Mead Lover's Digest #0512 Fri 22 November 1996


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



Grolsch and aging (Dick Dunn)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #511, 19 November 1996 (perimage)
Mead in Pet Bottles (
Adding Honey at Bottling (Michael L. Hall)
Ale Yeast – Yes! ("Kenyon D. Cox")
Heather honey, the missing paper, yeast,et al. (Ken Schramm)
vanilla mead (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
mead yeasts (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
corks and cork juice (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
yeast deposits in bottles (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
Re: vanilla mead (Steve Dempsey)
Re: Vierka yeast (Steve Dempsey)


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Subject: Grolsch and aging
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 19 Nov 96 20:53:51 MST (Tue)

A note in the last digest reminded me that I do have some >10 yr old mead.
(OK, I lied in an earlier posting.) I have some that's in Grolsch bottles
that's about 12 yr old…but I do *NOT* recommend this. The gaskets are
aged, brittle, compressed down to nothing at the seal. To be sure, the
ones we've opened have been OK–the seal gives up the ghost as the mead is
opened but the carbonation is still there, and with some careful cleaning
you can keep leftover bits of seal from falling into the mead. Still,
they are not meant for this sort of age.

I suspect the "after-market" neoprene replacement seals for Grolsch
bottles would do a lot better. (I just don't have the 10+ years to test
that theory.)

And I still don't see the problems with crown caps. Yes, they *will*
rust…*if* you get through the inner liner and the enamel on the cap,
but the liners rarely give out. Anyway, if you store the bottle upright,
even if you do get a spot of rust on the thin center section of the liner,
it's not in contact with the mead. And I've never seen the seal of the
liner fail. Crown caps are less elegant, but much cheaper, and less
subject to variable quality. (The cheapest crown caps still seem to work.
Cheap corks can be a real disappointment.) One approach is to use corks
for "presentation" bottles and crown caps for the rest.

Dick Dunn Boulder County, Colorado USA

…Simpler is better.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #511, 19 November 1996
From: perimage <>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 01:08:14 -0600 (CST)

Someone recently asked about topping of the carboy with either water or
honey/water mix to minimize oxidation after racking. I have seen a
sugestion for using sterilized marbles to replace the lost volume without
changing the balance of ingredients in the mead.


Subject: Mead in Pet Bottles
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 05:13:10 -0500

Tracy Thomason asks, "Has anyone tried PET bottles for sparkling Mead?… I
hear they hold a lot more pressure than glass."

FYI (for those who don't know) PET bottles are plastic soda bottles.
My friend who invented the Carbonator tells me that new PET bottles are rated
for 200 p.s.i. He HIGHLY recomends that they not be pressurized higher than
40 p.s.i.

I bulk age many of my meads in cornelius kegs. It frees up my glass carboys
for fermenting meads. I ferment in glass so I can see what the little yeasty
beasties are up to. The mead in the stainless kegs is still, but I keep it
under a CO2 blanket at 1 atmosphere of pressure to avoid oxidation.

I have found that it is convenient to push some mead into a 1 or 2 litre PET
bottle from the keg and then use a Carbonator and 30 p.s.i. of pressure to
force carbonate my sparkling meads. It is a very consistant method of
carbonation, and does away with all the guessing about whether the
fermentation is complete, priming, exploding bottles… It's nice because
the same batch of mead can be both still and sparkling. It's suprising how
different the flavors of the same batch can be when it is still or sparkling.

It is easy to transfer sparkling mead from a PET bottle to glass bottles for
entry into a competetion. Chill the mead in the PET bottle down to 32
degrees F and charge to 30 p.s.i. Sanitize the glass bottles, purge them
with CO2 and chill them to 32 degrees F. Carefully pour the mead from the
PET bottle into the glass bottles and cap immediately. Very little CO2 will
be lost if the pouring is done carefully.

PET bottles are good for traveling. I take my mead in them in my suitcase
when I travel and never worry about them breaking or exploding. They always
get looked at at the security check point, but they always get passed
through. And they are stong enough to withstand the most brutal baggage
handlers. When they are empty you just throw them in the recycle bin.

Las Abejas Son Mis Amigas

Carl L. Saxer

Subject: Adding Honey at Bottling
From: (Michael L. Hall)
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 10:47:16 -0700

Dick Dunn sez:
> Yes, you can add honey to
> sweeten at bottling, but what you need to do goes like this:
> * Let the current fermentation finish thoroughly, at least until the mead
> falls clear.
> * Stabilize with sorbate.
> * Add the honey for sweetening and bottle.

I agree with Dick's advice, but I would add one more step. After
adding the last honey, wait a couple of days for the mead to clear
again. If you don't (experience talking here) you may have more
of the bee parts and other stuff that's in honey settling out at
the bottom of each of your bottles than you would like.

Mike Hall
Los Alamos Atom Mashers

Subject: Ale Yeast - Yes!
From: "Kenyon D. Cox" <70661.1276@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 20 Nov 96 16:17:50 EST

My second batch was brewed with 10g of EDME Dry Ale Yeast. I used 14# of
"roadside" honey to make 5 gal. Heated water and honey at 170F for 20 minutes
and skimmed scum. IG of 1.100 added 2 tsp yeast energizer and 2tsp yeast
nutrient. After 30 days, gravity fell to 1.048. Stayed there for two weeks
before I added additional 2 tsp of yeast nutrient. After 180 days, gravity fell
to 1.015 where it remained. Ferment temp was around 70F+. It's been in the
bottle only three months, but has great honey aroma and flavor. It is a little
sweeter than Camelot Mead for those who have tried it (and much better aroma).
I'll use this yeast again, but I'll pitch a double pack (from a starter), and
make sure to aerate it better, initially. Prefer this to the liquid Dry Mead
Yeast I tried once. Feel free to e-mail privately with any questions.

Kenyon Cox –

Subject:  Heather honey, the missing paper, yeast,et al.
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 15:46:38 -0500

I have to comment on how much I like this digest. No Hogwash such as
I've been seeing elsewhere. And I appreciate the care and competence
with which Dick Dunn puts this together.

I have found several suppliers of honey doing Yahoo and other
searches on the net. I found a supplier of Lavendar honey (Trillium
International..717 354 4503), and found but misplaced info on heather

As far as honey goes, there are a few excellent suppliers listed in
the paper Dan and I put together a few years back. Thier names and
locations are listed. I f you are interested, let me know and I will
post phone numbers. McClure's has been quite helpful in the past and
their varietal honey list was impressive. The paper can be found at and has info on
pH and other issues that may be of interest. It also speaks to some
of the yeast issues that have been discussed in this last MLD. A
note to Sheryl Nance-Durst, the "DSM" is Dan S. McConnell. He is a
great mead maker, a terrific brewer, and barbecues a mean turkey.

To Micah: I haven't done anything myself with ale yeasts and
melomels, but Mike O'Brien and Dave West from Pico Brewing Systems
have (great guys , too, I must add), and their results have been very
impressive. They back off the honey slightly, expecting 80 points of
attenuation or so, and shoot for off dry to medium sweet products.
Dave has been especially successful with this approach, both on
traditionals and melomels. He likes Chico, too, if I remember
correctly. He saturates with O2 before pitching, and gets really
quick ferments. His products age out to drinkability very quickly
(less than a year).

I am looking for a source of cherry blossom honey. In Michigan,
cherries bloom early in the season, before the bees have re-built
their food store, so the nectar gathered from the cherry blossoms is
used by the bees to strengthen the hive and to feed brood. Is there
anywhere in the southern cherry growing range (like California) that
has hives sufficiently strong to have the bees actually put up supers
from the cherry nectar? I would love to hear from anyone with info.

Brew on Regardless,

Subject: vanilla mead
From: (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 01:07:21 -0500

From: Steve Dempsey <>

regarding vanilla beans….

>Start with one whole bean split lengthwise. I tasted a
>mead done with this amount and it was delicious, like a
>cross between mead and cream soda.

Steve, care to give the recipe for "Dreamsicle" that was entered in the
1996 Mazer Cup? I would, but the recipe sheet is a little
vague…..actually, it's a LOT vague. As I recall, it was a marvelous
synergistic symphony of honey, orange and vanilla.


Subject: mead yeasts
From: (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 01:07:29 -0500

From: Sheryl Nance-Durst <P_SHERYL@KCPL.LIB.MO.US>

>Since there's been a lot of interest, I thought I'd post a list of yeast
>descriptions that I've found helpful. I think that they were originally
>posted on the mead digest but I'm not sure (I deleted the mailer headings
>when I saved them.) The first half is from, the
>second half is from someone with the intials DSM. My apologies to
>whoever the original posters are.

No apology needed. Most of the data that you provided is accurate, or at
least was the best known in 1994. I am currently working on a more
comprehensive list of available mead and wine yeasts and will publish it
here (first). Rest assured that it will not include imprecise and
inaccurate terms like "alcohol tolerance"!

Meadmaster. Are you still out there?

DanMcC (aka DSM)

Subject: corks and cork juice
From: (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 00:52:42 -0500

From: (Tracy Thomason)
>I just bought a corker so I can cork my next batch of mead. I decided
>I'd better try the corker out first on a practice bottle to make sure I knew
>what I was doing. So, I boiled a cork for a while and then stuck it in an
>empty bottle using the corker. Everything went great except when I
>pulled the corker off the bottle there was some brown "juice" on the
>corker and some brown "juice" running down around the outside of the
>bottle. I assume this is "cork juice" or something. None ran in the
>bottle, but it still bothered me to have this brown stuff running down the
>outside. Is this normal or did I get some bad corks or something?

A couple of points.
The corks are fine. I don't know what cork juice tastes like, but I would
wager that a few drops will be undetectable in even a small bottle of mead.

Why did you boil the corks? I had nothing but trouble when I tried that
many years ago. The corks became too soft and chunks broke off into the
bottle. I still have same meads that have serious cork-floater problems.
Not pretty. Steaming would suffice and make the corks less likely to

You can get away with only the lightest soak in 1% metabisulfite. BTW-add
a bit of glycerin and they slip in even easier. Then let then stand
UPRIGHT for a day to allow trapped gas to escape, invert or lay down and
forget about them for a few years.

These days I have been inserting dry corks. We bought a big sack of long
and fat (2" #9) sterile corks and just punch them in with a floor corker.
If you set the depth to push it in half way and wire them down, you can get
the effect of the champagne "mushroom" corks. Works well for beer too.


Subject: yeast deposits in bottles
From: (Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook)
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 07:26:57 -0500

From: Joe Schmidt <>

> I bottled my first mead a few months ago, and I'm becoming
> concerned about the yeast deposit in the bottom of the bottles.
> Is it OK to allow the mead to age for *years* with that yeast in
> there, or is there a risk of autolysis? If it's not OK, are there
> any suggestions as to how to get the mead off of the yeast without
> excessive oxidation?

It is OK to allow the mead to age for *years* on a yeast deposit.

If French Champagne producers do it, you can too. My personal opinion is
that a degree of yeast autolysis that is induced by extended aging either
on the lees or in the bottle adds a nice note of toasty complexity. I like
complexity. Others like straight-foreward *clean* flavors.

You must decide if you want clean or funky. Both are right. In a mead,
both are acceptable.


Subject: Re: vanilla mead 
From: Steve Dempsey <>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 12:08:38 -0800

On Thu, 21 Nov 1996 01:07:21 PST Daniel S. McConnell/DSMBook said:
>Steve, care to give the recipe for "Dreamsicle" that was entered in the
>1996 Mazer Cup? I would, but the recipe sheet is a little
>vague…..actually, it's a LOT vague. As I recall, it was a marvelous
>synergistic symphony of honey, orange and vanilla.

This is a secret so guard it carefully …

Ingredients: 12oz semi-dry to medium-sweet traditional mead 😉

2-4ml store-bought baker's orange extract flavoring, to taste
1/4-3/8 inch piece of vanilla bean

Procedure: Open the bottle and add the extra stuff. Recap and

wait a couple of weeks. More than a couple of weeks
and this much vanilla will be very pronounced.
Substitute a few ml. vanilla extract for more
immediate but less interesting results.

I also did chocolate/orange once using baker's extracts and it
was well received. And I continue to add flavors to mead consumed
at home much as one would make flavored coffee drinks. I need
to do some of these as full batches because I know longer exposure
time helps marry the combined ingredients, results in more
complexity than instant additions.

To do the dreamsicle thing again on a larger scale I would put
the split whole vanilla bean in the carboy for maybe 2-6 weeks
before bottling, and make my own orange extract using the old
trick with an orange in a mason jar with a bit of Everclear
95% ethanol. I figure 5-8 oranges should be enough for 5
gallons. The hard part about the orange is oil separation
so it needs to be stirred in periodically or will mostly
end up in the last few bottles.

As for the base mead recipe, I can never get them to come out
the same — too many variables including honey sources. I
generally use 2.5-3 pounds of honey per gallon, little or no
acid adjustment during fermentation, and various wine yeasts
that I know won't go too dry for the amount of honey I used.

Steve T. Dempsey Intel Corporation
<> 5200 Elam Young Pkwy
+1 503 613 8070 Hillsboro, OR 97124-6497
PTD CAD Pole: RA1-3-C16 MS: RA1-303

Subject: Re: Vierka yeast
From: Steve Dempsey <>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 16:19:57 -0800

>Subject: Vierka yeast, almond honey
>From: "Olin J. Schultz" <>
>What is the material Vierka uses for packing their yeast? I have tried
>the sauternes and bordeaux with good success but the mead yeast packet
>barely had any yeast in it! What kind of yeast is it? Took days to
>start fermenting the one batch I used it on.

Vierka uses rice hulls. So you get lots of rice hulls and
little yeast, which may be why it is a slow starter. Perhaps
the mead yeast also does not survive drying/packaging very
well. In any case I too found it not very viable. I was lucky
to find this out before brewing day and had a bigger starter
going. The results were great though, one of my favorite

Steve T. Dempsey Intel Corporation
<> 5200 Elam Young Pkwy
+1 503 613 8070 Hillsboro, OR 97124-6497
PTD CAD Pole: RA1-3-C16 MS: RA1-303

End of Mead Lover's Digest #512