Mead Lover's Digest #0352 Sun 2 October 1994


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



administrivia: bouncing mail, full mailboxes, etc. (Mead Lover's Digest)
Re: Digby's Groats, Eggs ("Jim N. Deakin")
…topping carboys with CO2 (
honey types (
Re: yeast types (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #351, 2 (
re: Hazy Mead (Mike Serafin)
CPU crashed, sending again !! (
Steinberg Reisling yeast (Jay Weissler)
Mead Lover's Digest #351, 26 S (
Digby's Eggs (Steve E. Mercer)
Digby: Metheglin for Taste and Colour (Steve E. Mercer)
Primary is sucking air (thirsty brew) (Kevin McCall)
oxidation in carboys (Dick Dunn)
Mead, Bottles, Corks ? (David Moore)


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Subject: administrivia: bouncing mail, full mailboxes, etc.
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 26 Sep 94 19:59:12 MDT (Mon)

[Sorry for the delay on issue 352…your digest janitor ended up taking
an unplanned trip to Endodontia.]

Folks: Please realize that if digest mail to you bounces repeatedly, I'm
going to remove you from the list, regardless of the reason for the bounce
(host down, mailbox full, whatever). With the interval between digests
being 2-3 days, several failures means something's been wrong for a week
or more, which should be long enough to fix a transient failure so I assume
at that point it's permanent. Also, I can seldom diagnose it from this
end even if I had the time or inclination to do so.

If you know or strongly suspect that you've had mail problems at your site,
and you haven't seen a digest in a while, send a note (AFTER you think it's
fixed!) to; put something in the body of
the message to let me know you think you got dropped. The -request mail
is read by a real human (that little ol' meadmaker–ME [anybody remember
the old Italian Swiss Colony commercials?];-) so a bit of chat is OK.

Actually I've had relatively few problems at this end–especially of the
sort that seem to afflict other digests. I don't know why this should be,
but I thank you.

Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder, Colorado USA

Subject: Re: Digby's Groats, Eggs
From: "Jim N. Deakin" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 1994 11:23:49 GMT0BST

In Mead Lover's Digest #351, "Fred. W. Buhl" <> said

> 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.

Hmm, it's not quite cleared up for me I'm afraid. How big are the american
coins mentioned? I can manage inches or millimetres etc, but the foreign cash
places round here only deal with notes!
You've managed to recreate the recipe right down to confusing foreigners
with unfamilier coins. Well done! 🙂
Happy brewing!


From:    Jim Deakin,        |

Sheffield Hallam University |
Computer Services, | Humouroids are caused by hardening of the

Pond Hill, | attitudes
Sheffield S1 1WB |
England. |



Email on:




Subject: ...topping carboys with CO2
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 94 10:27:09 EDT

Dry Ice costs about $10/# where I get it but you would only need a

few ounces of ice to produce enough gas to fill the top of a carboy.
It sounds like a reasonable idea to me. My question is why do we need
to top off the carboys in the first place. Won't the bubbling of the
brewing mead drive off any oxygen in the carboy, and why will a little
bit of oxygen hurt the mead in the first place. I think that the most
oxidation will occur if the mead is splashed during racking.

  • glen


BTW: you can get dry ice at a wholesale ice distributor (yellow pages)

Subject: honey types
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 1994 09:40:11 -0500 (EST)

I use light honeys in traditional meads and strong honeys
in melomels and metheglins.

Dick Dunn


So where do you put something like thistle? We also have some local
locust honey available.

Neil Flatter Flatter@MHS.Rose-Hulman.Edu

Subject: Re: yeast types
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 1994 10:08:12 -0500 (EST)

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.


Well, Greg, I started on dry yeast in some caramelized honey my
brother-in-law gave me. My local shop suggested using Pasteur champagne
yeast. After the first batch I switched to Epernay (which isn't sold
now, but use as Epernay 2 or Cote des Blancs instead). I'm waiting on
some Lalvin EC118 (used to be Prise de Mousse, now Premier Cuvee w/ a
"killer" factor that inhibits other yeasts) to start my next batch.
While I haven't used any of the liquid cultures you mentioned, I do not
recommend using the WeiBen culture you mentioned. Epernay and Cuvee are
wine yeasts so they ferment to 12-13% but even a Belgian yeast that
tolerates higher alcohol levels only goes 9%. The WeiBen isn't likely to
go above 7%. It would leave more of the spiceness you're after w/ the
wheat yeast, but I would suggest 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice. Clove
would be OK instead but isn't as subtle. Let us know how things work


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: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #351, 2
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 1994 10:21:11 -0500 (EST)

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

Mike Giroux,
Charny, Quebec, Canada


Personally I prefer to use Campden tablets instead of messing w/ CO2. It
stabilizes the mead and keeps the beasties down. Dry ice is still cheap.
We buy it from Baskin-Robbins over the counter at something like $0.30 a
pound. Please realize that most dry ice contains oils from the
manufacturing process that likely are not food grade. A more expensive
route would by to purchase a cylinder of CO2, or BOC Gas (nationwide
welding gas supplier) now sells a mix of CO2 and N2 for beer kegs if you
prefer, and use it. The cylinder of gas must be food-grade.

The question I have is why you're so concerned about filling a carboy w/
CO2? If it's just to remove oxygen from the carboy before racking, I have
a hard time believing there's really enough oxygen there to make a
noticeable difference. I rinse w/ a sulfite solution which would react
w/ the oxygen more quickly than the mead so I don't worry about it.

Neil Flatter Flatter@MHS.Rose-Hulman.Edu

Subject: re: Hazy Mead
From: (Mike Serafin)
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 1994 14:38:39 -0500 (CDT)

> From: BURNELLT <>


> 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. 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.

I did not boil my first batch of mead and it took a very long time to clear. I
racked it about 3 times over a period of 3 months and it was still cloudy. I
finally just left it alone and at about 8 months I went to check it and it was
a perfectly clear, beautiful, golden color. I still haven't bottled it, can't
seem to get the bottles washed. It's been in the fermenter for about 10 months
now. Total alcohol for this batch is right at 14%.

Mike Serafin

Subject: CPU crashed, sending again !!
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 94 20:08:59 EDT

Subj: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #350,…

>>Subject: Clarifying Agents
>>From: "Zydenbos, Rick" <>
>>Date: Wed, 21 Sep 1994 08:14 +1200 (NZST)


>>Could someone out there create a wee summary on clarifying
>>agents like Bentonite and Gelatine.

Bentonite – principal use is the removal of proteins from white style

wines. Mechanism of interaction is adsorptive interaction between the
negatively charged bentonite and the positively charged protein fractions.
The process is pH dependant, the greater the difference between wine pH and
the isoelectric point of the protein fraction, the greater the potential for
fining action.
In fruit wines ( reds ) bentonite tends to also affect the positively
charged anthocyanins…. which attribute color. Thus bentonite may strip some
color as well as flavor from mead. Additionally, since it is a purely an
charge phenomena, the mead should be seperated from the muck as soon as
possible after suitable clarification has been achieved.


Gelation (as well as Casein, albumen, isenglas ) are called protein fining
agents, and thus ARE NOT to be used to reduce protein haze problems. They are
used to reduce wine polyphenols. Their mechanism of reaction is hydrogen
bonding between the phenolic hydroxyl and peptide bonds of the protein
component. Since hydrogen bonds are pretty weak, the capacity for fining is a
function of the amount of potential bonding sites available.


Subject: Steinberg Reisling yeast
From: (Jay Weissler)
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 94 10:28:40 -0500

First thanks to Dick Dunn, his answers have set this newbie on the
straight and narrow.

I plan a mead based on 10lbs of orange blossom and 5lbs of clover.
I'm interested in using the Steinberg Reisling yeast because I
believe that my fermentation temperatures may be a little low (65F
+/- 5F) and because I'm looking for an ever so slightly sweet mead.

Now for the questions. Will the reisling yeast leave too much
sweetness with this much honey? Should I cut back on the honey or try
another yeast? Does anyone know of any off flavors/flakiness
associated with this yeast? Any other advice in its use (or other
wisdom you'd like to impart to an newbie, will be greatly



Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #351, 26 S
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 94 10:59:00 UTC

I was eating a very sweet cantelope the other day and wondered if a

cantelope or honeydew melomel would be a worthwhile project. Has anyone
tried this? How did it turn out? How much melon did you use?


You read about rasperries, cranerries, etc., as well as cysers, and

pyments, but what other fruits have people used and with what results?


I'm new at this, so a reference to a good book may answer all my questions.




Subject: Digby's Eggs
From: (Steve E. Mercer)
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 94 17:27:24 CDT

>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).

It's worse than you thought. Not only do groats vary in diameter,
but eggs vary in size and density too.

I recall that several years ago this was discussed in the
rec.crafts.brewing newsgroup. Somebody claimed to have researched
this question. Their answer was that the closest modern American
equivalant to the eggs most likely available to Digby would be US
Grade B "medium" eggs. I think that they obtained some fresh eggs
of this grade and measured the average specific gravity required to
float them to a certain diameter. (I do not have access to a
searchable archive for that newsgroup so I cannot look it up. This
is all from my rather dim memory, so this may be inaccurate.)

The most important factor for using eggs as a hydrometer is freshness.
In Digby's time, eggs were frequently used within one or two days of
being laid. Modern supermarket eggs are often more than a week old by
the time they get to the shelves, where they sit until you buy them.
When you bring the eggs home, you store them until you use them.

An egg slowly loses its moisture starting from the moment the egg is
laid. All eggs have an air space, which slowly increases in size as
the water inside the egg evaporates through the shell. As the air
space increases, the egg's density decreases and the egg floats higher.
A one-week-old egg will float higher than a one-day-old egg. If you
use eggs that are not fresh, they will float to the breadth of a groat
in a much weaker (lower specific gravity) honey-water solution than
would a fresh egg. The resulting mead would be weaker than the
original recipe describes and therefore would not be an entirely
accurate reproduction of the original mead. Some of the recipes
specifically call for a very fresh egg. A grocery-store egg would be
a poor substitute.

If you are looking for an explicit statement like, "If your must has a
specific gravity of X, it will bear an egg to the breadth of a Groat."
then you must first consider these factors: Eggs vary in size depending
on the hen's age, health, diet, and genetics, and the season in which
the egg was laid. Eggs of the same size will float to different heights
depending on their freshness. The size of a Groat varies with the year
and the mint in which the coin was struck.

Oops, this got a little longer than I intended. I hope you don't
mind too much. 😉

Steve Mercer

Subject: Digby: Metheglin for Taste and Colour
From: (Steve E. Mercer)
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 94 17:31:23 CDT

<intended for digest 352>

Joyce Miller is on vacation, and has asked me
to provide Digbie recipes while she is gone.

Note to Archivists:
This recipe follows "Sir Thomas Gower's metheglin
for health".

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

Note: "1/3 or 1/4 or 1/5 or 1/6"
Each fraction is printed as a single typesetting


  • –BEGIN—




Must be boiled as the other, if you intend to keep
it above half a year ; but less according to the time,
wherein you mean to use it. You must put in no
Herbs, to avoid bitterness and discolouring ; and
the proportion of water and honey more or less,
as you would drink it sooner or later ; (as a Gal-
lon of honey to 4, 5, or 6 of water.) If to be weak,
and to be soon drunk, you must when it is tunned,
put in Tost of bread (hard tosted) upon which
half a score drops of spirit of yest or barm is
dropped ; for want of it, spread it with purest
barm beaten with a few drops of Oyl of Cinna-
mon. If you intend to give it the taste of Raspes,
then add more barm, to make it work well, and
during that time of working, put in your Raspes
(or their Syrup) but the fruit gives a delicate
Colour, and Syrup a duller Tincture. Drink not
that made after the first manner, till six moneths,
and it will endure drawing better then wine ; but
Bottleled, it is more spirited than any drink.

The Spirit of Barm is made by putting store of

water to the barm ; then distill the Spirit, as you
do other Spirits ; At last an Oyl will come, which
is not for this use.

Sir Thomas Gower maketh his ordinary drink

thus : Make very small well Brewed Ale. To
eight Gallons of this put one Gallon of honey ;
when it is well dissolved and clarified, tun up the
Liquor, making it work in due manner with barm.
When it hath done working, stop it up close, and
in three months it will be fit to drink.

He make his Metheglin thus. Make a good De-

coct of Eglantine-leaves, Cowslip flowers, a little
Sweet-marjoram, and some Rosemary and Bay-
leaves, Betony, and Scabious, and a little Thyme.
After the sediment hath settled, put 1/3 or 1/4 or 1/5
or 1/6 part of honey, (according as you would have
it strong, and soon ready) to the clear severed
from the settlement, and stir it exceedingly well
with stripped arms 4 or 5 hours, till it be per-
fectly incorporated. Then boil and scum it ; let
it then cool and tun it up, &c. After it hath
cooled, lade the clean from the settlement, so that
it may not trouble it, and run up the clear thus
severed from the settlings. Much of the perfec-
tion consisteth in stirring it long with stripped
arms before you boil it. Then to boil it very
leisurely till all the scum be off. And order your
fire so, that the scum may rise and drive all to
one side. This will be exceedingly pale clear and
pleasant Metheglin. He useth to every Gallon
of water, a good handful of Eglantine-leaves, and
as much Cowslip flowers ; but onely a Pugil of
Thyme or Marjoram.


  • –END—

Transcribed by Steve Mercer <>

Steve Mercer

Subject: Primary is sucking air (thirsty brew)
From: Kevin McCall <>
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 94 17:38:45 EDT

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post (said with some trepidation fearing
a good hot flaming, but I have checked with everyone I know
and every book I own [quite a few]).

I am submitting this to both the HBD and Mead digest in the
hopes that someone out there can help me. The recipe is based
on a cider posted to HBD 14 Sept by MR_SPOCK@delphi.

Problem: My brew in the primary (recipe below) is SUCKING air.

Yes, the temperature is stable since it has been 4 days
since I sealed the primary. Yes, I pay undue detail to


4 gal fresh pressed cider (got it fresh from the Apple Barn,Fitchburg,MA
5 lbs wildflower honey " "
1 gal water (to boil honey)
1 tsp tannin
1 tsp acid blend
American Ale yeast (from a starter solution done 24 hours earlier)

(Yeast from Yeast Labs, distributed by KENT)



I did not use any campden tablets as I don't want the sulfites.

As mentioned, I made a yeast starter 24 hours ahead of time with a
fermentation lock on the jug. Bubbling about once every 30 seconds
before I pitched it. I use a plastic primary (from any standard beer/wine
starter kit) which showed some pressure after sealing. (Lock is pushed to
the top due to the sealing action of the lid).

Sunday afternoon – sealed primary fermenter
Monday morning – lock has settled on to the vent tube
Monday night – lock empty of water, add more
Tuesday morning – " "
Tuesday night – lock empty. I pour water in and WATCH the fermentation

lock devour the water. I'm serious. I repeatedly
poured water in and watched the lock suck it up
in less than a minute. Popped the top on the
fermenter. Smelled fine and nothing leapt out at me.
Boiled two ounces of yeast nutrient and threw it in.
Also pitched, without a starter, another vial of yeast.
(What do I have to lose now but the yeast?).
Stirred and Resealed.


Wednesday morning
Wednesday night
Thursday morning – My brew is still very thirsty and will drink what I give



Has anyone ever seen this? Am I harboring an alien bacteria that will make
my and my friends miserable (sick)? I am by no means a master or even advanced
brewer but this has me stumped, nervous, anxious…

Guess I'll run on home and have a homebrew (hmm, my brown ale or spring bock?)

Thanks in advance and I'll summarize any (if there are any) responses.


Subject: oxidation in carboys
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 30 Sep 94 21:22:18 MDT (Fri)

Regarding what to do about oxidation of mead because of the headspace in a
carboy: Divide the problem into two parts–early and late in fermentation.

Early, as long as you've got fermentation going on to the extent you can
see bubbles rising in the mead and reasonably frequent blorping out the
fermentation lock, you don't have much to worry about. The fermentation is
producing a layer of CO2 to blanket the top of the mead and protect it.
CO2 is heavier than air, so when it's produced it stays lower and pushes
the air out the lock first, as long as there's no heavy turbulence.

Later on, if you have one of those long-dragged-out fermentations, the mead
produces CO2 very slowly. Opening the carboy (taking off the lock) and
poking around (to draw off a sample for a hydrometer reading) will stir up
the air/CO2 inside the carboy, and it could take a while after doing that
for the mead to replace the "blanket" of CO2…you should think about the
possibility of oxidation.

People tend to fuss a lot about racking too. This is worth the concern
when you're racking a mead that's barely fermenting and nearly still…but
if you're racking during the early stages while you've still got a lot of
fermentation going on, just the motion of racking is likely to stir up
enough CO2 to displace the air in the receiving carboy quickly. In fact,
splashing [everyone's fear?] simply releases more CO2 from the mead. (You
might be surprised just how much CO2–volume, that is–is produced by
fermenting five gallons of mead. You get about 2 kg of CO2 over the
entire course of fermentation, which is well over 1000 liters, or more
than 50 times the volume of the carboy.)

Oxidation isn't good for the taste of the mead…but it doesn't happen
immediately and it isn't catastrophic.

If you can't let the mead produce its own CO2 protection, there are
various solutions, depending on how long you need to keep mead in the
carboy and how often you intend to be opening it up.

* "Topping up"–adding something [typically water] to the mead to fill
up the headspace works as long as you don't add enough to dilute it
* Or, if your initial fermentation is more than the carboy's volume, you
can ferment the excess in a small jug (1/2 or 1 gallon) nearly full,
then add it when it's time to rack and top off the carboy.
* Yet another choice: you can buy inert gas in a "spray can" (which
doesn't really spray; gas just comes out), intended for preserving
wines after they're opened by putting a layer of gas just over the
wine and recorking the partly-filled bottle. You'll use a lot more of
it per application with a carboy having a couple liters of head-space
than for the normal use of a half-full 3/4-liter wine bottle, but it's
still not expensive.


I don't know about the dry-ice approach–as other folks have noted, dry ice
comes with no guarantee of being clean enough to be dropped into food.

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Mead, Bottles, Corks ?
From: David Moore <>
Date: 01 Oct 94 18:51:51 EDT

I need some advice and comment regarding bottling my 1st mead.

I'm not specifically planning to make it sparkling, I was just going to use 750
ml Champagne bottles because I have them. After receiving many requests for
samples, I decided that I needed some smaller bottles.

I ordered a case of 24 375 ml (1/10) bottles that I thought were small
champagne bottles. They came in yesterday and it turns out that they are wine
bottles, not champagne bottles.

The bottles appear to be designed to accept a screw cap, but I didn't order
those <g>. The brew store person suggested corking the bottles and provided
small #9 corks with a significant taper that would allow me to "whack" them in
without a corking tool.

The method suggested to me was to soak the corks overnight in water.
Could I, should I, add Iodophor to the cork water?

I was also told to place a loop of waxed dental floss around the base of the
cork prior insertion like this :

| |
| ______________ |
| | | |
| \ CORK / |
| | | |
\ \ / / FLOSS
| |____| |



| |
| |


Wait 24 hours after corking, then pull out the floss. This is supposed to
release the pressure created by inserting the cork.

Should I treat the floss in any manner, or can I assume new waxed floss to be

Now comes the question of long term storage. I don't have a wine rack of any
kind. Do I need to store the bottles on the side to keep the corks wet?
The guy at the brew store said that I could also melt paraffin wax over the
corks to completely seal them. This would allow me to store the bottles
upright in their boxes. If I wax the corks, should I wait a while before
doing so to allow the corks to dry? If so, how long; a day, a week, a month,

Should mead be allowed to breathe like wine? Wines are heavily sulphited. I
don't want to use any sulphite in the mead so I'm inclined to go with a wax

Any and all suggestions welcome.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #352