Mead Lover's Digest #0320 Fri 24 June 1994


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



Burgandy Mead ("Lehnherr, Pat J.")
Re: spiced mead (Joyce Miller)
Spices in mead (Robert H. Reed)
chile mead (?!?) (Dick Dunn)
Where's the book!?!?? (Aaron Morris)
Spices: amounts (PASCAL MERTENS)


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Subject: Burgandy Mead
From: "Lehnherr, Pat J." <>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 94 08:07:00 cdt

As a steward in the mead category for the KC Biermeister's February Homebrew
Competition, I had the chance to taste an excellent Burgandy Mead. It was
good enough to garner a ribbon although I don't remember how it placed.

I did remember the spectacular taste though and am going to try to make some
myself. I've bought two 48 ounce cans of the California Burgandy Wine
extract and have access to a wide variety of honey. My questions are:

What proportion of burgandy/honey should I use for balance?

What would be a good choice for honey types? Clover? Alfalfa? Buckwheat (I
don't think so), Black Locust?

What type of yeast should I use to get a moderately dry product (F.G. ~
1.002 or so)?

Will I need acid blend if I'm using a burgandy extract?

Thanks in advance for your help. I've only made 5 batches of mead and only
three of which have aged enough to drink. Any suggestions would be


Subject: Re: spiced mead
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 94 09:21:13 -0400

Scott —

Cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves all sound like good choices. I have no idea
about the Darjeeling tea. [Ginger is the only spice that I've had trouble
with so far — it imparts a nasty bitterness that takes awhile to age out]

My brewing notebook is at home, but amounts of about 1 teaspoon of the
cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of the cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom sound about
right. These amounts probably won't blow your tastebuds right off your
tongue. Remember, if you want it stronger, you can always just do it

Bear in mind, though, that the only thing I've ever spiced was a hippocras
(it was a wild grape mead), and it was fairly sweet, which is much more
forgiving. With a dry mead, any off-flavors and imbalances are much more

Most of what I have read on spicing suggests either:
1: Making a "tea" (steeping the spices in water, then adding it to the mead), or
2: Putting the spices in a bag (like an _unused_ hop bag), and letting them
dangle into the mead until it tastes the way you like it.

I don't recommend #1 — many spices do not extract well in water. I
recommend #2. In fact, given that cardamom extracts fast & strong,
relative to cloves and cinnamon (cardamom >> cloves >> cinnamon), I would
put each of them in it's own separate cheesecloth/nylon bag. That way, you
can just yank out one spice if it's done first. Doing this part in a
brewing bucket (rather than a carboy) would make the whole steeping/tasting
process easier, as well. Actually, ground spices would probably go right
through a cloth bag — how about a big "teabag" kludged up from a coffee

Something that I've been meaning to try is to extract spices in grain
alcohol or vodka. Then you can just add each flavored alcohol until it
tastes just right.

I wish that I could give you more precise advice on amounts of spices to
use, but so much depends on the spices you're using (ground vs. whole, how
old they are, etc.), and the "extractive power" of your mead, and also on
the "base flavor" of the mead itself. Just go ahead, and do it in a way
that gives you the widest margin for changing your mind!! 🙂

Good luck!


  • – Joyce


Subject: Spices in mead
From: Robert H. Reed <>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 1994 14:41:34 -0500 (CDT)

Scott asks about spices in mead:

I think Randy Mosher's idea of steeping spices, tea, etc. in
vodka (I believe it was Randy) for several weeks and then adding them
prior to bottling seems like the best way to go. If you dose a
serving of mead with sufficient spices to meet your tastes and then
scale the per serving amount up to your batch size, I believe you
can get into the ballpark.

I have not tried this technique, so I can't give you any specific
suggestions, but I believe this technique is described in Randy's new

Rob Reed

Subject: chile mead (?!?)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 22 Jun 94 23:45:55 MDT (Wed)

(This note is going to both the Mead-Lovers and Chile-Heads lists.)

A few days back, Steven Rezsutek <> wrote on
the Chile-Heads mailing list:
> Hmmm…. Habanero Wine, anyone?? Or maybe a mead? 😉

I'm not sure why he added the ";-)"; it seems a perfectly reasonable idea
to me. 😉

After a bit of preliminary experimentation, I made a green chile mead not
long ago. (OK, it's actually a melomel, and that's the last time I'll make
that apology.) Herewith, assorted notes on the process and the result.

Based on the chiles I used–typical large fleshy New Mexico green chiles,
of the sort you'd use for chiles rellenos, and not particularly hot–I
don't think I'd even try a habanero mead. Apparently, the combination
of the fermentation process (which tends to break down fruits) and the
alcohol produced is quite efficient at extracting the capsaicin. More
than that, once you've got it in a liquid, it's all Right There in your
mouth…you don't have to chew anything to release the heat. What I'm
getting at is that it's rather hot…not ohmyghod-salsa hot, but quite hot
for something you encounter in your wine-glass. I made a 3-gallon batch
and I expect to have no trouble hanging on to it long enough to have a
bottle or two to welcome the next millenium. The green chile character
comes through very well–both the heat and the taste of the chiles. The
color is pale straw; there's only a hint of green if you imagine that it
should be so.

Recipe notes: Honey 2 lb per gallon, mostly mesquite honey. About 1 lb
of green chiles per gallon. Chiles were peeled, veined and seeded, then
chopped to about 1 cm squares. Yeast was Wyeast 3632 (dry mead). I used a
touch of acid blend and some yeast hulls; I don't know whether either of
these was actually necessary. It fermented with the chiles for about a
week in a plastic-pail fermenter, then I racked it off the chiles to glass
and bottled it four weeks after that (five weeks total). It was fermen-
ted out completely, then primed very lightly at bottling for slight
carbonation. OG 1.064, FG 0.993, which works out to 9.5-10% alc v/v (low
end of wine strength).

If I were to do it again, I would look for chiles which are relatively
mild but very flavorful, and I'd cut the quantity back to perhaps 3/4 lb
per gallon of mead. Don't underestimate how much heat you can get out of
chiles in fermentation! It's no trick to get as much heat as you want; the
trick is to get enough chile flavor without devastating heat.

One real dilemma with this mead, somewhat ironically now that I've got a
bunch of it, is "when/how to serve it". I'd welcome suggestions. On the
one hand, it begs to be served with food, but on the other hand, the
"normal" style is to serve hot food with a refreshing beverage to cut the
heat. If the beverage is hot, should the food be mild to invert the sense
of the pairing? The taste of the mead suggests New Mexico food to go
with…but…imagine the person who finds the food a bit hot and even
knowing about the mead, instinctively grabs and gulps liquid, only to find
it hotter than the food! Then what? You can see the dilemma. How would
*you* serve this stuff?

Dick Dunn -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado USA

…Simpler is better.


Subject:      Where's the book!?!??
From: Aaron Morris <>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 94 08:24:07 EDT

Well, it's the height of the fresh fruit season and I was sorta
wonderin' if the recipe book will be released before the fresh fruits
are gone. Strawberries anyone? Fresh peaches! Lucious Blueberries
for some Jamaica Blue! Sure could use those recipes! Archives are
helpful, but not complete :-/ Guess I'll just have brew my tried
and true Raspberry recipe while I'm waiting and hoping that the
recipe book is released.

A's Bees' Raspberry Mead


1 gallon Honey (I keep bees and use my own wildflower honey, no

dominate flowers, but a blend of what the season
had to offer).

11 pints of raspberries (I buy 12, but inevitably eat a pint in

the process)

Bottled water to yield 5+ gallons in the primary fermenter
12 oz apple juice (starter for the yeast)
1 package Dry Champaigne Yeast


Boil honey and six quarts water for 15-20 minutes, skimming any gunk
that floats on the top. I process the raspberries in a Squeezo (a
machine that separates pulp and juice from seeds). I rinse the seeds
with a quart of water and then add the pulp, juice and rinse water
(no seeds) to the brewpot, after turning off the heat. Let this
steep for about 20 minutes.

I ferment in glass carboys, so I first pour about 2 1/2 gallons
of water into a six gallon carboy. Then pour the honey/raspberry
must into the carboy, bringing the volume up to about five and a
half gallons.

After the must has cooled, add the yeast, which was started the
day before in a started flask of 12 oz sterile apple juice.
Believing that a good mead is not made over night, I let things
ferment and stay in the primary for up to four months in a cool
basement. A blowoff hose is a good idea for the first week or
so, after which time it can be replaced with an air lock. After
four months the mead will have cleared somewhat and will be ready
to decant into a five gallon carboy to within an inch from the
top. Let the 5 gallon carboy age for another 4 or 5 months.
Then, bottle ten 750 ml bottles and decant the rest into a three
gallon carboy. Squirrell away the 3 gallon carboy for a rainy
day (it will only get better), and enjoy the ten bottles on
special occasions (like any day of the week with a 'Y' in it).

This is a truely delicious beverage, winning high praise from
even the snobbiest of wine aficionados! I think I'll open a
bottle this evening while I'm longing for the recipe book.

Subject: Spices: amounts
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 1994 20:50:47 +0100

Scott is asking about the amount of spices to use in a dry mead.
I also have a problem with spices.
I made a mead one year ago with the following recipe:
7.5 kg honey (16.5lbs) for 21 liters (5.5 gallons) final volume
half a coffee spoon ginger
two cs cinnamon
half a cs nutmeg
half a cs clove
one cs citric acid
four cs Nutrisal (nutritive salts; don't know the salts in that stuff)
Yeast is Steinberg
Fermentation was OK and after 5 months the mead was clear
At that time it was not dry but not very sweet neither in spite of the quantity
of honey used but there was almost no taste coming from the spices
I raked at this time and tasted a few days ago but it has not improved

I remember that in one of the MLD issues (probably in the early beginning of the
digest) someone wrote that the taste was lowered in a sweet mead as compared to
a dry one
So probably the quantities I used are sufficient for a dry mead but not for a sw
eet one
I intend to rise up the spices taste before bottling either by making a "tea" of
the spices and addind it into the carboy or by making an infusion of the spices
in a small volume of pure alcohol and then adding it into the carboy.
Does anyone have some experience in doing this ?
What is the best way to do it and what are the quantities to be used in such a t
ea or alcohol infusion.

Does anyone have tried to make a rhubarb melomel?
I have made a rhubarb wine last year and it is not bad at all. I think I'm going
to try a melomel with rhubarb but don't have heard about such a drink. If someo
ne has a special recipe (especially for the yeast to use) it would be nice.
Pascal Mertens

End of Mead Lover's Digest #320