Mead Lover's Digest #0486 Mon 24 June 1996


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



Elderberry mead (Douglas Thomas)
Re: Large batches (Brian McGovney)
Re: botulism ("Tracy Aquilla")
Fermentation done? ("Tom Lentz")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #485, 21 June 1996 (TOBOBEAR@VAX1.Mankato.MSUS.EDU)
1996 MCM Judging (Daniel S. McConnell)
Elderberry mead (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #484, 16 June 1996 (Kirk Jones)
Scotland/Ireland (John R. Murray)


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Subject: Elderberry mead
From: Douglas Thomas <>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 07:57:05 -0700 (PDT)

Twice, I have tried to make something alcoholic from elderberries. Once
a mead, the other a wine. Something I discovered from this (they were my
second and third batches) is make sure they are not near the street. I
tried making these in L.A. and found that since they were near the street
the flowers picked up a funny smell that wasn't washed away (or fermented
away) and the berries never could ripen, though they turned purplish. I
think that the smog inhibited berry production somehow. That is all my
experience with elderberries. I have recently been told of a patch near
where I currently live (SF Bay Area) that is huge and sweet, so I may be
heading that way soon. More later if the local wine and pie makers
havn't picked it over.

Subject: Re: Large batches
From: Brian McGovney <>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 08:11:12 -0700 (PDT)

Alex Flinsch wrote:

>I am seeking some advice on LARGE batches of mead (20 gallons or more).
>I started a 20 gallon batch back in early March and it seems to be going
>along much more slowly than other batches that I have used. These are the
>details of the batch
>72 lbs honey from local beekeeper
>8 lbs light malt extract (for nutrients)
>4 oz acid blend (don't have the exact mixture here at work)

*72 lbs*!! Boy, you don't kid around. Seriously, though, I think the sugar
content of your must might actually be too high for the yeast, considering
most sweet mead recipes I've seen use 10-14 lbs of honey, which would scale
up to about 40-56 lbs. for a 20 gallon batch. Your S.G. may actually be
close to the unfortunate level of 1.200!

On the other hand, it looks like the yeast have already attenuated a bit,
yes? Great! Perhaps as the attenuation continues and the sugar is
digested, the yeast will begin to act happier. Patience is probably the
best course to take (and maybe another, quicker mead for that wedding…)

Just my $0.02..

  • -Brian McGovney

Technical writer, chemist, brewer, gamer, bicyclist

Subject: Re: botulism
From: "Tracy Aquilla" <>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 96 11:33:13 CDT

In Digest #485:
Gregg Cluff <> wrote:
>While heat will kill the botulinum bacteria, If I recall correctly
>from medicinal chemistry, botulinum toxin isn't suseptable to low heat.
>It takes a very high heat > 300:Celcius for a sustained period of time
>to break down botulinum toxin. Most people wont be able to do this to
>their honey.
>Be careful. If the toxin is already produced, you may have no choice
>bet to toss the batch. Fortunatly this isn't likley to happen to mead
>if good cleanliness procedures are taken during the brew.
>Gregg Cluff, Pharm.D.

I have scoured the medical databases for cases of botulin poisoning linked
to the consumption of mead and have been unable to find a single documented
case. Clostridium botulinum cannot germinate and grow in honey because the
water activity is too low. Furthermore, this bacterium requires strict
anaerobic conditions. I don't believe any botulin toxins have ever been
identified in honey, although the spores are occasionally found in honey.
These spores can germinate in the intestines, but only infants (or
immunocompromised adults) are at significant risk of becoming ill from this.
Most of the botulin toxins (there are many) are heat labile and are
irreversibly denatured upon boiling, but boiling will not affect the spores
significantly. We should all be aware that honey should not be given to
infants under one year of age, but I don't think mead lovers need worry
about getting botulism from mead.

Subject: Fermentation done?
From: "Tom Lentz" <>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 96 08:42:19

I started a double batch (10 gal) of mead about 6 weeks ago (maybe
less, I don't have my notes with me). This is the standard metheglin
that I usually make (1gal honey/per 5gal, cinnamon, cloves, orange
peel, ginger), with the same yeast I normally use (Vinters choice
Sweet Mead, liquid stuff by Wyeast Co.). I just racked two days ago,
and I noticed that the mead had pretty much fallen clear. There was
still some slight activity, but most of the bubbles appeared to be
coming from the sludge on the bottom (before racking). Two days after
racking, I don't see any activity. My meads usually poke along for
about 3 months before they're done fermenting. Does anyone have any
ideas what could have gone wrong?

I've done two things different this batch:

1) Reduced nutrient slightly and increased energizer slightly on
recommendation to do so by guru at local homebrew store.

2) I got two packs of yeast for my two 5 gal batches. One pack of
yeast just didn't take; dead. So I brewed one batch, pitched the good
yeast and waited for primary fermentation to start. I then split the
first batch between two carboys and added the second batch to fill up
each carboy. Essentially using the first batch as a starter, this
seemed to work just fine.

My bet goes with the change in nutrients. In the opinion of the
experts here, did the change help the ferment to complete this much
faster, or did the yeast go dormant since they ran out of whatever
particular nutrients they need more of?

Unfortunately, I didn't take gravity readings this batch. I've been
doing the same recipie so long it's kind of pointless.

Thanks in advance!

Tom Lentz

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #485, 21 June 1996
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 13:24:39 -0600 (CST)

On the purple loosestrife idea: promoting it is bad idea because here in
Minnesota it is considered a noxious weed and legally must be removed
otherwise the owner of the property it is found is liable to be fined. Of
course few people get fined and the best example is The city of Winona in
which the majority of the plants around Lake Winona are purple loosestrife
and the city has made no efforts to remove them.

If I remember correctly they must be removed by July 1 (of every year)

otherwise the owner of the property is subject to fines.

Subject: 1996 MCM Judging
From: (Daniel S. McConnell)
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 21:58:15 -0500

We have a lot of good entries this year as usual. I will report the final
numbers as soon as they are entered.

The first round of the 1996 Mazer Cup judging will be held at Jeff Renner's
house on Sunday at 3PM June 30. There will be a second first round (if
needed, which is most likely) to be held the following weekend at my house
on Saturday at 3PM July 7. The idea is to split the judging, maintain high
quality and reduce fatigue (operator error).

You are encouraged (no begged…) to attend one or both. You have a place
to stay. You will be well fed. BoS TBD.


Subject: Elderberry mead
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 22:24:44 -0400

>From: (Joyce Miller)
>Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996 10:43:09 -0400
>Has anyone out there made an elderberry mead?

I made an elderberry mead last October from berries I found in N. Calif. on a
fishing trip. So far I'm very pleased with it. It tastes very much like a
zinfandel although its not as intense as it should be. I picked 5 gal. of
berry bunches which produced 2/3 gals. of juice. I substituted this for the
same amount of water in a five gal. batch of mead. I used 4 qts. of honey and
K-1 dry wine yeast. This year I'm not messing with the fish (I never catch
any anyways) and I'm pickin' elderberries for a couplla days. I'm not going
to use any water and I'm fortifying the juice with honey to 1.120+ grav..
Elderberries have very little sugar and lots of acid. The elderberries I used
are the purple, 1/4 inch in diameter type and you need a whole lotta
elderberry bushes to gather five gal. worth.

>Also, has anyone tried a rose mead?

I've been thinking about making a rose hip mead for years now. I hear that

rose hip wine is big in Germany.

Good luck,
Don Dickinson

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #484, 16 June 1996
From: (Kirk Jones)
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 1996 08:50:20 -0400

Hello Meadmeisters,

I've been making mead in my 55 gallon honey drums for some years and want
to move to a better fermatation vessel. I am interested in a poly,
fiberglass or stainless in a volumn of 50 to 100 gal. Anybody have any info
on what would be the best value in a vessel of this size and where one may
possibly find it for sale?

Kind wishes,

Sleeping Bear Apiaries/Kirk Jones
BeeDazzled Candleworks/Sharon Jones


Subject: Scotland/Ireland
From: (John R. Murray)
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 1996 17:00:32 -0400

Last night I had dinner (sushi!) across the parking lot from our Best Local
Excuse for a Beer/Wine/Liquor Store (you want it, they've got it, or no one
else has it locally). On a whim, I decided to drop in and see what was new.

Well, the new Miami-brewed microbeer was potentially interesting, however
the mead department consisted of the same old two meads, one which is not a
mead at all (it says "Meade" on the label, but says right underneath, "white
wine with honey added" (Bunratty from Ireland, if anyone's wondering)), and
the other (Chaucer's, Bargetto Winery, Soquel, CA), which is sweet enough to
float an egg in (OK, OK, so I'm exaggerating, but I was so astounded at the
excessive sweetness that I measured the SG of Chaucer's – 1.045!). I have
unfinished, perhaps never-to-be-finished bottles of both in my refrigerator.

My own meads (4 at this writing, and 3 gallons of honey sitting on the kitchen
counter waiting for #5 and #6) are in the dry-to-medium range, and I've been
craving a commercial mead in that range, so I could compare my own results.
So this time in the store, I decided to evangelize and see if I could get them
to stock a commercial mead that wouldn't float an egg.

Turns out that my timing couldn't have been better. The buyer for all (3 or
so) of the stores was there, and is planning a vacation to Ireland and Scotland
this summer. Although his mead experience is pretty much limited to what
they've already stocked, he's quite willing to do some mead exploring while
he's there. I mentioned the castle meadery (McBain? Castle) that was
reported on a couple of digests ago, and promised to do some digging for
meadery information before he left.

So I'd really appreciate it if MLD folks could offer recommendations on
Scottish or Irish meaderies. I plan to do some digest archive hunting when I
get back to work on Monday, but pointers to any other online or on-paper
resources would be appreciated. The buyer's already offered to bring me back
a bottle or two of whatever he finds, but if you folks can help me turn him
into a raving mead fanatic that's willing to hammer on the distributors until
they start stocking non-egg-floating meads, I will be forever in your
collective debt!

P.S. Has anyone on-list tried Screaming Viking, the mead from Florida's first
commercial meadery, Fred's Meadery?

John R. Murray
FSU Aikido Club/North Florida Aikikai home of Miko's Aikido MPEGs and the
Tallahassee, FL WWW Aikido online calendar of events

  • the pen is only mightier than the sword at a range greater than five feet –

End of Mead Lover's Digest #486