These Brew Dudes have around 50 pounds of raw honey to make mead with this winter. I started earnestly researching yeasts to use for the meads I planned to make.
Unlike hard cider, I think different yeast strains should be considered when making different kinds of mead. Thinking about it, I came up with these insights for choosing the best mead yeast.
Dry vs. Liquid Yeasts
With the success I have had with dry yeasts making hard cider, I think from a cost perspective you should really consider using dry yeast. The amount of honey you need to make 5 gallons of mead can run up the costs of your total recipe list. You can get quality dry yeast strains that make great mead. I am not saying liquid yeasts should be avoided at all. The first mead I made I used a liquid yeast and it placed in the Mazer Cup Mead Competition. My point is dry yeasts give you cost flexibility and quality mead especially if you are making small mead batches; ~1 gallon.
Dry Mead vs. Sweet Mead
Depending on what kind of mead you’re making, the strain you choose will be different. There are some strains that leave residual sweetness and there are other strains that ferment to dryness.
Lalvin D-47 is known to make good medium to sweet meads. I bought a few packets in my latest Northern Brewer purchase.
Lalvin EC-1118 is a strong fermenter and will ferment to dryness. I used this strain for my cyser and it worked very well at cool basement temperatures.
Mead vs. Flavored Mead
Now mead comes in all kinds of variety where other ingredients are added for flavorings. Besides malt extract and spices, many fruits work well in accentuating honey wine. The next melomel or pyment (honey with grapes) that I make, I am going to use the Lalvin 71B-1122 strain. Apparently it metabolizes more malic acid than other strains and makes for more smoother, fruitier meads.
I did back a good number of dry yeast packets to see these strains suit my tastes. Check back for more mead updates.