Mead Lover's Digest #0419 Sun 16 July 1995
Mead Lover's Digest #0419 Sun 16 July 1995
Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor
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Subject: Pomegranate melomel
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 10:15:26 -0400
Last fall I was confronted with a pomegranate tree/bush (?) full of fruit
that was dropping to the ground and going to waste. Over a period of
several weeks I collected and removed ~16lbs of fruit from the rind.
(Wheeee.) I used a couple pounds to make a test batch of ale (1 gal, 2-row
only, OG 1.040, 15 IBUs) and the result was a very sour, strangely bitter
beer. The bitterness was particulary disheartening because it could not
have come from my hopping, which was not much above threshold. Also, the
bittereness had an unpleasant sharpness/woodiness to it that left the
tongue feeling fuzzy. At this point I searched all digests and FAQs
available to me (HBD, BF, MLD, Cider, Lambic) and found very little info on
using pomegranates. Finally, in MLD 355, I found a reference to
pomegranate seeds being "astringent tasting". It seems to me that I found
a second reference (though I cannot re-find it) that stated that the skins
and pits of pomegranates are very bitter and their time spent in contact
with mead should be as short as possible. This made sense to me as I had
left the fruit (with skins and seeds) in my ale for almost a month (I'm
usually not this careless and never let fruit go for more than a week or
With all the time spent shucking pomegranates, there was no way I was going
to NOT use the remaining 14lbs of fruit, so I decided to go with a medium
mead in the hopes that a little sweetness would balance the sour.
The gory details from my notes:
1/29/95 – Added 10lbs orange blossom and 5lbs "California Desert
Wildflower" to five gallons of boiling water. Brought back to a boil for
15 minutes, while skimming. Added 2 tsp yeast nutrient near the end of
boil. Cooled with an immersion chiller, aerated by beating with spoon in
plastic primary, added two packs rehydrated Pasteur Champagne yeast. 6 gal
(?), OG 1.100.
2/9 – Racked to glass secondary. Filled carboy almost to neck, 5+ gal. SG
1.023, still sweet, slight sulphery smell.
3/25 – Racked just less than three gallons to 3 gal Corny. SG 0.998. Mead
was still very cloudy from yeast and still fermenting slowly. Strong honey
aroma, no grav taken.
Added ~1 gal pomegranate juice to just less than 2.5 gal mead left in
secondary. Juice was squeezed from ~14 lbs of previously frozen
pomegranate fruit in a hop bag. Juice was sanitized by heating to 170F and
left to sit for 10-15 minutes. Juice had a VERY grassy aroma during
heating – not very pleasant. Juice was cooled in sink and added via funnel
to secondary. Several hours later, the melomel had cleared considerably
(!?) and a thick layer (1"-1.5") of white stuff formed in the secondary
about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. This looked almost like what I'd
imagine an iceberg would look like. It was sort of flat on the "top", but
underneath there were large voids, caverns, etc. Bluish-white; looked very
much like paraffin. Deep red color with little white flecks suspended.
Refermentation appeared to have started.
3/26 – Iceberg still present but had sunk to bottom. Fermentation appears
to be no more active than the night before (that is: slight). Temps in
the 40s last night might have something to do with this. Or possibly
because the juice seems to have dropped the yeast and now the iceberg lies
between the mead and the yeast cake. Hmm…
4/15 – Mead still contains quite a bit of suspended snow-like particles.
Prepared and added 3 tsp bentonite.
4/18 – Racked to 3 gal carboy. Nearly filled the 3 gallon 'boy + 2/3 of
1/2 gal growler. SG 1.020.
Looked a lot like cranberry juice, clear and red. Unbelievably tasty.
Still quite sweet, and still fermenting slightly. No sign whatever of the
grassy/earthy aroma present in the pomegranate juice at its addition. Very
slightly tart, pomegranate taste/aroma evident. A lot of honey
taste/flavor. Flavor very reminiscent of Cranapple juice.
5/14 – Racked to keg. SG 1.008-1.010.
Further notes (Yikes! I hope this isn't too much.):
I cannot overemphasize the intensity of the grassy aroma coming from the
pom juice during pastuerization. It was almost overpowering and the juice
spent more time on the heat than it should have (almost 20 minutes) because
I had to debate whether or not to add the juice to what I knew to be
perfectly good mead. The memory of seemingly permanently juice-stained
hands and 3 or 4 ruined t-shirts eventually convinced me to add the juice.
Any ideas on what the 'iceberg' was? The best guesses I got (in private
correspondence with Pam Day and Mark Fryling, both hard science types) was
that I set the pectin during pastuerization and this coagulated upon
contact with the mead. Maybe with the suspended yeast? The base mead was
quite cloudy when the juice was added and cleared almost immediately
afterwards. Next time (and I think this is worth repeating), I'll not heat
I sent some of the pom melomel off to the Mazer Cup and was happy with my
scores and with the judges' suggestions. It scored a 36 and a 39. The one
judge thought the slight sourness was well-balanced with the sweetness and
liked the tartness. He also wondered if I had "dry-fruited"! The other
thought that there was too much tart and that perhaps I used too much
fruit. Both said honey aroma/flavor were a little low.
All in all, one of my best, and certainly most interesting, meads. It'll
be very interesting to see how this mel ages, it being only 7 months old at
Before I shut up, DaveP mentioned playing with lager yeasts in MLD 414.
I'd sure like to hear more about that, Dave.
Long Beach, CA
Subject: re: slow mead clearing
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dick Dunn)
Date: 12 Jul 95 08:53:30 MDT (Wed)
email@example.com (Chuck Wettergreen) writes:
[I wrote about finishing fermentation]
> >In my experience, they don't take all that long. I've had some laggards,
> >but mostly they're pretty quick if the acid and nutrients are right.
> Do you mean that you test/adjust the must Ph prior to pitching your yeast,
> or are you testing/adjusting Ph on-the-fly, ie. after the yeast has dropped
> the Ph?…
I almost never do any testing. (If you do test, you'd normally test total
acidity rather than pH, no?) I add acid only at the beginning. More
often than not, the acid (and nutrients as well) will come from fruit; I
make mostly melomels. In that case, since I ferment on the fruit for the
first week or so, I'm effectively adding acid at the beginning.
>…In Dan McConnell's and ? mead article in Zymurgy, they suggest
> fermenting without adding acid in the beginning, rather waiting until
> fermentation is complete and then adjusting with acid to taste Any comments?.
I'd rather defer to Dan on this. I can say that some of my experience
suggests that the yeast are happier in a more acidic environment than a
straight mead must can provide. That is, I'm not adding acid merely for
taste (and in fact I don't like that effect…I've had some commercial
mead that's disagreeable to my palate because I can taste the acid blend).
> also, I see occasional references to the use of pectic enzyme with fruit to
> improve clarity. Would anyone care to comment as to the proper uses of this
> enzyme, its benefits and drawbacks. Also, which fruits it should be used with.
Use it per package directions, before fermenting, because alcohol reduces
its effectiveness. The purpose is to break down pectin. Pectin is the
stuff that makes jam/jelly thicken; in a mead it will cause a haze that
won't settle out. You rarely need pectic enzyme unless you've heated the
fruit (say, to kill wild yeast) and even then you won't need it if you're
careful. Heat "sets" pectin–that is, it sort of coagulates it to cause
the haze (in mead) or gelling (in jelly). Apples are high in pectin but
you're not going to be heating apple juice when you use it (I assume).
Some berries have a fair amount of pectin. Ripe fruits have more than
underripe ones. Prickly pear fruit has almost none. Mostly, I'd say
don't overheat the fruit and you won't have to worry.
Dick Dunn firstname.lastname@example.org -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado USA
…Simpler is better.
Subject: Camden tablets
From: email@example.com (John Fulton)
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 13:53:53 +0600
I have received advice to use 3 camden tablets when racking mead. Does
anyone have experience doing this? What were the results? Do you think
that it may be noticable in the final product?
Subject: Massachusetts Association
From: Bob Gorman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 13:14:33 EDT
I'm trying to track down a Massachusetts based honey organization.
In specific I wish to obtain a source for 50lb buckets of fresh
I was told there is a woman by the name of Nancy Bee (?) who lives in
Woburn (whose number is unlisted) and is part of an organization
which has something to do with the coordination of commercial honey
sales for local beekeepers or some such thing.
Anyhow, If someone knows any beekeeper/apiary/honey related organization
based in Massachusetts please point me in the right direction.
Thanks for your time.
Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #418,...
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 1995 00:57:52 -0400
In regard to the request for info on yeast nutrients and there use amounts.
For the Difco nitrogen base, I would use the one without
ammonium compounds. I would use 3 oz. to 5 gallons mead. Make certain to boil
the difco before suing it wheather you boil you meads or not.
End of Mead Lover's Digest #419