September 3, 2010

The Grand Yeast Experiment

Fourteen batches of wine and mead. A bevvy, nay a slew, of yeast. Which will take home the gold? Only time, and a lot of drinking, will tell.

A few days back I made up 18 gallons of wine and mead to do a side-by-side test of different yeast strains. The picture above is of 12 1 gallon jugs of mead and wine, there is also a few gallons of pyment and a full carboy of wine. The mead was a 1.092 White Sage Honey traditional that received adequate doses of yeast nutrient and energizer. The wine was the Vintner's Reserve Shiraz, which despite it's low cost ranks very high in kit wine-making competitions. The pyment is a 60/40 blend of the Shiraz and White Sage Mead. Here is the breakdown on the yeast.

White Sage Mead - Red Star Pasteur Red, Lalvin Narbonne 71B-1122, White Labs 575 Belgian Ale Blend, Lalvin D-47, Red Star Montrachet, Vintner's Harvest CR51

Pyment - Lalvin 71B-1122

Vintner's Reserve Shiraz - Pasteur Red, Lalvin 71B-1122, White Labs 760 Cabernet, Lalvin D-47, Red Star Premier Cuvee, Red Star Montrachet, Vintner's Harvest CR51

Tasting notes and results will follow in a future blog post. Place your bets on the winners now!


  1. Narbonne is the best! I bet CR51 will do really well too.

  2. Preliminary results indicate that the Pastuer Red and D-47 strains are the champion clearers. They made a crystal clear mead in a very short period of time, all the other yeasts are still trying to catch up.
    Unfortunately things don't look good for the White Labs Belgian Ale Blend. It is having a lot of trouble finishing fermentation, and has been more sensitive to pH and nutrients than the others.
    Vaughn, I agree that Narbonne rocks. It is the house strain of champion mazer Curt Stock. In my experience it makes a very full-bodied, round tasting mead, which is not always what I'm going for. It is also more pH-sensitive than other strains. But it is very forgiving and an excellent choice for beginning mazers.
    Any questions so far?