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I'm planning to brew a banana mead, and would like to start fementation with a Belgian yeast so that it has a good strong banana nose. I will finish with a champagne yeast, so I'm not particularly worried about alcohol tolerance.

Any suggestions? what temp will produce the most banana esthers?

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Are you using bananas in the original mead mixture? Or are you going for a banana-like flavor at the end? –  drj Aug 10 '11 at 16:30
    
In all honesty, I was inspired to make it after reading "Gravity's Rainbow" - there is a character in the book who is famous for making banana breakfast feasts, and one of the items described in the book is banana mead. I don't really have any preconception about how it should taste...just seemed like something that would be fun to try. The plan right now is to put a few pounds of ripe bananas in the primary. If you've got a better idea I am definitely open to suggestions! –  Germ Aug 15 '11 at 0:32
    
The problem that I'd see is that bananas have a great deal of sugar in them. I'd REALLY watch the starting gravity or you'll end up with a very dry brew. I'd probably just use them in a brew bag when cooking the original wort. –  drj Aug 26 '11 at 9:13
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Not sure if honey has the appropriate sugar/carbohydrate composition to support banana like ester production, regardless of yeast choice. The sugars and carbohydrates, not to mention other molecules in barley malt is far more complex biochemically than whats found in honey.

Why not shoot for a great traditional mead, aged with bananas?

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so bananas in the secondary? do I need to do anything to the bananas to keep things from getting contaminated? –  Germ Aug 15 '11 at 0:38
    
I would think the alcohol content of a finished mead would be enough to not worry about freshly peel bananas going into it. There may be the need for an extended maturation period to get it to clear after the bananas have been in there. I think the bananas will cloud things up a bit due to their natural texture. –  brewchez Aug 15 '11 at 10:39
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I have a beer fermenting now with Wyeast 3711 French Saison, and I can't say for sure because it's still fermenting, but the CO2 coming out of the airlock smells a little banana-y to me. It's also been fermenting pretty strong in my 85 degree apt, which is nice for August.

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You could use a Hefeweizen yeast. I've gotten a good "banana bread" flavor out of Wyeast 3787, but you may not want the clove flavors that come with either of those things.

You could always get some gallon jugs to ferment in: try a few different things and see what works best.

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You should listen to the Basic Brewing podcast on brewing meads with Ale Yeasts. Short answer: the flavors ale yeasts provide to beers are not always transferred into mead flavors because you are fermenting in a totally different medium than grain-based beer. Some yeasts work better than others. Some were great, and some sucked. I have't listened to this episode in a while, but you'd better check to make sure the Belgian yeast you are using isn't one of the yeasts that made the mean in the experiment taste like "burnt rubber".

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr11-08-07meadyeast.mp3

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Thanks Graham - I'm not really sure what I'm going for, but I know that burnt rubber isn't it! –  Germ Aug 15 '11 at 0:34
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