Mead Lover's Digest #38 Wed 18 November 1992

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


re: first mead questions (Brewing Chemist Mitch)
Honey and mead (Jane Beckman)
first mead ("Daniel F McConnell")

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Date: Tue, 17 Nov 92 8:55:15 CST
From: (Brewing Chemist Mitch)
Subject: re: first mead questions

| – Mitch Gelly – |
| software QA specialist | Heavy Metal can kill – if it's high speed lead
| and zymurgist |
| – – |

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 92 10:54:31 PST
From: (Jane Beckman)
Subject: Honey and mead

One of the questions about first mead concerned honey. Be aware that honey
has many possible flavors, depending on the kind of flowers it came from.
Herb honey is generally considered among the "best" (yes, it's very subjective)
because there is an extra flavor, a slightly aromatic quality, that it picks
up from the nectar. Sage honey—MILD??!! Sage honey tastes like—sage
honey. It is not "mild" like orangeblossom. Most honey is wildflower or
clover, and I would use this as a "neutral" base to judge from. Wildflower
will be considerably "stronger" than clover honey, and I prefer it for mead.
Never having been able to get pure sage honey (what kind of sage? if it's
wild sage in chaparral, it's going to be VERY strong), I couldn't tell you
what kind of mead it brews. The Greeks preferred lavender. Herbal-based
honey is considered to be among the best for mead, going back to ancient
times. My favorite honey is heather honey. (Just TRY to get it, though!)

Yes, the type of honey will affect the finish of the final product. You
might want to sample and critique the honey you are using to get an idea
of the final undertones. NEVER, EVER, use Eucalyptus honey! It's really
cheap, it's dark as molassass, and it makes AWFUL mead. As a matter of
fact, that's why it's so cheap—it's pretty rank honey. It gives what I
can best describe as an "acrid" undertone.

A general rule, that beekeepers use for grading honey: lighter is better.
Check the color. It should be light to medium amber. If it's darker than
that, it has all sorts of extra flavorings in it and should only be used
with extreme caution. (All honey will darken as it ages, by the way: I'm
talking coloring of fresh honey, less than a year old.)

Trust me, I took a class on professional beekeeping, way back when, and
learned all about critiquing and grading honey. (And hope to eventually
have my own honey, again.) Add to that some practical brewing experience…

The little old beekeeper…
Jilara []

Date: 17 Nov 1992 15:55:51 U
From: "Daniel F McConnell" <>
Subject: first mead

Subject: Time:3:52 PM

OFFICE MEMO first mead

>Questions: what about
>some sort of acid blend — should I use some? What level
>of acidity am I aiming for? Is sage honey really ok? I could
>go back and get orange, wildflower, buckwheat, or alfalfa (which
>was the strongest according to the honey shop lady).

re acid blend addition…YES!
I would be interested in hearing other approaches. Certainly they must be more
simple. My approach is to shoot for a sweetness/acidity balance of 2 gr/L acid
per degree brix of residual sugar. You need an acid test kit (available at any
wine/homebrew supply shop) to measure this accurately. 3 lb /gal will make a
sweet mead (maybe 4-5 brix residual) even with pasteur champagne yeast,
therefore 10 grams in your gallon should come close. Some will say this is too
acidic, but remember that the great sweet wines of the world must have high
acid backbones to support all that residual sugar or they taste flabby and
insipid. The same applies to great meads.
I'm surprised you were told alfalfa was the strongest, buckwheat is more like
it. Sage honey should be wonderful. Definitely try orange in your next batch.
Wow, so many questions-I'll leave some for others to tackle.
Don't worry about time to mature…just make another batch…just make another
batch…just make another batch.

End of Mead Lover's Digest