Mead Lover's Digest #0413 Fri 9 June 1995


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



Mazer Cup Update ("Daniel S McConnell")
strange color! (SPEAKER.CURTIS)
PET bottles (Russell Mast)
Bottling Solution to Overcarbonation? (James Powell)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #412, 6 June 1995 (Gary Shea)
High SO2 Levels (Dave Cushman)
Guava mead (Diane Heckman)
Re: crystallized honey (Steve E. Mercer)
Fill it up Fluffy, I'm thirsty…. (Harralson, Kirk)
Re: Using A Hydrometer??? (


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Subject: Mazer Cup Update
From: "Daniel S McConnell" <


Date: 7 Jun 1995 06:35:04 -0400

Subject:  Mazer Cup Update

Just thought I would post a short update on the Mazer Cup.

The first half was judged Friday May 26th on schedule (melomel, show
and pyment). We did not have sufficient judges (or maybe stamina!) to
complete the entire task. 111 Meads are a LOT to work through. In the
interest of providing quality judging and not abusing our judges, we
decided to postpone the remaining flights until the following weekend.
It was my contention that competitors would prefer the best possible
evaluation rather than rapid turnaround.

Yesterday (Sunday) we finished the second half of the flights
(traditional, metheglin, braggot, cyser and hippocras).

Best of Show will be held by this weekend and results should start
to trickle out the following week.

Once again, the overall quality of the entries is astonishing.

Thanks for your patience.


Subject: strange color!
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 09:17 EDT

Hi all: I finally brewed up a kiwi melomel that I've been thinking about
making for some time. Used:

10 lb. clover honey
3 gal. water
juice of 2 lemons
pulp of 24 kiwis
Windsor Ale Yeast
Boiled the honey/water/lemon juice mixture for 10 min., skimmed scum, blah,
blah, blah…Pitched rehydrated yeast when cool.
After 4 days I racked it off of the fruit sludge into a carboy.
I expected a light green color, given the "normal" color of kiwi pulp.
The stuff looks like orange juice! Bright orange/yellow color!?!
Still fermenting like crazy, and smells great!
Can't wait to try this one….

On another note, I would just like to reemphesize something that has been said
many times on this forum regarding meads: BE PATIENT!!!

I had a bottle of my first mead (now 14 months old) with dinner the other
night…It was marvelous! When I tasted the first bottle 2-3 months after
bottling, it was, um…horrible. The term "Listerine<tm>" comes to mind
immediately. I used chemical-based yeast nutrient, and I think that had a lot
to do with it. But if you are a beer brewer who is dabbling in mead-making,
realize that you do not get the immediate gratification that you do with beer.
Mead needs many months, sometimes years before it reaches optimum flavor.
Bottle it, hide it away somewhere cool and forget about it for at least 6
months or longer; you won't be sorry 🙂

A Happy Mead-Maker in Happy Valley

Subject: PET bottles
From: Russell Mast <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 09:17:51 -0500

> From: (Allen Harris)

> 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?

I've used many 2L and a few 500mL PET bottles for beer. They're great
for beer. But, you don't generally keep beer around for more than a
couple months. I did once, in a PET bottle. It was cooked. Nasty
tasting. Oxidized, I suppose. Awful. (It was about 18 months in the
bottle. A 12 oz glass bottle from the same batch was fine. A little
old, but not awful.)

In other words, don't do it. Trade them to a beer brewer for some
wine bottles. (If that beer brewer is yourself, it's that much easier.)

> From: Fliper <>

> is everyone here so scientific… or
> am i the only one who blows off the hydrometer?

I don't usually use a hydrometer in my meads, because I don't do usually
do a full boil, so I water my musts down, and at that point the only thing
I want to be sticking in there is yeast.

> (i don't even float eggs till they be the size of a groat)

I'm not really sure what this means. Is this some Bosnian thing?

  • -R

Subject: Bottling Solution to Overcarbonation?
From: (James Powell)
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 11:40:05 -0500

I was thinking this morning about the posts to this digest that describe
mead that starts to ferment in bottles. This mead was thought to have
finished fermenting; had not created any air-lock bubbles or surface
activity for a long time. If I remember correctly these glass bottles are
referred to as glass grenades.

Since it has not been proven beyond dought as to what causes this
phenomenon, I thought it would be a good idea to try and store mead in a
container more adaptable to mead's unstable characteristics. I thought of
bottling my mead in 16oz. plastic bottles; the type found to contain soda
pop at the grocery store. Before the traditionalists and skeptics set their
flame throwers on 'Char Broil', please read the rest of this message. I
should mention that I have not tried this, but I think the pros outweigh the
cons from a theoretical point of view.

The cons to this storage container:

  • – Couldn't easily make a sparkling mead. Bottle will deform from the

pressure. It may still carbonate, but…

  • – Not a good serving container. Plastic probably won't impress your


  • – Probably shouldn't sterilize bottle with boiling water.


The pros to this storage container:

  • – As easy to sterilize as bottles if you don't use boiling water.

  • – Bottle is made of food grade plastic. It won't give any off-flavors to

the mead. Acidity should not ruin the plastic.

  • – Can unscrew cap to let out carbonation without contaminating mead or

taking off bottle caps.

  • – Bottle would not explode throwing shards of glass. It may 'explode' by

deforming and then splitting with the bottle spinning around on the floor,
spraying mead. This mess is a little safer to clean up than mead AND glass.
You could box your bottles together and not worry about an exploding bottle
breaking other bottles. Just put a lid on the box and any mess that occurs
won't be sprayed around the room.

  • – They are easily acquired. Almost every grocery store in the country has the




  • – They are not expensive.

  • – They are recyclable.


The only thing I can think of that would be a big negative is oxygen seeping
into the mead through the plastic. I don't think this occurs, does it? If
this were the case, wouldn't the carbonated beverage originally held in the
bottle force it's CO2 out through the plastic and go flat? Can anyone think
of other pros and cons that I have missed? I'm fairly new to the digest,
has this been discussed before?

Any constructive criticism or feedback would be welcome.

Jim Powell

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #412, 6 June 1995 
From: Gary Shea <>
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 1995 10:53:47 -0600

>From: Fliper <>

>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.

Me too. I don't have a hydrometer, don't measure much, don't
boil the honey… I guess I like thinking of mead making as something
you can develop a "feel" for, and the less chemistry and technology
involved, the happier I am. The rules of thumb I've learned so far
are ferment cool and use ale yeasts (I don't like strong meads). I
have made only melomels and almost always add lemons. No disasters
so far! Got my fingers crossed…



Subject: High SO2 Levels
From: Dave Cushman <>
Date: 07 Jun 95 18:52:18 EDT

Spencer wrote in #412 that he judged many overly sulfited cysers.
A couple of points to bear in mind: first, SO2 is largely used in the
wine industry and other food processing industries as an anti-oxidant
and in fact is not recommended as an effective means of controlling
bacterial infection by the major technical handbooks on winemaking.
Secondly, most of the older texts recommend the "sterilization" of
honey must with sulfites. I think the first point is valid when
you want the colour to remain light, bearingin mind that apple juice
turns brown really quickly when exposed to air.

For myself, I agree with pitching a strong culture and letting
nature take it's course. A strong primary fermentation will effectively
blanket the must with CO2, which also protects from oxidation.
It is possible to make very pale and clear drinks without the
addition of non-essential chemicals (if I may be redundant 😉

Dave Cushman

Subject: Guava mead
From: diane_heckman@Novell.COM (Diane Heckman)
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 95 16:54:17 PDT


A friend has a guava tree in the backyard, and way too
much fruit. Has anyone ever made a guava mead?
I was thinking it would be good to blend it with something.
Any ideas?

Is anyone in the SF Bay Area wants some guavas, email.


Subject: Re: crystallized honey
From: (Steve E. Mercer)
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 95 17:10:58 CDT

in Mead Lover's Digest #409, Daniel S McConnell writes:


>All of the honey that I use has seems to come in solid (crystal)
>form these days, and I too, consider that to be a sign of quality
>(or minimal processing). For long term storage one should freeze
>honey. I have read (but have no first hand experience) that as honey
>crystallizes, water is squeezed out from between the crystal
>lattice, reducing the 82% sugar concentration of honey to a point
>that fermentation may start in small, isolated pockets. There are
>species of yeast that can tolerate these high osmotic pressures.
>Over long periods of time and at warm temperatures this can reduce
>the honey quality.


This is quite true. There are at least 48 species of yeast
that have been isolated from unpasteurized honey with about 17
species being rather common. As long as the moisture content
of the honey is less than 17.1 percent, the honey is safe from
fermentation. When the moisture content rises above 20.0 percent,
the honey is always in danger of fermentation. For moisture
contents between 17.1 and 20.0 percent, the danger depends on the
yeast count of the honey.

When honey crystallizes, the liquid that is left has a higher
moisture content, and may begin to ferment. Fermenting honey
will exhibit fine gas bubbles with foam at the surface.
Storage below 11 deg C (52 deg F) or above 38 deg C (100 deg F)
will retard the fermentation process. Cold storage promotes
granulation. Warm storage degrades honey quality. Honey that
has crystallized can be reliquefied by heating it. Heating honey
to 145 deg F (63 deg C) for 30 minutes will destroy honey yeasts.
According to a 1939 study, heating honey to 155 deg F (68.3 deg C)
or higher (as in boiling) will kill honey yeasts in one minute.

Information from chapter 21 of "The Hive and the Honey Bee"
ISBN 0-915698-09-9 Copyright 1946,1949,1963,1975,1992
Dadant & Sons, Inc. Edited by Joe M. Graham
This is an excellent reference on all aspects of beekeeping and
honey production. Ask for it at your local library.

Steve Mercer

Subject: Fill it up Fluffy, I'm thirsty....
From: (Harralson, Kirk)
Date: Fri, 09 Jun 95 14:32:30 EST

Spencer writes:

>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.

I think cat piss is about 99.9999% ammonia, which is exactly what I
smell when I use the white-crystal-type yeast energizer. I believe
this is dimonium phosphate (?). I routinely added a teaspoon of this
in the boil when making yeast starters for beer. As it boiled, the
ammonia smell was very prevalent. I am surprised that it would linger
in a mead that long, unless people are using quite a bit of it.


Subject: Re: Using A Hydrometer???
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 14:56:18 -0400

In MLD#412 Fliper writes-
>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.

By not checking the gravity, you could certainly get a wide variety of meads.
However, if you are putting a couple of cases of mead down per year and plan
to age them for 20 years, things get more difficult. When you get elderly
and eventually pass on, your kids may come across a couple of cases of DIVINE
WINE (of the vine), and not know how to reproduce it. :'-(
That would be a tragedy!
When putting mead aside to age, it is important to keep notes (with gravity
and interesting procedures) on the bottles to let those who come behind you
know where you have explored ;-)>

Wassail to all!!! B^)> (_)3 (_)3 (_)3

Charles A. McCrumb

End of Mead Lover's Digest #413