Mead Lover's Digest #0412 Tue 6 June 1995


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



1st Traditional Mead — An Update (Allen Harris)
Re: Sweet Sparking… (Jon Rosenberger)
Homemade yeast ghosts (Jacob Galley)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #411, 3 June 1995 (Robert Wenzlaff)
When to rack?….First time meader question (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #411, 3 June 1995 (Fliper)
Re: Homemade yeast ghosts (Russell Mast)
Feeding mead & bentonite (Gordon L. Olson)
sulfites (
Sweet Sparking idea (Richard Beach)
A European mead-tasting (Patricia Reynolds)
Peach melomel… (Craig Wheeler)
(racking) (Charles Wettergreen)
Reasons for looking into fruit spreads (Kevin Schutz)


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Subject: 1st Traditional Mead -- An Update
From: (Allen Harris)
Date: Sun, 04 Jun 95 01:33:45 EDT

About a month ago I brewed my first mead. Thanks to the folks who
provided answers to my questions. Today I racked it to two new 3
gallon carboys it already seems to be clearing. Fermention has all
but stopped. The alcohol content is about 12%. It is quite "hot" and
has a slight citrus taste (as I think back to the taste of the honey,
the alfalfa honey had a similar taste. It is quite light tasting, not
to dry, but not sweet. I liked the taste even with all the little
yeasties floating in it.

I have split the batch with the idea that I could make half traditonal
mead, and the other a melomel. I have found several different
opinions on when to add the fruit. At this point, I am going with the
theory that adding fruit now will keep the best flavour, while the
high alcohol will kill off any beasties in the fruit. Fruits of
choice are rasberries (3kg) or cranberrys (72 oz.). My other option
is to use a tea like one of the Celestial Seasonings flavours. Any
comments on these two options are most welcome.

The other question is about bottles. I have a great number of 500mL
PET bottles (green plastic). While not as pretty as glass, they are
easy to come by and clean up well. Since this mead will sit in the
bottles for some time, are they up to the task?

Thanks for the help.



Subject: Re: Sweet Sparking...
From: Jon Rosenberger <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 1995 12:27:00 -0400 (EDT)

> 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?

I haven't done any real research on this technique, but it reminds me of
my first batch of mead. We had no recipe, and didn't really know how
much honey to add to 10 gallons of water, so we added 10 pounds and then
added more each time the fermentation stopped, just like you're
suggesting. It turned out to be a very strong, very tasty batch
(unfortunately, it didn't last long at all). We had no problems at all
with stuck fermentation, despite the fact we didn't really know what we
were doing. I haven't been able to make another batch that strong since,
though i confess i haven't tried too hard (it was REALLY strong). I'd
say it's worth trying if you want to make an especially strong drink, and
i'm going to test your idea on my next batch, in a week or so.

Jon L Rosenberger


Subject: Homemade yeast ghosts
From: Jacob Galley <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 95 14:43:50 CDT

> 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?

One bit of advice: Before you throw the yeast in the must, make sure
there are no maggots coming along for the ride! Yes, this has
actually happened to Russ and me. The yeast in question was Red Star,
I think, and the packets had little holes (~2mm) in them. Maybe they
were hornet larvae? Whatever.


"This is a poisonous activity. . . .
A lot of people are on living the margin in America."

<– former "drug czar" William Bennett


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #411, 3 June 1995
From: Robert Wenzlaff <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 1995 22:18:09 -0400 (EDT)

> 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?

Yeast Hulls that are bought at the shop are shattered ultrasonicaly. I'm
not sure if a yeast's cell wall would survive the temprature change of
being dumped in the boil, but I would bet you wouldn't get much that was
small enough for another yeast cell eat. (They may seem small to us,
but …)

Considering how effective they are, Yeast Ghosts are a cheap nutrient.

Robert Wenzlaff


Subject:        When to rack?....First time meader question
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 95 7:23 EDT

Having brewed my first mead just over a month ago I was wondering if

there is a science to racking? I was told 'just rack every month or so…'
But I was wondering if there is some other factor to go by – like after so
much sediment on the bottom of the carboy.


P.S. I racked this mead from primary to secondary after my airlock

slowed down to 1 burp every few minutes and I now have ~3/4 inch on
sediment in the carboy.


Thanks for any and all help – Gerald Wirtz


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #411, 3 June 1995
From: Fliper <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 1995 09:01:47 -0400

Hi there all…
figured i'd spout off for a while in response to the current topics.

i've had good luck agitating the yeast myself….
learned mostly through observation…
I mostly make meads by taste…. where i also found out about adding
the "sugars" over time (be it honey, fruit, whatever…Hi kids its
feeding time!) anyway… the honey usually heads for the bottom
sediment where it pokes a nice big hole and usually gives the whole
thing alot of fizz. agitating the rest of the mixture for a nice
gloppy show. as an off note…. is everyone here so scientific… or
am i the only one who blows off the hydrometer? (i don't even float
eggs till they be the size of a groat) Makes for a nice variety of
meads…. a bit difficult to reproduce exactly.

I've also had good luck (seemingly) fermenting under pressure… either
in Groulsh (sp?) bottles or with a capped carboy (ok… so its an
apple juice jug… sue me 🙂 Always wondered what the higher acidity
and pressure would do…. i realize this is an accident ready to
happen (oops… forgot to vent the little beasties today…) but i've
tried to be careful.

the groulsh bottle method works quite nicely… i like very sweet
sparkly meads and usually have enough bubbles to rival even the most
fizzy champagnes…. kinda annoying when you "really" want a glass of
the stuff and a tbl fills the entire glass with fizz… well worth the
wait though. 😉

this stream of thought brought to you by
F'lip (with far too man ellipsises on his hands… 🙂

and now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

Subject: Re: Homemade yeast ghosts
From: Russell Mast <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 1995 08:47:39 -0500

> From: Jacob Galley

> Maybe they were hornet larvae?

Horseflies. I had the yeast packets on my back porch, and come spring time
it was a-buzz with them. I just opened the door to the outside for awhile
and they all took off, pardon the pun.

  • -R

Subject: Feeding mead & bentonite
From: (Gordon L. Olson)
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 1995 08:37:34 -0600

Russell Mast comments & asks:

>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?

My normal procedure is to feed my meads with honey; however, I start out
at 2 pounds per gallon. Then when the fermentation slows down, but before
it stops, I add 0.5 lbs/gal every few days. How much I add in total
depends upon what yeast I am using and how sweet I want the mead to be.
If my carboy get too full, I bottle some of the mead. If I accidentally
let the mead stop fermenting, I rack it before adding more honey. Unless
it is close to its alcohol tolerance limit, the mead will start fermenting
again. The last additions, when I am fine tuning the sweetness, can be
small. I usually use potassium benzoate when it is where I want it.

When I add honey to an actively fermenting mead, I first pasteurize it
in my microwave oven. Mine has a very convenient temperature probe that
lets me easily keep the honey at 150 F for 20 minutes. I do not add water
to the honey unless my carboy has too big of an air space. I pour the
hot honey directly into the carboy. Cooling it first would just make it
hard to pour.

This method of feeding the must has worked well for me. I think that my
meads have fermented faster since I switched to this method. I tend to
go look at my meads every day or two, I find it hard to ignore them, so
keeping track of the fermentation activity is no big deal.

Unfortunately, I don't see how this method can help you make a sweet
sparkling mead.

Ed_I asks:

> 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?

My understanding is basically the same as yours. Bentonite may help take
some of the protein out, but it is not designed for it. From my beer
brewing, I got in the habit of using polyclar in my beers that I wanted
to be crystal clear. Polyclar takes out the carbohydrates and proteins
that cause chill haze. Some people say that polyclar also removes some
some phenols and tannins. So my standard mixture for 5 gallons is one
tablespoon of sparkaloid (similar to bentonite) and one teaspoon of
polyclar in one half cup of boiled water. Adding this after all fermen-
tation has stopped has work very well for me. Polyclar is a long chain
polymer (plastic) that settles out and does not desolve in beer or mead.
It is very neutral, no taste or aroma.


Subject: sulfites
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 95 11:59:19 EDT

At least half of the cysers I judged yesterday (1st round Mazer Cup)
had levels of sulfite aroma ranging from detectable to obnoxious. Is
everybody over-sulfiting their musts, or what?

I say: make a nice big yeast starter and you won't have to sulfite.
Besides, a little wild yeast gives character to a cider. Heck, until
the last decade or so, most commercial wines were fermented with the
wild yeast on the grapes.

Subject: Sweet Sparking idea
From: Richard Beach <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 95 10:31:41 MDT

I've had this idea for making sweet and sparking meads and ciders

for some time, but haven't actually tried it (I've had enough batches come
out of the bottle sparking when I didn't want them to, that I've had very
little desire to push the tensile strength of glass on purpose). I'm wondering
if anyone else has tried this, and how it worked, or if anyone sees an
obvious problem.


Basically we are trying to make something be carbonated. In the

normal dry case, we have yeast in stuff that quit producing CO2 because
they ran out of food, so we add a controled amount of sugar, and away they
go giving us nice little bubbles. In the sweet case, we have plenty of food,
and the yeast have just run out of space to excrete alcohol.


So, why not give them more space? Make the sweet mead/cider/whatever

and when fermentation stops due to the alcohol level, and you are
ready to bottle, add some boiled water to your batch and bottle. The
additional volume will reduce the alcohol level, allowing the remaining yeast
to go a bit more. Since you boiled the water, the O2 level should be minimal.
A little experimentation, and the apropriate volume of water could be
determined. If oxidation is a problem, you could always put some of you batch
(drawn from the bottom to get some yeast) into the water to flush the oxygen
out (well, consume it).


What do people think? Has anyone done this? Does it spoil the mead?




Subject: A European mead-tasting
From: (Patricia Reynolds)
Date: Sun, 04 Jun 1995 21:42:46 GMT

Dear All,

Together with a dozen friends, I had a mead-tasting yesterday.

We tasted
Lurgashall Winery: Domesday (12.5%)

Christmas Mead (12.5%)
Old Jenny (17%)

Lindisfarne (14.5%)
Elizabethan (14%)
De Rit Mede honigdrank (12.5%)


We also know of a mead produced by Country Wines Ltd (remembered as
similar to Christmas Mead, without the spices), and two meads sold at
the Maldon 1991 Commemeration/Celebrations, but I was unable to obtain


We all ranked the Christmas Mead as the best. A light/quaffable mead,
with a spicy taste – cinammon, nutmeg.

Old Jenny, is the sherry to the Christmas Mead's wine. A small glass
after dinner was just right!

The De Rit (from the Netherlands) was … different. It was rather
'heavy' in taste, and with a strong under-taste of apples (from
apple-blossom honey, or from using concentrated apple juice?). It
was dry, with a strong honey scent.

About equal numbers prefered the Lindisfarne as a second choice (Old
Jenny being so different, we felt we couldn't include it in the rankings,
most people prefering the Christmas Mead, but not sure what to rank as second).
Lindisfarne is not a honey-alcahol, but a wine+spirits+honey drink.

About equal numbers placed the Doomsday ahead of Lindisfarne. It is
fermented honey, fortified with brandy. It is somewhat smoother (I think
the spirits in Lindisfarne = whisky).

The Elizabethan Mead was (for 95% of the tasters) far too sweet.
It is very good for tenderizing pork. I will use the remainder of the
bottle for sweetening yoghurt.

Patricia Reynolds

Subject: Peach melomel...
From: Craig Wheeler <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 95 10:08:07 PDT

Hi there-

I'm a beer brewer who's just discovered the wonders of mead (took me
way too long), and now I'm impatiently waiting for peach season to make
a peach melomel. Not having made a melomel before, I've got a few
questions that I haven't found satisfactory answers for:

I want to do a 5 gallon batch, but I haven't run across any peach
recipes to give me an idea of how much (fresh) fruit is needed to give
it a nice peachy character. Does anyone have a recipe or a "peach rule
of thumb" they're willing to share?

Would a dry mead, a sweet mead, or a sparkling mead be best with
peaches? Or does it matter?

And finally, is the addition of acids and/or tannins desirable in this
type of mead? If so, how much?

I'd appreciate as much help as I can get. Private e-mail would be great.

Thanks much,
Craig Wheeler

Subject: (racking)
From: (Charles Wettergreen)
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 95 08:10 CDT



On racking off of fruit, my grain bag is so long that the rubber band never
makes it near the mead, it's just there to "bunch" the bag together at the top
of the racking cane.


* RM 1.3 00946 *


Subject: Reasons for looking into fruit spreads
From: (Kevin Schutz)
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 95 09:26:35 MDT

Hello again. Thanks to Dick and Sylverre for responding to my question about
using fruit spreads.

In response to Dick, no I haven't found an inexpensive source. That's a big
drawback. The main reason I thought about using the spreads is that I was
looking for an alternate source of fruits last winter. Poor planning on
my part left me without any frozen fruits and I was really in the mood to
get something going. One possible advantage to the use of the spreads that I
see is that you can sometimes find some interesting fruits that I can't find
anywhere else (ie – fresh). I thought about using the pectinase, but I had no
idea how much to use. Once again, cost is a big deterrent.

Sylverre mentions taste. Well some spreads do taste better than others. I
think you could select from the better tasting brands. The bigger question
to me is how would the finished product taste. Given the expensive costs
referred to above, I'm leary to even attempt a small trial batch.

More than anything, I was just curious if anyone had attempted the use of this
source before.


Kevin Schutz

End of Mead Lover's Digest #412

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