Mead Lover's Digest #18 Fri 16 October 1992

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


Starting Point (Roy Rudebusch)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #16 (October 13, 1992) (Robert Crawford)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #16 (October 13, 1992) (Robert Crawford)
Time in carboy (Chuck Coronella)
"Turbo" outgassing (Joseph Nathan Hall)
Mead Yeast (Scott James.)
Campden at transfer/startes (SLK6P)
joining in (misc. short comments) (Dick Dunn)

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 92 06:08:00 -0500 
From: (Roy Rudebusch)
Subject: Starting Point

FROM: roy.rudebusch 

DH:> Is there a decent volume to mass conversion for honey? Specifically,
DH:>I am soon to be given approx. five gallons of raw honey from a friend's
DH:>brother who happens to be a beekeeper. Yah, that's about 50 lb or so.

5 gal should be 60#.

DH:> It's a lot easier for me to measure this off by pints/quarts/gallons
DH:>than to try to weigh off the amounts for a batch.

What works well is to place the fermenter on a scale, zero it in and
dump in the honey.

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

My biologist/homebrewer-turned-fanaticly-sterile/paranoid friend says
that this business about not using a too high a gravity in fear of
osmatic pressure is bunk. His claim is that the yeast need a lot of

If one is concerend about yeast/temp shock when stepping up or
pitching: first rehydrate a pack of yeast in 100F water, stir for 15
minutes, add to 1 cup of 95F starter, let cool to 60F then step up

OLX 2.2 We need you Teddy Roosevelt

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 92 10:14:54 CDT 
From: Robert Crawford <>
Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #16 (October 13, 1992)

From: adiron!scott@uunet.UU.NET (Scott Barrett)

[stuff about rapidly bubbling mead deleted]

> 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.

I would say it was caused by the crushed/broken spices acting

as a "catalyst" for the formation of bubbles. In high school
chemistry, our teacher poured baker's yeast into a test tube of
hydrogen peroxide, and the yeast cells acted thusly…

Robert Crawford

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 92 10:17:02 CDT 
From: Robert Crawford <>
Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #16 (October 13, 1992)

OK, time for a question: I noticed today that the rose bush

growing in front of my apartment has 3 dozen (I counted 'em!) rose
hips on it. They average about a half-inch across (for metric, think
about a centimeter), and a re starting to turn red.

I want to use these in a mead. How can I go about it? We

haven't had a frost yet, so they may not be good, but I have to wait
anyway to buy the honey…

  • "Having a great time, wish you were beer."
    — Garish

Robert Crawford

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 92 10:49 MTS 
Subject: Time in carboy

I have a question regarding the subtleties(sp?) of aging a mead. Now, it's
fairly well recognized that a mead needs to age for a long while, at least
relative to beer. Since reading some recent posts on the MLD, I've started
wondering, where is this aging done for an optimal mead?

Do you let a mead ferment out in a month or two, bottle, and age?
Or, do you let a mead sit in a carboy for a year before bottling? I wonder
whether it really matters much. Obviously, it would be nice to free a
carboy from holding a mead to allow it to move on to more production, e.g.,
brewing beer. (Not all of us have 10 carboys…) But I wouldn't want to
do this at the expense of the quality of my mead!

Part II:

I've heard (can't remember where, but probably rumors on the HBD) that
meads are highly succeptible to oxidation, especially at bottling time.
Any comments?

Chuck (with just one mead under my belt)

P.S. I love the idea of the Mead-Lovers Digest!! Thanks, John!

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 92 13:01:02 EDT 
From: (Joseph Nathan Hall)
Subject: "Turbo" outgassing

A mead that has been in the secondary fermentation stage for a long
time (a few weeks or more) can contain an astonishing quantity of
dissolved CO2. Neither the very light yeast sediment on the bottom of the
fermenter nor the very small quantity of suspended yeast provides
enough nucleation sites for CO2 bubbles to form in quantity. The
CO2 is not removed in a hurry by diffusion if the fermenting vessel
is fitted with an airlock and stopper (it has to diffuse out through
the fluid in the airlock, a slooow process, although a sharp eye
will notice the formation of CO2 bubbles inside airlocks), so the only
way it gets out is as bubbles. I wouldn't be surprised to find that
the fermented mead can actually become supersaturated with CO2 … from
observation I would guess that this is in fact the case.

This becomes evident when you try to siphon the mead, or, of course,
when you dump it onto, say, a bed of spices, which will have nucleation
sites aplenty. I've had "still" mead in gallon jugs come out of a
siphon hose as foamy as beer drawn from a warm keg. I've seen "still"
mead outgas like soda for 24 (or more) hours in bottles with the caps
loosely fitted.

If you want to flatten a mead quick, a dose of Polyclar makes a fine
start. Make sure you have some headspace!

uunet!joebloe!joseph (609) 273-8200 day
2102 Ryan's Run East Rt 38 & 41 Maple Shade NJ 08052

  • —–My employer isn't paying for this, and my opinions are my own—–

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 92 19:15:59 MDT 
From: scojam@scojam.Auto-trol.COM (Scott James.)
Subject: Mead Yeast

I consider myself a novice mead-maker with only two five gallon batches
under my belt 😉

  1. Basic Mead:
    10 lbs honey (clover honey, processed. From local super market chain)
    1 can grape juice extract (condensed for wine; from homebrew shop)
    5 gal. water
    5 grams dry "Pasteur Champagne yeast"

    I let it ferment for 3 months in primary, then bottled; priming with
    1 lb honey disolved in boiling water.
    After six months we (college roomies) couldn't stand the wait and
    broke into the stuff. Due to a bitter taste, we mixed most of it
    into a wine cooler at a party (no flames, please).
    Just recently I tried one of the two remaining 1 year old bottles.
    I was fantastic! Smooth and sparkley! I have one bottle left, I'm
    saving it to share with that special some one…

  2. Strawberry Spiced Mead:
    same as above, except substitute juice extract with 5 lbs frozen
    strawberries and 2 oz. grated ginger root.

    Fermented for 3 months in primary (with fruit). Siphon, prime, bottle.
    Now, (6 months later). I'm a half case shy of the nectar and it's
    betting better.

What should I do?

  • Be patient, let the stuff age.
  • Rack the mead off the fruit after 1 week fermentation (spoilage?)
  • use yeast nutrient?

any comments/suggestions are welcome! I'm thinking of using a Wyeast ale
yeast next time. Maybe more honey. Both have been extremely dry, and I would
like to try a sweeter version.

  • –=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=–
    Scott James scojam@Auto-Trol.COM
    Ham (N0LHX) -:- Guitarist Auto-Trol Technology

HomeBrewer – Student Pilot Denver, Colorado USA

  • –=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=–

Date: 15 Oct 1992 23:15:18 -0600 (MDT) 
Subject: Campden at transfer/startes

Ok ok ok.

Lets start w/ starters. The real purpose of the starter is to increase
the NUMBERS of cells. What has been ignored is the concept of the
relative time of cell division vs. the time of expression of genes/proteins.

A starter culture has the goal of increasing cell numbers to allow a
high number of yeast cells relative to any possible contaminating wild
yeast or bacterial cells.

Granted the condition of the cells will play a role in the quality of the
ferment, the time it takes to activate a particular gene and synthesize
a protein such as a particular enzyme involved in a specific sugar's
digestion is MUCH less (on the order of minutes) than that of cell division
(on the order of a half hour- to an hour). Putting cells into a must
w/o particular enzymes, which will be sitting around for days, weeks,
and months is not going to be detrimental to the final product. Any
enzymes needed will quickly be synthesized and activated by the content
of the must.

The real goal of a starter (again) is to make many cells. Whatever you
find to work- in a convenient, economical and feasible manner- should
be satisfactory. But keep in mind, most homebrewers don't enjoy the
flavors imparted by the use of corn sugar. Therefore it might be worth
using something closer to beer wort (for beer). For a mead, honey alone
is known to be inadequate to support happy yeast alone. Honey and yeast
nutrient are sufficient. Then again, grape juice, orange juice, or something
more complex like them should work well. Some people don't like the idea
of adding beer wort to their mead (esp if it hopped!).

During the lag time experienced in any ferment (despite the initial number
of cells obtained from a starter) when cells are dividing there well be
more than sufficient time for the expression of all enzymes needed.
So- bottom line of all this babble- make sure they are happy initially,
and just go for it. Don't worry too much. Just be sure your starter solutions
and equipment are sterile. Contaminating a starter is bad news.

NOW Why would one want to add campden tablets when transfering to a
secondary or tertiary as Scott had heard about?
You only want to kill the yeast at the end if your goal is a still mead.
Stabilizers will do it w/o the sulfer. Perhaps you misinterpreted.
I can see adding CLARIFIERS like isinglass or bentoinite to help
sediment out particles. That is what all the transfers are for.
Not killing yeast, but getting away from sediment. Save the campdens for
the start or end- if that's your method, but keep them out of the middle!

Sterilizing fermenters: Sure chlorine solutions, stronger solutions of
campden or any other suitable sterilant should work fine. There are many
alternatives on the market. A number of which were discussed on the HBD
a while back with reference to sterilizing stainless steel soda kegs.

Good luck to you all.
Time to start a Cranberry Mead. Brew On.

(and correct me at will! I'm no GOD! Just a Guru! A legend in my own mind!)

John (The Coyote) Wyllie

Date: 16 Oct 92 00:49:33 MDT (Fri) 
From: (Dick Dunn)
Subject: joining in (misc. short comments)

Seems like all of a sudden I found an issue with several articles I wanted
to toss in my tuppence on, but hardly sixpence for the lot…

lrj@helios.TN.CORNELL.EDU (Lewis R. Jansen):
> Is there a decent volume to mass conversion for honey?…

> 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"?

Yes. Also, since water is about 8 lb per gallon (within a few percent) you
can figure that the SG of honey is 1.5 in order to calculate starting
gravity to a good approximation. This doesn't get you close enough to do
good figures on potential alcohol (for which you want hydrometer readings),
but it's good for working out recipes. For example, with a gallon of honey
in a five gallon batch, you've got a gallon @ 1.5 and 4 gallons at 1.0;
your starting gravity is (1.5 + 4)/5, or about 1.1.
_ _ _ _ _

About the yeast-starter discussion: Mead really isn't very finicky. You
need to get the yeast started on something it can eat, and you need to get
it some nutrients before too long, but the nutrients don't need to be there
from day 0. That means they can go into the fermenter rather than the
starter (and I'd prefer to put them there…it just seems to make more
sense to put the tsp of nutrient in 5 gal to give it the recommended con-
centration than in 12 oz or so of starter which gives 50x concentration).
It's really not necessary to bother with malt or anything like that, nor
do you need to acid-balance the starter. You can if you wish. Quite
simply, the yeast don't spend enough time in the starter to worry about
longer-term issues. If I were to worry (which I don't), I'd be con-
cerned about the sugar concentration not being too high at the start.
_ _ _ _ _

adiron!scott@uunet.UU.NET (Scott Barrett) talks about "Turbocharging
fermentation with spices" – adding spices to fermenting mead:

> …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?…

Playing with beer and mead, and various odd bits like oak chips, herbs,
etc., over the years, I'd bet that it's a matter of having a lot of
dissolved CO2 coming out of solution because you've given it a bunch of
sharp edges to collect bubbles. As far as I can tell (and this is
experience, not theory), you can put a whole*bunch of CO2 in solution in
a quietly-fermenting mead. For example, I've had a mead ferment for months,
to where it seems like it must be stable, and brought it upstairs to
bottle. I let the carboy sit quietly to settle after the trip upstairs,
before racking into the container from which I will bottle…and the fool
thing sits there blorping out the fermentation lock like a new mead just
starting to ferment! A combination of a little agitation and a temp change
pushes out a remarkable amount of CO2, so if you give the CO2 something to
collect on, it's likely to go crazy for a bit. The time period (45 min)
also lends credence to this…it's a lot quicker than you'd expect for a
shift in yeast metabolism.
_ _ _ _ _

Darren Hanson <> says:

> 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.

OK if you want, but I'd suggest against it. The thing is, it helps a lot
to get the technique sorted out while you're using a standard recipe or
two, then experiment when you've got something to compare against. If you
start experimenting right from 0, you're going to be lacking references.
If you get fermentation troubles, odd tastes, etc., you won't know what to

Darryl also asks a variety of intriguing questions…

> For melomels, it seems to be the concensus to freeze then thaw
> the fruit…

I don't buy that. I suppose a lot of us do that, de facto, because we
start with frozen fruit!

The one thing you want to avoid with fruit is getting a bunch of mushed-
up pulp in the fermenter…it will make racking an absolute hell! We made
an apricot melomel and got the apricots chopped up too much…they turned
to a mush. The mead was delicious, but I still remember vividly the mess
of racking…and it was almost ten years ago!

> How many cups/pounds/whatever of fruit/gallon should I use?…

Depends on several factors:

  • the type of fruit (This can surprise you…some fruits come
    through much more aggressively than others.)
  • whole fruit or juice?
  • how much fruit character you want

For example, some berries really come to the fore. Boysenberries are quite
forward. But pomegranate (ah, there was another epic mess, fortunately all
before the fermenter) – I suspect you could use a couple gallons of pome-
granate juice in a 5-gal batch without overwhelming the final result.

> 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)…

Ale yeast will definitely add flavors of its own, much moreso than wine
yeast. However, at least the ale yeasts I've tried will pack up and go
home at a lower alcohol content than I'd like.

Sweet vs dry, at the simple level you don't want to try to control this
with the extent of fermentation. (Too much of a chance of mistaking a
stuck fermentation for a complete fermentation, ending up with 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?

Get the yeast started, enough to build up volume, before adding it to the
main fermenter. Don't worry, don't fuss, but definitely don't spend
several days cranking it up! The more time you spend on the starter, the
more time to cause the starter to spoil, which really un-does all the good.

The issue is "lag time"–the time between when it's ready to start fer-
menting and when the yeast population is large enough to make it go
quickly. You want to avoid having five gallons of bacterial culture
medium with no alcohol to discourage the bacteria, and the only real way to
do this is to get fermentation started quickly. So you start the yeast in
a small container of <something sweet> until it's really cookin', then make
the main batch, cool it, and add the yeast. It should take less than 12
hours to have vigorous fermentation in the primary.

Dick Dunn -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado

…Never offend with style when you can offend with substance.

End of Mead Lover's Digest