Mead Lover's Digest #0339 Tue 16 August 1994


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



Mead Spices. #1 Woodruff. (COYOTE)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #338, 14 August 1994 (Dennis Davison)
1994 Mazer Cup Winners ("Daniel F McConnell")
Re: Pasteurizing (Joyce Miller)
Digbie: Some Notes about Honey (Joyce Miller)
Re: enzymes in honey (Ralph Snel)
Methanol (Kelly Jones)
misc questions (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: Mead Spices.  #1  Woodruff.
From: COYOTE <>
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 1994 13:04:37 -0600 (MDT)

As luck (and time) would have it, I've begun my quest.

(Thanks Dick for posting that lovely list. Now if only I can figure
out the local names of a few of those, and as stated- "the safety factor")

I aquired some fresh SWEET WOODRUFF from the neighbors garden.
Pulled a few cuttings for growing, and the rest for mead-brewing.

I didn't have an exact measure, but it was a good handful.
Used about 6 # of honey for 2.5 gal. A large was went in at the
beginning of the boil. A small clump at the end.

Simple mead, no skimming, no acid, no tannin. Just plain honey,
and whatever the woodruff wants to add. Champagne yeast.

For those unfamiliar: Woodruff has a subtle "sweet grass" kind of smell
to it when crumpled in the hands. It did impart that aroma to the must.
It was hard to acknowledge over the overwhelming sweetness of the honey
itself. Perhaps after the honey has fermented out the woodruff's sweetness
will linger. (to stack the deck, I will probably make a fresh tea from
more leaves and add to half at bottling time.)

I also aquired 60# of fresh-raw alfalfa/clover honey from Vernal Utah.
The nice price of $45 including a bucket with a pouring spout. (~75c/lb)

So now I'm supplied to work on other experiments with herbs.
Sun teas have opened a new avenue of herb enjoyment for me.
But I trust herb meads hold a grand-er promise!
Using the dregs from these first two as my yeast starter I hope to line
up a number of gallon jugs with one herb each. I guess it would be good to
heat the herbs a bit??? Perhaps I'll just make mini-sun tea bottles
(mason jars of each) and add those to the gallon jugs (brainstorming-forgive


I'll review that nice list, and see what I have that I feel like trying.
Basil, tarragon, oregano, thyme. Lemon balm might complement mint well?

Good brew to you all. John-The Coyote- Wyllie

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #338, 14 August 1994
From: (Dennis Davison)
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 1994 18:08:44 -0400

Just picked up some Cranberry Blossom Honey. Anyone have any experience
with it. One person I talked to mentioned adding some liquid smoke to it.
Sounds interesting. Might split the batch for that though.

Dennis Davison Milwaukee, WI

Date: Sun, 14 Aug 94 21:12:26

A recent case came into our local country hospital. We live in a rural,
tropical (Hawaii) climate and our medical services aren't necessarily
state-of-the-art. An infant came down with botulism (sp?) from being
breast-fed by her mother. The mother's diet included honey, which was said to
be the source of the microbe. The doctors said that this is a very rare case.
My question is, is there any similar danger for the mead maker in his/her
honey? Your input is appreciated. Aloha. Stop in and see us when you're
in Hawaii.

Subject: 1994 Mazer Cup Winners
From: "Daniel F McConnell" <>
Date: 15 Aug 1994 08:00:33 -0400

Subject:  1994 Mazer Cup Winners

Here is the list of first, second and third place winners for the 1994
Mazer Cup Mead Competition. I will post the winners circle of recipes
when I get it finished (later this week). This year we had 101 entries,
a 20% increase over last year, very few of which came from our local
group. The quality was extremely high, better by far than last year and
I would venture to say, better overall than I judged at the AHA National.

Congratulations to all of the entrants and especially to the winners for
making this competition a pleasure to run and an even greater pleasure
to taste. This is truly a hedonistic experience of color, aroma and flavor.
A special thanks to our electronic friends, especialy our e-Stewards and
e-Judges (you know who you are).

Category Place Meadmaster




Traditional 1 Best of Show POLLARD, ROBERT



Melomel 1 KIME, ROBERT









Hippocras 1 MILLER, JOYCE









Dan McConnell/Ken Schramm

Subject: Re: Pasteurizing
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 1994 09:20:48 -0400

>A winemaker friend of mine told me that even though he never heats the
>must of his grape/fruit wines, he pasteurized his first mead because
>someone told him that honey contained enzymes that would prevent
>fermentation. I don't think this can be correct—Does anyone know if
>this claim has any basis in reality?

I don't think so, there's plenty of people on this list who treat mead like
wine, i.e., they don't heat the must at all.

>Also, I'm still curious about medieval meading (before Digby, before
>malt&hops-type ale). Gayre seems to think they had a good thing going
>back then, but he is not too specific about technique. If they didn't
>heat their musts, then did they sanitize them in any way? What type
>of yeast (if any) did they add?

I have no hard data or references, but this is my impression from talking
to friends who have studied a lot of medieval cooking: they probably
boiled the must, just like beer, and they used the "barm" (dried yeast
cake) from the previous batch. This barm was also used for baking bread
and cakes. Note: this does NOT mean that they used bread yeast for
brewing, but rather the opposite, they used the brewing yeast for baking.
In Digby, you'll notice, there are also recipes where he says to add no
yeast, and to cool it in a "cooler", probably similar to the cool ship used
by Belgian lambic brewers since the Middle Ages — it's a big flat pan,
suitable for cooling large amounts of liquid quickly, and for having your
must seeded by wild yeasts.

I am reminded of Saint Arnoldus in Belgium (and the patron Saint of Belgian
brewers), who performed the miracle of curing a village of the plague
(probably cholera or dysentery) — he took his Bishop's crozier, stuck it
into a vat of hot beer wort, and commanded the villagers to drink of it and
nothing else. The village was cured, of course.


  • – Joyce


Subject: Digbie: Some Notes about Honey
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 1994 09:38:23 -0400

>From Kenelme Digbie, 1669:

Some Notes about Honey

The Honey of dry open Countries, where there is much Wild thyme,

Rosemary, and Flowers, is best. It is of three sorts, Virgin-honey, Life
honey, and Stock-honey. The first is the best. The Life-honey next. The
Virgin honey is of Bees, that swarmed the Spring before, and are taken up
in Autumn; and is made best by chafing the Whitest combs of the Hive, and
then letting the Honey run out of them lying upon a Sieve without pressing
it, or breaking of the Combs. The Life honey is of the same combs broken
after the Virgin honey is run from it; The Merchants of Honey do use to
mingle all the sorts together. The first of a swarm is called
Virgin-honey. That of the next year, after the Swarm was hatched, is
Life-honey. And ever after, it is Honey of Old-stocks. Honey that is
forced out of the Combs, will always taste of Wax. Hampshire honey is most
esteemed at London. About Bisleter there is excellent good. Some account
Norfolk honey the best.



Subject: Re: enzymes in honey
From: Ralph Snel <>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 94 16:21:50 METDST

I have read in several places on the contents of honey. Apart from the
various kinds of sugar, honey contains quite a range of enzymes, both to
convert one kind of sugar to another, and to prevent fungus, mould and
yeast growth. Keep in mind that the inside of the beehives the temperature
is a comfortable temperature for all sorts of micro-organisms.
In some places they test the "fresheness" of the honey by measuring the
ratio of the concentration of various enzymes. Heating or oxidation will
destroy the enzymes.
I have also found from my own experience that mead with unheated honey
and no nutrients will hardly ferment, while the same honey heated without
nutrients will ferment slowly.

Just for the record: I'm one of the guys who "almost boils" the honey,
enough to remove the scum, but not that you could call it a real boil.
But I guess that the temperature is above the normal boiling point of
water anyway, due to the extremely high sugar concentration in the mixture.

Keep 'm bubbling


Subject: Methanol
From: Kelly Jones <>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 94 11:55:22 -0600

glen ( wrote:

I have a friend who made some hard cider. He said that when
he drank it his vision went grey, to the point of near
blindness for the evening after two or three glasses. This
effect wore off by morning.
Is this methyl alcohol or some other nasty?


It is certainly possible for MeOH to be present in small
concentrations (a few tenths of a percent?) in fruit musts and wines,
however, I do not believe that these concentrations are enough to
cause the effects your friend spoke of. Also, I think that the
blindness effects of methanol are irreversible – if he did go nearly
blind, it wouldn't have been better by the next morning. (Can someone
confirm/correct this?)

In short, I doubt your friend's "blindness" was a result of drinking
normal hard cider. I'd look elswhere for an explanation, and not
worry too much about the cider-making process.


Subject: misc questions
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 15 Aug 94 22:04:10 MDT (Mon)

Jacob Galley <> wrote:
> A winemaker friend of mine told me that even though he never heats the
> must of his grape/fruit wines, he pasteurized his first mead because
> someone told him that honey contained enzymes that would prevent
> fermentation. I don't think this can be correct—Does anyone know if
> this claim has any basis in reality?

Some mead-makers boil the must.
Some use Campden tablets (sulfite) but don't boil.
Some do neither.
All seem to get along somehow. wrote:
> I have a friend who made some hard cider. He said that when he drank
> it his vision went grey, to the point of near blindness for the evening
> after two or three glasses. This effect wore off by morning.
> Is this methyl alcohol or some other nasty?…

If it was a normal fermentation of apple juice, then no, it's not methanol
(methyl alcohol). If he had fermented and then distilled it, that's an
entirely different matter; there's a plethora of traps for the unwary…
but let's assume he was smarter than that.

Fermentation will produce tiny amounts of methanol and all manner of other
weird poisonous stuff in minuscule amounts. But none of them are enough to
worry about–mainly because in order to get enough of any of them to do
more than contribute to your hangover, you'd have to drink so much that the
ethanol would do you in first.

One more thing: although methanol will produce blindness–and in higher
dosage, death–it's not a temporary/reversible thing.

I'd suspect your friend has some extraordinary sensitivity to something in
the cider.

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

…Simpler is better.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #339