Author: experimeads

Acid Additions in TANG Cream Soda Mead

In this experimead, the use of acid blend is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in a dry short mead. The acid is added to a 5.5% cream soda, bottle conditioned, short mead. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can correctly identify the difference between the two meads. Correct respondents also provide feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.

The base recipe for this experimead starts with the Psychopomp Recipe Clone from Havoc Meadery. I modified the recipe according to my taste. I uses 2 kg of frozen Polish fermentation cherries, and used the TANG nutrient profile. After fermentation I also modified the recipe by adding Costco Vanilla extract, and bottle conditioned to 2.3 vol. Some of the bottles were given acid blend additions and some were left as is.

Recipe: 5.5%, TANG Cream Soda Mead, Aug 28th 2017, 6 gallon

  • 6 Gallon/23L
  • OG = 1.038
  • FG = .998
  • 6 lbs Raw Hogans Golden Wildflower Honey
  • 2 kg of Poland Sour Cherry
  • 5 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2.5 tsp of acid blend
  • 5 packets Lalvin D-47 yeast

CHERRY.png

TANG nutrients:

  • Recommended YAN by The MeadMakr BatchBuildr is 78.7 YAN
  • 8.5g Go-ferm (45 YAN)
  • 4g Fermaid-K (17.6 YAN)
  • Total: 62.6 YAN
  • Note: I reduced the YAN since the fruit provides some nutrient

At pitch

  • Made an activation starter using 5 packets Lalvin D-47 yeast the 8.5 g Go-ferm and for 3 hours
  • 5 ish gallons water in bucket (one gallon distilled and rest spring – used the larger green spring water from Costco which I used for secondary)
  • Mixed in 6 lbs Raw Hogans Golden Wildflower Honey
  • 2 kg of Poland Sour Cherry
  • Added 4 g Fermaid-K to must
  • Fermented started at 64 f after two hours of pitch

Fermentation

  • +12 h not bubbling yet, at 72 f.
  • +24 h opened up and bubbling like crazy. Dunked the bag in several times. Had to press down the lid down to get the co2 to stop sneaking out around the side. Smelled great. Like sweet sour cherries.
  • +36 h 78f opened up and bubbling like crazy. Dunked the bag a few times. Smelled great. Like sweet sour cherries.
  • +3 days – degassed, dunked cherries. Done fermenting, looks like degassing. Temp at ~78f moved to top of box of bottles to make room for the cyser.
  • +~7 days – removed fruit and let sit at 78f

Secondary 

  • +2 Weeks – transferred to carboy, added Vanilla and the must dropped clear within a couple days.
  • +2.5 weeks – bottled at 2.3 vol with little foaming. So many bottles! Added acid to most bottles at a rate of 1/8 of a tsp per liter.

Initial Tasting Notes

This stuff is great. Despite the high fermentation temperatures, the mead came out really clean. The phenolic of the yeast were present, but it added a malty character. It tastes better than a cream soda, but you can drink it all day, because it is dry. I had originally left some without vanilla and acid, but it was kind of boring. Cherry doesn’t taste like cherry without acid. I ended up opening up the remaining bottles and adding the vanilla and acid. The batch also went really fast. I was happy with it and made a lot so gave most of it away. I will be making this recipe again!

2017-11-14 20.10.29

Triangle Tests 

Tests were evaluated when the meads were 2 months old at the Toronto Brew Slam Competition Canada’s largest homebrew competition. Participants were given a score sheet that asked participant to identify the odd mead out. Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and a their status as judges and home/professional brewers. If participants were correct, they were asked to say which mead they preferred and provide some comments on overall impression, aroma and flavor characteristics of the meads.

There were 15 participants, of which 13 were BJCP beer judges and 3 were BJCP mead judges. Gordon Strong was among the participants and was able to correctly identify the meads. Out of the 15 participants, 6 were able to identify the odd mead out. Of those that identified the odd-mead out, all preferred the mead with the acid addition. Here is a summary of the results:

pvalues.png

There again seemed to be some discrepancy between being able to identify the odd-mead out and experience level with the meads. Also, the evaluations were done during the second break on the second day of the competition (after IPAs were evaluated) so those with less blown palates (Palate=1-3) seemed to be able to be correlated with being able to identify the odd-meads out.

exp.png

Similarly, mead judges were more likely to identify the odd mead out, as well as home brewers. Being a beer judge actually made it less likely to be correct – possibly due to the correlation of being a beer judge and having a blown palate.

attri.png

Most importantly, the six correct participants provided tasting notes of the meads. They all identified acid as the characteristic difference. Acid seemed to provide more berryness, more complexity, mouthfeel, cleanness, and brightness.

tastingnotes.png

Conclusion

It was a lot of fun to do this triangle test, and it was great to get so many BJCP judges. There is not much of a familiarity of short meads, and showing off a 5.5% dry mead that people liked was a novel experience for most participants. While the p-value from the ability to correct identify the meads was not significant, I found it more interesting that those who correctly identified the meads all preferred the meads with the added acid. Beer judges are often looking for bitter-sweet balance and the acid-sweet balance that are so important in meads and ciders are often foreign to them. Acid is more than ever an important part of my toolbox.

Peer Review 

Sean Kerry, PhD. Participant in study

I’ve participated in a few of Stephen’s triangle tests and structured mead tastings. I can attest to the rigour of his method and his data collection process. The high quality of Stephen’s base meads are the result of his attention to fermentation process, staggered nutrient additions, and yeast health. With regard to this experiment, the effect of acids in other alcoholic bevarages (see Cook’s Science, May 2017) has previously been substantiated. The experiment has demonstrated that acid blend additions can result in flavor enhancements in meads and melomels, particularly as it relates to the perception and character of the fruit.

Tailored Additions of Nutrients With Go-ferm (TANG 2.0)

Want to avoid brine/ umami off-flavors, especially in short meads? This article proposes taking the YAN contribution from Go-ferm into account and avoid excessive minerals by tailoring the nutrients to your water profile.

A common complaint for short meads is that they can have a briny/ umami flavor. I have lost 1 gallon short mead batches to these off-flavors when using nutrient calculators such as the Meadmakr nutrient calculators. This is also a common compliant for many who have tried to replicate public recipes of the short meads published by Groennfell or Havoc Meadery and didn’t have Wyeast Yeast Nutrient.  But what makes these off-flavors more likely in short meads and in small batches?

From my experience, the umami flavor (think wet dog food/ aged cheese) is because the YAN contribution of Go-ferm rehydration nutrient is completely ignored in nutrient calculators.  The Scott Labs 2016 Handbook suggests that when using a dose of 25 g/hL Go-ferm adds 7.5 mgN/L. This is three-quarters of the YAN contribution compared to Fermaid-O. However, no current calculator takes this into account! Also, the combination of Fermaid-K and Go-ferm can add quite a bit of minerals to your water profile, which combined with a high mineral profile water can potentially result in mineral off flavors.

The extent of the biases induced by Go-ferm in nutrient calculators is a larger problem in short meads and smaller batch sizes, but still exists in larger volumes and higher gravity. This article discusses biases in nutrient calculators. It also provides a recommendation for a revised best practice for nutrient regimes when using Go-ferm. I call it Tailored Additions of Nutrients with Go-ferm (TANG). Basically, the biggest takeaway is that while it is often said it is hard to over-pitch, it is possible to overpitch if using Go-ferm with the recommended rehydration protocols.

YAN Overload Example: a 5 gallon 7% ABV sparkling dry traditional mead using the default Fermaid-O / Fermaid-K / DAP nutrient protocol for a yeast with a low nutrient need from the The MeadMakr BatchBuildr.  Recommended YAN is 99 as suggested in the Scott Labs Handbook. The MeadMakr Advanced Nutrient Calculator recommends 10 grams of dry yeast, and the following nutrients:

  • Go-ferm: 12.5g (79.4 YAN)
  • Fermaid-O: 8.5g (72 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 5.1g (27 YAN)

In this example, you can see the total YAN addition inclusive of Go-ferm is 178.4 YAN, 80 percent more than the recommended 99 YAN. Why would this matter? Well, if you took the nutrient calculator and try to have Fermaid-O provide the extra 99 YAN, any addition of Fermaid-O above 8.5g would give you a warning that it “risks adding yeasty flavors.” Go-ferm is mostly deactivated yeast cells so such a large addition of Go-ferm with this protocol would most likely add yeasty flavors.

This example could be further compounded if one tried to follow Groennfell’s recipes and pitched with 5 grams of yeast per gallon. In such a case you would rehydrate 25 grams of yeast using 31.5 grams of Go-ferm (using 1.25 g of Go-ferm per gram of dry yeast), which would contribute 198.5 YAN from the Go-ferm alone, 200 percent the recommended YAN. It is also a bigger problem in smaller batches, due to rounding up to a full packet of yeast, see examples below.

The Pitch Rate and ABV Biases:

The below figure graphs the recommended and actual YAN contributions which include the YAN contribution from Go-ferm. The recommended YAN and Go-ferm amounts are from the The MeadMakr BatchBuildr. The meads are a 6.5% ABV dry traditional mead, and a 14% ABV traditional mead finishing at 1.01, both with a low YAN requirement yeast. The nutrient regime is the Fermaid-O / Fermaid-K / DAP which is based on Travis Blount-Elliott’s white paper, but the values do not depend on the nutrient regimes using the protocols from The MeadMakr BatchBuilder.

yanGraph.png

You can see here that the problem of high YAN is larger in smaller batches, especially for one gallon batches. At one gallon batch sizes, for the lower ABV mead, the total YAN taking into account the contribution of Go-ferm is over three times the recommended amount, and has 100 more YAN than a two gallon batch.  At one gallon batch size, total YAN is twice as high for the higher ABV mead and again has 100 more YAN than a two gallon batch. This reflects two things:

  1. Pitch Rate Bias: introduced by not pitching a constant amount of yeast/Go-ferm per gallon (and using Go-ferm at 1.25 weight)
  2. ABV Bias: introduced by using the same amount of yeast/Go-ferm per ABV level

The Pitch Rate Bias is driven by not pitching a consistent amount of yeast per gallon and is what drives the downward and fluctuating total YAN by volume. The ABV Bias is driven by pitching a consistent amount of yeast for each ABV level and is what drives a constant gap between the recommended and total YAN even at high volumes of must. The total YAN is 90% higher than recommended at 12 gallons for the 6.5% ABV must, but only 40% higher than recommended at 12 gallons for the 14% ABV must. Hence, the Pitch Rate Bias is more of a problem for small batch sizes, but the ABV Bias is more of a problem for smaller ABV meads compared to higher ABV meads. 

The Pitch Rate Bias does not exist for the TOSNA 2.0 regime in the MeadMakr TOSNA 2.0 Calculator, but does still exist if you use the TOSNA 2.0 regime in The MeadMakr BatchBuildr if rounding up to full packets of yeast. Lets look at the TOSNA 2.0 regime and using 2 grams of yeast per gallon to see what we get.

yanGraph_tosna.png

Note that in the figure, the recommended YAN number comes from the MeadMakr BatchBuildr (since this article has been published the calculator changed the wording of “YAN recommended” has been changed to “YAN provided”). You can clearly see that the pitch rate bias is lost – the amounts of YAN are constant for each volume of must. However, since the pitch rate is the same for both the 6.5% and 14% ABV meads, the contribution of Go-ferm adds a constant amount of YAN to the total YAN for both meads. This can be seen by comparing the total and recommended YAN in  TOSNA 2.0 by ABV level.

t2_rec.png

The contribution of the YAN from the Go-ferm is a constant amount of YAN added to the YAN contributed from Fermaid-O. How different the total and recommended is by ABV can be seen from the below figure.

t2_excess.png

For a 4% ABV short mead, the total YAN is 90% higher than recommended whereas for a 11.5% ABV standard mead, the total YAN is only 30% higher than recommended.

The Pitch Rate and ABV Biases: TOSNA 3.0 (Updated April 2019)

Since this article was first published in October 2017, TOSNA 3.0 was released. TOSNA 3.0 comes with a nice new calculator but the main difference in terms of nutrients is that the pitch rate differs by OG. Let’s see what changed.

The below graph shows the YAN for two meads using TOSNA 3.0.The meads evaluated are a 6.5% ABV dry traditional mead, and a 14% ABV traditional mead finishing at 1.01, both with a low YAN requirement yeast. For the low ABV mead, the lower pitch rate means that less YAN is added from the Go-ferm and the excess total YAN from recommended drops from 71 percent to only 28 percent. The total YAN for the high ABV mead is the same, nothing changed since 2 grams per gallon is pitched for the starting gravity.

YANtosna3.0bygallon.png

Now we compare the total and recommended YAN in TOSNA 3.0 by ABV level. Notice that relative to TOSNA 2.0 regime in The MeadMakr BatchBuildr and using 2 grams of yeast per gallon, TOSNA 3.0 has YAN provided that is closer to the recommended levels. There are three big jumps in the curve when the pitch rate adjusts.

YANtosna3.0byABV.png

Since the YAN contribution from the Go-ferm is no longer constant in TOSNA 3.0, the excess YAN contributed from Fermaid-O. How different the total provided and recommended by ABV can be seen from the below figure. For a 6.3% ABV dry short mead, the total YAN is 27% higher than recommended (compared to 70% in TOSNA 2.0) whereas for a 14.1% ABV dry mead, the total YAN is only 4.8% higher than recommended (compared to 25% in TOSNA 2.0).

YANtosna3.0excess.png

Basically, compared to TOSNA 2.0TOSNA 3.0 reduces its ABV bias but also introduces a pitch rate bias. The pitch rate bias is due to the gravity levels at which the pitch rate adjusts, 1.110, 1.130, and 1.160.

Severity of the Biases

Lets stop and reflect for a second on the severity of the biases.

  1. The pitch rate bias is the largest for one gallon batches if rounding to full packets, and is clearly inconsistent with recommendations. Not rounding to full 5 gram packets or varying the amount of yeast steadily by starting Brix can easily fix this.
  2. The ABV bias from not taking into account the contribution of Go-ferm by ABV is really an argument about how much YAN to add (the appropriate Recommended/Provided YAN level), and is more debatable. Slightly higher nutrients than the recommended level is probably beneficial and prudent in meads (also smaller pitch rates, more oxygen additions, higher temperatures, or anything else that increases nutrient uptake), but for short meads with high pitch rates, the additional nutrients from Go-ferm may be detectable. Moreover, nutrients are expensive and an overload can encourage spoilage. Also, you want your yeast to clean up fermentation by-products (such as acetaldehyde) and too many nutrients may make your yeast lazy, and less prone to cleaning up.

So how much extra YAN should be provided? If meads are harder to ferment than wine, maybe 10-40 percent before excess mineral off flavors are noticed. Maybe this is also because mead makers use different fermentation practice: adding the extra oxygen, degassing, etc. I have pitched meads at exactly the Scott labs handbook guidelines with a YAN of 10*Brix*Gravity*NutrientMultiplier. Most turned out fine, some of the higher gravity meads slowed down around 12-13 percent ABV (for a 14 percent semi sweet trad using 71B). Let’s look at some possible alternatives.

Potential Alternatives

The 2017 Scott Labs Handbook recommendations a pitch rate of 0.95 grams/gallon up to 25 brix, 1.33 grams/gallon from 25-30 brix and 1.5 grams/gallon from 30+brix. They also say 1.9 grams/gallon for icewine. We can look at what this provides in terms of excess YAN compared to their recommended level.

We can also compare to a method that pitches yeast to pin down the desired excess nutrients. In this case the pitch rate in terms of grams per gallon can be given by the following formula.

grams/gallon=(Brix*(1+(percent excess)/100)-(YAN from Fermaid-O))/39.63

Where percent excess could be say, 20 or 40 percent. Let’s use the TOSNA 2.0/3.0 recommended amount of Fermaid-O and its YAN contribution and see what happens to pitch rates using this formula. Let’s also compare it to the Scott labs handbook pitch rate and the TOSNA 3.0 pitch rate.

pitch rates.png

As can be seen the TOSNA 3.0 and the Scott labs handbook pitch rate are the same below 25 Brix, so too is the excess nutrients. The main difference is that the Scott labs handbook pitch rate is below 10 percent excess nutrients for meads below 10 percent ABV. In contrast, maintaining a constant excess nutrients gives similar pitch rates, but falls to close to half a gram per gallon at around 8.2 Brix.

excess.png

Experimeads Evidence for Go-ferm Off-flavors

Pitch Rate: 1 gram versus 5 grams per gallon. This article found that all else equal, a five gram per gallon pitch rate combined with the recommended amount of Go-ferm resulted in significant off-flavors compared to a mead with only 1 gram pitch rate with the recommended amount of Go-ferm.

Water Mineral Profile

While water mineral profiles is an important topic in making beer, it is mostly overlooked in mead making. This must change. It is important to consider that your nutrients are building a water mineral profile and that the combined minerals from your water and nutrients should be taken into account.

Go-ferm andFermaid-K have minerals in the nutrient, whereas DAP and Fermaid-O do not (although, they naturally exist in the yeast hulls in Fermaid-O). Thus, in excessive amounts Go-ferm and Fermaid-K risk adding mineral or brine character depending on the mineral profile of the water. I have used all nutrient protocols with either spring water, 50/50 spring water and distilled water, and filtered city water to make meads. I found that the spring water gave me a brine flavor (especially in short meads) and the filtered tap water did not. The table below shows the mineral profile for an example of a typical natural spring water from Kingston, Ontario, Canada:

spring

In contrast, the Bicarbonate and Calcium levels of the Kingston, Ontario tap water are more than half of that of the spring water:

kingston

I also noticed that the spring water gave much better flocculation of the yeast compared to the filtered city water, something that I attribute to the higher calcium levels. The same nutrient additions to the above two water profiles will give very different mineral contents in the final product.

Just for fun, lets compare this to the Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water that Bray Denard prefers to use in his BOMM recipes.

ozark

Here I report the highest values in the 2016 water analysis. You can see that the water profile recommended for the BOMM is very light on minerals. In fact, the total dissolved minerals in the Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water is 20-120 ppm. This puts the water in the slight to moderate mineral content range. In contrast, the water profile of the Kingston Ontario City water is 120-140 putting it in the moderate to high mineral content range and the natural spring water that is sold in Ontario is 300 ppm, which has high mineral content.

The low mineral levels of the Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water may be why Bray adds potassium bi-carbinate to his meads – as there is less minerals to buffer against the PH drop compared to a higher bi-carbonate water. An interesting question: do you need to add potassium bi-carbinate (or potassium carbonate ), depending on the original carbonate levels of your water? Probably not if you have high mineral content water.

It is also notable that Sergio Moutela owner of Melovino Meadery and creator of TOSNA 2.0, uses reverse osmosis water in his mead making. While there has been little attention attached to water profiles/ building water profiles from nutrients, this is likely to be a topic explored in the future.

From my experience (and using Brays and Sergios success), when using Go-ferm or Fermaid-K you want water with lower mineral levels to avoid mineral off-flavors.

Experimeads Evidence for Mead Water Chemistry

High Chloride to Sulfate Ratio and High Mineral versus Low Mineral Content. These articles found that all else equal, for a sample size of a dozen participants, tasters were unable to significantly distinguish between a mead with a low mineral and chloride to sulfate ratio with a mead dosed post fermentation with higher mineral and chloride to sulfate ratio. However, most participants who correctly identified the odd mead out preferred the mead with higher chloride and mineral content.

Tailored Additions of Nutrients with Go-ferm (TANG 2.0) :

Tailored Additions of Nutrients with Go-ferm (TANG) is not a nutrient protocol, just a philosophy. My recommendation is to use TOSNA 3.0 and/or similar protocols, especially for ABVs above 6 percent. Just remember that when using Go-ferm and online calculators:

  • Avoid the pitch rate bias by tayloring your yeast pitch to the original gravity. Don’t round up. Use TOSNA 3.0 or Scott Labs Handbook recommendations on pitch rate.
  • If you deviate from these recommended pitch rates, take the YAN contribution of Go-ferm into account (especially in short meads).
  • Increase the YAN requirement of the yeast in a high temp, high oxygen, or low PH environment.
  • Use water with lower mineral content or watch the combined mineral content of the water and nutrients.

To calculate the YAN contribution from Go-ferm, pretend it is Fermaid-O with an effectiveness of 3 using The MeadMakr Advanced Nutrient Calculator. If the equivalent amount of Go-ferm in Fermaid-O gives a warning of adding yeasty flavors in the calculator reduce the amount of Go-ferm. If you want to do the calculations for other types of nutrients see the YAN contribution of common nutrients.

The reason I suggest the use of Go-ferm and/or Fermaid-K with Fermaid-O is because it is recommended by Scott Labs, the creator of these products. As stated in Scott Labs 2016 hand book:

“Fermaid O does not contain any DAP or supplemented micronutrients. For optimal results, Fermaid O should be used in conjunction with an appropriate yeast rehydration nutrient (GoFerm or Go-ferm Protect Evolution) to assure proper micronutrient nutrition of selected yeast from rehydration through completed fermentation.”

Hence you should use Go-ferm and/or Fermaid-K in conjunction with Fermaid-O to get some micronutrients.

Another option, as mentioned by Jeff at The Mead House Podcast when TANG was discussed on Episode 67, is to not use Go-ferm at all for low gravity meads. Osmotic stress to yeast only really kicks in at 1.104 OG or higher, so Go-ferm may not be totally necessary at lower gravity. This may work as the rehydrated yeast should already have a store of minerals and amino acids, needed for the quick fermentation of a short mead. However, I still recommend the use of Go-ferm even at low gravity. First, because Scott Labs recommends it and it is prudent. Second, I prefer to make an activated starter to ensure a quick start to fermentation and reduce the contact of nutrients with spoilage organism. This is particularly true for yeasts that have a low competitiveness factor.

What should the pitch rate be for a mead?  Groennfell meadery  pitches at 5 g per gallon. Ken Schramm of Schramm’s Mead pitches at 3-4 g per gallon. Michael Fairbrother of Moonlight meadery pitches at 1 g per gallon. TOSNA 3.0 varys the pitch rate from 1 to 4 grams per gallon depending on starting gravity. I usually pitch somewhere close to TOSNA 3.0  but also pitch at higher rates occasionally. But beware: there is very little validated evidence of how pitch rate interacts with recommended YAN to affect the presence of off-flavors. Over pitching may increase the risk of off-flavors since the dry yeast are already relatively well fed with nutrients.

Staggered nutrients

I generally recommend following a staggered nutrient regime. Use what TOSNA 3.0 recommends if using TOSNA 3.0. If deviating I would suggest not using a hard and fast rule for timing and amounts, but rules of thumb:

  1. For short meads, with high pitch rates, the fermentation is done very quickly (2-5) days. In this case, add all or most (~60-75%) nutrients upfront at pitch and the remainder at 12, and 24 hours.
  2. For standard/ sack meads follow the gravity readings closely. Rehydrate using Go-ferm, then stagger the other nutrients for the first few days and get the last one in before 1/3 sugar break, but especially before the 1/2 sugar break and well below 8% ABV.

The reason you need to be flexible is given by the following example. I have pitched the same yeast on two 1.120 OG musts, where one had grape juice and the other had whole currents. The grape juice fermented out twice as fast as the other and passed the 1/3 sugar break by the day 2, showing signs of yeast stress (smells of rotten egg – which I fixed right away by adding Fermaid-O and degassing). You would want to pre-emptively avoid this yeast stress by adding nutrients sooner to the pyment in this case compared to the current mead.

Oxygen, Temperature, PH:

Oxygen: The more additions of oxygen will delay/restart the lag phase and increase the yeast count, and result in more nutrient absorption. Make sure to stagger nutrients to insure that there is plenty of YAN/ micronutrients for the lag phases induced by the oxygen additions. From Scott Labs 2017 Handbook page 36: “When adding more oxygen to the must/juice, nitrogen is captured faster and more is needed when compared to fermentations taking place under anaerobic conditions.”

Temperature: The warmer the temperature, the faster the lag phase and fermentation so you may want to get your nutrients in sooner to ensure that there is plenty of YAN/ micronutrients. From Scott Labs 2017 Handbook page 36: “An increase in temperature stimulates the growth of yeast and fermentation rate, thereby requiring increased levels of nitrogen.”

PH: The lower the PH, the more stress of the yeast and the harder it can be for the yeast to absorb nutrients. From Scott Labs 2017 Handbook page 36: “At pH 3 only 70% of ammonia can be utilized compared with > 90% at pH 4. This can modify the handling of acidic whites or high pH reds.”

Oxygen, Temperature, PH YAN Multipliers: Ideally, we would have a multiplier formula just like Scott Labs have for the yeast requirement multiplier. Let’s look at the yeast multipliers.

  • For Low N requiring strains: 0.75
  • For Medium N requiring strains: 0.90
  • For High N requiring strains: 1.25

Going from a Low N to a Medium N requirement and a Medium N to High N requirement represents a 20 and 33 percent increase in the total recommended YAN. This range may be useful a benchmark excess multipliers for how to increase the nutrients/pitch rates in a high oxygen, high temperature, or low PH environments.

TANG example 1: Nutrients for a 5 gallon batch of my 8 % ABV lemon basil mead with scored 40/50 and 45/50 in the Winnipeg 2017 Pro/ Am Brew Challenge. Recommended YAN is 112.5 as suggested in the Scott Labs Handbook. The MeadMakr BatchBuildr  gives the following:

  • 10 g yeast
  • Go-ferm: 12.5g (80 YAN)
  • Fermaid-O: 8.5g (72 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 7.7g (40.5 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 192.5

TANG (here I use DAP because of the use of high mineral content spring water)

  • 10 g yeast
  • Go-ferm: 8.5 g (Contributed 58 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 3 g (Contributed 16 YAN)
  • DAP: 3.8 g (Contributed 41 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 112.5

In this case you can see how the rehydration in Go-ferm would have resulted in excessive YAN additions using the The MeadMakr BatchBuildr. Taking this into account and tailoring nutrients to the water profile by using DAP to not add more minerals earned me silver and a 45/50 score for a bottle conditioned bone-dry short mead.

TANG example 2: nutrients for a one gallon batch of my 6.5 % ABV dry traditional short oaked mead. Recommended YAN is 92.2 and The MeadMakr BatchBuildr gives the following:

  • Go-ferm: 6.25g (200 YAN)
  • Fermaid-O: 1.7g (72 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 0.76g (20.2 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 292.2

TANG (here I have water with low minearl content so use Go-ferm and  Fermaid-K)

  • Go-ferm: 1.65 g (52.2 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 1.5 grams (40 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 92.2 YAN

In this case you can see how the problem of YAN provided by Go-ferm is exaggerated in lower batch sizes. Taking this into account and tailoring my nutrients reduces the risk of off-flavors.

TANG example 3: nutrients for a 5 gallon batch of 6.9 % ABV mead from Groennfell Meadery. I have made several of the recipes following the guidelines put forth in “How we brew everything we brew.” This includes fermenting at high temps, pitching 25 grams of D-47, and putting all nutrients in at pitch. All the meads turned out great using TANG. I always use water with a low mineral profile from a low mineral profile spring water or a higher mineral spring water diluted with distilled water with only Go-ferm and Fermaid-K. Recommended YAN by Scott Labs Handbook is 99 YAN. The MeadMakr BatchBuildr with your own hih pitch rate would give you the following:

  • Go-ferm: 31.25g (198 YAN) – assuming you use Scott Labs Guidelines of 1.25g/g yeast
  • Fermaid-O: 8.5g (72 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 5.1g (27 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 297

TANG  (here I have low mineral content water so use Fermaid-K)

  • Go-ferm: 8.5 g (54 YAN)
  • Fermaid-K: 8.5 grams (45 YAN)
  • Fermaid-O: 8.5g (72 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 171 YAN

In this case you can see how high pitch rates and the use of Go-ferm can triple the actual YAN additions. Taking this into account and tailoring nutrients reduces the risk of off-flavors.

TANG example 4 (TOSNA 3.0): nutrients for a 3 gallon batch of 12 % ABV (1.09 SG) traditional dry mead using a yeast with a low nutrient requirement. 162 YAN is recommended by the Scott Labs Handbook. Note, if you select the Fermaid-O (TOSNA 2.0) regime in the MeadMakr BatchBuildr you get a different recommendation than the TOSNA 3.0.  Lets review both.

The MeadMakr BatchBuildr for low nutrient yeast, Fermaid-O/ TOSNA 2.0, with 10 grams of yeast and the following nutrients:

  • Go-ferm: 12.5g (132 YAN)
  • Fermaid-O: 9.7g (137 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 269

MeadMakr TOSNA 3.0 Calculator is 3 grams of yeast and the following nutrients:

  • Go-ferm: 3.8g (40 YAN)
  • Fermaid-O: 9.7g (137 YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: 177

In this case you can see that the overall YAN is highest for The MeadMakr BatchBuildr but still high for TOSNA 3.0. I recommend staying with TOSNA 3.0 exactly at the recommended pitch rates for higher ABV meads.

Conclusion

It seems that some calculators use the 1.25 grams of Go-ferm per gram of yeast pitched as a hard and fast rule. You either use Go-ferm or you don’t. However, why would some calculators ignore the YAN and mineral contribution from Go-ferm? If you want to avoid brine/mineral off flavors and help the yeast clean up any extra off-flavors (like acetaldehyde) you may want to keep the following tips TANG in mind:

  • Avoid the pitch rate bias by tayloring your yeast pitch to the original gravity.
  • Take the YAN contribution of Go-ferm into account (especially in short meads).
  • Increase the YAN requirement of the yeast in a high temp, high oxygen, or low PH environment.
  • Use low mineral content water or watch the combined mineral content of the water and nutrients.

There is undoubtedly a range of YAN that is a safe zone around the recommended YAN, conditional on your process, that ensures yeast health and reduces the risk of off-flavors. Keep in mind that even though you may not be noticing mineral and yeast off flavors, other off-flavors may not be as readily cleaned up.

This article shows some biases in calculators, but undoubtedly more research is needed. More research is needed to answer the following questions.

  • What are the nutrient taste thresholds for the different regimes by ABV levels?
  • What are the taste thresholds of water mineral profiles for different ABV levels?
  • YAN multipliers for the pitch rate, oxygen, and temperature ranges ?

This deserves full-blown experiments. Experimeads are currently in progress so stay tuned. The TANG protocal is currently a philosophy rather than a complete protocal. Use TOSNA 3.0, but if you deviate from the protocal, keep TANG in mind.

Assumptions

The following are used in the above calculations:

  • Scott labs handbook recommended YAN: 10*Brix*Gravity*NutrientMultiplier.
  • DAP 1g/L = 210 YAN
  • FERM K 1g/L = 100 YAN
  • FERM O 1g/L = 40 YAN (Effectiveness multiplier of 4 so 160 mgN/g/L equivalent.)
  • Go-Ferm 1g/L = 30 YAN (Effectiveness multiplier of 4 so 120 mgN/g/L equivalent.)

M3A: Basil With A Hint Of Lemon, Short

I really enjoy the refreshing quality of short dry meads. When I was in Nova Scotia early in 2017 I went to a farmers market where a farmer was selling honey and said that she only kept a few lives on their wild blue berry, wild cherry, and apple farm. I bought a 6 pound bucket and make this wonderful traditional short mead.  I bottled some as is and split the batch and did five variations. This included a gallon each of  1 pound of whole frozen blackberries and currents in secondary. I also made a mojito mead, a dry hopped mead with 1oz each of Amarillo and Cascade, and a lemon basil mead.  I only made a half-gallon of the basil and mojito meads, so four 12 oz bottles. The berry meads were jammy/ fruit skin flavor that overpowered the delightful honey character. They also needed acid, and I found myself adding acid blend to the glass to brighten them up.  This was not what I was looking for and I won’t do fruit in secondary again for short meads. The metheglin’s on the other hand were amazing! For both the basil lemon and mint lime meads, the herbal flavors and citric acids accentuated the honey character. Here is the recipe for the traditional short mead and the basil lemon metheglin variation.

Traditional Short, 7.5%, US-05, 5 gallons, June 24th, 2017

  • 4 gallons of water, spring water with the following profile:

spring

  • 5 gallon glass carboy
  • Rehydrated 12g US-05 in 8.5g of Go-ferm (Contributed 54 YAN)
  • Feed starter for 1 hour
  • 6 lbs of wild flower honey from Nova Scotia, wild blue berry, wild cherry, and apple.
  • 1 lbs of Hogan’s golden honey
  • 1 liter of filtered tap water in starter

Specs:

  • OG-1.059
  • Tar. FG-0.998
  • Act. FG- 0.994
  • ABV-7.5-8%

TANSM Nutrient Protocol:

Fermentation:

  • +18h – degassed, .5g Fermaid-K, foamed over but had sanitized before
  • +24h – degassed, 1 g Fermaid-K, 1.5 g of DAP, foamed over but had sanitized before
  • +36h – degassed, 1 g Fermaid-K, 1.5 g of DAP, no foam over – gravity read 1.039
  • +48h – degassed, 0.5 g Fermaid-K, 0.8 g of DAP, foam over but had sanitized
  • +3 days – degassed, foamed up but not over.
  • +4 days – degassed, foamed up but not over. 1.022 tasted amazing!! Sweet was balanced. Not too yeasty. Smelled of sweet honey, cherry, apple
  • +3 weeks – degassed, no big foam up. Still quite hazy. 0.994!! Clean but really dry.

After Fermentation:

  • +3.5 weeks – Transferred to secondary. Got five gallons. Filled two in 1.9 liter glass mason jar with dregs.
  • +3.75 week – Added juice of one lemon and four basil sprigs to the 1.9 liter glass mason jar. Sprayed the basil leaves with star-san, gave them a good spanking.
  • +3.75 weeks+24 hours – removed basil which as all brown and gross.
  • +4 weeks –  added clarifier
  • +6 weeks – Bottled 4x 375 ml at 2.5 vol using table sugar
  • +7 weeks – Tasted bottled traditional and most of the ale yeast flavour is gone. Little honey coming through, thin and watery.
  • +9 weeks – Traditional tastes great. Fruity and light, but still not fully carbonated.  

Won silver at the Winnipeg 2017 Pro/ Am Brew Challenge (at three months). Rated 40/50 and 45/50 by the two judges.  Scoresheets.

In retrospect, should have added a tad more lemon juice and some rind. Either that or some citric acid, just to help it pop a bit more. The mead finished with a really low gravity, 0.994, so even though I gave it 2.5 volume, the mead only slightly carbonated and I suspect it conked out around 0.998. I would of preferred using honey to prime next time. It would also be more accessible if I was to backsweeten with a sweet mead to say 1.002, to appease those who are dry snobs. Sometimes its hard to tell how to finish a short mead at bottling, since I expect to get more acid from the carbonation. Now, I almost always add some citric or acid blend to my short meads to help them pop a bit.

2017-10-31 07.53.40

 

 

 

M2C: Triple Berry Sack

I used whole berries and not just juice. I made this with my 2-year-old daughter and will be saving one of each bottles till she is of age. I made this at the same time as my current mead.

Recipe:

  • 0.75 kg frozen raspberries
  • 0.5 kg frozen blueberries
  • 0.3 kg frozen black currants
  • 1.33 liters of wildflower honey
  • ~2 liters of clean, filtered tap water (up to 4 liters total)
  • 5g of 71B-1122
  • 1/2 tsp of energizer and DAP
  • 1 gram potassium bicarbonate

kingston

Specs:

  • Fermented at 62°F
  • SG: 1.128
  • Target FG: 1.020
  • Actual FG: 1.018

Procedure:

  • Put thawed fruit through food processor till chunky.
  • Given 1/4 tsp of energizer and dap in must. Mixed heavily with drill and aerated. Strained out the juice in bucket and put remains in mesh bags.
  • Pitched with 5g of 71B-1122, using a starter for 1.5 hours. 

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Fermentation:

  • +24h had white foam on top. Added  2/3*1/4 tsp dap 2/3*1/4 tsp energizer. Mixed with drill to aerate. Added potassium bicarbonate. Smelled sweet.
  • + 48 hours 1/2*1/4 tsp of DAP and energizer
  • + 72 hours current is at 1.086 and tasted amazing.
  • Swirled bucket every morning and evening for first first three weeks.

After Fermentation:

  • + 3 Weeks:  transferred to one gallon carboy. Had a musty smell and alcohol heat on back end.
  • + 4 weeks: car boy was bubbling away. Lots of sediment on the bottom almost two inches. They all cleared up quite a bit.
  • +5 weeks: transferred to 1g carboy and cleared out well in a few weeks.
  • + 2 months:  bottled. Super clear. Tasted alcohol heat, strong fruit balanced honey well. Could of added clarifier.

 

2017-08-12 19.10.46

Impressions:

I really liked the fruit blend as it gave it a complex, rounded flavor. I could have added more berries, but there just the right amount to have the honey character shine through.

Won Gold at Winnipeg  2017 Pro/ Am Brew Challenge competition October 2017 (mead was 9 months old). Scored 44/50 from two judges. Scoresheets.

2017-10-31 07.54.08

I had this mead judged at three and four months and it only scored a 32 and a 39, respectively, by the judges. The mead definitely improved with age, but I also made other mistakes submitting for the competition at three months. When I submitted it to the first comp (at three months), I didn’t specify the berries used and just said triple berry. The judges got all hung up on not being able to discern the three berries themselves. Lession learned: always spell out the berries used as it helps the judges look for the flavors.

Also, there was a muskyness in the honey (you could taste it in the raw honey) that is common of late season wildflower honey from my region. This aged out after six months or so and I should of waited. I graphed the scores over time to see how much the scores improved with the age of the mead. I extrapolated between months 4 and 9. The first observation could be downward biased from the description.

AgeScore.png

 

One of my biggest regrets is sending the mead out too early, and only making a one gallon batch of this mead. While I still have a bottle left, I would have liked to send it to more comps and see how the mead improved with age. I will make a three gallon batch of this mead again soon.

 

M4C: Coffee Maple Standard Dry

This was the first batch of mead I ever made. I made 5.5 gallons of 12.3% ABV wildflower traditional mead using EC-1118 using a recipe I found from the American Homebrewers Association. I learned lessons from this batch, and made mistakes and I will try to elaborate. Basically, I made the batch and after two months split the batch into six batches which I flavored in different ways. The coffee maple meads was one of my favorites.

The fermentation was very clean and after a month only had slight alcohol on nose and backend. Initially, I found that the honey had a musky note that I was finding rather unpleasant. I know that this came from the honey. It left the flavor and aroma after 6 months and has opened into much more honey and floral character. After I made the mead, I conducted a honey tasting of all the meads in the area, and have since switched to Hogan’s golden wildflower honey. That said, at the time of bottling, I was trying to find flavors that would beat out the floral musk flavor. This recipe does do it for the flavor and mixed well with the honey character.

Recipe:

  • 5 g EC-1118 yeast hydrated 15 m in water (no Go-ferm)
  • 15lbs of wildflower honey
  • Tap water to 6 gallons (use filtered)
  • Gravity 1.09 post pitching
  • Fermented in 6 gallon bucket
  • 12.3% ABV
  • Whiped well with the wine whip when mixing the must, but I suggest adding oxygen at pitch and at least again after 24 hours.

kingston

Fermentation:

  • +24h – 1.5 tsp DAP and 0.75 tsp of energizer. Degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on)
  • +36h – added 0.5 tsp  DAP and 0.25 tsp energizer. Degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 64f.
  • +48h – degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 64f.
  • +70h – 0.25 tsp  DAP and 0.125 tsp energizer, 62f.
  • +8 days – degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 62f.
  • +10 days –  airlock activity slowed. FG 0.995. degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 62f.

 

 

After Fermentation:

As mentioned, I was looking to flavor override and the mead was really dry. I steeped 3 tbsp (1/3) of maple coffee (light/medium roast coffee with real maple sugar granules) and 6 tbsp (2/3) Brazil and Sumatra blend from Mola Mola coffee per half gallon in over sized and sanitized tea bags. Steeped for 24 hours and let sit for another 24 hours. Residual sweetness before was 0.995 and ended at 1.001. I would recommend stabilizing the mead at this point. I didn’t and it didn’t seem to matter. None of the bottles restarted fermention.

Impressions:

Initially, the maple added a tonne of residual sweetness and gave the impession of being  semi sweet. In fact there was so much perceived sweetness that it really needed to be carbonated to cut through the sweetness. Importantly, you need to force carbonate the mead (which I did with refrigerated mead in soda-stream bottles). I tried bottle carbonating the meads but they ended up too dry and astringent and were not nearly as nice (scored high 20s, low 30s in two other comps because of too much astringency with comments that they needed sweetness).

 

2017-05-29 12.44.00

Vanbrewers 2017

 

Won second place at Vanbrewers 2017. Rated 36/50 and 40/50 by Judges. 197-1, Judge 2.  197-2. After 9 months of aging, both the sweetness and astringency mellow and melded to create a very balanced mead. In fact, after 9 months, I preferred the mead still. I found that it was off-dry with a white wine character. The astringency from the coffee and sweetness from the honey maple were very balanced. If I submit it again to competitions, I probably won’t carbonate the mead, but leave it still.

Lessons Learned:

As mentioned this was the first batch of mead I ever made. In doing so I made some mistakes – or at least some things that I wouldn’t do again. For example, I fermented this mead in a 23 liter bucket and it was really full. When degassing, the mead kept foaming up and it was slow going to ensure that it did not spill over. Next time, I would split the batch into two buckets or only put 3-4 gallons in a 23 liter bucket. Second, the mead would have been much better with a golden honey or a nice varietal. I used a wild flower honey which had a floral character so strong, it was pungent, with a perfume-musk smell and flavor. I would of also rehydrated in Go-ferm and add pure 02 in the primary for the first pitch and the within 24 hours. The wine whip clearly did not add enough 02, and there was some alcohol heat that took this batch some time to smooth out. Finally, I should have cold crash, or back sweetened from blending, or whatever, so that’s its not too dry. It finished at 1.001 after adding the coffee, which given the maple coffee gave a tonne of perceived sweetness. Lesson learned. I made so much that I still have some and it will be fun to see how this mead further ages with time.

M1A: Oaked Traditional Short Mead

This was my first attempt at making a traditional short mead. I made a two gallon batch, which I split and oaked one and dry hopped the other. My dry hop was falconer’s flight 7c’s hops following Havoc’s meads Bitter Bee recipe. The dry hopped version was one of my favourite, as everyone liked it, but only scored 30/50 at the Vanbrewers competition. It just replaced the oak with 0.4 oz of falcon 7 hop blend. Evaluations of the hopped mead 200-1  and  200-2. I learned some lessons from this batch, and made mistakes I should have learned from. I don’t recommend following the nutrient regime for this recipe as is. Made mid-March 2017, evaluated mid-May 2017, at 2 months old.

Recipe:

2017-03-19 11.23.10-1

Specs:

  • OG – 1.046, 7% ABV
  • Total recommended YAN from MeadMakr BatchBuildr = 99 YAN
  • 12.5g Go-ferm (198.2 YAN)
  • 0.7 g DAP (19.5 YAN)
  • 0.5 g potassium bicarbonate
  • 0.6 g Fermaid-K (8 YAN)
  • Total: 225.7 YAN

kingston

Fermentation:

  • – 3 h – made a 1.8 liter activated starter
  • +0 h – mixed up honey and water, added 0.2g Fermaid-K, whipped with degassor for several minutes. 62 f
  • +12 h- foaming. fed 0.2g Fermaid-K and 0.35g DAP, 62 f
  • + 24 h –  Read 1.038 fed 0.2g Fermaid-K and 0.35g DAP and gave 0.5 grams potassium bicarbonate. 62 f.
  • + 48 h- gravity 1.026. Tasted honey sweet clean yeasty. Yummy. Stopped feeding.
  • +72 h 1.008 yum.

After Fermentation:

  • + 10 days. FG 0.998. Transferred to two one gallon carboys. Added two cube of medium toast American oak and one wine soaked French Oak.

2017-03-23 20.58.47

After I had transferred from bucket to carboy, I noticed plastic strips floating around in the mead. It took me a while, but I realized that it was part of the bucket that I was scrapping away using the wine degasser when I was aerating. Ewww. I now use glass carboys and aerate by shaking or with a pure 02 stone instead of whipping using a degasser.

  • +3 weeks – tasted young and yeasty with a light sulphur on nose, so degassed by splash racked a third time.

2017-03-23 21.50.54

  • +4 weeks added clarifier, tasted better than last week before degassing.
  • +5 weeks bottled using cane sugar to 2 vol. Had trouble carbonating so next time  use corn sugar or 2.3-2.5 vol when priming.

Impressions:

This was a really tasty short meads after about three months. As mentioned above, at three weeks the batch tasted young and yeasty with sulphur notes. I chalk it up to two things. First, trying to oxygenate the must with a wine degasser is not the best method as the you cannot get enough oxygen into the must. Second, there was a yeast overload in this mead due to not taking into account the amount of Go-ferm in the total YAN contribution. While I managed to get most of the yeast flavor to drop out after a couple of months, as mentioned by the judges, there was a notable green apple flavor that hung around. I suspect that the nutrient overload made it less likely for the yeast to clean up some of the fermentation by-products. However, I am not sure the judges really minded the green apple off-flavor. I would recommend taking the YAN contribution of Go-ferm into account by using the TANG nutrient regime next time.

At two months old, the mead won third place at Vanbrewers 2017. Rated 38/50 by two Judges. 203-1, Judge 2. 203-2. Evaluations of the same mead dry hopped with falconer’s flight 7c’s hops is available from 200-1  and  200-2.

2017-05-29 12.44.00

Vanbrewers 2017

M2C: Current mead, 14% ABV, Still

This was my first melomel using whole berries and not just juice. I made this with my 2-year-old daughter and will be saving one of each bottles till she is of age. I made this at the same time as a mixed berry (blueberry, raspberry, black current). My preference between the two meads changed as they aged.

Recipe:

  • .24 litres of frozen wild blueberries
  • .5 kg of black currents
  • .5 kg of red currents
  • ~1.66 l of wildflower honey
  • 2.5 l of clean, filtered tap water
  • 5g of 71B-1122
  • 1/2 tsp of energizer and DAP
  • 1 gram potassium bicarbonate

kingston

Specs:

  • Fermented 62f
  • SG: 1.118
  • Target FG: 1.010
  • Actual FG: 1.004

Procedure:

  • Put thawed fruit through food processor till chunky.
  • Given 1/4 tsp of energizer and dap in must. Mixed heavily with drill and aerated. Strained out the juice in bucket and put remains in mesh bags.
  • Pitched with 5g of 71B-1122 Half liter activated starters that took 1.5 hours.

Fermentation

  • +24h had white foam on top. Added  2/3*1/4 tsp dap 2/3*1/4 tsp energizer. Mixed with drill to aerate. Added potassium bicarbonate
  • + 48 hours 1/2*1/4 tsp of dap AND energizer
  • + 72 hours current is at 1.086 and tasted amazing.
  • Swirled bucket every morning and evening for first three weeks.

After Fermentation

  • + 3 Weeks:  transferred to one gallon carboy and strained out pulp. Had a musty smell and alcohol heat on backend.
  • + 4 weeks: car boy was bubbling away. Lots of sediment on the bottom almost two inches. They all cleared up quite a bit.
  • + 5 weeks: transferred to 1g carboy and cleared out well in a few weeks.
  • + 2 months:  bottled. Super clear. Tasted alcohol heat, strong fruit balanced honey well. Could of added clarifier.

 

 

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Won Gold at VanBrewer competition June 2017. Rated 39/50 by two Judges: 199-1 and 199-2, at 5 months old.

Reflections: I really like currents in mead. I thought there was just the right amount of fruit to have the honey character shine through. The mead definitely improved with age. First, there was a muskyness in the honey (you could taste it in the raw honey) that is common of late season wildflower honey from my region. This aged out after six months or so. If I was to make it again, I would make it finish sweeter. I like dry meads and enjoyed it, but I found that people found it quite dry, given the tannin and acidity from currents . I would target at least 1.020 next time.

 

Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment

This is the experimead that started it all. The experiment tested 12 yeast strains in short meads (8.5% ABV). The meads have been evaluated using triangle tests and scoresheets by experienced home brewers and BJCP certified judges at Canadian home brewers clubs across Canada.

The experiment will test various yeast strains in their use in short meads (8.5% ABV- shortish). The meads will be evaluated using triangle tests and BJCP-type scoresheets by experienced home brewers and BJCP certified judges at Canadian home brewers clubs.  Kingston (KABOB), Toronto, (GTAbrews+professional brewers), Vancouver (VanBrewers), and Ottawa (AJ+crew from GotMead?) all participated in the experiment.

This experiment has two main goals:

  1. Test body of various yeast strains for improved mouth feel.
  2. Test ester profiles of various yeast strains for improved taste and aromatics.

Side goals:

  1. Do triangle tests for “identical” yeasts (US-05 / WLP001/ WY1056, etc)
  2. Find meads that are clean and fast (test all meads before 8 weeks)

Experiment yeasts and their use in previous tests

Dry Ale Yeasts:

  • US-05 (used by Golden coast meads, Colony Meadery, etc)
  • Lallemand Abbaye (dBOMM 2015)
  • CBC-1  (dBOMM 2015)
  • Safbrew T-58

Ale Yeasts:

  • WLP001 (BB 2016)
  • WLP002 (BB 2016)
  • WLP041 (BB 2016)
  • WY1056 (BBR 2007)
  • WY1388 (BBR 2007; BB 2016, BOMM 2015, dBOMM 2015)

Dry Wine Yeasts:

References of the yeasts in previous experiments:

1h

Experiment Parameters:

  • Batch size 1 gallon
  • Target OG: 1.064
  • Target FG: 0.996-1.000
  • Target ABV: 8.4-8.5%
  • Water profile – see table

water.png

  • Honey: 1.52lbs, Using Hogan’s white honey. Clover, alfalfa, etc.
  • 0.5 grams, approx. 1/8 tsp KHCO3
  • YAN Provided: 175 (excluding Go-ferm)
  • Go-ferm: 12.5g (~525 YAN, with effectiveness of 3)
  • Fermaid-O : 3.5g (148 YAN, with effectiveness of 4)
  • Fermaid-K: 1g (27 YAN)
  • Dry Yeast Weight: 10-11.5g yeast

48h

Procedure:

  • Rehydrated/ add yeast in Go-ferm. Added 1 tbsp of must every 30 minutes till reached 500ml after about three hours. All starters were bubbling away at time of pitch except for the 041, 1388 and 002. For Wyeast smack packs, smacked and added half of the go-ferm at 2 hours.
  • Fermented in 4 liter plastic spring water jugs, leaving 500ml for air at top. Pitched Fermaid-O and KHCO3 at time 0. Aerated worts by shaking for 1 minute at time 0 and 30 seconds at 24 hours.
  • Fermentation temperature: 65-68f
  • Added Fermaid-K after 24h.
  • Degassed all jugs by swirling for 1 minute at 12, 36, 48, 72 hours and at 1 week.
  • Cold crash at 3 weeks for 3 days, added clarifier, waited to precipitate out, then bottled.
  • Carbonate using carbonation tabs to 2.3 vol.
  • Do triangle tests and judging within 6-8 weeks.

Experiment Execution and Initial Impressions

The wine yeasts went to town immediately and fermented much faster than the ale yeasts. The ale yeasts were also much more likely to foam up. During degassing, 1388, US-05, 001, and 1056 had lots of foam.  Here are the details of the fermentation speed and floculation by yeast type:

data

Upon bottling, I tasted all the meads and made some notes. There was a notable off-flavor from the nutrient present in some of the meads and I was hoping that the priming and some extra cold crashing would take care of most of that.

One of the interesting features, was the ale like flavor that came through on many of the ale yeasts. It tastes like a lager would smell if you let it go warm and sit out. Not a fruity ester, or particularly enjoyable. Interestingly, I found 001 to be slightly cleaner than US-05, and 1056 had noticeable fruity character. That character seemed to subside by the time of the triangle tests.

Initialnotes.png

Another interesting feature was that Wyeast was noticeably darker than the meads made with the other yeast sources. Meads made with Wyeast smack packs are not gluten-free since they use beer wort to activate. This was true of the 1388 and 1056:

2017-05-30 19.10.13

1056 vs US-05

Getting to the experiment and evidence.

Experiment Evaluation

Kingston (KABOB), Toronto, (GTAbrews+professional brewers), Vancouver (VanBrewers), and Ottawa (AJ+crew from GotMead?) all participated in the evaluations. The participants included mostly BJCP certified beer and mead judges. There were also experienced home brewers and two professional brewers. All triangle tests were preformed at two months from pitch, plus of minus a week. Participants performed triangle tests for pairs of meads. The triangle tests recorded whether they got the answer correct and which they preferred. Then all participants were asked to fill out a score sheet.

Here were the instructions given to the organizer and sheet to record the triangle tests (summarized below): Instructions

Instructions:

Begin by completing triangle tests # 1-6 in any order. I there was time/mead left over complete the optional triangle tests # 7+.

Pour approximately ½ to 1 ½ ounces per opaque cup (Red solo cups used). Pour the whole bottle into cups in one go and avoid the yeast at bottom by keeping at least 2 ounces in bottle (use leftovers for the optional tests). Place the appropriate sticker on the bottom of the cups. Give each participant three cups (two of one, one of the other; giving half two of one and vice versa maximizes participants.). Ask participants to identify the odd one out.

Record if they get it correct and which they prefer. Use the correctly identified column to record how many people correctly or incorrectly identified the meads. Use the preferred meads column to record the preferred meads of all participants. Put a bar for those who correctly identified the meads, and an asterix for those that did not.

See the first row for an example consisting of six people participating in a mock triangle test. Four correctly identified, 2 did not, and half preferred each, but the two who incorrectly identified preferred the right column.

Then ask them to complete the survey. Make sure they indicate which they preferred and if they got the triangle test correct on the left margin of the survey for each pair.

Once all tasting are complete you are free to open the “answers” envelope. Please return all score sheets and the triangle tests results by mail. Participants are welcome to take pictures if they want to record their preferences.

Picking which meads to pair off was hard. I mainly use D-47 and US-05 for short meads so was really interested in potential improvements. I was also really interested in comparing yeasts used for commercial purposes. Here is a summary of the triangle tests:

trilist

Here is an  example of the ScoreSheet, which is summarized by the picture below:

scoresheetexample.png

Triangle Tests

The results of the triangle tests are summarized in the table below.  Not all home brew clubs conducted the same tests and the number of participants differed by home brew club, so the number of participants differ by triangle tests. Overall, participants were able to significantly identify the meads in 6 of the 10 triangle tests using a significance of 0.05. Two of the four that were not significant only had three participants, and the other two had p-values close to or under 0.1.  Of those who correctly identified the meads, two has significant preferences. The p-values were calculated from a one-sided tests using the bi-nominal distribution with a null of 1/3, the same as used by brulosophy.com. The p-value calculator came onbrewing.com and can be found using the web link. Lets consider some triangle tests of interest.

D-47 and US-05  are the main yeasts used by most commercial meaderies for short meads. I interchange these yeasts in my own home brewing of short meads depending on the character I am looking for. Out of 17 participants, 10 were able to correctly identify the odd mead out. With a p-value of 0.027, this suggests that this was not merely a random choice. Out of the 10 that correctly identified the meads, 60 percent preferred the D-47. This does not significantly differ from random choice of preference. Overall, this suggests that most people can tell then apart, but the participants are more or less split on preference.

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1388 and 001  are two ale yeasts that were able to be significantly distinguished. Out of 18 participants, 15 were able to correctly identify the odd mead out, with a corresponding p-value of 0.000. 60 percent of those who correctly identified preferred 1388 over 001. This does not significantly differ from random choice of preference. Similarly 7 of 8 participants were able to distinguish 1388 to D-47, but participants were spilt on preference. One participant was indifferent, hence the 0.5.

All 6 participants correctly identified and preferred 1056 to Cote. 5 out of 8 could distinguish US-05 to 1056, with a p-value of 0.088, but just 3 out of the 5 preferred US-05 to 1056.

71b was close to significantly identified from 1118 by 7 out of 13 participants (p-value=0.104). Of the seven that correctly identified, 6 preferred 71b to 1118 (p-value 0.063).

Overall, the results from the triangle test suggest that a lot more meads were able to be distinguished than in most beer triangle tests from http://brulosophy.com/. However, of those that correctly identified the meads, most were split on preferences. Interestingly, those with BJCP mead certification, myself, and AJ from Ottawa has nearly 100 percent correct responses. While I cannot provide an exact breakdown, since I did not record who got it correct for everyone, there was a clear divide. This may be due to experienced Mazers knowing common mead flavors and the fact that the meads showed their quality quite clearly due to the white honey and the dryness of the meads.

Participants Tasting Notes

The following tables describe the aroma and flavor notes from the participants. Bold letters indicate descriptors that were used more than once.

Malty was used several times to describe the aroma and flavor of D-47. Apples and cider, with low honey character dominated descriptions of the aroma and flavor.

aroma

EC-1118 were described as funky by several participants. Low to no honey character was present. Cote was sour, with sulfur and vomit like character in aroma. Many described Cote as having better flavor but was still perceived to be sour with citrus, and little honey character.  71b was said to have fruity esters for aromas, with a wide array of fruit descriptors, although tropical, orange were commonly perceived. In taste 71b was described as a white wine, with citrus character.

Of the dry ale yeasts, T58 was not very well received. Descriptions of esters, heat, and green apple dominated. CBC1 was quite well received. While honey character was low, there was descriptions of green apple for the aroma and tart, fruity, cider and white wine like character in the taste. US-05 was described as clean, clear honey notes, and very cider like by many participants. This matched the flavor descriptors of cider like, white wine and floral.

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Interestingly, US-05 was perceived quite differently than its wet yeast 001 and 1056. 001 had much clearer honey character, described as pleasant and floral in aroma and flavor. 1056 was perceived to be much more fruity. Berries, blueberry, light honey and grape dominated the descriptors of 1056. The honey character was clearer for 1056 in flavor with some green apple, and a balanced amount of acid.

002 was described as fruity, floral with apple in the aroma. The flavor of 002 has clear honey notes, and found to be fruity, similar to an orange wheat beer character.  041 was evaluated by far less participants, but was described as clean and fruity. Finally, 1388 was described as low floral, beer like and bland by many participants. Similar notes came across in the taste with slight fruit, and white grapes.

Authors notes: I thought the overall quality of the meads were quite low. There was a distinct nutrient character that came across as a strong umami/brine character. This was mainly due to the high level of nutrients that were used. Toronto in particular had it bad since their evaluation was only a few days after having it shipped to them. Due to bottle conditioning, almost all participants from Toronto noted yeast character in their flavor profiles, which was not noted by most other participants.

Participants Overall and Mouthfeel Scores

One of the difficulties of having a large number of yeasts to evaluate in triangle tests is having a picture of overall ranking.  After all triangle tests, participants were asked to fill out the score sheets which contained five boxes for the quality of the overall impression and mouthfeel.  To provide a picture of overall ranking, these boxes were converted into numbers from 1-5 so all of the meads can be compared.

In the score sheet, all participants were asked to rank the meads from “gross” to “recipe?” using five check boxes. Note that the observations differ due to sample, and non-response. Moreover, the sample used is for all responses, (unlike for the preference data in the triangle tests) due to the inability to differentiate those who correctly identified the meads in the score sheets (something I need to add for next time). The perception was asked after each triangle test. Due to this participants may be influenced by the counterpart in the triangle tests. The number of observations, mean, standard deviation, min and max for the meads are reported in the following table.

overall

Interestingly, the overall scores give a different ranking than what may be inferred from some of the data above. 001 was a clear winner with 3.1, followed by CBC1 with 2.9. 1388 and 002 tied for third with 2.8. Both US-05 and 1056 scored 2.7. The white wine yeasts were all close to the bottom of the ranking with 71b and Cote being quite low.

For mouthfeel, all participants were asked to rank the meads from “thin” to “rich-thick” using five check boxes. Converting these check boxes into numbers from 1-5, the meads can be compared by overall mouthfeel. The number of observations, mean, standard deviation, min and max for the meads are reported in the following table.
mouthfeel

Interestingly, 001 come out on top for mouthfeel with an overall score of 3.3. Despite Cote being scored last in overall score it came second in mouthfeel with 3.2, although the sample size was lower.  D-47 and 1056 has scores of 2.7 and 2.6, respectively.  1056, 1118, 1388 all came in lower at 2.4, followed closely by 002 with 2.3. T58 scored the lowest with 1.9 but again had a small sample size.

To summarize, 001 and CBC1 came in quite high in overall impression and mouthfeel. Much of the mouthfeel would be coming from the carbonation and sensations of thickness in the meads. 1056 and US-05 came in the mid-range for overall score mouthfeel.  The meads were made with a light honey and at 8.5 percent, designed to quite bland to be able to better differentiate the meads. Hence were not really expected to produce significant honey flavor or mouthfeel. Even in the presence of nutrient off-flavors, many of the meads did quite well and ranked consistency across mouthfeel and overall impression.

Discussion of Experiment Design and Execution

The execution of the experiment lacked in a few regards.

The nutrient level was designed to be high (175 YAN), but ended up being much too high. All meads ended up suffering from nutrient/mineral off flavors.  This is my biggest regret in hindsight. I attribute this to two reasons. First, the traditional advice is to calculate the YAN using Fermaid- K, Fermaid-O or DAP. If the yeast are rehydrated in Go-ferm you can ignore its YAN contribution. However, given the pitch rate in this experiment, the Go-ferm ended up providing most of the YAN (525 YAN). This is an extreme example of why the YAN contribution of Go-ferm should be taken into account (see my article on TANG, a revised nutrient schedule for short meads).

Despite my best intentions, the pitch rate differed by strain. I tried to match the grams of yeast based on a pack of US-05 which was 11.5 grams. Only after the fact I realized that the yeast cells in Wyeast and White labs are less than half the yeast cells than for a pack of dry yeast. Oops! This may be compounded by the fact that the viability of the wet yeasts may be different, with likely less nutrient storage. I based the high pitch rate on the assumption that you cannot over pitch yeast, but it turns out you can if you use Go-ferm at 1.25g per gram of yeast. In retrospect, I should have pitched half of the packet of US-05 and stuck with my use of only a pack of dry wine yeast. In particular, I wonder if the low yeast cells in 001 helped clean up some of the nutrient off flavors compared to the other strains.

There is a lack of evidence on the appropriate water profile for short meads. However myself, and other authors such as Bray Denard have noticed that this has an effect on the overall quality of the meads. In other batches that I have used the same water profile, I found that there was a mineral quality to the short meads that took some time to come out. I have used soft tap water and distilled water in many of my short mead batches and have found that the Ca level makes a difference. Now I use TANG, a revised nutrient schedule for short meads that takes into account the starting water profile. An experiment on water quality is already underway.

While effort was placed to have the meads evaluated early, I have noticed from my own experiments that bottle conditioning versus force carbonating makes a big difference. For example, I made a sparkling coffee maple mead that scored 36 and 40/50 at the VanBrewers competition, but only scored in the high 20s – low 30s when I sent it to two other competitions. The difference was that I force carbonated the mead for the VanBrewers competition but bottle carbonated the mead for the other competitions. Moreover, in my experience, bottle conditioning can really change the mead, which can take at least three months to really turn around for the better.  If I was to repeat this experiment again, I would have evaluated the meads after at least three months, or force carbonated the meads. Bottle conditioning also increases the risk of mishandling as the shipping of the meads created notable off flavors for Toronto in particular that evaluated the meads quickly after shipping.

Conclusions

Overall, I found these results to be quite surprising. 001 was a clear winner in overall score but 60 percent of participants preferred 1388 to 001. The tasting notes from the California ale strains (001, US-05 and 1056) differed quite a bit. The wine yeasts did quite poorly in overall score, even though D-47 had 60 percent of the correct responders in the triangle tests prefer it over US-05.

It also surprised me how much these meads changed over time. At bottling many of the ale yeasts tasted like beer and had a lager like quality to them. However, when evaluated after two months many of this beer character had cleaned up, and there was much more mead – cider quality to them. Over time the nutrient off-flavor also dissipated, even though there was still a slight umami flavor to them.

I also realized that it is a lot more work to have more than two meads to evaluate. It is a lot easier to only evaluate two meads in a triangle tests. However, it then becomes very difficult to account for more than two different meads. This experiment has raised lots of questions for me. I am planning future experiments in nutrients, water profiles, bottle priming sugars, sours etc. Stay tuned for more experimeads!

I want to thank all those that participated in the experiments. A special thanks to the members of KABOB, GTAbrews, VanBrewers and AJ from GotMead for all the work it took to run the tastings. Also a special thanks to AJ and and Bray Denard for the referee reports. Thank you kindly.

Peer Review

Reviewer 1, Bray Denard https://denardbrewing.com/

A very nicely done experiment. You really went all out on testing. In a review process, reviewers ask questions to which the experimenter responds. As such, I have a few questions:
1. Did all of these meads have the same level of nutrient overload? If not, how did this contribute to liking the mead? Do you think this compromised the experiment?
2. Overall Impression of the top 3-4 yeast is really close numerically. Almost no difference (overlapping error bars). Is that really reflective of reality or a limitation of the method?
3. Where are the Abbey yeast results? 
4. Would you want to drink your favorite leisurely at the time of the experiment? Not just good, but enjoyable. 
5. Do you plan to age further?
 
These days, I see yeast as part of a tool set. You need to use the right tool for the right recipe. For instance, the reason I like Wyeast 1388 is because it is neutral. It doesn’t add much of anything. This way, I get a pure honey flavor without yeast esters mucking with the true flavors. For an off dry to sweet mead (lots of honey), that works really well. For a dry/short mead, a bit of help is needed to balance the flavor. I think this reason is why 001 is preferred for your experiment. It seems 001 adds a nice ester to balance the mead a bit. It’s not that it accentuates your honey at all, it’s that it produces a honey-like ester to compensate. 
 
If you had done the experiment with a heavy flavor Acacia honey instead of a light honey, all of the numbers would be different. Esters would compliment or compete. Perception would be altered. As we say in science, your experiment only finds what you look for and misses all else. It’s for this reason that I now only do experiments with the things I actually want to drink. No more cheap honey and bone dry meads in experiments for me!
 
Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the fine work you did here, but I think the taste test results are not as important as the ester profiles and mouthfeel. Now the real testing begins. You can use your finding here to make recipes specific for each yeast to really make them shine. I know I’m interested in trying quite a few combos!

Authors response to Reviewer 1

Thanks for the feedback. Excellent points. Let me first address your questions. 

1. Did all of these meads have the same level of nutrient overload? If not, how did this contribute to liking the mead? Do you think this compromised the experiment?
Yes, all the meads had the same nutrient additions and the Go-ferm in particular was the major source. However the pitch rate differed for the wet yeasts, so they may have had a easier time cleaning up the excessive nutrients.
2. Overall Impression of the top 3-4 yeast is really close numerically. Almost no difference (overlapping error bars). Is that really reflective of reality or a limitation of the method?
Overall scores are really close, yes. I can test the difference in the means, but would like to take into account the location of the tasting, since Toronto participants scored the meads much lower on average and not all meads were tested at all locations. This is why the overall number should be taken with a grain of salt. 
3. Where are the Abbey yeast results? 
The problem with 13 meads, was that the 13th didn’t fit in a case of 12. I also thought it was gross at bottling, so never sent it around. Also, 041 broke on the way to Vancouver and Toronto never got around to testing it. 
4. Would you want to drink your favorite leisurely at the time of the experiment? Not just good, but enjoyable. 
I designed this recipe off a short traditional mead that I medaled with at the VanBrewers competition. I really like a traditional dry short mead and make sure to have some on tap. However, I take your poke seriously. I would not normally use white honey for dry traditional, but a nice varietal or a golden honey source. In the future I plan to make my experimeads very close to well scoring recipes that I really enjoyed. I choose a good quality white honey to highlight the ester profile, but completely agree that you should be testing around your prior preferences. 
5. Do you plan to age further?
Nope, all the mead was evaluated except for a bottle each of 001 and 041 that I have left over. If the experiment was repeated, I would test at three or four months as this is when I find that most bottle conditioned meads turn around. This experiment was really about quick turn around, but the flip side is if I cared about fast turn around I should have forced carbonated!

Reviewer 2, A.J. Ermenc, GotMead?

 http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live-radio-show/

I was happy to be a part of the Great Canadian Yeast Experiment. I had never participated in triangle tests before and was pleased to confirm that my own senses are actually sensitive enough to pick up on some subtle differences, even if my lack of experience with tasting was less able to describe the differences I perceived. I was surprised how different these batches came out tasting and smelling, just because of changing the yeast. I think this kind of experiment is something each meadmaker, winemaker and beer brewer should try on their own or with a group at least once, even if just to see for one’s self the yeast differences we all read about. I definitely see the value of testing like this with specific honeys, fruits, and combinations to dial in what is best for each batch and the process would definitely be of value for anyone making meads and wines commercially.

Authors response to Reviewer 2

Thanks A.J.! It was also fun to organize the tests. I agree that every mead maker could learn something by splitting a batch and trying out different yeast. I encourage every mead maker to do it at least once on a favorite recipe. For the record, I would like to mention that A.J. got every triangle test correct! She also had great descriptors for each of the meads and was one of the first persons to mention D-47 as malty.