Mead Lover's Digest #0407 Fri 19 May 1995


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



aging mead (Charles Wettergreen)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #406, 17 May 1995 (Joel Stave)
Sparkolloid / Spices (Kevin Erickson)
Re: Quick Meads (
More on bottles (
Re: Heating/Nutrients/Mead Hangovers (
heating/sulfiting vs. nothing (Gordon L. Olson)
Re: oak barrels & paraffin (Steven Rezsutek)
Heating, yeasting (Russell Mast)
Vanilla Bean Mead… (James Powell)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #406, 17 May 1995 (Bowden Wise)
Re: Cellaring (Joyce Miller)
Is it too late to dilute the mead? (Michael A Abraham)
re: Heating the Must (Thomas Manteufel)
tupelos, hangover, preservatives (
Honey Shelf Life (Patrick Lehnherr)


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Subject: aging mead               
From: (Charles Wettergreen)
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 07:48 CDT


Joyce miller ( answered the question:

MM> Q. How long to age?

MM> A. It depends.
<BIG snip>

I haven't drunk enough meads to know what what constitutes the flavor
profile of a "too young" vs. a "properly aged" mead. Is it simply a
matter of harshness mellowing out to produce one that is properly aged?
Could someone please comment on what flavor changes occur with aging?




Chuck Wettergreen One beer at a sitting is OK. Two beers, maybe. But anything beyond that number goes over the
Geneva, Illinois line of recreational drinking. Ann Landers



* RM 1.3 00946 *


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #406, 17 May 1995
From: Joel Stave <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 08:57:37 -0400

Russell Mast <> writes:
>> I personally haven't made a buckwheat honey (so far only a ginger mead and
>> a maple mead in progress)
> ^^^^^
>What recipe did you use? Where did you get it? How's it coming along so
>far? I'm interested in a maple mead sometime soon and am curious what
>proportions people have used and how they have turned out.

I'm not the person who first mentioned maple mead, but the (experimental, one
gallon) batch I have going now used 40.5 fluid oz of maple syrup, with enough
water to make up 4 liters. The SG was 1.098. I added some acid blend and
yeast nutrient (I forget how much – I'm at work now and can't check my notes)
and Prisse de Mousse yeast.

I fermented in primary about a week, then racked to the 4 liter jug. About a
month later I racked to a gallon jug (BTW racking from a 4 liter to a 1 gallon
jug works great, I almost never have to top up, or have any extra – too bad
there aren't 20 liter carboys so I could do the same with my 5 gallon batches).
At this point the SG was 0.996 (I'm amazed that I'm remembering this stuff) and
it was quite harsh – I couldn't taste any maple, but it may be that the
harshness masked it.

That was 2 months ago, it's cleared up very nicely, and stopped fermenting.
I'm gonna let it sit another month, then sweeten it a little with some maple
syrup and bottle as a still wine.

BTW – It's not really a mead, since there's no honey in it – does anyone know
what the proper name would be? Or is it just something boring like "Maple
Syrup Wine"?

NOTE: I'm flying blind on this one – its entirely experimental. I found *one*
reference to maple mead (or whatever) that mentioned it was good stuff. The
only recipe the author mentioned was maple syrup, water and yeast.

Anyone out there have some *finished* product that can tell us what to expect?

Joel Stave

Subject: Sparkolloid / Spices
From: Kevin Erickson <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 08:17:13 CDT

I have a batch of mead in my secondary fermenter (my 2nd batch). I'm
planning on bottling in about two weeks. Without thinking things
through too carefully, I mixed in some Sparkolloid two nights ago.
The result, one day later, was as crystal clear a beverage as anyone
would hope for.

My plan had been to prime half of the batch to make it sparkling.
I'm not really sure what Sparkolloid does to clarify the mead? Does
Sparkolloid "suck" the yeast out to the point that I won't be able to
carbonate the stuff? If so, can I add a few grains of yeast, along
with the priming sugar, at bottling time to prime it?

Also, I had thought to add some spices to half of the batch at
bottling time. My plan was to make a spice "tea", and mix it in when
I bottle. I've also seen commercial mead, with a spice bag hanging
around the neck, with instructions on how to mix it in before
drinking. There are also many recipes around that put the spices in
during the brewing cycle. Any opinions as to the best method, or how
to carry on with my spice "tea" plans?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


Subject: Re: Quick Meads
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 09:18:50 EDT

Last fall, I posted this excerpt from the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
newsletter. Perhaps this is what you were thinking of?

And how could we forget the 3-week old cherry melomel that Jim
Johnston and Dave West brewed. We were so impressed that we've
included some tips from Dave on making meads quickly.


Making a quick mead.


The gospel according to Dave West: Use ale yeast — not a funky one —
American, British, London, European all work. Any ale yeast will go to
14% alcohol in 2 weeks with enough nutrients. Use a big starter (1
quart/5 gallons) — pour the beer off the slurry, but a couple of
ounces will add some nutrients. 2-3tsp yeast nutrient (white crystals)
per gallon! Also some yeast energizer and yeast hulls. Ale yeast needs
a lot of nutrient to finish. Aerate it well, re-aerate after 6-12
hours — put 5 gallons of mead in a 6 gallon carboy and swirl. Use the
"triple ripple" airlock — it won't dry out, won't suck back in. Whirl
it just before it's done to sink fruit to bottom (may have to do it
several times over several days). The day before bottling, tilt the
carboy and rock it back and forth to get the fruit to stack up in one
"corner", then stand it back up carefully and you can siphon it from
the other side of the carboy without plugging the siphon. Dave
siphoned 35 gallons this way recently.

When using fruit, don't add sulfites, pasteurize the fruit at 150-160
for 15 minutes. Old, moldy, overripe stuff makes the best mead (scoop
out the mold carefully, though). Mead doesn't seem to like hard water.
Use malic and tartaric acid mix, not citric acid, which tends to
dominate the flavor.

We also talked to Dan McConnell, and he said that he (Dan) would add
pH monitoring, as well. During fermentation, the yeast puts out acid.
If the pH of the mead drops too low (too acid), the yeast slows down
and/or stops. He adds calcium carbonate (precipitated chalk) to keep
the pH in the 3.7-4.0 range.


Subject: More on bottles
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 09:21:24 EDT

If you live in a bottle-return state (like Michigan), it's usually
easy to get bottles: go to your local beer store and collect some.
Just 10c each here, 5c in most other states.

If you like 22 oz bottles, "Pete's Wicked" is selling empty bottles
(not screw-top). Here's the poop:

Pete's Wicked Ware
P.O. Box 1195
Maple Plain, MN 55592

Order toll free 1-800-382-7457
Hours: 7a.m. – 11p.m. (CST)Mon-Fri / 7a.m. – 4p.m.(CST)Sat-Sun

The item is one dozen 22oz., pry-off bottles packaged in durable box.
Item #PG22 $3.50

Shipping charges
Merchandise Value: Charge:
$0 – $10.00 $4.00
$10.01 – $25.00 $5.00
$25.01 – $40.00 $5.75
$40.01 – $60.00 $7.00

(I apologize to those of you who already saw this in the HBD a few weeks ago.)

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: Re: Heating/Nutrients/Mead Hangovers
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 09:28:11 EDT

Excerpted from the McConnell & Schramm presentation at last year's NHC:

Morse found that the most rapid fermentations were achieved when a
balanced salt, buffer and nutrient additive was used. They report
fermentations to 12% alcohol in less then 2 weeks by using 6.75 g/L of
formula 1 and 0.25 g/L of formula 2 as shown below on Table 3.

Table 3. Nutrient Mixtures for Mead Fermentations.

Formula 1 Formula 2
Component Weight/gr. Component Weight/mg
ammonium sulfate 1.0 biotin 0.05
K3PO4 0.5 pyridoxine 1.0
MgCl2 0.2 mesoinositol 7.5
NaHSO4 0.05 Calcium pantothenate 10.0
citric acid 2.53 thiamin 20.00
sodium citrate 2.47 peptone 100.0

ammonium sulfate 861.45


Note that the units for Formula 1 are grams, while the units for
Formula 2 are *milli*grams. These make 6.75g of Formula 1 (enough for
1 liter) and 1g of Formula 2 (enough for 4 liters).

No, I don't have a supply for the chemicals. An enterprising "netter"
could make up batches of these and sell them, eh?

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: heating/sulfiting vs. nothing
From: (Gordon L. Olson)
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 08:14:32 -0600

Kirk Harralson writes:

> A more experienced mead maker told me that the need to pasteurize or
> sulphite meads was a myth; that it was not necessary because honey has
> certain natural preservative properties that keep it from spoiling.
> Could this be correct? Most of my mead making information comes from
> Papazian's first book, in which he recommends boiling for a short
> time. If this is not necessary, I would prefer not to heat the must.

Raw, unpasterized honey is safe to store for long periods of time because
the water content is less than 17% (I think that is the correct number.).
Yes, there may be some natural preservatives, but the major reason that it
doesn't spontaneously ferment is the low water content. Once you add water,
the naturally ocurring yeasts will start to ferment and you do NOT want
to trust the quality of your mead to wild yeasts. You are likely to get
weird sour flavors. Even if you add a lot of a know good yeast, the wild
yeast can affect your mead. Therefore, it is NOT a myth, you do NEED to
pasteurize or sulfite your mead. If your friend is using filtered pasteur-
ized honey and clean water, he may sometimes get by with out sterilization,
but I would predict that he often has off aromas and flavors in his meads.
Heating your honey water to 150 F for 20 minutes is sufficient to kill off
wild yeasts and is not hot enough or long enough to significantly change
the character of the honey (in my opinion).

> Secondly, do ale yeasts need the same kind and amount of nutrients
> that wine yeasts do? I see people refer to the "Morse formula" for
> nutrients. I don't have access to his book. Does anyone use this?
> Comments? I was planning on using the dregs from the secondary of an
> upcoming ale to ferment my next mead. It seems as if there would be
> an abundance of nutrients in this. Do I still need to add more?

It is the nature of the fermentable ingredients, not the yeast, so yes,
you do need to add essentially the same nutrients for all yeasts that are
added to honey water. Some yeasts do prefer more of some nutrients than
other yeasts, but this infomation is not generally available. Lot's of
people have based their nutrient recipes on the two in Roger Morse's book,
including (I think) the Beverage People in CA. The dregs from a batch
of beer or mead is mostly dead or inactive yeast. The nutrients are
bound up in a way that are not necessarily available to the new batch
of mead. So, unfortunately, the dregs can not be substituted for nutrients.

> I found out the hard way that mead's reputation for hangovers is well
> deserved. What makes the effects of mead different from beer and/or
> wine?

As a believer in moderation, I never (well, rarely) have a hangover.
Also, as a preventive step, I take a B complex vitamin ahead of time
if I know that I may be drinking a lot. Also, drink extra water while
drinking alcoholic beverages. It may sound silly, but it does help.
Alcohol dehydrates the cells in your body. When I am at a competition
judging, especially when judging meads, I rinse my glass and drink the
rinse water between each mead. Mead may give you a worse hangover
because it has less water for the same amount of alcohol.


Subject: Re: oak barrels & paraffin
From: Steven Rezsutek <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 10:25:08 -0400

Alex writes:

> The paraffin does defeat the purpose of using an oak barrel, but it is easy
> to remove.

Question — What about "toast", as in "is there any"? Not being a cooper,
I can only guess as to whether the staves could be shaped by other than
the "traditional" process for wine barrels. (e.g. in a steam box).

There is a ready source of parrafin lined barrels local to DC (J.T. Waring &
Sons), and they told me about the hot water trick as well, but I didn't buy
because I wasn't sure what character I'd get. OTOH, they do cost about
half of what "real" barrels cost, so if this works well, I'm all over it.

Any additional feedback would be welcome.

(Of course, I suppose that armed with a dental mirror and an oxy-acetylene
torch with a rosebud, I could toast it "after the fact" 🙂





Subject: Heating, yeasting
From: Russell Mast <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 09:56:36 -0500

> From: "Harralson, Kirk" <>
> Date: Mon, 15 May 95 17:54:45 EST


> A more experienced mead maker told me that the need to pasteurize or
> sulphite meads was a myth; that it was not necessary because honey has
> certain natural preservative properties that keep it from spoiling.
> Could this be correct?

Yes and no. The honey contains natural preservatices which prevent the
HONEY from spoiling. Once you dilute it with water, bets are off. The nice
thing is, your honey is almost guaranteed fresh. Also, I've been told that
these preservatives inhibit yeast. I can't confirm this by experience.

I suppose if you pasteurize your water, and add the honey to it and stir with
a sanitized instrument (or shake it), you wouldn't worry about boiling. Also,
many British homebrewers don't even boil their beer, and lots of people don't
boil their honey, without getting infections TOO often.

My understanding is that if you DO heat your honey, as I do, certain chemical
reactions take place and nasty flavored stuff rises as foam, and should be
skimmed. Also, you can heat it enough to pasteurize without boiling.

My first several meads were all boiled, with hops no less, and turned out

> I was planning on using the dregs from the secondary of an
> upcoming ale to ferment my next mead. It seems as if there would be
> an abundance of nutrients in this. Do I still need to add more?

You never _need_ to add any. I would guess there aren't as many nutrients
in the dregs as _I_ usually use, but there certainly are some. Add to that
the fact that the yeast will be healthy and abundant, and you can get away
without yeast nutrients. I've pitched meads on top of ale dregs before, but
I generally always add nutrients "just in case".

> I found out the hard way that mead's reputation for hangovers is well
> deserved. What makes the effects of mead different from beer and/or
> wine?

A friend of mine who's a hard drinker and a chemist said it sounded like a
fusel-alcohol/aldehyde hangover, but he didn't experience it first hand.
These are yeast by-products produces in addition to ethanol under "certain
conditions". I'm very interested to find out what the reasons are, especially
if I can reduce them by slight modifications to my brewing technique.

> Subject: yeast in bottle
> From: (billy bob)


> I have just bottled my first mead. I have let the yeast settle out of
> the mead in the bottle, so there is yeast sediment just covering the
> bottom of the bottle. My question is How will this affect the aging
> process?

To properly age, you should lay them on their side, so the yeast is allowed
maximum contact. My understanding is that the yeast in the bottle is GOOD
for aging the mead, that it can help reduce certain chemicals and so forth.
There's always a danger of autolysis, but I haven't heard any first-hand
accounts of problems with it.

> Should I worry about a yeasty tasting mead when it's ready to
> drink? Am I just being overly cautious?

You should let the mead rest upright for a couple days before serving, so the
sediment rests on the bottom, and then pour carefully to minimize the sediment
to the glass. Having a carafe handy and emptying the bottle into it is a nice
way to reduce that.

Alternatively, you could do the "method de champaignoise" (sp?). Excuse my
French, but this is where you tip the bottle upside down for a few days so
the yeast settles close to the cork/cap. Then, freeze the neck so the yeast
and a small qtty. of mead form a little plug. Tip the bottle rightside up,
open it, and the ice plug should rise out as CO2 comes out of solution from
the liquid. (Don't freeze the whole bottle.) Then recork. I've never done
this personally, only read about it.

  • -R

Subject: Vanilla Bean Mead...
From: (James Powell)
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 10:30:11 -0500


I was making a quick tour of the Mead section in Cats Meow 3, looking for
recipes. One that caught my eye was a vanilla mead called Thrilla in
Vanilla. I am a vanilla freak but was not excited about the recipe.
Mostly, because of the lack of details explaining the procedures from start
to finish, aging time, etc. The recipe calls for vanilla extract but I
would like to try using vanilla beans.

Would anyone have a recipe for vanilla bean mead they would care to share
with me?

Thanks in advance from a vanilla-holic.

Jim Powell

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #406, 17 May 1995 
From: Bowden Wise <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 11:43:09 -0400

Greetings Mead Makers!

I just recently signed up for the mead digest. I have made one batch
of beer long ago, and no longer really have the space to make a full
batch of real beer.

I heard that mead takes less space. So, I wanted to give it a try
this summer. Here in the NE I imagine honey is plentiful, so I have
begun my search for a bee keeper for some raw honey.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good mead recipe for a first
time brew? Something that will taste good, maybe one that doesnt
take too horribly long to age?

What kind of eqiupment do I need to get started….

Any other suggestions welcome! Thanks!


G. Bowden Wise
Computer Science Dept, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst, Troy, NY 12180
Email: WWW:

Subject: Re: Cellaring
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 12:51:04 -0400

>Sorry to monopolize the conversation, but can anybody recommend books or
>electronic sources of information on building home wine/mead cellars? I've
>got the place picked out, but would like some idea on how it should be
>insulated and designed.

I don't know what kind of house you have there, but here in New England,
most of the older houses have an unfinished cellar of some kind. Jay & I
(Jay, actually) have made "beverage storage areas" in two houses that we've
lived in.

First, pick out an area that is, ideally, out of the way, and doesn't have
wide temperature swings (most important). Near the boiler or hot water
heater is not good. In our current house, we put shelving in the area
under the stairs, and then used plywood to wall it off, attaching
everything to the 2×4's (in an unfinished basement, this is very easy).
Some hinges, and a hasp lock if you feel the need, are all you need to make
a plywood door and attach it to the rest of the new plywood "wall". We
also bought compressed white foam, available in perforated, tear-off
sheets, and stapled a layer of that to the inside of the plywood wall and
door. Any kind of foam insulation would work, I think. The foam on the
walls can extend out, so that the gap between wall & door is covered when
the door is closed. The whole thing cost about $50, and most of that was
the plywood. It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but hey, it works.

In out previous house, we simply walled off an already-existing nook. Less
work that way.

Good luck!


  • — Joyce


Subject: Is it too late to dilute the mead?
From: Michael A Abraham <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 13:38:57 -0400 (EDT)

Help! 6 days ago I prepared what was to be a 1-gallon batch of a high gravity
still mead. My recipe was 2 lbs clover honey, 23 fl oz of grape concentrate
(used for wine) 2 pkts of red star wine yeast, and 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient,
then make up the 1 gallon volume with water. However, when I racked from the
primary to my secondary (1 gal glass jug) last night, I found that I had
seriously underestimated the total volume, only having about 3/4 gal total.
My OG was 1.2, my gravity after 6 days is 1.09. My question is, do I top off
now with water? Will that ruin it? If I top off, do I stir it? Add more yeast?
Add the water warm or room temp? Any replies are most welcome.


Subject: re: Heating the Must
From: (Thomas Manteufel)
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 12:53:30 CDT

Kirk asks:

A more experienced mead maker told me that the need to pasteurize or
sulphite meads was a myth; that it was not necessary because honey has
certain natural preservative properties that keep it from spoiling.
Could this be correct? Most of my mead making information comes from
Papazian's first book, in which he recommends boiling for a short
time. If this is not necessary, I would prefer not to heat the must.


This is true of honey in its raw, viscous state. Its low moisture content
creates a high osmotic pressure for any active microorganisms in it,
literally drying them out before they have a chance to do anything in the
honey. That is why honey may be stored for years without spoiling.
However, once the honey is dissolved in water, the dormant microorganisms
rehydrate and set about devouring all the readily accessible sugars and
producing all sorts of noxious wastes and off-flavors. There are three
options you have to keep the must from spoiling.

Heat/pasturize/boil the must to kill the microorganisms. This has the
advantage of coagulating some of the larger proteins that may cause
cloudiness and bringing them to the top of the kettle, where they can be
skimmed off, along with the wax and other assorted debris. Heating also
drives off some of the volatile aromatics and flavors, affecting the finish
of the mead.

Sulphites preserve more of the aromatics and delicate flavors, but do leave
chemicals that some people are allergic to in the mead. Also, skimming the
must is not as efficient removing debris and proteins that can lead to cloudy
meads, but you can use finings to clarify them.

A third option is to pitch a large enough starter to quickly overpower the
other microorganisms before there is enough of their waste products to taste.
Yeast create an acidic environment that most other microorganisms are
uncomfortable in, but the wild yeast in the must may continue to thrive and
produce off-flavors until all the sugar is exhausted and the mead is finished.
There is also the concern of how much yeast is enough. Homebrewers are
notorious for underpitching.

What you choose to do is based on what you are most comfortable with. Have
you seen the bibliography in the ReadMe/FAQ in the archives? There are several
good sources that go into more detail than Papazian's single chapter.

Thomas Manteufel

Subject: tupelos, hangover, preservatives
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 18:43:00 -0500 (EST)

1) Tupelos are gum trees, genus Nyssa, family Nyssaceae (I think). Nyssa
sylvatica is the black gum, widely distributed in the southeastern U.S.
Nyssa aquatica is the water or tupelo gum, or just tupelo. This is the one
that provides nectar for tupelo honey (although they all provide copious
amounts of nectar). Nyssa ogeche is the "ogeechee plum," a rather rare tree
of swamps in coastal SC, GA, and FL. The Ogeechee River is a major blackwater
river and swamp system in south Georgia. My recall of botany isn't bad for a
structural entomologist, eh?

2) Hangovers are caused by metabolism of complex, higher-molecular-weight
alcohols and other stuff. Most of these are fermentation products of
complex high-molecular-weight sugars. Honey is chock-full of complex,
hmw sugars. Try drinking some water before you go to bed – much of the
"hungover" feeling is simple dehydration.

3) Honey is a preservation because it has so much stuff dissolved in it that it
sucks the water out of most any organism (e.g. bacteria) in it by osmotic
pressure or vacuum or some aspect of osmotic something or other (obviously
my recollection of physics is far poorer than my recollection of botany).
Honey was used in primitive societies as a burn and wound dressing because
it suppressed bacterial growth. Of course, many of those same socities also
allowed fly larvae to grow in wounds because they preferentially consumed
dead and festering tissue, cleaning the wound.

Only the hardy invite entomologists for dinner 😉


Subject: Honey Shelf Life
From: Patrick Lehnherr <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 95 18:40:11 -0700

Can anyone tell me what the self life of honey is? I have
a two year old jug of Black Locust Honey I'd like to use.
Even if I'm told it's past its prime I'll still use it but
I won't let my other honey sit in the cupboard so long if
it's shelf life is something shorter that that

End of Mead Lover's Digest #407