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Mead Lover's Digest #0584 Mon 11 August 1997


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



Summary of Mead Help ("Shaun Funk")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #583, 8 August 1997 (Charles Hudak)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #583, 8 August 1997 (Charles Hudak)
cherries?(long) (
Yeast Starter (David Reynolds)
meadery travels (
Re: "New": MLD #582 ("John R. Bowen")
Re: Blueberry MLD #583 ("John R. Bowen")
Re: Mead Ale (Peter Miller)
Cherry juice (nkanous)


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Subject: Summary of Mead Help
From: "Shaun Funk" <>
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 08:47:19 -0700

This message was originally posted to the Homebrew
Digest in response to my questions about mead.

Thanks to all for the responses to my request for mead help.
Here is a summary of the responses:

I Said:
<<I have already checked out some web-based references for
<<mead brewing, but would also appreciate anyone pointing
<<me in the direction of any and all that they feel are useful and

Several of you pointed me to the Mead Lover's Digest, a forum similar to
HBD, related to mead making. This digest only comes out a couple
times a week, due to the lower volumes of posts compared to HBD.
Here are subscription instructions:

In body of message: "Subscribe" email address. Also put your name in

Other internet mead resources can be found at the following URL's:

The Mead Lover's Page at:
Mead FAQ at:
The Bee's Lees at:

Most recommended staying away from publications, stating that many of them
were antiquated and/or incorrect. The most recommended source was Charlie


I had three specific questions:

<<1. Acid Nutrient — Why?
Several of you were confused by this. I can see why. What was meant was
acid blend. Acid blend is a blend of 3 acids (malic, tartaric and citric)
for balancing the sweetness of the mead. Because I was planning
on making a melomel ( mead with fruit), most said that acid blend
wasn't necessary as the fruit would contribute the desired acid.

<<2. Do I need a yeast starter? If so and I make it with honey, is it


<< take longer to get going than my malt starters?
Just as in beer brewing, those who used liquid mead yeast suggested a
those who used dry yeast said don't bother. Honey does not contain much
in the way of yeast nutrients. Those who used honey in their starters
suggested adding yeast nutrient to the starter. A couple of you
using DME for the starter, stating that the influence of the malt on the
of the mead would be negligible, and would provide a much better
starter medium.

<<3. Yeast nutrient? Does this make fermentation complete or just faster?

<<Do I need it?

Fermentation, as many of you know, depends on yeast nutrition
and oxygen. The malt in wort is a great source of nutrition for
yeast. Honey, the primary ingredient of mead is not. In order to
get active, and relatively fast fermentation yeast nutrition is of
utmost importance. Well nourished yeast will produce both faster
and more complete fermentation. Once again since I wanted to
make a melomel, I was advised that the fruit would provide yeast
nutrients. In the event that you were making a classic mead, yeast
nutrient is an absolute necessity. There are two basic types of yeast
nutrients, chemical and yeast extract. Most warned about using
chemical nutrients (diammonium phosphate) due to off/chemical
flavors that these can contributed if overused. Yeast extract
nutrients are yeast cells that are killed, centrofuged, sterilized,
and dried. Yeast extract nutrients are reported to be harder to find,
but less risky.

So here is what I did:

I purchased 15 lbs. of raw wildfower honey, in this case mostly clover
and blackberry, from a local bee keeper for $1.25 lb ( good price,
I'm told ). I boiled 3 gallons of water. Removed the pot from the heat
and stirred in 13 lbs. of honey until dissolved. I then added 3 lbs.
frozen raspberries and 4 lbs. of fresh frozen diced peaches. This
brought the temp down to 120F. I turned heat back on and raised
the heat back up to 150F, where I pasteurized the must ( must is to
wine/mead as wort is to beer) for 30 minutes while the temperature
slowly rose to 160F. I cooled the must with an immersion chiller, to
around 95F. Dumped the whole mess into my carboy. Rehydrated
a pack of Red Star dry champagne yeast in 1/4 cup boiled water at
95F. Aerated the must in the carboy by the brute force method, and
pitched the yeast after the must had cooled to about 85F.

It is now fermenting along happily at about 75F with about 30 bubbles
per minute.

Any thoughts or comments on my recipe/method are greatly appreciated.
Sorry for the waste of bandwidth for you hard-core brewers. I will be
posting future mead questions to the Mead Lovers Digest.

Shaun Funk
Clemmons, NC

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #583, 8 August 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 09:55:50 -0700

Re: Is it stuck, or just finished?

Thaddaeus, you didn't mention what type of yeast that you used.
A Champagne yeast would normally have quite a bit higher attenuation than
you've gotten. An ale yeast on the other hand….hey maybe you can tell me
where you picked that up, I've got some strong ales I'd like to make with
that yeast.

Seriously, it very much depends on the typical attenuation that that yeast
gives. You've only been fermenting for two weeks though!! Relax!! Let it
sit for several more MONTHS! I have meads in tertiary that I made four
months ago. When it clears, wait a while longer then bottle; it should be
just fine.


Charles Hudak

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #583, 8 August 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 09:46:14 -0700

Re: mead pH


A common *mistake* among "meaders" is to add acid(s) to the unfermented must.

DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!

Not only is it not necessary to proper fermentation, sometimes it is
actually quite detrimental. While yeast can tolerate *fairly* low pH
levels; they actually reduce the pH of whatever they are fermenting on
their own (beer is usually pH 4-4.5), they don't function well at
excessively low pH especially below pH 2.

If you like your mead to have some acidic bite, wait until bottling time
and then adjust the pH with an acid blend to suit your taste.



To answer your question, you can raise the pH by adding CaC03 (Calcium
Carbonate or Chalk). Try a half teaspoon for five gallons and mix well
(without aerating). Take a pH reading and add some more, a little at a
time, until you are happy with the taste. Don't overdo it, a little goes a
long way.

Charles Hudak
Head Brewer, San Diego Brewing Co. and Chemist at large…..

Subject: cherries?(long)
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 13:42:23 -0400 (EDT)

Greetings, I am new to this list but an old hand at brewing and mead making.
Until recently, I have limited myself to dry meads and metheglins. In
February of this year, I finally tried a sweet mead – using Wyeast 3184
(sweet mead) yeast in a starter. Fermentation started as expected but seems
stuck – I mean really stuck. I know that 6 months is still early, but I
haven't seen any activity for a couple of months and there is absolutely no
clearing. I have not racked to a secondary nor have I taken any intermediate
gravity readings (afraid of infection/oxidation).

This culture is new to me but I've since been told that this is common for
this strain and that it may never clear!! I am patient, but worried.
Looking for advice – add another yeast?

I am also considering making a melomel with cherries – can I introduce the
fruit to this sweet mead at this stage? Or use the fruit for a new batch of
dry mel?
Looking to expand my horizons,

Subject: Yeast Starter
From: David Reynolds <>
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 14:33:07 -0400

Hello All,

Is a starter made with dry malt extract good for making mead? It seems
like there will be plenty of nutrients without having to use yeast
extract as an added nutrient.

I would ferment to completion and then pour off the fermented malt to
reduce changing the flavor of the mead.

What do you think?



P.S. Are there any companies/suppliers that have wine yeasts in liquid
or slant form other than Wyeast?

Subject: meadery travels
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 1997 08:16:10 -0400 (EDT)

I recently visited a commercial meadery in Weston, Missouri. It is in a very
small touristy town, although off the beaten path. We came across it by
accident while visting a local brewery. They had some tasty meads, a
sparkling and a still tradional, and a raspberry melomel. All are apparently
made from local clover honey. ( could mean anything) All of the meads were
medium dry. Tastings were generous. I high reccommmend a visit if in the
Northwestern Missouri area.
Address: Pirtles Winery, 502 Spring St., Weston, Mo 64098

micah millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: Re: "New": MLD #582
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 13:51:56 +0000

Kim, I have some specific suggestions for a first mead:

1. Make it fairly light. 12 lb honey in 5 gallons will give you a
specific gravity about 1.08 (those numbers you were talking about).
This will ferment out fairly quickly, maybe 6-8 weeks, and the lower
alcohol will allow you to prime and carbonate it simply like a beer,
should you desire to have part or all carbonated. This lower
concentration should help avoid the starting and stopping
fermentations that drive many of us bonkers. And if you are not going
to measure the specific gravity, you can be pretty sure a lighter mead
is finished when all bubbling stops.

2. Those numbers are the specific gravity. They are measured simply
with a floating hydrometer (beer and wine making store, or mail order,
a couple of $). They relate to the amount of potentially fermentable
sugars present, and give you an estimate of the final alcohol
concentration. Pure water has a specific gravity of 1.000. Pure
alcohol less than 1.000. Meads can start anywhere from 1.05 up to
1.25. For your reference, most beers start around 1.05. As the
sugars are consumed and alcohol produced, the specific gravity will
fall. Final gravity for meads is usually 1.005 to 0.090. The reason
to measure the final gravity is to see if all the feremntable sugars
are consumed, to see if the fermentation is complete. This is, IMHO,
quite unreliable, and useful only for following the progress, not
finding the end. When you think its done, taste it. If it is still
sweet (if you started at 1.08), it isn't done. If it is still
bubbling (either thru your airlock or visibly in the neck of the
fermenter, it isn't done. Meads can test your patience.

In short, you don't need to mess with the hydrometer if you don't

want to, esp. if you are using a moderate amount of honey.

3. Temperature. I don't know from experience. I would not like to
ferment above 75F, because I would fear odd yeast byproducts giving
off flavors as they do in beer. If you can get an old frige to keep
this first one down around 68, then you won't have to worry about it.
I hope someone else knows.

4. The yeast starter: With dry champagne yeast, don't bother. You
might use two pkts. If I were making a fruit mead with fresh fruit, I
would ideally use a starter to give my yeast a head start over the
wild yeast on the fruit. But with straight honey, I don't think its

5. Cooking: I usually boil about 2 gallons of water, turn off the
heat, add the honey, stir to dissolve, and let it cool. This will
pasteruize the honey. Boiling the honey doesn't seem to be necessary
for sanitation, and it sure is easier. After it cools, move it to the
fermenter and perhaps shake it a bit to aerate. You will probably get
a faster start with aeration, but it is less of a problem with the dry
yeast. Then top off with water (boiled, tap, distilled, whatever) to
the desired volume, add the yeast and off you go.

6. Yeast nutrients: You might want to add yeast nutrients if you can
locate them at a brew shop. Yeast nutrients are, IMHO, better than
yeast energizer. Nutrients are more complete and usually have some
brown stuff (probably yeast extract or cell walls) while energizer is
usually just diammonium phosphate, all white stuff. This is strictly
optional, but it will give a faster fermentation. Add about 1
tablespoon to the hot water with the honey.

7. Fermentation: You should see visible bubbles in 24 hours, and
lots of bubbles in 48 hours. There may be some foaming, so if you are
fermenting in a glass carboy, you might not add all you water until
the foaming subsides, then top it up. The temperature will affect
this dramatically.

So give it a shot, keep it simple, and let us know.


Subject: Re: Blueberry MLD #583
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 14:56:29 +0000

Thaddaeus, I'll bet its done. My experience with fruit meads is that
they are much faster than traditional meads. My red currant mead
finished fermenting in about 10 days. But it never hurts to wait, and
since racking drives off CO2, it may take a while for a slow
fermentation to resaturate the mead and start evolving excess again.
Your gravity doesn't seem excessively high, but I would wait a month
or so.

Subject: Re: Mead Ale
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 97 16:37:32 +1000

>From: (Rod McDonald)
>Date: Thu, 7 Aug 1997 15:47:43 +1000

> Rod McDonald <> and I made a mead ale from
> Duncan & Acton many years ago. I have to say that from memory it was
> rather insipid and uninspiring… (and bore _no_ resemblance to a
> sparkling mead)
> Care to comment Rod?
>We made it when we were still rather novice brewers and I seem to recall (I
>don't have the records with me) a comment about a scent reminiscent of
>farts. We may have tried mulling it before composting it! My guess is that
>was an opportune infection from something undesirable. Haven't tried it

I had a scan back over the recipe from Duncan & Acton and it is pretty
basic – just honey, hops & water with a fairly rapid fermentation. Even
now I wouldn't hold high hopes for it. As Marc Shapiro pointed out, a
proper braggot would need malt. Might give it a try as we enter spring…


Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: Cherry juice
From: (nkanous)
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 11:28:23 -0400 (EDT)

Upon stopping at a local orchard, I found 1/2 gallon and 1 gallon jugs of
"cherry juice". The label states that this is made entirely from the juice
of tart cherries. Anybody have experience using such a juice in a mead?
Any recipe suggestions? Thanks.

Nathan in Frankenmuth, MI

End of Mead Lover's Digest #584

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