Mead Lover's Digest #0427 Tue 29 August 1995


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



RE: Mead Lover's Digest #426, 23 August 1995 (Gary Watts (Volt Temporary))
Sparkolloid (Dick Dunn)
Alchohol % in Mead (
Raisin-Clove Melometh (
Hippocras Is Not Mead (Fred Hardy)
thanks [-/+] from the janitor, and some musings (Mead Lover's Digest)


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Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #426, 23 August 1995
From: Gary Watts (Volt Temporary) <>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 95 08:51:49 PDT

Replys to questions below..

> I botched an old recipe but the mead came out a very powerful 20.3%.
> The resulting beverage tasted very much like a flat dry champage.


  • -I wonder how you are measuring this? Vinometers are notoriously

  • -inaccurate. I have never heard of yeasts tolerating 20% alcohols

  • -solutions, however I'd love to be proven wrong 😉



  • -In MLD 425 you kept referring to percentages (20.3%, etc.). Am I to assume

  • -this is the level of alcohol in the batch? If not, 20.3% of what. Also,was

  • -the tea added an instant including sugar or just tea?


I used regular off the shelve dry champagne yeast. To measure the
alcohol level I used my trusty beer hydrometer, begining reading –
ending reading etc. 20.3% was the level of the batch.

Plain black lipton tea. No sugar, not instant.

I had to make a few calls after the reading to verify it myself. It
sounded way to high to me. I saved the yeast though, and I am trying
to breed it. Maybe it's a mutant or demon strain. I'll update
everybody if it starts glowing, or speaking in tongues.

Subject: Sparkolloid
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 24 Aug 95 22:22:09 MDT (Thu) (Matt Maples) writes:
> I say go for the Sparkaloid!!! I like to let things clear on there own if I
> can, but some yeast strains take to darn long to fall out. 9 times out of 10
> sparkaloid will do the trick (for me)…

I've used sparkolloid, but I want to offer a different view on it. My view
is actually an echo of what Matt writes, namely:
> …The only problem with
> sparkaloid is that is is very light and fluffy. Thats why you have to wait
> so long for all of it to fall out…

The problem is the "fluffy" part…Sparkolloid *does* a nice job of
clearing a mead, but what settles out in the bottom of the carboy is *so*
fluffy that it's hard to rack without pulling the fluff over…and it comes
over on the next racking, and the next…

The problem, as I see it, is that we've got two factors here. First,
there's the ability of a fining agent to pull out <whatever-makes-the-mead-
cloudy> and settle it to the bottom. But second, there's the ability of
that agent to compact the sediment into something that's not easily lifted
during racking. Example: Bentonite is selective in what it settles, but
when it does settle, it really sits in a cake on the bottom, and racking
off it is no problem at all. I've had the opposite experience with Sparko
lloid, to the extent that I won't use it again! (YMMV…don't take my word
as gospel; just take it as a caution.)

For me, melomels seem to clear spontaneously: They ferment like crazy; the
fermentation dies down; the mead starts to fall clear. Rack once, let the
rest of it settle; rack again at bottling time. Serve nice clear melomel.
I've had nowhere near such good luck with traditional meads, though.

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: Alchohol % in Mead
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 95 04:14:15 -0700

Item Subject: cc:Mail Text

While I am new to MLD, I have been making my own meads for about 4
years now. I use a fair amount of honey (about 3.5 to 4 lbs per
gallon) and Red Star Montrachet yeast(the only thing I could find when
I started). I don't use any camden of sulfites at all though, letting
the yeast ferment out on its own. I find that this not only improves
the taste of the mead, but also cuts the hangover out almost
completely. Anyway, I usually get an alcohol content of between 18%
and 20% with 23.1% being my record. This may seem high (it did to
me), so I calibrated my vinometer with water (zero) and to several
commercial wines (known % of alcohol). The results remained the same
as before. My meads are a medium sweet variety with a smooth flavor
(after about a year) and a *KICK* if your not careful. Makes a bottle
go a long way.


Subject: Raisin-Clove Melometh
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 95 05:12:46 -0700

Item Subject: cc:Mail Text

This is a recipe that I invented, and has become one of my favorites.
It has a fairly strong flavor and is great when mulled. I didn't know
whether to call it a metheglin or a melomel as it has both spices and
fruit, so I decided to give up and coin my own word "melometh".

For a 5 gallon batch:

20 lb. honey (strong flavored ones work best)
2 lb. dark raisins (haven't tried white ones yet)
2 tblsp whole cloves (DON'T use ground ones)
1 oz. citric acid
1 package yeast (I use Red Star Montrachet)
Water to 5 gal.

Dissolve honey in water, add raisins and cloves, & bring to a simmer
(don't boil) for about 5 minutes. Let cool to 95 degrees or so,
reserving a small portion to start yeast. Start yeast and add to must
in primary fermentation container. Rack to carboy after a week,
removing raisins and cloves and topping off with water. Rack again
after 3 mo. and bottle @ 6 mo.

This can be drinkable after 3 or 4 months but its best to wait a full
year to age properly.


Subject: Hippocras Is Not Mead
From: Fred Hardy <>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 1995 16:10:53 -0400 (EDT)


  • ———————–O R I G I N A L P O S T ———

Subject: Bunratty Mead/Meade
From: (Daniel R. Burke)
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 13:02:03 -0500


When my wife and I were in Ireland last summer, we were exposed
to our first mead – a product of the historic Bunratty meadery
at Bunratty castle. It was love at first sip, and we bought
some some bring home with us. We've been nursing it carefully,
until we could find someone going back that could bring us some

Imagine our surprise then, when selecting a port in our favorite
liquor store here in Texas, when we saw "Bunratty Meade!"
Elated, we grabbed a bottle amazed at our good fortune, and
scurried home with it. Only to discover later that this is
Meade, with an "e", not Mead. The label states "A white wine
flavored with honey and herbs."

So obviously, this is not mead. The question is though, why?
Why would someone go to the trouble of producing an imitation of
mead? Is there something in the export laws that make it
necessary? Or do they assume that the American palette wouldn't
appreciate a true mead? Anyone have any insight into this
curiosity? All things considered, tho, it ain't bad!



  • ——————– E N D O F P O S T —————-


Actually, Dan, what you bought was true Hippocras. This has been
mistakenly defined as mead in most so called authoritative works,
as well as a mead category in the AHA. We can classify things any
way we wish, and names often mean different things to different
folks. The confusion over Hippocras is such a case.

One of the earliest authoritative works on mead is Wassail! In
Mazers of Mead by Lt. Col. Robert Gayre, published in 1948.
Charlie Papazian added a few pages of mead recipes and the book
was republished as Brewing Mead in 1986. Charlie added no new
insights to historical accuracy.

Col. Gayre, like all of us, found what he was looking for, even
when it wasn't. There is almost no source of recipes that are
reliable prior to the 16th century. Hippocras was very popular
throughout the Middle Ages in England, but from such scraps and
clues that are available it was never mead as we know it. It was,
and your experience indicates, still may be, dry wine flavored
with herbs and sweetened with honey. Col. Gayre's focus was on
fermented honey (mead) as the universal drink of everyone who did
not drink wine or beer. Whenever he saw honey mentioned he
apparently read "mead." His failure to differentiate between
fermenting a mixture of grape juice and honey (piment, or pyment,
which is a type of mead) and finished wine with honey added (a
honeyed drink) is the basis of the confusion.

There are many references to Hippocras dating from those early
times, but they only say wine mixed with herbs and honey. That
could mean just what it says, or it could mean wine fermented
with honey and containing herbs. The good Col. chose the latter

Cookbooks that date from the late Middle Ages (after 1500)
mention Hippocras as dry wine to which is added spices and honey.
Often cooked, this is a sweet drink usually served after the
meal. These cookbooks call for sugar, or sometimes indicate honey
as an alternative sweetener. Sugar, however, was not common in
England until the late 15th century. Prior to that, honey was the
only sweetener.

The great shortage of honey in the late 15th, and into the 16th
century explains the use of sugar in the recipes. It is further
explained by the source of the recipes – passed down by word of
mouth from earlier times, and not recorded until the 16th
century. The recorder would have used ingredients which were
generally available to the reader.

The name of the honeyed beverage is derived from Hippocrates, the
father of medicine (c. 300 – 400 BC) who used herbs for their
medicinal value. The herbs were soaked in alcohol (wine) to make
a tea which was given to the sick. The tea would often have been
bitter, and honey was added to relieve (cover?) the taste. The
Hippocras sleeve was the name given to the cloth the mixture was
poured through to remove the herbs after mixing. A primitive tea


In the Medieval castle the mixing was the duty of the keeper of the
butts of wine and ale (the Butler), who tasted the mixture to insure 1.
it was mixed in the correct proportions, and 2. it was not poison. Your
Hippocras was made with white wine, which was probably true to
the Greek source. In England, however, the proximity to France's
Bordeaux region probably dictated the use of red wine.
Additionally, after the Norman Conquest, England and Normandy
were one kingdom. The king controlled suppliers, imports and
exports, which virtually guaranteed the use of red wine.

This recipe for Hippocras was taken from Fabulous Feasts by
Madeleine Pelner Cosman. Ingredients: 1/2 tsp. ginger powder, 4
broken cinnamon sticks, 4 grains of cardamon, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/8
scant tsp. pepper (optional), 1 qt. good red dry wine, 4 blue
heliotrope blossoms for coloring. Procedure: place spices in
large pot and add wine. Bring to a boil and simmer, tightly
covered, for 7 minutes. Add heliotrope blossoms and slowly simmer
another 3 minutes. Remove all whole spices and flowers. Serve
warm with a slice of lemon.

Wassail, Fred

We must invent the future, else it will | <Fred Hardy>
happen to us and we will not like it. |
[Stafford Beer, "Platform for Change"] | email:

Subject: thanks [-/+] from the janitor, and some musings
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 29 Aug 95 22:09:34 MDT (Tue)

A sardonic thanks to all the new subscribers who send two or three
subscription requests in the space of a couple days. Since these
requests pretty much have to be processed by hand (because I'm not
willing to hand them over to a mailbot that would reject 2 out of 3),
it's a high point of the evening to spend time weeding out the dup's.
Definitely more fun than making or drinking mead, right?

It would help everyone a lot if people would try to *teach* the new-
comers to the net.

No, it's a Zen lesson (for me, too;-). As for mead-making, it's your
first lesson: patience is a virtue. You have no hope of making good mead
if you can't wait a day or two for a mailing list to kick in.

On the + side, the digest just seems to keep ticking along. We're well
over 700 subscribers, good content, no junk mail or spamming (honest, I
hardly have to sweep out anything other than mailer error barfback). It's
been going on for 3 years now.

It works. Even in the janitor's role, I get a lot more out of it than I
put into it. Thanks, folks.

Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder, Colorado USA
Mead-Lover's Digest

End of Mead Lover's Digest #427