Mead Lover's Digest #0411 Sat 3 June 1995


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



re: apricot use/racking Hell (Dick Dunn)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #410, 29 May 1995 (Robert Wenzlaff)
Re: Sweet Sparkling Mead (Steven Rezsutek)
Homemade yeast ghosts (Ted Major)
Mazer Cup Pyments (
"Cat Piss" mead (
Sweet Sparkling… (Russell Mast)
re: Using fruit spreads? (and lazy melomel philosophy) (Dick Dunn)
Cham. Method, Other stuff (MR GEOFFREY J SCHALLER)
re:dried fruits in mead (more) (Sylverre Polhemus)
Bentonite question, sodium benzoate ("IACIOFANO@MILKWY.ENET.DEC.COM")


NOTE: Digest only appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests. When

subscribing, please include name and email address in body of message.

Digest archives and FAQ are available for anonymous ftp at

in pub/clubs/homebrew/mead.


Subject: re: apricot use/racking Hell 
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 29 May 95 21:37:49 MDT (Mon) (Charles Wettergreen) wrote (in response to my caution
about apricot mush causing everything to clog during the first racking):

> Racking off of any fruit or hops is easy using this method (thanks to Pierre
> Jelenec for this one). Assuming everything is sanitized, insert a standard
> racking cane into a fine mesh nylon grain bag and secure loosely at the top
> with a rubber band…

That's SOP for me…I only tried it once in the distant past without any
sort of filter bag over the racking cane. (That was an unimaginable mess.)
Even with a filter bag, I've had pretty serious messes…I get enough pulp
to clog up the entire bag (or enough of it near the tip of the cane to stop
the flow) at least a couple times during racking with apricots.

I tie the bag around the top with a piece of nylon string rather than a
rubber band. It surely doesn't make any real difference; a rubber band
just doesn't seem like something I want to dunk in my mead, so I indulge
my imagining that it matters.

>…The grain bag I use is rectangular, about 8 inches wide
> and 1 1/2 feet long, with a sewn bottom and edge…

This is the only possibly significant difference I see between your
procedure and mine…the bag I use is somewhat smaller.

Perhaps the hassles I've had come from using more fruit than other folks…
or perhaps I leave the mead on the fruit longer. I dunno. In any case,
the end result (apricot melomel) is well worth the hassle.

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #410, 29 May 1995
From: Robert Wenzlaff <>
Date: Mon, 29 May 1995 22:45:52 -0400 (EDT)

> Subject: Racking
> From: Michael Schaffer <>

[. . .]

> While I was collecting supplies to start this batch, I
> mentioned that I was doing a mead to the local 'You Brew' shop.
> He stated that he had done a few meads and offered this advice:
> Instead of racking the mead off the sediment, swirl the
> carboy to mix the sediment back up. According to him
> the living yeast that was trapped in the sediment is
> released and it goes back to work. He was able to cut his
> fermation time in half.

This is the method I was taught. I don't know if it will cut the primary
ferment time in half, though.

A few caveats though, if you do your primary in a bucket, don't agitate
much until the fermentation gets going. You don't want to over oxidize
the must. After the first day or so, the CO2 will have purged most of
the O2. Also, once the ferment gets really rocking, don't agitate as the
foam will blow through your vapor lock. This isn't much of an infection
hazard, but it makes a big mess. Don't agitate after the first racking,
as not enough CO2 is being made to exclude the O2.

I enjoy fairly short fermentation times compared to the norm on the list,
but I suppose that is due more to the lightness of my meads (~3#/gal.)
and my use of the wine method (stabilization) as much as my agitation.

Robert Wenzlaff

FTP a T-shirt Catalog from "" or

Visit our Web page at


Subject: Re: Sweet Sparkling Mead
From: Steven Rezsutek <>
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 11:00:13 -0400

Re unexpected refermentation:

This is just a WAG, but is it possible that aeration during racking/bottling
has anything to do with it? I can imagine that what O2 is absorbed during
a careful racking may not be enough to get things going again in a whole
carboy, but perhaps in the smaller volume of a bottle, the concentration
would be high enough for what yeast are present to start multiplying again.

Just a thought… I've been fortunate enough not to have this happen so far
in bottles, but it has occured for me in racking a small (3 gal) batch.


Spencer Thomas says:

> 2. Prime with a bit more honey and bottle in champagne (or other VERY
> heavy bottles, such as those that Lambics come in) bottles with crown
> caps.

Speaking of lambic bottles, does anyone have a good source for the rather
large (30mm?) crown caps that come on lambic (and French cider… mmmmm! 🙂
bottles? I've got quite a few of these type of bottles lying around that I'd
love to put to use, but I haven't found a source for caps (and capper head)
for them.

I've had mixed results using these with the plastic champagne caps, probably
due to tolerances in the stopper and throat diameters — some seem to work
ok, while others are too loose. (Yeah, one of these days I'll cough up for a
champagne corker, but until then…)



Subject: Homemade yeast ghosts
From: Ted Major <>
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 15:18:42 -0400

Recently a friend of mine suggested a use for those packets of yeast that
come with ale kits. He suggested rehydrating them and then pithching
into the wort at the end of the boil to kill the yeast, thereby providing
a cheap yeast nutrient. Has anyone heard of or tried this? Does anyone
know a reason not to do so?

Tidmarsh Major

Subject: Mazer Cup Pyments
Date: Tue, 30 May 95 16:27:39 EDT

Last Friday, I spent an enjoyable evening judging pyments as part of
the Mazer Cup mead competition. Aside from one, all were very good or
excellent. (To be honest, I have to record that the other two judges
disagreed with my dislike of that one.) The faults in these meads
were not the sorts of flavor defects that I find when judging beers,
but were rather a lack of certain positive aspects.

According to the guidelines, a pyment should express honey, grape
character (varietal if identified), and should have a good balance of
sweetness, acidity, honey, grape, etc. Of course, the balance of
sweet/acid would depend on whether it was a sweet or dry pyment.

It was tough narrowing the field down to three. At the end of the
flight, I had determined my top 5: two tied for 1st, one in 2nd, and
two tied for 3rd. After much discussion and tasting, we came to a
consensus on three. All of the top three had good varietal grape
character AND good honey expression. Two of the top three could
easily have passed as wines. The winners ranged from dry to sweet,
and all were appropriately balanced.

The pyments that were easy to eliminate from contention were not
*bad*, but were just uninteresting. I would have been happy drinking
any one of them (except one, as noted), just as I'm happy drinking a
$5 bottle of wine. But they were lacking the brilliance and
complexity that makes a winner.

My thanks to all of you who entered pyments, and good luck!

P.S. Do NOT e-mail me to ask for results. The competition judging has
not finished, and in any case, I do NOT know who entered any
particular mead. Any such requests will be ignored.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: "Cat Piss" mead
Date: Tue, 30 May 95 16:29:38 EDT

Someone recently mentioned a "chestnut" mead that smelled like cat piss.
Well, I ran into one the other night. It was a "linden honey" show
mead (i.e., just honey, water, and yeast, no other flavoring
ingredients). After sitting in a glass for a while, it had a definite
odor of cat piss. Otherwise very nice, but tough to get it past your nose.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: Sweet Sparkling...
From: Russell Mast <>
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 11:28:03 -0500

Again, I've never done this, but I recall having read in a book the
recommendation to add honey slowly over the course of the ferment,
both to facilitate higher finishing alcohol and to avoid stuck
fermentations. One of the recipes called for 0.5 lb/ gallon to start,
and then .25/gal added each time the fermentation stopped. This is
supposed to be gentler on the yeast, and a good way to judge when you
really have topped out. Presumably, this method could be adapted for
making a sweet sparkling mead. Maybe. Maybe not. Any comments?

  • -R

Subject: re: Using fruit spreads? (and lazy melomel philosophy)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 31 May 95 23:21:14 MDT (Wed) (Kevin Schutz) wrote:
> On another closely related topic, has anyone ever tried to use these newer
> fruit spreads as a source for fruit in meads?…
…>…The spreads have to
> have been reduced somehow, but I'm not sure if they've been boiled…

Certainly boiled, probably under reduced pressure to make them boil down
faster. The boiling reduces them and sets the pectin, both of which help
them thicken.

>…I've wondered about how one would prepare the spreads without having
> excessive pectin problems. Any clues?

Usual approach is pectinase (pectic enzyme), available from winemaking
shops. Unknown how well it would work or how much you'd need for this.

The no-preservative/no-added-sugar spreads I've seen have been fairly
expensive. Have you found an inexpensive source for them, or is there
some particular reason they seem attractive for a melomel?

There's always the matter of wanting to make a melomel but not being able
to get the fruit. I've tried my share of unlikely ingredients, but I've
mostly come around to a different approach: I try to work at/behind the
fruit seasons, waiting until I can get fresh fruit in season and freezing
it if it comes along before I'm ready to start a mead…thus, I might work
with strawberries, cherries, raspberries, apricots, peaches, and apples, in
that order, through a season. Call it "go with the flow" or "just plain
laziness". It gets easier to sit back and grab whatever fruit is plentiful
as the seasons go by, once you build up a stock of various meads to drink
in the meantime.

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Cham. Method, Other stuff
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 1995 19:10:15 EDT

Thanks for all the replies on the Dried Apricots. It's hard when you get
so many different methods for the same ingredients. I'll start a batch
before I leave the country for a while – that way I won't keep poking at it
and it will age nicely while I'm gone. Out of sight, out of mind…

A lot of people have asked about the Champagane Method thing. I tried it –
it can be difficult. The Ice must be COLD. Try chilling the bottles in
the fridge first – it will make freezing times shorter, and reduce loss of
carbonation. (Of course, you will need to keep them upside-down in the
fridge whe you do this.) I found that the plastic corks I used on my
chanpagne bottles made this method dificult – it was not a solid plug, so
it seemed. Also, they can be dificult to undo. Try capping the champagne
bottles – American bottles will take regular caps fine. Then, once it
comes off and you eject the ice, you can put a "real" cork back in. I
haven't tried this yet, but I will for my Apricot batch.

There was a request about stirring up yeast for fermentation. I have heard
that the yeast settles more slowly then the rest of the Lees – the stuff
caled the "Trub." The suggestion was to stir it up 6-8 hours before
racking, so the non-yeast would sink out, while the yeast will saty in
suspension for the racking. However, personal experience tells me that the
Lees tend to clump and will float if disturbed, and may not sink for a LONG
time. Besides, you should remove the Lees, as they can eventually
contribute off flavors. (I know I just contradicted my own advice, but
maybe someone else can help me out or correct me.)

The "Sparkling Sweet" debate is a toughie. I'm going to take my shot by
doing the Apricot with a Champagne – I'm hoping the Apricot bouquet will be
associated with sweetness enough to help out. I'll also use a good amount
of honey. The Lactose solution I have heard before, but some people have
reported that it is a different sweetness, and that it tastes funny.
Wether this is true, or just a pre-conceived notion from knowing it's
Lactose, I'm not sure. (Now that I've said that, no one will be able to
trust their own tastesfor Lactose…). The Cider Digest had this whole
sweet/sparkle thing a few months back, and they pretty much reached the
same conclusions we have so far.

BTW, "MR. GEOFFREY SCHALLER" is only because of Prodigy – I really can't
controll it. "Geoff" is just fine. 🙂


  • -Geoffrey


Subject: re:dried fruits in mead (more)
From: Sylverre Polhemus <>
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 14:22:03 -0500 (CDT)

In # 410, Kevin Schutz asks about setting pectins when using dried fruits
in meads. I did a quick lit-search, to see what the 'experts' had to
say. Most advised using sulfites for sterilization, rather than boiling,
and added a longer fermentation time. A few suggested boiling and chopping,
either with or without the addition of pectinase (the Anderson's
Winemaking has dosage levels). Several seemed to intimate that
no sanitation/pasteurization was necessary. For myself, I'll stick to
boiling the fruit. I filtered some of the mead at bottling-time, for
clarity, and the rest of the bottles I stuck in the refrigerator for a
few hours. Both methods worked: my mead had nothing floating about, and
it tasted good, which is the important thing.

Regarding the use of fruit spreads, I can't say I have ever had the
desire to; I don't like their taste. If you do decide to try it, check
the wine books for helpful hints. I know there is a process for making
wine from jam, though I haven't a recipe to offer. Good luck!



Subject: Bentonite question, sodium benzoate
From: "IACIOFANO@MILKWY.ENET.DEC.COM" <"bt619::iaciofano">
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 95 15:52:51 EDT

Hello all,

I have a couple of bentonite questions that nobody I've spoken to so far

can answere. I figure this is the best place for something like this.
Now then, I'm looking to clear two 5 gal carboys of traditional mead that
are done fermenting. In the past I've had problems from batches that were
bottled clear and later developed what has been described to me as a protein
sediment. The local wine wizard that runs the homebrew shop that I go to
told me that bentonite will help to sediment the protein. I've never heard
of using bentonite to settle protein, only to settle yeast. Is this a common
thing? I know how bentonite works, by electrically attracting yeast which is
of opposite charge. Is protein of the same charge polarity as yeast?

Also, I bought some sodium benzoate stabilizing tablets. Added these at

1 tablet per gallon to the fermenting mead when it was at the gravity (read
residual sugar level) that I wanted. Can anybody tell me exactly how the
sodium benzoate works to stop the fermentation and if it produces any bad
side effects such as odd flavors, etc?




End of Mead Lover's Digest #411

%d bloggers like this: