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Mead Lover's Digest #0589 Tue 26 August 1997


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



maybe just quibbling (Dick Dunn)
Re: GREETINGS & COMMENTS (Dave Polaschek)
Re: big batch (Di and Kirby)
Wisteria mead (Di and Kirby)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #588, 21 August 1997 (Charles Hudak)
Mazer Cup (Ken Schramm)
FW: Melomel? ("Fritz, Kent")
Maple Mead ("Reed,Randy")
My mead goes to 11 (Joyce Miller)
Re: Too much honey, Chris Ravlin MLD #588 ("John R. Bowen")
Dry vs Liquid yeast (
Candy Apple Mead ("Linda or Darin")
yeasts? ("Olin J. Schultz")
Campden tablets (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: maybe just quibbling
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 21 Aug 97 03:17:18 MDT (Thu)

Charles Hudak <> writes:

> 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?).

That's a good reason, but I suspect that for a lot of folks, a more compel-
ling reason is to have mead at all! Sure, don't add preservatives or stabi-
lizers or such without a good reason…but there are sometimes good reasons.

> Don't ever use sulfites in my meads (used it once to sanitize some corks).

I don't either (except for some experimentation to learn about it), but
does it mean there aren't *any* applications for them? Some folks say they
are using them against oxidation. That makes some sense to me. (Other
folks have found different techniques, or learned to like the taste of

There's also the matter of styles. If you always ferment your meads out
bone-dry, you've got no worry about renewed fermentation. But there's a
place in the world for mead with residual sugar, and you need a way to
cope with that. There's also a reason to want to clean up the act if
you're making a melomel…sulfite on the fruit is one way around the
delicate dance of using enough heat to kill wild yeast but not so much
as to set pectin.

> …A well made
> mead should be very stable without all of these sanitizers and
> preservatives and antioxidants et. al….

Well, you don't put sanitizers in the mead (I hope!) but you might use
something to prevent fermentation from restarting in a sweet mead. Anti-
oxidants? I don't know…might be worthwhile for a mead you're going to
keep for a long time. Or perhaps you don't need them either (and perhaps
this is Charles's point) if you get to sufficiently careful procedures.

>…If you wait long enough, like you
> should, there should be no "tiny bubbles" in your mead *years* from now.

That assumes you're making a dry still mead, but what about other styles?
How would you prevent fermentation from restarting–and *know* beyond the
shadow of a shard:-)–that it won't restart? (A commercial meadmaker can
ultra-filter and feel no need to use sulfite or sorbate…but the severe
filtration is a problem in its own right, as it also strips out color and
character, and it's not a process available to us.)

> …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…

Sure, for a traditional mead this often works out, and for melomels the
clearing is usually even easier than for a straight mead. But some meads
stubbornly resist clearing (for various reasons). For that matter, have
you ever tried to get *any*thing with pear in it to clear?

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

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

From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 97 07:58:03 -0500

>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

Red Star Champagne Yeast. Make 4 starters, one for each batch. Glass
quart bottles of unfiltered unpreserved apple juice work pretty well for
starters, although you may want to drink two of the quarts, and dilute
the others 50-50 with water. I've done both and had roughly equivalent
results, but others I've talked to have had better luck diluting the
apple juice. If you don't have corks that fit the bottles (the bottles I
usually get take the same cork as the 1-gallon jugs), use a balloon over
the mouth of the bottle.

Or if you're feeling lazy, just pitch the yeast straight into your mead
and let it rip. It'll get going, and you shouldn't have to worry much
about infection at this point, since you've got reasonably healthy
alcohol levels.

It might not ferment out totally dry, but if any yeast is going to do the
job, this is the one. It's incredibly alcohol tolerant. Also, in my
experience, this yeast seems less fussy about pH than most.

And welcome to the list.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – or

Subject: Re: big batch 
From: Di and Kirby <>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 17:19:37 -0500

> From: Christopher Ravlin <>
> My question is: could and should I repitch some yeast.

Might not be a bad idea, but someone else may tell you differently. This
is one of those cases where having a hydrometer (sp?) comes in handy.
But just from eyeballing it, it looks like you've got the equivalent of
about 2.8 lbs of honey per gallon of water, which should be okay, as
opposed to 5lbs per gallon. Maybe you did get enough alcohol to kill
your yeast. If you pitched a good starter, (or at least mix dry yeast
with lukewarm water and a bit of honey or malt, like for breadmaking) it
should get going well, and quickly enough to out-compete any tired
yeasties you've still got in there. You're not fermenting in a really
cold room, are you? That could slow things down, too.

Also, you say it's not clearing. Does it seem to be fermenting at

all? And when did you dilute it into the other containers?

> Can someone
> reccomend a good high alcohol yeast ( I used a sherry yeast in my last
> batch).

I'd try champagne yeast. It should be able to handle what honey you've
got in there. It can handle up to 17% alcohol or so.

Subject: Wisteria mead
From: Di and Kirby <>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 17:39:05 -0500

I posted a question about suggestions for making a metheglin with
wisteria blossoms this past spring. I gave it a shot, and thought folks
might be interested in hearing what happened. So far it is *great*, if I
do say so myself. Unless I screwed it up in bottling or something, it is
just what I was trying for.

I was wanting the effect of drinking wisteria flower nectar, which

has a heavenly scent. It is on the sweet side, say SG of 1015 or so, a
bit sweeter than I was going for, but the flower taste (which I general
don't like in things) and light tannin from the petals themselves keeps
it from being cloying. There's a nice balance. It's also pretty
alcoholic…I added honey in small increments 'til my champagne yeast
conked out where it now stands, so lets say 17 or 18%. Crystal clear,
nice honey color. Very smooth, and "dances on the tongue" as my sister
says, in spite of being a still mead. Since it's so flowery and sweet
yet so alcoholic, no doubt it's potenially a real hangover-inducer, so
I've named it Fairy Hammer Mead. I bottled it the third week of July,
and I'm very proud of myself. I can't wait to see what it's going to be
like in a year or so. If anyone was thinking about experimenting with
wisteria, I'd highly recommend it.


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #588, 21 August 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 10:05:23 -0700

Regarding Dicks remarks about my fermenter geometry post (MLD 588)

1) Yeast don't ferment from the bottom or top of the fermenter. They
ferment from within the beer/mead. Yeast that is on the bottom of the
fermenter is generally yeast that is too pooped to party.

2) While your second point is correct, especially in homebrew, this would
further debunk the post that I was referring to which initially said that a
one gallon batch ferments faster than a five gallon batch (Thaddeus
corrected himself on that one). I deal with glycol jacketed/cooled tanks
which maintain a constant temperature and I don't see a correlation between
volume and fermentation rate.

Fermenter geometry, or shape, determines the effectiveness of the mixing
action which occurs when the beer/mead is fermenting. The more effective
that the mixing is, the faster the beer/mead will ferment. It has been
shown that cylindroconical fermentation vessels provide the best mixing
action due the efficiency of the vertical transport of the liquid caused by
the evolution of CO2 by the fermenting yeast.

BTW…a cube is a cube is a cube. Increasing a container's size doesn't
change it's geometry, merely it's size. While some physical differences
will be noted (nod to the heating cooling effect), the effect on mixing
theoretically is nil.

Lastly, sure I'm down on dry yeast. Does that mean I never use it? Of
course not. The quality of your wine yeast smack packs aside, live, liquid
cultures of yeast tend to be cleaner, healthier and all around better than
dry packets. The best solution is to brew frequently enough that you can
repitch the slurry from one batch to another; start with a dry yeast and
then keep using it (ta-da, instant liquid yeast) by harvesting from each
batch. Are you telling me that after spending $20-30 on honey and god
knows how much more for fresh fruits that you're going to skimp on the one
thing which more than anything else determines the finished product?
That's what I call penny wise and pound foolish. I won't ever waste an
entire day brewing a batch of beer and pitch a $0.70 pack of god knows how
old dry yeast into it. Unfortunately, as you point out, there is a lack of
quality liquid wine yeasts out there (hey sounds like a wide open market
for some motivated entrepreneur) so I'm forced to compromise there.

And yes, you would be better off using a starter when using dry yeasts.
You'll eliminate the lag time and give the wee beasties less opportunity to
spoil your nectar.

Please untie me from the whipping post now. Thanks

Charles Hudak

Brewer, Chemist and Know-it-all at large

Subject: Mazer Cup
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 17:18:51 -0400

Joyce, et al…

After some discussion with Dan, We have decided to postpone (yet
again) the Mazer Cup for precisely that reason (UPS strike). Even
though it seemed like a settlement might occur soon, we figured that
the backlog of packages in the queue and still sitting on people's
docks might throw our shipping certainty to the wind. As it turns
out, the Chicago hub is still on strike, and they handle a massive
volume for the Midwest.

We have placed the "Entries Due" Dateline from Oct 20 – Nov 1, with
judging the following weekend. Same Eight categories, Entry fee
$6.00/per, with the option of an Evaluation Only entry fee of $3.00
for those seeking info on how to improve a mead, or simply a
different set of subjective comments.

For those with last year's forms, they can be re-used. If you
require new forms, please let me know by E-Mail at the above address,
or phone (248) 816-1592 for snail mail copies. Entries should be
shipped to:

c/o Ken Schramm
1454 McManus
Troy, MI 48084

Please make all checks payable to Ken Schramm.

Additional mazers available again this year for $35.00 – all proceeds
benefit MCMC.

