Yeast is one of the three primary ingredients for mead, the other two being water and honey. There are so many different yeast strains available therefore understanding both the characteristics and effects they may have on your mead is important, especially when stepping outside of recipes and trying your own formulations.
The yeast selection for mead, as any fermented beverage, depends on the type of mead you are creating and the characteristics you want to accentuate. Almost any yeast can result in a delicious outcome – even standard bread yeast (just check out the wildly popular Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead). I am a big advocate of creativity when it comes to brewing. It’s great to try out new combinations and test different strains, but when playing jazz, you must start out with basic chords and a solid foundation.
Below is a list of tried-and-true dry yeast strains with which many a great mead has been developed. If you have a favorite yeast not mentioned below, leave a comment and let everyone know.
As a first time mead maker which yeast would you suggest for a basic recipe?
Welcome to the world of Mead making! It really depends on what you are trying to get out of the “basic recipe” – The Lalvin D-47 is a great all around yeast. A lot of meadmakers start with the Lalvin D-47 and stick with it for the extent of their meadmaking. Check out this simple recipe that uses the D-47: http://meadist.com/making-mead/mead-recipes/traditional-mead/
There is also a lot of good info for beginners over at Homebrew Talk: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/
Good Luck and enjoy!
Great, thank you so much! Also, would you happen to know the best place to get supplies or would it be best to go with a kit?
Thanks again, excited to get started!!
A Kit is usually a cheaper way to go if you are just starting up from scratch, though there are very few kits that have 3 gallon carboys – which I find is the perfect batch size for mead.
This is some good info on the Lalvin yeast products out there but do you have more information on other yeast providers (Wyeast, White Labs, Red Star, Kitzinger, or others).
Good call Hamesbest. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t realize I was doing this! There are definitely some Red Star, Wyeast, and White Labs products I love using (I haven’t tried anything from Kitzinger yet). White Labs’ WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale yeast is one of my recent favorites. I’ll have to append the list. Thanks for reading!
I have personally used red star champagne which is very fast, vigorous fermenter that is similar to EC-1118. Great if you have a stuck fermentation but I would not advise it unless you’re shooting for a dry mead that you want to age a bit. I’ve also used White Labs sweet mead yeast which is a great choice for mediums and sweets. I do recommend a yeast starter with it but it ferments beautifully. Other than that, D47 has been my usual go to.
What about usual beer yeast like safale us-05?
You can definitely use ale yeast for mead making. Just be sure to create a nutrient rich environment and you should see some good results. Ale yeasts don’t usually consume as much sugar as wine yeasts, so you tend to get a sweeter mead. I haven’t yet used safale us-05 for mead, but I have used it for cider and beer and always get a good result!
Hey, it’s been ages from this post but i have a question. I’ve used US-05 yeast for a 19L batch. How should i do the priming?
I have used US-05 several times with excellent results!
Where in South africa can i get any of the yeast you showed above?
I’m not sure Eugene. Can you order them online?
Any advice on using ale yeasts for making sweeter meads? Do they still need as long to age?
So so sorry I missed this comment and it took me over two months to respond.
I’ll make it up to you…
If you’re still interested, shoot me a contact form message with your address and I’ll send you some of my favorite ale yeasts – along with recipes for each.
I am interested as well
Me too I like sweet mead!!!
I haven’t started my own mead yet but I am researching all information before I give it a go. I am thinking of making a blueberry mead since I am from Maine but I would like it to be sweet. No overly sweet but it’s there sweet. Would an ale yeast be the best way to go and do u have any recipes for it?
Hi Windi, There are 2 ways to make a sweet mead. 1) Add more sugars than your yeast can consume. True, ale yeasts tend to process less sugar than wine yeasts, but you can get sweet mead from wine yeasts too. It just depends on how much alcohol you would like as well. 2) You can back sweeten. To do this you can either cold-crash your mead (bring the temperature down to a temp where the yeast can’t ferment the sugars) or use Potassium Sorbate to suspend the yeast and keep it from reproducing, allowing you to add more honey to sweeten it. Hope this helps!
Thinking of making a braggot what would be a good yeast to go along with malt and chamomile and honey of course?
Hi Ryan. I would probably use an ale yeast. I think a Belgian Strong ale yeast like Wyeast Belgian Abbey II would work great. The slight belgian funkiness would play nicely with the chamomile. Let me know how it goes!
Hi. I have just made 3 small batches of mead but once the fermentation had stopped and we tested it we found that the mead tasted very dry and we only had an alcohol content of about 11.5% which I think is low? I would be grateful of any advice on where we went wrong and anything we can do to correct this? Thanks.
