Mead Lover's Digest #0491 Mon 29 July 1996


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



re: Blackcurrant melomel (Dick Dunn)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #490, 23 July 1996 (
Re: bottles and other possible supplies ("Suzanne Berry")
re: Mead Lover's Digest #490- finding an apiary (Mark & Ava Lindberg – C.K. Brew)
Re: mead in the early US (Joyce Miller)
Re: apaiaries, nuts (Joyce Miller)
Re: large-er batches & homemade nutrients (Joyce Miller)
Re: Pumpkin mead (Joyce Miller)
Wyeast Sweet Mead ("Tom Lentz")
Re: Finding an apiary ("Chuck Graves")
Re: Small (8 oz?) bottles (Keith Schwols)
Re: Pumpkin Mead – Mead Lover's Digest #490, 23 July 1996 (
Re: 5-gallon problems (Trisha Friend)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #490, 23 July 1996 (
Re: Finding an apiary (Marc Shapiro)
New book: "Country House Brewing" (Jacob Galley)
Braggot Again (Fred Hardy)
Re: mead in the early US ("West, Dale")
First Cyser question (Belinda Messenger)
more braggot questions (Neal Dunsieth)
Nutrients, etc. ("Dione Wolfe, Dragonweyr, New Mexico")
Drambuie? (


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Subject: re: Blackcurrant melomel
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 23 Jul 96 23:41:13 MDT (Tue)

Terence David Estrin <> writes about blackcurrant melomel:
> Bryan Acton's "Making Mead" suggest using (per gallon) four pounds of
> blackcurrants…
> …While we were
> picking the very ripe berries, I couldn't help but notice how
> astringent they were. This leads me to the question: Is four pounds of
> fruit per gallon a good amount, or will it lead to an acidic,
> astringent melomel?…

My mead experience is with redcurrants rather than blackcurrants, but as I
recall, blackcurrants are more astringent. 4 lb/gal seems an awful lot.

I've used 2-2.5 lb raw fruit per gallon of mead, and that seemed plenty.
With redcurrants, I'd not want to go above 3 lb per gallon. My approach is
maceration for the first few days of fermentation, after which I strain/
skim the fruit and put it through a fruit press, returning the expressed
liquid to the ferment. I feel that this does a good job of extracting the
flavor and color, without pulling out too much astringency or bitterness.

[Side note: Please realize that "maceration" does not mean "chopping up" or
"crushing" or anything of the sort, despite what all too many people think.]

Dick Dunn Boulder County, Colorado USA

…Too bad about Boulder.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #490, 23 July 1996
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 03:27:51 -0400

In Mead Lovers Digest # 490 Dan McC quotes a Braggot receipe from Fred Hardy.
Everything is there except for a recomended yeast type. What type of yeast is

I just subscribed to MLD and # 490 is the first one I have received. I don't
know how to go back and look at past postings for the receipe.

I have not brewed a braggot yet. I've always figured that I would save my
malts for my beers, however this discussion has made me reconsider and the
quoted receipe sounds quite good. Judging from the MCMC results the man knows
from whence he speakith.

Mail or post is ok for yeast type response (no pun intended).

For me mead is like sex, the worst I've ever had was fantastic!

Carl L. Saxer

Subject: Re: bottles and other possible supplies
From: "Suzanne Berry" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 96 08:20:00 EST

I'd originally posted this just to Chris, then realized other folks might
benefit as well….

Chris, I have a catalog here for a company called Lavender Lane
(subtitled hard-to-find herbalware) that may have just what you're
looking for: corked glass bottles in 1/16 – 16 ounce sizes. Their phone
number is
(916) 334-4400; they're in Sacremento, CA. A traditional
wine-bottle-shaped eight-ounce bottle is $30 per dozen; a squared-off
shape or octagonal shape are $25 for two dozen.

Hope is helps!!


Subject: re: Mead Lover's Digest #490- finding an apiary
From: (Mark & Ava Lindberg - C.K. Brew )
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 09:27:45 -0400 (EDT)

> Andrew Howard wrote he had trouble finding an apiary.

I suggest that you contact a local exterminator. Often these people do not
want to hanlde bee infestations, and will know of a local apiary who can
take care of the situaion for them.


Subject: Re: mead in the early US
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 11:00:40 -0400

>From: Dan McFeeley <>
> Maybe its not entirely coincidence that "methiglum" was to be found in
> Eastern Kentucky. There is a strong Celtic influence in the music and
> [snip}
> In contrast, Benjamin Barton, a physician and botanist who wrote in the
> late 1700's, noted the sale of a "metheglin" in New Jersey that was
> little more than liquor mixed with honey made from Pennsyvanian mountain
> laurel honey. It seems to me that if a few Pennsylvannian entrepeneurs
> could turn a buck with a product passing itself off as a metheglin,
> there had to have been a complete lack of a mead culture and history in
> that area.

This is consistent with my (highly rigorous) looking over Jay Hersh's
shoulder as he has researched brewing resources of that era. There's
little or no mention of mead, except maybe for what we would call a braggot

  • — the addition of honey to boost the gravity of "second runnings." My

impression is that this practice may have been abused enough that by the
1700's, it (and by extension, mead) was frowned upon. Of course, I may be
wrong. 🙂

  • — Joyce

Subject: Re: apaiaries, nuts
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 11:01:29 -0400

>From: Andrew Howard <>
>I would like to make mead using fresh honey straight from an apiary. My
>trouble is, I have no idea how or where to find one. I checked the phone
>book (nothing), but I'm not sure where to go from there.

Look in your phone book under "Cooperative Extension." It may be in the
business pages, or under your state or federal government offices.
Basically, it's a program run by the USDA and State agriculture
departments, and serves as a clearing house of information to the public
and liason between these departments and the public. They'll test your
soil, tell you when the farm fairs are, where the U-Pick fruit farms near
you are located, and yes, probably also all of the apiaries in your area,
as well. This is a truly great resource for people like us.

>From: Richard Lutz <>
>does any one have an idea on how to add a "nutty" taste to mead? I tried
>by boiing some toasted pecans in the mix with the honey, some sugar and
>lemon juice, it tasted great but after fermenting, and aging several weeks
>has a bitter "chemical" taste/smell like perhaps witchhazel or cleaning
>solvent. I noticed an oily residue on the mix wich i filtered and skimmed
>off prior to fermenting.

I once tried to make an almond mead, with results pretty much identical to
yours. In fact, the oil problem was so bad I had to throw away the racking
cane afterwards. I really recommend using nut extracts and flavorings,
like they use in coffeeshops.

  • — Joyce

Subject: Re: large-er batches & homemade nutrients
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 11:01:22 -0400

>From: Brian Ehlert <>
>I can brew the most wonderful batches of mead. In one gallon batches. As
>soon as I try to do a five gallon batch, everything falls apart and always
>comes out phenolic or bloody.
>I have done the exact same batches in one gallon and five gallons at the
>same time. (split a batch) and I still cannot get the fiv-er to behave.


>From: (Joe Mester)
>Hello fellow mead lovers! I am about to set up my first mead fermentation and
>have a couple of questions. As a microbiologist, I have access to yeast
>extract and various salt buffer chemicals. I would prefer to use them for
>yeast salts and nutrients rather than the mysterious (undefined) store bought
>versions. And so, could anyone recommend the amount of yeast extract and salt
>buffer to add to yield the fine line (a good, quick fermentation with
>undetectable additive flavor) between stuck fermentation and salty nectar?

Ah, subjects near and dear to my heart (I too, work in a lab).

I used the commercial yeast nutrients for a couple of years, and never
liked the results. I also had a run of several 5-gallon batches that just
*woudn't* work. I have come to the conclusion that the problem (and
solution) is two-fold: yeast population and nutrient.

When my yeasts have gotten off to a very slow start, or when I have used
certain dried yeasts, I get this problem no matter what nutrient I used. I
have streaked out several commonly-available dried yeasts in my lab, and
have found that many of them are contaminated with bacteria. This is
especially true of the Munton & Fison and the Edme. Red Star Ale goes up
and down. Since most people don't have a lab, it's a really good idea to
make a yeast starter (with a honey base), so that the yeast (even if it is
contaminated) can get fermenting, build up a large population, and
outcompete the bacteria. I like to add a full cup of active yeast slurry
to a batch of wort, and I like to see activity by the next morning.

However, even a well-started batch of yeast won't do a heck of a lot
without some nutrient of some kind. If the yeast is clean and populous,
commercial yeast nutrient will be okay, but I always thought it left a
tinny/phenolic taste that needed to be aged out (but *can* be aged out,
unlike the strong phenolic taste produced by bacterial contaminants). My
preferred nutrient, however, is powdered yeast extract. I generally buy it
at a local health-food store, and pasteurize it with the must at a rate of
2 tablepoons per gallon. The yeast seems to like it a lot, and the mead
produced is so clean it's bland (and needs some tannin and acid to

So, in summary, I think that a populous, well-started yeast is the most
important thing, followed by a good nutrient (and I recommend yeast
extract). If you do want to make your own chemical nutrient, I think
Morse's book has a recipe for the chemicals. I don't have it here with me,

  • — Joyce

Subject: Re: Pumpkin mead
From: (Joyce Miller)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 11:01:26 -0400

>Has anyone tried making pumpkin mead/wine, and how did it turn out?
>Doug Thomas

Here is a recipe from MLD #358. — Joyce

The Great Pumpkin

Source: Lee Bussy <>
Mead Lover's Digest #358, 23 October 1994


4 lbs Pumpkin meat
7 pts Water
2-1/4 lb Honey
2-1/2 tsp Acid Blend
1/4 tsp Tannin
1 tsp Yeast nutrient
1 Campden tablet (crushed)
1 pkg Wine yeast


Wash pumpkin thoroughly before cutting open. Remove seeds and

stringy material. Peel skin. Grind or mash pumpkin into nylon straining
bag. (Note: Extraction may be aided by freezing the pumpkin overnight to
break down the structure of the fruit) Keeping all pulp in straining bag,
squeeze juice into primary fermenter, tie top and leave bag in primary

Stir in all other ingredients except yeast. Cover and allow to sit

overnight. After 24 hours add yeast. Cover primary.

Stir daily and press pulp lightly to aid extraction. After 3-5

days (SG should be below 1.040) lightly press juice from bag and remove
bag. Rack off of sediment into glass secondary and fix airlock.

Some people add traditional pumpkin pie spices to this but I feel

it is a wonderful mead without any such additions. Darker honeys such as
Mesquite do very well in this recipe.

This does much better as a still mead.

Subject: Wyeast Sweet Mead
From: "Tom Lentz" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 96 08:15:45

>I was wondering what folks using the Wyeast Sweet Mead strain have
>found as far as attenuation; I've always used champagne/wine yeasts
>in the past, with seemingly faster results.

I use this almost exclusively, and I'm currently experimenting with
their Dry Mead yeast. I have no fermentation problems at all,
although it does seem to drag out for quite some time (4 months).
Fermentation starts right up within 24-36 hours, requiring a blow-off
tube for the first 4-5 days. Then I rack and switch to an air-lock.
I use it because it gives a very nice flavor all it's own rather than
having people keep comparing it to Champagne, everyone likes it, it's
sweet but not cloying, and the lower alcohol content keeps me from
inadvertently killing people who are used to guzzling beer 🙂 Two
words of advice: 1) this yeast gives a delicate flavor and seems to
work best with lighter meads, I wouldn't use this with heather or
buckwheat honey for example. 2) make *sure* this is done fermenting
before bottling, it likes to slowly continue on in the bottles.

I use about 3tsp of nutrient and 2tsp of energizer for 5-gal, but I'm
still trying to perfect that as I don't think I've got the mix "just
right". The yeast isn't very attenuative, I only get maybe 8%
alcohol. Even their dry mead doesn't seem to be quite as attenuative
as some Champagne yeasts, only giving 13-16% on the one batch of sack
mead I've tried it on (the variance there is due to the fact that I
added honey several times, and when tabulating all the gravity
readings at the end of the batch you can induce quite a bit of error).
I don't like the taste of this dry yeast batch (it's really not very
dry) yet, but it's only aged about 6 months.


Subject: Re: Finding an apiary
From: "Chuck Graves" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 96 13:00:03 EST


>From: Andrew Howard <>

>I would like to make mead using fresh honey straight from an apiary. My
>trouble is, I have no idea how or where to find one. I checked the phone
>book (nothing), but I'm not sure where to go from there.

>Can anyone recommend where I might look? I live in the St. Louis area, if
>anyone has any regional information.

Since I'm in Washington, DC, I'll need to do this remote. Pull out the phone
book and look for orchards in the area. Apples, pears, peaches, etc. Contact
the orchard, they have bees. If they are running their own apiary, they have
contracted out to local beekeepers. Remember, no bees, no fruit.

Chuck Graves

Subject: Re: Small (8 oz?) bottles 
From: Keith Schwols <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 96 11:06:18 -0600


Hi all.
My fiance and I have decided, in lieu of small champagne bottles
placed on all the tables at our wedding, we thought we might whip up
some homebrew in place of the champagne. More personalized. Anyone
know where I can get small, 8 oz or less, non-twist off bottles? I
was thinking OV splits, but I think they are twist off. Please feel
free to email me privately. Thanks for your help.


I've found that the 6.5oz Perrier water bottles (the litte green
ones shaped like hand grenades) are crown caps. The Evian bottles
are 7oz and clear, but they have raised logo on the bottle.

Both of these are perfect for small quantities of mead or gift giving.
The only problem I've had is that I have to buy a case at a time
since most places that sell individual bottle use the plastic ones.
The SAM's discount wharehouse here in Ft. Collins sells them
by the case (and its not a bad prices even if you can't stand
fizzy French water)


]<eith Schwols | Those dear dead days when a | woman drank beer and liked it.| – John Held, Jr., 1920

Subject: Re: Pumpkin Mead - Mead Lover's Digest #490, 23 July 1996
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 13:27:27 -0400

I made two pumpkin meads, one last October, as yet untested, though it was
excessively dry when we racked it the first time so we added honey, and the
other about a month later, which is allmost gone. Among other things I
spiced it with cardoman – suggestion, go very easy on the cardoman. It was
too spicy for my personal taste, though others said it was very good for a
winters evening. The color on both batches is fantastic, a bright clear
yellow, almost gold.

Subject: Re: 5-gallon problems
From: Trisha Friend <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 14:05:01 -0500 (CDT)

> ——————————
> Subject: large-er batches, not huge
> From: Brian Ehlert <>
> Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 08:06:32 -0400
> With all this discussion about large (well, really huge) batches of mead has
> gotten me wondering. This may be a question for Dick, Joyce, Dan, and any
> professionals we have on the list.
> I can brew the most wonderful batches of mead. In one gallon batches. As
> soon as I try to do a five gallon batch, everything falls apart and always
> comes out phenolic or bloody.
> I have done the exact same batches in one gallon and five gallons at the
> same time. (split a batch) and I still cannot get the fiv-er to behave.
> any words of wisdom or helping points that would help me get over this hump?
> Thanks,
> Brian Ehlert
> ——————————

Brian – if you're using a plastic primary for your five-gallon batches,
you've got an infected primary. Throw it out. I lost 5-6 batches of
various things because I couldn't bring myself to toss the bucket (if
you'll pardon the expression!). There's no way to sanitize plastic once
the yeasty-beasties get into it. Switch to glass.


  • -=<Trisha>=-

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #490, 23 July 1996
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 16:47:13 -0400

Doug Thomas asked if anyone had tried making pumpkin mead. I have not yet
tried making it , but I was given three bottles by a gentleman in Peoria and
told that he had fermented it in a series of partially hollowed out pumpkins.
It was , and I hope , still delicious. I will try to contact him and post his
recipe here.

Frank Cousins

Subject: Re: Finding an apiary
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 21:22:13 -0400 (EDT)


Try your county agricultural extension office. They should be able to
point you toward local apiaries.

Marc Shapiro

See my WEB page: The Meadery at

THL Alexander Mareschal Canton of Kappelenburg

Barony of Windmasters Hill
Kingdom of Atlantia

No poem was ever written by a drinker of water. – Horace (63 BCE – 8 BCE)

In Wine there is truth. – Pliny the Elder (23 CE – 79 CE)
Good wine praises itself. – Arab proverb
Water separates the people of the world, wine unites them. – Anonymous

Subject: New book: "Country House Brewing"
From: Jacob Galley <>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 10:44:49 -0500

In this week's Economist there is a review of a book called "Country House
Brewing in England: 1500-1900" by Pamela Sambrook, The Hambledon Press. An

"Country-house brewers, unrestricted by law, would flavor their beer
with the most miscellaneous ingredients. Hops might be swapped with
ground ivy or long pepper, yeast replaced by Catstile soap, a mixture of

flower and eggs, essential oil or barley and quintessence of malt or
wine, while the beer itself might be flavored with plants, ranging from
dandelion to new hay. . . . Quality control, essential to
commercialisation, was simply not a country-house forte."

Has anyone out there seen this book? Since these 400 years overlap with the
golden age of meadmaking, I'm wondering if the book contains any substantial
information on mead or braggot.


Subject: Braggot Again
From: Fred Hardy <>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 11:43:56 -0400 (EDT)

Russell Mast wrote:
> ——————————
> Subject: 21st century braggot.
> From: Russell Mast <>
> Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 10:51:26 -0500
> Fred Hardy had a lot of good advice for Mark Ottenberg about Braggot
> brewing. But, he just -had- to throw this in, and I just -have- to
> respond to it:
> > Hops are optional. If used, I recommend keeping them below the
> > bitterness threshold, otherwise you'll have beer with a bunch of honey
> < in it.
> Oh, bullsh*t. You'll have a hoppy braggot. Case closed. 🙂

Agreed! When you add apple juice to mead you get an appley mead, it's
called cyser. Add grape juice and you get a grapey mead that's called
pyment. A hoppy braggot is called beer with honey in it. (Russell, you
knew I'd say something :->).

In my defense, my idea of braggot is how it might have been made in the
British Isles during the Middle Ages. Examples of hoppy braggot could have
existed. IMO, they would have been rare, indeed.

Russell is correct when he writes about 20th century braggot. Remember, he
is discussing what could be put into braggot in 1996. My comments are
relative to what might have been common in braggot 5 centuries ago. Same
thing, just different.

> > Less than 7-8 IBU would be OK, but why bother?

Russell then wrote:
> For your first braggot, I'd recommend zero hops. Later, treat it as if
> it's just another spice. (If you like basil, make a braggot with basil,
> if you like hops…)

Very true, however … (see above).

Neal Dunsieth wrote:

> > Braggot is still a relatively free field, open to considerably more
> > variation than beers or meads alone.

Russell said:
> Couldn't say it better myself.

OK, but I would remove the word "relatively." I'm biased, but I consider
braggot to be about as descriptive a term as "beer", "mead" and "wine."

A fermented beverage made with malt and honey isn't much of a guideline.
Allowing a sparkling and still subcategory doesn't help much, either. Part
of the problem is braggot as a beverage versus braggot as a competition
category. Since there are relatively few brewers making braggot, there are
relatively few entries in any given competition. Categories such as those
used for beer and mead are OK when a large number of entries in each
category can be expected. Categories of braggot may be desirable to help
define major variations, but is senseless for competitions.

Therefore, fellow MLDers, I suggest braggot is a totally free field.
Whatever turns you on, do it. It may not score well in competition,
however. That will likely be more a result of limited entries, then a
reflection of your inventiveness and skill at brewing.

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: Re: mead in the early US
From: "West, Dale" <>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 96 07:07:00 PDT

I seem to recall reading that the early settlers planted large groves of
locust trees throughout Virginia and Kentucky. Not only did this provide
rot resistant wood but also an abundant supply of light sweet spring honey
for mead making. The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was settled in that
period by the Scots-Irish and Germans who migrated down from Pennsylvania
and on to Ohio and Kentucky. The historic drink for these folks (aside from
whiskey) was ale, beer, cider, perry, cyser, scrumpy, and mead.

Subject: Re: mead in the early US
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 14:44:29 -0500 (CDT)

David Prescott writes:

> I found an interesting reference in a book I'm reading about the history
> of the Appalachian plateau counties of eastern Kentucky….


Maybe its not entirely coincidence that "methiglum" was to be found in
Eastern Kentucky. There is a strong Celtic influence in the music and
ballads of the area, and many times you can find an old ballad sung in
the Appalachians that is almost a direct transplant from the Celtic


of the British Isles.


Subject: First Cyser question
From: Belinda Messenger <>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 96 18:50 CDT

We recently started a small (2 gal) cyser, after beginning our mead-making
adventures with a heavenly batch of sack mead, but the cyser is not behaving
the same way. We started the cyser in an open-fermenter and transferred
after 1 1/2 weeks (when the foam had died down) to two 1-gal glass bottles.
It bubbled quite happily for a total of three weeks but seems to have quit
(i.e. No bubbles in the airlock). Do we have a stuck fermentation situation
or is it done? How do we know if we have a stuck fermentation? The recipe
(straight from one on the Cat's Meow mead recipe page) said to let it
ferment for 3-6 months!
Thanks for any input.

Subject: more braggot questions
From: (Neal Dunsieth)
Date: Sat, 27 Jul 1996 09:20:16 -0400

Sorry, my friends have given me the epithet "loquatious" which I have
certainly earned.

After reading the braggot cross-talk I am wondering more about basics than
fine points. How many pounds of ingredients (per gallon) should you use to
start? What should your SG be? You know, more nuts and bolts stuff. Are
there any good books that talk about making braggot? Could someone please help?


Subject: Nutrients, etc.
From: "Dione Wolfe, Dragonweyr, New Mexico" <DKEY@MEDUSA.UNM.EDU>
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 00:22:29 -0700 (MST)

An earlier posting discussed the need for nutrients in mead making and stated
the author preferred to make his own as he was a chemist. The following is
from Making Mead, Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan, G.W. Kent, Inc, Ann Arbor, MI,
16th Edition, 1992, pg. 27:

100 gm ammonium phosphate
40 gm potassium phosphate
20 gm magnesium sulphate
40 gm tannic acid
130 gm tartaric acid
210 gm malic acid
70 gm citric acid

Make this up in two pints distilled water and store sealed in the refrigerator.
60 ml (2 fl. oz.) is sufficient for one gallon. In addition, add one 5 mg
vitamin B1 tablet (crushed) to each two gallons of must. It is better to add
the vitamin tablet separately as it does not keep as well in solution. The two
pints provides all the acid/tannin/nutrient requirements for 20 gallons of

I personally found that the amounts of citric acid recommended by the authors
to make a very tart brew. I liked the result better when I substituted the
peel of six lemons or four oranges for citric acid (for five gallons). Peel
the zest of the fruit
with a vegetable peeler and add it to the honey/nutrient mix during
pasteurization. Strain it out when pouring your must into the primary

Never Thirst,

Dione (

Subject: Drambuie?
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 20:26:23 -0400 (EDT)

I know it's a little outside the scope of this digest, but I wonder if anyone
has a recipe for a honey liqueur approximating Drambuie? If not, maybe
Baerenjaeger? Private Email would be OK.

Thank You!

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont

End of Mead Lover's Digest #491