
Rank: 4th
Overall: bitter, yeasty, bready
Rank: 6th
0.2,1,2,3Aroma: slight funk, DMS, apple
Taste: diacetyl, flat
Rank: 6th
Overall: more yeasty
Rank: 4th
0.2,1,2Aroma: apple, pear, clean, low funk
Taste: slight bitterness, butterscotch
Rank: 2nd
Overall: yeasty, clean apple
Rank: 3rd
0.5,1,1.5Aroma: very clean, bright apple
Taste: very clean pear, no funk
Rank: 1st
Overall: clean, light apple
Rank: 2nd
0.5,1,1.5,2Aroma: some sulfur funk
Taste: bitter, muddled pear, flat, less bright/flat
Rank: 5th
Overall: bitter
Rank: 5th


Final Notes

It was surprising to me how different the profiles of the mead were. The clear winners were upfront, 0.5,1,1.5 and 0.2,1,2. Based on this bench test, I have stuck with a 0.5,1,1.5 day staggered nutrient timing for session meads.

A couple of things to note. First, this is S-04, which is one of the few yeasts I know that can handle all the nutrients up front. Do not try to add all nutrients up front for other yeasts. S-04 is also prone to phenolics whereas other yeasts, like US-O5, are maybe less so. I would really like to try this with organic nutrients and US-05.

Also, the nutrient level was quite high, with the YAN from Go-ferm providing an equal amount of nutrients. This is inconsistent with evidence from another experiment where S-04 presented better with a low-level of compared to a high level of nutrients. I would like to try this with and without Go-ferm and with a low nutrient level.

Conclusion: stagger, it’s safer, and wait at least 6-12 hours to avoid unrecoverable nutrient burn. Get those nutrients in before 1/3 sugar break.

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