Hi Rachel, The alcohol content depends on 1) how much fermentable sugars are present, and 2) the amount of sugar the particular yeast strain can physically convert. Since your mead is dry, it sounds as though your yeast ran out of sugar to convert. If you are looking for a sweeter mead, you can always add more honey.
Do you know of any “research” that’s been done into using alternative or adjunct beasties along with yeast for fermenting must? I’m really curious to find out whether Brettanomyces would make for a yummy end product or … just a nasty mess. Same thing with lactobacillus and pediococcus… Thoughts?
Hi Steve. I am not sure about any research around that. Maybe another reader has some insight?
Anyone out there that can help steve out here?
Funny that you should ask this, I am interested in the same thing. i just got some buckwheat honey and it is really funky, I was considering matching that with some lambic fermentation techniques or possibly a 100% brett. I have done some searching and came up with a helpful website with info on a 100% brett mead:
Hamesbest. Thanks for linking my site “Lewybrewing” I’m currently working on 3 new Brett Mead posts and have about 10 Brett meads completed. Also check out http://hivemindmead.blogspot.com/ he has some cool latic acid mead posts.
Hey Chris, thanks for linking to my blog! Your brett mead project helped inspire mine. I really think the world of brett / bugs is going to explode soon. Get in while you can guys (not that it’s stock or anything, just very tasty)!
Is there any preferable types of honey to use ie dark light ,amber ?
It really depends on the results you are looking for. I tend to use a medium honey – but if i’m making a mead with a more robust flavor, then I would go dark.
Thanks for you help looking forward to starting
Thank you for the informative post! I’m not new into brewing drinks (I’m from Korea, so I have some experience brewing traditional rice wine with my old man!), I’m new to brewing mead. I want to make some sweet mead with a relatively low alcohol %, so is adding more honey and using ale yeast a good option? And if I do do this, are there things I need to be careful?
When using beer yeast (or any yeast) for fermenting meads you should try to add yeast nutrient. I try to use the staggered yeast nutrient method as described in the following article to help the yeast stay healthier throughout the fermentation.
I stay in the tropic where the weather is around 30C through out the year. Since the mead ferments well in cooler temperatures was thinking of using a clay jar for primary and secondary fermentation. Plan on using KIV-1116 yeast for the first batch. Is it fine to use a clay jar for the primary and secondary fermentation? Any tip or suggestion would be great 🙂
Hey Loki, thanks for you’re input.
I’m not too sure about a clay pot – I assume it’s fine, just as long as you have proper air-locking capabilities. Though the porousness of the pot might cause some troubles with microorganisms hiding out.
What type of yeast should I use to make ginger ale? (that fizzy drink).
I don’t live in the UK and I’ve tried bread yeast… I’m not experienced.
Is there a way to make “ginger beer”? (I think it’s called).
Any American or English ale yeast woudl work nicely for a ginger ale. American yeasts are typically cleaner ale yeasts and English al yeast are typically a bit fruitier and will leave more mouthfeel. Wine yeast could work too but they will leave a very thin body. It all depends on what you are going for, if you are making an alcoholic soda then white wine.champagne yeast might be your best bet. But if you want a ginger beer than a nice English ale yeast would do nicely.
For the moment I’m just looking for a drink with more gas than alcohol (if I close the bottle, maybe) like soda or cocacola, so I’d use champagne or ale yeast.
I have carbonated soda with yeast but it is very tricky as there is a lot of sugar the yeast wants to eat up, I find forces carbonation from something like a sodastream or similar device is safer (no overcarbonated bottles expoding) and tastes better.
I dont understand. I’ve tried (for the second time) just ginger, sugar and a dash of yeast, and it has carbonated… I don’t know any other way, I’m a beginner ><
For making soda, adding yeast can give you carbonation, but yeast wants to eat all the sugar it can. Within soda’s there is a lot of available sugar if the fermentation isn’t stopped the yeast can continue to eat the sugars and give you an alco-pop (alcoholic soda). With this type of carbonation, you can also get yeast flavors in the soda. This is likely the strange acid (not lemon) flavor you are getting by using bread yeast. Bread yeast is good for making bread but gives a lot of off flavors when brewing (essentially what you are doing by adding yeast to soda).
For homemade soda, the “work around” of using yeast to carbonate is to force carbonate (this is what the soda companies do too). Force carbonation is taking a bottle of CO2 and forcing the amount you want into a bottle with the soda. There are commercial products like Sodastream which allow you to do this a bottle at a time in your own home. It is simple fairly inexpensive and there is no off-flavors, exploding bottles, or alco-pops.
I used lemon juice too (and some bread yeast I found), but after two days it tastes strange and acid (not lemon acid)…
Hey,me and a friend of mine are planning to make a 30L “batch?” i dont know what its called 😛 but at least we are gonna give it a shot. we are planning to use somewhere around 8.4 kilos with honey, and add some fruits (pineapple or peach). do you have some good tips on which yeast to use? and if you find this recipe really bad, do you have some great tips? 😀
I know this is an old post but I figure it couldnt hurt to ask…im planning on making my first 1 gallon batch of mead. I have Ec-1118 yeast and plann on using 3.5 lbs honey and 2 lbs of strawberries. Then after fermentaion is done backsweetening and maybe adding some more strawberries and waiting a while before bottling. I have on hand pectic enzyme, potassium metabisulfate, potassium sorbate, and yeast nutrient. I know to add the nutrient when i pitch the yeast, but should i add the pectic then, or after fermentaion when I add the extra strawberries (and possibly a little more honey for a little sweetness) Also, which should i use to stop fermentaion? I’m shooting for 18% ABV. Also, how long should I let it sit after adding second round of strawberries, and how long should it age before drinking? I know its a lot, but i dont want to mess up too bad on my first go lol
There are a couple questions here: 1) Pectic Enzyme – Pectic enzyme is to reduce the pectins in the strawberries which can create a haze. This is usually done prior to fermentation of the berries but could be added post fermentation. If using strawberries to back sweeten. It might be best to see if you have a haze after back-sweetening and then use the pectic enzyme.
2) Stopping Fermentation – Once fermentation seems to be complete (after a month or in good-fair conditions) if the mead is dry or at a good sweetness for you you should add sodium bisulfite or Campden Tablets and potassium sorbate. The soduim bisulfite stops actively fermenting yeast from continuing to ferment. The potassuim sorbate stops yeast from multiplying and being able to restart fermentation.
3) How long to wait – this is subjective, with my meads I start drinking it when I and my friends like the taste of it. I always squirl a few bottles away to try after a few years. One of my favorites is a cranberry mead I make and drinking it after four years or the cranberry red starts to turn slightly brownish (about 4 years or so) indicating minor oxidation and it is wonderful. Some meads change dramatically over time and some it is good changes and other not so much. My guess is that if you want a bright strawberry flavor, you would want to drink that mead within a year or two. If you don’t mind the bright strawberry notes decreasing and seeing what age does to the honey try some after 5 or 10 years.
Thanks. I was under the impression that the pectic enzyme also helped draw out the juice (flavors and sweetness) of the strawberries or whatever fruit is used, and therefore was better to be added pre-fermentaion.
As for potassium metabisulfate vs sodium bisulfate, which would you say is better as far as keeping the flavors of the honey and fruit without giving any flavor of thier own. They both have the same effect on the yeast correct?
Hoping you will see this and give an opinion.. I am a fan of 71b… but not sure it is the right yeast for making a Bochet… Wondering what your thoughts are? If you think others would be clearly better, which ones would you suggest.. I have the 71b and have had great success with other fermentation..
I have never brewed a Bochet, and had to look up what it is. I think 71B would be a good yeast to make this but the mead might end up sweet. If it is still too sweet for you or you just don’t want to chance it being sweet you could add/use champagne yeast. But if you enjoy things on the sweeter side the 71B could be fine on it’s own.
One suggestion/thought, if you don’t want to end up too sweet of a Bochet, I would consider only caramelizing a portion (maybe 1/2) of the honey. This might allow for both a caramelized honey and the lighter honey notes play together.
I am ok with it being a bit sweet.. I do like my meads towards that finish.. My big concern with the champagne yeasts and higher alcohol tolerant yeasts was if it would go too dry.. I could back sweeten I suppose.. But as long as the characteristics of 71b sound like they would otherwise work.. I may stick with it.. Thanks for the reply..
would nutritional yeast work?
hey folks also a new brewer, i used ,bulldog high % mead yeast, 3 days in, and fermentation is slowing, SG WAS 1.082 ,but i topped up a little more water into 5 gallon bucket in hindsight i think i should have just left it, and after SG 1.072, I’ve been told this yeast makes a dry wine…
is there away to safely add more honey with out oxidisation in secondary?
Hi,meadist i am Wilson from Egypt,a new fan of mead.i want you opinion on how to end a mead patch with sweetness wihtout backsweetening?? dr/wilson wlf ,thanks
What would you recommend for a fruit flavored mead that is made with fruits other than those with maltic acids? Would it be D47 or K1-V116?