Author: experimeads

How to Conduct a Mead Triangle Test

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

Mead Triangle Tests

What is a Triangle Test?

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

How to implement a Triangle Test?

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

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Collecting Data in a Triangle Test

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

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

ScoreSheet

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

Data Analysis

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

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

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

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

Optimal experiment design

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

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

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

 

Making an Activated Yeast Starter for Mead

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

The advantages can be summarized as follows:

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

What you will need

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

Preparing two activated yeast starters

Starter Size

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

10 Easy Steps to make a Mead Yeast Activation Starter

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

Activated Yeast Starter

Note 1:

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

Caution 1:

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

Caution 2:

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

Caution 3:

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

References:

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

M2A: Ontario Cyser

I got apple cider at a farmers market in January, fresh pressed the day before. One of the advantages of buying cider late season is they often contain more cider appropriate apples: aroma, sharps etc. The cider I used for this was mostly desert apples, but definitely had some of the later season varieties. I also added Granny Smith apples with their skins for acid and tannin. I made 6 gallons, used three gallons to made a clone of Kurt’s apple pie from Moonlight Meadery, put one gallon on a vanilla bean, and left the other as is. All got oak cubes. The Kurt’s apple pie was very good but ended up with more notable cinnamon than vanilla. The one gallon that sat on the vanilla bean, really smoothed out, and helped bring out the apple quality. You don’t notice the vanilla per say but you would notice if it is missing, which is exactly the problem with the plain cyser. Despite the cyser finishing at a FG of 1.01, the oak tannin really dried it out and brought out the perception of alcohol in the cyser without the vanilla.

Recipe:

  • 18 lbs honey
  • 17 liters of sweet cider
  • Added petic enzyme as per instructions on pack
  • 3 lbs Granny Smith blended in a food processor
  • 4x 5 gram packets of Lalvin 71B-1122

Specs:

  • Target FG: 1.015
  • Actual FG: 1.010
  • Recommended 242.1/2 = 121.05 YAN using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr
  • Fermaid-K: 1.5 tsp ~ 4 grams (YAN)
  • DAP: 2 tsp ~ 10 grams (YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: ~ 110
  • Fermentation Temperature 62f.

Implementation:

  • Split the juice between two six gallon buckets
  • Put the blended apples in a mesh bag in one bucket
  • Fed 1/4 tsp Fermaid-K and petic enzyme immediately
  • Made a 1.5 liter activation starter for 2.5 hours which showed lots of activity
  • Split starter between the two buckets
Starter before pitch

Starter before pitch

Fermentation:

  • + 24 h – Aerated with wine degasser and 1/4 tsp DAP 1/8 tsp Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • + 36 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP each bucket, 62f
  • + 48 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP and Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • + 56 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP each bucket, 62f
  • + 72 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP and Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • + 5 days – Added 1/8 tsp addition of Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • Shook every couple of days and got lots of CO2 from the one without fruit.
  • +2 weeks – strained apples out of bag and had a baseball size clump of skins left. The one with fruit on top started bubbling aggressively once fruit was removed.
  • Shook every couple of days and both bubbling for a while after being shook.2017-02-06 21.33.35.jpg

Secondary Fermentation:

  • + 1 Month – transferred to 5g carboy. Read 1.008. Added 0.5 liters of water to top up carboy.
  • +5 weeks still degassing, some apple pieces floating on top. still cloudy so added 1/4 tsp petic enzyme.
  • + 7 weeks – transferred to tertiary. Still cloudy.
  • + 10 weeks added two stage clarifier – finally cleared within a few days
  • + 11 weeks –  transferred to a three gallon carboy and two one gallons, and a half gallon carboys. The half gallon got some sediment. Read 1.010!?
  • +12 weeks – added a vanilla bean to 1/2 gallon, three gallon, and the one gallon. Put 1/2 tbsp cinnamon  in a tea bag in the 3 gallon carboy, and 1 tsp of cinnimon in a tea bag in 1/2 gallon.

ferm.png

More futzing:

  • + 4 months – bottled from the 1/2 gallon, got two bottles of the half vanilla bean and back of cinnamon. Presence of alcohol, no floral-musk character, strong vanilla almost too much. Checked the other vanilla meads. Left some in a glass and let sit out for an hour, it really opened up and the apple and cinnamon came out more and the alcohol turned into warming alcohol at the back-end. Apple vanilla nose come out more clear and mellowed out. Tasted off-dry.
  • +6.5 Months – took out vanilla bean and cinnamon from 3 gallon carboy. Added oak (two cubes American, one French, been soaking in vodka for 3 months) to vanilla, 3g carboy.
  • +6.75 Months – tested the vanilla cyser but couldn’t taste the vanilla. Had the intense floral /musky smell of the honey.
  • +7.5 Months took a 750ml bottle bottled from the 1/2 gallon to a local mash-up. Tasted ok, but lacking acid. Some muskiness was still there and it is quite off-dry tasting so hard to notice apple much. More vanilla than anything.
  • +8 months – tasted the larger carboy. Most of the alcohol nose is gone, vanilla is coming though, medium bodied. Tannins are coming through and the vanilla is there but no as much as the cinnamon. May not want it to sit on the oak too much longer. It looks more dark then the other batches. Could use some acid to brighten it up.

Futzing with acid:

  • + 9 months  – Did a tasting of the spiced 1/3 gallon batch and found that 17.5-20g per 100 ml of acid blend was the preferred acid level. Made a big difference, and really brought out the apple character. Added 21 g of acid blend to the topped 3 gallon carboy. Withdrew some mead, mixed in acid, and dumped back in. Tasted great, but the vanilla and the cinnamon were hints and not as forward as hoping. Put 6 grams (5 acid blend, 1g citric) into the two one gallon carboys.
  • +9.5 months – bottled all the meads.

Impression:

Submitted the vanilla cyser as a cyser and the Kurt’s apple pie clone to GTA brew slam, Canada’s largest homebrew competition, when the meads were 10 months old. The cyser won second place and it scored 41/50 by two judges including Gordon Strong. Complete scoresheets. I submitted the vanilla cyser as a cyser since the vanilla was not a distinct flavor in the cyser. The vanilla cyser tasted much better than the oaked cyser, despite not much vanilla character coming through. I really helped smooth and round out the aroma and flavor profiles. It also helped cut through some of the alcohol nose that was merely amplified by the presence of oak in the cyser.

The Kurt’s apple pie clone was one of my favorite meads. Despite the cinnamon not being intense in the carboy, it really came out after a month in the bottle. The cinnamon lingered as noted by two judges, it tended to dominate, not amplify the apple character. It only scored a 35/50 and a 37/50 by two judges at the same competition. See full Kurt’s apple pie scoresheets.  Next time I would add two vanilla beans, and pull out the cinnamon earlier.

I made a couple of mistakes with this mead, and I would not follow what I did as instructions. I should have oxygenated the meads with pure 02 as the wine whip was insufficient. I would have also liked the meads more if they finished out a little sweeter, maybe 1.015. The alcohol became present later in the fermentation, and it could have needed more organic YAN. As I have mentioned elsewhere this was an earlier batch of mead for me and I was still using a wildflower honey that had such an intense floral character that it came across musky. I now would use a golden or white wildflower honey – or would do a 50/50 blend of orange and raspberry blossom varietal honey. It also could have used some rehydration with Go-ferm or substituted most of the DAP with Fermaid-O.

Another thing is that I decided how much acid to use using a 1/2 gallon batch of Kurts apple pie, then scaled up and added that amount to all the batches. In retrospect I should have added malic acid. The citric acid came across a bit sharp and stood out from the apple – malic character. I should have also determined how acid I needed by testing each spin-off batch separately. The traditional cysers needed less acid than the spiced cysers, and adding the same amount per gallon to each batch overdid it for the traditional. Finally, when determining how much acid I wanted to use, I should of cut it by 75% from by preferred – or confirmed my preference the next day. Tasting all the different acid levels at once blew my palate and lessened by sensitivity at testing. I would have added less after the fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M2B: Pyment, Maxed Sack Concord

You know you are a meadiac when your walking down the aisle at the grocery store and think “I could ferment that.” Well that’s what inspired this recipe. I found organic concord grape juice on sale and decided to get three liters. I had an extra packet of K1V-1118 when I was putting together the Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment and decided to start this at the same time. I was so concentrated on the experiment, I totally neglected the mead. By no means is this a recommendation on the recipe, but maybe evidence on how sometimes you get lucky?

Recipe (if I can call it that):

  • 5 grams K1V-1118
  • 6.5 g Go-ferm in starter
  • 0.5 grams potassium bicarbonate
  • 900ml hogans white honey that tasted super sweet and sour
  • 3 liters organic Concord grape juice

grape

Specs:

Implementation:

  • Rehyrated yeast using Go-ferm adding must every 15 minutes for 1.5 hours
  • Added grape juice and honey to carboy
  • Added 3.5 grams Fermaid-O (all up front!)
  • Aerated by shaking for 1 minute

Fermentation:

  • 24 h – blew air lock onto the floor, put back on and shook to degass
  • 48 h – added 1 gram Fermaid-K, Aerated heavily, gravity 1.112
  • 52 h – degassed
  • 72 h – aerated heavily, added 1 gram Go-ferm, tasted super sweet and clean, more wine but lots of concord 1.086
  • + 9 days  – 1.032, tasted sweet, clean and nice and concord like. Couldn’t taste the alcohol.
  • +10 days – 1.022

jug.png

After Fermentation:

  • +21 days – 1.010 super hot and alcohol, but otherwise clean. Racked to a glass carboy.
  • +5 weeks – amazing! Concord juice wine, sweet, clean with alcohol in taste. So much aroma and flavor. Added oak (two cubes American, one French, that had been soaking in vodka for 3 months)
  • +5 months – bottled 6 x 375ml bottles

Impressions:

This is a funny drink – like wine that reminds you of the grape juice box you had from your younger days. That said, it is delicious. There is a tonne of flavor and aroma and it is almost candy like in the way it drinks. I would have left it slightly sweeter, maybe a FG of 1.015-1.020. Despite how much I neglected this mead, it turned out quite well. I also added quite a bit more YAN than necessary, but it didn’t seem to be a problem as there was no off-flavors detected. I was really happy at how well the mead turned out. I will be using K1V-1118 again!

Won third place at Brew Slam, Canada’s largest home-brew competition. See the detailed feedback on the scoresheets. Gordon Strong was a judge at the best of show table when the mead was picked for third. After the mead judging, Gordon kept this mead, and the coffee mead (I think he might of sweetened them up a bit) and gave a presentation on the BJCP and on evaluation techniques. The whole time he was carrying this pyment and told the head judge don’t let anyone touch it – as he was judging beers. Can you tell I was happy?

 

Sour Mead Experiment

In this experimead, three different forms of souring in meads are tested. This includes kombucha, probiotic pills, and a ginger bug. The sours were pitched in an oaked, 12% ABV, blueberry blossom honey, traditional, sparkling mead.

In this experimead, three different forms of souring are tested in standard meads. This includes Kombucha, probiotic pills (lactobacilius), and a ginger bug. The meads are evaluated in an oaked, 12% ABV, blueberry blossom honey, traditional, sparkling mead. The meads are quite distinct, so judges are presented a flight and asked to provide feedback on the aroma and flavor differences perceived in the meads.

The inspiration for the base recipe for this experimead is the Sour Orange Blossom Mead from Gold Coast Meadery. I oaked the mead, used 50-50 amber blueberry blossom and golden wildflower honey, and used the TANG nutrient profile. After fermentation, I added acid to traditional and bottle conditioned to 2.3 vol.

Let’s talk about the sour cultures.

Ginger Bug: a relatively unknown culture in brewing, but it is AMAZING. You can make it quite easily and is mostly lacto and yeast. It is often used to ferment sparking lemonade, ginger ale, and root beer. It’s the real stuff. It tasted like lacto in a ginger candy solution. I built up this starter for a month. Google the recipe. I also used it to ferment out apple cider with fantastic results. The ginger shines though clearly.

Kombucha: I made Kombucha using an equal blend of green, white, and black tea. I use white sugar, and follow the standard recipe. I often only let my kombucha get to 70-80% fermentation since after that, I find the Acetobacter usually kicks in too much which most people find off-putting. For the culture, I pulled off my kombucha jug at around 70 percent completed. It is nice and tart without too much acetic acid.

Probiotic pills: I dumped several probiotic pills into a one liter soda stream bottle with filtered tap water and a TBSP and a half of golden brown sugar. I let it sit for 5 weeks, and it tasted clean, sweet, soured brown sugar-water. I also added three probiotic pills when I pitched the starter. Furthermore, I don’t recommend this method, but it worked. I now just add 500 million cells per gallon rehydrated in a go-ferm addition at 95f. Pitch and wait 2-3 days for the PH to drop before pitching the yeast.

Recipe: 12%, TANG Soured Traditional Mead, November 2017, 4×1 gallon

  • 0.92 gallon/ 3.5 L
  • 0.375 liters Raw Hogans Golden Wildflower Honey
  • 0.375 liters Amber Blueberry Blossom Wildflower Honey
  • 2.4 lbs honey total
  • 3 g of US-05 yeast
  • 75-25 distilled-filtered tap water

STARTERS.png

Specs:

  • OG- 1.09
  • Tar. FG-0.998
  • ABV-12%

TANG nutrients:

At pitch

  • Mixed honey and 2.5 liters distilled water, shook for 1 minute to mix
  • Aerated 0.45 seconds with pure O2
  • Added 1 liter of sour starter
  • Topped up to 3.5 liters using filtered tap water
  • Add 0.25G Fermaid-K
  • Shook all four to mix well
  • Add three medium toast American oak cubes that had been boiled for 5 minutes
  • Rehydrated 1 packet of US-05 (11.5 grams) with 6 grams Go-ferm, added 3 tsp brown sugar after 30 minutes
  • Pitch ¼ yeast starter after 24 hours – traditional immediately

2017-11-06 20.29.10.jpg

Fermentation

  • +12 h – Added 0.3g Fermaid-K – no sign of fermentation, 64°F . Swirled.
  • +24 h pitched the rest of the starter. Traditional going to town, 64°F
  • +36 h swirled, 64°F
  • +48 h – 0.8 g Fermaid K, 0.5 g Fermaid-O , 64°F
  • +60 h swirled, 64°F
  • +72 h 0.5 g Fermaid-O , swirled, foamed up quite a bit, 64°F
  • + 84 h – 2 weeks swirled morning and evening
  • +1 week- Traditional at 1.036. Clean, super sweet, and yummy 🙂
  • +3 Weeks- still off gassing quite a bit, bubbling when swirled.

2017-11-20 15.01.11.jpg

Secondary 

  • +1 Month – the musts have dropped clear. FG 0.998. Tasted and smelled of raw sweet honey, bubble gum, red berries- current and pomegranate. Super clean. Near clear – shook it one last time. 60°F
  • +4 Month – Bottled to 2 vol., using mesquite honey as priming sugar. Added 0.2 grams/ liter of 50-50 malic-tartaric acid to the tradtional.

Bottling

At bottling they all tasted amazing!! The blueberry-honey character dominated and is supported in the background by the pomme-honey golden honey. They are all very clean, with lots of perceived sweetness. The acidity was present from the soured meads. The traditional was very complex, but rich, and I noted that it needed some acidity to compliment the rich blueberry honey flavor.

Evaluation

The meads were evaluated when they were 6 months old. Eight panelists participated in the evaluation. The meads were all presented during at the same time during a mead-up. Everyone received all fours meads. 2oz of each mead were poured for all participants. The meads were evaulated in a flight using four different colored 8 oz party cups. All panelists were instructed to fill out the following score sheet:

score

There were eight participants in total. The evaluation took 30 minutes. Two of the panelists knew the treatment, the other half were blind.

Quantitative 

The following table presents the average of the values for the check boxes. level

Overall, people generally tended to score in the midrange of the metric. The probiotic souring was evaluated highly, particularly for taste, technical merit, and overall perception. The kombucha had no perceivable acidic acid. It scored the highest for the aroma, but fell in the mid range for the other statistics and the lowest overall. The ginger bug scored on the lower end of the scores, but was very unique and faired better in overall scores. Finally, the traditional did relatively poorly on aroma, but was the preferred for body, and rated highly for taste, and technical merit.

The following table presents the standard deviation of the values for the check boxes. The higher tannin and “funk” for the kombucha spit participants on their preferences. A few participants raved about it afterwards, whereas other attributed its characteristics to off flavors. This can be seen by the highest standard deviation in all metrics. The traditional had the lowest standard deviation in aroma and technical merit. The ginger bug had the smallest standard deviation for overall merits, with most people finding it desireable.

sd

Quantitative 

The following table presents the descriptors of the overall/ tastes section. The number of times a descriptor was used is listed next to the word. Only the traditional mead had the terms honey and enjoyable used more than once (twice to be precise). While the exact words were different, there is direction in the object being described. The traditional was described as a more classic profile. The probiotic was tart and people used descriptors associated with dry and tart beverages. The ginger bug was more complex, with generally positive descriptors. The descriptors for kombucha was a bit more dispersed.

overall.png

The aroma descriptors had more unity of terms compared to the overall/ tastes section. The traditional mead had sulfur descriptors from half of the participants. I have a low sulfur threshold and wonder if it was just from this bottle, as it was not noticed in other bottles. The probiotic aroma descriptor emphases its honey and stronger character. The descriptors for kombucha had estery used twice. The ginger bug also had notable honey character, with some alcohol and a breath of terms that suggests complexity.

aroma.png

The flavor descriptors had the most unity. The traditional mead had honey-sweet, low acid, and low alcohol used twice. The probiotic flavor descriptor emphases the lactic acid which gave it a dry, almost herbal-citrus profile. The flavor descriptors for kombucha had mentions of estery again, with a notable sour-sweet feature mentioned by 5 of the participants. The ginger bug also had notable honey-sweet character, again with some alcohol and lower-light amounts of acid.

flavor.png

The interesting feature of these results is that the souring methods, are not merely adding forms of acids, but also adding a breath of other flavours. The kombucha and the ginger bug were very different despite the common base. The lactic acid of the probiotic pills seemed to emphases the base mead in the aroma, but seemly went a bit over board on the degree of sourness.

Conclusion

I enjoyed this experiment since I learned lots about making sours. Mainly, souring is a cool set of tools for the modern meadmaker. I do regret no letting the sours work away at the must more than 24 hours before pitching to get more sour character. For the probiotic pills, the opposite is true. As mentioned at the start, unstead of doing the starter, I would just recommend adding 500 million cells per gallon rehydrated in a Go-ferm addition at 95f. The key to any sour is getting the acid-sweet balance correct. The interesting thing about this mead is how dry and clean it can come out. The honey characters shine, without any actual sweetness, other than perceived. If I was to boost the FG to 1.002, the evaluation and descriptors would of been very different. Also, blueberry honey can be difficult to work with in traditional, as it is very rich. This is what allowed the extra acidity to provide the counter balance and cut through the richness. That said, I would recommend orange blossom over blueberry in a traditional anyday.

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 blueberry, 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.  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. 

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.