Mead Lover's Digest #0430 Wed 13 September 1995


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



Re: Rue ("West, Dale")
Re: more about sulphites and light raisins (Joel Stave)
Re: high alcohol meads (Dick Dunn)
alcohol determination (
Request for mentions of mead in literature ("In a bee hive I'm a sent you")
Basil, Dark Honey, etc. (Russell Mast)
Curing a high final gravity. (Patrick Lehnherr)
Hazy Mead (
raisins and recipe requests (Sylverre Polhemus)
Re: High Alcohol (DAVE MOORE)
Re: dark honeys in mead (Greg Woods)
Aussie needs Sparkaloid ("Craig Jones. 5099")
1995 Capitol District Open (Fred Hardy)


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Subject: Re: Rue
From: "West, Dale" <>
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 95 09:07:00 PDT

Jacob Galley writes on Rue, a new topic,


  • I have a little rue plant [soon to be a big rue plant? DW] , and I love the

aromatic, bitter flavor of

  • the leaves.


I too love rue. I have never tried to make anything of it, but soaking the
leaves in wine or mead is very good. It gives a nice bitter flavor.

Wormwood (in moderation) is also good for this. For a little cucumber

flavor and lots of cheer, float some borage flowers on top.


Many people have very strong reaction to rue if it gets on the skin and the
skin then gets exposed to sunlight. My wife brushed against the rue plant a
couple of years ago and got huge oozing blisters on her arm. It has taken a
couple of years for the scars to go away. In short, don't put rue into
anyone's cup without assurance that they don't have problems with it.

Subject: Re: more about sulphites and light raisins
From: Joel Stave <>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 09:24:33 -0400

David Prescott- writes:

>in MLD428, Sam Bennett writes:

Actually that was me that wrote the following

>>"Light raisins are sulfphited. Getting a ferment started with these things in
>>the must is a bitch. The one time I used them (dandelion wine) it took a week
>>and 3 pitchings before there was any activity."

>Shouldn't sulfites be easily washed off by hand prior to adding to the must?

I tried soaking some light raisins for about 10 minutes in warm water then
rinsing them. Then I put some in with the usual mixture for yeast starter.
There was no activity. So if sulphite *can* be washed off, it takes more than
a 10 minute soak in warm water.

>Does anyone know if they exist on other fruits… for example, the commercial
>blueberries that I just (washed and) used for a melomel? I like to think that

To my knowledge, whole, fresh fruit is not sulphited. If these were dried
blueberries, then they may have been sulphited. If the ferment took off
without any problems, then your blueberries almost certainly weren't sulphited. (Matt Maples) writes:
>I substitute 1 cup white wine concentrate for a lb of light rasins.

Thanks! Is there any reason light grape juice concentrate (like Welch's)
wouldn't work also?

As a (slightly) related note, don't have a brain cramp like I did and decide to
use the light raisins in raisin bread, since you can't use them for wine.
Bread yeast can't deal with the sulphite any more than wine yeast (duh). Of
course this didn't occur to me until I took the resulting mess out of the bread

Joel Stave

Subject: Re: high alcohol meads
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 8 Sep 95 09:10:14 MDT (Fri)

re a couple of comments in the last digest about measuring:
> Finally, how do you measure accurately? Careful distillation (for
> scientific purposes only, wherein any alcohol produced is discarded 🙂
> can be used…
…and later…
> lets see… we could fractionally distill it and measure out the
> resulting brandy…. not that you'd want to do this to drink as we all
> know that would be illegal…. in the US anyway….

I had thought along these lines in the past, but came to the conclusion
that I don't even want to *think* about having anything that looks remotely
like a distillation setup. (Go ahead, call me paranoid.)

Someone suggested that you could measure by a sort-of-reversed process:
instead of extracting the alcohol and measuring it, just boil the alcohol
out of a sample, with readings before and after. In slightly more detail:
measure a sample–either take SG or weigh a known volume. Heat it enough
to drive off all the alcohol. (You can tell by watching the temp–it will
climb until you hit the bp of ethanol, hang there a bit while that boils
off, then start climbing again.) Afterward, either take a second SG
reading, or reconstitute to the original volume and weigh again to
calculate the amount of alcohol that was replaced with water.

NOW…in theory this makes sense, but I haven't tried it and I don't know
whether it is sufficiently accurate in practice. Anyone?

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

…Simpler is better.


Subject: alcohol determination
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 09:49:52 -0700

An alcohol determination can be done quite accurately using

distillation. Put a known amount of mead/wine etc. (say 200 ml.) into a
flask connected to a condensor and heat until the temp. of the vapours
coming out of the flask and entering the condensor have reached 212 F (100
C). At this point the vapour coming off the liquid is almost entirely
water as water's boiling point is 212 F (100 C) and ethanol's is much
lower. Take the condensed liquid and make up to the original volume with
distilled water. Measure the specific gravity and read the ethanol
concentration from a table. This is the procedure used commonly in
industry to determine % alcohol by volume. Unfortunately I don't have this
table any more as it was many years ago that I did this in a food analysis
lab course.


Eric Urquhart, Centre for Pest Management,
Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University,
Burnaby B.C. CANADA V5A 1S6

Subject: Request for mentions of mead in literature
From: "In a bee hive I'm a sent you" <STU_GJCARRIE@VAX1.ACS.JMU.EDU>
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 1995 16:07:55 -0500 (EST)

I am currently working on a project tracing the history of mead from the
ancient to the present. My sources are the literature and mythology of any and
all cultures. If you know of a mention of mead or any mead lore anywhere,
please contact me and tell me about it. Thanks in advance.

Gregg Carrier

Subject: Basil, Dark Honey, etc.
From: Russell Mast <>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 17:07:47 -0500

The "jackboots" comment was a fairly tasteless attempt at levity.
I have no affilition with the NRA and am not a satisfied customer or

> Subject: dark honeys for mead
> From: (John Knight)

> I'm leaning toward the third option, but would welcome any feedback. Having
> only made two other batches, my experience is limited.

I always like reading about (and drinking about!) new (to me) varieties of
honey. If I were you, I would try to brew it with exactly the same recipes
and procedures of another mead you made with a different honey, and then
compare, and try to take maturity effects into account.

A rule of thumb I've read, but haven't thoroughly tested, is that darker
honeys tend to be stronger in flavor and take longer to age to maturity.
I have found that darker honeys are stronger in flavor. Tupelo tends to
be pretty strongly flavored for it's light color, and matures rather quickly.

I'm looking forward to hearing how this honey tastes.

> Subject: Basil metheglin
> From: Joel Stave <>

I, too, brewed one of these, but for drinking, not cooking. It's fermenting
right now, rather vigorously, I might add.

Basilisk, a metheglyn

~3.5 lbs. clover honey
4-5 cups fresh sweet basil leaves, loosely packed, picked about a week earlier
"the house yeast"

First, I boiled a few pints of water with the basil leaves, to make a tea.
Leaving the leaves (pardon the pun) in the pot, I added the honey. The temp
was right about 150F at that point, so I let it sit for a few minutes to
pasteurize. I covered the pot, and put it in a sink filled with ice water.
About 20 minutes later it had cooled to about 60F, and I transfered it to a
1-gallon jug which had the dregs from a dandelion wine in it. The dandelion
wine was the fourth or fifth reculturing of a yeast I've been using for about
a year now. It's a mix of Wyeast European Ale yeast and Wyeast Champagne
yeast, probably pretty heavy on the Champagne at this point, due to alcohol
levels. Possibly contaminated, but a sip of the dandelion wine told no such
tale. (Though it was very immature, it didn't taste contaminated.)
I topped it off with pre-boiled and partially cooled (could have done better,
but it mixed in okay) water.

2 days later, it still hadn't started, and then I remembered that I had
forgotten to aerate it. There was an airlock on the mead, so I wasn't
terribly worried. I shook that jug mightily, aerating with vigor. It is now
fermenting merrily, about 1 week later. I think this should probably be the
last time I use that yeast.

Keep up the good work, Dick.

  • -R

Subject: Curing a high final gravity.
From: (Patrick Lehnherr)
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 17:20:02 -0500

I've made two batches of mead using 12 pounds of black locust honey and a 42
or 46 ounce can of burgandy grape juice concentrate (Alexanders, I believe).
The first batch, over a year in the carboy, is stuck at a gravity of 1030.
I sulfited it originally, and used a liquid mead yeast in a starter 24 hours
later. A few days of waiting saw no fermentation so I added some dry
champagne yeast. This started it going but did not ferment to completion.
I've since added several packs of dry yeast with no luck in getting the
gravity down.

The second batch I made about 2 months ago. I didn't sulphite this batch,
just heated it to 170F for about 10 minutes. I pitched dry champagne yeast
and got quick fermentation. After only 3 weeks, the gravity was down to
0.999. THis is as quick as I've ever seen a mead ferment. The taste is
excellent already.

My question is this…is there anything I can do to the first mead to bring
down the gravity? I'm convinced that I'll never use sulfites again. I
think not using it help the lively fermentation and early drinkability in
the second batch. Any suggestions for the first batch?
Let no man thirst for lack of real ale.

Subject:  Hazy Mead
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 19:34:28 -0400

Hi all,

I split a 5 gal batch of traditional mead into 3 parts, 1 gal Kiwi melomel, 1


Strwberry melomel and I botlled the rest. The kiwi and strawberry meads are
the same age and have had the same procedures. The strawberry is very clear
and the kiwi has a slight haze to it. I'm getting ready to bottle and I've
thinking about doing something to the kiwi. I'm thinking this is a pectin
but I'm not sure. Some things I'm considering:

1) Adding pectic enzyme to kiwi.mead. I don't know if that's a good thing to

do at this point though.

2) Try fining with polyclar.

A side note: I didn't fine with ployclar on the traditional portion of the
and I bottled it as a still mead. Guess what, I have sparkling traditional
The mead had been stable for a couple of months before I bottled. I've seen
mentioned before on the digest, but I'm wondering if fining would help keep
from happening.

Suggestions/comments welcome.


Mike Clarke
Seattle, WA. USA

Subject: raisins and recipe requests
From: Sylverre Polhemus <>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 21:31:19 -0500 (CDT)

Regarding all the raisin stuff: is there any reason that no one has
yet mentioned using organic, unsulfured, unsulfited sultanas?

My grocery store sells them in 1 lb. canisters, in the

refrigerated section. I have used them in breads, in conjunction with
a colonial era bread rising-starter, but not (as yet) in mead.


And, now, requests: does anyone have recipes for mead using any

of the following:

juniper berries
turk's cap fruit
ju-ju-bes (they're a fruit that grows in TX)
mallow root
fresh figs


Unfortunately, I missed most of the wild mustang grapes this

year, being preoccupied with other things (crenshaw melon meads, mostly),
so I shall have no grape wine for mulling. Aside from standard apple
ciders and straight meads, what mulls well?

And finally, any suggestions for spices to add to cherry cider?




He was mead in the lees, and shaken in his cups; truly, a sot for sour

Subject: Re: High Alcohol
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 12:33:00 -0400

Dick Dunn our illustrious janitor said:

>>However, the notes about high alcohol levels (20% or over) using
>>standard yeasts are hard to believe.

I too am suprized, but! I just returned from another trip to the UK.
They seem to have a very large homebrew following. I saw a number of
high alcohol kits available that claimed to produce 21 % by volume or 37
proof. (I'm not quite sure how to relate these two figures). I picked
up a couple of issues of "Homebrew Today"; a very well done free
publication covering everything fermentable. Two particular
advertisements are:


The Vodka Kit


5 gallon high alcohol kit

37 proof, 21% by volume


Baily Drive, Norwood Industrial Estates, Killamarsh
Sheffield S31 8JF, Tel (0742) 47 06 60, FAX (0742) 47 06 95





Bryn Maethlu, Llanfaethlu, Anglesey, Gwynedd, LL65 4NW,
Wales, U.K. Telephone (01407) 730933




I have no personal experience with these, but thought it interesting.



Subject: Re: dark honeys in mead
From: woods@ncar.UCAR.EDU (Greg Woods)
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 13:59:43 MDT

I think it depends on what kind of mead you are making. When I made
my first melomel, for instance (a strawberry), I used 15 pounds of
strawberries for a 5 gallon batch, which should be plenty. But I also
used some Mahlava Wildflower honey from the local health food store.
The result was a pleasant beverage, but the honey flavor completely
masked out the strawberry. If you're making a melomel, I recommend
sticking to lighter honey. A plain mead, or certain kinds of metheglins,
might taste very good with a darker. more strongly flavored honey.


  • –Greg


Subject: Aussie needs Sparkaloid
From: "Craig Jones. 5099" <>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 10:13:00 +1000

This idea of using polyclar and sparkaloid as fining agents sounds wonderful and

I'm desperate to try it. I can find polyclar here in Australia (if I look hard
enough), but NOBODY has even heard of sparkaloid! Can somebody give me an
alternate name for sparkaloid and/or a home brew shop which not only stocks
sparkaloid but is also willing to do international mail order.


Craig Jones.

Subject: 1995 Capitol District Open
From: Fred Hardy <>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 15:29:14 -0400 (EDT)

Saturday, November 4, 1995

AHA Sanctioned/BJCP Recognized Homebrew Competition. Once again
we are able to use the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill for our
competition. Since last year the facility has been renovated and
much improved.

The competition is open for beer, ciders and meads. Sake will be
accepted, drunk by the organizers, but will not be judged.

This year requirements have been lowered to 2 bottles per entry,
with the usual AHA restrictions on size, lettering, etc.

Entry fees are $6 for the 1st entry, $5 for the 2nd, $4 for the
3rd, and $2 each for the 4th to the nth. Enter early and often,
with no restrictions on how many entries per category or

ENTRY DEADLINES: All entries, whether shipped or dropped off,
must be received between MONDAY, October 16, and 6:00 pm TUESDAY,
October 31, 1995. DC area drop offs are Brew Masters Limited
(Rockville, MD), Brew America (Vienna, VA) and The Wine Seller
(Herndon, VA).

For entry information contact:

Fred Hardy
(703) 756-5103 days
(703) 378-0329 evenings & weekends
email at


Entry information is available in both InterNet and print format.

Judges are needed. First preference goes to BJCP participants.

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:

End of Mead Lover's Digest #430