Subject: FW: Melomel?
From: "Fritz, Kent" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 04:55:13 -0700

>Sent: Friday, August 22, 1997 4:51:10 AM
>To: Fritz, Kent
>Subject: Melomel?
>Auto forwarded by a Rule
I'm getting ready to make a melomel? soon, using Welch's white
grape/peach in the mix. With my last three pmeads I put all the honey in
at once (12-15 lbs per 5 gal) with no ill affects. in fact two were great
(one was too dry for my taste, I should have added more). Am I like the
bee that makes the honey, and just don't know I can't fly so I do
(referring to my method and those infamous bee weight to wing flap flap
ratios), or have I just been lucky? I've only recently heard of this
gradual honey addition stuff. When you are predominately your own
teacher, you tend to repeat alot of mistakes that others have already
done and learned from. Private e-mail OK. MLDFWD
I'd rather have this bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy –
Wizard from "Existential Blues"
Paul Haaf

Subject: Maple Mead
From: "Reed,Randy" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 09:56:43 -0400

I've just returned from vacation in Maine. Started thinking about
using pure Maple Syrup for a mead, and bought 5 quarts. Now I am
wondering if anyone has had good experience to share when making a
maple mead. What yeast, other ingredients, examples, ideas…etc.

Thanks in advance

Randy Reed
South Shore Brew Club

Subject: My mead goes to 11
From: Joyce Miller <>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 19:29:59 -0400 (EDT)

>From: Christopher Ravlin <>:
>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.

Well, according to John Gorman's formula (which can be found in The Bee's
Lees), that comes out to about a 1.178 starting gravity, or about 23.2%
potential alcohol. This is probably beyond even champagne yeast.

Diluting it by about 2/3 will bring it down to a starting gravity of about
1.059, or 7.7% alcohol, which is well within the reach of your sherry yeast.

>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

Repitch the same yeast, and later try gelatin or bentonite to clear, if needed.

Be patient. You gave the yeast a lot to do.

  • — Joyce

Subject: Re: Too much honey, Chris Ravlin MLD  #588
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 14:14:21 +0000

Too much honey in the mead? I've not had that problem myself but I
have heard of others using what you might call an "incremental

First decide how much of your overly strong mead to add to a final
volume of 5 gal to make the final concentration you want. Example:
wanted 15 lb/5 gal, so need to add 15/60, or 1/4, of the original 12.5
gal (= 3.125 gal) to more water, diluting to 5 gal.

As it is very hard to make new yeast start in the high alcohol
environment, you, make a small starter with a little more honey,
perhaps 1/2 lb in 1 qt. When the new yeast is working well, add an
equal volume of the concentrated mead with an equal volume of water to
the starter (eg 1 qt concentrated + 1 qt water). When this is working
well, add another volume of concentrated and water equal to the new
volume (eg 3 qts concentrated + 3 qts water). Repeat again with the
new volume (eq 9qts + 9 qts) when this is working well, until you
have added the amount of concentrated mead and water you need to reach
5 gal. You will not add an equal amount of concentrated mead and
water at the end, but add equal amounts until you add all the water
you need (about 1.25 gal in this example) then add just concentrated

While a pain, this procedure lets your new yeast get used to the
alcohol and concentration gradually, and it should finish and clear
like a normal mead.

Best of luck,


Subject: Dry vs Liquid yeast
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 17:29:03 -0400 (EDT)

I'll have to agree with Mr. Dunn. It seems to me a terrible waste ($5 for
me!) to spend more money on liquid yeast, when I get better results out of a
$.50 packet of dry yeast. This doesn't hold true to me for beer, but as far
as meads go, I'm sold on the dry yeast (and is it ever easier to handle and
start than liquid yeast).

Dave Fougeron

<<The Middle Earth Mead Guild>>

Subject: Candy Apple Mead
From: "Linda or Darin" <>
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 1997 22:40:55 -0700

Somebody gave Linda this candy cane a christmas or two ago. It was about
1" in diameter, and about 10 or 12" long. It weighed 4oz. That is far
more than she could eat in a year, so she was going to throw it out. I
intervened, saying something about yeast starving in china, and saved it
until today. Today, I pounded it to a corse powder, added 1.5 liters apple
juice, 3# honey, 2 sticks cinamon, 1 tea bag, and D47 yeast. OG of 1.12,
so I expect it will go dry. I *loved* the must. The candy contribution
was just right, and I hope it remains such a good thing when all the
sweetness is gone. I don't know. Maybe I'll have to sweeten this one
after the fermentation…


Subject: yeasts?
From: "Olin J. Schultz" <>
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 1997 10:59:01 -0700

Dick you mentioned that overall you have had better luck with dry yeasts
than liquid. Could you, and anyone else, list those yeasts
with which you have had the most success. I have actually had better
success with the liquids from Wyeast. I have made several side by side
comparisons. I would be delighted to hear of some dry brands that are
giving excellent results.

As a side note the best sweet meads I have made have been with the 3184

sweet mead from Wyeast, but as noted here it is a pretty finicky yeast.
It does not always finish. The worst have been with Vierka dried yeasts
from Germany.


Olin Schultz

Subject: Campden tablets
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 26 Aug 97 20:24:15 MDT (Tue)

> Campden tablets are sodium sulfite.


All that I've seen are potassium metabisulfite. I've read (but not seen)
that sodium metabisulfite could also be used…or perhaps it's that it can
be used to equivalent effect but Campden tablets are potassium, not sure.

But I've not seen sulfite substituted for metabisulfite.

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #589

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