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Mead Lover's Digest #0588 Thu 21 August 1997


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



re: Ferment Faster? (Dick Dunn)
moron corking…er…more on corking ("Curt Speaker")
Re: Cherries and other stuff (guym@Exabyte.COM)
Re: A Question on Preservatives (Marc Shapiro)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #587, 19 August 1997 (Charles Hudak)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #587, 19 August 1997 (Charles Hudak)
GREETINGS & COMMENTS. (Christopher Ravlin)


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Subject: re: Ferment Faster?
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 20 Aug 97 00:01:01 MDT (Wed)

Charles Hudak <> wrote:
[replying to a comment about a 1-gal batch fermenting faster than 5-gal]
> This is a common misconception among brewers/meaders. In fact, batch size
> has absolutely nothing to do with rate of fermentation…

News to me. I don't think it's a common misconception at all…I think
it's an occasional realization. Consider the relation of fermenter surface
area to volume–this does not scale…

1 If you've got yeast sitting on the bottom of a fermenter of a charac-
teristic shape, in a smaller volume there's proportionately more yeast
directly exposed to the fermentable liquid above.
2 As volume increases, the heat of fermentation will be more difficult
to dissipate. This will cause a rise in internal temperature and a
corresponding increase in fermentation rate.

At the volumes we deal with at home, (2) is normally negligible, but (1)
is definitely not.

>…Things that do
> include pitching rate, temperature, yeast strain, fermenter geometry and
> level of oxygenation…

The hidden catch here is "fermenter geometry". If you scale up the shape
of your fermenter linearly, you have in a sense changed its geometry,
because of the effect of surface area relative to volume. (Surface area
goes as 2/3 power of volume, which is why fat beer-drinkers like me sweat
more…cooling problem.)

> …What you
> might see, commonly, is a faster *onset* of fermentation. This is because
> you are probably pitching a whole packet of dried yeast (shame on you for
> using dry yeast!)…

Whoa again! It sounds like you're down on dry yeast. If you're only sug-
gesting using a starter, ignore the following, but otherwise consider it:
Lots of us use dried yeast for the simple reasons that (a) it does a good
job for us, and (b) we see no reason to pay 6x more for a slower-fermenting
yeast that seems to be more contaminated. OK, I'm picking worst cases
here, but for dry meads I've had uniformly better luck with Blue Triangle's
First Blend dry yeast at 60 cents the packet than with Why Not West's Dry
Mead fancy smack-a-pack at > $4. YMMV, but realize that you don't always
get what you pay for; you merely pay for what you get. And I've tried
pitching the wondrous liquid yeast for a test, one pack into a half-gallon
test jug, and had it fail completely, twice.

For beer, it seems that the liquid yeasts are doing a good job, or so I
hear from limited reaction. For mead, there is no clear-cut evidence.
I think there are good and bad, dry and liquid yeasts, with enough of a
mixture that you can't choose for/against dry or liquid _a_priori_. It
doesn't make sense to favor one over the other, at this point. (Strong
agreement and/or vehement disagreement invited!)

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

Smile. Help. Think. Care. Learn. Sing. Love. Teach. Live!

Subject: moron on corking
From: "Curt Speaker" <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 08:37:46 EST

I have 30 or 40 bottles of mead in my wine rack that I have corked.
I simply crush up a 3-4 campden tablets in some hot water and soak
the corks in it for 30 minutes before corking the filled bottles.
Never had a problem with the mead going bad or the corks rotting.
It works for me…
My next project…my first pyment(3.5 gal)
5# honey
5 – 46 oz cans Welch's 100% pure white grape juice
1 oz lemon juice
Wyeast #3184 – sweet mead yeast in 1L starter
looks good on paper…

Curt Speaker
Biosafety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety

Subject: Re: Cherries and other stuff
From: guym@Exabyte.COM
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 97 09:30:25 MDT

O.K., I know that if this horse ain't dead, he's mortally wounded,

> Jeff Duckworth <> writes:

> Just a quick note on the cherry discussion…

> Cherries (I believe) contain trace amounts of cyanide.
> Interestingly, in small amounts should give your mead a bit of an
> almond flavor/smell. Actually, a local homebrew shop recommends
> that you leave your pits in, so I imagine that you are rather safe.

As a child growing up in Alabama, my Dad had a couple of cherry trees
in our yard. My brother and I, along with our next door neighbor,
would play in and around these trees with the result being that every
cherry within our reach was consumed. In the process, we would suck
on the seeds until all the cherry flesh was removed. I recall the
faint almond taste from the pit and remember that we liked it. After
consuming a figurative metric ton of these in this fashion, I seem to
have turned out all right – at least I'm still alive. Of course I did
wind up becoming an Engineer and homebrewer/mead maker so you can
infer from that what you will. And there are those times I've been
known to wear my pants on my head…

Guy McConnell /// Huntersville, NC ///

Subject: Re: A Question on Preservatives
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 12:59:31 -0400

Jeff Duckworth <> wrote:
> I recently received a wine kit for my birthday. It contains a small
> packet of potassium sorbate (a preservative, ie kills the yeast, doesn't
> just slow it like sulfites) to add after the fermentation is done.
> Having made a fair amount of preservative free mead I was wondering what
> people on the list have done. In particular, I would like to avoid the
> tiny bubbles that I seem to always get in my still meads (there is a wine
> term for them, probably something like "tiny bubbles" in french).

Actually, Jeff, potasium sorbate does NOT kill yeast. It is only a
yeast inhibitor, just like sulfites. When using sorbate it is generally
recommended that you also use sulfites, since the sorbate will inhibit
yeast, but not malolactic bacteria. It is possible that the
'petillance' that you are getting in your otherwise still mead is due to
malolactic fermentation (no guarantees, however). If so, sorbate alone
will not stop it. If not then sulfite, or a combination of sorbate and
sulfite should do the trick. I try to avoid the use of sulfites, as
well, and have had a problem with refermentation in the bottle when I
sweeten the wine at bottling time. Most of my wines and meads, however,
do NOT get sweetened (I do that for other peoples' taste, not mine) and
I have no problems with them. If you are not sweetening your wine at
bottling then make sure that fermentation is complete (a little longer
aging before bottling never hurt a mead) and you should avoid that
surprise sparkle in your mead.


"If you drink melomel every day, you will live to be 150 years old,
unless your wife shoots you."

  • –Dr. Ferenc Androczi, Winemaker of the Little Hungary Winery

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #587, 19 August 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 11:01:52 -0700

Re: Jeff and his tiny bubbles.
I don't use any preservatives (isn't that why we make our own, to avoid the
commercial gunk?).
Don't ever use sulfites in my meads (used it once to sanitize some corks).
I don't think that there's any need for a lot of this stuff. A well made
mead should be very stable without all of these sanitizers and
preservatives and antioxidants et. al. If you wait long enough, like you
should, there should be no "tiny bubbles" in your mead *years* from now.
The key is patience (oh, that's right, I have mead fermenting). My mead
goes through several rackings and at least 4-6 months before it ever sees a
bottle. By this time it is very flat and crystal clear, without finings or
bentonite or anything. I've never had a problem with "tiny bubbles". The
key is patience and a strong aversion to Lawrence Welk (hahahahahhaha)

Charles Hudak

Brewer, Chemist and Know-it-all at large

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #587, 19 August 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 11:05:30 -0700


Campden tablets are sodium sulfite.

Charles Hudak

Brewer, Chemist and Know-it-all at large

From: Christopher Ravlin <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 11:48:27 -0400


I have been receiving the Mead Digest now for about 18 months and have
enjoyed it immensly. This is my first posting to the digest however.

We are currently drinking my first batch of mead which I put down
January 3rd 1996. It has cleared beautifly, is sweet (18 lbs for the
gallon batch) and strong. I have had no complaints and one 12 oz bottle
incapacitated my mother in law for sevral hours.

On January 3rd of this year I tried a more ambitious project. A 12.5
gallon batch. I made an error in that I started with 60 lbs of clover
honey, all at the same time. I was not getting any clearing and
fermentation stopped around Memorial Day. The mead sickingly sweet and
I am unsure whether any yeast will survive (due to alcohol content) to
further "dry the mead out".

I tried this: I metered out the mead into three 5gallon carboys and one
6 gallon carboy flling each up about a third. I then filled the
remaining space up with water and flavorings (1 blackberry – orange, one
pineapple and honeydew sage, one "unflavored", and one rapberry). I
still am not experiencing any clearing.

My question is: could and should I repitch some yeast. Can someone
reccomend a good high alcohol yeast ( I used a sherry yeast in my last
batch). Or is there another way to dry out the taste and promote better

Thank you,

Chris Ravlin

End of Mead Lover's Digest #588

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