Mead Lover's Digest #35 Sat 14 November 1992

Forum for Discussion of Mead Brewing and Consuming
John Dilley, Digest Coordinator


adolescent mead (Dick Dunn)
re:Mead Lover's Digest #34 (November 13, 1992) (R.) Cavasin" <>
blow-offs (Arthur Delano)
Old Mead Recipes, got any? (Justin Seiferth)

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Date: 13 Nov 92 02:55:01 MST (Fri)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Subject: adolescent mead

I've seen some postings on mead in various awkward-tasting stages. I don't
want to counsel anyone to coddle five gallons of vinegar, but I do want to
point out that stronger meads can take quite a while to reach a pleasant
balance of tastes. Or, as goes a common analysis of young mead, "this
would taste like Listerine, if it were subtler and not so harsh!"

It's hard to know how to explain the difference between a mead that has
definitely gone wrong and one which is merely going through an adolescent
awkwardness. Some of the aromas are…well…if you produced them in
polite company you'd apologize profusely if you couldn't escape being
blamed for them.

How do we explain this?

I've got a prickly-pear melomel about four weeks on, that is just about in
its worst state. It's almost fermented out from the initial recipe (down
to .996) and ready for more honey, but everything is at the awkward worst.
I can only keep myself from fussing about it by having smelled and tasted
other meads at this stage…I know if I hadn't experienced this, I'd be
tossing it out, with concerns about the sewer pipes. But I know that in
another month, it will be interesting and intriguing; in two months it will
be inviting too-early consumption.

I've also got a ginger mead only a couple weeks old, still with enough
sugar that the taste from the hydrometer is sweet (about 1.025), but the
ginger grabs you by the epiglottis just long enough to mask the "yeasty"
judgment a bit. Gangly and awkward. What to say? How to indicate "this
too shall pass"? I'm learning…some of my older meads took four or five
years before I liked them; among the newer, I've had some ready within six
months. But I don't know how to describe, quantify, what I can sense about
a mead that tells me it will or won't work out with some aging.

Dick Dunn -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado

…Simpler is better.

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1992 09:15:00 +0000
From: "Rick (R.) Cavasin" <>
Subject: re:Mead Lover's Digest #34 (November 13, 1992)

Jane Beckman writes:

…stuff deleted…

>See comments above. As an added precaution, after one batch that backed
>p into the lock, I leave an inch or two of headspace above the wort. It's
>ot enough air to cause problems, but it gives you a little grace if you
>ave a really active batch of yeast. This works best if you are fermenting
>n a glass jug that has a longish neck above the shoulders of the bottle.

For a primary fermentation, the headspace is not critical since the
yeast needs oxygen for the initial stages of fermentation. For my 1-2
gallon batches of mead I use a 5 gallon carboy as my primary fermentor
(because I have a number of them for brewing beer). Although there
is an enormous headspace, the oxygen will be consumed/driven out during
the first stages of fermentation. Using a large fermentor with an
airlock is roughly equivalent to doing an open fermentation except that
airborn contaminants are excluded. It's also handy since you don't
have to worry about matching the size of your primary to the size of
your batch. The krausen (foamy head) never gets
anywhere near the level of the air lock. When I rack to the secondaries,
(an appropriate number of gallon jugs),
I minimize the headspace. Introducing oxygen at this stage is
to be avoided because the alcohol (which was not present at the beginning
of primary fermentation) can be oxidized. It should also be noted that
introducing oxygen at this point can also cause the fermentation rate
to increase if the fermentation was 'stuck'. This probably explains
the original poster's observation that his fermentation rate
increased after racking. While the repeated rackings would probably
have been best avoided, I would not worry too much. If, after several
months in the secondary, it tastes drinkable, bottle it.
Rick C.

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 92 11:38:25 EST
From: Arthur Delano <>
Subject: blow-offs (Jane Beckman) writes in reply to another
mead maker's fermentation problems:
]I use mostly Victorian (or earlier) references, and
]every single one of them says not to seal it until it's gone through the
]first day or two of "hot" fermentation. A couple old books even recommend
]keeping it in an open barrel until then, then casking it with a lock.

Another option, if you're fermenting in a glass jug or carboy, or some
other vessel with a small hole at the top, is to use a blow-off tube.

You can use the same stopper used to hold the airlock, except insert a
piece of plastic tubing in it. Or you can get a length of plastic tubing
the same outer diameter as the inside diameter of the hole, and just jam
the end into the vessel.

I recommend using a wide tube, because if there is any particulate matter
in your fermentables it could jam a narrow tube.

Put the free end into a bucket. For an effective airlock, fill the bucket
with enough water to cover the end of the tube.


Date: Fri, 13 Nov 92 17:58:16 MST
From: (Justin Seiferth)
Subject: Old Mead Recipes, got any?

I saw in the last digest, a reference to old mead recipes. If you have
some of these tried and true recipies or pearls of mead making wisdon
from olden times, could you post them?


P.S. References to books and where they might be available would also
be appreciated!

End of Mead Lover's Digest