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Mead Lover's Digest #0561 Tue 13 May 1997

 

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

 

Contents:

yeast choices, clarifying (Chuck Wettergreen)
Yeast (Jane Beckman)
Re: Mead Beginners (Jack Stafford)
Mead Beginners (mattm@ipacrx.com)
Mead Brandy – from another perspective (Bruce P Stevens)
Port Mead (Robert L Lewis)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #560, 9 May 1997 (Eckard Witte)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #560, 9 May 1997 (Rod McDonald)
Re: Mead Beginners (Jeff Duckworth)
Hawaiian Mead update (Terry Estrin)

 

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Subject: yeast choices, clarifying
From: Chuck Wettergreen <chuckmw@Mcs.Net>
Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 08:47:27 -0500 (CDT)


In MLD #660 Jeff M. Ashley (jashley@emeraldis.com) wrote:
MM> A few of the things I've learned making mead (I've started my fourth ba
MM> now):
MM> 1. Make sure you use champagne yeast. Wine yeast isn't alcohol-toler
MM> enough. I use 2 packages of dry yeast, reconsituted, and have expereinc
MM> good results so far.

I have to disagree here. Champagne yeast has it's uses, especially if
you want a very dry mead, but I've found many beer and wine yeasts to
be extremely alcohol tolerant, providing you 1) pitch enough starter,
2) aerate well, 3) start your mead at a reasonable OG, ie. OG of 1.2
is too high to pitch into and expect good yeast performance, 4)
provide enough nutrients and 5) maintain proper Ph levels (around 4.0).

MM> 2. Make SURE you let the mead ferment to completion. The only way to
MM> this is by regular hydrometer readings. Otherwise, you'll have glass
MM> grenades.

Checking hydrometer readings is certainly a good method to give you an
*indication* that your mead is finished, but I've had crystal clear meads
sit at the same FG for *months*, and then start to ferment again once
bottled. Sulfites or potassium sorbate is the best way to insure that you
don't produce glass grenades.

MM> 3. I hope you have more success than I have in staying out of your me
MM> for 3 or more months before drinking it all. It really is worth the wa

This is always a problem 🙂 The new plastic wine thief/hydrometer jar with
the valve on the bottom makes it just too easy to draw out a sample "just
to see how it's coming along…"

Erik Larson (Erik.Larson@treas.sprint.com) wrote:
MM> I've seen pectin enzyme at my homebrew supplier's shop — but nobody
MM> at the store seems to know just what it's used for. Will adding a bit
MM> this enzyme to my brew (with an additional racking) help to clarify it?

This might help. I've added it and gotten clear meads, but I've never been
able to see a cause/effect relationship from using it.

MM> Any other ideas? Should I try fining with Polyclar, Gelatin, or Benton

Personally I prefer gelatin because I'm not willing to accept the losses
to the fluffy stuff on the bottom that never settles down. Before I try a
clarifier, I try putting the carboy in the refrigerator at 32 degF for a
week or so. Sometimes I've had meads fall brilliantly clear with this
treatment.

Chuck
chuckmw@mcs.com
Geneva, IL


Subject: Yeast
From: jane@swdc.stratus.com (Jane Beckman)
Date: Fri, 9 May 97 11:13:41 PDT


>1. Make sure you use champagne yeast. Wine yeast isn't alcohol-tolerant
enough.

I haven't had any real problems with wine yeast, though I've noticed I get
a slightly different finish and fermentation seems to take longer. In terms
of personal preferences, though, I've used top-fermenting ale yeast with
very good results.

Jilara


Subject: Re: Mead Beginners
From: stafford@newport26.hac.com (Jack Stafford)
Date: Fri, 9 May 97 11:20:42 PDT


On Sat, 3 May 1997, "Jeff M. Ashley" <jashley@emeraldis.com> wrote:
> 1. Make sure you use champagne yeast. Wine yeast isn't alcohol-tolerant
> enough. I use 2 packages of dry yeast, reconsituted, and have expereinced
> good results so far.

Yes. Use two packages of dry yeast or make a starter for 5 gallon batches.

I've made perfectly good mead using wine yeasts. Some say you can even use
bread yeast. I've got a black cherry mead which I used Munton's ALE yeast.
The OG was 1.110 and the FG is 1.000 which makes it about 14.5% alcohol. !
Not what I was expecting.

> 2. Make SURE you let the mead ferment to completion. The only way to know
> this is by regular hydrometer readings. Otherwise, you'll have glass
> grenades.

Yes. Please use a hydrometer.
If you get a bottle that 'gushes' or you see bottle caps bulging up, put all
those bottles in the refrigerator or ice chest. Get them as cold as you can
and drink them before they blow up.

> 3. I hope you have more success than I have in staying out of your mead
> for 3 or more months before drinking it all. It really is worth the wait.

Brew early and often. Make more than you can consume/give away.

I've made an orange mead which was hot and astringent tasting after 2 months
in the bottle. I poured that bottle down the drain. Now at 8 months in the
bottle the sharp flavors are smoothing out and it is just now becoming palatable
.
If this is any indication, it'll be *really* good next year.

> Does anyone know of a wholesale distirbutor of GOOD mead ?? The only
> commercial mead I've found was a "dessert wine" that was disgustingly
> sweet.

I bought some Chaucer's mead made in Soquel, CA — a sweet mead.
(Soquel is near Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast.)

I also found a honey liqueur from Germany called Barenjager which was dry
and tasty but not (a true) mead. (Honey + vodka + herbs'n'spices)

Cheers,

Jack
Yeast of Eden Homebrewers
Costa Mesa, CA


Subject: Mead Beginners
From: mattm@ipacrx.com
Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 10:30:40 +0000


> Subject: Mead Beginners
> From: "Jeff M. Ashley" <jashley@emeraldis.com>
> Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 19:19:32 -0400
>
>
> You experienced guys & gals bear with yet another beginner, but the
> questions I've seen so far lead to believe there's a lot of new mead makers
> out there and I'd like to help them avoid some of the mistakes I've made so
> far. To the REAL experienced mead-makers – feel free to add your comments.
> SO here goes.
> A few of the things I've learned making mead (I've started my fourth batch
> now):
> 1. Make sure you use champagne yeast. Wine yeast isn't alcohol-tolerant
> enough. I use 2 packages of dry yeast, reconsituted, and have expereinced
> good results so far.
> 2. Make SURE you let the mead ferment to completion. The only way to know
> this is by regular hydrometer readings. Otherwise, you'll have glass
> grenades.
> 3. I hope you have more success than I have in staying out of your mead
> for 3 or more months before drinking it all. It really is worth the wait.

I agree with 2 & 3 but #1 is not true at all. I think that one of the
biggest mistakes beginers make is that they try and make a BIG mead,
that is a lot of honey per gallon. There is nothing wrong with high
gravity meads but they take longer to ferment and longer to age and
for the begginer the waiting is usually the hardest part. My
suggestion is to start small 2 to 2.5 lb honey per gallon. With that
you can use most types of wine yeast and get a fast, complete
fermentation. Sure you have a lower alcohol level but then you dont
have to wait as long to mellow it out. The only other thing I would
add to that is:

4. Make a yeast starter. Honey is hard enough to ferment and you

should give your yeast every bit of help you can.
Matt Maples
IS Department
NCS of Oregon
mattm@ipacrx.com


Subject: Mead Brandy - from another perspective
From: Bruce P Stevens <meadmanb@sprynet.com>
Date: Sat, 10 May 97 09:51:59 -0500


I have been busy reading up on the subject of fractional crystallization
lately just to get some facts into the discussion about making " jack"
from cider or mead.

It is not illegal as far as I can tell from the updated laws and
regulations I have for my winery.

OTOH it is not specifically listed as an acceptable means of processing
spirits, thereby making it unacceptable to the BATF from a regulatory
point of view.

The separation of solids and liquids as well as the separation of 2 or
more liquids with similar freezing points or boiling points is a concern
if you don't know what you are dealing with as a feedstock in the 1st
place.

My point here is that for those of you who make "hot" mead or cider ,
that is with higher alcohols and fusel alcohols from off fermentations,
are loony to try this method of brandy making.

Ever taste wood alcohol, or any of the other butanols, phenols etc that
occur from side chain reactions in our fermentation of suger to "alcohol?

Some people make absolutely horrible beverages which when concentrated
become paint remover & spirits of the brain death kind.

The extremely high levels of phenolic compounds in cider especially lead
to fusel alcohols which notoriously are headachers. Honey can be
fermented cleaner but many potions are not .

Leave the ethanol concentration to the experts and buy your brandy. It is
really much simpler and safer. I am considering making it down the road
in a year or two after the basic winery is stable and there is time to
screw around with this type of operation .

I have a degree in Chemical Engineering to start (even tho I've
forgotten most of it years ago) and even then I feel that it will take a
fair amount of R&D before spending any money doing it with a clean well
made mead base to feed the stills.

I'd think it is more appropriate to discuss the basic stuff here and
leave the fringe alone especially since some folks may act on the
suggestion that this can be done at home, legally or not.

Bruce P Stevens – ex Chem E, ex RC , ex ecute the IRS and Free Mead for
All?

Well ,how about no more taxes first and Free Beer for All instead?


Subject: Port Mead
From: bobbylew@ix.netcom.com (Robert L Lewis)
Date: Sat, 10 May 1997 20:15:34 -0500 (CDT)


ingredients for 6 gallons are:

1 Gal can California Red Grape Concentrate 6 Lbs Sugar
5 Cans water 3 Oz Acid Blend
6 Oz Dried Elderberries 1 Lb Dried Bananas
2 level Tsps yeast energizer 5 Campden Tablets
Port Yeast
6 Lbs sugar to be added later in two stages.
& 2 oz brandy to be added to each 25 oz bottle when complete.

The bananas & elderberries stay in about a week. 3 Lbs sugar is added
when the specific gravity reaches 1.040, and the other 3 lbs when the
gravity reaches 1.010.

I scaled the recipe down to 2 gallons & used honey instead of sugar

in the must. (I also skipped the Campden tablets) I added fructose
instead of common sugar at each of the two stages.

when fermatation was complete I had a very strong very interesting

pyment on my hands. the elderberries & banana added depth & character.
I did follow the recipe by adding the brandy, but felt afterwards i
might have made a mistake. The new product tasted considerably harsher,
and less balanced I currently have 10 bottles aging. I am curius to
know if anyone has experience with fortified meads. Does the extra
alcohol change the aging process? I want to let these fellas sit two
years. Robert


Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #560, 9 May 1997
From: EWitte@t-online.de (Eckard Witte)
Date: Sun, 11 May 97 22:23 +0100


> From: "Jeff M. Ashley" <jashley@emeraldis.com>

> 1. Make sure you use champagne yeast. Wine yeast isn't alcohol-tolerant
> enough. I use 2 packages of dry yeast, reconsituted, and have expereinced
> good results so far.

For mead, as for any strong fruit-wines, I only use Port-Wine yeast. It's
tolerant up to 18%, and I don't think that champagne-yeast does more.

Champagne-yeast I use only for a sparkling wine, second fermentation in the
bottle (methode champenois).

Always have experienced godd results so far.

Eckard


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #560, 9 May 1997
From: Rod.McDonald@dist.gov.au (Rod McDonald)
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 12:21:38 +1100

Dan McConnell tells us:

An acid testing kit measures titrable acidity (the number of acid
functional groups present in the sample and expresses them as tartaric acid
equivalents), not pH. pH measures the number of H+ ions in the sample.
These are not the same, nor can they be converted from one to the other.

Thanks, Dan, but what does this mean for us? How do we work with titrable
acid as opposed to Ph information in our mead-making (assuming we can
actually measure it)?

Rod McDonald

rod.mcdonald@dist.gov.au


Subject: Re: Mead Beginners
From: Jeff Duckworth <duck@oasys.dt.navy.mil>
Date: Mon, 12 May 97 08:19:43 -0500


>Subject: Mead Beginners
>From: "Jeff M. Ashley" <jashley@emeraldis.com>
>Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 19:19:32 -0400
>
>
>Does anyone know of a wholesale distirbutor of GOOD mead ?? The only
>commercial mead I've found was a "dessert wine" that was disgustingly
>sweet.

I've just returned from the NY Finger Lakes region and was able to taste
some meads from two different wineries (actually, one winery and one
meadery!) on my trip. Lakewood Vineyards (607-535-9252) has three meads
(traditionaly, cherry, and rasberry) that are rather sweet. And Earle
Estates Meadery [http://www.meadery.com] has a lot a different meads (7)
including a "Honey Mead Contemporary Dry" which has 0.75% residual sugar.

Which brings me to my next question, when wine makers measure residual
sugar, what is this based on? How is it measured? When the % Potential
Ethanol reading from my hydrometer gets to 1% or less my meads do become
quite dry, is this the scale they are using?

Another thing that I noticed was that whenever Earle Estates added fruit
to their meads it was always as fruit wine, not as raw fruit. Now I've
got to get two batches of wine to clear!

Jeff Duckworth


Subject: Hawaiian Mead update
From: Terry Estrin <estrin@sfu.ca>
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 16:53:01 -0700 (PDT)


Hello again,

A while back we had a discussion going about the availability

of mead in Hawaii, and I mentioned that I had started a batch of show
mead using 18# of wildflower honey I brought back from a trip to
Kauai'i. Well, I just popped the first cork and am happy to say that
it turned out *very* well. I used 6 gallons of water, sulphited rather
than boiled the must, and pitched Lalvin "killer" yeast. The result is
a dry amber wine with a slight caramel background. As with many meads,
it took 18 months to get to this point, and when you do drink it, it
tastes best the day you open it (oxidation changes the flavor by the
next day). Anyhow, I'm real happy with it, and couldn't resist letting
the mead gang know.

Terry Estrin
Vancouver




End of Mead Lover's Digest #561


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