Mead Lover's Digest #0351 Mon 26 September 1994


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



re: newbie seeks mentoring (Dick Dunn)
Digby's Groats, Eggs, and Cider ("Fred. W. Buhl")
sparkling mead?/bottles avail. (
Clarifying Meads (Robert H. Reed)
Recipe book question (In a bee hive I'm a sent you)
Digby: Sir Thomas Gower's Meteglin for health (Steve E. Mercer)
Topping carboys with CO2 directly? (Mike Giroux)


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Subject: re: newbie seeks mentoring
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 22 Sep 94 20:54:48 MDT (Thu) (Jay Weissler) wrote:
[had first good mead recently, now getting ready to make some]
> …At bottling time I would like to split
> the batch up between dry & sweet, still & bubbly, plain & spiced
> (maybe sour orange peel, twinnings tea, ???).

> 1) Am I planning too many different styles? Are there some
> combinations of the above that sound bad and should be eliminated.

I think you're attempting too much for the first time. You did mention
that you're a brewer already, so you've got most of the techniques, but
I'm sure there are still surprises that await you…not to mention that
you're describing a lot of handling at bottling time–stabilizing and
sweetening some of it, priming another part, adding (I assume) infusions
to another part. You can do it all, but do you want to? I'd strongly
suggest that you get one batch under your belt before starting out on
all these experiments. Or maybe split the batch once, maybe make a still
and a sparkling.

> 2) What sort of honey will work with all of the above? Will wild
> flower work? How about alfalfa? How many lbs?

"Wild flower" covers such a wide range of possible tastes, it's hard to
say. Alfalfa is OK, a little strong for a straight mead unless you're
going to age it for a while. Around here, what goes as "wildflower" from
our largest local producer is much darker and stronger than alfalfa, which
in turn is darker and stronger than clover. Personally, of those, I'd make
a straight mead from all clover or a combination of clover and alfalfa.

It seems to me that most of us are tempted at first to use relatively
strong-tasting honeys in straight meads (i.e., meads with no added fruit,
spices, etc.) because we like a particular character of one of these strong
honeys…and correspondingly, we start out thinking that with a strong
fruit or spices, we might as well use a bland honey because it's going to
get lost in the background anyway.

Trouble is, what tastes interesting in the raw honey (with lots of sugar
to back up the taste) can be quirky to downright nasty after it's
fermented way down and is the only flavor in the mead. On the other hand,
these strong honeys that don't sing solo very well can add interesting
counterpoints to melomels and metheglins. What I'm getting around to is
that I've come to exactly the opposite usage from what my initial incli-
nations were: I use light honeys in traditional meads and strong honeys
in melomels and metheglins.

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject:       Digby's Groats, Eggs, and Cider
From: "Fred. W. Buhl" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 08:27:45 EDT

I'm glad that finally someone has cleared up that "breadth of a
groat" phrase in Digby's book, which confused and amused me the
first time I read it. But we still need to know one more thing:
How big were eggs in 17th century England? I don't imagine the
hens were putting out the large-size eggs modern chickens
produce. (I for one wish real hydrometers had been around in
common use back then–would have been a bit more precise,
especially given the groat-size variances described).

Another questions, this one a bit more serious: I have heard
tell of a email cider-list. How do I subscribe? I just made
my first batch (from apple juice concentrate <forgive me>, 2
tbl yeast nutrient, and Champagne yeast) and it turned out


Subject: sparkling mead?/bottles avail.
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 09:39:04 -0500 (EST)

A local store was selling wooden pop bottle crates recently. When I went
in to get a few, I found the owner also buys used champagne bottles for
recycled glass. I now have about 7 dozen at $0.20 per bottle. If anyone
is near western Indiana, I'd be glad to pass the info on.

The real question I have is on priming rate for sparkling meads. Most of
my beverages have been beer which is primed at 3/4 cup corn sugar per 5
gallons of beer. Is this comparable for mead? My father-in-law (a home
wine and champagne maker) said to prime at 1 cup per 5 gallons and cap.
After about a month, freeze the yeast in the neck, pop the cap, and cork.
I have my recipe in mind, but I haven't started it yet (actually I'm
waiting on some yeast to come in) so there's not really in rush.

Neil Flatter Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Chemistry – Math (CMA) Department of Chemistry Stockroom Manager
Novell Supervisor 5500 Wabash Avenue 73
(812) 877 – 8316 Terre Haute, IN 47803-3999
FAX: 877 – 3198 Flatter@MHS.Rose-Hulman.Edu

Subject: Clarifying Meads
From: Robert H. Reed <>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 09:39:35 -0500 (CDT)

Ted writes:


> I have 5 gallons of mead that has not cleared after racking three times. It ha


> been approximately 2 months in carboys. I was considering gelatin to clear it.


> have never used gelatin in mead and was wondering if anyone had an opinion on

> it.

I have not used gelatin, but have had excellent results with Sparkaloid. This
compound resembles bentonite and is used in a hot mix to clear meads (wines?).
I don't have a lot of information on Sparkaloid. I picked up on it in one
of Byron Burches articles on mead. It worked for me overnight: the mead was
so clear, you could practically read through the carboy.

It's sediment is pretty fluffy, so an additional racking will probably be

> My previous meads were crystal clear at this point and the only process
> change was pasteurizing this batch as opposed to boiling my previous batches.
> By the way, this batch has a much better flavor than the boiled batches.

My results echo this. I made a traditional mead by steeping 17# of honey
in a 5-gal batch, and the mead was murky for months. This mead was my first
application of Sparkaloid.

Compared to my meads that were boiled for 20-30 minutes, this mead features
much more honey character.


  • Rob Reed


Subject: Recipe book question
From: In a bee hive I'm a sent you <STU_GJCARRIE@VAX1.ACS.JMU.EDU>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 1994 18:11:18 -0500 (EST)

I know this shouldn't be posted, but I am having trouble recieving the recipe
file from the listserv at Stanford. I have sent the message get mead recipes
repeatedly only to be told that no such file exists. I have gotten the Cat's
Meow among other things with no problem. Any help, or can someone send me a
copy of the file? Thanks in advance.

Also, what is the general concensus as to the best temperature to drink mead.
My first batch will be racked this weekend and will hopefully clear quickly.
This will also incedentaly be my first taste of mead. From descriptions I've
heard, it sounds as though it could be quite good warm, cool or room
temperature. Am I wrong?

Finally, what types of yeasts can be used to ferment mead? For this batch, I
am using a dry champagne yeast, but the friendly neighborhood homebrew shop has
access to liquid cultures of dry and sweet mead yests as well. Can beer yeast
be used or is the end result terrible. I am a large fan of Weizen yeast and
the spiciness it causes in beer. What would it do to mead? Incidentally, I
have heard of a wheat mead that is being brewed by someone in the area and is
finally starting to clear after 14 months of fermentation. No taste test yet,
though. Thanks for any thoughts.


*********************** We gotta get on the road *****************************
* Gregg Carrier (aka Uncle Zany, the guy in the floppy green hat) *
* 332 Old S. High St. *
* Harrisonburg, VA 22801 (703) 434-8214 *
*************************** Destiny Unbound **********************************

Subject: Digby:  Sir Thomas Gower's Meteglin for health
From: (Steve E. Mercer)
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 94 10:03:39 CDT

<intended for digest 351>
Joyce Miller is on vacation, and has asked me
to provide Digbie recipes while she is gone.

Note to Archivists:
This recipe follows "My lady Gowers white
meath used at Salisbury".

This recipie is from the 1910 reprint of Digby.
I have tried to retain the book's spelling,
punctuation, and line breaks.

Note: "…threepence or a Groat…" a threepence
was about the diameter of a US penny. A groat
was about the diameter of a US quarter. For more
information see the note following this recipe.


  • –BEGIN—

First boil the waterand scum it ; Then to 12 Gal-
lons put 6 handfuls of Sweet-bryar-leaves, of
Sweet-marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, of each one
a handful : Flowers of Marigold, Borrage, Bug-
loss, Sage, each two handfuls. Boil all together
very gently, till a third waste. To eight Gallons
of this put two Gallons of pure honey, and boil
them till the Liquor bear an Egge, the breadth of
threepence or a Groat, together with such spices
as you like (bruised but not beaten) an ounce of
all is sufficient.

You must observe carefully. 1. Before you set

the Liquor to boil, to cause a lusty Servant (his
Arms well washed) to mix the honey and water
together, labouring it with his hands at least an
hour without intermission. 2. That when it be-
gins to boil fast, you take away part of the fire,
so as it may boil slowly, and the scum and dross
go all to one side, the other remaining clear. When
you take it off, let none of the liquor go away with
the dross. 3. When you take it from the fire, let
it settle well, before it be tunned into a vessel,
wherein you mean to keep it: and when it comes
near the bottom, let it be taken carefully from the
sediment, with a thin Dish, so as nothing be put
into the vessel, but what is clear. 4. Stop it very
close (when it is set in the place, where it must re-
main) cover it with a cloth, upon which some hand-
fuls of Bay-salt and Salpeter is laid, and over that
lay clay, and a Turf. 5. Put into it, when you stop
it, some New-laid-eggs in number proportion-
able to the bigness of the vessel, Shell's unbroken.
Six Eggs to about sixteen Gallons. The whole
Egg-shell and all will be entirely consumed.


  • –END—

Transcribed by Steve Mercer <>

A Note about the Threepence:
The threepence of Digby's time was a silver coin
worth three pennies. Measurements taken from "The
Standard Catalogue of British Coins" (1964) reveal
that silver threepence minted during the time of
Charles I (1625-1649) ranged in size from slightly
smaller than a US dime up to the size of a US nickel.
The most common size was about the diameter of a US
penny. In 1964, these coins were sold for prices up
to 62 British Pounds.
Groats (fourpence) of the same time ranged in size
from the diameter of a US nickel up to the diameter
of a US quarter.

Steve Mercer

Subject: Topping carboys with CO2 directly?
From: Mike Giroux <>
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 1994 14:01:03 -0400 (EDT)

Ignore the next two paragraphs if you don't want the background; the
good stuff starts in paragraph 4… 🙂

I'm a rookie mead-maker, with one batch brewing away in a closet right
now. We (my friends and I, this is a group project) used the quick mead
recipe with our own strange mix of spices.

We used boiled water to top off the carboy the first time we racked, and
marbles the second time.

However, I'm wondering if we could have just gotten some dry ice and
poured CO2 straight into the carboy to drive off the oxygen. It wouldn't
dilute the mead like the water does, and it wouldn't require chlorining
and boiling the way the marbles did.

I'm not suggesting that the dry ice be dumped into the mead. I'm
thinking of putting the dry ice into some water and pouring the CO2
"smoke" into the carboy.

Would this accomplish the objective? Has anybody tried this? What's the
incredibly stupid newbie aspect of this question? 🙂

Does anybody know how expensive this solution would be? I've never
bought dry ice, so maybe this trick would be too expensive to be useable.

Mike Giroux,
Charny, Quebec, Canada

End of Mead Lover's Digest #351