Mead Lover's Digest #0263 Thu 3 February 1994


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



Re: Some of lots more questions (Willie Smith)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #262, 1 February 1994 (Jane Beckman)
Sweeeeeeet Meads. Generalized Methods. (COYOTE)
Why does Champagne have no sediment? (


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Subject: Re: Some of lots more questions
From: (Willie Smith)
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 94 11:32:45 EDT

Jim Sims writes:

>A friend brought me a botlle of "Chaucer's Mead" from the Bargetto
>Winery in Soquel, CA. It was SUPBERB! <insert std disclaimer>

I took a road trip to "As You Like It" meadery/bakeshop/crafts-store
in Fitchburg, MA over the weekend. Their mead was a lot less sweet
than the one we homebrew, but we got a bunch of good tips and bought a
bottle of their orange blossom mead. I wouldn't say it was superb,
and we had a hard time distinguishing between their different flavors
(I would have guessed they were different batches rather than
different flavors, but he's deliberately going for a subtle flavor).
However, we had a good time and would have gotten a bottle of their
clove mead if they had any in stock.

> Any idea what yeast the comemrcial meaderies use?

In this case, they use 'champagne yeast'. I didn't get any details,
but I suspect that our slightly off flavors are coming from either the
yeast (Wyeast Pris De Mousse) or nutrient we're using.

> Any pointer to commercial Meaderies?

Look in the back issues of the digest, there have been several
mentioned in the last 6 months.

> Someone asked me about supplying a (mass) quantity of Mead for an upcomi
>event. Any hints on scaling from 5 gallon recipe to 100 gallons? No, I
>dont wanna make 20 batches 😉

Get two 50-gallon plastic drums… If I wanted 100 gallons I'd
probably go to a commercial meadery and try to make a bulk deal. At
list prices for the commercial meads I've seen, you're talking about
something like $3800, but then that's enough mead for a couple of
_thousand_ people!

> Do any commercial meaderies produce sparkling meads?

Not that I know of. I've got some bottles from a couple of other
commercial meaderies, we'll have to report on them as we try them out.

Definately stop by and get a tour of there's a meadery in your area,
at the very least you'll see how a commercial operation is run, get
some tips (we're going to lower our temperature and let our next batch
really go to completion), and talk to an expert.

Willie Smith
Some people you don't have to satirize, you just quote em – Tom Paxton

Subject: Re:  Mead Lover's Digest #262, 1 February 1994
From: (Jane Beckman)
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 94 10:14:44 PST

>Chaucer's tasted very much of honey, and slightly sweet. Mead's
that I have made were (carnonated and) much drier. How do they
do that?

Wine yeast and super-saturation with honey. I've always suspected that
Chaucer's fortifies their mead with extra honey after stopping the
fermentation. It's an old winemakers trick, and would definitely give you
the honey-syrup taste that Chaucers has. I doubt that simply using a
heavy dose of honey in the initial ferment and "nuking when fermented far
enough" would give the finish of Chaucers. It's *too* sweet and thick for
me to believe that one. Sweeter than, say, a Sauternes our an Auslese, to
give comparable sweet wines—and the body is way too thick. Bargetto is
a master of sugar-saturated fruit wines, so I suspect they do something
similar with honey for their Chaucer's mead. It's also extremely low
acid, and acidity will cut the heaviness of the honey.

Personally, I've always thought of Chaucer's more as something to pour over
ice cream than a mead I want to *drink.* At least in any quantity greater
than a sherry-glass after dinner.



Subject: Sweeeeeeet Meads.  Generalized Methods.
From: COYOTE <>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 1994 11:36:55 -0600 (MDT)

From: Jay Hersh <>

sed RDW. Slow batches are fine (poorly paraphrased.)
… started March 13, 1993!!! … this puppy was 1.157
… take a hydormeter reading again … 2 months ago was 1.070
… get it to go to 1.040….

* All I can say is "Suuuweeeeeeeeeet".

Sounds like nectar Jay. Impuressive. Cha.

I'd have to second the motion. I have a few random 1-2 gallon batches
of things which I try hard to forget about. As toot mentioned to me once,
he's taken the attitude that he's not making these meads/wines to drink,
just making them cuz it's fun to watch them bubble. And they look pretty.
He's never gonna drink them. Just put them aside and forget about 'em.

It works pretty good. The trick is to have enough active- quicker ferments
going on to keep you busy. (e.g. beer – not barleywine style – )
And then someday, after many rackings… eh…you might happen to bottle
it up, and put it away again. (well, a few sips from the hydrometer sample)

I've started putting my wine bottles of mead in liquor boxes, or wine cases
and taping them up. With a label, and tape on the outside. So maybe in a
year I'll crack the seal and sample. (I usually have a couple small
bottles to "check" once in a while- Pop Shop are clear, and a good size- 8oz)

I've been surprised (well maybe not) to see all the new-meadies expecting
ferments of 3 weeks. My beers go that long. Unless you make a REAL LIGHT
mead, you should expect several months- to even as much as a year, if
you're as nutty as JaH (1.157! Zowy. -wiping drool from chin- )

A real generalized rool of thumb for strength/time scales off the
top of my fat head would go as such. You are all welcome to disagree. YMMV

Light- 1 lb/gal Honey 1-3 months Ferment time til bottling
Med- 2 lb/gal 2-5 " aka dittoe
Heavy 3+/gal 4-8

I've had meads which were ready ( likably drinkable ) in 2 months,
but most (read- almost all!) have REALLY benefitted from age.
One's that did last a full year or more were WELL worth the wait.


Then Jim Sims sez

Chaucer's tasted very much of honey, and slightly sweet. Mead's
that I have made were (carnonated and) much drier. How do they
do that? My guesses would be:…rambles on about ideas…..SUMMARY:

Special yeasts: Yes, you can get more or less attenuative yeasts.


2 points here: There is attentuation and alcohol tolerance.
the first= how much of available fermentables will get…fermented.
the second= how much alcohol, i.e., how strong a ferment will be survivable.

I have seen sweet and dry mead yeasts available. You can do a lot with
differences in yeast types, or honey sources, or other flavors…

To make a sweet mead, to what Jay did. Start strong! 3+ lb/gal.
If you go this route, be sure to have adequate nutrients, aeration
and a BIG FULL starter!


Another way to go… keep adding more sugars/honey.
Everytime you rack, top up with a strong syrup. Wait, rack, repeat.


In this way you keep feeding till the yeast hits it's tolerance, dies off
and you continue to sweeten. Less likely to get a stuck ferment this way.


Another option:
(note: Campden won't kill a ferment. Wait for it to stop. Patience!)
AFTER fermentation is COMPLETED… use a stabilizer, K-sorbate,
it will keep fermentation from RENEWING. Then sweeten with syrup and
bottle. (I mean honey syrup. Always predissolve sugars!)


As for clarifiers. I think they are worth using, if needed. I've had meads
clear beautifully w/o them. I've also had ones that never cleared w/o
assistance. Go for the moss in prep stages if you like. There are numerous
others available. Polyclar, isinglass, etc. If you use fruit I recommend
adding pectic enzyme early on. Helps break down plant cell walls.

Sparkle w/o sediment.

Get a kegging system and a counter pressure filler. Maybe even a

filtering system. Ok, ok. If you're not a lucky as me (I've never used
it for meads. YET. Maybe for my wedding, if it ever happens :'/ )


If you bottles in champagne bottles, and store them inverted all the
sediment will settle in the cap. (I find this easier with beer caps at
this point) then freeze the top of the bottle (currently the bottom!)

  • you can use a rock salt/ice bath, dry ice and ethanol will be quicker,

but I don't know if you run a risk of shattered glass from temp. shock???
Once the sediment plug is frozen, you can gently de-invert the bottle, and
open. The pressure should push the plug out. Now fairly quickly re-cap,
or- my preference, pop in a champagne cork, and wire it on. Foil is nice.


There you have it. Clear sparkling champagne- like mead.
It is dissapointing to have a nicely cleared bubbly mead opened,
pour one quick-clear glass, then have the bubbles pull all the
sediment up and cloud every other serving (if you even get ONE clear one!)

Disclaimer: I read about this in books. Tried it once, and couldn't get
the buggers to freeze. May have not been patient enough, or just plum did
it wrong. Chill bottles first, to ALMOST freezing (but not quite!) and get
a real cold ice bath. I think metal caps are a benefit in getting the
yeast plug to freeze. I'll have to try it again.

Jim- you wanna make 100gal! That's a years worth of (allowed) brewing!
(in most states! Not in Utah tho.!!!) Sounds like you gonna have a BIG
event, or lots of SLUSHY people! For that kind of volume you might want
to try to contract a wine/meadery to use such BIG volume. You could
ferment up to 15 gal/batch if you rigged up beer kegs. But that's the
biggest I can imagine, unless you have some 50gal Oak Casks laying around 🙂

Are you RICH??? Or what? Wanna open a brewery for me to work in?


Anywho. Just thought I'd chime in and ramble a bit.

Hope the Mead_recipe_book, whatever it's called is coming along.
Good luck Joyce!

I haven't gotten much additional feedback on the commercial mead sources
so if I can find a minute or five, I'll recompile what I've got and post
it. May be a little while yet though. Kinda bogged with work now. Ugh.

I actually haven't started any new meads for a while. I've got a grape-wine
going from my neighbors foxy grapes. Concord jelly wine??? Maybe- a few years
The Mulberry from June is quite yummy.
The Peach wine is in it's last racking before bottling. Nicely clear & Orange.
I just bottled up my Cyser, VERY clear. The brown sugar Cider is still going.
My first use of fruit conc. is plugging along. It's taken on an almost
brown color, and has cleared but continues to send up bubbles slowly & shirly.
It's a plain mead, with cherry concentrate. The cherry tastes like marashino.
But the mead doesn't, not really. I think I like oregon cherries more.

I still haven't done the fresh-cranberry mead yet. But the cranberry beer
worked out well. Racked secondary onto the fruit. Nice, tart, red.

Well that's the update from Coyote Cellars. Keep 'em bubblin' and wait.



Subject: Why does Champagne have no sediment?
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 94 15:55:46 EST

> From: (Jim Sims)

> Do any commercial meaderies produce sparkling meads? Do they 'naturally'
> carbonate and thus have yeast in the bottle (like mine) or do they carbonate
> like commercial Champagne producers? How do they do that, so as to not have
> 'yeast dregs' in the bottle?

Commercial "champagne" is naturally carbonated. I visited a winery where
they made "champagne" and had it described to me. First off, they use
champagne yeast, which produces a clearer product than other yeasts, they
said. Secondly, when fermentation is complete, they prime with grape juice,
and put the wine in champagne bottles with crown caps on top, and store the
bottles upside down. Every day or so, the bottles are "bumped" to encourage
the sediment to fall to the bottom (onto the cap – the shape of the bottle,
with long, gently sloping shoulders helps this to happen as well).

After the wine is carbonated and the sediment has all collected in the
bottom, the bottles are placed, still upside down, in a super-cooled
solution (below freezing – they use brine or some sort of non-toxic
antifreeze solution) just up to the top of the sediment. So, the
sediment freezes into a solid "plug." They then take the bottles out,
put them in a special jig to hold them safely, and knock the caps off.

The carbonation (they overcarbonate because they are going to lose some
in this step – the champagne bottles are heavy to withstand the
overcarbonation) forces the sediment plug out of the bottle, along with
some wine. The bottles are then topped off with still wine, if
necessary, and corked with a champagne cork and wire cage.

If any sediment is still left in the bottle, the indented shape of the
bottom of the bottle makes it tend to clump in a tiny ring around the edge
of the bottom, where it is less likely to mix back into the wine.

It should be possible to do this at home, although I don't know of anybody
who has, and it sounds like a lot of work. Note that you still can't make a
"sweet champagne" using this method. If anybody does try making a
sparkling mead using this method, please post, we'd like to hear about your

Mike Lindner

End of Mead Lover's Digest #263