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Mead Lover's Digest #0541 Tue 25 February 1997


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #540, 21 February 1997 (PeriMage)
sweetening and stabilizing mead (Olson)
miscellaneous responses (Olson)
what to call it (
Help with mead (
Mead Starters (Andrew E Howard)
Re: Daz Buoch von guter Spise (
gallons and hops (Rod McDonald)
Definition of mead… (Lisa Wheeler)
Age of Mead, etc. (Fred Hardy)
pomegranades (
Re: vintning or brewing (Philip DiFalco)
Brewing(?) and Welch's (Sean Cox)


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #540, 21 February 1997
From: PeriMage <>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 21:35:18 -0600 (CST)

Asked about using Welches frozen grape juice concentrate in fermenting.

The first thing I ever fermented was from a recipe in the Chicago
Sun-Times for _Balloon Wine_.

2 (12 ounce) cans frozen grape juice, thawed
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (less than half an envelope) – yes,they are
referring to bread yeast!
3 cups sugar
1 large balloon (use a 25 cent one)

Mix together grape juice, yeast and sugar. Pour into a 1-gallon jug with
a narrow mouth. Add water up to the narrow neck of the jug. Add balloon
to the top of bottle and fasten with a rubber band. Let stand for 21
days. As the wine ferments, the balloon will swell. When the balloon
deflates, the wine is done. Note: It is important to choose a balloon
that will give easily and will hold a lot of air.

Betty Davis

This works, more or less – I made a number of batches using different
frozen juices – regular grape juice, Granny Smith grape juice, apple juice.
I used honey instead of sugar in some of these, and used plain apple
cider plus honey or sugar for a hard cider. All of these worked, none
were exceptionally good.


Motto of the _Order of the Garter_: "Honi soit qui mal y pense." Motto of
Minsky's _Star and Garter_: "Yoni sois quay valide penes."

Subject: sweetening and stabilizing mead
From: Olson <>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 21:55:16 -0700

A while back Terry Estrin asked about how to sweeten and stabilize
mead. I don't think that anyone has answered his question directly,
so let me give it a try.

Method 1: Keep feeding your mead more honey slowly (1 or 2 pounds
at a time in 5 gallons) until the alcohol tolerance of your yeast
is exceeded and you have some residual sweetness. As a ball park
estimate, one pound of honey increases the specific gravity of
one gallon of mead by 0.035. Therefore, in proportion, one pound in
5 gallons increases the specific gravity by only 0.007. If you are
not sure whether your yeast is inactive, don't add more honey than
you would want in your final mead.

As an aside, I prefer not to have my meads' final gravities less
than 1.010. Below this number, I feel the meads are too dry and
have poor honey character. In fruit meads with acidic fruit, like
cherries and raspberries, I prefer 1.020, to balance the fruit.
In traditional meads with a strong honey character, I aim for
1.020 to 1.025. For sweet desert meads, aim for 1.030 to 1.035.
These are my preferences at this time. If you keep even simple
records of your meads, you can after a couple years figure out
what numbers you prefer.

Method 2: If you don't want to use Method 1 because it takes
too long or produces too alcoholic of a mead: Pick a time when
you are done adding ingredients and let the mead ferment out
and stop further activity. After most of the yeast has settled
out (it does not have to be crystal clear), siphon the mead into
a clean container and add stabilizing tablets or powder (potassium
sorbate or whatever your supplier stocks). I have found stabilizers
to be very reliable if first I siphon my mead off most of the
yeast. At the same time or shortly afterwards, add honey to
sweeten to desired amount (see above suggestions). After a month
add clarifiers or wait until clear to bottle.

Do NOT use sulphites! They inhibit the growth of wine yeasts,
but they do not reliably kill anything! Some people have had
success with sulphites using their particular yeast and their
particular equipment and process. Other people will find that
sulphites do nothing to kill off the yeast.

As another aside, when I add honey to a mead that is in progress,
I pasteurize the honey at 150 F for 20 minutes without adding
any water. Then I pour the warm honey directly into the fermentor.

This is one person's recommendation.

Happy fermentations,


| Gordon L. Olson | U.S. Postal Service: |
| e-mail: | 1632 Camino Uva |
| phone: 505-662-0705 | Los Alamos, NM 87545 USA |

Subject: miscellaneous responses
From: Olson <>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 21:55:02 -0700

Responses to the previous MLD:

When I make up bottle labels for my meads, they include: its name,
my name as brewer, a brief discription (eg., "A semi-sweet mead with
a blend of spices, to be served at room temperature or slightly
chilled."), the month and year fermentation was started, the date on
which it was bottled, and an estimate of the alcohol content. So I
tend to give both fermentation and bottling date. Sometimes they are
close together, sometimes widely separated.

For some reason, I am uncomfortable with the term "vinting" as applied
to mead. I say that I am fermenting or brewing mead. Maybe because I
started out brewing beers, I am in the habit of saying that I am

"Meadery" is a well established term used in all English speaking
countries that I am aware of.

In the AMA's Meadmaker's Journal for 1995 (Vol. 6), an article of mine
was published that discussed record keeping during the making of meads.
Unfortunately, the editor messed up the article and my one page record
keeping sheet wasn't published until the June 1995 issue of Inside
Mead. I did the layout in Microsoft Word. If anyone is interested,
I can send it to someone to be attached to a web site somewhere. I can
send it as a Word document, or as a postscript file.

Yeasts for braggots: I have used wine yeasts for the whole fermentation,
but I have also used an ale yeast to ferment the malt sugars for a week
before I add honey and a wine yeast. Lalvin K1-V1116 is good because
it is more neutral in "winey" characteristics. This two step process
seems to give more "beer" character to the braggot. It depends on what
you want your braggot to be like.

By the way, I would guess that the braggot article in the latest
Inside Mead was probably written by Fred Hardy, or it was copied
from an article that he wrote for some other newsletter. No author
was listed, but it looks like something that he would write. Fred,
are you out there listening?

Happy fermentations,


| Gordon L. Olson | U.S. Postal Service: |
| e-mail: | 1632 Camino Uva |
| phone: 505-662-0705 | Los Alamos, NM 87545 USA |

Subject: what to call it
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 08:57:01 -0500 (EST)

I usually just refer to it as "making" mead because it isn't
brewing and the root (no pun intended) "vint" has all these
connotations. We all make mead right? except for when I look at
the primary and realize it's the yeast that makes the mead, not
me. Maybe we should call it "facilitating mead" (groan ๐Ÿ™‚

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont

Subject: Help with mead
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 1997 16:49:34 -0500 (EST)

My husband began a batch of Honey-Maple mead Jan. 13th. The starting gravity
was 1.120. Checking the gravity now we get 1.070 which leaves us with only a
6% alcohol level.

He used 5 lbs. of honey, 4 qts. of maple syrup, some yeast nutrient, one
package of champagne yeast and a splash of lemon juice. When it looked like
we had a stuck fermentation he added another package of yeast and some more
lemon juice. When he added the extra ingredients we had a 5% alcohol level.

Is there anything we can do or add to boost the final alcohol level to 10% or
higher? Six percent is okay but not exactly what we were hoping for.
Previous batches of mead came out to 14 – 15%.

Any help would be greatly appreciated,


Subject: Mead Starters
From: (Andrew E Howard)
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 1997 17:42:22 EST

I've been brewing beer for a couple years, and I've always considering
the health and quantity of yeast pitched into the wort of primary
importance. Because of this, I've always made it a practice to make
yeast starters from pure liquid strains, stepping up until I have a
decent amount of active yeast.

I am much interested in trying my hand at mead, and would like to
continue the same, healthy pitching practices that paid off so well when
brewing beer. I've heard of mead starters being made with malt extract,
apple juice, etc., but I would love it if I could make one with just
honey. Is this possible? Has anyone done it? If so, what should be the
O.G. of my starter? What other considerations should I take into

Any advice would be most appreciated.

Andrew Howard

Subject: Re: Daz Buoch von guter Spise
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 1997 17:50:07 -0500

< I've been thinking of trying out the 14th C German mead recipe in _Daz
< Buoch von guter Spise_ lately. Has anyone worked with this recipe

Yes. A friend and I made this, based on the translation in
<> by Alia Atlas.
This translation does indeed call for 2 parts water to 1 part honey by
volume. This seems like a lot, but there are a lot of hops in there
as well, which nicely balance the sweetness. (I don't usually like
sweet meads, but this one is Just Fine.)

