Author: experimeads

Staggered Nutirent Timing in Session Meads – Inorganic

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

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

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

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

Nutrient timing variations:

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

Nutrients (calculated using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr):

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

Specs at time 0:

  • Target OG: 1.034
  • pH 7.00

At pitch

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

Fermentation Notes

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

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

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

Comments on Fementation

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

Secondary

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

Tasting Notes

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

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


Final Notes

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

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

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

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

Kieselsol and Chitosan in a Traditional Mead

In this experiment, the use of a common two stage clarifying agents, Kieselol and Chitosan, is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in a 4.5% ABV, carbonated, dry traditional mead fermented using S-04. The mead was fermented in one batch, then split between two identical secondary vessels and one was given the clarifying treatment. Other than the clarifying treatment, all other variables were identical. 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.

This is a sister experiment to the Kieselol and Chitosan in fruit mead. In that experiment, the use of the fining agent resulted in a significant deterioration in the flavor and aroma. However, that mead contained fruit, whereas this experiment is done on a traditional mead. Moreover, while the fruit mead was also relatively clear before adding the clarifier, the treatment for this traditional mead experiment was added directly after racking into secondary and the mead was still very hazy.

I wanted to do this test because I had observed the effect of fining agent on my meads. I made the same strawberry rhubarb mead a couple of times in the last year. Each time I added the fining agent, I noticed a major reduction in flavor and subsequently stopped using it. I wanted to do the test to see if it really did make a difference.

Kieselsol and Chitosan works really, really well at clarifying meads. It can even be added right at the end of primary when the mead is all hazy and full of gunk, and will drop the mead clear in little time, allowing for clear mead in secondary with very little lees. It is also been stated that fining agents “improve the color, odor, flavor, stability and mouthfeel of the finished product – along with many additional, subtle, benefits.” However, despite all these potential advantages, are we losing anything other than unwanted particulates when using Kieselsol and Chitosan?

In an article in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Marín et al (2020) provides a literature review pertaining to the use of Kieselsol and Chitosan in wine. The studies surveyed analyzed the chemical composition of the wines after treatment. Regarding white wines, researchers have found significant loss in flavanols, medium-chain fatty acid ethyl esters, and terpenes (such as rose-oxide, linalool, citronellol, and geraniol) at common dosage rates. Moreover, Milheiro et al. (2017) find reduction of volatile phenols in headspace.

Chitosan has also been documented to reduce both tartaric and malic acids. Due to white wine’s lower phenolic levels, removal rates are higher than red wines, reaching as high as 30% and 20% for certain acids and flavanols. Treatment removes acids by acting as a polycation; binding anions from organic acids (Bornet and Teissedre, 2007). In at least three studies, decreases in titratable acidity or increases in pH were documented due to the significant removal of tartaric and malic acids (Castro-Marin et al., 2018; Quintela et al. 2012; Colangelo et al. 2018).

Finally, there is mixed evidence on showing that Kieselsol and Chitosan may result in perception of astringency, even at low levels (again, see Marín et al (2020) for a complete review). These findings all suggest potential effects on flavor – not as neutral as commonly assumed. Moreover, the conclusion of Marín et al (2020)’s literature review study was that despite notable effects in chemical composition, there has not yet been any sensory analysis studies to date on the effect of Chitosan treatment in wines. Hence, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first sensory evaluation study of the treatment effect on traditional meads (let alone wines).

My hypothesis was that treatment would reduce flavor and acid levels. This is based on evidence summarized in Marín et al (2020) and found in the experiment on the effects of Kieselol and Chitosan in fruit mead. However, I also expected the effect to be less noticeable compared to the fruit mead, since there may be fewer compounds to drop out in a traditional mead.

Recipe: 4.5%, Dry Traditional Short Mead, Nov. 2020, 16.5 liters

  • OG = 1.034
  • 1 liter of 2020 dark, last harvest, wildflower Honey from Nith Valley apiaries
  • 0.5 kg of creamed, organic, raw, Peace River honey
  • 15 liter spring water
  • 7 gallon Fermonster fermentor
  • 1.5 grams of calcium chloride
  • 0.5 grams of Himalayan sea salt
  • 11.5 gram packet of S-04
  • 0.5 grams of ascorbic acid
  • 1 gram of malic acid

Treatment:

  • Chitosan 1% at 8.3ml per gallon (2.18 ml/grams per liter)
  • Kieselsol at 2.5ml per gallon (0.66 ml/grams per liter)

Nith Valley late season darker honey tasting notes:

  • Low floral
  • Low perceived sweetness, not overtly honey like
  • Muddled caramel, minerality
  • Low acid
  • Low mixed herbal/woody, some foamed milk (alfalfa)

Nutrients (calculated using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr):

  • Recommended nutrient level is 78 ppm YAN for medium level
  • Actual: 73 ppm YAN (medium level, scaled up due to high pitch rate)
    • Fermaid-K: 2.3 grams (contibuted 13 ppm YAN)
    • DAP: 4.3 grams (contibuted 60 ppm YAN)

At pitch

  • Mixed honey, water, salts.
  • Sprinkled yeast on top of must

Fermentation Notes

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

  • +time 0, Mixed honey, water salts. Sprinkled yeast on must. Must is 64.6°F, pH 7.0.
  • +2 hours, fed all nutrients upfront with 2.3g of Fermaid-k and 4.3 g of DAP.
  • +1 days, active fermentation, 66.6°F
  • +2 days, degassed. Smells like apples. 66.1°F
  • +3 days, degassed, 66.5°F , 1.012
  • +4 days, 66.2°F , 1.002, smells of pear, apple.
  • +5 days, 65.6°F, fermentation slowing, smells like honey, apple. 1.000
  • +7 days, 65.6°F, FG 1.000. Racked into secondary. Added ascorbic acid and malic acid.

Secondary

  • Added 1st stage clarifier to one jug immediately, then swirled gently
  • +2 hours later added 2nd stage to one jug, swirled gently
  • The next day, treated mead dropped clear.
  • Bottled after another week to 2.5 volumes (primed with honey).

The untreated meads was still slightly hazy when bottling. The treated mead was clear.

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 was a bit disappointed with the character of the mead. They had a mild lager-like aroma. There was some nice apples esters and fermented honey character, but they were slightly muddled by the slight sulfur. I attribute this to not using Go-ferm, and just replying on aerating with a wine whip instead of by shaking or using pure 02. That said, the mead was intentionally fermented this way in a side-by-side with an identical batch using EC1118 (forthcoming, but as a preview, the EC1118 batch was much worse). I debated whether to continue with the experiment, but thought that it might be interesting to see the effect in the presence of an off-flavor.

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, each completed five triangle tests, so there were 30 triangle tests 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 when the meads were 6-8 months old.

Results

There was a significant difference between the two meads. In 19 of the 30 triangle tests, participants could identify the odd mead out! The null that the results were from random guessing is rejected with 99.99 percent confidence. However, participants were split on the mead that they preferred. The null hypothesis of equal preference between the meads is unable to be rejected. Here is a summary of the results:

My wife and I did five triangle tests and each got three right, mine the last three once I noted the difference in acid levels and hers the first three. One person got all five triangle tests wrong, two got all five triangle test correct. While participant fixed effects were significant, no time fixed effects were significant. Most participants commented that the meads could be distinguished from each other relatively easily, where others said it was difficult. What people described as the difference between the two meads is summarized in the table below. Note, the participant who got all five wrong, did not provide tasting notes. The participants and the percent of correct answers is shown in the table.

In general, the tasting notes are more varied than the experiment on the effects of Kieselol and Chitosan in fruit mead. The baseline mead was described by three participants as being more acidic, whereas the mead with the treatment was only described as being more acidic by one participant. In contrast, one participant described the treatment mead as being bitter, whereas another described baseline as dryer. The treated mead was described as having better balance by three participants, all of whom preferred the treated mead.

Regarding aroma and flavor intensity, two participants noted that the mead without treatment had more aroma and flavor, and another participant said it had more honey aroma. This contrasts with only one participant that said the treatment had more honey flavor.

Note that the one participant who got all five triangle tests wrong did not provide a preference at the time of submitting feedback and when asked to pick, randomly picked baseline. Moreover, the first participant was relatively split on the preference, but did settle on the baseline because they preferred the higher acid and intensity of the aroma and flavor. Even in the most generous case, three preferred the treatment, one only mildly preferred the baseline, and the other preferred the baseline.

It’s hard to make head and tails from the tasting notes. My interpretation, based on my triangle tests, was that the acidity of the baseline mead was perceived to be too high by some participants due to the added malic acid (0.25 grams per gallon). This is consistent with the three comments on better balance for the treated mead. In contrast, the two participants who liked the baseline mead commented that they liked the higher acidity level. Moreover, the treated mead had notable lower aroma and flavor. As the aroma was a combination of the lager-like character and the floral/honey intensity, those who didn’t like the lager-like character might have preferred the mead with suppression of both characteristics.

Conclusion

One of the most interesting outcomes of the experiment is that the meads were significantly different. Thus, treatment with Kieselsol and Chitosan is again shown in sensory analysis to not be neutral. This aligns with the scientific evidence on the reduction of acidity and flavor compounds when treating with Chitosan.

Relative to the experiment on Kieselol and Chitosan in fruit mead, the traditional mead had more particulates when the fining agent was added. For the fruit mead, a perception of bitterness was noted in the treated mead, that was not as commonly mentioned in this experiment. I do wonder if these are related. Perhaps, a hazy mead is needed for all the Chitosan to drop out and not leave any bitterness? More testing is needed.

Finally, I have successfully used the fact that Kieselsol and Chitosan can drop acid out of a mead. After this experiment was completed, I made a mojito mead. However, either the limes were much more acidic or had much more juice than the previous times I made the mead because the acidity ended up being too high. I was able to fix this by treating with Kieselsol and Chitosan and racking off the original keg. Then I added more mint to bring back the aroma, and voilà, it fixed the high acidity.

In the past, I recommended the two stage clarifier be used at the end of primary to speed the turn around time, for example for the Short Mead Recipes. Now, this comes with a caution of lower flavor, aroma, and acidity.

References

Bornet, A., & Teissedre, P. L. (2008). Chitosan, chitin-glucan and chitin effects on minerals (iron, lead, cadmium) and organic (ochratoxin A) contaminants in wines. European Food Research and Technology226(4), 681-689.

Castro-Marín, A., Buglia, A. G., Riponi, C., & Chinnici, F. (2018). Volatile and fixed composition of sulphite-free white wines obtained after fermentation in the presence of chitosan. LWT93, 174-180.

Castro Marín, A., Colangelo, D., Lambri, M., Riponi, C., & Chinnici, F. (2020). Relevance and perspectives of the use of chitosan in winemaking: a review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 1-15.

Colangelo, D., Torchio, F., De Faveri, D. M., & Lambri, M. (2018). The use of chitosan as alternative to bentonite for wine fining: Effects on heat-stability, proteins, organic acids, colour, and volatile compounds in an aromatic white wine. Food chemistry264, 301-309.

Milheiro, J., Filipe-Ribeiro, L., Cosme, F., & Nunes, F. M. (2017). A simple, cheap and reliable method for control of 4-ethylphenol and 4-ethylguaiacol in red wines. Screening of fining agents for reducing volatile phenols levels in red wines. Journal of Chromatography B1041, 183-190.

Quintela, S., Villarán, M. C., De Armentia, I. L., & Elejalde, E. (2012). Ochratoxin A removal from red wine by several oenological fining agents: bentonite, egg albumin, allergen-free adsorbents, chitin and chitosan. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A29(7), 1168-1174.

Peer Reviews:

The methodology comments from the referees in the high versus low nutrient level experiment also pertain to the method used for this article. This includes: 1) Justin Angevaare, PhD, Statistician, author of p-value calculator and award-winning homebrewerhttps://onbrewing.comand 2) Chris Kwietniowski, award-winning home brewer, participant. 

Additional peer reviews to follow.

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

Not so much at the crux of this experiment, but did the participants pick up on the lager-like character you mentioned at all? I see you felt aroma – including this lager-like character – was lower in intensity in the treated mead.

  • Response: Thank you for making me go and double check. Yes, one participant mentioned it was more like a beer in balance. I lengthened the tasting notes to copy over everything that was written.

Can you be anymore specific on the sulfur you mention? Like low H2S?

  • No really. There was no rotten egg or matches, just tasted like a bud-light.

How do I read the tasting notes table? At first I thought it was 1 participant per line, but you had 6 participants listed and 7 tasting notes.

  • Response: The table has been updated to show the participant and the number of times each participant got it correct. This is much easier to read, and thank you for prompting this.

Peer Review 2: Tom Repas, Master Beekeeper, owner of Canyon Rim Honey BeesAMMA MeadCon speaker, award winning mead maker.

Did you notice a chnage in the pH after treatement?

  • No, unfortunately I did not tests this. I did not realize this would be a concern until after the experiment and read the literature more carefully. This is really interesting and I wish I did. I will replicate this in a seperate mead and report back.

Kieselsol and Chitosan in Fruit Meads

The haze craze is off to the races in juicy IPAs, but the opposite is still true for meads. A crystal clear mead can be the difference between a medal and a flop at competitions. A wide range of fining agents are in the arsenal of a mead maker. Most fining agents work by attracting positively or negatively charged particulates suspended within the mead. This causes suspended particles to precipitate to the bottom of the vessel. A common practice is to use a positively charged agent, such as gelatin or Chitosan, followed by a negatively charged agent, primarily Kieselsol. The treatment will bind with proteins, yeast, polyphenols and other negatively-charged particles, and is especially effective. Chitosan has the advantage that it does not require tannins to work properly, allowing its use in meads, white wines, ciders, etc. Most home brew and wine making stores sell Kieselsol and Chitosan together, sometimes under the brand name Super Kleer.

Kieselsol and Chitosan works really, really well at clarifying meads. It can even be added right at the end of primary when the mead is all hazy and full of gunk, and will drop the mead clear in little time, allowing for clear mead in secondary with very little lees. It is also been stated that fining agents “improve the color, odor, flavor, stability and mouthfeel of the finished product – along with many additional, subtle, benefits.” However, despite all the advantages, are we losing anything other than unwanted particulates when using Kieselsol and Chitosan?

It is common to find comments, for example from my local home brew store, that Kieselsol is not recommended for red wines as it can strip color. Moreover, within mead making circles, the use of some fining agents such as gelatin have been commented to strip tannin. However, it is unclear, at least to me, if Kieselsol and Chitosan does the same. See an excellent GotMead podcast with Tom Repas for information on use of fining agents in secondary and the ability of gelatin to strip tannin. However, there is little hard evidence on adding Kieselsol and Chitosan in meads.

Interestingly, the common advice on Kieselsol and Chitosan seems at odds with the current literature on wines. A recent article in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition provides a literature review when pertaining to wine. In summary, researchers have found that red wine color loss is only found at dosing rates that are four or more times higher than the maximum dosing rates used by home brewers. Thus, the risk to color loss may be overblown. However, researchers have found that there are significant loss in flavanols, medium-chain fatty acid ethyl esters, and terpenes in both red and white wines at common dosage rates. Moreover, Kieselsol and Chitosan have been documented to reduce both tartaric and malic acids. Finally, there is emerging evidence that Kieselsol and Chitosan may result in perception of astringency, even at low levels. These findings all suggest potential effects on flavor. Maybe this fining agent is not as neutral as commonly assumed?

Are we losing anything else in our path to clarity? Clearly, this needs to be clarified. 

In this experiment, the use of a common two stage clarifying agents, Kieselol and Chitosan, is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in a 4.5% ABV, carbonated, dry cream soda mead fermented using D-47. The mead was fermented in one batch, then split between two identical secondary vessels and one was given the clarifying treatment. Other than the clarifying treatment, all other variables were identical, and the batches were from the same ferment. 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 the treatment may remove mouthfeel due to the reduction in particulates, but at the low dosage would not affect color. I had some suspicion that it would affect aroma/taste.

Recipe: 4.5%, Dry, Cream Soda Mead, Nov. 2020, 15 liters

  • OG = 1.034
  • 1 liter of 2020 golden wildflower Honey from Nith Valley apiaries
  • 0.5 kg of creamed, organic, raw, Peace River honey
  • 15 liter spring water
  • 7 gallon fermonster fermentor
  • 1.5 grams of calcium chloride
  • 0.5 grams of gypsum
  • 0.5 grams of Himalayan sea salt
  • 10 grams of D-47
  • 2 grams of ascorbic acid
  • 3 grams of citric acid

Treatment:

  • Chitosan 1% at 8.3ml per gallon (2.18 ml/grams per liter)
  • Kieselsol at 2.5ml per gallon (0.66 ml/grams per liter)

Nith Valley honey tasting notes:

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

Nutrients (calculated using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr):

  • Low nutrient profile recommends 65.2 ppm YAN
  • Actual: 82 ppm YAN (medium level, scaled up due to high pitch rate)
    • Fermaid-K: 2 grams (contributed 13 ppm YAN)
    • DAP: 5 grams (contributed 69 ppm YAN)

At pitch

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

Fermentation Notes

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

  • +time 0, Mixed honey, water salts. Sprinkled yeast on must. Must is 62-63°F. Swirled after 1 minute.
  • +1 hour, fed with 1g of Fermaid-k and 2 g of DAP.
  • +1 day, fed with 1g of Fermaid-k and 2g of DAP. 64°F
  • +2 days, degassed. Fed with 1g of DAP. 64°F. 1.024
  • +3 days, degassed, 64°F , 1.012
  • +4 days, degassed, 64°F , 1.002, added ~2 kg of polish sour cherries in a mesh bag warmed to 65°F
  • +5 days, removed fruit, hardly any color left in fruit mush. 1.000
  • +7 days, racked into 2 x 8 liter jugs. Added half a vanilla bean split down the center, 1 gram of ascorbic acid, and 1.5 grams of citric acid to each vessel. Mead dropped relatively clear quickly.

Secondary

  • After two weeks, added 1st stage clarifier to one jug then swirled gently
  • 24 hours later added 2nd stage after 24 hours to one jug, swirled gently
  • Bottled after another week to 2.5 volumes (65 grams of honey).

The meads were both pretty clear before bottling. It was not possible to tell which was more clear in secondary.

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 two months old, I tasted both meads, and they seemed different. The baseline mead was really nice. It had bright fresh cherry flavor and mild vanilla. I would have liked more vanilla intensity to make it taste like a cream soda and less of a cherry mead. The fermentation was clean and had little fermentation characteristics apart from some mild malt-like yeast character. However, the mead with the clarifying treatment was slightly bitter and less well carbonated. I figure the low carbonation was due to less residual yeast in suspension. I let them sit for a while so that they both fully carbonated.

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, each completed five triangle tests, so there were 30 triangle tests 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 6-8 months old.

Results

There was a significant difference between the two meads. Out of the 30 triangle tests, 20 could identify the odd mead out! The null hypothesis that the results were from random guessing is rejected with near 100 percent confidence. Moreover, all participants preferred the mead that was not clarified. The null hypothesis of equal preference between the meads is rejected with 96.8 percent confidence. Here is a summary of the results:

I did five triangle tests and got the first two wrong. It wasn’t until I noticed the flavor intensity that I got the remaining correct. Another participant got the first few correct, and the remaining incorrect. Most other participants’ incorrect responses were seemingly random, and no time fixed effects were significant. Some participants commented that the meads could be distinguished from each other relatively easily.

What people described as the difference between the two meads is summarized below. The mead that did not have the clarifier was described as more vibrant, fruitier, and better balanced. In contrast, two participants described the clarified mead as being bitter and another described the perception as astringent. That is fascinating, as astringency was noted to occur in some previous wine studies. Moreover, three participants noted muted flavor, blander and being more watery. One participant commented that they thought the treatment was additional fruit added. Thus, there does seem to be perceived differences in the level of flavor and aroma, which is consistent with some previous studies. Surprisingly, the findings align with results in the abovementioned scientific studies, and there was quite a bit of consistency in feedback across participants.

Conclusion

I was really surprised by how different the two meads were. I often use Kieselol and Chitosan for a quick turn around time in short meads. Likewise, I also use it in relatively clear standard meads to make sure there is no dust of yeast in the bottom of bottles over time for competitions. It always does the job of clarifying.

Now, I have more clarity that mead clarity using Kieselol and Chitosan may not be worth the price. The loss of fruit character was significant. Astringent and bitterness was added. It’s also interesting, that the often cited reduction in color intensity was absent. However, this is all consistent with some recent studies for wine.

A couple of things to note. The meads where relatively clear when I added the clarifier. I would not usually add the clarifier for such a mead if it’s for my own personal use. However, I would use it for a standard strength mead to avoid yeast dust. It would be interesting to repeat the experiment for a standard strength mead. I also use the clarifier at the end of primary since it can knock the mead clear. I wonder if the impact would be similar for a treatment at the end of primary for a much hazier mead, as there maybe more positively charged particulates to help any residual Kieselol to drop out. More testing is still needed for this. Perhaps a bench trial to see what the threshold is.

The same treatment in a traditional mead was evaluated at the same time (forthcoming). Interestingly, participants were able to detect a significant difference; however, preference was split. This may suggest that the issues may pertain to fruit meads, although it could also be due to the fact the there were more particulates in the traditional mead. 

In the past, I recommended the two stage clarifier be used at the end of primary in a really hazy mead to speed the turn around time, for example for the Short Mead Recipes. Now, this comes with a caution for relatively clear fruit meads. 

Peer Reviews:

The comments on methods from the referees in the high versus low nutrient level experiment also pertain to the method used for this article. This includes: 1) Justin Angevaare, PhD, Statistician, author of p-value calculator and award winning homebrewerhttps://onbrewing.comand 2) Chris Kwietniowski, home brewer, participant. 

Additional peer reviews to follow.

Peer Review 1: Tom Repas, Master Beekeeper, owner of Canyon Rim Honey Bees, AMMA MeadCon speaker, award winning mead maker.

Excellent write up! Interesting results!

  • Responce: Thanks Tom. I have greatly benifited from your service to the mead community. Thanks for everything you have shared with other mead makers.

Oh and if I said a fining agent had potential for removing tannins that would’ve been gelatin (not Kieselsol or Chitosan). If I said something different on that podcast then I must have misspoken.

  • Responce: Oops. A previous version of this article had incorrectly stated “… in a recent GotMead podcast, Tom Repas commented that this clarifier should be used with caution as it can strip tannin but can also be used to strip excess tannin.” This has been corrected. I recommend anyone to check out this podcast as it is a wealth of information.

Peer Review 2: Ryan Dunlop, PhD, BJCP certified, award willing homebrewer, and statistics wizz.

…. shouldn’t the preference test be two sided?

For the “can we tell them apart?” question, one sided makes sense because you don’t care if you choose wrong more often than random chance. With a good design, you know that that is still random chance.

If either could be better than the other, I think two sided is better because you have two ways you can “have one more preferred than the other”. Otherwise you are kind of assuming that you know one is preferred and if the data show the opposite it’s just random chance. 

  • Responce: I agree. Previously, a one-sided test was used to test the preference of one mead over the other. However, since the direction of the preference cannot be known a priori, this has been changed to a two-sided test. Also, thanks to Justin Angevaare for confirming the test should be two-sided.

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. The null hypothesis of equal preference between the meads is rejected with 96.8 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, award winning home brewer, triangle test 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 fermentation is straightforward and effort is minimal (~15 minutes to start ferment and <1 hour effort overall). This recipe works well with a wide range of honey profiles, including many wildflowers. 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 US-05 Chico Ale Yeast (or1 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)
  • 0.5 grams of ascorbic acid
  • 5 grams of Go-ferm
  • Nutrients, option of :
    • Inorganic – 2.1 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer and 3.9 grams of DAP
    • Organic – or 5.3 grams or Fermaid-O (must use Go-ferm)
    • Organic and Inorganic – or 3.5 grams or Fermaid-O, 0.7 grams of Fermaid-k/ Energizer and 1.3 grams of 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, Go-ferm and salts (if using Fermaid-O add first addition, 1.77 grams, now). Use a wine whip to agitate aggressively for a couple of minutes, shake both jugs vigorously for at least two minutes, or add one minute of pure O2. Once everything is dissolved, make sure the temperature of the 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 to 4 days, and at least once a day swirl jugs or mix with wine whip. Smell the aroma coming out of the fermentor. Keep temperature steady between 62-68 °F.
  • Staggered Nutrient Timing (degas aggressively before adding nutrients). Choose one of the following:
    1. Inorganic:
      • +12 hours, first dose of nutrients: 1.3 grams of DAP and 0.7 grams of Fermaid-k.
      • +24 hours, second dose of nutrients: 1.3 grams of DAP and 0.7 grams of Fermaid-k.
      • +36 hours add final dose of nutrients: 1.3 grams of DAP and 0.7 grams of Fermaid-k.
    2. Mixed Organic and Inorganic
      • Time 0, add first dose of nutrients: 1.77 grams of Fermaid-O.
      • +18 hours, add second dose of nutrients: 1.77 grams of Fermaid-O.
      • +36 hours add final dose of nutrients: 1.3 grams of DAP and 0.7 grams of Fermaid-k.
  • +day 3/5 – take a gravity reading. It should be 1.000-1.008. Cold crash if desired.
  • +day 4/6 – once fermentation has slowed add fruit/herbs, if desired, using a large nylon bag. Use the pectic enzyme at this point.
  • ~day 4/6 + 24/48 hours – remove fruit/herbs after 24/48 hours – when vibrant colors are lost in the fruit or leaves.
  • ~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 (reduces aroma, flavor, and acidity and risks adding astringency in fruit meads and traditional meads, 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 optional 0.5-1 grams of malic acid) in secondary during or after racking
  • 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

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.

Bottle or Keg for Shelf Stability

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 for shelf stability. 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 honey used for priming sugar by 50 grams).

  • Carbonate to 2.5 vol
  • If bottling for shelf stability:
    • confirm FG is <1.000.
    • rack to a 15-liter jug and add mix in 125 grams of honey diluted 50-50 in warm, no-chlorined 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, then rack into keg and two options:
    1. carbonate to 2.5 vol using CO2 gas
    2. mix in 156 grams of honey diluted 50-50 in warm, no-chlorined water, place in an area of 62-68 °F for a couple of weeks

Bottle or Keg for Residual Sweetness

Regarding sweetness, the meads will finish dry at 0.9983. However, S-04 often crashes 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 keg at 1.000. Many of the melomels below are balanced at off-dry at the 1.000-1.001 range. You can back sweeten with juice or honey. 

The main issue is that back sweetening with honey can leave cloying raw honey flavor if you add too much, which may be perceived at approximately 30-50 grams for many of the recipes. To get around this you can partially ferment added honey in secondary.  

There are three options for residual sweetness. All will be refrigerated as they will no longer be shelf stable. 

  1. Cold crash during primary at desired sweetness, usually 1.000-1.003. Note, you may want to add the fruit/ spice/herbs upfront in this case, but make sure to rehydrate the yeast if doing this.
  2. If using a keg, add fruit juices or honey to taste (in steps of ~15 grams of honey) and immediately carbonate to 2.5 vol using C02
  3. Finish primary, rack to bottle and keg, add enough sweetness for carbonation and residual sweetness. If bottling, use plastic bottles and refrigerate once the bottles are hard. If kegging, prime with honey, check sweetness level every couple of days and cold crash at the desired level of residual sweetness.

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 to 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.

  • Traditional
    • use S-04 yeast
  • Lacto Sour Mead
    • use US-05 yeast
    • direct pitch 50-100 billion count probiotic pills per gallon at yeast pitch
    • select probiotics with predominantly Brevis and Plantarum strains
    • lacto intensifies aroma – use orange blossom or an excellent clover/ wild flower
    • make sure the honey has low floral character, so the mead doesn’t get perfumelike
  • Strawberry and Rhubarb
    • 1.0 kg of strawberry
    • 1.0 kg of rhubarb
    • make sure to add the potassium bicarbonate
    • use US-05 yeast
    • 0.75 grams of pectic enzyme
    • Note for Strawberry with Rhubarb, use 1.5 kg of strawberry and 0.5 kg of rhubarb
    • Remove fruit before 24 hours to avoid extracting Strawberry seed tannin/funk
    • use a very fine mesh bag to avoid residual Strawberry seeds
  • Raspberry
    • 1 kg of raspberries
    • use US-05 yeast
    • remove fruit after 24 hours
    • use a very fine mesh bag to avoid residual seeds
    • 0.75 grams of pectic enzyme
  • 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
    • add both 0.5 grams of ascorbic acid and 1 gram of malic acid
  • Cranberry Apple
    • 1.5 liters of organic cranberry juice (alternatively 1.5 kg red sour cherry or 1.5 kg strawberry)
    • 1 can of frozen apple juice concentrate
    • 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
    • juice of 4 limes (approx. 1/4 cups, don’t overdo it) using a squeezer
    • leave out the ascorbic acid (optional)
    • zest of 1-2 limes (adds aroma and pithy complexity, use a potato peeler and bag it)
    • 15 x 8-10″ sprigs (tops) of fresh mint (no dirt, spanked, minimal stem, bagged)
    • use US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
  • Thai-style
    • juice of 4 limes (approx. 1/4 cups, don’t overdo it) using a squeezer
    • zest of 1-2 lime (adds aroma and pithy complexity, use a potato peeler and bag it)
    • leave out the ascorbic acid (optional)
    • 15 x 8-10″ sprigs (tops) of fresh Thai basil (no dirt, spanked, minimal stem)
    • 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 4 limes (approx. 1/4 cups, don’t overdo it)
    • leave out the ascorbic acid (optional)
    • use US-05 instead of S-04 yeast
    • optional, for added complexity, add 1/2 gallon of strained ginger bug in secondary or primary
  • 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
    • if not jasmine or roasted rice, add juice of 3 lemons and include only ascorbic acid
  • Dry Hopped
    • 2-3 oz of juicy/tropical new-world hops
    • dry hop at refrigerator temperature or shorten contact time to 12-24 hours
    • for example, 1.5 oz Citra, 1.5 oz Galaxy
    • use Cryo hops if possible, but make sure to only add half the weight
    • use D-47 or US-05
    • some residual sweetness is nice, FG 1.000-1.003
  • Passion Fruit Tropical
    • 1 liter of favorite passion fruit juice (2 liters optional, or use mango or pineapple for second liter)
    • Alternatively, use 2.5 kg or tropical fruit mix that includes passion fruit (dragon fruit has excellent color)
    • make sure juice is preservative free
    • use US-05
  • Passion Fruit Tropical Dry 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
    • use US-05
    • some residual sweetness is nice, FG 1.000-1.003

A Note on Acid Additions

The use of malic acid is not recommended in most recipes because the carbonation is quite high and acidic fruits are often used. 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, then you will probably prefer the additional malic acid in the traditional, but you also may want to reduce the carbonation level (to 1.5- 2 vol.).

The ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is recommended to be to most of the recipes. Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant which will help avoid oxidation when transferring and help with color stability. The use is similar to adding K-meta but does not harm the yeast. It is not added to reduce acidly. Ascorbic acid provides a rounded brightness and helps promote mouthfeel and a perception of fullness. It will also scrub some types of sulfur off-flavors.

In the recipes that call for lemons or limes, the juice adds the acidity and some flavor. The zest is used primarily for aroma and flavor. Ascorbic acid does not need to be added when adding lemon or lime juice.

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 the pH drop.

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. Note, if the bicarbonate level of the water is not in the desired range, add potassium bicarbonate (or potassium carbonate). Add 0.5 to 1.4 grams of potassium bicarbonate per gallon if water is low to absent in bicarbonates.
  • 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 may be undesirable unless balanced with calcium levels. 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 dry ale yeast is an excellent option for first time brewers and pros alike. 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 is less chance of off flavors. US-05 is also a faster fermentor and may knock an extra few days of the fermentation. US-05 works best for the metheglin-type variants, i.e. Thai-style Mojito, and hopped meads. It also works best for acidic melomels, such as the tropical, rhubarb and raspberry.

However, IMHO, S-04, with its pear and apple esters, low attenuation, and honey like character is preferred for traditional short meads. That said, it is also more susceptible to just about everything: temperature changes, oxygen levels, inorganic nutrient burn, acidity levels. If you’re an intermediate brewer or better, or have all the elements of the brew down, give it a try for the traditional.

This recipe is not recommended for wine yeasts which have different nutrient requirements, temperature ranges, and fermentation preferences. For wine yeasts, you need to stagger, and it is much better to use mixed organic-inorganic nutrients. If you use a wine yeast, use D-47 (malty with some mouthfeel) and EC-1118 (think clean and crisp champagne). Other wine yeasts often have a wine cooler like flavors/esters, which is very different from this ale yeast recipe.

Some Kveik strains also work exceptionally well for this recipe. This is especially true if you do not have temperature control and need to ferment above the mid-60’s. Make sure to add plenty of oxygen up front and stagger with a medium level of nutrients (Fermaid-K 2.4g, DAP 4.5g total, or just add an extra feeding at 48 hours). The Stranda and Voss strains are great for metheglins. Avoid any strains, such as Ebbegarden that are said to enhance bitterness as it adds bitterness and ruins the perceived sweetness of honey.

Nutrient Variations: Alternative Staggering and Pitching Upfront

S-04 is one of the few yeasts that can take all the nutrients upfront (all at 2-12 hours). This will bring out extra pear and banana character, but will replace some honey character. Make sure to provide oxygen and use Go-ferm if pitching upfront with S-04. However, staggering is recommended as later generations of yeast are more healthy and may help avoid phenolics cased by mistakes later in fermentation, such as temperature drops and acid fluctuations. This is only recommended if you are in a pinch. For all other yeasts, you should stagger.

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 starting right after pitch, also see off-flavor notes below. US-05 yeast is much less prone to off-flavor caused by staggering with inorganic nutrients. If you want to stagger in the first 24 hours, use a low level of nutrients (3.8 grams DAP and 2 grams of Fermaid-k). Make sure all nutrients are in within two days and before the gravity hits 1/3 sugar break, a gravity of 1.024.

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 2-2.5 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 may need to provide a medium level of nutrients for wet yeasts (Fermaid-K 2.4g, DAP 4.5g total, or just add an extra feeding at 48 hours). Again, make sure to stagger. You may also want to pitch half the amount. More experiments are needed here.

Nutrient Levels and Go-ferm

The low nutrient level recommendation for this recipe is based on triangle tests in the high versus low levels of nutrients with S-04 experiment. It is also based on the metadata at the end of this article, which provides a summary of variations on nutrients and assumptions for this recipe using S-04. A medium level of nutrients will speed fermentation by a couple of days, but may result in a loss of subtle honey character. Note that the 5 grams of Go-ferm adds 39 ppm YAN which is a huge boost compared to the 65.2 ppm YAN added using the other nutrients. More experiments are needed to pin down the optimal level of nutrients with and without Go-ferm.

You should add at least up to 5 grams of Go-ferm in primary. 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 with S-04. If you do not have Go-ferm it may be best to adjust your nutrient staggering to 4, 18 and 36 hours after pitch. Use the manufacture instructions with dry ale yeast and pitch directly into the must. You can rehydrate in the Go-ferm, but it is not necessary and do not use the recommended amount of Go-ferm (1.25 grams per gram of yeast) if pitching above 2 grams per gallon. The maximum amount of Go-ferm before it results in off-flavors is approximately 2.5 grams per gallon for S-04 with a pitch rate of 2 grams per gallon (forthcoming).

Nutrient Variations: Inorganic vs organic nutrients

Mixed organic and inorganic nutrients are best. Use organic nutrients for the first two feedings and then inorganic for last feeding. This may also help avoid phenolics that inorganic nutrients will produce if the nutrients are upfront right after pitch (before 6-12 hours). However, the recipe works very well with the use of only inorganic nutrients, so that should not stop you.

Fermaid-O does not have minerals or amino acids, so must be used with Go-ferm. S-04 yeast has a hard time metabolizing organic nutrients, i.e. fermentation my take 3+ weeks. If using Tosna/ organic nutrients, stick with US-05 and avoid S-04.

Nutrient Variations: Wyeast Nutrient

This recipe also works with Wyeast nutrient. This nutrient has approximately 0.8 percent of 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. Best to use US-05 if using Wyeast nutrient.

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 between 6-12 hours. If you do not have a pure O2 stone and cannot shake the jug, make sure to degas aggressively every 12 hours for the first two 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 strong sulfur character, and the traditional with the O2 was bright and fresh (forthcoming). Don’t be lazy with the O2.

It is best to avoid pure 02 after 24 hours, you will most likely need to add additional YAN through and extra feeding at 48 hours. This is because it will accelerate yeast growth and result in much more yeast. I have found that a fourth nutrient addition at 48 hours is sufficient to avoid stalled and stuck fermentation when giving an 02 addition at 18-24 hours. Since the goal is not to grow a bunch of yeast, keep the 02 addition to 30 seconds and try not to overdo it. Bench trials are forthcoming on 02 additions.

How to produce off-flavors

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 6-12 hours (phenolics, recoverable)
    • Light phenolics will noticeable during fermentation if you stagger using DAP nutrients and your first nutrient addition is within 6-12 hours (including DAP/ Fermaid-K/ Wyeast) with S-04 (especially at medium-nutrient levels). This may blow off in the final product. This is less of 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
  • 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
  • High versus low levels of nutrients with S-04
    • evidence that low levels of nutrients are preferred to high
  • Effect of kieselsol and chitosan with fruit
    • evidence that it may remove flavor, aroma, and contributes astringency if used in secondary
  • Effect of kieselsol and chitosan in a traditional
    • evidence that it reduces acid levels but also reduces aroma and flavor if used in secondary
  • Alternative staggering schedules with S-04
    • Evidence that upfront, or three additions (0.5, 1, 1.5 or 0, 1, 2 days) is preferred
  • Acid Additions in a traditional short mead (forthcoming) 
    • evidence that small amounts of acid are noticeable, but that preference rating are split
  • The taste threshold of Go-ferm with varying pitch rates (forthcoming) 
    • evidence that 3 grams of per gallon is the taste threshold of Go-ferm off flavors
  • 1 gram versus 2 grams per gallon pitch rate with S-04 (forthcoming)
    • evidence that the pitch rate matters but that preference rating was mixed
  • Direct pitch, Go-ferm and staggering with S-04 (forthcoming)
    • evidence that staggering is more important than Go-ferm for avoiding some off flavors
  • O2 additions with US-05 (forthcoming)
    • evidence that an oxygen addition avoid sulfur off flavors
  • EC1118 vs S-04 (forthcoming)
    • evidence that wine yeast are much less able to handle nutrients up front
  • S-04 vs Kviek and other English Strains (forthcoming)
    • evidence that S-04 vs Kviek are best, but that only S-04 can handle nutrients upfront.
  • Tosna 3.0 vs inorganic nutrients using S-04 (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 listed in the table have SG between 1.030 – 1.034.

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.

“whip” refers to using a wine whip to degas, “shake” is aggressive degas, and “swirl” is swirling of jugs which is less aggressive.

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.