Mead Lover's Digest #0510 Sun 17 November 1996


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



flavor of caps (Ron Raike)
Just racked my first two meads… Questions! ("Jon Grim")
Re: Corks or caps? (Dick Dunn)
Re: Skunking (Dave Polaschek)
Re: Can anyone provide a summary of available yeasts? (Dave Polaschek)
Cork vs Crown vs ??? ("Wallinger")
mead with ale yeast? (Rick Dante)
yeast info (
Sweet mead and sorbate? (Morgan E Dennis)
vanilla bean (Thomas G. Moore)


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Subject: flavor of caps
From: Ron Raike <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 14:37:09 -0500

Carl Saxer comments on cork/cap, I ask: What does a deteriorated
cap taste like anyway, I never thought any of my 5 year old capped
meads had a cap/rubber flavor. If anything a corked variety would
have more corky flavors, try a 3 year old corked Belgian beer thats
been layed down…. (i know you have, Carl) … I get cork! ;-]

Ron Raike

Subject: Just racked my first two meads... Questions!
From: "Jon Grim" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 96 14:54:23 EST


I just racked my first two meads last night. They had been in primary
carboys for about 2 months, maybe a bit longer. The two were identical at

15 lbs honey
5 gallons
2 tsp yeast nuctients

The difference is that one batch got Red Star champagne yeast and the other
got WYeast Sweet mead yeast.

I didn't get initial gravities. Present gravities are 1.045 (Sweet) and
1.030 (Dry). I know they aren't completely fermented because both had a
visible carbonation to them.

Champagne is HOT as in alcohol. Will this mellow?
Sweet is great, although a bit shy on flavor.

A couple of questions:

Did I rack too early?
I bottled 4 bottles of the sweet in Grolsch bottles to take home for the
holidays. I know they are young, but are they DANGEROUS? Will they blow on
the plane or anything? I'll leave them at home if so…

One final question: Should I top the carboys up to the rim with either
water or a sterile honey water mixture, to reduce oxidation, or is this

Thanks for any help, public or private.
Jon Grim
MD/PhD Student
UAB Dept of Gene Therapy
"You can't win friends with salad"

Subject: Re:  Corks or caps?
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 14 Nov 96 16:52:23 MST (Thu)

I use caps most of the time; occasionally I'll cork a still mead. (I've
never felt the champagne-cork-and-wire routine for a sparkling mead was
worth the effort.) Some thoughts on recent replies:

> I would advise corking if you intend to age your mead for any length of
> time. I have fifteen year old mels and wines and all have lasted and aged
> well with corks…
> …If you're intending to
> keep your meads for only a few months or a year you'd probably be OK with
> caps…

While I don't have any 15-year-old meads (they don't seem to last that
long!), I've got some ten-year-old that's capped and has done well. Some-
thing to bear in mind: You'd store corked bottles on their sides to keep
the cork moist. But you should store a capped bottle upright so you don't
have mead sitting against the seal in the cap for years. I've never had
off-flavors from the cap seal.

> If you've ever had a change of temperature in your mead storage area
> (usually a nice, cold winter night when the furnace kicks in), you'll
> know why corks are desirable. With corks, the cork blows and mead
> showers all over. With caps…well, does the word "bomb" mean anything
> to you?…

There's something wrong here…

* If you're not making sparkling mead, there is no problem…bottles
aren't going to blow from temperature changes regardless of how
they're closed…so,
* If you *are* making sparkling meads, you shouldn't be putting them in
standard wine bottles with standard corks, because (a) those bottles
aren't made to take any pressure at all, and (b) the neck is essentially
straight-sided so there's nothing to hold the cork in.
* If you're making sparkling meads and putting them in sparkling wine
bottles (with heavy glass and a taper inside the neck), you should be
wiring the corks down, because a bottle that can eject a cork spon-
taneously is dangerous. Although not as dangerous as an exploding
bottle, it's not a "safety measure" by any stretch.
* If you've got anything close to a normal level of carbonation, temper-
ature changes won't make enough difference to blow a bottle.
* In any case, if you're getting so much carbonation as to eject a cork
*intended* to hold pressure, or to explode a capped bottle, you're doing
something wrong. You can't use anywhere near that much carbonation
anyway because the bottle will gush when you open it.

> If you're planning to cap your bottles, make sure your yeast is dead, dead.
> dead. Or your bottles are thick, thick, thick.

Yes, but…thick glass only makes a more dangerous bomb. If you're planning
to carbonate the mead, make sure you know how much sugar you've got in it to
ferment in the bottle for the carbonation. If you're *not* planning to
carbonate, either stabilize (to keep the yeast from restarting) or be sure
all the sugar has been used up.

Dick Dunn Boulder County, Colorado USA

…Simpler is better.

Subject: Re: Skunking
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 96 17:48:05 -0600

>From: Glenn & Kristina Matthies <>
>Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 21:51:33 -0500
>Greetings All!
>Recently I was at a beer/mead tasting and the topic of using clear glass and
>skunking came up. A friend of mine was worried that her mead could get
>skunked if she used clear glass. I told her it wouldn't skunk if there were
>no hops in it. She read on-line somewhere (Compuserve, I think) that mead
>(sans hops) can still be skunked. My position is that mead cannot be
>skunked but may suffer some other degradation due to sunlight. Any
>thoughts? Am I correct? Partially correct? What type of degradation would
>light induce in a mead? All public or private replies are welcome! TIA

"Skunking" is light-struck hops. Mead without hops won't "skunk" from
light, but light can still cause (photo-)chemical reactions in a mead
that's been bottled in clear bottles. These reactions aren't going to
produce anything near as nasty as the taste you get from leaving beer
in the sun, though.

If you're going to store your mead in a bright area for a long time,
use brown glass bottles or put a bottle-condom on it. If not, don't
worry, relax, and have a homebrew.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – or

Subject: Re: Can anyone provide a summary of available yeasts?
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 96 17:48:14 -0600

>From: (David McDonald)
>Date: Tue, 12 Nov 96 16:31:18 MST
>I was wondering if anyone could provide a fairly comprehensive
>account of available yeasts for mead-making. The information I've
>come across on the Web is pretty sketchy. What I'm after is a
>list of commercially available yeasts, with information on
>alcohol tolerance, effects on flavor, fermenting speed, and so
>on. My own understanding at this point is this: something like
>Redstar Pasteur Champagne for maximum attenuation, Lalvin K1-V1116
>for medium sweetness and medium alcohol, Redstar Flor Sherry for
>sweet, strong meads (sack style) and (perhaps) an ale yeast for
>lower-alcohol brews with some sweetness. Any comments? Can
>anyone provide the more comprehensive and more objective overview
>that I'm looking for?

There's an excellent summary of yeasts in one of Zymurgy's special
issues. I'm still unpacking my magazines and haven't gotten to it
yet, so I can't tell you which one, but your local homebrew shop
ought to know of it.

I also cover yeasts briefly at
<>. It's a short summary,
but it provides some gemeral guidelines for you to start from. Also,
since how the yeast behave (they're living things, after all) will
depend to some extent on the conditions in which you're brewing,
there's no substitute for some experimentation. Mix up a 5-gallon
batch of a mead (around the 3lb/gallon range) and ferment it in 6-8
1-gallon cider jugs with a different yeast in each. Keep good notes.
You'll get about 8 or 9 12-oz bottles from each gallon jug, which
will allow you to have tastings once a month or so to see how each
matures over time. Compare the tastes. Go with what works well and
produces the mead you like best. Report back to us with your results
so others can learn from your experience.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – or

Subject: Cork vs Crown vs ???
From: "Wallinger" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 21:03:39 -0600

I have enjoyed the cork versus crown cap debate. I interject a third option
for consideration: the Grolsch (aka swing top) bottle. Seems to me that
this little doo-dad solves the problem of the metal interference from the
cap, and the drying out of the cork. They withstand significant pressure
based on my comparison of fluid from broken and unbroken bottles :-{).

