Mead Lover's Digest #0436 Sun 15 October 1995

 

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

 

Contents:

Cotes de what? and maple whatever. (Joel Stave)
Re: Dangers of Honey Ingestion (C JOHN MARE)
Re: Honey during pregnancy (Sean Cox)
Re: Mead Starters (C JOHN MARE)
honey and pregnancy (Greg Krehbiel)
Honey during pregnancy (Patrick Lehnherr)
Re: Honey during pregnancy (Steve E. Mercer)
When do you bottle? (Olson)
our first mead ("Jessee Young")
miscellaneous (Olson)
my answers (Olson)
R Morse (MicahM1269@aol.com)
Re: New Brewing Gadget (Spencer W Thomas)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995 (netcomsv.netcom.com!om.cv.hp.com!sam_bennett)
Re: Roger Morse's Thesis (Dan McFeeley)
re:Mead strength/carbonation ("Matthew W. Bryson")
Re: Subtlety in Mead (Michael L. Hall)
Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995 -Reply (Greg Appleyard)
Re: Subtlety in Mead (Steven Rezsutek)
To oxidize or not … (XKCHRISTIAN@CCVAX.FULLERTON.EDU)
Lowering Acidity (XKCHRISTIAN@CCVAX.FULLERTON.EDU)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995 (lprescot@sover.net)
First Mead!!! ("B. J. Davis")
floor sweepings (Mead Lover's Digest)

 

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Subject: Cotes de what?  and maple whatever.
From: Joel Stave <stave@ctron.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 15:53:54 -0400

Robert A. West wrote:
> Two packets Cotes du Rhone (formerly Epernay #2) dry yeast.
I was given to understand that Epernay #2 is now called Cotes de Blanc?
Can anyone verify?

Rober A. West also wrote:
> maple metheglin (or whatever one calls it — maple/buckwheat sounds
> appropriate, somehow), but can/should one make a fermented beverage
> made from straight maple $yrup? What would it be called? Any
> recipes?

I made a batch of maple, um… stuff. It was basically maple syrup and water
to SG 1.09 with some nutrient and acid blend. I let it ferment out dry, then
sweetened it a little with more maple syrup and bottled. Its been in bottles
for about 3 months now and I wasn't going to try it for another couple months.
I *think* it'll come out tasting pretty good.

The other reason I added more maple syrup was that there seemed to be no maple
taste at all after the ferment was done, although its hard to tell when the
wine is that young. The harshness can mask a lot of subtle flavors.

What *should* this stuff be called?

Joel Stave
stave@ctron.com


Subject: Re: Dangers of Honey Ingestion
From: C JOHN MARE <MARE@vetsci.microvet.arizona.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 12:19:52 -0700 (MST)


Maggie Burns asked about the danger of honey ingestion by pregnant
mothers and/or babies. I know of no evidence of danger to pregnant
women (there may be!), but the feeding of honey to infants (under 6
months of age) is of concern. The most common form of botulism (ie.
poisoning by botulinus toxin) is the infant form, and this has been
linked to the ingestion of improperly canned baby foods, and the
ingestion of honey. Honey can contain the spores of the botulinus
organism (Clostridium botulinum), ingestion can result in
bacterial multiplication in the gastrointestinal tract, the release
of the powerful toxin, and severe intoxication, even death!
Infant botulism is sometimes referred to as "floppy baby syndrome"
While the connection to honey is circumstantial, the seriousness of
this intoxication warrants great caution.
If you wish to pursue this further I can provide you with references
via direct e-mail.
John Mare,
Professor of Microbiology,
University of Arizona.


Subject: Re: Honey during pregnancy
From: scox@factset.com (Sean Cox)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 16:05:36 -0400 (EDT)


>From: mab21@psu.edu (Maggie Burns)
>Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 09:55:11 -0400
>
>Does anyone know that myth/fact/old wives' tale about the dangers of
>consuming honey during pregnancy? I heard it somewhere about ten years ago
>and now (aha!) it's becoming relevant : ) Also I heard that the same
>applies to very young children. What's the story with this? Anyone have
>any nice concrete references I can look up? Bad enough going without the
>mead and its cousins, but honey would be missed.

My understanding is that there is a distinct chance that honey will

have naturally occuring non-yeasty beasties in it (I think it's the botulism
bacterium (mold?), but my memory is hazy here).

The danger being that the very young, very old, or the infirm (and

I guess the pregnant) wouldn't have the immune systems to handle a dose of the
nasty creature(s) and could become very ill. "Normal" folks would be generally
capable of fending off any nasties, so don't need to worry.

  • Sean

=== Sean Cox, Systems Engineer ==================== FactSet Data Systems ===
=== scox@factset.com ==================== Greenwich, CT ===


Subject: Re: Mead Starters
From: C JOHN MARE <MARE@vetsci.microvet.arizona.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 12:25:44 -0700 (MST)


I have read that apple juice makes a good starter for meads. Could
some kind soul provide me with a recipe for an apple juice mead
starter? Is this a good idea, or will the juice impart an apple
flavour to an unflavoured mead?
Thanks for the help,
John Mare,
The Stables Brewery,
Tucson, AZ


Subject: honey and pregnancy
From: Krehbiel@ix.netcom.com (Greg Krehbiel)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 13:37:34 -0700


Maggie Burns (Mab21@psu.edu) asked if it's okay for children and pregnant
women to have honey. I asked my wife (who is pregnant with our fifth, so
she should know) about this, and she says children under one year of age
should not have honey because honey contains something (she said an
organism, but I'm not confident that particular detail is right) that their
systems can't process, but that pregnant women and honey are fine.

However, I am not a doctor, and in this age of lawyers I have to point out
that you are safest to ask yours.

Greg


Subject: Honey during pregnancy
From: lehnherr@olympia.com (Patrick Lehnherr)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 16:59:51 -0500


From: Maggie Burns

>Does anyone know that myth/fact/old wives' tale about the dangers of
>consuming honey during pregnancy? I heard it somewhere about ten years ago
>and now (aha!) it's becoming relevant : ) Also I heard that the same
>applies to very young children.

I recently read in one of the parenting magazines that you should NOT give
honey to children under the age of one. I do not remember why; I think it
had to do with babies lacking the right enzyme or maybe because their immune
system wasn't developed to handle bee stuff. Anyway, I do remember not to
give it to a baby under one. I don't know about any effects on pregnant women.
Let no man thirst for lack of real ale.


Subject: Re: Honey during pregnancy
From: mercese@anubis.network.com (Steve E. Mercer)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 95 17:38:22 CDT


> From: mab21@psu.edu (Maggie Burns)
> Does anyone know that myth/fact/old wives' tale about the dangers of
> consuming honey during pregnancy? I heard it somewhere about ten years ago
> and now (aha!) it's becoming relevant : ) Also I heard that the same
> applies to very young children. What's the story with this? Anyone have
> any nice concrete references I can look up? Bad enough going without the
> mead and its cousins, but honey would be missed.

I have a concrete reference that you can look up.
It applies only to feeding honey to infants, not
to consuming honey during pregnancy.

"The Hive and the Honey Bee" edited by Joe M. Graham, revised edition
Copyright 1946, 1949, 1963, 1975, 1992, by Dadant & sons, Inc.
Bookcrafters, Chelsea Michigan USA, ISBN 0-915698-09-9
"Use permitted with acknowedgment"

<BEGIN QUOTE>
<Chapter 21 "Honey" pg 899>
In the United States, the recognition in the 1970's of infant botulism as a
new disease entity prompted examination of potential sources of infection.
The causative organism (/Clostridium butulinum/) is widespread in nature, and
extensive examination of possible food and environmental sources indicated
that honey and corn syrup were the only materials fed to the infants that
contained the spores, in up to 10% of market samples. [Midura et al., 1979]
Although no definite linkage could be shown, it was agreed in the trade and
the pediatric community that since these foods are avoidable potential sources,
in contrast to some environmental factors, they should not be fed to infants
less than one year of age. Older infants are immune.
<Chapter 21 References pg 922>
Midura, T.F., Snowden, S., Wood, R.M. & Arnon, S.S. (1979). Isolation of
/Clostridium botulinum/ from honey. J. Clin. Microbiol. 9(2):282-283.
<END QUOTE>

<begin rumor alert, possible Urban Legend>
I have also heard that feeding honey to infants might increase
the chance that the infant will later develop allergic reactions
to bee stings and/or certain types of pollen. I have absolutely
no documentation to support or refute this claim.
<end rumor alert>

Steve Mercer
steve.mercer@network.com


Subject: When do you bottle?
From: olson99@mack.Rt66.com (Olson)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 21:32:07 -0700


In the past I have often bottled my meads too soon and
ended up with quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of my
bottles. I have a hard time being patient.

Part of the problem is that I didn't have a definite
measure of how clear the mead should be. If I could see
clearly through the carboy I would bottle. The problem is
how to define "see clearly."

I have arrived at a new procedure and I want to see if it
makes sense to the rest of you.

Now, in a darkened room, not necessarily black, I shine a
light through the carboy. I use a small pen flashlight
that has a fairly tight focus. Looking sideways at the
beam of light, if it looks like a light shining through
fog, the mead needs more time or more clarifiers. If it is
hard to see the beam of light because there are few
suspended particles to reflect the light, then it is ready
to bottle. This seems so simple, I wish that I had started
doing it a long time ago.

What do the rest of you do? How do you decide when a mead
is ready to bottle?

Gordon


Subject:       our first mead
From: "Jessee Young" <jeyoung3@vt.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 23:54:54 +0000


I was hoping that someone around here can answer some of my
questions. If not here, then where else, right? Without any further
BS, here it goes:
A couple of months ago, my friend and I made our first mead, also our
first fermented beverage. We used the Basic Small Mead recipe, the
first one on the compilation from the digest, which was also copied
later on in the list. Anyway, we followed it pretty much exactly.
We used boiling water to sterilize everything. After the carbonation
step in the refrigerator, we added 1.5 Campden tabs, thinking that it
would kill the yeast. When it came time a few days later to bottle,
we had a clear, carbonated drink that we hoped would be mead. When
we were siphoning into the bottles, we tasted some, and it tasted
pretty good, we thought, but we had never had mead before, and we had
spent a lot of time on it, so it probably tasted better than it might
have normally. We opened a bottle 3 days later, and were horrified
at the results. There was a distinct sulfur smell coming off, but we
drank it anyway. After a SMALL sip, which tasted worse than it
smelled, we both got a fairly upset stomach. My dad drank about 1/6
of the bottle, and he said it wasn't bad, but he kew how much time we
had spent on it and probably wanted to make us feel better. We think
that it probably was the sanitizer that we used only on the bottles.
One of my dads friends who brews beer gave us some cleaneing and
sterilizing stuff. The sterilizer was not supposed to be rinsed out
after it was used. WE think that the taste could be from this.
Anyway, after the bottles had aged a month they exploded in my closet
at home. Luckily we had taken the precaution of a cooler. One
bottle was intact, so my dad opened it and drank it. He said that it
tasted pretty good, but really sweet. The question I would like to
ask (finally!) is this:
1. What do you think that horrible taste could have been from?
2. We are starting a new batch this weekend. Should we stick to

boiling water this time?

3. We are going to let this one be still (hopefully!) and go to

completion in the secondary. Should we take any other
precautions or measures to kill the yeast? What about potassium
sorbate?

For those who stuck through this, I really appreciate it. If anyone
could help me out, it would be great.

A t D h V a A n N k C s E,
Jessee Young
jeyoung3@vt.edu

All spelling errors intentional.

"Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part tha
t isn't thinking isn't thinking of."

  • -TMBG

Subject: miscellaneous
From: olson99@mack.Rt66.com (Olson)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 22:05:42 -0700


Andrew Harvie writes:
>I'm wondering whether it helped to let the mead age as a batch,
>rather than bottling, and setting the bottles in a cupboard for a
>year? If so, I'm going to have to invest in a couple of extra
>carboys. As I said at the beginning, this was by far my best batch.

I've heard it argued both ways, bulk versus bottle aging, for beer
wine, and mead.

For wine and mead: age it in bulk long enough that the product is
as clear as you are patient for. Less sediment in the bottle is better.
If you use crown caps, your mead can only interact with the oxygen in
the head space of the bottle. If you use corks as in wine, there will
be a slow diffusion of oxygen through the cork. Many people argue
that this is good! The best wines are made more complex this way.
So the aging process is different in bottles and bulk, and the aging
in bottles depends on how you close the bottles.

Mark Albert write:
>While the meads are OK, they just don't have the depth or complexity of a
>fine (or not so fine) wine. Given the choice of a $16 California chardonay
>or my finest mead…well, there would be no contest.

At the New Mexico State Fair, an orange blossom traditional mead (mine)
was chosen for Best of Show in the amateur division which combined wines
and meads. All of the BOS judges were traditional wine people. The mead
people were surprised by their choice.

Mark, six months are not enough! Meads are just starting to mellow out
the alcohols and other components. Most of my meads are best between
one and two years. Of course I taste them before one year. (Sometimes
too much tasting!) Most start to go down hill after 2 or 3 years, unless
they are very robust and flavorful.

>1) Cloying honey flavor. Not sweet, just concentrated. As though one were
>eating honey–without the sweetness. My starting gravs have ranged from
>1.09 to 1.13. Finished gravs from 1.007 to 1.016. Should I cut off the
>ferment a bit earlier so that the honey flavor is balanced by some sweetness?

More aging would help. Some people aim for final gravities between 1.010
and 1.025. A sweeter, almost desert, character is more consistent with the
honey expectations that most people have.

>2) Alcohol flavor/Low acid flavor. Without addition of acid blend towards
>the end of the ferment, the meads come out very alkali and taste from
>alcohol. A tablespoon of acid blend after the second racking essentially
>does the trick, but I have not read of this practice in any of the recipes
>I've seen. Should mead be more alkali than white wine? More generally,
>what is a good target Ph?

I have the opposite problem, most of my meads tend to be too acidic. It
depends on the honey you use. I aim for a pH between 3.5 and 4.0, but I
find that the acid content is more important and aim for 0.45 to 0.6%.
If fruits are used or you like more tartness, one should be at the high
end of this range. Many treat meads just like white wines for acidity.

>Is some of this due to a lack of appreciation to mead? Is it inappropriate
>to compare mead to grape based wine? Any one I serve my mead to compares it
>with grape wine and the mead falls short.

It depends on the people, but as the example above shows, meads can be
judged better than wines.

>I suppose part of the problem is that I have never tried mead before and
>don't really know what my target should be? Does anyone know where I can
>obtain a good bottle of mead to use as a benchmark?

Unfortunately, I have not had good luck with commercial meads. The meads
that my friends make are usually better than the commercial meads. I
appreciate my friends.

Gordon Olson


Subject: my answers
From: olson99@mack.Rt66.com (Olson)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 22:18:11 -0700


Robert A. West asks:
>Question #1: If I am correct about stratification, did I injure the
>fermentation by allowing it to stratify? If not, am I correct about
>the calculated OG? Should I just RDWHAH?

Stratification is not a problem. Once carbon dioxide start bubbling
through the mead, it gets stirred up well enough. The Mead Lover's
FAQ has tables of gravity with different amounts of honey that you
can compare your calculation to.

>Question #2: Are there measuring devices on the market that allow a
>precise figure for CO2 produced? Is this information as meaningful
>as I think it is?

Why do you care about the volume? I sure don't. CO2 is a pure waste
product that disappears, so I ignore it. Why do you think it is
important?

>Question #3: Will I be able to bottle and will it carbonate and clear
>by Christmas? Or should I plan on doing something else this year?

It depends, on the quantity of honey, the type of yeast, the yeast
nutrient, the fermentation temperature, etc. The short answer is:
yes, it possible. It will be young and not at its peak flavor, but
it can easily be good and drinkable.

>Question #4: What "Best if used AFTER …" date should I plan on
>putting on the labels?

Six to nine months after the bottling date, depending on all the above
mentioned variables.

>Question #5: If someone drinks this immediately upon receipt, will it
>be drinkable?

Should be OK.

Try it, you and your friends will enjoy it.

Gordon Olson


Subject: R Morse
From: MicahM1269@aol.com
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 00:42:34 -0400


Someone wanted to know where to get info on Roger Morse's yeast/mead work.
I purchased a copy of his book ' MAKING MEAD", from the Beverage People in
Santa Rosa, CA. It was done via mail order. It is an excellent book. I have
made
up some of the yeast nutrient that Morse recommends, and found that it works
well.

have fun
micah


Subject: Re: New Brewing Gadget 
From: Spencer W Thomas <spencer@engin.umich.edu>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 02:07:25 -0400


> From: Elde@aol.com
> Subject: New Brewing Gadget

> Found a new brewing gadget last weekend; a tape recorder!

Gee, I bet my digital answering machine would work great for this. It
even timestamps each message automatically. I'll have to try it.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (spencer@umich.edu)


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995
From: netcomsv.netcom.com!om.cv.hp.com!sam_bennett
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 95 00:05:19 -0700


Item Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________

Does anyone know that myth/fact/old wives' tale about the dangers of
consuming honey during pregnancy? I heard it somewhere about ten years ago
and now (aha!) it's becoming relevant : ) Also I heard that the same
applies to very young children. What's the story with this? Anyone have
any nice concrete references I can look up? Bad enough going without the
mead and its cousins, but honey would be missed.

Thanks!

Maggie Burns
mab21@psu.edu


Unfortunately, the old wives tale is true, at least the part about children. I
haven't heard about not consuming honey during pregnancy, small children (under
18 mo. or so) should not be given honey. There are two reasons. 1) There are
bacteria in raw honey that can make them sick with immature immune systems. 2)
Because honey is mostly glucose, which is easily absorbed into the bloodstream,
(no digestion required) there is a danger of "overdose" resulting in wild swings
in bloodsugar/insulin levels and possible long term damage to the organs that
produce insulin. As the child matures, their body becomes better able to
regulate bloodsugar and loses this vulnerability.


Does any one know where I can find documentation on Medieval (600 – 1600)
fermentation and mead making practices? Anything including vintning and brewing
would be good as well. I am in need of source material (if it exists) for
research and test purposes.

Sam


Subject: Re: Roger Morse's Thesis
From: Dan McFeeley <mcfeeley@olivet.edu>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 09:14:30 -0500 (CDT)

Gregg (and anyone else interested) —

Roger Morse's thesis, _The Fementation of Diluted Honey_ was written
in 1953 at Cornell University. You might be able to get a copy through
an inter-library loan.

_The Meadmaker's Journal 95_, vol. 6 & _Inside Mead_, vol. 10 no. 1
(both published by the American Mead Associationj ) have a two-part
article by Roger Morse and Keith Steinkraus. Part I titled "Enhancing
the Fermentaion of Honey in Mead" is a summary of the literature on
additives to Mead. Part II, titled "Chemical Analysis of Honey Wines,"
was published in the _Journal of Apicultural Research_ 1972. In that
article, Morse tests two additive formulas (formula I is mainly inorganic
salts and citric acid; formula II is made up of vitamins and
organic & inorganic nitrogen compounds), and found that formula I was
effective in lowering fermentation time but a combination of formula
I & II was the most effective. Morse claims a fermentation time of two
weeks without agitation.

Hope this helps!

Dan McFeeley
mcfeeley@olivet.edu


Subject: re:Mead strength/carbonation
From: "Matthew W. Bryson" <MWBryson@LANMAIL.RMC.COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 95 11:27:29 EDT

About a year ago I bottled a maple mead in 12 beer bottles. I racked

several different times over the course of about 6 months; this left me
with no sediment to speak of. I do have a couple of questions though:

1) I tried priming indiviual bottles with approx. 1/4-1/2 tsp. corn sugar.
Some of the bottles are bubbly, while some are flat. I realize that I may
have reached the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, but wouldn't all of the
bottles turn out still?

2) The mead is the first that I have made that is not dry. It has a nice
semi-sweet taste and great aroma. One problem: the alcohol content burns(
a lot) when I drink it. Other than using a less attenuative yeast and
fewer fermentables in the must, can anyone recommend a way to lessen the
alcohol burn?

TIA,

Matthew


Subject: Re: Subtlety in Mead
From: hall@galt.c3.lanl.gov (Michael L. Hall)
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 95 10:07:59 MDT


Mark Albert <marka@imsi.com> writes several comments about meads that he
has made not comparing well with wines. I believe the main problem is
that he is thinking about mead like a wine, when it should be thought of
as a fermented honey beverage instead. Let me respond to some of his
comments individually:

> I have now made several batches of mead and have had what I would call
> reasonable success. I have used only top quality, fresh honeys, mountain
> spring water and red-star pasteur champagne yeast. I have paid careful
> attention to acid balance and have used yeast nutrients to help the little
> micro-organisms along. I have always used a yeast starter, aerated well and
> have pasteurized at 150-160 degrees farenheit for 10 minutes.

Sounds like you're doing very well in terms of technique and
ingredients. You might want to switch yeasts, because champagne yeasts
are known for finishing very dry. Some of the wine yeasts can be used,
(Montrachet or Epernay) but they tend to give a wine character that I
don't think is appropriate. Ale yeasts work well sometimes (you'd be
surprised how well they can attenuate). Also, the Lalvin yeasts (K-1116,
if I remember the number correctly) do well. At the National Homebrew
Conference in Denver in 1994, Dan McConnell and some other people
presented results of some side-by-side yeast experiments for mead that
were very instructive in noting the differences that yeast can make.

> While the meads are OK, they just don't have the depth or complexity of a
> fine (or not so fine) wine. Given the choice of a $16 California chardonay
> or my finest mead…well, there would be no contest.

I wouldn't compare mead to chardonay. Whoops, my preferences are showing 🙂

> None of my meads have aged for a year; the oldest is about 6 months.

They could possibly stand some more aging, up to around a year or two.

> I would say that the symptoms fall into the following categories:
>
> 1) Cloying honey flavor. Not sweet, just concentrated. As though one were
> eating honey–without the sweetness. My starting gravs have ranged from
> 1.09 to 1.13. Finished gravs from 1.007 to 1.016. Should I cut off the
> ferment a bit earlier so that the honey flavor is balanced by some sweetness?

Interesting comments. How can the flavor be cloying (overly sweet) and
yet dry? What you're describing sounds like the mead has good honey
expression (a very positive thing) but is too dry. On the other hand,
your final gravities suggest a reasonable amount of sweetness (I tend to
like meads around 1.020).

It really sounds to me like you're describing a mead that has good honey
character and a reasonable sweetness, i.e. a good mead. That's why I
suspect that your ideas about mead may be clouded by having a lot of
experience with wine. I came from the other direction (beer) so I don't
have that problem.

> 2) Alcohol flavor/Low acid flavor. Without addition of acid blend towards
> the end of the ferment, the meads come out very alkali and taste from
> alcohol. A tablespoon of acid blend after the second racking essentially
> does the trick, but I have not read of this practice in any of the recipes
> I've seen. Should mead be more alkali than white wine? More generally,
> what is a good target Ph?

I adjust my acidity levels to those recommended for wine, around
.6-.75%. That is more of an indication of the acidity than pH. You can
get a cheap testing kit at homebrew stores for $6, or buy the
ingredients cheaper if you know what you're doing.

Most mead recipes that call for acid blend shouldn't be followed in that
regard. On the other hand, it's your mead, so do whatever suits your
fancy. I heartily recommend adjusting a mead late in the racking stages
to your liking.

Alcohol flavor (hotness) could be caused by high temperature fermentation,
which generates fusel alcohols. This may mellow somewhat with aging.

> Is some of this due to a lack of appreciation to mead?

IMO, yes.

> Is it inappropriate to compare mead to grape based wine? Any one I
> serve my mead to compares it with grape wine and the mead falls short.

Is it inappropriate to compare mead with beer? Beer with wine? Cider
with (grape) wine? They are all different, and should be appreciated
in their own way.

Maybe it would help if you made some melomels (fruit meads) if you
haven't in the past. I think that it can be very interesting to blend
the tastes of honey and fruit. In fact, I think that a pyment (grape
melomel) is one of the few cases where some wine character is
appropriate in a mead. Maybe that would be more to your liking.

> I suppose part of the problem is that I have never tried mead before and
> don't really know what my target should be? Does anyone know where I can
> obtain a good bottle of mead to use as a benchmark?

Hmmmm. The problem there is that the commercial examples tend to be
umm… less than optimal. They tend to be either cloyingly sweet (much
more so than the mead you describe) or almost like wine, but not as good.

Your best bet to try some good meads would be to volunteer to help
judge at a mead judging. Be an apprentice alongside someone who knows
what they're talking about. Think about the mead you're tasting, and then
listen to their comments. That's how I started. Another way is to join
a homebrew club with a predilection for meads. That helped me too.

> Thanks in advance,

De nada.

Mike


Dr. Michael L. Hall <hall@lanl.gov>
Los Alamos National Laboratory 505-665-4312
P.O. Box 1663, MS-B265 Research: radiation transport,
Los Alamos, NM 87545 fluid dynamics, numerical modeling.


Subject:  Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995 -Reply
From: Greg Appleyard <GAPPLEYARD@EM.AGR.CA>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 19:30:26 -0400

Subject: honey during pregnancy
From: mab21@psu.edu (Maggie Burns)
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 09:55:11 -0400

Does anyone know that myth/fact/old wives' tale about the dangers of
consuming honey during pregnancy? I heard it somewhere about ten
years ago and now (aha!) it's becoming relevant : ) Also I heard that the
same applies to very young children. What's the story with this? Anyone
have any nice concrete references I can look up? Bad enough going
without the mead and its cousins, but honey would be missed.
*************************

Sorry, I can't help you out on the honey and pregnancy dangers rumour but
I do recall an incidence of botulism in a nursing infant. At first it was though
t
that the organism was passed on in breast milk but that turned out not to
be the case. Apparently the mother was sweetening the nipple with
unpasturized honey to encourage the infant to nurse and the infection
came from the honey. I dont know how common bacterial contamination of
honey is but it would be interesting to find out.

Good luck
Greg


Subject: Re: Subtlety in Mead
From: Steven Rezsutek <steve@synapse.gsfc.nasa.gov>
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 13:37:24 -0400

I won't pretend to have any "answers", but I figure I'll throw in a
couple cents worth of opinion in the interest of general
discussion… others, please comment.

Mark Albert writes:

> My starting gravs have ranged from 1.09 to 1.13. Finished gravs
> from 1.007 to 1.016. Should I cut off the ferment a bit earlier
> so that the honey flavor is balanced by some sweetness?

To me, a terminal gravity of 1.007 from a 1.090 must would indicate a
significant amount of residual sugar (maybe 5%? — just a guess), unless
you have lots of other "stuff" in there that would bring up the gravity.

