Mead Lover's Digest #0464 Sun 3 March 1996


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



no fermentation (Chris Webster)
Metheglin recipes? (John R. Murray)
Re: Downgrading for bottles (Joyce Miller)
Re: Varietal Huh? (long) (Steven Rezsutek)


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Subject: no fermentation
From: Chris Webster <>
Date: Thu, 29 Feb 96 10:24:26 PST

I made a mead out of Papazian's "Joy of. . ." called Barkershack Mead
(or something like that). Called for 7 lbs honey and I also used
5lbs grapes. Used 1 package of dry champagne yeast. 48 hours later
still no fermentation. Local beer store told me I need to use 4-5
packages of this yeast (I made 5 gallons). Book only called for 1 or
2 packages. This is my first mead and I am a bit concerned (I know,
"don't worry…"). Anyone ever made this or have any advice about
the amount of yeast?

Subject: Metheglin recipes?
From: (John R. Murray)
Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 15:02:49 -0500

Hello, fellow MLD'ers! A question on metheglin recipes from a relatively
new arrival on MLD (apologies in advance if any of this is FAQ/obvious):

1) I have an herb garden in my backyard, and am contemplating turning
at least part of my now-bubbling 2nd batch of mead into a metheglin
(probably using the herb-tea-added-at-bottling method). I've looked over
the recipes I know of on the web, etc., but I don't see many using the
herbs that I like/have available (I've had the same problem with
homebrew, too.. why does everyone want to use coriander and nutmeg?).

Does anyone have pointers to any recipes using (in order of interest)..

lavender (now THAT sounds interesting! 😉
basil (besides the "cooking mead" – 6 cups basil to one gallon?!)
cilantro (the plant, not coriander, the seed)
wormwood (absinthe/mead?)
fennel (?)
oregano (??)
parsley (!!)

(the last few don't sound all that appealing, but just in case someone's
tried them…)

I do have access to a local microfilm copy of Digby, so if there's
anything in there that addresses these, I'd appreciate a reference.

Subject: Re: Downgrading for bottles
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 16:22:16 -0500

> I entered the last Capitol District Open and was rather dismayed to have
> been down rated by one of the judges for "not using a beer bottle like
> everyone else". I used a perfectly legitimate green "wine bottle".

There should be no points awarded or removed for the "Bottle inspection"
portion of the scoresheet. If they used BJCP judges for this event, your
scoresheet should have an address to write to on the bottom. (at The
Celebrator). If the judge REALLY DID take off points because of your
bottle, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write to the BJCP program, and send them a
copy of your scoresheet. That guy has to take remedial judging. If he just
made a flippant comment, well, he's just a jerk, and maybe you shouldn't
bother the BJCP about it. They're pretty busy right now getting their act
in gear.

In general, if you get a really bad scoresheet, that has insulting or
incomprehensible comments on it, definitely write to the BJCP Program
coordinators. Nothing will ever get fixed if they don't know what's going

  • — Joyce

Subject: Re: Varietal Huh? (long)
From: Steven Rezsutek <>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 1996 13:34:12 -0500

Russell Mast writes:
> > We might as well give in to chemical synthesis and begin extracting
> > "Bordeaux from a Sloe", so to speak.
> If you can make Bordeaux from a Sloe, and fool a competent judge with
> it, you deserve a prize. Period.

Perhaps, but not for making Bordeaux. Certainly creating such a beverage
would be noteworthy, and while it might serve as a good substitute for
the real thing, I'd never go so far as to say it _was_ the real thing.

> Beverage judging should be about the TASTE of the beverage, and the body
> and aroma and color and clarity.

Agreed. I have no dispute with this statement at all. All of the
handfull of rating systems that I'm familiar with fit this model quite
well. In fact, I'd say that my personal (i.e. informal) criteria fit
this quite well, too.

None of these rating systems have any mention of anything "varietal",
BTW. The closest thing to that I saw when I checked my reference before
coming in this morning was "typicity", which is more of a regional thing

> It should not be about the recipe. Period.

But it _is_ about the recipe as soon as you narrow your judging to
anything beyond an "all beverages are interchangeable and there is no
distinction between them" approach.

To put this a bit more into focus, we're talking about mead, and
establishing criteria for judging mead, not some generic "beverage".
The last time I checked, mead was defined as a fermented HONEY beverage.
Sounds like the "recipe" is a big part of the picture, or should I
assume that some Domino sugar, water, glycerin, 2,3-isobutyl-mumble and
FD&C Yellow No. 5 is every bit as deserving to be called a _mead_ as
something made from honey?

Somehow, I don't think that the latter is quite what you really meant to

> > Otherwise, why make the distinction at all? Maybe others don't think
> > there's a difference here, but I do. YMMV, natch.
> I think you're totally misunderstanding the point Fred and I are trying
> to make.
> The point is – there is a TASTE difference in the varieties of honey.

Of this, I am well aware, but this isn't the point I was arguing against.

The distinction I'm trying to make is that having something that "tastes
like" fooblossom honey and having something that both tastes like _and_
_contains_ fooblossom honey are two different things. As a rather
extreme example to illustrate what I'm trying to say:

Suppose for a moment that I "find" that a certain blend of honeys, when
carmelized at the right temperature, for the right amount of time, give
something that has a very malty character. Not enough to make beer,
say, but enough that when blended with some straight honey it makes
something that bears a more than passing resemblence to braggot. In
fact, lets say that it tastes so much like a braggot that it takes a
first in the braggot catagory. [Sorry for opening that can of worms,
but as long as I've dug myself into this hole, I thought some company
would be nice. 🙂 ]

Now, my question is “_Is_ it a braggot?''.

If “yes'', then why define braggot as a beverage made from honey and
malt, when saying it is something that TASTES like it was made from
honey and malt would suffice? [And by extension, why say that mead needs
honey at all, which I brought up above?]

If “no'', then substitute "fooblossom honey" for "malt", and "varietal
mead" for "braggot", and you'll see what I've been trying to say.

> > > I agree totally with what you say here, but then why have a class for
> > > "varietal" honeys, which is, by definition, based on the
> > > recipe, at all?
> >
> > I strongly disagree. Obviously, the recipe will have something
> > to do with the flavor. But, if the idea of the varietal
> > category is to showcase the TASTE of the specific honey. The
> > reason to have the category is that each variety of honey has
> > it's own unique taste which can be a major point of showcasing.
> >
> > I seem to have missed something here… I don't understand how one can
> > define a catagory based on the taste of a honey/mead without having
> > defined a "target taste" for that honey.
> What the hell are you accusing me of here? I'm sorry to be so defensive, but
> you really ARE missing something in a big way. I never, ever meant to imply
> in the slightest that there shouldn't be a "target taste". Where on earth
> would you read that from my statement? Of -COURSE- there should be a target
> taste. Forgetting the idea of a combo (where the target taste would be a com
> of other tastes perhaps) the target taste of the varietal mead is clearly
> defined by the taste of the given variety of honey. This is so obvious, and
> it's what I've been saying all along.

No accusation intended — my confusion was genuine, and resulted from
what is probably a misreading of your statement, which came a bit before
the passage quoted above. (I'll take the blame for the poor editing) :

“No, I think that the "varietal" category should express something specific
about the variety of honey used. I'm undecided about whether it needs to
be one variety or a combo, but defining categories by taste is a seperate
issue from how to define the "target taste" of the "varietal" category.''

At the time this struck me as saying something along the lines of
defining a catagory (by taste) for, say, Orange Blossom meads was a
_seperate issue_ [key words] from defining a reference taste for Orange
Blossom meads, _not_ that you wouldn't have one. It left me chasing my
tail, so to speak.

My point, and my opinion, is that if you are going to define a catagory
based on some particular taste, then you have to be able to describe, or
define, _that taste_. It does no one any good to say that catagory X is
defined by the TASTE of X honey, if you can't put down some description
of what the defining aspects of that [target] taste are. At best, you
would get wildly inconsistant judging as different people "key" off of
different subtleties of the honey. In light of that, handwaving or
assuming that "everyone is familiar with it", or that it's obvious,
or otherwise making it a seperate issue, seems like a copout to me.

To illustrate my point another way, lets look at Cab. Sauv. It takes on
noticeably different character (TASTE) when grown in the Bordeaux
region, California, or Chile for example. [I'm talking about better
wines here, not stuff that is grown for yield and is consequently so
dilute in flavor as to be barely identifiable]. They all show the family
resemblence, and most people would probably recognize any of them as
being Cabs, but given 3 wines equally well made from these regions which
one would "win" the "best expression" test? I don't see how this can
decided without having defined a benchmark "Cab taste" that all are
measured against.

I apologize if I was/am just being obtuse, but that what I read out of
your statement. If I'm still missing the boat, then please feel free to
elaborate. At the very least, I hope I've clarified _my_ postion a bit.

> What I disagree with you about is "by definition, based on the recipe".
> It's – -NOT-. It's based on the taste. That's what I disagree about.

But that's what the label "varietal" implies — that it comes from some
variety of honey.

You can't have it both ways, IMO. If we are going to continue to say
that MEAD CONTAINS HONEY (and braggot contains malt:) — oops, there's
that recipe thing again — then I fail to see the problem with being
consistant and also saying that FOOBLOSSOM MEAD CONTAINS FOOBLOSSOM
HONEY, which is all I've really been trying to get across. Aside from
this one sore point, I suspect that we aren't as opposed to each other
as it first seems.

Maybe I'm operating under different assumptions all around, but it seems
to me that the "goal" of making a varietal mead would be to (again) make
the best, most expressive mead possible _from that varietal honey_.

Granted, not all orange blossom honey (or alfalfa, or clover, to use
your earlier examples) will live up to such high standards that only the
finest honey from a particularly good year could define it, just as not
all Cabernet Sauvignon is not equal. That's part of the game, IMO. It
isn't sufficient to use X honey (or grapes), you have to use _good_ X

Anyhow, I'm sure I've said more than anyone, myself included, probably
wants to hear from me on this for a while. I apologize for the lenthly



End of Mead Lover's Digest #464

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