October 23, 2018

Experimenting with Wine Yeast

Well, I was pretty excited about the mead yeast experiment, but unfortunately the results were not very illuminating, with one startling exception:

The wine that I made into six 1 gallon batches, each with a different yeast, turned out to be astonishingly different, with pronounced flavors from the yeast. The mead all basically tasted the same: like singed rubber with rubbing alcohol poured on top. Now young meads tend to be alcohol-tasting, but even for a young mead this was bad. I've bottled them up and have no interest in trying them again for at least a year, so perhaps they will improve over time.

The exception was the White Labs Belgian Ale Blend. This strain left some residual sugar behind and it also imparted the characteristic trappist yeast esters. In the mead, they combined delightfully with the honey flavor and aroma to make something reminiscent of pears, peaches, candi sugar, and bubblegum. It was interesting enough to warrant a brand new yeast experiment: six different beer strains fermenting a traditional mead!

This time around the must was 1.088 in gravity and made from wildflower honey, and the possible ph-sensitivity was counteracted by using potassium bicarbonate midway through fermentation. No stuck fermentations at all this time, and the meads are almost finished (currently still dropping at 1.002). The strains are:

  • Wyeast 2112 California Lager
  • Danstar Nottingham Ale
  • Wyeast 3711 French Saison
  • Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wit
  • Wyeast 1026 Cask Ale
  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II

Stay tuned for results! I am especially excited about the French Saison strain, which is very attenuative and produces distinct spicy/lemony flavors.