Mead Lover's Digest #0342 Wed 24 August 1994


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



braggot suggestions? (Brian Smithey)
Mazer Cup: Mint Metheglin (
re: Distilled Mead? (Dick Dunn)
Re: PET bottles & vinegar (Joyce Miller)
Weaker Meathe (Joyce Miller)
Re: Distilled Mead? (Jeff Berton)


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Subject: braggot suggestions?
From: (Brian Smithey)
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 1994 10:31:14 -0600

I'm planning to brew a braggot in the near future, and I'm looking
for any suggestions. Let me know if you've made or tasted a braggot,
how you liked it, and anything else that might help me get started.
Some specific issues that I'm tossing around in my head:


  • Original SG — should the gravity be more along the lines of a

strong ale (1.060+) or can I get away with a "big" braggot, in
the neighborhood of 1.100?



  • Malt grain bill — should I stick entirely with pale malt, or

do specialty malts work in this style? I'm thinking that the
color and flavor contributions from small additions of roasted
malts might be interesting.



  • Style — are braggots generally more beer-like or wine-like?

Should I shoot for a full-bodied, sparkling beverage, or a
complex, dry, still wine? This will probably influence the
choice of yeast (ale or wine), mash temperature, malt-to-honey
ratio, OG, use of hops/spices, etc.


All suggestions are welcome. I'm more than happy to experiment, but
if anybody has had great and/or awful experiences with braggots I'd
like to hear them.


Brian Smithey / Sun Microsystems / Colorado Springs, CO

Subject: Mazer Cup: Mint Metheglin
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 94 16:05:25 EDT

Just had to comment on this recipe.

Metheglin: Blue Mountain Mead, Robert Pollard
5 gal:
5.5 lbs Blue Ridge Mountain honey
0.5 oz Irish Moss
1 oz mint extract
1 t. water salts
OG= 1.041 TG= 1.019


I was a judge on this flight, and this particular mead had a wonderful
combination of honey and mint flavor, and was light and refreshing.
We rated it first partially because he had managed to get such
character into such a light mead. I'm sure if I tried it, I'd end up
with a watery mess. (I wonder, now, if he pasteurized it to stop at 1.019?)


Subject: re: Distilled Mead?
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 23 Aug 94 22:47:46 MDT (Tue) wrote:
[ref to distillation of mead]
> Yes, distillation is illegal, but how about freezing? To my knowledge, it is
> not illegal to freeze beverages in your own freezer (anyone please correct me
> if I'm wrong)…

[apologies to the non-US readers for the digression into US laws]
The crux of it is that it's not legal to concentrate alcoholic beverages,
regardless of the process. This is not entirely obvious from a first
reading of the law, but the way you arrive at it is something like this:

* You're only allowed to make wine and beer at home (with limits on
* Wine and beer are both defined by the processes used to make them, and
concentration after fermentation isn't among them. (With beer there is
a specific diversion in the law about concentration and later dilution,
with the requirement that the final strength be no greater than the
pre-concentration strength.)
* Mead falls under the wine laws, unless it contains enough malt (i.e., a
bragot/braggot/bracket, or what is now being called "maltomead") that
it falls under beer laws.

In any event (i.e., regardless of whether you could find a tortuous path
through the law to allow concentration), the definition of wine has a hard
limit of 24% alcohol (v/v)–if it exceeds that, it's not something you're
allowed to be making at home, whatever the process.


Anyone who wants to dig through the relevant Federal regs, they're in 27
CFR 24 (wine) and 25 (beer). CFR == Code of Federal Regulations, the form
which lays out the current state of the law, as opposed to having to dig
through everything in time-sequence and assemble a current picture. A good
library will have them. They aren't something you'd read for the plot,
but they're not as impenetrable as you might think…and you can pick up a
lot of interesting tidbits along the way.

[Example: There is a specific paragraph for "honey wine". It notes that
you may dilute the honey to a strength suitable for fermentation (good
plan!:), but it must not be less than 22 Brix (about 1.090 SG).]

I would *really* like to find more about mead-brandy…be it a source, any
comment on its qualities, etc. I suspect that the reason it is essentially
unknown is this: Mead is relatively ancient, having almost entirely been
superseded in northern Europe by beer by the end of the 17th century, and
in southern Europe by wine well before that. The practice of distillation
is relatively recent. Thus the likelihood of overlap (serious mead-making
and serious distillation) is small…it's not that it's a bad idea; it's
just that history worked against it.

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Re: PET bottles & vinegar
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 09:25:50 -0400

I have used PET bottles with no problem. Personally, I like the 1 liter
best; they're a nice size, they're resealable, and great for taking
camping, etc., and I don't feel bad about throwing them away afterwards.
And if you leave the labels on them, and match the color and clarity of the
mead to the original contents, you can frequently take them to outdoor
concerts. 🙂 (as long as you fill from a keg, or the lees aren't too

>what insects have the vinegar bacteria in them? I know that fruit flies
>have it but do common house flies or any other things that may get into
>a batch of mead? What is the alcohol tolerance, if any, of the bacteria?
> I made a batch of banana wine a while back and it smelled wonderful
>while it was brewing, but once it was done it had almost no aroma nor
>flavor. How can I prevent the flavor from bubbling out? It was a real
>let down.

Acetic acid bacteria have a pretty high alcohol tolerance; they can
certainly take 14% wine straight. However, I don't think that this is the
problem with your mead. If your banana wine had turned into vinegar,
believe me, you'd know. It would smell exactly like banana vinegar.
There's no diguising the smell of the acetic acid. What is more likely is
that the nice banana aromatics simply bubbled out. Some fruits, such as
strawberries and blueberries, seem especially prone to this (I don't know
about banana). I've also had trouble with peaches this way.

I have made (on purpose) a fair bit of vinegar. This is how it happens:
add acetic acid bacteria culture (fresh cider will do nicely!) to a liquid
containing alcohol (7-9% is best). Cover the container with cheesecloth so
that it can get all the oxygen it wants. Wait (2-6 months, generally).
What you end up with is a container that smells like photo stop solution.
It's so strong it'll curl your nostrils back. What it *looks* like is:
your wine, covered with a nice thick layer of felt floating on top. This
felt mat (which is very dense and strong and disgusting) is the acetobacter
colony. Throw it away. Far away. Pour off a little of the vinegar to
start the next batch, and pasteurize the rest. Water it down to taste, add
any desired spices and herbs, and bottle.

Please note the fundamental biochemistry going on here:
Alcohol + acetobacter + oxygen = acetic acid
Compare to brewing:
sugar + yeast = alcohol + CO2

In other words, the yeast puts out enough CO2 to prevent acetic acid
bacteria from ever starting. They could theoretically start later on, but
would run out of oxygen before ever accomplishing anything. Of course,
this is yet another good reason to not to splash your brew around while
racking and bottling. I suspect that wines that "turn to vinegar" were
probably stored cork up.


  • – Joyce


Subject: Weaker Meathe
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 09:56:51 -0400

Another recipe from Kenelme Digbie, 1669:

A weaker, but very pleasant, Meathe.

To every quart of Honey take six of water; boil it till 1/3 be

consumed, skimming it well all the while. Then pour it into an open Fat,
and let it cool. When the heat is well slakened, break into a Bowl-full of
this warm Liquor, a Newlaid egge, beating the yolk and white well with it;
then put it into the Fat to all the rest of the Liquor, and stir it well
together, and it will become very clear. Then pour it into a fit very
clean Barrel, and put to it some Mother of Wine, that is in it's best
fermentation or working, and this will make the Liquor work also. This
will be ready to drink in three or four Months, or sooner.



Subject: Re: Distilled Mead?
From: (Jeff Berton)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 12:19:55 -0400 (EDT)

Ray writes:
>Yes, distillation is illegal, but how about freezing? To my knowledge, it is
>not illegal to freeze beverages in your own freezer (anyone please correct me
>if I'm wrong).

Fractional crystallization, in the eyes of the federal government, is regulated
identically to distillation. As one reads along with the rules, it appears
they are referring only to distillation, but later, a clause is inserted
that lumps fractional crystallization in with distillation. The same
requirements pertain to each method.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #342