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Mead Lover's Digest #0578 Thu 17 July 1997

 

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

 

Contents:

Honey supplier (Francois Espourteille)
Is cloudy mead THAT big of a problem? ("David Dickinson")
wyeast sweet mead yeast/ gusher city! (Jim Poder)
Yeast and mead fermentation (Francois Espourteille)
Re: Sparkaloid (Joyce Miller)
Re: wine color & Campden talbets (Olson)
boiling water (Louis Clark)
re: Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast – another data point ("Curt Speaker")
Ulee's Gold ("Joe Kaufman")
applejack / hard cider ("Rau, Will")

 

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Subject: Honey supplier
From: Francois Espourteille <francois@ici.net>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 1997 01:17:26 -0400 (EDT)

There have been some questions about honey suppliers, and in particular bulk
and/or specialty honeys. Hy Ginsberg spoke of Betterbee Inc. in Greenwich
NY. I can vouch for them, having used their honeys while living in that
area. I just finished a pail of their clover; two years ago I worked with a
pail of tuplip poplar honey, which was a bit unusual. That particular honey
is on the darker side, with strong caramel notes. The resulting mead has a
fair amount of character and needs more aging than most but was quite nice.
Among others, I made a pyment with red Zinfandel concentrate that turned out
quite nice and also a high strengh mead (miscalculated the honey…-
5lb/gal) that was surprizingly drinkable. Their wildflower honey varies
quite a bit from year to year.

Another place that has a lot of very different blossoms is Harvey's Honey,
Box 304, Elmer NJ 08318 (I don't have their phone number). I don't know if
they sell in bulk or if they mail order. I used to live near them in
Southern NJ a few year ago and tried different blossoms; among others they
had: raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, watermelon, pine barren honey (marshy
pine forest in NJ), buckwheat (uncut), and many more. Their biggest jars
were 1 gallon at the time. Experimenting with different varieties of honey
can be a lot of fun.

Cheers,

Francois.


Subject: Is cloudy mead THAT big of a problem?
From: "David Dickinson" <Telemir@msn.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 97 15:31:42 UT


Several months back I asked how prevailent hazy mead is for the group. It
seems like every issue of the digest contains some question/technique
concerning clarity. I haven't been brewing mead for very long, but I've been
making beer of several types for about 12 years. The beers, wine, and meads
that we have made have always started well, fermented-out, and cleared
completely (okay, there was one bad batch of beer 11 years-ago–it was clear,
but explosive).

Compared to many, I am a "minimalist": yeast, a food source (honey, malt,
fruit juice, etc.), calcium carbonate (for mead/wine), ascorbic acid (I'm a
vitamin freak), some acid blend (maybe), pectin enzyme (if fruit is included),
and water are all that I use. I pitch when the temp drops below 90F, transfer
after 7-14 days and *perhaps* one more time (depending on what the batch
wants), and have never waited longer than 2-3 months to bottle anything.

MOST of you are *much* more experienced mead makers than I probably ever will
be, but I seem to be "lucky" concerning the clarity problem. The only reason
which I can propose for the difference is that I only use Reverse Osmosis
treated water. Water which has been stripped of organic/inorganic compounds,
bacteria, and viruses (down to .5 microns) contains nothing to interfere with
fermentation and natural clarifying. If you have viewed/read reports on
bottled/delivered "spring" water, it is pretty clear that most of it is simply
carbon-filtered, municipally treated tap-water often containing higher
bacteria levels than the stuff we use to water the grass.

Am I missing something? God knows that I'm not very lucky, I know that I'm
not very experienced, and I sincerely doubt that I'm a naturally gifted
brewer, so there must be some other explaination.

It would be nice to figure out what I'm doing right, so I can keep on doing
it, but it would be even better, if everyone else could benefit as well!

Really quite humbly, dd


Subject: wyeast sweet mead yeast/ gusher city!
From: Jim Poder <jpoder@asu.uswest.net>
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 01:00:34 -0700


Hi all,

I brewed (brewed?) a traditional mead in December the O.G. was

1.120 after about 5 months the S.G. was ~1.025 and was WAY too sweet to
drink. I racked it and decided to sypoon off three bottles and top off
the carboy before pitching some champagne yeast to finish it off.
Anyway, last week I opened the first bottle (about three months after
bottling) and got a huge gusher. I was very disappointed that I lost
about half of the bottle, but it was a learning experience, so I guess
it's all good. The mead was still very sweet and kind of chalky not to
mention VERY carbonated.

I put the remaining two bottles in the freezer for a couple of hours

and uncorked them to release the pressure (they were ready to blow as
well!) as I had read about on the Digest. My question is: Should I
repeat the pressure release on the remaing two bottles again? I'm not
planning on drinking them for another month or so. I don't want the
mess/disappointment of another gusher. I was also thinking about
blending the two sweet bottles with the remaining dry (now about 0.995)
mead when I bottle it in about two months. What do you think?

My experience (limited tho it is) of Wyeast sweet mead yeast is that

it won't ferment down very low and will leave you with a VERY sweet mead
that is almost too sweet to drink. But this is just the opinion of an
amateur.

As long as I'm posting, I want to thank the few people who responded

privately to my questions a couple of months ago. My hard drive crashed
and took my email with it so I didn't get the chance to thank you
individualy.

Cheers,
Jim


Subject: Yeast and mead fermentation
From: Francois Espourteille <francois@ici.net>
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 08:57:16 -0400 (EDT)


The last few digests have seen posts from various people (sorry don't have
all the names in mind) about types of mead yeast and fermentation. Mead
fermentation is notoriously more difficult to start than beer fermentation
and, in my opinion, that just reflects the fact that beer wort is a more
forgiving environment that mead must for yeast populations trying to
establish themselves. By that I mean that underpitching (not pitching
enough yeast) and inadequate oxygenation of the must/wort is better
tolerated in beer than in mead by the yeast. The recipe for success is then
relatively simple (in theory). Pitch large amounts of yeast and oxygenate
to saturation. My recipe is as follow: Make multiple sequencial batches.
I build up a relatively large yeast population from a standard starter,
going from a pint of must up to a gallon (sterilization is crucial during
these steps). I use some honey and cheap corn syrup initially, with lots of
yeast energizer. The final starter is one gallon. I wait until activity
ceases and most of the yeast drops to the bottom. Then I decant most of the
liquid and pitch the yeast at the bottom (with some liquid) into my first
batch of mead. The first batch is typically boiled and fed nutrients to
insure that a clean yeast population develops in batch 1. Then, there are
two options: 1. Use some of this batch (up to 1/2 gallon) to start another
batch, which may result in lots of mead fermenting at once (thus requiring
lots of carboys) or 2. wait for the primary fermentation of batch one to be
completed, rack it to secondary and use the dregs to start batch two. To
oxygenate my meads I use pure oxygen from a compressed tank and an air
stone. After about 2-3 minutes (in two or three bursts) of oxygenation, the
must is saturated. Similar results could be achieved from compressed air,
but it would take longer, up to 10-15 minutes (plus you need to put a
sterile filter on the air line).

There are several advantages to this method. First, you can dispense from
boiling or sterilizing the must/honey for all batches, except the first one.
I haven't sterilized the must/honey of my meads for 3 years now and have not
had any problem **provided the first batch is clean**. Fermentation starts
so fast that nothing has time to become established before pH and oxygen
drop to safe levels. Most meads are fermenting within 3-6 hours at 68-70 F.
Because of the fast start of fermentation, a cleaner mead usually result.
Once fermentation has begun, I drop the mead temperature to below 68F.
Second, after the first batch I reduce the amount of nutrient added. This
can prevent metallic tastes in the mead and since the yeast population is
already large, it doesn't need to grow so much (with the exception of high
gravity meads- 4lb/gal and up). Of course this method means that you need
to group your mead making within a 1 to 2 month period. I usually do that
anyways, so for me it is convenient. The other thing is that the "mead
production" must go from light to heavy and traditional to fruit/spiced to
both keep a lively yeast population (harvesting yeast from a high gravity
mead is not a good idea, the yeast is usually damaged by the high sugar
environment) and not add extraneous flavors to a straigh mead. While I
realize that most people don't necessarily make 20 to 40 gal. of mead a
year, for those that do this is a technique that yields good results and
still allow you to make a variety of meads.

Hope that this is of some use.

Francois.


Subject: Re: Sparkaloid
From: Joyce Miller <msmead@doctorbeer.com>
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 12:06:15 -0400 (EDT)


>From: Matt_Maples@ncshealth.com

>Sparkaloid itself is a very very fine power (diatomous earth I think). You
>should watch out for your final gravity, I don't know this for a fact but I
>would guess if it were too high the Sparkaloid might not be heavy enough to
>fall out. I would start thinking about it if you were at 1.030 but like I
>said I don't know for sure if this would happen.

Actually, it's very fine flakes of plastic. You're getting it confused with
bentonite, which is a type of clay (which also works quite well).

Both are charged particles, which attract the particulates suspended in the
mead.

  • — Joyce

msmead@doctorbeer.com


Subject: Re: wine color & Campden talbets
From: Olson <olson99@rt66.com>
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 15:06:38 -0600 (MDT)


Andrew,

Yes, Campden tablets and other sources of SO2 act as a mild bleach.

I've seen prickly pair mead go from deep purple to medium pink.

This is another reason I stopped using Campden tablets. My other
reasons are that some people are sensitive to sulfites and Campden
tablets only inhibit the growth of wild yeast. They kill off stuff
only if you have accurate pH control. Therefore, using Campden
tablets can give give a false sense of sterilization.

Your milage may vary,

Gordon


Subject: boiling water
From: Louis Clark <mage!louis>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 10:54:17 -0600

Rob Skala writes:

>I am making my first mead this weekend after several years of brewing beer.
>I have one question.When making beer, I boil the water for a half hour to get
>rid of the chlorine. Do I need to do this when making mead?

The easy answer to your question is no, you don't. You don't have to do it
brewing beer either. The yeast will work OK unless your water tastes like it
came from a swimming pool.

Taste is another matter, though. When I started boiling all my water I noticed
a marked improvement in flavor. With the chlorine boiled out, both my beers
and meads taste much smoother and cleaner.

Louis Clark


Subject: re: Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast - another data point
From: "Curt Speaker" <speaker@safety-1.safety.psu.edu>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 13:30:31 EST


Just to add my $.02 to the must 🙂

I used the Wyeast sweet mead yeast in a mead that I made as a
demonstration for the local homebrew club. It did take a little
longer to ferment than some of the meads that I have made with other
(dry) yeasts, but it was delicous and extremely drinkable after only
5 weeks in the bottle (as compared to 6-8 months for most of my other
meads). If this holds true for other meads (mine was a melomel), it
is probably worth the extra money to use the liquid yeast culture
(and repitching it)…this was definitely my best mead yet!
Curt

Curt Speaker
Biosafety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety
speaker@ehs.psu.edu
http://www.ehs.psu.edu


Subject: Ulee's Gold
From: "Joe Kaufman" <sutekh@dwx.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 21:54:42 -0500


Hey all,

Just got through watching _Ulee's Gold_…nice flick, I would recommend

it.

It is about a bee-keeper, so there is a nice look at hives,

honey-processing, and of course, honey itself. Is it wrong that during
this beautiful, dramatic piece of work all I could think was…hm,
pasteurize that Tupelo Honey, add some yeast…mmm, Tupelo Mead! I guess I
think that when I see any sugary substance. I am sure I will someday end
up in a gutter adding bread yeast to pure sugar water and waiting for
alcohol to magically appear. I think I need help.

Anyway, check out the movie…it is pretty good.
Anyone know where I can get some Tupelo honey up here in Des Moines, IA?

I have my own thoughts as to what "Ulee's Gold" should be… *wink, wink*
*nudge, nudge*

Happy minting!
Joe Kaufman


Subject: applejack / hard cider
From: "Rau, Will" <wrau@touchtechnology.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 10:22:33 -0700


I know this is not specifically a mead question, but does anyone have a
receipt for applejack or hard cider. I want to make a 5 gallon batch of
the stuff.

Thanks,

wrau@touchtechnology.com



End of Mead Lover's Digest #578


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