Mead Lover's Digest #0404 Thu 11 May 1995


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



Oak Barrels (Robert L. Lamothe)
Woody taste. (Russell Mast)
Re: consistent answers and new comers (Gordon L. Olson)
Different Yeasts (Joyce Miller)
BJCP Northeast Database Updates ("Kieran O'Connor")
oak chips (john hubbert)
Who peed in my mead? (Richard Walker)
Buckwheat Honey (Dave Cushman)
Re-corking sparkling mead (Torben Andersen)


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Subject: Oak Barrels
From: (Robert L. Lamothe)
Date: Tue, 9 May 95 7:41:00 EDT

While kicking back at the Stagger Inn, Joyce Miller said:


>Subject: Re: Aging with wood
>From: (Joyce Miller)
>Date: Mon, 8 May 1995 09:22:11 -0400


>>I am thinking about
>>aging with granulated oak for a simulated barrel-aged flavor. Has anyone
>>ever done this with a mead? Did it work? How much wood would you recommend
>>putting in a five-gallon carboy? How long should it stay there?


>>From my experience drinking friends' beer from oak barrels, I would say
>that you should leave it on wood for about, oh… 45 minutes.


>But seriously, I too have been considering something like this, and am
>currently looking for a 3-gallon barrel. What's keeping me from looking
>too hard is knowing how long I'm going to have to soak it to get the
>tannins out. In fact, I'm probably going to have to brew a batch or two of
>crap, just to aid in the seasoning of the barrel.


>My advice is to go ahead & put it on wood, and taste it *every* day, and be
>prepared to bottle it quick when it tastes as strong as you like. You've
>been warned, those oak chips are *powerful*!


>- — Joyce


If you are really looking for oak barrels, then try out this site.

>From WWW try:


Or if you don't have a WWW reader you can contact:

To recieve a catalog by regular mail call us at 1-219-594-5852
FAX: 1-219-594-5580
or send your request by mail to:
Jas. Townsend & Son, PO Box 415-W, Pierceton, IN 46562
or Email your request to

Jas. Townsend and Son is a retailer of clothing and supplies for

re-enacters. They have barrels ranging from 3 gallon to 10 gallon, all
are white oak and lined with paraffin, spigot holes drilled on request.


I have no association with Jas. Townsend and Son, standard

disclaimers apply.



  • Bob


* Robert L. Lamothe University of New Hampshire *
* Interoperablity lab room 337 *
* (603)862-4349 Morse Hall *
* *
* "All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own *
* importance." *

Subject: Woody taste.
From: Russell Mast <>
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 09:02:24 -0500

> Subject: Re: Aging with wood
> From: (Joyce Miller)

> But seriously, I too have been considering something like this, and am
> currently looking for a 3-gallon barrel. What's keeping me from looking
> too hard is knowing how long I'm going to have to soak it to get the
> tannins out. In fact, I'm probably going to have to brew a batch or two of
> crap, just to aid in the seasoning of the barrel.

You just go ahead and brew that crap and send it my way. Some people prefer
the taste of wood tannins more than others, and a lot of the time it can take
years for it to mellow to something drinkable, but I can spar a little storage
space for a few years.

> My advice is to go ahead & put it on wood, and taste it *every* day, and be
> prepared to bottle it quick when it tastes as strong as you like. You've
> been warned, those oak chips are *powerful*!

Alternately, with oak chips you can brew an "oak chip tea" by boiling the oak
chips in some water. Then, you taste the tea, and decide from the strength
of it about how much of that you'd want in the mead, and pour it on in.
This allows you much more control over the flavor contribution than just
tossing them in.

  • -R

Subject: Re: consistent answers and new comers
From: (Gordon L. Olson)
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 08:29:18 -0600

Isn't it wonderful! In the last MLD, three of us responded to the
question of clear bottles and we all gave the same answer! To me,
this goes to show the quality of people reading this forum and
the helpfullness of the experienced mead makers.

Two other posts gave two different recipes and approaches for
making starters. The guy with the question now has two seasoned
responses and can choose the one closer to his own philosophy.

I must say that this is the friendliest digest that I belong to.
The flames and insults that I see in other places do not exist here.

I am also encouraged by the steady stream of new comers to this
hobby. Allen Harris in the last MLD was carefull to point out that
he had done his reading (book, FAQ, etc.) before posting a couple

>1. How long should I wait before racking to the secondary?

>From two to six weeks in my experience, depending upon temperature,
nutrients, yeast strain, etc. Fruit meads and braggots (with malt)
ferment the fastest because they have more nutrients. Just wait
until the steady stream of bubbles coming up the neck of your
carboy slows to a trickle.

>2. From the begining I have kept the blowoff hose under water
>creating a fermentation lock. It is blowing three or four bubbles a
>second from the 1/2 inch hose. Is there a good reason to switch to a
>standard air-lock?

Even though mead does not _usually_ form a big yeast head like
fermenting beer, I normally use a 1.25 inch blow-off tube stuck
in iodine water for the first few days. Sometimes mead forms a
head that looks like big soap bubbles, not like a beer at all.
For me this occurrs mostly in very high initial gravity musts
and only with some honeys. Air locks with a good rubber stopper
are more air tight than the push fit of a 1.25 inch tube in the
neck of a carboy, but during active fermentation the difference
is negligible, in my opinion.

Gerald Wirtz asked a similar question and I hope the above answer
responds to his question. Relax, don't worry, have a mead, you
and your mead are doing fine.

Los Alamos Atom Mashers

Subject: Different Yeasts
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 11:29:18 -0400

>Has anyone fermented a mead with lager yeast at lager temps? I'd be
>interested to know if there was a noticable 'lager smoothness' to the
>mead, and if it went well with it.

I've used a lager yeast at room temperature. A couple of months ago, I
tested three yeasts in 1-gallon batches at room temp: WYeast 2124 (lager),
WYeast 1084 (Irish Ale), and a Kolsch yeast I picked up in Germany. The
lager was a little sulfury while fermenting, but it passed. It was also a
little bit bitter at bottling, but so were the two ale yeasts. After about
a month in the bottle, however, the lager yeast batch is much less bitter,
and is smoothing out quicker than the other two. I think the important
thing here is to choose a yeast that produces a "clean" taste (ale yeasts
may not be good here), and to rack it off the yeast sediment pretty

Last year, I made a batch using ale yeast at cool temperatures, but the
experiment was blown by the fact that I used Red Star Ale yeast, which must
have been horribly infected. It smelled like Chloraseptic drops, and I had
to dump it. I pretty much don't use dry yeasts anymore unless I clean them
up in the lab first. So many of them contain huge numbers of bacteria.


  • — Joyce


Subject: BJCP Northeast Database Updates
From: "Kieran O'Connor" <>
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 11:43:11 -0400 (EDT)

Hi–this might not be 100% applicable to the mead digest–but I'd like to
send it out anyway. This relates ot the Beer Judge Certification Program

If you live in the following areas, I'll be handling the database for the
BJCP. ME, VT, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, ON, PQ, NS & foreign.

I can answer questions about your status, change your address, etc.
I will also handle routine chores like providing labels, etc. for
competition organizers.

Since a lot of folks on this digest are in the BJCP, I'd like to collect
e-mail addresses to add to the records. That way when an organizer asks
for a list of area judges, I can provide e-mail addresses along with the

If you'd like to add your e-mail address to the database, update it, or
check to make sure I have it correct, drop me a note. Please put in the
subject header: BJCP NE Database, so I can sort my incoming e-mail.
**Please only send me mail if you are a BJCP Judge, those are the only
records this database has.**

I will not contact you unless I have any problems with your records. Thanks.



Kieran O'Connor
Syracuse, N.Y. USA

In vino veritas; in cervesio felicitas.



Subject: oak chips
From: john hubbert <>
Date: Wed, 10 May 95 10:55:10 -0600

>I am thinking about
>aging with granulated oak for a simulated barrel-aged flavor. Has anyone
>ever done this with a mead? Did it work? How much wood would you recommend
>putting in a five-gallon carboy? How long should it stay there?

I haven't tried oak in any meads yet but I thinks it is a very good
idea. I love chardonay that is well "oaked" and if you like that type
of character then you'll like, no doubt, oak in a mead. I have used american
white oak chips in several Munich style lagers (light) and they have been the
best beers I have made. I used 2 oz./5gal. for a more pronounced effect
and 1oz./5gal. for a less pronounced effect. I boiled enough water to
cover the oak chips, added the oak chip, immediately covered and
removed from the stove. After the mixture cooled I added it to the
secondary and left it for 2-3 weeks and then bottled. Letting it age
for several months will improve the character (ie the tannins will mellow).

John Hubbert

Subject: Who peed in my mead?
From: (Richard Walker)
Date: Thu, 11 May 1995 05:43:33 +0900

My chestnut mead is settling down nicely, a beautiful yellow color and a
taste (if you hold your nose) reminiscent of fine chablis, or so I like to

But the aroma! Amidst the honey and alcohol and all the rest, there is a
noticeable and annoying odor that I can only describe as "fresh pee."
Forgive me for getting gross, but it's not the rancid bus-station-toilet
stench of decay, just a whiff of morning relief on a springtime mountain
hike next to a circumspect tree. Pee, however, it definitely is.

Will this age out or, perish the thought, will aging only help the <er-hum>
bouquet to develop further? Is there something I can do to make it just a
tad less aggressive, or should I consign this batch to blending stock and
try to sneak enough into other meads that they gain complexity without
smelling like day-old underwear? Or, alas, is my chestnut mead destined for
the toilet?

Richard Walker
Yokohama, Japan

Of course my opinions reflect those of the company.
I AM the company.

Subject: Buckwheat Honey
From: Dave Cushman <>
Date: 10 May 95 19:16:31 EDT

I have been sporatically making mead for about five years, and
have of late moved toward lighter styles, i.e. hydromels,
so when I run out of mead (one of the most heinous of crimes)
I won't have to wait as long for more to be ready.

I have typically/exclusively used fairly light colored honeys.
I have really been thinking of using buckwheat honey in my
next test batch (3 gallons) of hydromel. It will be something on
the order of 2 lbs/gal or in the 1.070 range (give or take).
My question is: has anyone out there used buckwheat for mead?
How strongly flavoured was the outcome, and more importantly
what was the colour of the finished product like?

If know responses come in, I will go ahead and send out the results
2-3 months out.


Dave Cushman

Subject: Re-corking sparkling mead
From: (Torben Andersen)
Date: Thu, 11 May 95 19:06:25 +0200


Greetings from Europe. I have a question related to sparkling mead (methode
Champagnoise). I first made a carboy of traditional mead. When preparing the
must, I added enough honey to get 11% alcohol and after fermentation I had
it dry. I primed the mead with honey, and bottled into Champagne bottles
with steel wire around the corks. After some time, we kept turning the
bottles in the French way, to end up with all bottles upside down and a
sediment on the corks. We cooled the bottles to about 40 deg F. For every
bottle, we removed the cork (SPLASH), turned it upside up, topped up with
Brandy and corked again.

The taste was fine. However, the pressure in the bottles was far too low,
the mead was hardly sparkling. The first time we had opened the bottles to
remove the sediment, the pressure was perfect. Clearly most CO2 had blown
out when we opened the bottles to remove the sediment.

My questions are:

1) To which temperature must the mead be cooled before opening and
re-corking? CO2-snow?
2) Is it possible to avoid the mead shower by freezing the bottle neck or
will the bottle crack?
3) Any other suggestions or literature references on how to get the sediment
out without loosing pressure?


Torben Andersen

Tel: +49-89-32006-397
Fax: +49-89-32006-514

End of Mead Lover's Digest #404

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