Mead Lover's Digest #0283 Thu 24 March 1994


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



RE:Subject: Why homebrewers boil and fart. (Chris McDermott)
How to Clarify Mead with Bentonite (John Gorman)


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Subject: RE:Subject: Why homebrewers boil and fart.
From: Chris McDermott - NOS/PCI Engineering - DTN 266-5570 24-Mar-1994 0938 -05

00 <"5062::mcdermott">

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 94 12:54:33 EST


>RE:Subject: Why homebrewers boil and fart.

>Why homebrewers boil and fart.

>Homebrewers have to use sanitary technique, including boiling the wort
>to avoid contamination and off-flavors from non-yeastie beasties.

True, but far from complete. Boiling the wort (as opposed to the must) brings
about many reactions that are needed for beer making including coagulation of
protiens and isomerazation of hop compounds which without either of these your
beer will infact suck.

>The reason for this is that barley stores its energy in the form of
>a carbohydrate (starch), which consists of long chains of sugar
>molecules strung together. The barley is soaked and sprouted (malted.)
>In order to sprout and grow, the barley needs to convert the starch
>into sugar, so it forms enzymes that split the long chains of sugar
>molecules into pieces.

[stuff deleted – see orignal post]

All of this is more or less true but has little to do with why wort must be

>In summation, there is no need for sanitary technique in meadmaking.
>I have made 30 five gallon batches of all kinds without any heating
>or chemical sanitization of honey, berries, etc, without a single
>case of contamination. I just mix in the honey, warm water, yeast
>nutrient, and yeast, along with any fruit. Takes a half hour!

Probably true, but keeping things a clean as possible will not hurt. I would
agree that there is no need to boil the must or pasturize or sanatize your
fruit. However I would argue that the reason is that undesirable
micro-organisms have a much more difficult time growing in this must than the do

in beer wort.

>Oh, yes. Homebrewers fart because: 1) live yeast from the beer
>grows in our intestines. 2) Those leftover higher sugars in the
>beer are eaten by our own personal intestinal beasties. Reason two
>is also why beans make us fart. Beans contain higher sugars too.
>Maybe beer competitions could serve Beano cocktails every two hours!

Again close but no cigar. Many people's bodies do not produce enough of the
enzymes needed to digest these higher sugars, they are called enzyme difficient.

So these higher sugars sit around in your intestants and get eaten by the
"intenstinal beasties" that produce methane and other fun gases. Thats why
Beano works, it is nothing more than a dose of enzymes that allow you to digest
these sugars before the beasties turn your body into a gas works.

>- john


>John Gorman
>Relational Semantics, Inc. 617-926-0979
>17 Mount Auburn Street Watertown MA 02172 USA

> >——————————

For those of you who don't know, John's brother Bob is a world class homebrewer
with many awards. He knows this stuff backwards and forwards and probably even
mutters about it in his sleep, so I suspect that John may be pulling our legs a
little on this one.

Chris McDermott

Subject: How to Clarify Mead with Bentonite
From: (John Gorman)
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 1994 18:08:46 EST

john hubbert writes:

> John,


> I read with interest your article in Mead Lover's Digest, #282.


> So just how does one clarify mead with bentonite? Where do you
> get the stuff?


Bentonite is pure powdered clay and is used in wine and mead
making. It is inert and tasteless. You can get it at your local
homebrew shop or by mail order quite inexpensively.

Bentonite is used during racking to flocculate out the leftover
yeast so that it settles to the bottom, leaving crystal clear
mead behind. The clay particles are tiny flat sheets of mineral
with minute electric charges sticking out at the edges. These
charges attract the yeast cells, which then stick together in
visible clumps that settle out rapidly.

The time to bentonite is any time after active bubbling ceases. If
you bentonite while there is still fermentation activity, the yeast
that settles to the bottom will keep bubbling and re-cloud the mead.
If you use a yeast nutrient, fermentation will proceed rapidly and
cease in a month or so. By using bentonite, your mead will be clear
and ready to bottle in a few days, freeing your carboy for more mead!


Use 1/2 tsp per gallon. To prepare the bentonite for 5 gallons,
boil 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Pre-measure 2 1/2 tsp of
bentonite granules into a small bowl. As the water boils, SLOWLY
sprinkle in the bentonite, stirring occasionally with a fork.

If you sprinkle it in too fast, the granules will stick together
as they absorb water, making large thick clots, which is not
what you want. If that happens, just throw it out and try again.

If you sprinkle just right into the boiling water, it will stay
soupy. Take it off of the heat and store covered for 24 hours
while the clay goes completely into suspension.


Fill a clean pot with water, and bring it to a roiling boil for
10 minutes to drive off all of the oxygen. This water will be
used after racking to fill up the head space. If you leave a
head space after racking, the oxygen in the head space air will
get into the mead and produce flat off flavors.

Stir the bentonite mixture with a fork to get it all into
suspension. Pour the bentonite mixture into the second carboy.
Then rack from the first carboy into the second. Avoid splashing
which will oxygenate the mead. Top off the head space with the
boiled water. Stir the mixture thoroughly without splashing by
rotating your J-tube in the carboy.

The bentonite will bind with the yeast into visible particles
and flocculate out fairly quickly. After two days or so, it will
all be resting in the bottom 1/2 inch of the carboy.

Sometimes there is so much yeast in a mead that the first
bentonite cannot flocculate out all of the yeast. In that
case, do it again. The result will be crystal clear.


  • john


John Gorman
Relational Semantics, Inc. 617-926-0979
17 Mount Auburn Street Watertown MA 02172 USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #283