First mead (in 40 yrs)

Hey, I’m brew beer mostly, but started keeping bees a couple of years ago and just had to ferment some of this honey. I made a whiskey barrel of mead in the early 70’s. Honey was cheap and I recall something like 12 gal of honey went in that barrel, topped it off with well water, added a handful of cinnamon sticks and a packet of whatever wine yeast was available at the time. The blowoff tube went into a gallon jug of water and sounded like a motor boat for a few days. When the bubbles slowed down we started drinking and continued for a few months until it started turning skunky. Probably due to oxidation. Must have poured out 15-20 gal.

Anyway, I’ve refined my techniques since then and plan to start a small (4 gal) batch soon. I’m making a starter at 1.035 and Wyeast 4632 Dry Mead and plan to pitch in a couple of days into a higher gravity wort (or is it must?) Am I on the right track? Do I even need a starter?

Best Regards,
Bran Down

Yup, sounds like you are on the right track. If you use liquid yeast, you need a starter. If you use dry yeast you don’t. For a 4 gallon batch, you will probably be fine using just one package of dry wine yeast if you go that route. Yeast nutrients would be recommended either way.

Thanks for the reassurance. I’ll add some yeast nutrient to the batch when I pitch the yeast. I am a bit concerned about “other” bugs. I don’t want to boil. Any alternatives besides campden tablets?

No need to boil the honey or add campden. Campden’s usually used for fruit-based musts, as fruit comes with plenty of natural ‘bugs’ on it and it’s a nice insurance policy against them taking over the fermentation. Honey, on the other hand, is naturally sterile so no need to treat it with anything. Obviously, its only sterile until you dilute it, so sanitize everything like you would with beer and you’re good to go.