1 Gal (US), water
6 lbs. honey (clover, orange blossom, etc.)
2 oz. hops (Saaz (Czech.) pellets)
2 handfuls Sage
1 oz oak chips (light)
1 packet yeast (Lalvin K1-V1116 "high alcohol")

Bring water to a boil. Add honey and boil for 10-15 mins, skimming
and adding water as necessary to maintain 1.5 gal. total liquid. Add
hops and sage, and simmer 10 more mins (possibly adding a bit more
water). Take off heat and cool to pitching temp (below 70 F.). You
should now have around or just under 1.5 gal. of must. Hydrate yeast
according to packet directions, and add to must. SG = 1.160 (!)

Ferment in a cool place (e.g. cellar). Rack at 1–2 weeks, and again
after fermentation has stopped and mead has substantially cleared
(about 2–3 months for this batch — we ended up with 1 gal. of mead
for aging). Age in fermenter for another 6 months. Bottle, and age
in bottle for at least a year.

Our test batch was wonderful — I just bought 60 lbs of good clover
honey, a third of which is going into a 5-gal batch of this Real Soon.

  • – Paul Placeway

Subject: gallons and hops
From: (Rod McDonald)
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 11:01:57 +1000

1. Warning
Don't forget that the US Gallon is only 16 fluid ounces (fl. oz.). For
those of us who work in Imperial gallons which are 20 fl oz (5 US gals
= 4 Imp gals), and/or convert gallons to and from litres any
measurements given in US gals on MLD need to be adjusted accordingly.

Therefore, if honey contribute approx 38 points to gravity per US
gallon, in imperial gals it would be only be 30.4 points. 38 points
per 16 fl oz as far as I can work out is 30.4 points per 20 fl oz.

Mathematical experts please correct me if I am wrong.

And while on this, is a US fl. oz the same as an imperial fl. oz? If
not then what I have just said should probably be ignored/rewritten!!

2. Compressed hop pellets
I recently bought some compressed hop pellets for experimenting with a
hopped mead. They look a little like chook feed, but smell better and
fresher than any fresh hops I have ever bought. (Not quite as fresh as
hops straight from the kiln though)

Does anyone have any experience with these? I assume you would just
use them by weight as you would for fresh hops.

Does anyone know a supplier of hop seeds of the different varieties? I
am interested in growing, but if the seed is going to be coming from
outside of Australia I will need to find a registered/commercial
supplier in order to get them through customs.


Rod McDonald

Subject: Definition of mead...
From: (Lisa Wheeler)
Date: 24 Feb 97 07:11:13 CST

Last night I tried Apricot wine, from a company that makes mead

(Chaucer's)…next to the bottle at the store was something called
"Sparkling Apricot Mead" by another company (Golden Grail-Dallas).
Can mead be "sparkling?" Also, can a beverage be called "mead" if it
uses fruit, as well as honey? The Chaucer's I had last night never
professed to being "mead," just 100% pure fermented fruit…BTW, very
syrupy, sweet, but the consistency of cough medicine.

Subject: Age of Mead, etc.
From: Fred Hardy <>
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 08:18:33 -0500 (EST)

The age of wines is determined by the year the grapes were grown. This
makes sense, since the quality of the fruit will vary from year to year.
Honey probably does too, but I've never seen anything along this thread.

PickleMan is in a pickle over the precise day he should start counting the
age of a mead. Not the same thing, nor the same precision as the age of
wine. The question could be: When is the precise moment when honey, water
and yeast become mead?"

IMO, it's whenever you say it's mead. If you don't think it's mead until
you carbonate it, then that's valid. OTOH, is it the day you bottle it, or
sometime after that when it's actually carbonated? Why does it matter?

FWIW, I age ciders and derivatives (cyser) from the year the fruit was
grown. Like wines, the apples and pears I use vary in sugar and acidity
from year to year. As for other meads, I age from the date I racked from
the primary. The logic being that whatever else I may do to it, it is
essentially mead at the first racking.

I "brew" mead, and have spent very little time worrying over that being
the correct term. I make braggot by mashing grain, so I definitely
consider that "brewing." I also don't consider braggot to be mead, so
maybe it doesn't count.

Heating anything to 160+ degrees F does not sterilize it. Neither does
boiling a substance. Sterilization requires an autoclave or pressure
cooker to elevate temperatures to 250 degrees F. Pasteurization takes
place at the cooler temps and kills off yeasties and some other
undesirable bugs. Many undesirables do survive Pasteurization, and even
boiling. Don't worry about it too much. Keep things sanitary, and the
alcoholic levels of mead take care of most other problems.

To sanitize buckets, sinks, and the like I use unscented ALL dishwasher
detergent (same chemical make-up as brewer's B-Bright). If the bucket is
plastic, and has been sanitized in chlorine, I add a bit of Arm & Hammer
washing soda when I'm cleaning it to prepare for bottling or storage.
This is to wipe out any residual chlorine.

An ounce/gallon of water of chlorine in a carboy will sanitize it in about
an hour. I store unused carboys with an ounce/gallon of water chlorine
solution and seal them with a piece of folded plastic wrap secured with a
rubber band. I ust rinse when I'm ready to use one.

Chlorine is a great sanitizer. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly before
using the object. Oh, yes, I use Iodofor to sanitize hoses and "Pure Seal"
crown caps. Corks I just soak in hot water.

Brew On (or whatever you call it) ………….. Fred

"We must invent the future, else it will : Fred Hardy
happen to us and we will not like it". : Fairfax, Virginia

[Stafford Beer, Platform for Change] :


Subject: pomegranades
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 08:51:42 -0500 (EST)

My wifes been asking me to make a pomegranade mead for some time. Has anyone
out in MLD land made one? I did not find any recipes at the usual sources.


micah millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: Re: vintning or brewing
From: Philip DiFalco <>
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 97 09:26:59 -0500

> > In response to Tom Lentz's query about whether it is proper and
> > correct to say that we "brew" mead: I have read that the distinction
> > between brewing (beer or sake) and vinting (wine) is that brewers must
> > obtain fermentable sugars by converting starches, whereas vintners do
> > not take this extra step, since the sugars already exist in
> > fermentable form. By this definition, mead-makers are "vinting"
> > mead. But that sounds totally wrong, doesn't it?
> To add another question to this explanation, what term would you use for
> making braggot? Further, does an extract only brewer vint beer?

I would think anytime you're cooking something (in the making of a
fermentable beverage), you're brewing.

Subject: Brewing(?) and Welch's
From: (Sean Cox)
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 13:18:37 -0500 (EST)

>From: Jacob Galley <>
>In response to Tom Lentz's query about whether it is proper and
>correct to say that we "brew" mead: I have read that the distinction
>between brewing (beer or sake) and vinting (wine) is that brewers must
>obtain fermentable sugars by converting starches, whereas vintners do
>not take this extra step, since the sugars already exist in
>fermentable form. By this definition, mead-makers are "vinting"
>mead. But that sounds totally wrong, doesn't it?

My understanding is that "brewing" is the "cooking/boiling" of the wort
(akin to brewing tea or coffee) and that many people do (by this definition)
brew meads by heating them to pasteurize them & then cooling & pitching.
Others (like myself) don't do this, and simply mix the honey with water
(and whatever else) and pitch. I'd hesitate to call this "vinting" as there
are rarley vines involved ๐Ÿ™‚

>From: ejmoone@CCGATE.HAC.COM
> I am thinking about making a pyment using Welches Classic frozen
> concentrate, and I was wondering if anyone out there has any
> experience with something like that. I was curious on the number of
> cans of concentrate would be appropriate. I f I remember correctly,
> one can makes 48 oz of grape juice. I was planning one can to the
> gallon of mead prepared. The mead would be prepared as follows:
> 1 can Welches Classic concentrate per gallon
> 2 lbs honey per gallon
> 1 tbsp Acid Blend or Citric Acid
> yeast nutrient
> Pasteur Champagne Yeast

I made a terrific pyment a couple years ago with 1/2 gal Welch's unpreserved
grape juice (the funky purple stuff) with 2/lbs of honey, topped up to a 1 gal
batch (small apartment ๐Ÿ™ ). After a few months, it was very tasty, with a bit
of a foxy flavor from the juice (regardless of the snobs, I like the foxy
flavors of American grapes, so there!)

I would try making it without the acid (and probably also the nutrient, grapes
provide lots of those!) and give it a few months and see how it turns out.
As I recall, I had finished it all in less than a year–much faster than most
of my other meads…

  • -Sean

Sean Cox, Systems Engineer FactSet Research Systems Greenwich, CT

End of Mead Lover's Digest #541

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