Mead Lover's Digest #0348 Wed 14 September 1994


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



acid use in mead (Gordon L. Olson)
mead making technique (
Raspberry Mead (
chocolate (
mead in England: not found (wayfaring digest janitor returns) (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: acid use in mead
From: (Gordon L. Olson)
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 94 09:45:17 -0600

Rich Webb quotes a mead recipe from Byron Burch and wonders about
the acid content. Note carefully that the recipe calls for tartaric
and malic acids, NOT acid blend or citric acid! These different
acids are not interchangeable.

Acid blend contains cirtric acid, which is much more acidic than
either tartaric or malic acids. Byron has been promoting non-citric
acids for mead for some time now. I haven't had the chance to
experiment enough to see if I agree with him.


| Gordon L. Olson | Los Alamos National Laboratory |
| e-mail: | Group X-6, Mail Stop B226 |
| phone: 505-667-8105 | fax: 505-665-5538 |


Subject: mead making technique
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 94 22:57:16 EDT

Rich Webb asks about making mead in 3 weeks, per Byron Burch.
Especially with regard to the amount of nutrient recommended.

As luck may have it, I just wrote up a piece for my club newsletter on
this same topic. I include it below. Dave (the protagonist) is an
engineer, a bit of a "cowboy", and a real seat-of-the-pants guy. He
also makes da*n good meads. The advice below has to be understood in
that light. He's found a set of methods that work well for him. (He
did do experiments to determine the nutrient level, though.) As far
as the aging-to-fix-the-flavor bit goes, his conclusion is that it
comes from using wine yeast. He said, "smell a wine yeast starter some
time. Do you want your mead to smell like that?"

================ begin excerpt ================
And how could we forget the 3-week old cherry melomel that Jim
Johnston and Dave West brewed. We were so impressed that we've
included some tips from Dave on making meads quickly.

Making a quick mead.

The gospel according to Dave West: Use ale yeast — not a funky one —
American, British, London, European all work. Any ale yeast will go to
14% alcohol in 2 weeks with enough nutrients. Use a big starter (1
quart/5 gallons) — pour the beer off the slurry, but a couple of
ounces will add some nutrients. 2-3tsp yeast nutrient (white crystals)
per gallon! Also some yeast energizer and yeast hulls. Ale yeast needs
a lot of nutrient to finish. Aerate it well, re-aerate after 6-12
hours — put 5 gallons of mead in a 6 gallon carboy and swirl. Use the
"triple ripple" airlock — it won't dry out, won't suck back in. Whirl
it just before it's done to sink fruit to bottom (may have to do it
several times over several days). The day before bottling, tilt the
carboy and rock it back and forth to get the fruit to stack up in one
"corner", then stand it back up carefully and you can siphon it from
the other side of the carboy without plugging the siphon. Dave
siphoned 35 gallons this way recently.
When using fruit, don't add sulfites, pasteurize the fruit at 150-160
for 15 minutes. Old, moldy, overripe stuff makes the best mead (scoop
out the mold carefully, though). Mead doesn't seem to like hard water.
Use malic and tartaric acid mix, not citric acid, which tends to
dominate the flavor.
We also talked to Dan McConnell, and he said that he (Dan) would add
pH monitoring, as well. During fermentation, the yeast puts out acid.
If the pH of the mead drops too low (too acid), the yeast slows down
and/or stops. He adds calcium carbonate (precipitated chalk) to keep
the pH in the 3.7-4.0 range.
================ End excerpt ================

=Spencer in Ann Arbor, MI

Subject: Raspberry Mead
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 94 09:47:20 EDT

I just bottled a great batch of black raspberry mead. Here is the recepie.

Raspberry Mead


12 lbs light clover honey
2 gallons black raspberries (2 1 gallon batches, fresh picked, frozen prior
to use)
1 oz dried raspberry leaves
4 tsp citric acid
1 pkg champagne yeast
1 lb white sugar


Bring honey, raspberry leaves and citric acid and 1 gallon water to a full
Skimming any scum which rises until there is no more scum (20 – 40 minutes).

Add boiled honey mixture to 1 gallon of frozen berries in primary fermenter.
Add cold water to 6 gallons.

Add rehydrated yeast when temperature is 70F – 80F.

Allow to remain in primary fermenter for 4-5 weeks before transferring to a
secondary fermenter.

Rack secondary fermentation on 2 week intervals. Allow 6-8 weeks total
secondary fermentation before bottling.

Sulfite 1 week prior to bottling (5 campden tablets).

2 days prior to bottling rack and add a syrup made from the juice pressed
from the remaining gallon of raspberries and 1 lb of sugar (I suppose that
honey could be used here also, I just didn't have any on hand when I did

Fermentation temperature on this batch was high (70F-80F)



Subject: chocolate
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 94 15:02:35 EDT

A friend of mine has told me of a coco-porter which is a beer

that uses bakers chocolate in the primary to give it a chocolaty
taste. Does anyone have a recipe for a coco type mead?

  • glen


Subject: mead in England: not found (wayfaring digest janitor returns)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 14 Sep 94 21:46:55 MDT (Wed)

[I'm back and I think all the admin requests are caught up finally…sorry
for the delay, to those of you who were trying to get signed up. Thanks to
Charlie Price for proxy-janitoring while I was gone -rcd]

We were off in England for about ten days. One of my goals was to see what
I could find of mead. The short of it is that at least in the area where
we traveled–the southwest (mostly Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall, some of
Wiltshire and Dorset) we couldn't find any mead worth bothering with. I
was surprised! I was also somewhat dismayed, although this was more than
offset by the discovery of real cider in Somerset…if you get the cider
digest, by now you'll have seen me drooling there about the wonderful
cider…interesting, complex, good, cheap.

We found one winemaker in Somerset who made a mead. It was rather sweet–
not cloying, but there wasn't enough character behind the sweetness to make
it worthwhile. We asked if he'd tried dry or not-so-sweet mead; he said it
didn't seem like a good idea, and for his process that was surely the case.
I don't know whether he started out with insipid honey, or diluted it too
much, but there just wasn't anything to it.

We found a couple of meads (sort of) in Cornwall. One was made by a cider-
making business that also makes some country wines (elderberry and such);
it was not bad, but rather simple, too sweet, and expensive (as I recall,
about five pounds, equiv US $8, for not much more than a pint). The other
was a "mead wine" (urk!) that's actually a grape wine sweetened with honey.
This seemed to be available in various places in the far west of Cornwall–
Penzance, St Ives, and such. It's pretty bad.

Overall, the impression we got from talking and asking around is that mead
mostly shows up as an accompaniment to touristy events, like those medieval
banquets-in-a-castle with "Ye Olde" everything, and these are likely to be
too sweet, not good, and not taken seriously. Maybe mead can be found in
some other area of England, or perhaps in Wales; we'd like to know. But
the southwest offered us not even a clue.

Topic shift: heather honey. Heather seems to have surprisingly little
scent to it, but we did find some heather honey at a "yesterday's farming"
fair, and it's got quite a bit of character, as its reputation would
suggest. I don't quite follow how this works, but I'm not a beekeeper.
Anyway, the heather honey is strong in a way not unlike an alfalfa honey
in the US. I can't make up my mind what sort of mead it would make…it
might be good but in any case it would surely take a long time to age such
a mead to drinkability.

Next topic: Buckfast Abbey. You may have encountered reference to the
renowned "Brother Adam" of Buckfast Abbey (which is in Devon) and his work
with bees. He's also known for one particular article on mead, originally
published in _Bee_World_ a long time ago, and reprinted as an appendix to
_Beekeeping_at_Buckfast_Abbey_. The good news is that the book can be had
for L 7.50 ("L" meaning "pound"; ASCII apologies) at the Abbey; it is in
print. The not-so-good side is that the visitor's view of Buckfast is a
very touristy place: an abbey with a pay parking lot, a gift shop, book
shop, and restaurant. Yes, they do keep bees there (and take them up to
Dartmoor, which is a nearby national park/forest with a lot of heather).
No, there is nothing to be seen of the bees or beekeeping work. Yes, they
make mead, but only for their own use within the abbey. They do sell a
[allegedly famous] "tonic wine"…but it's really an ordinary wine made in
France with a few spices'n'such added. Yes, the gift shop sells some Buck-
fast honey…but it's not actually made at the abbey; it's honey from
"Buckfast bees"–bees of the particularly nice strain bred by Brother Adam
many years back, but kept elsewhere by other folks. Yes, there is heather
honey…well, there would have been, but you see last year was bad, and
you know how the bracken keeps encroaching on the heather and gorse, and
it's late in the summer so we've sold out of what little we had, and…
well, Buckfast Abbey is not uninteresting, but it holds nothing of inter-
est to meadmakers. It is, after all, the home of a relatively ascetic
religious order, and it is that (not meadmaking) that is their purpose in
life. So be it; I can deal with that; it would be interesting to know what
they're doing with mead, but it's not a secular matter. The slightly
depressing and unsettling side was the commercial aspect–a religious order
trying to figure out how to survive and support this large, ancient place
by marketing a part of themselves.

Oh, well…if you travel to the southwest of England, don't bother looking
for mead. Seek out the local cider; you'll be well rewarded.

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

…Simpler is better.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #348