Mead Lover's Digest #0353 Mon 3 October 1994


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



(sigh) more administrivia (Mead Lover's Digest)
re: honey types (Dick Dunn)
Ale yeast & mead ph (KWH)
Steam Juicers/ Foul Peaches (COYOTE)
on oxidation (Ralph Snel)
…topping carboys with CO2 (Chris Weight)
Re: Sucking air (Jane Beckman)
Digby: An Excellent Way of Making White Metheglin (Steve E. Mercer)
Fermenting again (


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Subject: (sigh) more administrivia
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 2 Oct 94 22:54:30 MDT (Sun)

Digest size: I assume that everyone can receive large-ish mail messages.
The digest will stay well within the 100 KB limit widely imposed on the
Internet, and also within the 50 KB limit imposed in some places. I'll try
to be sure digests go out before they hit the 32 KB limit imposed by super-
stition in some dark corners of the universe, but if your local limit is
smaller than any of these, you're on your own.

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

Subject: re: honey types
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 2 Oct 94 23:22:43 MDT (Sun)

[I had commented, after considerable logorrhea…]
> I use light honeys in traditional meads and strong honeys
> in melomels and metheglins. writes:
> So where do you put something like thistle? We also have some local
> locust honey available.

I don't know about thistle. Geez, I suspect it's a criminal offense to
know about thistle honey around here, since thistles are "noxious weeds".

The real answer is "Well, what's thistle honey like?" and the same goes for
locust. Does the honey have a lot of character? Would that character go
well on its own, or does it need something to balance it?

I've used some locust honey; it seemed mostly middle-of-the-road (sorry if
that sounds like "damning by faint praise") in a way that I think would
work for either a straight mead or as a basis for melomel/metheglin. It
did have an interesting character, but it didn't jump out and grab you.

Thistle??? What kind of thistle? I've heard of the "catclaw thistle"
honey that was being sold at a premium (>$2.50/lb), and I know we've got
lots of thistles as weeds here that the bees must visit, and I know that
artichokes are slightly-civilized thistles, and …

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Ale yeast & mead ph
From: (KWH)
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 94 10:19

In MLD# 352, the use of ale yeast in meads came up a couple of times:

>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.

and in a later post, a recipe was quoted:

>1 tsp acid blend
>American Ale yeast (from a starter solution done 24 hours earlier)
>(Yeast from Yeast Labs, distributed by KENT)

The idea of substituting ale yeast for wine yeast has come up a number of
times, with several compelling reasons for doing so. My question has to do
with the different ph levels between wine and beer yeasts. I was under the
impression that wine yeast worked ideally in the mid 3's while beer yeast
should be in the mid 5's on the ph scale. Yet, I have seen several recipes
which say that either wine or ale yeast can be used; and no mention is made
of adjusting the acidity accordingly. I know that many people have used
ale yeasts in meads with great success, so it must be ok. Am I just being
too anal about the ph level?

Kirk Harralson

Subject: Steam Juicers/  Foul Peaches
From: COYOTE <>
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 1994 09:50:57 -0600 (MDT)

QUESTION: Anyone out there ever used a STEAM JUICER for extracting
juice from fruits for fermenting? I have been thinking of constructing a
fruit press, but have seen those steam juicers in stores (for pretty cheap)
For those who don't know, it's alike a double boiler with a tube coming
out of the top pot to collect juice.

What I wonnder is: 1. How do they work. 2. Does the steam heat cause
pectins to set, or is that not a problem, cuz no pulp comes through.
3. Does it make for good juice for wines, fruit beers, meads…etc.

I understand that the juice that comes through is very clear, that sounds
good to me. I also wonder if the heat would "burn" off fruit aromatics?

I have a juicer- separates pulp from juice by a spinning strainer thingy-
but 1. It's tedious. One piece of fruit at a time. Too slow!
Especially when dealing with buckets full of garden fruits.
2. The resulting juice is so pulpy that it never settles well, and I end
up losing a lot of juice in a mass of pulp.

Has anyone seen/used one of those fruit presses- looks to be a plastic bucket
with a threaded pipe attached to a crank which pushes down and squeezes the
juice out. I've seen the apple cider press types- wooden slats and all,
but they seem to be rather expensive. I was hoping I could rig up some
kind of fruit press myself- just haven't decided on a design yet.
I have a threaded pipe, and was planning to hook it into a bucket with holes
drilled in the bottom- with something? for a pressing plate that will move
downward at a crank is turned- moving the plate down the threaded pipe.

Info- public or private would be appreciated.


Had an unfortunate experience when racking a peach mead from the primary.
Brought up the 3 gallon jugs from the basement for racking…and when I
walked into the garage after letting them settle- I thought I must have
left the propane on or something (or one of the dogs was having SERIOUS
digestive problems!). Major sulfury fart gas kinda aroma pervading the
whole area! Ugh. I expect the ferment to start sulfury- and it did,
both a combination of the yeast, and use of sulfate. But usually goes away
after a week or so.

Upon tasting the must- a daring act on my part- I was VERY ready to dump
the whole shlew! Guroooooos! Remembering my grapefruit mead, I went ahead
and racked, topped up with a bit more honey/water. Back to the basement.

Now- if I could remember specifics on what went in, I'd share them, but I
don't so I won't. Basically- a bunch of peaches, pitted, and mushed.
Sulfated for a day with some pectic enzymes, then SQUEEZED laboriously in
a mesh bag. Added some hot honey water, yeast and off it went.

My first peach mead was wonderful, but last years was rather tart. I figured
it was because I used that damned juicer and got too much skin tannins into
it, and let it sit on the pulp for too long.

Any advice on peaches, or apricots? I worked once! What happened?


A groat in my throat.

The discussion has gone on and on. Bottom line seems to be- we ain't gonna
get an exact idea from Digby as to what his "specific gravity" was for the
meads he made. Had he measured, or weighed mead rather than adding until
the egg floated where it floated…well. Do we really even know what kind
of egg he used? Could have been duck, or sparrow, or pigeon. Maybe even
an OSTRICH! We all assume it was chicken…but can we be sure!

Don't get me wrong, I find the Digby tales very entertaining and informative
and extend my kindest thank to the passers on- you folks must like to type!
Question is- is anyone REALLY trying to reproduce those recipes exactly?
I've been curious to see all the herbs that have been added with thought of
trying many of them myself. But without having TASTED any of those meads how
can you be sure you would WANT to reproduce them. Haven't seen any tasters
notes. Besides- we can approximate a strong-medium-weak mead, but we don't
have barm around like they did, do we?

Just seems the groat discussion has been beaten pretty dead by now IMHO.
DOn't mean to flame or slam or anything. IF you wanna keep on it, well FINE.

Brew on Brethren of bee barley and vine.

\-/-\ John (The Coyote) Wyllie \-/-\




Subject: on oxidation
From: Ralph Snel <>
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 94 17:58:33 MET

A few years ago, when I did not have the nice cool cellar I have now,
I was forced to put my (fermented and stabilized) mead on an attick
for storage. Well, the next summer was one of the hottest this decade,
and a 5 liter carboy with rubber stopper decided it needed some air.
A few months later I discovered the rubber stopper on the floor. A little
bit of the mead had evaporated, it had become quite a lot darker (the
original colour was like apple juice, now it was like sherry. The taste
had changed a lot, but it actually had improved! (but not compared to
another bottle of the same batch that didn't oxidize). The character
was a bit like sherry. Nothing wrong with it. I still have a few liters
left of it.
So in my case the dreaded oxidation (for a period of a month or two,
at high temperature) did _not_ ruin my mead. I've never been paranoid
about oxidation, and this just confirmed it.
This was however a totally fermented and stabilized batch. I've tried
a similar thing once with a fermenting bottle of cider, with the intention
to make vinegar. 2 months later I _finally_ caught some bacteria. Before
that the taste had deteriorated a bit. Nothing I'd drink at least.



Subject: ...topping carboys with CO2
From: Chris Weight <>
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 94 10:13:30 PDT

A discussion on the HBD some time back regarding use of dry ice for CO2
ended when someone who seemed to know what they were talking about said
that dry ice can contain some nasty contaminants and one should never
assume its pure unless you are sure of the source.


Subject: Re: Sucking air
From: (Jane Beckman)
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 94 13:29:42 PDT

Got one of those two-chamber curved fermentation locks, right?
Very easy explanation for this one. What was your weather like?
There wasn't a heavy-duty high pressure front moving through, was there?
Where the balance is on the lock chambers depends a lot on the
atmospheric pressure. If your barometer is at a higher pressure
than inside your container, it can force water back through the lock.

Another point: how high do you keep your lock topped? It shouldn't
be more than halfway up the chambers. If it tops out the curve on
the first chamber, it can also start to back-syphon into the bottle.
If the level is high enough, it can continue to syphon even after the
pressure drops. Some locks also seem to have some sort of capillary action
that I attribute to material used (usually plastic of some sort).

However, it *should* stabilize when your yeast starts really perking.



Subject: Digby: An Excellent Way of Making White Metheglin
From: (Steve E. Mercer)
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 94 18:19:38 CDT

<intended for digest 353>
Joyce Miller is on vacation, and has asked me
to provide Digbie recipes while she is gone.

Note to Archivists:
This recipe follows "Metheglin for Taste and Colour".

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


  • –BEGIN—

Take of Sweet-bryar berries, of Rosemary, broad
Thyme, of each a handful. Boil them in a quan-
tity of fair water for half an hour ; then cleanse
the water from the herbs, and let it stand 24 hours,
until it be thorough cold. Then put your hony
into it (hony which floweth from the Combs of it
self in a warm place is best) make it so strong of
the honey that it bear an egge (if you will have it
strong) the breadth of a groat above the Liquor.
This being done, lave and bounce it very well and
often, that the honey and water may incorporate
and work well together. After this boil it softly
over a gentle fire, and scum it. Then beat the
whites of eggs with their shells, and put into it to
clarifie it. After this, put some of it into a vessel,
and take the whites of two eggs, and a little barm,
and a small quantity of fine flower ; beat them well
together, and put it into the vessel close covered,
that it may work. Then pour the rest into it by
degrees, as you do Beer. At last take a quantity
of Cinamon, 2 or 3 races of Ginger, and two Nut-
megs (for more will alter the colour of it.) Hang
these in a little bag in the vessel. Thus made, it
will be as white as any White-wine.


  • –END—

Transcribed by Steve Mercer <>

Steve Mercer

Subject: Fermenting again
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 94 20:53:09 EDT

A friend of mine & I are both fairly new to meadmaking (<1 yr), and he has
ran into a situation that we both are unfamiliar with. Thought I would ask
the collective wisdom of the MLD for input. This particular mead was made
the first week of February. It has been racked 3 times, and has been sitting
in a dark closet in a glass carboy. There have been no signs of fermentation
for months until last week. Now it is fermenting at a pretty good rate. He
says the weather changed and cooled down a little bit just before it
rekicked. This is not just an occaisional visible bubble in the carboy; it
is quite vigorous and bubbling through the airlock. This is a first in my
limited experience. I didn't think cooler weather should have affected it
this way, but I don't know why after months of dormancy it would start
fermenting again. Any thoughts? TIA, Nunc est Bibendum (Latin; "Now is the time to drink")


  • Ray Ownby- "In Wine there is Truth" -Dostoyevsky

("In vino veritas")


End of Mead Lover's Digest #353