Author: experimeads

Ale Yeast: High vs Low Inorganic Nutrients

Much more information is available on wine yeast than ale yeasts. While a mead maker can consult the Winemaking Handbook from Scott Labs to look up the nutrient requirement of most used wine yeasts, no similar bible exists for ale yeasts. I have personally contacted three ale yeast manufacturers, and they said that nutrient requirement information was not available for their ale yeasts. One example of the lack of data is the little-noticed but big change between TOSNA 2.0 and TOSNA 3.0, that reduced the recommended level of nutrients for ale yeast from high to low. Moreover, with the range of levels for wine yeasts its unfortunate that all ale yeasts get clumped together, an English ale yeast may have different nutrient requirements than a Kviek yeast in nutrient calculators. As nutrients are a major determinate of proper mead fermentation, mead makers really need more data for ale yeasts.

In this experiment, a high versus low nutrient rate is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in a 4.5% ABV, carbonated, dry traditional mead fermented using an English ale yeast, Safale S-04. The ale yeast strain, S-04 is noted to have a clean flavor, contributing apple esters, and has a fast fermentation with good flocculation. Other than the nutrient level, all other variables were identical, and the batches were fermented side by side. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can correctly identify the difference between the two meads. Respondents also provided feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.

My hypothesis was that it may affect the ester levels, but given my prior success using medium and high levels of nutrients, I thought that a low level of nutrients could cause a sluggish fermentation and could also have potential off flavors.

Recipe: 4.5%, Dry Traditional Short Mead, January 2021, 1 gallon

  • OG = 1.034
  • 0.33 liters of 2020 golden wildflower Honey from Nith Valley apiaries
  • 4 liter water spring water in 8 liter jug
  • 0.35 grams of calcium chloride
  • 0.2 grams of potassium bicarbonate
  • 0.12 grams of Himalayan sea salt
  • 1.5 grams of Safale S-04

Honey tasting notes:

  • Moderate floral
  • High perceived sweetness,
  • honey comb, honey like, bees wax
  • Citrus

Nutrients (calculated using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr):

  • Low nutrient requirement: 65.2 ppm YAN
    • Fermaid-K: 0.5 grams
    • DAP: 1 grams
  • High nutrient requirement: 108.7 ppm YAN
    • Fermaid-K: 0.9 grams
    • DAP: 1.7 grams

At pitch

  • Mixed honey, water, salts.
  • Shook jug for two minutes to aerate
  • Sprinkled yeast on top of must

Fermentation

  • Degassed by swirling the jug every 12 hours for the first two weeks.
  • +2 hours, first 1/3 nutrient addition. 64.3°F
  • +24 hours, second 1/3 nutrient addition. 65°F
  • +48 hours, third 1/3 nutrient addition. 65°F

Fermentation Notes

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

Time/ Temp.HighLow
+0 hours  63°FpH 7,
SG 1.035
pH 7
SG 1.035
+20 hours 67.6°FHoney/ fermentaion/ yeast  Raw honey / light fermentation
+36 hours 66.9°FSome ferm stress/ light rubber, 1.026Raw honey / clean, 1.028
+3 days 66.6°FClean/ light esters, 1.012 Clean, honey, 1.014
+4 days 64°Ffruity esters, 1.006Raw honey, 1.014
+5 days 66.6°Ffruity esters/ clean, 1.004Clean/ honey, 1.012
+6 days 66.6°FClean/ floral/ light pomme esters. No heat/ smooth, 1.000
Transferred to secondary
Light esters/ honey, 1.008
+7 days 66.6°F Great/ honey/ some esters, 1.006
+9 days 66.6°F Hight raw honey clean, low pomme esters, 1.004
+13 days 66.6°F clean, light honey, low/no esters, 1.000
Transferred to secondary

Basically, the fermentation with the low nutrients took twice as long to ferment. Throughout the fermentation, the low nutrient regime smelled more like honey, whereas the high levels of nutrients has more pear and apple esters.

Secondary

  • Cold crashed at 58°F for 2 weeks.
  • Bottled after one month to 2.5 volumes.

Water profile 

The mineral profile of the spring water, contribution of the salt additions and the final water profile was as follows.

Initial Tasting Notes

At bottling, I tasted both meads and they both seemed different but were both excellent. The mead with the low nutrient levels had mild diacytal/butterscotch and some sulfur. However, it was sweeter, and had more raw honey, and minerality. In contrast, the high nutrient level was all apple and pear ester character. The high level nutrient mead also had more noticeable alcohol, was dryer, and tasted like fermented honey rather than raw honey.

Triangle Tests 

Due to Covid-19, and in consultation with statisticians, every participant was sent two bottles and completed up to five triangle tests. Participants were sent four or five experiments and knew that I was testing something around nutrient regimes, clarifying agents, and acidity levels. The bottles were labeled experiment A, B, C etc as well as being labeled as treatment or baseline. Every participant was also sent enough identical red solo cups.

One scoresheet was filled out by each participant for each experiment. Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and their status as judges and home/professional brewers. Experience was given a value from one to five where one is first time having a mead to five being well-experienced. Palate was given a value from one to five where one is having had nothing to drink yet, and five was that they’ve already had too much (like just drank an IPA and sitting in a brewery). Participants were asked to say which mead they preferred and just select one if they couldn’t tell the difference.

There were 6 participants and 26 triangle tests were completed overall. We had a good selection of mead experts and mead enthusiasts. There were two BJCP certified beer judges and two BJCP mead judges.

On average, people were experienced with meads and their palate was not tired. All had some experience with meads and off flavors. Basic summary statistics on the self reporting of participants experience and palate when taking the triangle tests:

All responses were collected within the same month. Tests were evaluated when the meads were 4-5 months.

Results

There was a significant difference between the two meads. Out of the 26 triangle tests 24 could identify the odd mead out! A test that the results were from random guessing is rejected with near 100 percent confidence. Moreover, all participants preferred the low nutrient rates. A test of the preferences being equally split randomly is rejected with 98.4 percent confidence. Here is a summary of the results:

I did three triangle tests and found them effortless. Participants commented that it could be done by aroma alone.

What people described as the difference between the two meads is summarized below. The high nutrient level mead was described less pleasantly, with alcohol and off flavors described. In contrast, the low nutrient as being more honey like and was smoother. I was surprised at the results, as my tasting at bottling was quite different.

Conclusion

I was really surprised by how different the two meads were. When I began making mead, I often used high level of nutrients with ale yeasts because that was what was recommended. Now, there is clear evidence that for me that when staggering with inorganic nutrients it’s better to go low. It’s also interesting that despite all the focus on quickly turning around meads, it is clear that you can lose out from too aggressive of a fermentation. Is it worth taking half the time in fermentation if the product is half as good?

I focused this test on inorganic nutrient because I want people who do not have access to Go-ferm and Fermaid-O to still be able to make great mead. That said, the use of Go-ferm and some organic nutrient may have further benefited the meads, especially for the first nutrient addition. More testing is still needed for this.

Moreover, I have done bench trials on the timing of the nutrient additions for short meads since this experiment. The timing of the nutrient additions was quick and could have benefited from staggered out more. As summarized in the metadata of Short Mead Recipes, S-04 is particularly susceptible to nutrient burn from staggering with inorganic nutrients when done within the first 24 hours. The yeast is one of the few I know that can handle all the nutrients up front. I plan to replicate this experiment but with a better staggering regime and compare a low and medium level of nutrients. It would also be interesting to compare all nutrients upfront versus stagger when using S-04.

I still use a medium to medium-low nutrient level when staggering inorganic nutrients in short meads with S-04 as I do like the extra apple esters that results. Of course, it is also needed to test nutrient levels for different ale yeast, including Kveik and US-05. What is clear is that when it comes to ale yeasts, there is still much to learn.

Peer Review 1: Justin Angevaare, PhD, Statistician, author of p-value calculator and award winning homebrewerhttps://onbrewing.com

Is each triangle test considered an independent observation here, or is some kind of trial-dependence built in to your analysis?

  • Response: Yes, every observation was considered independent.

Would it be helpful for consistency if the mead was decanted into a serving vessel first, and exact measured quantities added to the cups (cups on a scale while being filled perhaps?) I’m wondering if a bias in fill level could be picked up by participant due to having 7 of one to fill and 8 of the other (FWIW seems unlikely to me). Maybe they should fill 8 from both, and randomly select one to discard after having done so?

  • Response: Each participant was given a 12 oz bottle and told to pour 1 to 1 1/2 of an oz in each cup, with the expectation that they would pour the same amount in each cup. I doubt the participants poured less for the sample with 7 vs 8 cups, but it’s an excellent idea to just say 1 oz for each cup from now on and do 8 to avoid the potential for this.

Was the identification rate equal on the early trials vs. later trials? I can imagine some learning rate by the taster based on them learning results after each trial. I can also imagine certain volatile compounds that may help in identification may have flashed off by trial #5.

  • Response: The incorrect responses were given on trial 2 and 5. Yes, there could be a time fixed effect from learning or volatilization. I also suspect there could be palate fatigue. I suspect there are forces in each direction but given the low failure rate, I suspect controlling for it would not matter for this experiment. It would be interesting to test for this in an experiment that exhibited more trial time variation.

Are the temperatures listed fermentation chamber temps or mead temperatures? Can it be assumed the faster fermentation resulted in a higher temperature for that mead?

  • Response: Mead temperatures. I did not detect temperature variations across meads possibly due to the small volume.

Is phenol production characteristics of yeast generally a matter of gene promotion rather than gene presence/absence? Asking as I can’t remember having had a non-phenolic yeast produce perceptible phenol.

  • Response: No idea. S04 is phenolic prone and in experience more sensitive to phenolic production relative to say US-05.

Are any components of your nutrient regime phenol precursors/directly used by yeast in phenol production? (ferulic acid on my mind)

  • Response: The exact formula of Fermaid-k is not published, so I do not know. It would be interesting to replicate the experiment, but with different nutrient sources. I suspect the use of DAP, particularly when combined with staggering in the first 48 hours, was a major reason for the phenolics. It’s an interesting question though, maybe S04 does have higher nutrient requirements, but it’s just that S04 is sensitive to DAP levels or a certain range. This could explain the sluggish fermentation and off-flavors noted at bottling. Replication with other yeast and nutrient regimes could give us a better idea of this.

Side comment: Reading this reminds me of something I’ve run into repeatedly with sourdough cultures – feeding mine with high nutrient flours like rye or fresh whole wheat seems to result in increased vigour, but also more sulfur, solvent aroma, and less depth.

  • Response: Interesting. When people advocate for certain nutrients by showing better fer mention speeds, like in the case for Go-ferm in the Scott labs Handbook, I always wonder to myself: “yea but what does the difference taste like?”

Peer Review 2 Chris Kwietniowski, home brewer, participant.

Being one of the tasters having done the 7 of this and 8 of that pouring myself, I think for certain people there may be an element of “counting cards” when you reach the last trio of samples. I certainly didn’t, but maybe someone reaches the end knowing which sample must be the one with 2? But in red solo cups with 1/8th of a bottle, the filling level is like 1/2″ to 1″ with sort of random inconsistencies.

  • Response: It was good to hear your experience and that this did not affect your triangle tests. It will be a good idea from now on to just ensure the instructions insist the pour is identical across cups and not give the 1 to 1 1/2 of an oz range. I will also ask for the order of the tests to be randomized or make sure that 8th cup gets added randomly.
  • And about the side comment on speed… I think the assumption is right that “faster is better” when comparing to a miserable, sluggish, or incomplete ferment. But at some point you can probably make gains in speed without improving the product.

  • Response: Agree, and the focus on fermention optimization needs to continue to find that sweet spot.
  • Lacto Soured Orange Blossom, 12 % ABV, bone-dry

    This is one of my favorite meads of all time. It is based on the Lacto Soured Orange Blossom, 12% ABV, bone-dry, mead from Gold Coast Meads. Anytime I lacto sour a traditional, I think to myself that this is the way traditional were meant to be made. The brightness that comes from a co-ferment of a lacto sour enhances the aroma and body. Also, the brightness from the acidity results in high perceived sweetness for a dry mead.

    Recipe for 5.25 liters:

    • WLP001 California Ale Yeast (I used second generation, wouldn’t now)
    • 1.25 liters (2.75 lbs) of 2017 orange blossom honey from Dutch Gold Honey.
    • 4 liters of spring water
    • 5 pills of 100 billion cell mixed probiotics

    Specs:

    Total Nutrients

    • 3.5 grams Fermaid-O (60 YAN)
    • 6.25 grams Go-ferm (155 YAN)
    • 1.5 grams Fermaid-K (30 YAN)
    • Total: 245 YAN

    Fermentation:

    • T=0 – mixed, honey, water, 6.25 grams of Go-ferm, and probiotics, temperature ~ 68°F
    • +3 days – added 2 grams of Fermaid-O, pitched the yeast, swirled twice a day
    • +5 days- 1.5 grams of Fermaid-K, swirled twice a day
    • +6 days – slight sulfur so added 1.5 grams of Fermaid-O and 0.5 grams of Go-Ferm, swirled once a day for another week

    After Fermentation:

    • +2 months. FG 0.996. Transferred to 1 gallon glass carboy, added 1 oz of orange blossom honey.
    • +4 months – bottled.

    Impressions:

    Looking back, I would not have formulated the nutrients this way. That said, it worked. The mead tasted excellent and was very bright. At two months I did notice some yeast/ Go-ferm flavor, which is why I added 1 oz of honey in when transferring, and the flavor seemed to be gone by four months. The Florida/Dutch Gold orange blossom honey character was strong, but not as fresh orange as the Cali blossom honey character of the one I tried from Gold Coast Meads. That said, it was delicious. I remember thinking that all traditional meads should be co-fermented with lacto.

    I served this one to my friends, and they all loved it. They couldn’t believe it was bone-dry since it had a tonne of perceived sweetness. In fact, when one of my friends asked me to help him with a mead he wanted to make this mead. However, I never got to try it since he drank three gallons of it before it was even bottled!

    I sent the mead to competitions. No-one, at least at the time, made sour mead in Canada and orange blossom is hard to come by. I got raving reviews from some judges. The other judges said the perception of sweetness was too high when I had claimed it was a dry mead and docked me points… come on!!

    Evaluations:

    M1C: Sweet Orange Blossom Traditional

    I make mostly dry or semi-sweet meads for myself, but make semi-sweet or sweet meads for competition. This is the sweetest traditional mead I had made to date, and it won me a few gold medals and at least one mead-maker of the year.

    This recipe came from Ken Shramm on some podcast. I went back and listed to a bunch of them but can’t seem to find which one. Let me know if you know which podcast he talked about rehydration and adding a vanilla bean to a traditional orange blossom that finishes at 1.05 gravity. It is Ken Shramm super sweet but phenomenal after some aging.

    Recipe:

    • 10 g 71B yeast
    • 6.2 liters of 2017 orange blossom honey from Dutch Gold Honey.
    • 9.9 liters of spring water
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 12 American oak cubes

    Specs:

    Total Nutrients

    • 16 g Fermaid-O (160 YAN)
    • 11.25g Go-ferm (86 YAN)
    • 8 g Fermaid-K (50 YAN)
    • 10mg of zinc carbonate.
    • 1 tsp potassium bi carbonate
    • Total: 296 YAN

    Fermentation:

    • – 3 h – 3.3 g Fermaid-O and 11.25 Go-ferm in a 1.8 liter activated starter.
    • +0 h – mixed up honey and water, pitched starter. 65.8°F
    • +12 h- added 1 tsp of O/K nutrient mix, Signs of off-gassing. 63.5°F. 1.146.
    • + 24 h – degassed and aerated with O2 stone. Added 10mg of zinc carbonate.
    • + 48 h- added ½ tsp potassium bi carbonate, 61.3°Ffermenting. Degassed and added 1tsp nutrient. Gave ½ minute of 02 on full blast since regulator broken. Added ½ tsp of bicarbonate to nutrient mix.
    • +3 days – Gave 1/2 tsp of nutrient mix. Aerated with whip. 62.1°F. Gravity 1.138
    • +4 days – 63°F, gave extra ~1 tsp of Fermaid-O (didn’t measure)- thought I could smell sulfur.
    • +5 day – 62.1F, 1.120, degassed morning, afternoon, eveing.
    • +6 day – degassed am, noon, pm.
    • +7 day – degassed am, noon, pm. 1.108. Added remaining nutrients.
    • +8-11 days – degassed twice a day
    • +12 days – degassed twice a day, 1.072 pm
    • +11-14 days – degassed twice a day
    • +15-17 days – degassed once a day. Still active.
    • +3 weeks – 1.052. Stirred. Still off gassing. Added water to airlock. Added a dozen oak cubes. My kid added an oak cube she had put in her mouth!
    • +5 weeks – Sweet but nice balance with tannin. Transferred to 3 gallon and 1 gallon carboy. Nice. Could use some acidity, maybe tannin. FG 1.040. Added a vanilla bean.

    After Fermentation:

    • +5 months. FG 1.040. Transferred all to 15 liter carboy, added two stage clarifier, cold crashed for two weeks
    • +6 months – gave 75 mg of potassium sorbate and 1 g of malic acid and 4 g of acid blend.
    • +7 months – bottled.

    Impressions:

    The fermentation went really well and the final mead was very clean out of the fermentor. I did not detect any off flavors. For the first year I thought the mead was too sweet. The sweetness was not that of raw honey, just dessert level perception of sweetness which is not my forte. In fact, I was actively trying to get rid of it by blending it with dryer meads. However, after about a year something wonderful happened. The mead became slight oxidized and aged well, and it was a crazy good sipping mead.

    I’ve visited Shramms Meads and this mead was not as sweet as some of Shramms that I sampled. The mead is sweet, but not cloying and there was no raw honey. That said, about half the judges knocked at as being too sweet. Either the judges said it was a great sweet traditional or said it was cloying. The range of scores of mead evaluated at the same time really speaks to the variability and quality of judging. Some judges were clearly reaching. Orange blossom is hard to come by in Canada and I expect many of the judges were unfamiliar with dessert-level sweet traditional meads. Honestly, whatever, if you like sweet mead, this one hit it out of the park.

    Evaluations:

    Session Mead Recipes

    This is an evidence-based session mead recipe template that makes remarkable tasting mead in minimal time and turns honey to great tasting mead in a week. The mead recipes are 4-4.5% ABV and are under 100 calories per serving.

    The yeast brings apple, pear, and honey characteristics which works well in traditional meads. The recipe is forgiving and has high perceived sweetness and high flocculation (drops clear). This recipe works well with a wide range of honey profiles including many wildflowers.

    The fermentation is straightforward and effort is minimal (~15 minutes to start ferment and <1 hour effort overall). All ingredients are easy to find in home brew stores around the world and no specialty nutrients are required. This recipe template is intended to be a super easy and tasty recipe for veterans and beginners alike.

    Recipe: One Week, Crushable, Evidence-Based Short Mead, 4.5% ABV, 4 Gallons

    Specs:

    • OG: 1.035
    • Expected FG: 1.000
    • ABV ~ 4.5%

    Ingredients:

    • 1 packet of S-04 (English Ale Yeast)
    • 2 kg (~4 lbs or 1.4 liters) of honey (golden, late summer, wildflower works well)
    • 15-liter jug of (low mineral) spring water
    • 1.5 grams calcium chloride, 0.5 grams sea salt (optional)
    • 0.75 grams of gypsum (optional)
    • 2 grams of potassium bicarbonate (optional)
    • 2.5 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer
    • 4.7 grams of diammonium phosphate (DAP)
    • a 7-gallon wide mouth fermentor (or a second 15-liter jug)

    A note on the fermentation vessel

    For the recipes involving whole fruit it is easiest to add everything to a cleaned and sanitized wide mouth 7-gallon jug and mix with a wine whip. You can use a 6 gallon bucket, but you won’t have enough headspace, so you will need to be careful when degassing. Alternatively, split all ingredients between two 15 liter jugs (see pictures) which will avoid all the cleaning. Using liquid honey from glass jars (say two 1 kg jars of honey) is easiest for pouring.

    Fermentation (~5 days, 62-68 F)

    • time 0 – add all honey, water, and salts. Use a wine whip to agitate aggressively for a couple of minutes or shake both jugs vigorously for at least two minutes. Once everything is dissolved make sure must is between 62-68 °F and then sprinkle yeast evenly on top. Add the rubber stopper (usually no. 10) and air lock. This step can be done in less than 15 minutes.
    • +20 minutes, swirl the yeast into solution.
    • +12 hours, add first dose of nutrients: 1.18 grams of DAP and 0.63 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer.
    • +24 hours add second dose of nutrients: 1.18 grams of DAP and 0.63 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer. Add two minutes of pure O2 if using a wide mouth jug or continue to degas aggressively.
    • +36 hours add second dose of nutrients: 1.18 grams of DAP and 0.63 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer.
    • +48 hours add second dose of nutrients: 1.18 grams of DAP and 0.63 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer.
    • +12 hours to 4 days, keep temperature steady between 62-68 °F, and at least once a day swirl jugs or mix with wine whip. Smell the aroma coming out of the fermentor.
    • +day 4/6 – when fermentation has slowed noticeably take a gravity reading. It should be 1.000-1.004. At this point add fruit/herbs, if desired, using a large nylon bag. Use the pectic enzyme at this point.
    • ~day 4/6 + 24 hours – remove fruit/herbs 24 hours after adding (6/12 hours for hops)
    • ~day 4/6 + 48 hours – two options:
      1. add 2/3’s of a 2 stage clarifier (i.e. kieselsol and chitosan) if a very fast turn around is needed (may remove body/tannin, but it works fast). Rack to secondary or into a keg 2-48 hours after adding clarifier.
      2. rack back into the 15-liter jug (i.e. secondary). If using two jugs you can rack or pour the two half into one, rinse/repeat then rinse/clean/sanitize and save the extra jug.

    Secondary

    • add 0.5 grams of ascorbic acid and 1 gram of malic acid in secondary during or after racking (optional)
    • keep between 62-68 °F if gravity is not yet 1.000. If at 0.9983 it can be keep colder
    • keep in secondary until the mead is reasonably clear which usually takes 24 hours (i.e. no protein chunks in suspension). You can use a two-stage clarifier at his point if you didn’t use it in primary and its having trouble clearing.
    • if you shorten or have a floating dip stick you can secondary in the keg

    Bottle or Keg

    The recipe yields 16.5 liters plus any volume from the fruit. If you are using fruit, adding another 1.5 liters of water in primary will yield 5 gallons. If going for a traditional you will get 16 liters.

    Regarding sweetness the meads will finish dry at 0.9983. However, S-04 often crashes for sometime at 1.000. This leaves residual sugar which combined with the perceived sweetness from the honey and pomme is offers lots of perceived sweetness. I often crash and keg at 1.000. Many of the melomels below are balanced at semi-sweet at the 1.000-1.002 range. If kegging you can cold crash when the sweetness is at whatever level you prefer.

    Given the level of alcohol of 4.5%, the final gravity will eventually end up at 0.9983, so you should be careful if bottle conditioning. If fermentation stalls at 1.000 then there is 0.0017 residual sweetness left in the mead. If bottling for extended periods of time and your mead is sitting at 1.000 you want to take that residual sweetness into account (reduce primary honey by 50 grams).

    • Carbonate to 2.5 vol
    • If bottling:
      • confirm FG is <1.000.
      • rack to a 15-liter jug and add mix in 130 grams of honey diluted 50-50 in warm no-chlorine water
      • bottle using a bottling wand, cap
      • place in an area of 62-68 °F for a couple of weeks
    • If kegging you may like to scale the recipe to 5 gallons, two options:
      • rack into keg, carbonate to 2.5 vol – keep it off-dry
      • cold crash at desired sweetness and keg out of primary
      • rack into keg, add fruit juices or honey to taste (in steps of <30 grams of honey), carbonate to 2.5 vol

    A Short Note on Time Saving

    This recipe is designed to work with minimal equipment and with a mind for time saving. One of the biggest time savers is reducing cleaning. Using virgin spring water jugs for primary and secondary means no clean up. Rinse and recycle when done.

    If using a 7-gallon fermentor you can leave the wine whip in as the top 1/4 sticks out, so it is easy to reattach back on the drill. The whip is also handy to weigh down bags of herbs and fruit. I also leave my hydrometer in the mead and just take it out every time I stir it with the wine whip. These save dripping mead everywhere and trying to clean and sanitize instruments every time they are used.

    Short Mead Recipe Variations

    This recipe works really well for dry traditional meads. However, it also works well with additional flavors and here are some tried and true variations on the recipes. In general, I prefer there to be two complimentary flavors as there are only a few flavors I prefer to stand on their own.

    Add all fruit and herbs, etc., at end of primary to maximize aroma, flavor and body. All whole fruit need to be frozen beforehand and thawed to the temperature of the must (62-68 °F by warming fruit on a stove-top or leave covered at room temperature for ~ 12 hours), and added in a sanitized nylon mesh bag. Similarly add any herbs/ zest to a nylon bag. If using the two-jug method avoid whole fruit and use fruit juices or variants with herbs.

    • Strawberry with Rhubarb
      • 1.5 kg of strawberry
      • 0.5 kg of rhubarb
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
      • make sure to add the potassium bicarbonate
      • 0.75 grams of pectic enzyme
    • Strawberry and Rhubarb
      • 1.0 kg of strawberry
      • 1.0 kg of rhubarb
      • exclude the malic acid
      • make sure to add the potassium bicarbonate
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
      • 0.75 grams of pectic enzyme
    • Raspberry
      • 1 kg of raspberries
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
      • exclude the malic acid
      • 0.75 grams of pectic enzyme
    • Blueberry Vanilla
      • 1.5 kg of the best tasting blueberries (not wild)
      • 2 tbsp of vanilla extract
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
      • best with residual sweetness 1.002-1.008
    • Cream Soda
      • 2 kg of bright red, sour cherry
      • 1-1.5 tbsp of vanilla extract
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Cranberry Apple
      • 1.5 liters of organic cranberry juice (alternatively 1.5 kg red sour cherry or 1.5 kg strawberry)
      • 1 can frozen apple juice concentrate
      • exclude the malic acid
      • make sure to add the potassium bicarbonate as the cranberry crashes the pH
      • works well if you add the can of apple juice to keg, FG 1.002-1.003
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Mojito
      • zest and juice of 5 limes (use a peeler for zest – bag it)
      • 15 x 8-10″ sprigs (tops) of fresh mint (no dirt, spanked, minimal stem)
      • exclude the malic acid
      • use US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Thai-style
      • zest and juice of 5 limes
      • 15 x 8-10″ sprigs (tops) of fresh Thai basil (no dirt, spanked, minimal stem)
      • exclude the malic acid
      • Use US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Ginger-Lime
      • 1.5 oz of ginger powder
      • 4 oz of fresh minced ginger (add to a bag)
      • juice of 5 limes (about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup)
      • exclude the malic acid
      • use US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Jasmine Green Tea
      • ~ 1.5 cups (2/3 of strength of volume) of your favorite loose-leaf green tea (roasted rice also works great)
      • steep at 175 °F in 1 liter of chlorine free water in a French press for only 3-4 minutes, let cool before adding
      • you can cold-steep some tea in the mead for 24 hours if you want extra dryness/tannin/mouthfeel
      • if not jasmine or roasted rice, add juice of 3 lemons and exclude any extra acid (optional, exclude malic)
    • Dry Hopped
      • 2-3 oz of juicy/tropical new-world hops for 6-12 hours (note shortened contact time)
      • for example, 1.5 oz Citra, 1.5 oz Galaxy
      • use Cryo hops if possible, but make sure to only add half the weight
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Tropical
      • 2.5 kg of favorite tropical fruit mix (dragon fruit adds wicked color)
      • or 2 liters of favorite (preservative free) tropical fruit juice, say mango and passion fruit
      • exclude the malic acid
      • works well with US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • Tropical Hopped
      • 1 liter (or 0.5 liters of two types) of favorite tropical juice (no preservatives) or 1 kg of fruit blend
      • dry hop as above

    A Note on Acid Additions

    The use of malic acid is not recommended in already acidic recipes. However, in others it does bring a mid-palate minerality, a perception of brightness, and can bring a clearer perception of fruit (especially for cherry and strawberry). If you prefer sour gummy candy over non-sour gummy candy than you will probably prefer the additional acid in the traditional.

    The ascorbic acid is not added to reduce acidly but is added as an antioxidant. This will avoid oxidation when transferring and help with color stability. The use is similar to adding K-meta but is not intended to harm the yeast. This acid provides a rounded acidity and helps promote mouthfeel and a perception of fullness. It will also scrub certain kinds of sulfur off-flavors.

    Recommended recipes to use with this base (add extra ingredients to this base at the end of primary):

    Spring Water and Salt Additions

    The recipe calls for the optional salt additions which are used to contribute to mouthfeel, body, and enhance the perception of sweetness. They are used in the same way you use table salt to flavor food. Let’s look at what each of these does.

    • Calcium chloride, (adds Ca, Cl): Helps with flocculation. Contributes body, fullness, complexity and boosts perceived sweetness of honey.
    • Sea salt (adds Na, Cl): Contributes body, fullness, and complexity and boosts perceived sweetness of honey.
    • Gypsum (adds Ca, SO4): Helps with flocculation. Contributes to dryness and a sharp finish. Leave out if you like a persistently sweet finish.
    • Potassium bicarbonate (adds HCO3, K): Contributes body and fullness. Helps buffer pH drops.

    The table below describes the contribution of the salts to the water profile. The first row is a common spring water profile that you can replace with your own. The higher calcium with also add residual alkalinity and help with flocculation.

    Here is why each of these are important:

    • Carbonate and Bicarbonate (CO3 and HCO3): Buffers pH drops to avoid phenolics from low pH. Levels in the 200-400 range provide mouthfeel similar to a club soda.
    • Sodium (Na): contributes body and mouthfeel. Levels in the 10-70 mg/l range are normal, levels of up to 150 mg/l are used to enhance malty body and fullness in beers, but levels above 200 mg/l are undesirable.
    • Chloride (Cl): enhances the mouthfeel, complexity and boosts perceived sweetness of honey in low concentrations. Levels in the 10-70 mg/l range are normal. Keep below 150 mg/l and never exceed 200 mg/l. Keep the Chloride to Sulfate ratio to at least 2:1.
    • Sulfate (SO4): Enhances bitterness and adds a dry, sharp, profile to the finish. Avoid if you want a lingering sweetness. High levels of sulfate will create an astringent profile that is not desirable. 5-50 mg/l is recommended
    • Calcium (Ca): Contributes to water hardness and lowers the pH. It is an important yeast nutrient and levels just over the 100 mg/l are desirable for optimal yeast flocculation. Keep in the range of 50 mg/l to 150 mg/l.
    • Magnesium (Mg): Contributes to water hardness. A critical yeast nutrient and amounts 10-30 mg/l range are desirable. Levels above 30 mg/l are undesirable. Preliminary evidence suggests that this is important to have in your spring water and not all spring waters contain it. Honestly, I think this is why the fermentation goes so well in my favorite spring water.

    Yeast Variations: US-05

    IMHO, S-04, with its pear and apple esters, low attenuation, and honey like character is preferred for traditional short meads. However, US-05 dry ale yeast is also an excellent option. It is very clean, with almost no esters and a cracker/candy profile that lets the honey shine through. It is a more forgiving yeast that is more acid tolerant and there less chance of phenolics. US-05 is also a very faster fermentor and may knock an extra day of the fermentation. US-05 works best for the metheglin-type variants, i.e. Thai-style Mojito, and hopped meads. It also works well for acidic melomels, such as the tropical, rhubarb and raspberry.

    Nutrient Variations: Alternative Staggering and Pitching Upfront

    S-04 is one of the few yeasts that can take all the nutrients upfront (at 2-12 hours). This will bring out extra apple and pear character but will replace some honey character. Make sure to provide oxygen, and you can pitch a high level (Fermaid-K 3.5g, DAP 6.7g total) of nutrients if doing this. However, staggering is recommended as later generations of yeast are more healthy and may help avoid phenolics cased by mistakes later in fermentation. It also risks some sulfur, lager-like character in the final mead if bottle conditioning. This is only recommended for traditional if you like the apple character and you are in a pinch.

    The current recommendation for staggering is based on bench trials. S04 will produce phenolics on day 2 if using only inorganic nutrients (DAP/energizer) and you stagger over days 0-3, see off-flavor notes below. However, this phenolic character will blow off and will be barely noticeable on the finished. Make sure all nutrients are in within two days and before the gravity hits 2/3 sugar break, a gravity of 1.012. Either way, the yeast are likely to chew up 0.01 gravity points in a day.

    Pitch Rate with Yeast Variations

    No matter what yeast you use make sure to pitch both US-05 and S-04 at the recommended 2-3 grams per gallon. The recommended pitch rate of ale yeast is higher than wine yeasts. I have found that a 2.5 grams per gallon pitch rate is desirable (see metadata below). A typical home brew yeast packet will say 11.5 grams but only contains 9.5-9.8 grams.

    Use of a “wet” yeast such as WLP001 or Wyeast 1056 may cause sulfur as the pitch rate is several times higher and the yeast are not as well-fed and healthy. You need to provide a high level of nutrients for wet yeasts (Fermaid-K 3.5g, DAP 6.7g total). Again make sure to stagger with Chico yeast variations. If you are using another yeast, strain your really not following this recipe. Ale yeasts YAN requirements differ but normally have a normal to very-high YAN requirement.

    Not Recommended for Wine Yeasts

    This recipe is not recommended for wine yeasts which have different nutrient requirements, temperature ranges, and fermentation preferences. I have preformed a side-by-side with EC-1118, a champagne yeast, and S-04 with nutrients up front and provided it with a low nutrient addition. The wine yeast will become phenolic early in the fermentation, then produced sulfur whereas the S-04 could handle the fermentation. For wine yeasts you need to stagger and often provide low levels nutrients, or use Tosna 3.0 nutrient protocol. D-47 and EC-1118 are good yeasts. Other wine yeasts often have a wine cooler like flavor which is very different from this ale yeast recipe.

    Nutrient Variations: Nutrients Levels

    The metadata at the end of this article provides a summary of variations on nutrients and assumptions for this recipe using S-04. This recipe will ferment a few days faster is you use a high level of nutrients (Fermaid-K 3.5g, DAP 6.7g total). The mead will be dryer and have slightly more wine-like, and it will have less honey-like character. A low level of nutrients will result in a sluggish fermentation and potentially result in diacetyl off-flavors. A medium (or a medium-high) level of nutrients for S-04 strikes the balance between preserving honey character and producing nice esters.

    Nutrient Variations: Go-ferm

    You can also add at least up to 5 grams of Go-ferm in primary before risking excess nutrient off-flavor. This will help speed up the time between 1.01 and FG, potentially knocking up to a day off fermentation. It also changes the esters slightly towards more apple and less of a pear/banana character. Use the manufacture instructions with dry ale yeast and pitch directly into the must. You can rehydrate but do not use the recommended amount of Go-ferm (1.25 grams per gram of yeast).

    Nutrient Variations: Tosna 3.0 and Fermaid-O

    Tosna 3.0 is not recommended as the fermentation will be sluggish (3+ weeks) and there will not be pronounced pomme esters. S-04 in particular seems to have difficulty metabolizing organic nutrients whereas most other yeasts do not.

    One way to use Fermaid-O (yeast hulls) is to substitute the first nutrient addition (day 0). The use of Fermaid-O for the first nutrient addition reduces the level of pear and apple esters compared to inorganic nutrients. It will not produce the phenolic smell that inorganic yeast will produce if the first nutrient addition is upfront. If doing this make sure to also use Go-ferm (see above). Instead of the first DAP/Fermaid-O addition at 12 hours, add 2 grams of Fermaid-O and go-ferm when mixing the honey, water, salts, and before pitching the yeast.

    Nutrient Variations: Wyeast Nutrient

    This recipe also works with Wyeast nutrient. This nutrient has between 0.5-0.8 percent the nutrients of a typical DAP/Fermaid-K regimes (preliminary and forthcoming). Because of S-04’s difficulty with organic nutrients, the fermentation will take up to two weeks.

    Oxygen

    Yeast need oxygen to ferment. When using jugs for primary fermentation shaking each of them for 2 minutes aggressively will add sufficient oxygen. If using a wide mouth carboy, etc, it’s best to give a pure O2 addition at 24 hours. If you do not have a pure O2 stone make sure to degas aggressively every 12 hours for the first few days with the lid off. In a side by side test, a traditional mead with US-05 was fermented in jugs where one got O2 at 24 hours and the other was just degassed by swirling the jug. The traditional without the O2 had sulfur character and the traditional with the O2 was bright and fresh (forthcoming). Don’t be lazy with the O2.

    How to produce off-flavors

    S-04 is quite clean and expresses lots of honey-like and apple/pear esters. Smell the mead every day of fermentation to see how it is feeling. Here are a few possible off-flavors that you’ll be able to smell if you don’t follow this recipe exactly.

    1. Phenolic (more common) – smells like mothball, rubber, or band-aid
    2. Sulfur – at high levels smells like rotten egg, at low levels like a warm American lager beer or muddled esters
    3. Diacetyl – smells and tastes like butterscotch, sometimes caramel or artificial butter

    You can get off-flavors if you do the following:

    1. Forgot the nutrients or added too much yeast (sulfur, maybe recoverable)
      • If you smell sulfur you probably forgot the nutrients or added too much yeast. If you added the nutrients don’t worry, the yeast will clean this up, and it is not likely to be noticeable in your final mead.
    2. Stagger with a DAP addition within the first 24 hours (phenolics, recoverable)
      • Light phenolics will noticeable during fermentation if you stagger using DAP nutrients and your first nutrient addition is within 12 hours (including DAP/ Fermaid-K/ Wyeast) with S-04 (especially at high- and medium-nutrients levels). This will blow off and not be noticeable in the final product. This is not a concern for US-05.
    3. Letting the temperature drop below 60 °F or above 72 °F (phenolics if using inorganic, sulfur if organic, likely recoverable)
    4. Adding acidic fruits during peak fermentation (phenolics, likely unrecoverable)
      • Make sure only to add fruit once fermentation has slowed considerably <1.004. Make sure your fruit additions do not drop the pH below 3.0. If they will, make sure only to add fruit once FG is 1.000. Both the tropical fruit and rhubarb mead will get you close to a pH of 3.0 so don’t boost the level of fruit beyond the recipe, add extra potassium bicarbonate, or make sure the fermentation is complete before adding. S-04 is more susceptible to pH drops below 2.9 than US-05 but it can still happen for both.
    5. Adding more nutrients towards the end (phenolics, unrecoverable)
      • A for sure way to ruin the mead completely is by deciding it is not finishing up quickly enough and adding more nutrients that include DAP after a gravity of 1.012. For example, if the mead is sitting at 1.004, and you are getting impatient, do not add more nutrients (DAP/Fermaid-k or Wyeast). This will ruin your mead and is not likely to clean up. Adding Fermaid-O at this stage will help speed fermentation slightly but may not be metabolized this late in fermentation so may be noticeable in the final mead. Best to keep the temperature steady, and wait it out.
    6. Use chlorinated tap water (phenolics, unrecoverable)

    If you get diacetyl leave the mead in primary and raise the temperature a few degrees for a couple more days.

    In summary keep to the recipe.

    What makes this an evidence-based recipe?

    This recipe has been derived using evidence from many triangle tests and bench trials. Some experiments have been completed, some are ready for triangle tests, but more can always be completed. The recipe will be updated as new evidence arises. Here are the experiments that support the best practices for the recipe:

    • Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment
      • evidence that S-04 provided great aroma (apple/pear/honey) and taste
      • evidence that S-04 was low body – i.e. crushable
    • Acid Additions in TANG Cream Soda Short Mead 
      • evidence that small amounts of acid can boost perception of fruit and sweetness
    • Mead Water Chemistry: High Chloride to Sulfate Ratio
      • evidence that higher chloride-to-sulfate ratio is preferable
    • Mead Water Chemistry: High Mineral versus Low Mineral Content
      • evidence that a moderate level of salts are preferable
    • Using potassium bicarbonate to avoid off-flavors (forthcoming)
    • High, medium and low nutrients with S-04 (forthcoming)
    • Direct pitch, Go-ferm and staggering with S-04 (forthcoming)
    • 1 gram versus 2 grams per gallon pitch rate with S-04 (forthcoming)
    • Effect of kieselsol and chitosan (preliminary and forthcoming)
    • Effect of kieselsol and chitosan with fruit (forthcoming)
    • Acid in primary vs secondary with S-04 (preliminary)
    • TOSNA 3.0 vs TANG S-04 (preliminary and forthcoming)
    • EC1118 vs S-04 (forthcoming)
    • O2 additions with US-05 (preliminary and forthcoming)
    • High vs low pitch rate with US-05 (preliminary and forthcoming)

    The fermentation characteristics and other evidence can be seen in the following metadata across these studies.

    Metadata for S-04

    All fermentations have SG between 1.030 – 1.034. “whip” refers to using a wine whip to degas, “shake” is aggressive degas, and “swirl” is swirling of jugs which is less aggressive. O2 refers to oxygenation method with the day being the use of pure oxygen with a diffusion stone, “shake” is a 2-minute shaking of a jug with 50 percent headspace, and “whip” refers to aggressive agitation with a wine whip to during mixing.

    Metadata for US-05

    All fermentations have SG between 1.030 – 1.034. “whip” refers to using a wine whip to degas, “shake” is aggressive degas, and “swirl” is swirling of jugs which is less aggressive. O2 refers to oxygenation method with the day being the use of pure oxygen with a diffusion stone, “shake” is a 2-minute shaking of a jug with 50 percent headspace, and “whip” refers to aggressive agitation with a wine whip to during mixing.

    Mead Water Chemistry: High Mineral versus Low Mineral Content

    In this experimead, a high mineral versus low mineral content is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions. This was tested in a traditional dry 9.5 percent ABV orange blossom carbonated mead.

    The salt additions were added after fermentation. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can correctly identify the difference between the two meads. Correct respondents also provided feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.

    As far as I know, this is the second triangle test of water chemistry in meads. The first was the experimead: Mead Water Chemistry: High Chloride to Sulfate Ratio.  In that experiment, the treatment was a higher Chloride to Sulfate to Ratio of 5/3 and levels with 150 ppm Chloride. The salts were added to a 7% ABV cherry and apple, bottle conditioned, short mead. However, in that experiment tasters were unable to significantly distinguish between the two meads, despite the fact that 5/6 people who correctly identified the mead preferred the meads with the mineral additions. In the discussion of that article, reviewers Jon Talkington, Peter Bakulic, and Tom Repas all agreed that the experiment should be performed on a dry short traditional mead. That is exactly what this experiment does.

    The only other research on this topic, which I highly recommend reading, is the article “Influence of Water Chemistry on the Fermentation and Flavor Profiles of Traditional Mead” by Aaron Kueck. Aaron, tested water profiles both before and after fermentation and the flavor impact. What I find fascinating about this study is that the final water chemistry does not perfectly correlate with the initial water profile. It raises interesting questions on how nutrient additions build the water profile.

    One thing I did differently this time is let participants know what the treatment. When the triangle test for this experiment was conducted, I had participants do two other triangle test. This triangle test was the first test. Before any of the triangle tests were conducted, I told people that there would be a triangle test that compared ale yeast to lager yeast, water profiles, and pitch and nutrient rates. They did not know which test they were being served but knew it was one of the three. They were still blind to the meads in the triangle tests.

    Recipe: 9.5%, Bone-dry Traditional Orange Blossom Mead, Feb. 2019, 4.5 gallons

    • OG = 1.071
    • 9.18lbs Dutch Gold orange blossom honey
    • Distilled water to 4.5 Gallon
    • Mineral additions: 1.12 grams of Gypsum, 1.15 grams of sea salt, 1.15 grams of calcium chloride, 1.15 grams of potassium bicarbonate (KPH03)
    • 3 oz of medium toast American oak. (at 24 hours)
    • 2 dry yeast packets of D47 (10g yeast)

    Nutrients:

    • Recommended YAN by The MeadMakr BatchBuildr for a low nutrient requirement is 130 YAN (156 for medium/ 218 for high nutrient requirement)
    • 10g Go-ferm (70 YAN)
    • Fermaid O: 13g= 3x 4.33 (122 YAN total )
    • Total Actual YAN: 192 YAN for low pitch rate

    At pitch

    • Made an 200ml activation starter using distilled water and all Go-ferm for 3 hours
    • Mixed honey, water, salts using degassor on drill in 6 gallon glass carboy.
    • Added 4.33 grams of Fermaid O
    • Started at 64 f

    Fermentation

    • Degassed every 24 hours for first two weeks.
    • +24 h degassed, second feeding, pure 02 for 2 min, added 3 oz of American oak cubes
    • +48h degasses, third feeding. Bubbling like crazy. Smelled great.
    • +5 days 1.054
    • +8 days 1.030
    • +13 days 1.014

    Secondary 

    • +1 months, 1.002. Racked over and only slightly cloudy. Perfect fermentation. Super clean, would have drank it out of the fermenter. Just enough residual sweetness.  What I want a mead to be.
    • +1.5 months – added 1/3 of a split vanilla bean, 0.25 grams malic, 0.25 grams of tartaric acid
    • +2 months- Clear. FG 0.998

    Bottling

    • +3.5 months – forced carbonated added water treatments.

    Water profile 

    The calculations were completed using John Palmers water profile calculator. The mead fermented on water that was distilled with added salts and had the following mineral profile.

    baseline

    Post fermentation, the batch was split. One batch (baseline) was left as is. The other batch (treatment) was given the following minerals Gypsum at 0.076 grams/liter and Calcium Chloride at 0.181 grams/liter, to reach the final profile:

    treatment

    The treated water profile had a higher Chloride to Sulfate to Ratio of 2/1, levels associated with the NEIPA style. A high Chloride to Sulfate ratio is often used in these beers to promote a rounded malt flavour and emphasize the juiciness of hops and esters. In contrast, a higher Sulfate to Chloride ratio is often used to increase the perceived hop/bitterness character of a beer in west coast style IPAs.

    The salt additions were very similar to the first experimead on water chemistry High Chloride to Sulfate Ratio.

    Initial Tasting Notes

    This was a very good mead. No notable alcohol or heat. Had a bit of a malt character from the D47 yeast that clashed a bit with the orange blossom honey. I want to like D47 and have given it so many tries, but I prefer other yeasts. 

    Liked it better when the FG was 1.002. Next time I wouldn’t add the oak during fermentation but would wait untill the end as all I got was a bit of tannin but no notable oak character. 

    Triangle Tests 

    Tests were evaluated when the meads were 4 months old in a controlled setting with the Kingston area homebrew club, KABOB. Three triangle tests were conducted in succession. Participants were asked to identify the odd mead out in a triangle test. As mentioned participant knew that the triangle test could have been high versus low pitch rates. They completed this test first out of three triangle tests.

    cups.jpg

    The meads were poured 50-50 between two groups of cups that looked identical except for a sticker of a black triangle on the bottom of one set of cups. No sticker was placed on the other cup. Just over 1 oz was served in 8 oz red plastic solo cups. Randomly, half of participants were given two cups with the treatment, half were given two cups without treatment (as well as the other mead). Every participant was given the following survey sheet.

    ScoreSheet

    Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and their status as judges and home/professional brewers. Experience was given a value from one to five where one is first time having a mead to five being very experienced. Palate was given a value from one to five where one is having had nothing to drink yet to five being they’ve already had too much. If participants were correct, they were asked to say which mead they preferred and provide some comments on overall difference and presence of off flavors characteristics of the meads.

    cupstop

    There were 13 participants. Out of the 13 participants, only 6 were able to identify the odd mead out. A test that the results were from random guessing fails to be rejected with a p-value of 0.241. Of the 6 that identified the odd-mead out, 5 preferred the water treatment and the other preferred the original water profile. A test of the preferences being equally split randomly is rejected at a p-value of  0.109! Here is a summary of the results:

    data

    Where the treatment is mineral additions. More experience with meads and less blown palates was associated with higher success in the triangle tests.

    onetofive

    Experienced homebrewers did about average.

    homebrewer

    What people described as the difference between the two meads is summarized below. Both meads were described as sweeter, and I’m not sure what to think there. Three people described the mead with mineral additions as dryer. Better defined, and a cleaner taste was given to the mead with mineral additions. In contract, the mead without extra mineral additions was described as brighter and smoother.

    tastingnotes

    The only consistency I can find is that the mead with mineral additions as dryer. I got it correct in all my triangle test, but it was subtle, more rounded for me.

    Conclusion

    Darn! So much work, but the difference in the two meads was too small to pick up with the small sample size. For this water chemistry experiment and the one for the melomel (High Chloride to Sulfate Ratio) it seems that if participants could tell the difference they preferred the mead with slightly more minerals. I believe it was subtle because the baseline water profile still had a reasonable amount of minerals and also had a chloride to sulfate ratio of 2/1. This is really an experiment if you should bother adjusting up to beer like levels of minerals. I still might, but maybe drop the sulfate a bit.

    Peer Review 1: Peter Bakulić:

    Okay couple of things jump out here at me.

    Did you make an untreated control batch for comparison? I didn’t see it anywhere in the write up, and I could have easily missed it.

    Giving information to the tasters for the triangle test, automatically introduces bias, and compromises the Integrity of the test.

    I like that you’re experimenting with water profiles, and that you want to share the information. I think it would be great to see this test done again with an unadjusted control batch for comparison to the batch with the pre fermentation water adjustments, and for comparison with the post fermentation mineral additions. I’m not sure I understand why there are mineral adjustments after the fermentation, unless you’re just experimenting with adding additional flavors, or characters. You’re not really making any adjustments to the water at that point, only to the finished Mead.

    I don’t know if I recommended to you or not, if I didn’t then I highly recommend John Palmer’s book on water chemistry. I think there’s a lot of useful information in there that would answer a lot of questions you have, as well as giving you ideas on where to hop off for Mead. The book is written as a base for beer brewing, but the concepts are solid none the less.

    I’m curious about your observation that D47 imparts a malty flavor to your Mead. I doubt that the flavor you’re getting is from the yeast, as it would be more estery or phenolic, fruity, and Floral. This is the problem with adding Minerals post fermentation.

    I think this is good information, and will get a lot of people thinking about water, and how it affects their Mead. Thank you for sharing, and keep experimenting.

    Response from author

    Thank you Peter for your thoughtful review. 

    The batch was split post fermentation and additional minerals were added to the treatment batch. I added some more clarification on this (baseline vs treatment)  in the text. 

    Regarding, the potential bias due to telling tasters what the treatment is. Tasters were still blind to the meads once they are in front of them. The statistics do not require the assumption of blindness of the treatment, only blindness for the three meads when they are in front of them. However, I do find this interesting and am planning an experiment where I run a randomized control trial where half the participants are informed. Stay tuned. 

    I agree that pre-versus post fermentation additions are an interesting variable. However, it is totally valid to adjust water profile post fermentation. I do it for beer. I could have also done the experiment with the split before fermentation. Different test I’d like to do some other time. 

    John Palmer is for sure the expert on this topic. I talked to him about it at Brew Slam 2019 and he admitted he had no idea what a water profile should look like for mead. He also seemed not to know that people often use KPH03 to help the PH during fermentation not drop too much.  

    Regarding the yeast character from D47 being malty. AJ from Gotmead came up with this descriptor when doing side by sides for the Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment. Its stuck in my head. There is definitely a notable D47 yeast character that some would describe as crackery/malty/sweet. 

    Peer Review 2: 이라피

    If I was going to make a scientific experiment for testing the water chemistry of mead in order to test the affects of mineral profiles on flavour and aroma. I would do the following:
    I would have several varieties of water being tested:
    1) Distilled as the control variable
    2) Higher ratio of sulfate to chloride
    3) Higher ratio of chloride to sulfate
    Materials: honey, water, yeast, nutrients, and the minerals needed.
    Methodology:
    1) 3 separate meads are to be made that ferment to 6% abv (1.000 or less)
    2) Bottle the batches (they could be still, or carbonated, or split it up to do both?)
    3) Run a triangle test.
    I think that if you’re going to test for something that is subtle (water chemistry) to taste, then you need to eliminate anything that could distract from perceived differences of what is being tested.
    I like the idea of testing water chemistry in this sense because it is something that I adjust with my mead fermentations.

    Response from author

    Thank you for your review. I agree that distilled water as the control variable would be a useful water test. I also think that it might also matter if a rehydration nutrient and a nutrient that includes minerals is used (for example fermaid-k vs fermaid-o which has and does not have minerals, respectively). The last water experiment I did tested the higher ratio of chloride to sulfate vs a low mineral content mead in a hydromel. The reason I avoid doing three meads at the same time is that you end up having to do 3 triangle tests (1-2 1-3 2-3). I also find the water treatments post fermentation to be a very clean test, as the fermentation was identical between baseline and treatment.

    Lager versus American Ale Yeast

    In this experimead, Lager yeast, Saflager W-34/70, is compared to an American Ale yeast, Safale US-05, for its flavor and aroma contributions in a 9% ABV, still, off-dry traditional mead. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can identify the odd mead out. The the respondent identified the odd mead out they were also asked to provide feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.

    There are a couple articles out on the web about people making mead with lager yeast. They seemed to have success and so I wanted to put it to the test and compare it next to a clean ale yeast. US-05 is a common yeast for me and I like how it lets the honey profile shine but also has more mouthfeel and character than say WY 1388. Saflager W-34/70, is a very popular German lager yeast strain. Two one-gallon batches were brewed side by side at the same temperature and nutrients. This is obviously a caveat. Lager yeast and ale yeast brewing temps and procedure are different, but in this test I treated them the same. That’s ok. I wanted to see if I could replicate the success that others have had with beer fermenting lager yeast at ale yeast temperatures.

    One thing I did differently this time is let participants know what the treatment was. When the triangle test for this experiment was conducted, I had participants do two other triangle test. This triangle test was the third test. Before any of the triangle tests were conducted, I told people that there would be a triangle test that compared ale yeast to lager yeast as well as the treatments of the two other tests. They did not know which test they were being served but knew it was one of the three. They were still blind to the meads in the triangle tests. Giving participants a head up to the treatment may help them zone in to the potential differences, while still being blind in the triangle tests. This is yet to be quantified. However, the results should be interpreted with this in mind.

    Recipe: 9%, Off-dry Standard Traditional Mead, December 2018, 1 gallon

    • 1 Gallon
    • OG = 1.068
    • 1.7 lbs Golden Toba Apiary wildflower honey
    • 29 grams Dutch Gold orange blossom honey
    • 1.2 grams of medium toast American oak.
    • 0.9 grams of medium toast French oak.
    • 0.5 grams of acid blend
    • 1 gram of US-05 or 1 gram of 34-70 lager yeast

    Nutrients:

    • Recommended YAN by The MeadMakr BatchBuildr for a high nutrient requirement is 206.2 YAN, medium nutrient requirement 148.5.
    • 1/3 Sugar Break: 1.046
    • 1.3g Go-ferm (40 YAN)
    • 2.9g Fermaid-O (150 YAN)
    • Total Actual YAN: 190 YAN

    At pitch

    • Made an activation starter using yeast and all Go-ferm for 2 hours
    • Mixed honey and water.
    • 1 liter of distilled water and 1.5 grams of spring water (see water profile below)
    • Started at 65 f
    • Aerated by shaking 4 liter jug for 2 minutes.

    Brewday

    Fermentation

    • Degassed every 6-12 hours for first two weeks.
    • +12 h first nutrient addition. 65f.
    • +24 h second nutrient addition. Both at 1.066 65f
    • +48 h third nutrient addition. 34/70 at 1.062, US-05 at 1.066. Added oak. 34/70 had a strong sulfur smell, rotten eggs. US-05 smelled sweet and raw honey.
    • +72 h fourth nutrient addition.
    • +2 weeks- fermentation complete.

    Secondary 

    • +1.5 months, transferred to secondary. Cold crashed at 2 degrees C for 2 weeks.
    • +2 months, took out of cold crash, Transferred to tertiary. Let sit at ~70 C.
    • +3 months, given acid blend, stabilized with 0.25 grams of k-meta and 0.6 grams of sorbate, given 29g of OB honey.

    Bottling

    • +3.5 months- bottled.
    • 34/70 FG 1.008.
    • US-05 FG 1.005.

    Water profile 

    The calculations were completed using John Palmers water profile calculator. The mineral profile of the blended spring water and distilled water was as follows.

    Waterprofile

    Basically a water profile with very low minerals. The only other potential source of minerals was from the Go-ferm additions. I generally like the calcium around 100 ppm but didn’t have problems with flocculation.

    Initial Tasting Notes

    This was a fun mead. The US-05 mead came out really clean. No esters or phenolic were present. For the US-05, in both the nose and taste there was a citrus and floral character. The 34/70 had a slight sulfur nose and tasted like a lager. For both, the floral character was dominate, but the orange blossom honey made for a more rounded experience. They looked identical. The meads would of been more interesting carbonated.

    Two meads

    Triangle Tests 

    Tests were evaluated when the meads were 4 months old in a controlled setting with the Kingston area homebrew club, KABOB. Three triangle tests were conducted in succession. Participants were asked to identify the odd mead out in a triangle test. As mentioned participant knew that the triangle test could have been for lager versus ale yeast. They completed this test after finishing two others.

    The meads were poured 50-50 between two groups of cups that looked identical except for a sticker of a black triangle on the bottom of one set of cups. No sticker was placed on the other cup. Just over 1 oz was served in 8 oz red plastic solo cups. Randomly, half of participants were given two cups with the treatment, half were given two cups without treatment (as well as the other mead). Every participant was given the following survey sheet.

    ScoreSheet

    Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and their status as judges and home/professional brewers. Experience was given a value from one to five where one is first time having a mead to five being very experienced. Palate was given a value from one to five where one is having had nothing to drink yet to five being they’ve already had too much. If participants guessed the odd mead out correctly, they were asked to say which mead they preferred and provide some comments on overall difference and presence of off flavors characteristics of the meads.

    cupstopfilled

    There were 13 participants. The difference between the two meads was quite obvious. Out of the 13 participants, 11 were able to identify the odd mead out. A test that the results were from random guessing is rejected with a p-value of  0.0001. Of the 11 that identified the odd-mead out, 9 preferred the American Ale yeast, 2 preferred the lager yeast. A test of the preferences being equally split is rejected at a p-value of  0.033. Here is a summary of the results:

    data

    More experience with meads and less blown palates was correlated with higher success in the triangle tests.

    summary

    Homebrewers versus not being a homebrewer didn’t matter much.

    details

    What people described as the difference between the two meads is summarized below. Basically, no-one had an issue with the ale yeast. The lager yeast however, had sulfur on the nose. Four people described it as farts. Haha. Despite it coming in at a higher FG it was also described as dryer.

    tnotes

    I am surprised that 2 people preferred the lager yeast with tasting notes like this. One of the people who preferred the lager yeast said they don’t typically enjoy lagers but preferred that the lager yeast gave the mead a crisper, dryer finish.

    Conclusion

    I am really sensitive to sulfur smell. In the , any yeast that produced any sulfur was noted as having a beer, lager like quality. Generally these yeast were not as well liked. This is not a quality I personally find appealing in any mead. I actually felt bad for making people do this triangle test, given that some were really sensitive to the sulfur smell.

    There is a possibility that if I pitched at a higher rate, aged longer, or fermented at a cooler temp I could of give the lager yeast a more fair fight. That’s ok. I wanted to keep the parameters at the baseline for a US-05 fermentation. I also wanted to see if I could get similar sucess that people have found fermenting lager yeasts at ale temps in beer. I think that even if I managed to reduce the sulfur by more, it still have that lager-crisp beer like character.

    As an aside, I did do another batch at the same time of making his mead where I co-pitched all the remaining 34-70 and US-05 yeast (about 4 grams each) into a very similar mead and treated it the same. I got much less sulfer on the nose and after 6 months it was mostly gone. It also had a “crisp” character which some others who tried it really enjoyed.  This may have been due to the much higher pitch rate or the co-pitch. Either way, this experiment does not present a best practice for lagered meads. It can be done.

    Peer Review (Joint review of this and High Mineral Vs Low Mineral Content)

    Justin Angevaare, Statistician and homebrewer, https://onbrewing.com

    I’d caution against summaries of correct vs incorrect for such a small sample size, as the palate and exp/fatigue statistics would only be coming from 2 individuals in the lager article. I’d at least recommend reporting group sizes in each figure, and maybe soften “associated with”.

    In the mineral article your summary says too small a sample size – I may expand on that a bit more to be sure it isn’t taken the wrong way. A small sample size doesn’t make p-value incorrect or experiment invalid, it just makes the statistical power very low – i.e. likeliness to detect a small effect, very low. Only blatant differences would be likely to be detected statistically. I know you know all that, just trying to work through some possible wordings you could use 🤓

    I don’t see an issue with even telling participants what each specific experiment is for. In some cases, participants are trained extensively on the variable of interest before doing a discrimination test. I like your idea in one of your comments to inform half your panel about a future experiment, though you’d need a pretty large sample size to pull anything out from that.

    Same comment as I previously made about the sticker method. I think it’s great that images are provided of the cups from above and below for the reader. You basically rely on honesty of participants to some extent, and that’s probably safer for a smaller group like you had here.

    You had the same set of people do 3 triangle tests. Did the same people tend to be correct?

    Author Responce to Peer Review no. 1

    Thank you Justin for your feedback. Points well taken and I have revised the article to reflect the better wording. I should do a meta analysis of participants.

    High Versus Low Pitch Rate with Go-ferm

    In this experimead, a high versus low pitch rate is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in a 9% ABV, still, off-dry traditional mead. TOSNA 3.0 was used as the baseline, and a 5 gram per gallon pitch rate was the treatment. An English ale yeast, Safale S-04 was used which is noted to have a clean flavor, a fast fermentation, and being highly flocculant. Both used the recommend 1.25 grams of Go-ferm per gram of yeast. All other variables were similar and the batches were fermented side by side. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can correctly identify the difference between the two meads. Correct respondents also provided feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.

    Pitch rate preferences differ by mead maker. TOSNA 3.0, recommends pitching at 1 gram per gallon for meads with starting gravity under 1.100 (and uses Go-ferm).  This contrasts with, for example, the recipes posted by Groennfell Meadery,  which recommends 5 grams per gallon (but doesn’t use Go-ferm). One area that mead makers would come across this is in online recipe calculators. For one gallon batches, The MeadMakr BatchBuildr recipe builder rounds to full packets of 5 grams and recommends the full dose of Go-ferm. Note that the calculator on Mead Made Right does not round to full packets, nor did the TOSNA 2.0 calculator that was once available on MeadMakr.

    In the TANG nutrient profile I describe how while it may be hard to over pitch, it is possible to over pitch when rehydrating with Go-ferm. The extra nutrients from the Go-ferm when rounding to full packets is part of what is being tested in this experimead. My hypothesis was that it may affect the mouthfeel and ester profile, but I was unsure whether an off flavor from excess nutrients would be detectable.

    One thing I did differently this time is let participants know what the treatment. When the triangle test for this experiment was conducted, I had participants do two other triangle test. This triangle test was the second test. Before any of the triangle tests were conducted, I told people that there would be a triangle test that compared ale yeast to lager yeast, water profiles, and pitch and nutrient rates. They did not know which test they were being served but knew it was one of the three. They were still blind to the meads in the triangle tests. The idea is to give participants a head up to the treatment which may help them zone into the potential differences, while still being blind in the triangle tests. Thus, the results should be interpreted with this in mind.

    Recipe: 9%, Off-dry Standard Traditional Mead, December 2018, 1 gallon

    • 1 Gallon
    • OG = 1.068
    • 1.7 lbs Golden Toba Apiary wildflower honey
    • 29 grams Dutch Gold orange blossom honey
    • 1.2 grams of medium toast American oak.
    • 0.9 grams of medium toast French oak.
    • 0.5 grams of acid blend
    • Safale S-04

    Nutrients:

    • Recommended YAN by The MeadMakr BatchBuildr for a high nutrient requirement is 206.2 YAN, medium nutrient requirement 148.5.
    • 1/3 Sugar Break: 1.046
    • 1.3g Go-ferm (40 YAN for 1 gram pitch)
    • 6.25g Go-ferm (200 YAN for 5 gram pitch)
    • 2.5g Fermaid-O (105 YAN)
    • Total Actual YAN: 145 YAN for low pitch rate, 305 YAN for high pitch rate

    At pitch

    • Made an activation starter using yeast and all Go-ferm for 2 hours
    • Mixed honey and water.
    • 1 liter of distilled water and 1.5 grams of spring water.
    • Started at 65 f
    • Aerated by shaking 4 liter jug for 2 minutes.

    Brewday

    Fermentation

    • Degassed every 6-12 hours for first two weeks.
    • +12 h, first nutrient addition. 65f.
    • +24 h, second nutrient addition. Both at 1.066 65f
    • +48 h, third nutrient addition. Both at 1.064. Added oak. Both smelled sweet and raw honey.
    • +72 h, fourth nutrient addition.
    • +2 weeks, fermentation complete.

    Secondary 

    • +1.5 months, transferred to secondary. Given two part fining agent. Cold crashed at 2 degrees C for 2 weeks.
    • +2 months, transferred to tertiary.
    • +2.2 months, took out of cold crash. Let sit at ~70 C.
    • +3 months, given acid blend, stabilized with 0.25 grams of k-meta and 0.6 grams of sorbate, given 29g of orange blossom honey.

    Bottling

    • +3.5 months, bottled. Both batches were at a FG of 1.003.

    Water profile 

    The calculations were completed using John Palmers water profile calculator. The mineral profile of the spring water was as follows.

    OrigWater

    The final water profile (excluding from nutrients, etc) was as follows:

    Water1g

    Basically a soft water profile.

    Initial Tasting Notes

    This was a very good base mead. It’s a basic recipe that I would use for carbonated metheglins. The baseline mead came out really clean. Neither mead had notable alcohol or heat. There was some light fruity esters of red berry and apple. In both the nose and taste there was a citrus and floral character. For both, the floral character was dominate, but the orange blossom honey made for a more compete experience. The meads would have been more interesting carbonated or spiced. It is a good base recipe though and was nicely balanced.

    Pitch rate

    Difference in color and flocculation, high pitch rate on right

    There were two notable differences in the meads during the process. The above picture was taken at two months after the meads were given the fining agent and cold crashed for two weeks. The high pitch rate mead had still not flocculated. This was the reason I had to use a tertiary and cold crash for another few more days after that. Uggh, it was so annoying to clear. It also came out darker. The darker color was also present after clearing the meads and in the glass.

    cupstopfilled

    Triangle Tests 

    Tests were evaluated when the meads were 4 months old in a controlled setting with the Kingston area homebrew club, KABOB. Three triangle tests were conducted in succession. Participants were asked to identify the odd mead out in a triangle test. As mentioned participant knew that the triangle test could have been high versus low pitch rates. They completed this test second out of three triangle tests.

    cups.jpg

    The meads were poured 50-50 between two groups of cups that looked identical except for a sticker of a black triangle on the bottom of one set of cups. No sticker was placed on the other cup. Just over 1 oz was served in 8 oz red plastic solo cups. Randomly, half of participants were given two cups with the treatment, half were given two cups without treatment (as well as the other mead). Every participant was given the following survey sheet.

    ScoreSheet

    Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and their status as judges and home/professional brewers. Experience was given a value from one to five where one is first time having a mead to five being very experienced. Palate was given a value from one to five where one is having had nothing to drink yet to five being they’ve already had too much. If participants were correct, they were asked to say which mead they preferred and provide some comments on overall difference and presence of off flavors characteristics of the meads.

    cupstop

    There were 14 participants. Apparently there was a significant difference between the two meads. Out of the 14 participants, 10 were able to identify the odd mead out. A test that the results were from random guessing is rejected with a p-value of  0.004. Of the 10 that identified the odd-mead out, 9 preferred the low pitch rates, and only 1 preferred the high pitch rate yeast. A test of the preferences being equally split randomly is rejected at a p-value of  0.011. Here is a summary of the results:

    data

    Where the treatment is low pitch rate. More experience with meads and less blown palates was associated with higher success in the triangle tests.

    summary

    Experienced homebrewers did slightly better than average. None of the females were homebrewers.

    details

    What people described as the difference between the two meads is summarized below. The high pitch rate mead was described less pleasantly. Three people thought the low pitch rate was smoother and two people thought it was cleaner. Seperate people described the high pitch rate as smelling off, having an off flavor, or bitter. Notice that no one mentioned the difference coming from esters. This makes me think that they were detecting a nutrient off flavor.

    tnotes

    Only one person preferred the high pitch rate. They said it had more character. One person made up their mind by just looking at the color, but said they confirmed it again by taste.

    Conclusion

    I was really suprised by how different the two meads were, both during the fermentation and in the triangle tests. When I first began making mead, I often made 1 gallon batches and used The MeadMakr BatchBuildr recipe builder. In those meads, I noted nutrient flavors when I used the full packets or more. It wasn’t until I did the Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment and pitched too high that it really clicked. In the TANG nutrient profile I describe how while it may be hard to over pitch, it is possible to over pitch using Go-ferm.

    One of the differences between TOSNA 2.0 and TOSNA 3.0 is taylored pitch rates based on starting gravity. TOSNA 3.0, recommends pitching at 1 gram per gallon for meads with starting gravity under 1.100 whereas TOSNA 2.0, had recommeded pitching at 2 grams per gallon, at least on MeadMakr. I would be very interested to see an experiment that compares the two. What is the taste threshold, maybe 3 or 4 grams?

    The extra nutrients from the Go-ferm, I think, is what was being detected by participants.  I would like to replicate this experiment, with a constant amount of Go-ferm and just differ the amount of yeast. I also liked the S-04 character compared to US-05. It is very similar to the WLP002 used in the Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment. I thought it was clean, a good fermenter, and added something to the aroma without taking away from the honey character.

    Peer Review no. 1

    Justin Angevaare, Statistician and homebrewer, https://onbrewing.com

    What did you use for cups here? I didn’t think much of, it but then you said one person selected preference based on appearance, I wonder if participants weren’t able to differentiate the meads by appearance.

    Good job randomizing the odd-out sample. This seems to be rarely done…

    I’d include the detail about what type of cups were used. In the future I would mark all cups, but the odd cups in some different way. It’s possible that an aroma from the labelling method can affect results (I’m assuming permanent marker was used here – worth noting in the details). Something like a circular coloured sticker would be good in case some small amount of light makes it through the cups as well – though I doubt this was an issue here. Tricky about the meads having different appearances – not a lot you can do there unless you are blindfolding participants or something.

    … Fine to use the binomial test there as well. I assuming the participants weren’t told anything further about the samples between the triangle test and the preference test. I’m also assuming particpants weren’t able to converse between the tests and preference was kept private until after results submitted/collected. Details that may be worth including.

    … Is there any further detail you can provide about the self-assessment of mead exp. and palate state?

    Author Responce to Peer Review no. 1

    Thank you Justin for your feedback. I added information on the cups and added a picture too. I served 1 oz in 8 oz red plastic solo cups. The cups are opaque and I attached a sticker of a black triangle on the bottom of one set of the cups. I usually put a sticker of another shape on the other cups, but this is the first time I did not. You couldn’t see the stickers from the top of the glass, but participants potentially could have felt for the sticker. I will give stickers for both in the future to prevent this. 

    Participants were not told anything further about the samples between the test and stating preferences. I discouraged anyone from talking about the meads out loud during the tests. I will include the survey I used that will provide more information on the meaning of palate and experience. 

    Peer Review no. 2

    Adam Thompson, Owner Mechalore Mead Works

    Your starter is rehydrating for way too long. Does that time account for temperature stabilization with must every 15min (until within 10 C) after rehydration?

    Your high end yeast pitch is way too high for this OG (you mention this). I wonder how it would compare with a higher OG or a reasonably sized yeast pitch for the high end yeast pitch.

    Proponents of TOSNA say that the YAN is absorbed by the yeast during rehydration. Did you test the yeast slurry post-rehydration to see if there was any remaining YAN?

    Author Responce to peer reviewer no. 2

    Thank you Adam for your feedback. Regarding the starter, the two hours does account for temperature stabilization. I also feed my yeast amounts of honey as detailed in my post on Making an Activated Yeast Starter for Mead. I think of mead as its own starter. It would be interesting to do an experiment on the mead starter length. I did not test my starter post estimation for YAN as I do not have that equipment. 

    I also would be very interested in testing this again in a mead with a higher starting gravity or with lower pitch rates. Good idea. 

    Mead Water Chemistry: High Chloride to Sulfate Ratio

    In this experimead, a high chloride to sulfate ratio treatment is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in an apple and cherry bone-dry short mead at 7% ABV. The salt additions were added after fermentation. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can correctly identify the difference between the two meads. Correct respondents also provided feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.

    As far as I know, this is the first triangle test of water chemistry in meads and also the first to evaluate water adjustments after fermentation. The only other research on this topic, which I highly recommend reading, is the article “Influence of Water Chemistry on the Fermentation and Flavor Profiles of Traditional Mead” by Aaron Kueck. Aaron, tested water profiles both before and after fermentation and the flavor impact. What I find fascinating about this study is that the final water chemistry does not perfectly correlate with the initial water profile. It raises interesting questions on how nutrient additions build the water profile. Moreover, it confirms my suggestions (see TANG) that a soft water profile is preferred with meads.

    I decided on this recipe since I had friends asking for more of the cream soda mead. I modified the recipe compared to the previous cream soda mead mainly by using US-05 yeast and adding some apple juice to provide depth. I used 2 kg of frozen Polish fermentation cherries, and used the TANG nutrient profile. After fermentation, I added Costco Vanilla extract, additional acid, green tea, and a small amount of maltodextrin and bottle conditioned to 2.3 vol. Some bottles were treated with the water adjustments during filling and some were left as is.

    Recipe: 7%, Cherry Apple Short Mead, June 30th 2018, 5.5 gallon

    • 5.5 Gallon/21L
    • OG = 1.053
    • FG = .994
    • 1 lbs Dutch Gold orange blossom honey
    • 4 lbs Dutch Gold raspberry blossom honey
    • 3 lbs Toba wildflower honey
    • 1.5 lbs Organic Costco wildflower honey (Brazil and Canada)
    • 2 kg of Poland sour cherry
    • 1 liter of fresh organic Ontario apple juice
    • 4 tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 6.5 tsp of malic acid
    • 6.5 tsp of acid blend
    • 2 packets of 11.5g US-05 packets

    Nutrients:

    • Recommended YAN by The MeadMakr BatchBuildr is 165 YAN
    • 18.85g Go-ferm (115 YAN)
    • 9.7g Fermaid-K (50 YAN)
    • 2g Fermaid-O (20 YAN)
    • Total Actual YAN: 185 YAN

    At pitch

    • Made an activation starter using yeast and all Go-ferm for 3 hours
    • Mixed Honey, juice, cherries added loose, and added spring water (profile below– used the larger green spring water from Costco)
    • Added rest of nutrient to must (all upfront)
    • Started at 62 f

    Fermentation

    • +6 h blasted for 3 min with pure 02
    • +12 h bubbling like crazy. Dunked the bag in several times. 70f
    • +36 h Dunked the bag in several times. 73f
    • +48 h degassed for last time, left for holidays

    Secondary 

    • +9 Days- At semi FG of 1.000, degassed, transferred to carboy, added Vanilla and acid. Added clarifier.
    • +11 Days- dropped perfectly clear, tasted amazing. Added 8oz of green tea to add tannin/body.
    • +12 Days- fermentation restarted. Nooo!
    • +3 weeks – Fermentation done for good. Final-FG was 0.994. Tasted ok but not as good as before fermentation restarted. The flavors were all there, and it had a clean fermentation profile, but the flavors were not as melded as batches with D-47.

    Bottling

    • ~2 months: bottled using 50g of maltodextrin, 1/2 cup of honey, using a calculation of 2.5 vol at 80f.

    Treatment

    The treatment was a water chemistry modification. The calculations were completed using John Palmers water profile calculator. The original profile of the spring water was as follows.

    OrigWater

    For each liter of the treated mead, 0.1 grams of Gypsum CaSO4*2H2O and 0.25g of Calcium Chloride CaCl2*2H2O were added. The salt contributions to the mead was as follows.

    FinalWater

    This resulted in a final water profile (excluding from nutrients, etc) as follows:

    FinalfinalWater

    The original Chloride to Sulfate ratio was close to 1-1 and the levels were low. The treated water profile had a higher Chloride to Sulfate to Ratio of 5/3 and levels associated with the NEIPA style. A high Chloride to Sulfate ratio is often used in these beers to promote a rounded malt flavour and emphasize the juiciness of hops and esters. In contrast, a higher Sulfate (SO4-2) ratio is often used to increase the perceived hop/bitterness character of a beer in IPAs. Both the ratio and the level are generally understood to be important.

    Initial Tasting Notes

    This is an good mead. The mead came out really clean. No esters or phenolics were present. However, partly due to the lack of yeast character, the creaminess of the cream soda mead that I had got from using D-47 was not there. It took some time for the favors to integrate, but they did after a few months.

    When I originally dosed the meads (pre-refermentation) with salts for myself in a bench trial, I tried several ratios and though that the high chloride water profile added more creaminess, fruitiness and integration of the flavors. I found that the high sulfate samples emphasized the dryness and tannins in the mead, the opposite of what I was going for. I wish I had tried just upping the chloride and not adding any sulfate.

    Next time I would not add the green tea, since the tannins weren’t needed at the degree of dryness that it unfortunately ended at. I think I would try a more expressive and fruity yeast next time like US-04. However, it still drinks with a good degree of body and is crushable.

    AppleCherryMead.png

    Triangle Tests 

    Tests were evaluated when the meads were 4 months old at a local Oktoberfest blast with the Kingston area homebrew club, KABOB. Blind participants (other than myself) were asked to identify the odd mead out in a triangle test. The meads were poured 50-50 between in two groups of cups that looked identical except for a marking on the bottom of one set of cups. Randomly, half of participants were given two cups with the treatment, half were given two cups without treatment (as well as the other mead). Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and a their status as judges and home/professional brewers. If participants were correct, they were asked to say which mead they preferred and provide some comments on overall impression, aroma and flavor characteristics of the meads.

    There were 17 participants, of which I was the only BJCP beer judge and mead judge. I did think the difference between the baseline and treatment was quite obvious. Out of the 17 participants, only 6 were able to identify the odd mead out. Of the 6 that identified the odd-mead out, 5 preferred the mead with salt additions. Here is a summary of the results:

    results

    More experience with meads was associated with higher success in the triangle tests. Those with less blown palates was correlated with being able to identify the odd-mead out.

    summary

    Females who participated fared better than average and experienced homebrewers did worse than average.

    experience

    Importantly, out of the six that correctly identified the odd-mead out, five preferred the mead with the salt treatment. Tasting notes are described below.

    notes

    Conclusion

    This was an interesting triangle test. Like the other experiments, while the p-value of the ability to correctly identify the meads was not significant, I found it more interesting that most who correctly identified the meads preferred the meads with the salt additions. Chloride additions are now part of my arsenal.

    Peer Review (From Modern Mead Makers Group)

    Seth Clearwater: “Thanks for looking into this — I’ll be curious to see where this goes. One thing about salt additions from the beer world: those are almost always added in the mash/sparge stage and NOT after fermentation. I would suggest playing with these additions at both stages to see if you prefer one or the other.

    In the referenced AHA presentation, the author seems to link phenols/fusels with water chemistry, but he doesn’t provide any reasoning behind that connection. His tasting notes for the meads indicate some phenolics, but I wish he would have indicated which phenols as that class of compounds is incredibly broad. My understanding is that fusels and phenols are much more associated with fermentation temperature and yeast health than water salts (beer brewers use a nearly infinite range of water profiles and none are specifically associated with phenols). I’m not disputing his report that his judges preferred the softer water meads, but I would have preferred him to leave it at that rather than try to tie in fusels/phenols.”

    Jon TalkingtonI would have used a traditional mead using 1 type of honey for your experiment not a melomel. There’s nothing to hind behind in a traditional. You have too much going on in the ingredients list. IMHO”

    Peter BakulicAgree with Jon. A dry, low ABV trad.”

    Tom Repas agreed with Jon and Peter that it would’ve been best to perform this test with a traditional mead.

    Authors Response

    Thanks fellows. I agree completely that the experiment should be performed on a dry traditional. I used this mead since I had it on hand and I wanted to see if salts would impact the fruitiness and honey character in a short mead with fruit. 

    In fact, I hope that the experiment is repeated on several meads. Like beer, I expect, if salts do matter, the optimal levels and ratios will likely depend on the style of mead. My hypothesis is that a dry traditional would benefit the most from improvements in mouthfeel and favor emphasis from a similar salt addition to that used in the experiment. Further, a sweet traditional may benefit from a higher sulfate to chloride ratio if its cloyingness is wanted to be toned down.  

    In the future, I plan to experiment with salt additions in conjunction with nutrient profiles. The resulting water profile is likely to be greatly influenced by the nutrient protocol. 

     
     
     
     

    How to Conduct a Mead Triangle Test

    This article describes how to conduct your own mead triangle test experiments. This includes recommendations on experiment design and details on best practices. Tools such as surveys and statistical models are provided.

    Mead Triangle Tests

    What is a Triangle Test?

    A triangle test is a method to discriminate meads and is used in sensory science. The test can be used to test for overall differences in meads,  changes in processes or ingredients, or selecting qualified participants.

    How to implement a Triangle Test?

    During a triangle test, a taster is presented with three meads, where two of the meads are the same and one is different. The taster is instructed to identify the odd mead out and record the answer. If the taster is correct, they may be asked to fill out a questionnaire. There are two common ways to present the triangle tests to panelists.

    One way, as shown by the pictures below is to put stickers on the bottom of the cups. The lone symbol will be the odd mead out. If you follow this method make sure that the cups are opaque, or at least that the stickers cannot be seen unless the cups are listed. The advantage of using this method is that it is harder for someone to bias the results if they state their preference. It also makes it easier for half the people to get one mead and half the people the other. Merely place sticker 50-50 on the cups and randomly assign the cups. The main disadvantage is that it is a pain to put the stickers on the bottom of the cups.

    Another way of conducting the triangle test is to use three different colored cups. For example, you could use a blue, red, and purple cup. High quality 8 oz party cups are often available in a variety of colors and can often be found at dollar stores. You can also use different colored solo cups as used by brulosophy.com. For this method, the odd mead out is added to one color and the other mead is poured in the two remaining colors. The advantage of using this method is that it is easier to pour. The main disadvantage is that someone can  bias the results if they state their preference, since everyone can see the colors and the correct answer is the same for everyone. It also means that everyone will get the same mead out, a potential problem if the triangle test is to be considered randomized.

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    Collecting Data in a Triangle Test

    Data is collected in how many tasters identified the odd mead out. Data may also be collected on aroma and flavor differences, preferences, off-flavors, and lots of other potential qualifiers. The survey below is an example of a survey given in the Acid Additions in TANG Cream Soda Mead experiment. The survey can be downloaded here.

    Using this survey, Part 1 asks participants for their name, judging status, experience level with mead and their degree of palate fatigue. Participants are asked to identify the odd mead out and write that down in part 2. Once it is written down (it doesn’t matter what they write, left, center, right etc.) they can check to see if they are correct. This can be done my getting them to lift the cups to check the stickers at the bottom (if using that method).  If they were correct in identifying the odd mead out, they are asked to fill out part 3, on preference, and aroma, flavor, and overall descriptors. The check box on the right allows for a numerical score of their perception of the quality of the mead.

    ScoreSheet

    The sensory analysis can be reported for only those who go the triangle test correct, you may also report the people who got it wrong, as well as an aggregate measure. A very interesting data point is for those who got the test correct, which mead is preferred.

    Data Analysis

    The p-values were calculated from a one-sided tests using the bi-nominal distribution with a null of 1/3, the same as used by brulosophy.com. The p-value calculator comes from onbrewing.com and can be found using the web link. It is as simple as plug-in the number of participants and the number of correct answers. The number of expected correct answers, is a third of the total number of participants. In a triangle test, the probability of a correct answer by chance is 1/3. The probability of choosing an incorrect answer by chance is 2/3.

    In addition to the information on how many got the odd mead out descriptors can be recorded and tabulated. List all descriptors used. Try to show how may times a descriptor was used. You can use a table or column for aroma, flavor, overall.

    The evaluation of the meads using the check boxes, for perception of overall quality, aroma, off-flavors, etc provide readers of the study a reference point on the quality of the mead being evaluated with an ordinal ranking. Note that inexperienced panelists often have a tendency to score around the mean.

    Check boxes for panelists level of experience with meads and palate fatigue are udeful for the understanding which factors make panelsist more likely to be correct. For example, 1 may be no experience with meads, and 5 may be very experienced mead tasters. Averages, standard deviation, median value can then be tabulated. This helps provide a comparison of results across studies.

    Optimal experiment design

    There are a number of things to consider in designing your experiment to ensure the results are not biased, and get ample data. The following should be considered. If not, it is important to acknowledge these points as conditions on your results when they are presented.

    1. Only one variable should be changes for each triangle test experiment.
    2. Try to have the participants blind to the parameter changed. Do not tell them what you are testing for.  If people knew the parameter of interest, you should report this with your results.
    3. All triangle tests should be conducted at the same time, under the same conditions. Parameters such as serving temperature, cup sizes, disturbance of the bottles prior to pouring, and pouring conditions should be held constant. A brew club meeting or a judging event works well for this purpose.
    4. All three samples should be presented to the participants immediately after pouring or as similar a time from pouring as possible.
    5. The odd meads out should be randomized by participant. For example pouring from two kegs and half people get two of one sample and the other half randomly get two of the other sample.
    6. If possible the order of the meads tested should be randomized. There are six possible order combinations for samples A and B: AAB, ABA, BAA, BBA, BAB, and ABB.
    7. Make sure the participants are instructed to take their time, and that they will be asked about descriptors if they correctly identify the odd mead out. You should be as consistent as possible in your instruction. Report your instruction with your results.
    8. Supervise the tasting. It may be prudent to ask that a moderator is called over when the participant is ready to make a guess if you are using stickers.
    9. You should have at least 15 participants for the p-values from the triangle tests to have any validity. Plan to have more than 30 participants to make your study as strong as possible. If there are less participants, the weight of interest will be placed on the qualitative descriptors.
    10. Don’t tell participants if they got it correct, or the parameters of the study untill all the panelists have submitted their guess.

    Finally, keep in mind that these are recommendations on best practices. Even if something goes wrong, or you cannot control a parameter of the study, your results may still be of interest. Just make sure to state whether any of the above factors were different for any of the participants so that the results can be interpreted correctly.

     

    Making an Activated Yeast Starter for Mead

    It is considered best practice to rehydrate all dry yeast rather than pitching directly into a mead must (see for example the BJCP Mead Exam Study Guide). Another method not mentioned in the BJCP Study Guide* is an activated starter. This involves rehydrating yeast with a rehydration nutrient and step feeding with must and waiting until the yeast has been able to absorb the rehydration nutrients. This differs from a traditional starter in that the intent is not to grow the yeast population, but to encourage healthy rehydration and preparation for the must. An activated starter is the first step in making mead and should be ready as soon as the full mead must is prepared.
                 Activated starters are considered best practice, and used by many award-winning mead makers. An activation starter can improve yeast count and viability to encourage a stronger and cleaner fermentation. See variants of the method mentioned on Mead Made RightMead Makr Batch Buildr, and known to be used by Ken Schramm. As stated in the Scott Labs Handbook 2017: “Proper yeast rehydration is one of the most important steps to help ensure a strong and healthy fermentation.” Alternatively if the micro-nutrients were merely added to the must “competitive microorganisms would use a significant amount of them and others would be chelated by polyphenols” (Scott Labs Handbook 2017, pg 40).

    The advantages can be summarized as follows:

    • proper rehydration increases yeast cell count
    • proper rehydration nutrient reduces osmotic stress to improve yeast health
    • gradual tempering the temperature reduces shock stress at pitch
    • gradual tempering the starter gravity reduces osmotic shock stress at pitch
    • allows time (about three hours) for the yeast to absorb the rehydration nutrients in a less-stressful, less-competitive environment

    What you will need

    • Appropriate amount of rehydration nutrient (recommended amount of Go-Ferm or Go-ferm Protect is 1.25x the weight of dry yeast)
    • 2x Jars – one for the honey must and another for the yeast activation starter (Try to get the widest jar possible for rehydration to maximize surface area)
    • Clean, chlorine free, water at 110°F (44°C). 20 ml per gram of Go-Ferm (125 ml total for a 5 gram packet of dry yeast, and 6.25 g of Go-Ferm).
    • Honey – enough bring the starter close to full must gravity
    • Sanitizer
    • Thermometer

    Making a Activated Yeast Starter

    Preparing two activated yeast starters

    Starter Size

    The size of the activated starter depends on the mead that you’re making, approximately 300-600ml per 5 grams of yeast is a good start.

    10 Easy Steps to make a Mead Yeast Activation Starter

    1. Let your dry yeast come to room temperature before rehydrating
    2. Sterilize everything you are going to use everywhere
    3. Dissolve Go-Ferm (or Go-Ferm Protect) in your clean, chlorine free, water at 110°F (44°C). Use a thermometer.
    4. Wait for the temperature to come to yeast pitching temperature, 104°F (40°C) for most wine yeasts or lower for ale yeasts.
    5. Gently sprinkle the packet of yeast evenly over the solution. Swirl/stir gently only if any dry yeast clumps.
    6. Prepare the starter must (200-400 ml per 5 grams of dry yeast) at the desired must gravity, shaking aggressively to aerate and mix honey and water.
    7. After 20 minutes from sprinkling yeast, gently swirl/stir the solution to submerge any remaining dry yeast.
    8. After 5 more minutes (and definitely before 30 minutes from sprinkling yeast), spoon in a small amount (1/4 cup, ~59ml, for 5 grams of yeast) of starter must to the yeast slurry. Do not allow the temperature drop exceed 18°F (10°C). Atemperation steps below 10°F are prudent.
    9. Keep adding the same amount of starter must (1/4 cup, ~59ml, for 5 gram packet) every time yeast activity picks up, every 15–20 minutes or so, until all the starter must is used. Again, do not allow the temperature drop exceed 18°F (10°C).
    10. Now make your full mead must, so that after at least three hours you can pitch your activated yeast starter into fermentor as soon as the full must is mixed. The activated yeast starter should be as close a possible to the temperature of the must. If the must is below 55°F, the starter should be within 5°F before pitching.

    Activated Yeast Starter

    Activated Yeast Starter

    Note 1:

    Go-Ferm dissolves better the warmer the water. An alternative to step 3 is dissolve the Go-ferm in near boiling water, 1/3-1/2 the total amount of water needed. Once dissolved, use the remaining water at room temperature to bring the temperature of the slurry as close to rehydration temperature. This saves time waiting for Go-Ferm to dissolve and arrive at rehydration temperature.

    Caution 1:

    The recommended dosage rate is 1.25 grams of GO-Ferm per gram of yeast. However, Go-Ferm contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Over use of GO-FERM with other organic nutrients such as Fermaid-O/Fermaid-K can lead to unami (think wet dog food) or brine flavors.  See TANG nutrient regime for more details on avoiding this.

    Caution 2:

    Have your activated starter ready to pitch as soon as the full mead must is prepared. This helps give your yeast a head start over indigenous organisms. This is especially true for yeast with a low competitiveness factor. For this reason, winemakers are advised to “add the yeast slurry to the bottom of the fermentation vessel just as you begin filling the vessel with must/juice” (Scott Labs Handbook, 2017 pg 7).

    Caution 3:

    Never use distilled (or reverse osmosis) water if you are not using Go-Ferm. In this case, it is best to use harder water of approximately 250-500 ppm. In fact, if you are not using Go-Ferm, the steps are different and this article does not apply to you.

    References:

    Scott Labs Handbook 2017, Scott Labs,  http://www.scottlab.com/pdf/ScottlabsHandbook2017.pdf
    * The BJCP does recommend using a variant of the above described method, but only for restarting stuck fermentation.