Mead Lover's Digest #0438 Sat 21 October 1995


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



holiday cheer(i hope) (MR BILL W GALLAGHER)
Re: Ale yeasts in meads (
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #437, 18 October 1995 (Chris Weight)
Ale mead? (Gary Booker)
Infants honey, and botulism (
Honey & Infant Botulism (Spencer W Thomas)
Sugar gone! ("Jessee Young")
Mazers and such ("I'll buy you a ewe!")
Labels ("I'll buy you a ewe!")
Orange Blossom Recipe (Olson)
Elderberries,SO2,Ale yeast,bottling,contamination risk (
When do you bottle? (Peter Matra)


NOTE: Digest only appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests. When

subscribing, please include name and email address in body of message.

Digest archives and FAQ are available for anonymous ftp at

in pub/clubs/homebrew/mead.


Subject: holiday cheer(i hope)
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 23:40:06 EDT

hi to all,

thanks for all the help i recieved in making my first

batch of still mead.unfortunately i may have potential
grenades in the cellar.i bottled my sweet mead a few
weeks ago and just opened one (grolsh style) to see
the results abd you guessed it,slight fizz from the bottle.
i did not add anything because it was supposed to be a still
mead. My question is , can i open these bottles,say once
a week to release the built up gas without ruining the mead
or should a let them go and try for a sparkling mead.i'd hate
to waste the batch i worked so long on(5 months so far) by
having them explode and make a terrible mess.Any help would
be greatly appreciated ,if just to put mind at ease alittle.

Also it's nice to see all the new people taking up the must.

Keep up the good work.


(p.s.- hi joe, i'm still out here,hope your mead is doing
well.looking forward to drinking some in a few months.)

Subject: Re: Ale yeasts in meads
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 09:21:11 -0700

>Well, I just tasted my first mead ever to be fermented with an ale yeast.

>After 1 month…that's right one month, this stuff is drinkable. Fermented
>quick and easy, cleared nicely and it has this terrific red color. Grapey
>finish, mildly sweet. Pretty tart. I can't wait to see what it's like
>aging in the bottles. I would highly reccomend a plum mead to anyone who

I've been using ale yeasts for mead for years now. People are continually
amazed that I have good mead in a couple months, and it still ages out
to be very good tasting. In some cases it doesn't have the full wine-like
complexity of a mead brewed with wine yeast (or mead yeast), but I can
enjoy my mead sooner. This may be considered sacrilege by some, though.
People who've never tried brewing mead with ale or lager yeasts may just
not believe that you can have a good mead ready in months. There's also
interesting effects to be had by using different varieties of ale yeast.
A Belgian ale yeast in a mead fermented at 85F will produce very different
results from an American ale at 65F.

One last benefit is that ale yeast is available in any homebrew store.
Finding mead yeast that's still viable can be a challenge sometimes.

>I recently came across some used dairy tanks, 500 gals, stainless steel,
>trough shaped. Can anyone think why these would not be appropriate for
>primary fermentation of large batches?

In a real recent issue of Brewing Techniques (I believe it was September-
October '95), they had profiles of some small brewers. One was using
converted dairy equipment. I'd suggest browsing it in the store even if
you don't buy it. There are also back issues which covered tasks you'll
need to know in order to convert dairy equipment, such as how to weld
stainless steel.

(That same issue also has a review of my book, and one of the criticisms
is that I don't explain how long mead takes to age. I still contend that
mead doesn't have to take forever to age, but I'm a heretic and should
have birds pecking out my eyes for eternity or something. The book isn't
available at the moment, sadly, since I'm between editions. I MIGHT have
the 2nd edition ready for the winter solstice, but it's not looking good
at the moment. I'll be sure to post a shameless plug when it is available)

  • -DaveP

"Mr. Tick, can you destroy the Earth?"
"Egads! I hope not! That's where I keep all my stuff!"
Dave Polaschek

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #437, 18 October 1995
From: Chris Weight <>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 11:33:41 TZ

| Subject: Re: When do you bottle?
| From: (Joyce Miller)

| Well, I leave my carboys in the kitchen, generally, and I usually try to
| look at them once every week or so, in the morning before I go to work,
| when the sun is shining through the window…

Curious. For beer brewers, ultraviolet light is evil — we would never
let our beer stand in sunlight. But I believe this is primarily to
avoid a reaction between hop oils and light. UV is pretty powerful
stuff — is there nothing in Mead that reacts to light? Or do most
other folks keep their mead in a dark place.


Subject: Ale mead?
From: Gary Booker <>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 14:48:00 PDT

I need some advice from you experienced ale mead makers. I am about to kick
off a batch (this weekend), and I would like to use about 20% malt 80%
honey. Does anybody have recomendations about the kind of malt I should use?
I have a good unprocessed clover honey, that I was going to add after
boiling the malt and bittering hops for about an hour. Also, what about
hops? I was going to use Fuggles and Cascade for bittering, with Kent
Golding for aroma after the boil (added at the same time as the honey, then
let it sit at just under the boil for ten minutes). I have a Wyeast English
ale yeast starter bubbling away happily ( the yeast is chewing on a light
malt sugar solution) that I will pitch.

Have I missed anything? How about the malt / honey ratios? Should I use a
darker honey? Will the yeast be able to chew through all that sugar, and
give me a decent amout of alcohol? What are your favorite ale mead recipies?
This is a new area to me ( though I have been brewing beer for a number of

Thanks for your help in advance,

Gary Booker

Subject: Infants honey, and botulism
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 08:08:16 -0400

There has recently been some debate and misinformation about the ingestion of
honey by infants. Although it is only marginally relevant to the topic of
mead, it is a problem with potentially fatal impact.

Infant botulism is caused by replication of Clostridium botulinum in the
intestinal tract and the subsequent production of toxin by the bacteria.
Babies are unable to prevent the bacterial assault because of their immature
immune systems. While boiling for 10 minutes at 212F will render the toxin
harmless, it will not destroy the spores. This requires a temperature of
240F. Honey was the causitive factor in 35% of infant botulism. Reference:
Nelson's Textbook of Pediatrics

Bottom line: don't give honey or mead to infants.

Subject: Honey & Infant Botulism
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 11:38:19 -0400

I have compiled a list of several references from a MEDLINE search for
HONEY and BOTULISM that, to me, conclusively point to a link between
honey ingestion and botulism in infants. (I have not edited the list,
but selected all the references from 1979 to the present that had
abstracts present.) The list is available on request.


Subject:       Sugar gone!
From: "Jessee Young" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 17:27:44 +0000

Our latest mead has almost stopped fermenting today. The problem is
that it is very, very dry. We re-racked it for the first time,
today, and tasted it. It appears that the sugar has all been used
up! The question:
Should we add more honey, in incerments, until the alcohol kills the
yeast, then add more until the sweetness has been reached?
Or, should we kill the yeast with something (K-sorbate, etc.), then
add more honey?
Or, should we wait a few more weeks and bottle it?
It has only been going for a little less than a week. I am in favor
of splitting it up, bottling half, and trying something above on the
other half. The only thing is, we only have 1 gallon.
By the way, we used Premiere Cuvee yeast from Red Star, and we used
44 oz. of honey, which was locally "grown".

A t D h V a A n N k C s E,
Jessee Young

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: Mazers and such
From: "I'll buy you a ewe!" <STU_GJCARRIE@VAX1.ACS.JMU.EDU>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 21:48:49 -0500 (EST)

Hello again all!

The chapter in Gayre's book on the vessels used to serve mead has me wanting
some mazers and mether cups…maybe even an ornate horn or two 🙂 My question
of course is, does anyone make these things? I'm sure they cost a bundle if
they are made, but I'm still curious. It would be nice to have a communal
mazer for mead tastings with the friends. Thanks in advance for replies!


Subject: Labels
From: "I'll buy you a ewe!" <STU_GJCARRIE@VAX1.ACS.JMU.EDU>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 21:52:16 -0500 (EST)

Another thing:

My mead-brewing roomie and I have about a hundred beautifully corked and sealed
wine bottles that have been wanting for labels. We have had less than good
luck figuring out a way to make nice labels affordably. It seems silly to pay
too much for the things. Is there a program to design labels? Preferably
shareware or something. I would like to be able to scan art etc into my
labels. Also, how can you get copies printed cheaply? Kinkos charges a LOT
for color. Anyone overcome this dillema? TIA.


Subject: Orange Blossom Recipe
From: (Olson)
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 22:40:34 -0700

I received requests off line for this recipe, so here it is for

Orange Blossom Mead
(Gordon Olson)

Ingredients for 3 gallons:

8.5 pounds American Meadmaker Ultimate Orange Blossom Brewing Honey
3 tsp. Beverage People yeast nutrient
1.5 tsp. yeast hulls

Lalvin K1V-1116 yeast (pint of starter)

3 tsp calcium carbonate to adjust acidity
3 tablets sodium benzoate
1 T sparkaloid
1 tsp polyclar


Initially, only six pounds of the honey was added to preboiled water
and pasteurized at 150 F for 15 minutes with the yeast nutrient and
hulls. After cooling with an immersion chiller, the yeast starter
was added and air was pumped through the must for 25 minutes with an
aquarium pump.

After one month the specific gravity dropped to 1.008, so the mead
was racked and two more pounds of honey were added. After another
five weeks, the gravity was 1.020, the pH was 3.2, and the acidity
was 0.7% acid. This was too acidic, so I added the calcium
carbonate. After another month, the numbers were 1.015, 3.7, and
0.6%. I then added the sodium benzoate to kill off the yeast and
another half pound of honey. Three days later I added the sparkaloid
and polyclar. Then one week later with a specific gravity of 1.019,
I bottled straight from the carboy. I should have waited longer to
add the clarifiers and even longer to bottle. Then I would have had
less sediment in the bottle.

This mead was started in August of 1994 and bottled in December of
that year. At the first round of the AHA National Competition in May
1995, the judges (in Texas) did not recognize the orange blossom aroma
and thought it was "yeasty." They scored it at 29 points. In June at
the Mazer Cup Competition, the judges thought that the orange blossom
aroma was excellent, but the mead needed more complexity. They gave
it 36 points. At the New Mexico State Fair competition for wines and
meads it received a gold medal and the best of show in the amateur
division. The wine judges were impressed by the wonderful bouquet.

This is a very simple mead that get all of its character from the
honey. This particular batch of honey had the best aroma of any
orange blossom honey that I have ever experience. It is worthwhile
to hunt out good smelling and good tasting honeys.


Subject: Elderberries,SO2,Ale yeast,bottling,contamination risk
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 00:37:59 -0400

It's great to see more bandwidth on the digest. Remember, the only

stupid question is the one not asked. Speaking of which. . .

What about Elderberries?

Elderberry wine is a homewine making standard yet I've never heard of
elderberry mead. Well, I've got one in the fermentor. I got .75 gal. of juice
from about 2 gals. of berries and threw that in a 5 gal. batch after the
boil. I used K-1 thinking it would better dominate all of the wild yeast from
the fruit. I was considering fermenting on the fruit for more color but I'm
glad I didn't. Its so dark I couldn't read an acid test. Anyone else have
experiance with elderberries? Is elderberry wine best dry or sweet?

About stable, still meads;

The beverage people, in the heart of calif. wine country,

supply a lot of "serious" wine makers. They provide camden tablets (sulfer
dioxide,SO2) for sterilizing prior to fermentation and at racking, and
Sorbistat K (pot. sorbate) for stabilizing at bottling. They have told me
Sorbistat K will not stop a fermentation but keeps fermentation from starting
in the bottle with a few surviving yeast cells.

Elbert Pirtle in the june issue of 'inside mead' states that the most

common form of SO2 is Pot. Metabisulfate (K2 S2 O5).
I'm not sure if thats the same as camden tablets or not.

About ale yeast;

I too have used Chico (Amer.) ale yeast with success. I think it's

"cleanliness" of taste lends it to mead very well. I would like to find an
even less attenuative yeast for low gravity/alcohol meads. Has anyone tried
lager yeast? I would like to hear the results.

One of my new favorite yeasts is Epernay II. The "experts" say that its

very neutral allowing the the aroma of fruit wines to come through. Every
mead I have used it in has had a strong lemony/citrus taste to it. It's also
very slow.

About when to bottle;

I think the problem here is that your obviously not making enough mead.

Buy about twenty more fermentors and try to make a batch of mead a week.
Before long you'll be so backed up with mead to rack, bottle, fine, blend,
adjust, etc. , that you wont have to worry about if your bottling too soon.

Seriously though, I've heard that wine/ mead ages faster in bulk than

in the bottle. I would put off bottling for as long as possible. This also
gives you a chance to blend different meads which can be quite fruitfull (in
more ways than one).

On the contamination risk involved with checking gravity;

I attended a mead making class put on by a published meader who has won

many top honors and was shocked by his flippent attitude towards
contamination. At one point he dipped his test jar in the must without
sterilizing it, took a gravity reading, and then poured it back in the must!
When I came to he explained that wine doesen't require the same sterilizing /
sanatizing that beer does. I can see how this is true once fermintation has
started and the alcohol level is rising. Since then I have been checking
gravities and tasting quite often without any contamination that I know of. I
think if you open a fermenting carboy and take a sample with a sterilized
wine thief you run very little or no chance of contamination.

Thanks for all responses,
Don Dickinson
Santa Rosa, Ca

Subject: When do you bottle?
From: Peter Matra <>
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 23:00:56 -0400 (EDT)

Well, I bottled after two months, when the mead wasn't clear. I

sort of regret it sort of not. Not sure. I put one bottle in the fridge,
and the other three in the basement. The one in the fridge is almost
crystal clear, the other bottles are still cloudy, with tons of sediment.
I say next time I will wait till it clears and rack one more time. The
thing is is that I saw no action for that second month except some
bubbles that always stood on the top.

Also, reusing mead/beer yeast and yeast with packages. Won't the yeast
die. Does it just come back to life after it is added back to water?
That's one thing I don't understand? How can it be stored in a package?

Stalking Wolf
Peter Matra

"Those who walk the woods, in God's country, walk on his ever changing
church. Drink the wine, plow the earth, listen to Mother Nature."

End of Mead Lover's Digest #438