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Mead Lover's Digest #51 Tue 08 December 1992

Forum for Discussion of Mead Brewing and Consuming
John Dilley, Digest Coordinator


Mead Lover's Digest #50 (December 05, 1992) (Rick Smith)
To Boil or not to Boil (Patricia.McGregor)
kumiss recipe to come (Jane Beckman)
Balm Mead (Jane Beckman)
re:science in brewing/boiling mead must (R.) Cavasin" <>
Honey and SG (Scott James.)

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Date:        Sat, 05 Dec 92 12:29:06 EST
Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #50 (December 05, 1992)

unsub mead lovers digest Rick Smith

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 92 12:59:30 EST
Subject: To Boil or not to Boil

Dick says:
> I read that boiling will settle out the proteins. That's
> a brewer's maxim, but does it apply to mead? How much
> protein is there in honey, anyway? I see that you can
> skim off all the scum, but what's in it? Anything that
> matters? I don't know! It's not clear-cut, the way that
> "don't boil the fruit" is clear-cut (because it sets the
> pectin, and also caramelizes it a bit). But maybe this is
> someplace that science could help us a little. What are
> the real facts supporting either side of "to boil or not
> to boil"?

In the book on mead put out by the american Bee-keepers association
(and I'll skip home and get the title and post tomorrow), they
recommend boiling, to eliminate having to add gel at bottling time
to clarify the mead. I've done both, and certainly the mead I get
with boiling is clearer, I have had much more usable mead to guck at
the bottom, and it seems to me the flavor is better.


Pat McGregor,

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 92 10:34:05 PST
From: (Jane Beckman)
Subject: kumiss recipe to come

I'm seeing the friend who makes kumiss this coming weekend and will try to
pry her "secret recipe" out of her. 😉 If I can get her to divulge
details, I will post the recipe here.

-Jilara []

P.S. Just racked my balm mead into secondary fermenting container, this
weekend. I've been adapting a lemon-balm wine recipe to mead. The lees
(the leftover lemon balm leaves) smell so totally yummy that I doubt this
stuff is going to last long in the bottles. Should have made a few gallons
more, but I wanted to save the 5-gallon carboy for some cherry melomel…

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 92 11:17:47 PST
From: (Jane Beckman)
Subject: Balm Mead

I'm trying a mead variant on balm wine. Why use sugar when you can make a
mead variation, right?

This is a 1 gallon test batch, partly because I didn't want to cut down the
entire patch of lemon balm, hoping our warm weather will keep it going
through the winter.

3 lbs honey
1 gallon water
1 orange
1/2 gallon packed fresh balm leaves

Boil the honey and water together. (I simmered it until black, ropey gunk
stopped rising—what IS this stuff? Anyone ever encounter the like? This
time, it took about 20 minutes to get all the scum off, less than normal, but
it was mostly this truly gross black gunk that was rising.) Put modest
amounts of the orange peel into the primary fermentation container with
the balm leaves. (I took a strip of peel around the circumference.) Add
the juice of the orange. Pour the must over the balm leaves and orange
peel. It should be VERY hot, since you are essentially making balm tea,
at this point. Cover, and leave to cool. When down to blood-warm, add
yeast to the top and cover. Rack to secondary fermenter after three days
and filter out the balm leaves at this time. Cork with a lock.

A note most the old recipes I use talk about floating the yeast out on the
initial wort, by putting it on top of a sippet of toast. I've never had the
inclination to do this. (Plus the fact that I suspect it works best when
you're dealing with a 20-gallon tun, rather than smaller batches.)
However, the balm leaves work admirably for "floating"the yeast.


Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1992 16:06:00 +0000
From: "Rick (R.) Cavasin" <>
Subject: re:science in brewing/boiling mead must

Just thought I'd put my oar in the water over this scientific/non-
scientific issue.
I'll have to agree with Dick that I'm not sure such a clear distinction
exists, and I most certainly disagree with the implication that it is
only the by-guess-and-by-gosh people who use period sources.
I like to think of myself as a 'scientific' brewer, but I try not to get
too anal about things. Being 'scientific' in your approach (if we're
talking about the same thing) allows you to vary your recipes and
experiment in a systematic way so that if something goes well and you
get a good result, you have some chance of identifying what you
did that was right so you can repeat it. The same thing goes for
identifying mistakes when things go wrong so you can avoid them.

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, you can identify some
fairly sophisticated brewing technique in period sources if you know
what you're looking for. Casually glancing at a few recipes from Digby
(written in 1663 or thereabouts) gave me the impression that mead
making at that time was fairly primitive. After reading all of the
dozens of recipes therein, I've noted patterns,
and subtle distinctions in the recipes that indicate that some meadmakers
were using many of the 'tweeks' that the 'scientific' meadmakers are
using today (ie. they're fairly particular about yeast, they use
starters, they aerate their must, they use fining agents, they preboil
their water and decant off the sediment, they check the gravity of the
must, they rack off of the 'trub', they use a blowoff, they're
particular about their storage vessels,etc.).
This is not to say that these people necessarily understood why what
they were doing worked. Their methods were no doubt derived empirically,
over many years (perhaps generations in some cases).
When a period recipe recommends what appears to be an unusual course
of action, the application of a little brewing science allows you to
guess at the potential effect so that you can make an informed decision
as to whether or not you wish to follow the same course of action.
What was perfectly reasonable in the 16th century may not be so today.
Applying a little science helps ensure that a stab in the dark connects.

About Dick's question on boiling the must:
The fact that there is something there to scoop out when the must is
heated indicates that something is being coagulated by the heat.
My understanding is that this is albumin-like proteins, wax, etc.
Whether or not removing this will affect the taste of the final product
is another question, but the concensus seems to be that it can
contribute some off flavours (never tried an A/B comparison).
I think alot depends on the particular honey as well. If you want
to convince yourself that there is something there to precipitate,
try forced cooling your must after a brief pasturization or gentle
boil. In the honey I use, this causes the immediate formation of
this really wierd sponge-like precipitate that slowly collapses into
a sediment on the bottom. I don't know many people who advocate
long boils (indeed, some 17th century meadmakers stipulate that the
must should only be boiled briefly once the honey is added).
If you're making a fairly strong mead, I don't see why you couldn't
get away with not sterilizing the must providing a good yeast starter
is used. If I recall correctly, all the recipes in Digby prescribe
at least a brief boil.
Rick C.

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 92 17:17:38 MST
From: scojam@scojam.Auto-trol.COM (Scott James.)
Subject: Honey and SG

1.140 isn't too surprising at all! I used 10 lbs clover honey in a 5 gallon
batch (2 lbs/gallon) with a gravity of 1.080

I found a supplier Near Boulder, Colo. that sells 60 lbs of raw wildflower
honey for $45 (+ $5 bucket deposit). Do you people out there think this
would keep long (that is, until it becomes mead) ?

I'm afraid of getting all this honey and having bacteria / wild yeast
getting to it before I do. The guy on the phone said they sell it
in liquid form (heated over several days) or solid 'brick' form.
Maybe the solid form would be easier to use, I could dissolve in
hot water when I want to use it?


End of Mead Lover's Digest

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