I'd let it ferment longer to bring this down. Are you artificially
stopping the fermentation? I've had relatively little trouble bringing
musts of 28 Brix [1.120 or so] down to about 1.000. Use plenty of
nutrients.

> 2) Alcohol flavor/Low acid flavor. Without addition of acid blend towards
> the end of the ferment, the meads come out very alkali and taste from
> alcohol. A tablespoon of acid blend after the second racking essentially
> does the trick, but I have not read of this practice in any of the recipes
> I've seen. Should mead be more alkali than white wine? More generally,
> what is a good target Ph?
>

In grape wines, alcohol and sugar — both are related to "sweetness" —
are balanced primarily by acid (white) or acid and tannin (red). In
beer, the balancing element seems to be primarily bitterness, both from
hops and from roasted grains (e.g. stout).

IMO, the entire gamut is avaliable for meads. For acid, there is a
plethora of fruits available, which can also provide tannin and/or
bittering elements depending on what fruits you use. For bittering,
there are plenty of herbs and spices. Tannins might be had from nuts,
which might also add some nice flavor elements, [I'll be testing this
assertion soon, as I'm planning on an experimental batch of acorn mead.]
and, of course, wood — oak chips being the obvious source there.

All of these ingredients can, of course contribute to complexity as well
as balance, as could, I presume, blends of differing honeys. I can't
offer much on that, as I've only done one (not terribly happy with it),
and I'm still having too much fun playing with all the other elements,
trying to focus in on what I want in/out of my meads.

As to a good target…

I had asked a similar question a while back, and while folks provided
some interesting data to use as a starting point [I was blending mead
and an overly acidic wine into a pyment], I've come to prefer to let
each be their own "thing".

It's purely a matter of personal choice, I suppose, but I don't use acid
blend or powdered tannin in an effort to, or even try to, emulate grape
wines, preferring instead to derive these elements from fruits, etc. or
simply do without in the case of traditional meads (only one so far, and
it's still clearing). Even then, I've pretty much been letting flavors
be the guide, rather than chemical parameters. As a result, my musts tend
to have titratable acidity in the range of 1 – 5 g/l, and the pH has
usually fallen around 4.0 – 4.2. [Look more like beer parameters, don't
they ;-)]

Hopefully, there's food for thought and discussion in all of that.
Apologies for running on so long.

Steve


Subject: To oxidize or not ...
From: XKCHRISTIAN@CCVAX.FULLERTON.EDU
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 09:12:13 -0800 (PST)


Hello all,

I have a few questions for the experienced… In my first mead attempt I
have done a few things that have me concerned about the quality of my
mead.

Here's the mead.

Barkshack Gingermead
3 lb Clover
5 lb Sage
1 1/2 lbs. corn sugar
1/2 orange peal (only the orange part)
1/2 tsp. gypsum
1 tsp. citric acid
3 tsp. yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp. Irish moss powder
2 Cascade hop cones 5.0 AA
4 oz ginger in the boil and removed 1/2 when cool

Brought everything to a boil except for the honey in 1 1/2 gallons water and
turned off heat. Then added honey and brought up to a boil again. I let it
sit with the lid on for an hour in sink with cold water. Added to carboy that
had 4 gallons preboiled water.

Pitched 2 packages Red Star Champagne Yeast (rehydrated)
2 weeks at 65F (good ferment) and then dropped the temp for a few days to
40F to clear some other beers.

After 6 weeks, it was vividly clear. I transferred to a bottling bucket and
added 1 c honey for priming and bottled a 12 pack–racking the rest of the
mead into another carboy with 4 lb honey to bring up the alcohol level. I
did not have my CO2 tank so there was no purge ;*(.

There was no signs of fermentation after 2 days so I added another yeast
starter October 1 (1 pack red star champagne yeast with 1 tsp yeast nutrient
and 1 tsp citric acid 600 ml water. It took off again and fermented out.

Concern and ideas for the batch:
I am concerned that the head space left in the carboy after bottling/racking
will lead to oxidation. Purging with CO2 should have eliminate this concern
eh?

Should I fill another carboy with a gallon or so of honey and water solution
and rack the mead on to it bringing the mead up to 5 gallons and ferment it
out?

I would aerate the starter and the honey water solution. Will this just bring
on more oxidation?

What are your procedures for feeding your mead?

What should the acid level be in a finished mead?

Or there is plan B. Let it set and don't worry!

If you have any comments on my technique, recipe, or anything else, I
certainly would appreciate it.

TIA

Keith
xkchristian@fullerton.edu In pursuit of making good meads!


Subject: Lowering Acidity
From: XKCHRISTIAN@CCVAX.FULLERTON.EDU
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 12:09:24 -0800 (PST)


Hello again,

There is one other question I have for ya. How do mead makers and wine makers
lower their acidity when they over shoot it?

I made a plum wine and it appears as though I used too much plum in the
recipe (a scale wasn't available at the time) and after a month in secondary,
I ran a TA test and SO2 test. The TA came in at .8 to .9 percent and the SO2
measured 25. It tasted harsh and acidic.

Someone told me that cream of tarter combinded with chilling for a week would
drop the TA around .1. The other advice was to add gypsum. What do you think?

Thanks

Keith
xkchristian@fullerton.edu


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #435, 11 October 1995
From: lprescot@sover.net
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 19:01:23 -0400


In MLD#435, Mark Albert writes:

"Is some of this due to a lack of appreciation to mead? Is it inappropriate
to compare mead to grape based wine? Any one I serve my mead to compares it
with grape wine and the mead falls short.

I suppose part of the problem is that I have never tried mead before and
don't really know what my target should be? Does anyone know where I can
obtain a good bottle of mead to use as a benchmark?"

It seems to me that you MIGHT be happier approaching mead-making differently.
Rather
than "appreciate" mead with reference to grape wines, you might rather
appreciate it on
its own terms. It is not grape-based. If you try to "appreciate" Picasso
having only known
Italian Renaissance painters, you're sure to be disappointed, right?

Furthermore, I would say you should make mead, or whatever, to your heart's
content,
based on your own tastes. I have a sister with whom I constantly disagree- she
likes
meads I consider cloying, I like dry meads that she won't touch. For me, the
beauty of
mead is that there are few reference standards- I make meads which I enjoy
very much,
even though many of my friends do and do not, depending on the batch and
occasion.

In spite of the fact that there are competitions like the Mazer Cup, which act
as wonderful
catalysts for increasing our standards, isn't the bottom line to
produce/create a drink
which we like? I would recommend that you serve your friends the grape wines
and open
the mead after they leave.

Cheers! Make it Happen! Let me know your results!

David Prescott (lprescot@sover.net)


Subject: First Mead!!! 
From: "B. J. Davis" <java@indy.net>
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 21:01:43 -0500 (EST)


Wow, I made my first mead! That was fun! My beer brewing roomie helped
lots. She has made lots of great beer, but this was her first mead too.
We made a basic mead recipe, and let it go 3 mo. Today we split it into
2 batches. To my half we added mixed berries and some cider to sweeten.
To hers blueberries and ginger. A taste of the base mead, before adding
it to the berry juice was interesting. Kind of tart with a cider-sweet
background, and the honey was still there. I can't wait to taste it when
it's finished. Well here's the recipe in case anyone is interested……

6lb. Grade A honey and 5lb. raw honey
1/2 tsp. gypsum
1/2 tsp. yeast energizer
1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
2 gal water

heat to 210 F remove and add 3 gal chilled water, cool to 75 F
pitch 2 packets Red Star Flor Sherry yeast.

SG 1.075 @ 74 F 7/18/95
SG 1.005 @ 70 F 10/15/95

Split batch in half. Crush fruit.
bring 2-1/2lb. cherries, 1lb. each raspberries & blackberries
1/2lb. blueberries, and 1/4 gal apple cider with water to make it a
gal. to 160 F for 20 min. cool to 75 F, pour in carboy add 2-1/2gal
mead.
The other 1/2 was done with 4-1/2 lbs. blueberries and 2-1/2 oz fresh
ginger made into a tea. The berries were pasturized the same as above.

Has anyone else done split batches? Any other questions, comments?
More when it done!
Bj


Subject: floor sweepings
From: mead@raven.eklektix.com (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 15 Oct 95 22:50:24 MDT (Sun)


from the janitor…

Sheesh! Sending out this issue kind of got away from me, so it's quite a
long one. Sorry about that…it hadn't *seemed* all that long since the
last digest. Interest in fermented beverages seems to pick up in the
fall–wine and cider for the obvious harvest-time reasons, and beer because
temperature control is easier for a lot of folks when the weather gets
cool. (OK, I'll apologize right now for being northern-hemisphericentric
[?!?].) I guess mead-making tags along with the others.
_ _ _ _ _

Obviously the question about infants, honey, and botulism needs to go in
the FAQ/README in the archives! It seems peripheral to discussions of
mead, but it has come up in the past and it's an interesting/useful tidbit
of information about honey, so it should be covered to save you good folks
having to dig up the info again next time.


Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder, Colorado USA
Mead-Lover's Digest mead-request@talisman.com



End of Mead Lover's Digest #436


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