Wade Wallinger

Subject: mead with ale yeast?
From: Rick Dante <>
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 21:14:00 -0800 (PST)

I'm a beer brewing homebrewer. Don't feel like brewing the wort in which
to pitch some chico ale yeast I started (brewed a double decoction mashed
hefe weizen two nights ago and caught a little cold). I took my 10 mls of
chico ale yeast and pitched it into 600 mils of unfiltered apple juice.
This is growing on a stir plate at 80F (turned off AC in network
operations). I'm planning on pitching this into the Hangover Cyser recipe
in the mead archives (1.5 lbs honey, 12oz grape juice concentrate, and
enough apple juice to make 1 gallon). The OG of the must is supposed to
be around 1.120 (outragously high for the ale yeast). I know very little
about mead yeast nutrient requirements and pitching requirements. I know
that I'm growing a somewhat unsuitable yeast with lots of oxygen and in a
large quantity for a 1 gallon ferment.

Can somebody tell me what I might expect out of this concoction? I can
always drive 20 minutes to the brew store to get some champagne yeast if I
have to. If the collective intelligence of the mead community tells me I
will have good mead from this must and yeast union than I will let it be.
Please advise.

Rick Dante

/ **** / ^
/ / / / ^^ ^^
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/ ____ / Pinnacle Internet
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Subject: yeast info
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 14:51:24 +0000

>lower-alcohol brews with some sweetness. Any comments? Can
>anyone provide the more comprehensive and more objective overview
>that I'm looking for?
>David McDonald

I think this is a great idea! We could all benifit from some good
yeast stats. Maybe we could do a little digging and David could
compile the info and post what he receives. I remeber Zymergy had a
good article a long time ago, I see if I can dig it up.

I think this kind of info would help us all better taylor our meads
so please send what you can.

Matt Maples
IS Department
IPAC Pharmacy

Subject: Sweet mead and sorbate?
From: Morgan E Dennis <>
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 1996 12:08:38 -0500 (EST)

I've just recently become interested in mead and I have a few questions
regarding its complete fermentation. On Oct. 26 I started a gallon of
cranberry mead. I used 3 pounds of clover honey and assumed that it would
retain much of its sweetness since "typical" sweet meads call for a ratio
of 15 ponds of honey for every 5 gallons. But here's what happened: with
an OG of 1.090 the mead took off happily fermenting and clearing away.
Since this time I've removed the berries (Nov. 2) and racked off the
sediment (Nov. 9). This mead looks really great and has improved steadily
without complication. However, on Nov. 14th, I was surprised to find the
mead just below the 1.000 range and STILL fermenting. My question is why
has this mead gone down to such a dry range and why so fast? (The
temperature has remained in the 70F range the whole time.) Would it stop
its fermentation if I added some sorbate? Could I then add more honey
with the hope of sweetening things up for bottling? Is sorbate effective
enough to risk such honey increase? Can honey (like sugar with wine) be
added at any time of the fermenting process? How much longer should I
wait before bottling presuming that I do stabilize? The mead is getting
quite clear, but would it be better to just wait? Also, does sorbate
and/or potassium metabisulfite add ANY significant undesirables to mead

I would appreciate any answers/suggestions to these questions. And I
would recommend the use of cranberries for a brilliant ruby-red color.

Thanks everyone!

Morgan Dennis.

Subject: vanilla bean
From: cm199@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Thomas G. Moore)
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 1996 13:23:06 -0500 (EST)

I'm looking for suggestions on how many vanilla beans per 5 gal.
of mead using about 12 lbs. honey. I'd like to add the bean(s)
to a little vodka, steep for awhile and add to the secondary.
Any help would be aprreciated. I didn't find too much via the
E-mail replies preferred. Thank you.

Will work for homebrew.

Thomas G. Moore

End of Mead Lover's Digest #510