Mead Lover's Digest #0405 Sun 14 May 1995


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



Re: methode champagnoise (Ralph Snel)
More 1st mead questions… (
Help, I'm bee-headed (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #404, 11 May 1995 (MjodalfR)
Tupolo (sp?) Honey (Sam Shank)
re:oak barrels (Karst)
re: recorking sparkling mead (Karst)
hydromels (
Re: Re-corking sparkling mead (Harold LaRoux)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #404, 11 May 1995 (Kevin Osborn)
oak/yeast/aromas/disgorgeme ("Daniel S McConnell")
Buckwheat (Anthony Quinn)


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Subject: Re: methode champagnoise
From: Ralph Snel <>
Date: Fri, 12 May 95 10:28:03 METDST

A few years ago I tested carbonating mead using this method. Instead of
cooling down to 40 F, I put the bottle (just one) in the fridge (-18 C)
and took it out as soon as I noticed ice crystals in the mead. I didn't
measure the temperature, but it sure was below zero (alcohol being a
decent anti-freeze). After that I mixed crushed ice with salt and dipped
the top of the bottle in the slush to freeze the yeast in the neck.
I didn't use corks by the way, but metal caps. When enough of the neck
was frozen I turned the bottle upside up and opened. The pressure popped
the yeast out, though a little remained on the sides, which I cleaned
away, and I quickly corked the bottle, and put it back into the fridge.
A few weeks later I drank it, and it had enough bubble, but not the
small champagne bubbles, more like coke bubbles. I heard from a friend
that aging the mead will reduce the size of the bubbles, but I haven't
tried that. I was rather disappointed with the result. Nowadays I don't
carbonate, I just age (a lot, preferable a few years).

That reminds me, I tasted another bottle of my 1990 apple melomel that
has aged on oak for one month. It's a bit over the top now, but it
could depend on the fact that the bottle had some air in it.
What I did for getting some oak taste was first soak my 2 gallon barrel
with water, more water, water with soda (Na2CO3), more water and even
more water. This took about a month, and the first batch looked like
cognac (but didn't taste like it :). When the water hardly had any
color after being in the barrel for about a week I tossed in the mead.
The different osmotic value for the mead made the wood shrink again,
so I lossed about a good glass full through the cracks, but after that
the barrel was water tight again. During the next month I tasted about
twice a week, and when I thought the taste was right, after about 1
month I racked back into a glass carboy again. The mead tasted best
after about 2 years of extra aging, now it's still wonderful, but
slowly going downhill. One extra thing: I had the next batch that I
aged on the barrel in a five liter bottle with rubber stopper.
Unfortunately the stopper popped off one day, and I didn't notice it till
several months later. The mead must have oxidized a lot, but besides
a very major change in taste it was not a loss! No infections, just
a sherry like taste. Quite good actually. I don't recommend doing
this at home 🙂


Ralph Snel

Subject:        More 1st mead questions...
Date: Fri, 12 May 95 7:09 EDT

I've been getting VERY conflicting answers as to how long mead

should take to age. Most books, and here as well, state that it takes
months or even years. My friend at the brew store I frequent says that
it should only take from 2 to 4 months from brewing to enjoying.


My first batch was just a quick mead (3 gal H20 7.5 lbs honey)


When should I expect to be able to enjoy this?


Thanks (again) – Gerald Wirtz


Subject: Help, I'm bee-headed
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 11:28:09 GMT

I have a question for the lot of you on this list.

Have any of you had success recapping twist-off cap bottles? My success rate
is about 1 in 3 with a double lever capper. I wa wondering if any of the
other styles have better luck, or if I need different caps.

I get the occasional "decapitation" (I couldn't resist) as the neck of the
bottle cracks to splinters from the "threads" on the bottle. Any help would
be greatly appreciated as it is getting harder and harder for me to procure
non-twist-off bottles.




Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #404, 11 May 1995
From: (MjodalfR)
Date: Fri, 12 May 95 07:25 MDT


>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


>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?

Typically try using a slurry of dry ice…. or calcium chloride,salt

ice, and water. Freeze the neck. The yeast plug will pop out.
Additionally, it helps to chill the bottle about 24 hours prior to doing
this…. to about 37Deg. It helps cause the CO2 to adsorb into solution.
Bubble retention is a function of solubility, not gas pressure.





Subject: Tupolo (sp?) Honey
From: shank@biocserver.BIOC.CWRU.Edu (Sam Shank)
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 10:06:41 -0400

I have briefly looked in the usual places for info on this, but found nothing.

Can someone tell me what this stuff is? (I heard it in a VanMorrison song–
She's as sweet as tupolo honey…)

Thanks for the information…

Sam Shank

Subject: re:oak barrels
From: (Karst)
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 11:45:34 -0500

Robert Lamothe wrote:
> 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.

Doesn't the paraffin lining defeat the purpose of using a white oak barrel?
To get a oak character in mead, the mead must be in contact with the wood.
IMHO, these barrels are useless for imparting an oak character to one's

Wolfram von Kiparski

Subject: re: recorking sparkling mead
From: (Karst)
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 11:45:41 -0500

Torbin Andersen asked:

>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?

When I worked in a winery, we recorked our sparkling wine in the following way.

As Torbin did, we inverted the bottles for a period of time to get all of
the yeast sediment to the top of the bottle. We left the bottles inverted
until the yeast had formed a nice "cake" on the bottom of the cork.

It was cold outside, so we chilled the wine outside before going on to the
next step.

Then we filled a large tub with snow, and mixed some salt into it to make a
very cold mixture. We stuck the bottles into this snow/salt mixture so
that the yeast "plug" would freeze (i.e. the bottles were inverted). When
the wine was frozen into a plug in the neck of the bottle, we uncorked the
bottle, and added a "dosage" of sugar water to prime the wine. Then we
recorked the bottle.

This method works well because it removes all of the yeast sediment in the
bottle (the yeast is trapped in the ice plug) and it leaves some room in
the bottle for priming.

It was important to not let the wine (mead) in the neck of the bottle to
freeze into a very long (large) plug of ice. When this happened, the
pressure in the bottle was not great enough to force the plug of ice and
yeast out of the bottle. If this happened, we set the bottle aside to melt
until it looked ready.

If the wine (mead) is cold, and handled carefully, there were minimal
losses after uncorking the bottle. But it was not foolproof, and we had
glasses handy to catch the spilling product.

The dosage is important. There are some yeast cells left in the wine, and
by adding a sugar water (honey solution for mead) the wine was allowed to
recondition after loosing some of its sparkle during the yeast removal

Champagne bottles are thick and strong, and we did not suffer any loss
through bottles cracking while freezing. One is only freezing the top 2
centimeters of wine, and there is sufficient room for expansion of this
small bit of ice.

Good luck,
Wolfram von Kiparski

Subject: hydromels
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 11:04:54 -0640

Dave Cushman wrote in MLD 404 that he has moved toward lighter styles,
i.e. hydromels. He mentions using fairly light colored honeys so I
assume the product is light, but I've never heard of a hydromel. Anyone
care to enlighten a newcomer?

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

Subject: Re: Re-corking sparkling mead
From: (Harold LaRoux)
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 11:49:43 -0500

Torben Andersen <> asks:

>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?

Several years ago, I toured a California winery which prided it self on
producing sparkling wines "methode Champagnoise". Their procedure included
simple crown caps initially instead of a cork and hood. When all of the
sediment was in the neck of the bottle, the bottles were chilled (probably

  • -2 or -3 C). They would then immerse the necks in a chilled (unknown temp –

maybe home deep freeze?) glycol bath which would create a little sediment
ice cube in the neck. The bottles were then righted and uncapped. The CO2
pressure would then disgorge the ice cube. Then the bottle was topped up
with more sparkling wine and the cork and hood placed on the bottle. All of
this was done on a machine which would be much faster at the topping up and
recorking part, but it still seems that you would be able to get better
results emulating this process somewhat. Please let us know if you try it.


Harold LaRoux
Houston Texas

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #404, 11 May 1995
From: (Kevin Osborn)
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 22:00:34 -0400


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

>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?

I personally haven't made a buckwheat honey (so far only a ginger mead and
a maple mead in progress), but a friend at my Homebrew club made one about 18
months ago. He brought it in at about 6 months and it tasted like DIRT! It
smelled like DIRT! Actually, I kind of liked it, probably because I never ate
dirt as a kid. At one year, the dirt was disappearing, it was complex and
starting to turn wonderful. Last Wednesday, (18 mo old) it was ambrosia!
Unfortunately, some of that earthy character was gone.

This was a very sweet mead, so your mileage may vary. I say "go for it!"

PS: You can read my brewlog at:

Subject: oak/yeast/aromas/disgorgeme
From: "Daniel S McConnell" <


Date: 13 May 1995 09:48:58 -0400

Subject:  oak/yeast/aromas/disgorgement

From: Russell Mast <>

>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.

Another idea is to soak oak chips in a small amount of mead (1-2L?)
and then blend this intensely oaky mead back into the main batch,
adjusting for taste. Do this over several days to prevent mead-influenced
decisions. This is a technique used by some professional wineries to
add oak flavor without the hassle of barrel maintenance.

My experience is that mead really does benefit from a little barrel
oak, especially those big red pyments (my favorite). Traditionals
benefit as well. My major concern is that those of you that are into
competitions may do poorly because most of the meads are judged by
*beer* judges that may (due to lack of experience and exposure to
wine) not recognize oak as a flavor enhancement. I once had a barrel
aged traditional mead severely criticized for having diacetyl. Wrong.
It wasn't diacetyl, it was a buttery/vanilla flavor due to oak.

From: (Joyce Miller)

>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.

Two points.
1-Ale yeasts DO work well and I see no reason not to use lager strains
except to avoid W34/70 or W308 which are more fussy about their
nutritional and nitrogen requirements.

2-Dry Wine yeasts, as with dry beer yeasts do sometimes have a bacterial
component. Joyce is absolutely correct in cleaning her cultures before
use to insure the best possible ferment.

From: (Richard Walker)

>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."

I wonder if this is not the chestnut contribution. Do other people pick
up the same aroma association?

>Forgive me for getting gross

Forgiven. You gotta call 'em as you see 'em. This mead is in it's infancy
and like most infants I have known, they sometimes smell like pee. As
they age this goes away. I hope that your mead does likewise.

From: (Torben Andersen)

>We cooled the bottles to about 40 deg F.

Not enough. You should freeze the necks of the bottle. That way the
sediment comes out in a frozen chunk. Traditionally, ice and salt was
used, but I see no reason that CO2/ethanol would not work. Ice/salt
takes a while for the sediment to freeze, but it will really make you
feel like a traditionalist.


Subject: Buckwheat
From: (Anthony Quinn)
Date: Sat, 13 May 95 19:00 PDT

Don Cushman mentioned something about

>Subject: Buckwheat Honey

>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?

I got a really good deal on 100 lbs of buckwheat honey last year, so while I
may not qualify as an expert, I am certainly long in the tooth on experience
with that type of honey. I tend to concoct heavier meads that you
apparently do – almost akin to a desert wine. I find that the buckwheat
honey does an exceptional job in this type of mead – there is a very
significant honey nose left regardless of the length or fierceness of the
fermentation. A rose petal mead using buckwheat was very tasty but the
honey overwhelmed the rose essence. A raspberry melomel was also good but
still the honey overwhelmed the berry flavor. A citrus mead (Byron Burch's
recipe from Zymurgy magazine) is showing great promise, but even here I
almost doubled the amount of citrus juice/oil added. A traditional mead –
no spice/flavor/nothing execpt water, honey and yeast made with buckwheat
honey has proven to be the best so far. The honey is strong enough to give
it exceptional body and flavor. My recommendation, for what its worth, is
to use the buckwheat where you want a strong honey nose and flavor but don't
use it in conjunction with other "delicate" flavorings.

In general, the colors have been a clear rose to reddish brown color. Good
A. J. Quinn


Any opinions offered are my own and
I have my wife's permission to say so.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #405