I have been making mead for close to 5 years now. I do my mead a little different than most. I use Safale US-05 dry ale yeast. I let it ferment for 3 weeks then I transfer out of the fermenting bucket. I don't let it set. I drink it right away, and its delicious. I have heard from a few people that I should be using champagne yeast, and let it rest for close to 6 months. I like the taste, alcohol level, and speed of my yeast. I was just wondering if I am missing out on anything by not using a different yeast. Any thoughts?
If it tastes good to you, don't change it.
If you do want to experiment, there are yeasts recommended for mead.
EC-1118 and D-47 are dry yeasts that are commonly recommended. EC-1118 will ferment rather dry with a higher ABV. D-47 will leave slightly more residual sugar and a lower ABV than EC-1118. Both should produce more alcohol than US-05.
WLP720 and Wyeast 4184 are both liquid yeast recommended for mead. I like the flavor of WLP720. It's an easy fermenter and doesn't finish too dry. Wyeast 4184 has issues with finishing. It gave me a stuck fermentation the last time I tried it. I even had nutrient and energizer.
If US-05 works for you, then keep using it.
71B is another very popular choice. I tend to use that or D47 for most of my meads, but there are a ton of options -- essentially any wine yeast will work, as will most ale yeasts (although they don't have the same alcohol tolerance and can introduce more obvious fermentation character to the mead). Never tried a lager yeast...
No matter what yeast you use, be sure to do a staggered nutrient addition (SNA) for every mead. Make a blend of 1 tsp. Fermaid-K and 2 tsp. of DAP (diammonium phosphate), and then add to the mead as follows:
.75 tsp. when making the must .75 tsp. 24 hours after fermentation begins .75 tsp. 48 hours after fermentation begins .75 tsp. when 30% of the sugar has been fermented.
In addition, stir the mead at least twice a day (if not three times a day) for the first six or seven days to aerate the must but more importantly to degass CO2 buildup in solution. Be careful of course, to stir very slowly at first to keep foaming to a minimum, otherwise you’ll end up with a mess! Do not stir at all once one third-to-one-half of the sugar has been fermented, at that point you do not want any additional oxygen contact.
What are the .75 tsp amounts in relation to? A one gallon bottle, or?– user12791Sep 9, 2016 at 15:46
The need to leave mead or wine to condition for months is typically a consequence of too little oxygen and nutrients in the must. My first mead and wines was like that. After using staggered O2 and nutrients, turnaround was much quicker. Now the aging is only needed for very subtle development of flavor, rather than for total cleanup of the beverage.
So I'd say that your process is fine. There is no "must" saying it has to take 6 months.