Mead Lover's Digest #0453 Sat 20 January 1996


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



News Flash – Honey Shortage ("Allen Dick")
Strawberries and Caramalized sugar (Douglas Thomas)
Re: Making Magic: Brewing Mead, by Rich Webb, Mead and brewing Deity (Jim Sims)
sweet and sour meads (Dan McConnell)
A Treatise on Mead Judging (Michael L. Hall)
Re: Lemon Melomel Request (Donna & Antony Maurer)
malolactic fermentation? (


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Subject: News Flash - Honey Shortage
From: "Allen Dick" <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 08:00:53 +0700

News Flash!!!

I should report to the list that white honey in drums is now selling
in drums in Alberta which is a large honey producing area at prices
*double* what they were only a little over a year ago.

There appears to be a worldwide shortage of honey that will likely
persist at least until the next Northern hemisphere harvest next

So look for bargains and stock up.

We are out of honey and turning customers away.



W. Allen Dick, Beekeeper VE6CFK
RR#1, Swalwell, Alberta Canada T0M 1Y0
Honey. Bees, Art, & Futures <>

Subject: Strawberries and Caramalized sugar
From: Douglas Thomas <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 08:07:12 -0800 (PST)

I love strawberries.
I, unfortunately, have not made a batch of wine or mead from them. This
was mostly due to the fact that I started brewing meads last year and
last years local strawberry crop was destroyed by the rain. I would like
to try both wine and mead from them. Any recipes? Also, I love the
taste of brown sugar and caramel. Does anyone know how these effect the
flavor of wine? I would like to make my own hard caramel and add it as
part of the sugar for a wine. And also, I want to try a 1:1 ratio honey
to brown sugar for my next melomel (I know it would not truly classify,
but I like the taste of strawberries romanov, which is honey and brown
sugar, sour cream and strawberries). Any ideas on that?
Lastly, I have a friend with a "wild" plum tree. It puts out small,
green and red "plums" that are about 3/4" around. They are extremely
tart and have a cross between a plum and green apple taste. This friend
lives in the Sierra foothills if that helps. Any idea on what those are?
I would appreciate any replies and thoughts

Doug Thomas
e-mail preferred.

Subject: Re: Making Magic: Brewing Mead, by Rich Webb, Mead and brewing Deity
From: (Jim Sims)
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 11:05:14 -0500

The intent of this reply is NOT to cast doubt on Rich's obvious
success/credentials/abilities/parentage, etc 🙂 The intent is to make
folks aware of alternative thoughts on traditionally "accepted" or
"known" "facts" about yeast, brewing, etc.

My comments are based on my coupla years experience brewing beer and
making mead, and a few years reading HBD and MLD, where there are
lotsa folks who collectively know way more about this than any _one_
of us. I haven't done the side-by-side hard-core scientific method
experiments to validate my opinions, and since Rich didnt claim he had
either, I'll make the bold assumption (possibly false) that he hasn't

In any case, folks need to be aware that opinions are opinions,
researched facts are something different and we should be careful and
label which type of information we are presenting to other folks.

Rich writes:

>> Because honey does not have sufficient nutrients
>>to enable yeast to undergo a vigorous and healthy ferment

true. unquestionably

>>, put perhaps 1 tsp
>>of yeast nutrient, or 3 tsp of yeast energizer

This is one of those "accepted facts". There is growing evidence this
is a bad idea. Rich himself illustrates one reason why:

>> if you used too much yeast nutrient, it
>>will take longer for the harsh, metallic "off-flavors" from these salts and
>>chemicals to recede into background levels

More from Rich:

>> the sweetness of the mead requires the sour tartness of some sort
>>of acid in order to balance it out. I've added from 1 to 3 tsp of acid blend,
>>grape tannin, citric acid, or a combination thereof

This is another of those "accepted facts" that is
questionable. Here's one reason why:

>>the fermentation will be more vigorous if you wait until after fermentation
>>to add the acid

There have been a number of posts in the MLD and elsewhere suggesting
that pH (coupled with yeast nutrition) are one (two) of the most
important aspects of quick fermentation and "aging".

>> Same with aeration. If you can inject filtered atmosphere (or ultimately,
>>pure, medical quality oxygen), your yeast lag time (initial, reproductive)
>>phase of the ferment will be minimized, and a healthier fermentation will be
>>the result.

Another potential "urban legend". Check the recent discussion on the
Homebrew Digest. I don't recall _who_, but some microbiologist type
pointed out that aeration has little to nothing to do with yeast
reproduction because that is a anerobic (oxygen-free) process.

And in the _just_my_two_cents_ category:

>> It might be
>>best to have a vigorous initial ferment with just honey, then rack onto the
>>crushed and pulverized fruit.

I find that adding fruit with the initial fermentation accomplishes
multiple goals:

(1) It adds nutrient for the yeast, eliminating the need for

(2) the mead clears more quickly as the fruit seems to precipitate
the particulates faster

(3) adding fruit at the start eliminates the risk of

>> Aeration of the fruit will lead to oxidation of the alcohol, leading
>> to wet cardboard type aromas and tastes

more of _my_two_cents_

>> If you're worried about the sanitation
>>of the fruit, heat it up to pasteurization temperatures, but no higher. The
>>pectin in the fruit may set, leading to a permanent haze floating in your mead

My preference is to rinse/soak the whole fruit in sanitizer (check
the winemaking supplies section of your homebrew shop/catalog), then
chop up the fruit and freeze it. Freezing bursts the cell walls far
more effectively than any food processor ever could….

Subject: sweet and sour meads
From: (Dan McConnell)
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 12:02:54 -0500

Suzanne was a real supporter and her absence will be noticed. We heard the
news in the midst of label design for the 1996 AHA Conference Commorative
Mead. This mead will commorate more than a conference, I assure you.

David Martin writes:

> I started a few batches of mead about 18 months ago and got to
>the stage of racking them into the secondary. They then got packed for the
>move and i've only just uncovered them, neglected in the garage (pretty
>slack aren't I ;-).

No, just patient. Make *that* your story and then stick to it.

> The first is a traditional mead, it is VERY sweet


>The second was an attempt at en elderflower & peach memomel. It is
>VERY VERY VERY acid. I tasted a bit recently and my front teeth nearly
>disolved :-). I think I made the elderflower tea much too strong (either
>that or I mistook teaspoons for tablespoons when adding acid blend :-). What
>would you recommend for sweetning it up? Add more honey? I'm not even sure
>that sweetning it will counter the acid. What I really need is a way of
>removing the acid. I was thinking of adding some bicarb soda to it to
>neutralise it (I know that this may make the mead undrinkable but what the
>heck… it's undrinkable now). Any suggestions?

Blend the two together in various proportions until you get something
drinkable. You may be surprised at the result.

We recently spent an evening racking mead and blending various ciders and
meads together. For a dry cyser that may become sparkling, the best blend
turned out to be dry mead:dry cider:off-dry mead in a proportion of 2:1:1.
The hint of sweetness really brings out the apple character. We will need
to repeat the blending to make sure that an ethanol induced bias didn't
play a role during the first go. These will be blended just before bottling
when we get around to it.

I'm patient too. That's *my* story and I'm sticking to it.

Now Online!

Subject: A Treatise on Mead Judging
From: (Michael L. Hall)
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 96 11:13:31 MST

Mead Enthusiasts and Judges,

I recently published an article in the January 96 issue of _Inside Mead_,
the publication of the American Mead Association. The article concerns
mead judging, and includes a description of a mead competition which can
be scaled to accommodate both small and large competitions.

While I encourage all of you to support the AMA by buying _Inside Mead_,
I have also decided to make the article available on the net. The
article is available in PostScript and ASCII text form on the Los Alamos
Atom Mashers "Goodies Page" at:

If possible, please use the PostScript version because its formatting is
closer to the way I want it to be.

To whet your appetites and let you decide whether or not you're interested
in the article, I am including the outline for the article at the end of
this posting.

Mike Hall

Outline – Mead Judging


Intro to Mead Judging

  • show mead

  • cyser and pyment, hippocras categories usually under-represented

  • varietal honeys sometimes get short-changed

  • delicate meads get overlooked


  • honey should be expressed

  • wine character not appropriate, except in pyments




  • Modifiers

+ Varietal
+ Strength: Hydromel / Standard / Sack
+ Sweetness: Dry / Medium / Sweet
+ Carbonation Level: Still / Sparkling

  • Traditional Mead (Standard Traditional Mead, Varietal Honey Traditional


  • Melomel (Cyser, Pyment, Raspberry Melomel, Cherry Melomel, Plum Melomel,

Peach Melomel, Apricot Melomel, Strawberry Melomel, Blueberry
Melomel, Berry Melomel, Citrus Melomel, Tropical Fruit Melomel,
Prickly Pear Mead, Other)

  • Metheglin (Mulling Spice Metheglin, Beer Spice Metheglin, Mellow Spice

Metheglin, Italian Spice Metheglin, Flower Petal Metheglin,
Peppery Metheglin, Chile Mead, Other)

  • Braggot (Pale Braggot, Amber Braggot, Dark Braggot)

  • Mixed Category Mead (Hippocras, Apple Pie Mead, Spiced Melomel or

Fruited Metheglin, Maltomel, Malteglin, Other)
Instructions for Organizers:

  • Procedure (basically same as beer judging)

  • Entry form

  • Stewarding concerns

  • Smaller flights

  • Categories

Instructions for Judges:

  • before the judging

  • judging a sample mead

+ overall concerns: balance (acid-sweet-tannic, honey-other),
expression of honey, expression of other
+ procedure (aromas, appearance, tastes)
+ off-tastes (nutrient tastes, phenolics, higher alcohols – harshness,
oxidation – not bad in cherry/plum melomels, skunkiness –
should be none, metallic)

  • judge silently

  • lots of comments



Author bio

Subject: Re: Lemon Melomel Request
From: (Donna & Antony Maurer)
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 1996 21:54:55 +1100

>From: "Robin S. Martinez" <>
>Date: Wed, 17 Jan 1996 14:24:54 -0800
>On another note, I'm already thinking about my next batch of mead. I'd like
>to try a melomel using lemons. Has anyone tried using lemons, or have a
>recipe you'd like to share?
>Robin Martinez …
I made a lemon melomel last year (around 8 months ago I think). I used a
grapefruit melomel recipe and just substituted freshly squeezed lemons.
Here is the recipe (for a gallon):

1.2 L lemon juice (43 fl oz)
900g mixed honey (2 lb)
Yeast nutrient
15g tartaric acid (0.5oz)

I can't remember what yeast I used, but it was possibly a bordeaux yeast.

We tried this, chilled, at Christmas and it wasn't bad. It was pretty
acidic and kept a good lemon flavour. No sweetness at all. I think it will
improve with age.

I also made a grapefruit melomel at the same time – at the last tasting it
still tasted like vomit. I don't think I'll ever like grapefruit.

We have a drink in Australia called Two Dogs, which they call an alcoholic
lemonade. It is carbonated, around 5% alcohol and has great lemon flavour.
I'm going to give this a go as my next lemon drink.

Good luck with your lemon melomel.

Donna Maurer

Subject: malolactic fermentation?
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 1996 10:54:07 -0500

In MLD 452 I described a lemon/ginger metheglin which had cleared and
fermented, but was still at a gravity a little higher than I would have
expected from a Premier Cuvee yeast. Several weeks after an attempt to
re-start the fermentation, it took off on its own. For lack of a better idea,
I've attributed this to the fact that I'm keeping my house a little warmer on
average in recent weeks.

One person emailed to ask if I'd used acid blend, and could this be a
malolactic fermentation, so here's my question:

Are there other sources of malic acid besides acid blend and apples? I used no
acid except for the juice/zest of one-and-a-half or two lemons. Local light
wildflower honey was used. Meanwhile, in the carboy next to this I have a
cyser happening, and it has not come back to life.

I'm pretty sure my mead is just responding to warmer average temperatures, and
it's been freezing here in December/January on the side of a mountain in
Vermont. On the other hand malolactic fermentation often occurs in warm
temperatures following cold… But does malic acid lurk in other places in
meads? How about other fruits? Any thoughts from anyone?

Whatever the case, it continues to be a strong argument for patience in aging
meads in the carboy!

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont,

End of Mead Lover's Digest #453