Mead Lover's Digest #0458 Fri 9 February 1996


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



YAFM (Yet Another First Mead!) ("Charlie Moody")
chemistry lab (Trevor Floyd)
Re: A treatise on mead judging (Steven Rezsutek)
Lambic-Cyser-Mead ??? (Flinsch, Alex)
contest announcement (
Categories, Categories (Fred Hardy)
1996 Capitol District Open (Fred Hardy)
cyser, braggot, and judging categories (Dick Dunn)
Re: Varietal and Misc. Comments (Steven Rezsutek)


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Subject: YAFM (Yet Another First Mead!)
From: "Charlie Moody" <>
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 14:19:57 -0500 (EST)

Vas Hail, everyone!

I am *brand*new* to mead-making & homebrewing, but I've read Papazian,
and the digest up through 350 or so, and yesterday I started my first batch.

This is a high-gravity (O.G. = 1.1225!) tonic metheglyn

10 # generic honey (from Sam's Club)
1 C Ginger, fresh, sliced thin & soaked in honey
2 Limes, sliced thin
2 2fp Cloves, crushed, soaked in honey
1 stk Cinnamon, crushed
3 pod Cardamom, (green, seeds removed from pods)
1 3fp Mace
1 C Raisins (for yeast nutrient)

.5 GL Herbal decoction (chinese tonic herbs)
1 GAL Water

Boiled water to 3 gallons.

Starter: 1/2 C honey to 2 cups Boiling water

1/4 C raisins
1 pkt Pasteur Champagne yeast (Red Star), pitched @ 90F.

Lesson #1: get the scum off BEFORE adding stuff that floats!

That is some real gunk! I compromised on the boil/no-boil issue by using
90C as my target temp. Since I had added my spices to boiling water
before introducing the honey, it was tough keeping the temp @ a level
that would bring out the scum, and I lost a lot or the raisin during
skimming. Lost a lot of time, too: I may have carmelised the honey (but
how would I know?).

Added the pasteurised herb juice after skimming was complete (& stove was
turned off), cooled the must (wort? wust? mort?) to 95F, dumped it into a
sterilised bucket (I'm using B*Bright: any guidelines on how long it
takes to do its thing?) holing a gallon of boiled-then-cooled water, snapped
the lid in place, and shook vigorously.

At this moint, the mort tested w/ an SG of 1.1225 @ 85F.

I pitched the yeast (the whole thing), and shook it again good.

Poured the whole thing off into a 3-Gal carboy & a .5-Gal jug: almost
exactly 3 gallons (I used the little jug so I could leave some headroom in
the fermenters); airlocks in place, and there they sit. The fermometer
sez 61F, and after 15 hours, they bubble *very* lazily (about 1 every ten
minutes or so).

I figure if they haven't awakened by New Moon, I'll cook some old yeast
in the leftover wust and start another batch of yeast to pitch.


1> How much yeast (bread-type) should I use for this?

2> Any feedback on using raisins as nutrient?

3> Is 61F too cold for mead fermentation?

4> What's in Fermax (the only yeast nutrient @ the local shop)?

5> Anyone else experimented w/ herbs vs. spices?

6> Did I make any obvious mistakes?

Thanks to Dick, Joyce, Coyote, and everyone else who's made this digest
such a fascinating and informative pleasure…I'm glad to be here

NEXT: a Pineapple-Apple-Ginger melomel!

Charlie Moody
PGP Public Key: finger -l
PGP Fingerprint: 7F 0D 9E 8C 7E DF 33 11 2C 2B B8 19 6C 0F 2C 02

Subject: chemistry lab
From: Trevor Floyd <>
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 96 13:37:05 -0900

I am looking for resipies that can be completed in 10 weeks. I am a college
student and my Chem instructor is allowing me to do a lab on "the effects of
yeast on sugary bev." Is there a recipe that can be completed and tastes
good in this time frame? your comments appreciated. Trev

Subject: Re: A treatise on mead judging
From: Steven Rezsutek <>
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 14:20:39 -0500

Spencer W. Thomas writes:
> >>>>> "MLH" == Michael L. Hall
> MLH> 1. Traditional Mead – A mead made primarily from honey, water
> MLH> and yeast. Honey should be expressed in aroma and
> MLH> flavor. Additives of any type are allowed at
> MLH> sub-threshold levels (spice or fruit character is
> MLH> considered a flaw). The mead should have a neutral
> MLH> acidity-sweetness-tannin balance.
> ^^^^^^
> Can we start a discussion about the appropriateness of tannin in mead?
> I contend that tannin occurs naturally only in fruit-based meads (and
> those spiced with tea and other leaves or twigs). I don't think that
> it is required in a traditional (or "show") mead.

It certainly shouldn't be "required", but what about the oak [or other
wood] tannins that would result from fermenting and/or storing a mead
in a barrel?

Granted, you aren't going to have (want?) much of them, but therein lies
the concept of balance!

> Just as mead is not beer, neither is it wine. Sure, if you're
> coming from a wine-tasting background, you'll fault a mead for lack of
> a tannic "backbone".

Not necessarily. ["Hey, I resemble that remark!" ;-)]

White wines, with the notable exception of those that are barrel
fermented or aged, contain little or no tannins, and their "balance"
lies pretty much between acid and sweet, and even in the case of a
100% barrel fermented Chard, the actual tannic component is minimal
compared to, say, a "big" Cab. Sauv.

While I might fault a hearty-looking red for being flabby due to lack of
tannin, I would no way apply the same judgement to a Vinho Verde, where
any measure of tannin would probably spoil the "effect" [which, BTW, is
anything but "neutral"].

This is drifting a bit, but an excellent book on wine tasting and
evalutation is "The Taste of Wine" by Emile Peynaud. I think that aside
from mention of wine specific parametric values, like ranges of "proper"
acidity, it has much to offer in general, and would be a valuable
addition to the library of all meadmakers, whether or not you intend to
become judges.

> I say, we should drop all our preconceived notions and
> approach mead as what it is – a fermented, honey-based beverage.

With this, I agree wholeheartedly!


Subject: Lambic-Cyser-Mead ???
From: (Flinsch, Alex)
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 1996 08:24:00 -0500 asks
>I am attempting to ferment a Cyser-mead with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.
>anyone had any experience with this combination?

I have thought about trying something like this in the past, possibly using
raspberries rather than apples. I wonder if we would need a new subcategory
to classify this as?


Subject: contest announcement
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 09:51:07 -0500


Here's the short story-
Last year it was the Borderline Brawl. This year it is the Parlor City Brew

The Parlor CIty Homebrewers Coalition, comprised of the Borderline Yeast
Infectors and Broome County Fermenters Association brew clubs, is sponsoring
the second annual sanctioned homebrew contest in the BInghamton, NY area.

The Parlor City Brew Off will be held on Saturday April 13, 1996 at the
Parlor City Brewery i Binghamton, NY.

Last years event drew over 150 entries, so we anticipate easily over 200 this
All recognized styles of beer, meads and ciders can be entered.
All types of bottles will be accepted! Carbonaters will be returned.
Entries will be received between March 11 and March 31.
Best of Show for beer is a complete kegging system. Meads and Ciders will
compete for a separate Best of Show prize.
Ribbons and prizes will be awarded for First, Second and Third in each
judging category.

Points will also be awarded towards the NY Brewer and Club of the year

Entry packets with all of the details will ready in a week or so. To get one,
send your snail mail address to Roger Haggett <>, the contest

Judges and stewards can contact either Roger or myself, Bob Talkiewicz

Enter early and enter often!!
Bob Talkiewicz, Binghamton, NY <>

Subject: Categories, Categories
From: Fred Hardy <>
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 16:31:50 -0500 (EST)

It has been unusually cold here in DC, so the flames I received over
suggesting that some beverage categories might be rethought have actually
been rather nice. There was some misunderstanding that I was suggesting
that we should go back to long forgotten beverage profiles. I realize
that times have changed, and IPA usually isn't and American Amber does
not exist. I do suggest, however, that there seems to be categories that
are redundant and should be revised.

Hippocras is mead (honey wine) made with grape juice and spices. Its
origin is soaking medicinal herbs and spices in finished wine to create
an extract. The result was usually bitter medicine, and raw honey was
added to make it more palatable. That is hardly the definition of today's
Hippocras, but it is similar to a commercial product called Meade. I
suggest that a spiced melomel category is more descriptive of what the
guidelines call Hippocras. Metheglin, OTOH, is historically correct.

Pyment seems to me to be redundant, since there is already a melomel
category. Grapes are usually considered fruit. Historically it had more
in common with historical Hippocras than with today's definition.

Braggot with noticeable hop bitterness, character and/or aroma is beer
with lots of honey in it. The specialty beer category certainly allows
these beverages to be entered there. If braggot is to remain a category,
it should be made of malt and honey with no detectable hops. Historically
it was probably spiced, so spiced braggot should not offend the

Cyser under mead is also redundant. The specialty cider subcategory
covers it, as does melomel. Until the 16th century most cider was made
with honey, but it was still cider, not mead (or meth). All that has
changed is the category.


  • – Drop cyser (BTW, there is no perry subcategory in either mead or cider)

from the mead category (enter under specialty cider or melomel or both)

  • – Drop Hippocras as a subcategory (enter as a spiced melomel)

  • – Drop Pyment as a subcategory (it is a melomel)

  • – Drop hopped braggot from any category, or drop braggot altogether

  • – Add a spiced melomel subcategory under mead

  • – Enter hopped beer with lots of honey in it as a specialty beer.

  • – Drop the lead statement that ciders are made with apple juices to

permit perry, peach, guava, etc. ciders. They can be entered as specialty
cider, or create a non-apple subcategory. A spiced peach cider made with
honey could be entered as a melomel or specialty cider or both. Folks
enter the same beer in more than one subcategory all the time. Why not

More flames, please. It was 20 degrees this AM and heat is welcome.

Cheers, 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: 1996 Capitol District Open
From: Fred Hardy <>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 09:20:20 -0500 (EST)

The Dulles Regional Brewing Society (DReBS) will sponsor the 1996 Capitol
District Open homebrew competition on the first Saturday in November
(November 2, 1996). We expect it will be held at the Hyatt Regency
Washington hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

We will be combining categories to compensate for small numbers of
entries in some. We will use the 1996 AHA Style Guide and Guidelines for
classifying entries and as the judge's guide. We will be awarding a beer
best of show and a non-beer BoS (meads and ciders).

Early mailings to our mailing list will go out in August. If you have
entered before, judged, stewarded, in the mid-Atlantic BJCP database or
requested entry material for a previous CDO, you are probably on the
list. The competition is AHA Sanctioned and BJCP recognized. We expect
the 1996 CDO to draw around 200 entries. Two bottles are required per entry.

Start brewing and stay tuned.

Cheers, 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: cyser, braggot, and judging categories
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 8 Feb 96 11:17:53 MST (Thu)

Seems to me that the difficulty and differences of opinion about cyser and
braggot (how to characterize them and where to place them in judging) are
inherent in what they are: drinks which sit on the boundary between two
major categories. Historically, people's interpretations of any given
major category have been loose, even more so for the drinks that straddle
categories. So, if beer (in the general sense of a fermented malt beverage)
covers a lot of ground, and mead (fermented honey/water) covers a similarly
large territory, you can expect that braggot–which somehow bridges the gap
between the two–can vary widely. The same effect exists, but to lesser
extent, with cyser. (Pyment–which straddles the gap between mead and
wine–is at least as variable in interpretation as braggot, but it hasn't
come up in our discussions here.)

I think we should also allow the possibility that these "crossover"
categories are going to have different interpretations when they're judged,
depending on the context. Cyser in a mead competition should be judged as
a mead–it should have the characteristics of a mead with the addition of
apple. It would be possible that such a cyser be made with honey, apple
juice, and water, for example, rather than making up the full volume with
apple juice and no water. Cyser in a cider competition should be judged as
a cider–it should have the characteristics of a good cider with an added
element of honey character, and presumably would be made only from apple
juice, honey, and yeast. Now, these two (cyser-as-mead and cyser-as-cider)
may turn out to be no more than two sides of the same coin; my point is
that they *should* be permitted to diverge. We should be able to accept
the idea that a cyser which does well in cider competition might not do
well in mead competition, without either judging being at fault. The same
is true, even moreso, of braggot-as-mead _vs_ braggot-as-beer. Example:
You might well specify only "no hops" for the braggot category in a mead
competition but specify only "hops expected" for braggot in a beer
competition. Neither is wrong; they're just drawing different lines.

The real definitions of the terms are that cyser is a fermented beverage
made with apple juice and honey, and braggot is a fermented beverage made
with malt and honey, period. These are the common working definitions.
If competition is ill-served by them it will have to make its own peace by
adding, splitting, or refining categories–but with the recognition that
competition's terminology is not somehow superior to common usage and

Appeals to historical tradition in order to narrowly define a category are
mostly bogus…because historically, people pretty much did what they wanted
and called it what seemed most appropriate. Sure, it may be that for many
hundreds of years in some places cider was sweetened with honey. It is
also true that for the past several hundred years, what has been considered
"good" cider from England and France has been made only from apple juice.
You can find a historical period to justify 'most any viewpoint you want.
As to judging, the point is more that cyser and cider NEED to be judged
separately because they are supposed to have different flavor profiles.
Whether cyser is a sub-category of cider is a name game, as long as they're
kept separate. Braggot can be made with or without hops and/or spices;
it's still braggot. For competition, you may need to split out multiple
categories so that you've got tastes similar enough to allow them to be
compared meaningfully. You may even decide that you only want certain
types of braggot in your competition…fine. But to leap from those
decisions–which are driven by competition and judging–to a general
proclamation that (for example) "braggot is unhopped and unspiced" is
fatuous. It's not what the word means, either now or generally through

The foregoing was a mixture of fact and opinion. Now…
Given my assertion that the crossover categories (braggot, cyser, pyment)
may need to be judged in context of one of the main categories (beer, mead,
wine), what about the competitions that include all the main categories?

Here, the problem is in the competition itself–it's trying to do too much.
A competition for all types of beer is ambitiously broad; ditto a compe-
tition for all types of mead. Try to combine the two and it stretches the
limits. Add cider and it becomes ludicrous…it's no longer a serious
competition; it's just an exposition of fermented beverages. You can't
define the categories and you can't expect the judges to have expertise
over such a broad area. (It's like a cat show–judging long hair or short
hair breeds is difficult enough; judging both takes many years of training;
nobody expects to judge both dogs and cats together.) There's nothing
wrong with an "exposition", a "fair", call it what you like…it's a good
way for people with similar interests to find out what's going on around
them. But it's not a place where serious judging can happen.

And the crossover categories suffer the most in these wide-range "compe-
titions." What, after all, is the purpose of putting cider in a "homebrew"
competition? It's not even brewed! Now, you can follow a line of reasoning
that beer is made with malt, and braggot is beer with honey added, and mead
is just braggot without the malt, and cyser is just mead with apple juice
added, and cider is just cyser without the honey…but that way lies mad-
ness! After all, by that (grape) wine is just cider made with grape juice
instead of apple juice…and you're off and running; pretty soon you're
going to need categories for cabernet and pulque and kvass and koumiss in
your "homebrew" competition.

Let the homebrewers and the mead-makers and the cider-makers and the wine-
makers sit down and figure out their categories to suit each of their own
specialties. Let them discuss the crossover categories with one another…
but expect that they may come to differing conclusions, and realize there's
nothing wrong with that.

And for pete's sake, stop trying to use selected points in history or
single bits of data to justify narrow definitions!

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

…Simpler is better.

Subject: Re:  Varietal and Misc. Comments
From: Steven Rezsutek <>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 16:40:25 -0500

Russell Mast writes:
> Two nits to pick. First, I think hops (or wine tastes) in mead is
> great and should be acceptable, as long as the honey flavors predominate.
> > 1. Traditional Mead – A mead made primarily from honey, water and yeast.
> > ….
> > a. Standard Traditional Mead – uses clover or wildflower honey.
> > b. Varietal Honey Traditional Mead – is made from honey from a
> > particular flower source (clover and wildflower honey are not
> > acceptable in this category). The brewer must name the varietal
> > honey. Examples include … alfalfa, tupelo, etc. The mead should
> > showcase the distinctive taste of the particular varietal honey.
> Obviously, if I enter them into a contest, I decide what category to pick.
> I think that perhaps the distinction between these should be loosened a bit
> to primarily say that "1a" has a "general honey" character, where "1b"
> showcases the distinctive taste of the particular varietal, and not cut out
> clover and wildflower.

I'd go half way with you on this one. Think about what the
adj. "varietal" implies — coming from or displaying the characteristics
of a particular variety [of something]. As you indicated above, there
is no one Wildflower. Who's to say that someone couldn't duplicate the
taste of a "wildflower" by blending several honeys together after the
fact, rather than letting the bees do it? That would sort of nix it
from being a "varietal honey/mead", IMHO. Clover, of course, fits the

No offense intended to anyone, but as long as folks are picking nits,
let's not fall into the [wine] snobniscenti trap of using "varietal" to
mean "noble variety" and "variety" for the lesser things in life.
That's sort of the impression I got from the original post wrt clover
not being a "varietal honey".

Rant off…


End of Mead Lover's Digest #458

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