Dry Yeast - This is a very common way that yeast is packaged. It is dried and in small packets. You keep these packets refrigerated until they are ready to use. You then re-hydrate them with warm water before pitching them into your mead must. The use of dry packets is the recommended way for beginners.
If you are a real beginner and would like to get going with some mead without too much trouble you can use a common yeast that is found in every grocery store. Its the Fleischmann's yeast shown in the picture above. It usually cost between one and two dollars for three packages.
Liquid Yeast - Yeast also comes in liquid packets that are already hydrated and ready to pitch into your must.
This type of yeast (liquid) come in what is often called a "Smack Pack". This is because it is dormant and there is a nutrient pack inside the package. You smack the package which breaks the inner seal and the activation begins. Complete instructions come with this kind of yeast. Usually takes about three hours for the activation to be ready then you can pitch it into your must.
If you want to get a bit more into the details of yeast here is some information that will help.
Every type of yeast is different and every type will have its own characteristics as far as taste of the mead, flocculation, alcohol content, and speed of ferment.
Here are some general rules of thumb about different kinds of yeast and their characteristics in Mead
- Lalvin D-47 pretty good and best for medium to sweet meads
- Premiere Cuvee - a fine wine yeast and best for dry meads
- Fleischmanns - Good all purpose yeast
- Lalvin DV-10 This is a champagne yeast, it is pretty hardy and produces a high alcohol content.
Looking for a yeast specifically designed for Mead? Wyeast laboratories has designed two strains of yeast for this. Although I haven't yet tried either one I am sure they are quite nice.
If you want to learn how to prepare and pitch your yeast I have instructions on this including a video in my mead making tutorial. The yeast pitching part is here
Available on Amazon.com
Lalvin ICV D-47 Yeast A vigorous white wine yeast that will leave a wine very full bodied with enhanced mouthfeel. Accentuates varietal character and contributes ripe tropical fruit and citrus notes. Recommended for Chardonnay and Rose as well as mead, when nutrients are supplemented. Whites, rose, mead.
Lalvin EC-1118 Yeast - AKA Prise de Mousse. Saccharomyces bayanus. A low foaming, vigorous and fast fermenter good for both reds and whites. It is also ideal for ciders and sparkling wines. A very competitive yeast that will inhibit wild yeasts. It will restart stuck fermentations because of good alcohol and sulfite tolerance. This is a very neutral yeast that will have very little effect on the varietal character of the grape. A popular strain that ferments fully and flocculates well producing compact lees. Good for cool fermentations. Champagne, dry reds, whites, ciders and sparkling. 45-95° F (7-35° C)
Lalvin K1-V1116 Yeast - A vigorous and competitive fermenter that, because of its neutral effect on varietal character, is very well suited to fruit wines as well as wines to be made from grapes. Grapes and fresh fruit. 59-86° F (15-30° C)
Red Star Champagne Yeast (10 Packs) Dried Yeast
Terrific for fruit meads (melomels)
More Information about Yeast
Note from Will: I haven't tried this D-21 Yeast yet but will. If you have used this yeast to make mead or plan on doing so then send me an email. I would love to hear about it. I received an email from John and my thanks go out to him for expanding a bit on yeast.
Was just having one of my occasional looks through other mead sites and thought it worthy of mention that you might consider linking morewine Mainly because if you have a dig round at gotmead you'll see a lot more yeasts mentioned than are generally available at most local and online HBS - morewine seem to be repackaging some excellent ones that are normally only available in bulk commercial size packs - for example, the much vaunted, yet seeming hard to locate Maury/D21 which is, as far as research tells, the same yeast that Brother Adam, of Buckfast Abbey and bee keeping/breeding fame preferred (yes he did change to using Montpellier/K1V-1116 prior to his death in the late 90's when the "Maury" yeast became unavailable in smaller quantities - from what I can find out from the Abbey). There's many other ones there as well that don't normally get mentioned.
Here is a link directly to the page on morewinemaking.com that has this yeast in 8 gram packages:
Dry Wine Yeast D21