Mead Lover's Digest #0496 Sat 31 August 1996


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



Pineapple wheat recipe/blackberry mead (Greg Krehbiel)
Source for foil cork covers (Jacob Galley)
Re: Gravity, Starters, Psychoactive Ingredients… (
Re: Pineapple in mead ("Kirk Harralson")
List of Commercial Meaderys (Konstantine)
Linginor Winery "Brandywine Mead" (Mark Cassells)
Saranac Fall Fest Competition Announcement (Scott Barrett)
Re: Hawaiian Mead (Terence David Estrin)
OK a few questions… ("Jon Grim")
Misc replies (Daniel S. McConnell)
racking (
Acidity (


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Subject: Pineapple wheat recipe/blackberry mead
From: (Greg Krehbiel)
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 07:32:33 -0700

Pardon me if this post strays from mead, but Doug Thomas mentioned making a
pineapple wheat beer.

Doug, would you mind sending me the recipe, and may I post it on the
beer-making digest?

Also, I am about to make a blackberry mead using (horrors!) one of those
little bottles of blackberry extract from my local supply store. Is there
anything special I need to keep an eye on? My plan is simply to use
Papazian's "Antipodal Mead" recipe and add the blackberry flavoring.


Subject: Source for foil cork covers
From: Jacob Galley <>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 10:59:12 -0500

Does anyone know a mail-order source for those foil cork covers that you find on
commercially corked beverages? I know it's supposed to be better for the mead
to store the bottles on their side—but in the past I have had problems with
the corks slowly popping out as a result of pressure building up inside the
bottles. So where can I find some covers that will hopefully prevent this?


Subject: Re: Gravity, Starters, Psychoactive Ingredients...
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 12:01:44 -0400

First I would like to say how much I enjoy the dialogue on MLD. When I first
started making mead around four years ago, I read every book that I could
find on the subject and still had many questions that I had to figure out for
myself. I wish I had had access to MLD then.

Just to throw this out there, specific gravity units are expressed as grams
per milliliter (g/ml). Thus, a specific gravity of 1.050 means that a
milliliter of the solution weighs 1.050 grams. That millileter of solution
has 0.050 grams of dissolved solids in it, because a milliliter of water
weighs 1.000 grams at 4 degrees C. The density of the liquid changes a small,
but noticeable, amount with changes in temperature. Often brewing hydrometers
are calibrated to 60 degrees F (~16 degrees C). Measurements in Plato and
Brix are of a different scale.

The meads I make usually have an original gravity >1.120. My hydrometer is
accurate only up to 1.120, which is fine for beer, but is the wrong range for
my meads. So the way I measure my mead's original gravity is to weigh a known
volume of the solution and divide the weight of the solution by the volume of
the solution. I use a 100ml graduated cylinder and a triple beam balance.
This works very well for me. For me brewing without taking gravity readings
is like driving without a speedometer.

On yeast starters: A yeast starter is a must (no pun intended) when culturing
up from a small volume of yeast. However, I often use dry yeast in my meads
(never in my beers). The dry yeasts I use cost 85 cents for a 5 gram package.
30 grams of rehydrated dry yeast in a five gallon batch of mead will create
positive pressure in the fermenter within 20 minutes of when I pitch it, and
it will really be rockin and rollin within 24 hours. Fermentation is usually
complete within a month, at the most, depending on fermentation temperature
and mead species (traditional, melomel, pyment…). I've been told that dry
yeasts are oxygenated just before being freeze dried, so aeration of the must
before pitching is not as critical. The fruit in fruit meads have varying
degrees of yeast nutrients in them and make it possible to ferment some of my
meads without the addition of large volumes of artificial yeast nutrients. Of
course, this only works when the fruit is added to the primary fermentation.

On psychoactive ingredients: There is an excellent book written on brewing
with herbs, spices, and other assorted vegetation. It is called, The
Historical Companion to House-Brewing by Clive La Pensee. In it Mr. La Pensee
writes about brewing ingredients that were used in beer before hops became
the accepted mainstay. He writes about several psychoactive substances that
were used in brewing beer which I am sure would be adaptable to meadmaking.
Be careful. Some of those ingredients can be dangerous if not used in the
proper proportions. I believe the book is available from Brewers Publications
in Boulder Colorado.

Zydeco? I've got to go!

Carl L. Saxer

Subject: Re: Pineapple in mead
From: "Kirk Harralson" <>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 22:31:09 +0000

One alternative to actually chopping up pineapples is to use Dole
100% Pineapple juice concentrate from your local grocery store. It
lists no preservatives anywhere on the label, and has fermented fine
for me 🙂 I currently have a pyment in the secondary that I made
from 10 cans of 100% grape juice concentrate and approximately 7.5 pounds
of honey. I'm trying to follow the recent advice in this digest
about pH monitoring/adjusting, big yeast starters, etc.. So far, its working
fantastic. I will probably bottle this weekend.

As was pointed out, pineapple flavor without the sugar
and with alcohol doesn't register at first. Sometimes, I think
freshly prepared must tastes better than the mead it makes. Just
kidding — Shields up!

Kirk Harralson
Bel Air, Maryland

Subject: List of Commercial Meaderys
From: (Konstantine)
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 19:52:43 -0700

A friend of mine who use to be on the Mead-lovers list said that

she saw a list of commercial meaderys posted to the list. I've looked
through my archives and all the search engines and brewing pages I could
find and nada, zip. SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME! Sorry, I'll calm down.
Anyway, any help would be appreciated.

Blessed Be,

Never underestimate the power | The views expressed are not my own,
of human stupidity! | but belong to the voices in my head.
L. Long |
| SOHC/4 #45


Subject: Linginor Winery "Brandywine Mead"
From: Mark Cassells <GORDONTR@ENH.NIST.GOV>
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 22:03:41 -0400 (EDT)

Way back in MLD 493 or 494, Chuck Graves replied with the info about the
Maryland Mead people at the Linganore Winery and their products. The
Medieval Mead, IMHO, is their best product, and leaves a lot to be desired.
They also make a Tej, which is spiced, and, well…perhaps an acquired taste.
If you ever want to tour their place, let me know. I live in the same
county, and perhaps we could get together for a tasting or something.


Gordon Cassells

Subject: Saranac Fall Fest Competition Announcement
From: (Scott Barrett)
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 1996 14:31:43 -0500

Attention New York State homebrewers, judges, and stewards
(with apologies to the rest of the hive)



The 1996 Saranac Fall Fest Homebrew Competition
will be held Saturday, September 21, 1995
at the F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, NY

This BJCP-registered homebrew competition is open to all New York State
homebrewers with entries in all 1996 AHA styles, except sake. In addition to
style category prizes, special prizes (personalized Saranac canoe paddles)
will be awarded to the five entries selected as closest to these members of
the Saranac family of beers:

Saranac Adirondack Amber
Saranac Golden Pilsener
Saranac Black & Tan
Saranac Pale Ale
Saranac Wild Berry Wheat

This competition is a part of the F.X. Matt Brewery's Fall Fest
celebration, the proceeds of which benefit the United Way. Your
competition entry also gets you a Fall Fest admission ticket, Saranac
sampling tickets, and Saranac T-shirt (available at the door).

Listing of events at the 1996 Saranac Fall Fest include:

Special "Brewer's Heaven" brewery tours by members of the Matt family.

Saranac family of beers on draft, including Saranac Stout!

Special "Behind the Scenes" brewery tours of interest to homebrewers.

Chance to win "Saranac Beer For A Year"

Seminars and discussions by members of the Matt Brewery.

Live entertainment and great food throughout the day.

Saranac specials and give-aways in the Brewery Shop.

Special "beer library" in the Brewer's Cafe.

100+ years of brewery memorabilia on display.

The competition also kicks off the "NY State Homebrew Club of the Year" and
"NY State Homebrewer of the Year" awards competition season. Enter early
and enter often!

For competition entry forms, judge/steward registration forms by US mail, or
more information, please contact competition organizer Tom Gaskell
( at (315) 839-5004. Competition entry deadline is
September 14th.

For more information about Saranac Fall Fest and the Saranac family of beers
(including Wild Berry Wheat), visit

Subject: Re: Hawaiian Mead
From: Terence David Estrin <>
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 1996 13:53:48 -0700 (PDT)

Hi all,

My wife and I were on Kauai'i last summer. Being an avid

mead-maker, I was certainly on the lookout for anything resembling a
local mead. While I didn't find any mead, the local fruit stands
("Mango Mama's" I believe) sold six pound containers of local
wildflower honey called "Kauai'i Blossom Wildflower Honey." Naturally,
I bought 18 pounds and brought it back to Vancouver in my carry-on
bag. I made it into 6 gallons of show mead and am about to bottle it.
It is a light, dry, caramel-colored mead with a nice bouquet, but I'd
give it another year for the harsh notes to disappear. So, I just
thought I'd let you all know that if you are on any of the Islands,
even though you may not find mead, you can at the very least get some
interesting honey.

Terry Estrin

Subject: OK a few questions...
From: "Jon Grim" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 96 16:09:52 EDT

Hey all.

I have just made my first mead(s) and I have a couple of questions.

I used 30 lbs of honey, added 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient, boiled 10 min
in 6 gallons, then added to 2 separate carboys, each containing 2 gallons of
pre-boiled and prechilled (more or less) water. I didn't take a starting
gravity because a friend ran off with my hydrometer, and I didn't realize
until it was too late.

Question #1: Is it too late to take a hydrometer reading (72 hrs)? Do I need
one anyway?

One of these got the Wyeast sweet mead yeast, and it is glug-glug-glugging
along just fine. I boiled, cooled and pitched on saturday night, so it was
about 72 hours ago. I noticed at 24 hours that the top 4 inches or so of
the mead in the carboy was cloudy, presumably with yeast. By 48 hours, the
entire mead was cloudy, and glugging every couple of seconds. Now it is
fairly constant, but it never needed a blow hose.

Question #2: Please tell me this cloudiness (and the way it appeared) is
normal and not bacterial infection…

The second carboy got Red Star Champagne, rehydrated according to the
package. I didn't have a thermometer and wasn't thinking, so I boiled the
water, waited 10 minutes or so, then added the yeast to rehydrate it. Now,
72 hours out, there is still no activity.

Question #3: Did I kill my yeast by adding it to the boiled water too soon?

Question #4: When should I rack to a secondary fermenter?

Question #5: What should the final gravity be, given the 15 lbs of honey
per 5 gallons?

Oh, by the way, I plan on adding the acid blend before I bottle, to prevent
any negative alteration in pH…

Thanks for any and all help to a new meadmaker!

Private email or public postings are both fine!

Jon Grim
Jon Grim
"You can't win friends with salad."

Subject: Misc replies
From: (Daniel S. McConnell)
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 11:36:14 -0500

Hi All:

Someone asked about Yeast Energizer a while back. Yeast Energizer is the
tan powder that smells like a combination of yeast and vitamin tablets.
Yeast Nutrient is white, crystalline, diammonium phosphate that smells like
ammonia when boiled in the must. They both can be used as a nitrogen
source. I like to use a fair amount of YE in starters (0.5%), less in
meads, sometimes in wine depending on the growing conditions of the grapes
and none in beer. I don't think it is needed in beer unless you are
simultaneously using low FAN extracts and high adjunct ratios.

Yeast Energizer (aka FermAid) ingredients list (taken from a drum):

Diammonium Phosphate
Magnesium Sulfate
Folic Acid
Thyamine HCl
Sodium Pantothenate

The ingredients are similar to those quoted in the article and referenced
by Morse. An important point to keep in mind is that in the references
cited, the authors were examining fermentation SPEED. No mention is made
of beverage quality. In fact, they couldn't-this article was written in
the late 1920's and they were studying the fermentation speed in a liquid
that was intended for vinegar,they said. I'd bet that they sampled just a
wee tiny bit in spite of prohibition.

The pH issue seems to have raised a few questions. I think that the
article explains it fairly well-I will send you the text of the article if
you like. The main points are:
1-honey has a naturally low pH (mean 3.9) and is poorly (weakly) buffered.
2-fermentation pH drops are unchecked due to the weak buffering.
3-the yeast perform slowly and poorly at these low pH levels.
4-by keeping the pH at about 4 and the nutrient levels adequate, the yeast
can perform their job quickly and completely.

Grape and other fruit juices are better buffered and usually have plenty of
nutrients so, although the pH drops in a wine fermentation, the nutrient
levels are such that the fermentation can be completed in a week or so.

Beer has plenty of nutrients and plenty of buffering so that fermentation
is routinely rapid.

To adjust pH in mead fermentation, I like to use Calcium Carbonate. It is
cheap and readily available. You must be able to accurately measure the pH
(this means a meter, not papers) in the 3.5-4.0 range. I check the pH
(almost) daily and add a small amount of Calcium carbonate, recheck etc. to
bring the pH to 4. As the fermentation slows and the gravity drops to the
expected target FG, I let the pH drop so that the final mead has a pH less
than 3.5. This insures that it will have good keeping qualities.

You can NOT check pH with a acid titration kit.

From: Ken Schramm <>

>In response to Chuck Wettergreen's query, yes, I did post a blathering
>on keeping mead fermentations going quickly with nitrogen and pH
>control. I am bummed that I was not called on the carpet by someone
>(in fact by Dan, who should have really nailed me), because I didn't
>make a point of stating that a BIG yeast culture really helps.

How about if I just slap you silly in private?

Yeast cell count IS very important in fast fermentaton of mead. I think
that a 10% pitch rate is absolutely minimal (2L in a 5 gallon batch). I
have no hard rule for the best starter media, but tend to use moderate
gravity, DMA based sterile media for all of my starters keeping in mind
that with a 10% pitch rate it is imperative that you plan ahead and are
able to decant the spent media and pitch only the yeast slurry. If using
"beer" yeast, this is best accomplished by repitching the entire yeast
cake. I have no comments regarding the use of dry yeast cultures other
than to say that my current favorite mead yeast was isolated from a dry
packet of Lallenmond D-47. Great culture. Any method that you use to get
the cell counts up to ~20E6/mL whether it is multiple yeast packets (the
viability can vary tremendously), repitching or the use of large to huge
starters will work fine.

Give the yeast oxygen. I prefer O2, but extended aeration works well too.

Steve Dempsey handles Chuck's question regarding Show vs Traditional meads:

>>I am puzzled about the difference between SHOW and TRADITIONAL mead.
>>Re-reading the Mazer Cup entry requirements, SHOW mead says "Honey, Water
>>and Yeast ONLY", but the instructions later say "Addition of water
>>treatments and acidification permitted." Does this mean no additions of yeast
>>nutrients? How about calcium carbonate for Ph control? The TRADITIONAL mead
>>category says, "Other flavoring additives may be added for complexity…"
>>What kind of additives would this include, that would add complexity but not


>I think of yeast nutrient and chemical pH control as "water treatment",
>and the show category to me means not adding flavored ingredients.
>Suitable ingredients for traditional mead (but not show) might include
>floral blossoms for aroma, lactose for sweetness, and citrus juices
>for acidity. Also common is the practice of using small amounts of
>other herbs, spices, whatever for interesting complexity, but not
>enough so you can really identify the added ingredient — or even
>that something subtle has been added for this effect. Fun things
>happen when you add just a pinch of this and a dash of that. The
>show category tries to separate the truly unflavored mead from those
>that intentionally have been altered.


Steve Dempsey has it EXACTLY right.

The Mazer Cup has adopted the Show category based on convention established
by some of the older (British) Mead competitions, and as one means to
subdivide the Traditional Category into more manageable sized judging
flights. (30-40 meads in the category could require us to ask for three
bottles to be entered in the competition-I would like to avoid that-not
that I dread having the extra bottles in my basement for "educational"
purposes, but to reduce the burden on those that enter the competition. I
sense and completely understand a hesitancy to part with an extra bottle of
your best efforts for a competition.) While I'm on the topic of
"educational" purposes, those extra meads do not go to waste. Ken and I
have been carefully aging them and I start bringing the 2-3 year old meads
out to club meetings in the months before the Mazer Cup to assist our
judges and tune their palates. It is a wonderful resource that truly helps
our local judges remain in top form. You can't be a good mead judge unless
you have tasted a lot of mead.



Dan McConnell
The Yeast Culture Kit Company
1308 West Madison, Ann Arbor, MI 48103



Subject: racking
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 06:07:56 -0400 (EDT)

OK, this is a rather elementary question, but I've recently had a problem with
a number of melomels: As they finish the primary, and the yeast has clearly
slowed down, I often rack my meads to get them off the lees. I have usually
tried to do this when there is still just a little fermentation going so that
they will ferment to dry and have no problems in the bottle. Generally by this
time they are clear or clearing.

My problem is that this seems to set up sweat shop conditions for the
remaining yeast: few yeast, little sugar, high alcohol. As a result, I have
trace amounts of fermentation going on for months, certainly not the quickie
ferments mentioned hre in recent weeks. I have a lemon/ginger mead that still
has traces of fermentation happenening, and I pitched the yeast last December.
An Orange mead and a cherry mead from April look like they're slowing down. I
used Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast.

My question is: Am I racking to soon, and when is too early or late with
reference to meads. In some of them I have used Calcium Carbonate, and this
doesn't seem to have made a difference. I have always heard that meads left on
their lees will autolyze, but I don't know how long this takes. Any ideas? I
sure would like my carboys back!

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont

Subject: Acidity
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 13:51:28 -0700


As a fairly new meadmaker I've just purchased an acid-testing-kit to try
to get a bit more professional, and it's working perfectly ( the kit
that is ). However there is one problem: I don't know how many grams of
acid there should be i one litre of mead. The one I'm making now is
supposed to be a sweat basic mead, and it wouldn't be that big of a hit
if it turned out sour ( did I use the right word this time Kurt? ).

Help would be deeply apprechiated.

Johan Hedlund

End of Mead Lover's Digest #496