Mead Lover's Digest #16 Tue 13 October 1992

Forum for Discussion of Mead Brewing and Consuming
John Dilley, Digest Coordinator


One more question… (Lewis R. Jansen)
Re: yeast starters (Steve Dempsey)
Turbocharging fermentation with spices (Scott Barrett)
Starting Point (Darren Hanson)

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Date: Mon, 12 Oct 92 9:46:17 EDT
From: lrj@helios.TN.CORNELL.EDU (Lewis R. Jansen)
Subject: One more question...

This should be it, honest!

Is there a decent volume to mass conversion for honey? Specifically,

I am soon to be given approx. five gallons of raw honey from a friend's
brother who happens to be a beekeeper. Yah, that's about 50 lb or so.

It's a lot easier for me to measure this off by pints/quarts/gallons

than to try to weigh off the amounts for a batch. Looking at raw honey
at a farmers market, it looks like 12 lb. is about a gallon. Is this
"close enough"?

I hope to have a number of full carboys real soon; apple season is

getting into full swing.

– — Lew

PS: thanks to those who answered my previous questions.

Date: Mon, 12 Oct 92 10:59:30 -0600
From: Steve Dempsey <>
Subject: Re: yeast starters

> (Scott Murphy) writes:
> There currently is a discussion on HBD about yeast starters.
> One camp recommends using a low gravity malt solution with or
> without hops. They argue that the malt solution allows the yeast
> to become aclimatized to the food it will be eating during
> fermentation.
> The others say to use a solution of simple sugars i.e. glucose and
> fructose. These people argue that malt sugars contain more complex
> sugars which may induce the yeast to start converting these sugars.
> This in effect makes a mini batch of beer, instead of more yeast.
> I'm waiting for the smoke to clear.

There is more than smoke clouding the air here.

Yeasts cannot suddenly change their metabolism to adapt to more complex
sugars than they normally consume. Their ability to ferment specific
sugars is determined genetically. Simply providing dextrins, etc. in
a malt based culture medium will not make your yeast evolve in the starter.
The advantage to a malt starter is the nutrients already present in the
medium. You don't have to fuss with selecting appropriate nutrients and
guestimating the right quantity. The yeast will do very well with the
other nutrient components in the malt. Honey is poor in nutrients, being
mostly sugars, so it does not make a good culture medium as-is.

On the other hand, it seems that acclimating the yeast to the target
environment is helpful. I think this has more to do with avoiding shock
by a sudden change in osmotic pressure (high SG), alcohol, or temperature.
I don't know if there is any significant time delay in changing metabolic
pathways for utilizing different sugars. I doubt it's very long considering
the life span and reproductive time of yeast. Perhaps there is no basis
for the claims that you should use culture media similar in composition
to the wort or must that you want to ferment. Any biologists out there
want to comment on this?

If you're concerned about dumping the `mini batch of beer' from the malt
based starter into your mead: slowly chill the starter so the yeast falls
out, pour off most of the liquid, and pitch the yeast sediment from the

When I make starters for mead, I do the same thing I've been doing
for brewing beer. I use some leftover must from a previous batch,
diluted about 50%. This starter has practically the same nutrient
and sugar composition as the batch to ferment, but at a lower SG
to provide a more gradual change in osmotic pressure on the yeast.
It seems to work very well.

================================ Engineering Network Services
Steve Dempsey Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523

================================ +1 303 491 0630

Date: Mon, 12 Oct 1992 14:56:07 -0500
From: adiron!scott@uunet.UU.NET (Scott Barrett)
Subject: Turbocharging fermentation with spices

This weekend, I added spices to a gallon of mead to make my first
metheglin. I placed the spices in the bottom of an empty gallon jug and
racked the mead on top of them. The mead had been fermenting slowly but
constantly for the past 4 months, but immediately after racking it onto the
spices the bubbling took off! It looked like boiling water at the point
just before the boil begins to roll or like an Alka-Seltzer ad on steroids.
The effect lasted for about 45 minutes, after which the bubbling slowed to
a rate slightly greater than that of the original mead.

Has anyone else experienced this effect? Can anyone explain it? My two
best guesses that either the spices (listed below) provided nutrients that
caused the yeast to go into party mode or some chemical reaction caused a
lot of CO2 to either be created or come out of solution. The immediacy of
the effect leads me toward the latter explanation, while the duration of
the effect has me leaning towards the first. I suppose a gravity test
would tell the story, but I don't feel like disturbing the mead to find

The "turbocharging" spice blend (for 1 gallon):

2 tsp fresh ginger (smashed & minced)
2 tsp whole anise seed (crushed)
2 tsp whole cardamom seed (crushed)
2" cinnamon stick (broken)
8 whole cloves (crushed)

Incidently, the effect seems to come from one of the last 4 ingredients,
because the ginger was floating near the top of the jug while the bubbles
were coming from below.

Now, for something completely different:

Is anyone compiling a volume of the recipes submitted to the MLD, along the
lines of The Cat's Meow for the HBD? Maybe it should be called "The Bee's

Yours in brewing,
Scott Barrett

Date: Mon, 12 Oct 92 14:35:14 PDT
From: Darren Hanson <>
Subject: Starting Point

Okay folks, I'm thinking about making the plunge and getting
started brewing. Unlike most people, however, I'm thinking about
not using a "standard" recipe for my first batch, but rather to
start up a bunch of expiramental batches.

What I'm looking for is some tips on general starting points. So
far I've gathered that 12# of honey is about 1 gal in volume.

For a standard mead, it seems like 3# (1 quart) diluted into 1
gallon of water, 1 tsp nutrient, "some" acid balance and yeast.
Ferment until it slows, rack to secondary, let sit until clear,
bottle and let sit anywhere from hours to months to years.

That sounds fine as well as it goes, but what sort of OG and/or
acid level should I be looking for? I assume sweeter meads will
have a higher OG and a lower acid level than dryer meads, but
what sort of range?

For melomels, it seems to be the concensus to freeze then thaw
the fruit. But should I boil it and strain before boiling the
honey, boil with the honey then strain, boil with the honey and
then let ferment in the primary, or do the primary as normal then
add to the secondary? How many cups/pounds/whatever of
fruit/gallon should I use? How much should I let the OG and acid
level move? (I suspect I'll get a higher OG but that I should
keep the acid level the same….)

I've also see suggestions to use a white wine yeast for a sweeter
mead or an ale yeast for a dryer mead. Others have been suggested
that would add a more fruity or nutty taste (I assume from the
esters they produce). What if I want the nutty taste of a sweeter
yeast, but still want a dry mead? Could I combine the two? Could
I use two yeasts with different attenuations to produce a
sparkling mead so that when the first one settled out of the
secondary, I could bottle and let the other slowly finish off in
the bottle?

Some recipes say to just add the yeast to the primary. Some say
to spend as much as several days combining it with malt,
nutrients, and sugars before adding it. I assume the latter just
makes more yeast so it can work faster. Am I missing something?

We apparently have well over 100 people reading this digest. If
you folks could send me your experiences and opinions on all of
the above (be specific with the yeasts you use, your OG, FG, acid
levels, alcohol %, etc if possible….), I'll compile them and
post summaries to the MLD. Or you could all post your
commentaries to the MLD yourself. I think this could be very
helpful to both the begining brewers like myself as well as the
older hands thinking about expiramenting a bit….

Please send all e-mail to me to either: (from the Internet)

  • or –

Darren Hanson, 1:103/271 (from FIDO)

DO NOT send mail to the address I post from. It does not work
reliably for mail receipt. Thanks!
\/ Darren Hanson


Darren Hanson
Compuserve: >

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