Mead Lover's Digest #0554 Wed 16 April 1997


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



Stuck(?) fermentation ("Matt Crapo")
Mead Brandy ("Wallinger")
David Johnson's inquiry ("Rabak, Andrea")
Wormwood (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #553, 9 April 1997 (Daniel S McConnell)
Stuck traditional mead (Micheal and Linda Fox)
Grains of Paradise et al. (Ken Schramm)
Adjusting mead pH with Acidex vs. Calcium Carbonate (Derrick Pohl)
Yeast starter, ginger, and carboy size ("Moyer, Douglas E")


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Subject: Stuck(?) fermentation
From: "Matt Crapo" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 00:01:17 -0700

I recently started brewing mead and joined the list a few days ago. I've
read all the FAQs and many mead sites, but I still have a couple questions.
If they're too basic, feel free to respond directly.

I started a batch about three weeks ago. We wanted a very strong sweet
mead. I used:

Wyeast dry mead yeast
30# blackberry honey and water to 6 gallons
Rind of one large orange
12oz fresh ginger peeled & sliced

I got extremely fresh yeast – two days old. Started it in the pouch for
about 6 hours, then boiled 1 cup extra light malt powder and 1/2 tsp
energizer in 2 cups water for 10 min, brought to 80 degrees and added the
yeast. This went about 4 hours & started bubblin' good in the airlock. By
this time I had boiled the must and reduced in cold water bath to 80
degrees. I had an OSG of 1.180. No that's not a typo. I pitched the
yeast, shook vigorously for a few minutes, then let it rest at 75 degrees.

It took 4 days for fermentation to start, and it never got vigorous. It
continues to bubble slowly after about three weeks.

Should I rack it? Would it help to add more yeast? water? shake it?
(I've heard that if you use vitamin C – an antioxidant – oxidization isn't
a worry)

Anybody know how much alcohol Wyeast dry mead yeast will tolerate? Is this
going to be syrup?

I started a batch of strawberry melomel last weekend. Vierka mead yeast
(started a whole week prior – fed once), 24# fireweed honey and water to 6
gallons, 10# frozen strawberries. I crushed the strawberries while
partially thawed in their bags & dumped the whole mess into the must at the
end of the boil. I put it in a 7gal plastic bucket primary with an airlock
(OSG 1.152 @80 deg), and after about 6 hours, it became apparent that a
blow-off tube would be necessary. In the middle of the night, a strawberry
found its way into the blowoff tube, and I was awakened by a big BOOM when
the lid blew. Strawberry barm everywhere. At least it wasn't glass! I
skimmed off the barm and most of the large chunks of strawberries, and I
think tonight I'll try to put the airlock on – four days later. I'm very
excited about this batch. So when should I rack it? How do I get the must
off the fruit without clogging the siphon hose (it's in an opaque plastic
container – hard to see sediment/floaties)? When do you think it will be
drinkable? How do you know when it's drinkable? There's so much
strawberry pulp in there I don't really anticipate it to clear – will it?
Does it matter?

Sorry so long – Thanks in advance!

Subject: Mead Brandy
From: "Wallinger" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 06:32:06 -0500

Yes, indeed, there is mead brandy, at least from what I've heard (grin). A
friend hypothetically offered me some distilled mead in the Croatian
tradition, aptly named medovic. 'Med' is from the latin for honey, and
'ovic' (oh-vits)
seems to be the suffix for things distilled. I've heard (grin) that the
taste is

Wade Wallinger
formerly of Pascagoula MS
on the way to Houston TX

Subject: David Johnson's inquiry
From: "Rabak, Andrea" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 08:51:29 -0500

In response to David Johnson's inquiry regarding yeast, I have been very
pleased with the sweetness and honey character in my mead made with
Lalvin D47 yeast. All else being equal, it is amazing how much
difference the various types of yeast make in the final result.


Andrea Rabak
Austin, Texas

Subject: Wormwood
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 14:13:02 +0000

Does anyone have any experience or info on how to safely use wormwood
in brewing? Yes, I know that in large quantities it is dangerous
that's why I'm asking for help. You see have have an interest in
historical brewing and there in a BIG SCA event coming up. If anyone
has any info I would appreciate it.

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

Matt Maples

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #553, 9 April 1997
From: (Daniel S McConnell)
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 14:25:04 -0400

>From: Chuck Wettergreen <chuckmw@Mcs.Net>….about basil mead

>Of course this has always been an option, but first I have to try a
>little blending with pyments, and also give you the opportunity
>to basil-dissolve your taste buds on the real thing at the Mazer Cup.

Ok, instead of bread as a palate cleanser, maybe we should offer a tomato…

>>Also, (Jeff Duckworth) asked if there is such
>a thing as "mead brandy". Don't know about mead brandy, but one
>and a half gallons of my 30-day sour cherry melomel became Cherry-jack
>Melomel with the use of some judicious freezing. I'm still not
>quite sure which category of the Mazer Cup I'm going to enter that
>?mead? in…..

Fortunately, the Mazer Cup (unlike the AHA National) will allow for a
fortified mead to be entered as a fortified mead and such a designation
will be passed on to the judges. They deserve to be warned, don't you
think? This sounds like a fortified Melomel to me.


Subject: Stuck traditional mead
From: (Micheal and Linda Fox)
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 97 12:16:31 -0700 (PDT)

Our first batch of mead is a traditional mead using 18 lbs of alfalfa/clover
honey and 2 packets of champagne yeast. The recipe we used called for 1 tsp
of acid blend. It was started January 7 of this year, and two weeks ago
(after 3 months fermentation) we racked it for the first time. Fermentation
after racking was immediately at a standstill and still is. The mead is
very cloudy. The S.G. is 1.070. Unfortunately, we didn't take an O.G., but
rest assured, we will next time.

Our guesses are: either it is fermenting quietly and unnoticeably and will
continue to do so for the next several months until it clears, or the ph is
too high, or we shouldn't have racked it yet. A week ago, we pitched
another yeast starter with one packet of general wine yeast. A few days
ago, we added a teaspoon of yeast energizer. Still no action. We are more
than happy to wait for it to finish, but we are concerned that we have
killed our first mead!

We did an acid test, but don't know what the answer means. It took 6 cc's
to change color, so it is .6 tartaric acid, but how does this translate to
the measurements we have seen on this digest (3, 2.5, etc…)? We feel like
a couple of idiots here, but please help!

Micheal and Linda Fox – A Subscriber at Internet On-Ramp, Inc.

Subject: Grains of Paradise et al.
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 15:37:52 -0400

The material from the previous post is essentially accurate: >>Gil
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 09:07:35 -0800 (PST)

Greetings, In the most recent digest, someone wrote that Grains of
Paradise are the same Cardamon seeds. This is not correct, though
they both belong to the ginger family. <<

The Golden Guide to Herbs and Spices (from which the above info was
extracted) is in fact a pretty good, if somewhat dated, reference on
the material that was extracted for that post. Aframomum melegueta
is similar to but not the same as cardomum, and can be obtained at
very reasonable prices from the Rafal Spice Company, 2521 Russell
Street, Detroit, Michigan 48207 (313) 259-6373. They have an
EXTENSIVE mail order catalog, but please buy something is you put
them up to the expense of sending one to you.

A. melegueta is exported prilarily from Ghana now, and is kind of
rare in the US because it is used primarily in Western African
cuisine. It was popular in beer, mulled wine and even in spiced mead
(hot sack), instead of of cardomum probably because it does not have
the camphor odor that cardomum has. It has even been used as a
replacement for pepper when that was scarce.

For those with a flair for the authentic, a Tunisian five spice mead
would be very interesting (peppercorns, cloves, grains of Par.,
nutmeg and cinnamon).

More later, and Chuck, send everything you mentioned. Our taste buds
will recover in due time.

Systems out of balance fail.

Subject: Adjusting mead pH with Acidex vs. Calcium Carbonate
From: Derrick Pohl <>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 16:07:51 -0700

Thanks to those who responded to my pH adjustment questions. I called my
local supply shop, and they said there are no pH papers sensitive enough
and in the right range to accurately adjust the pH for mead, but offered to
cheerfully test my pH for me with their electronic meter if I bring a
sample in. This is fine, but rather incovenient since I've been told that
I should add a bit of CaCO3 (Calcium Carbonate), test pH, add some more,
test again, etc. With the 20 minute drive to the brewing store, this could
take some time. Nor do I have $100 for an electronic pH meter.

The fellow at the store suggested that with a magical product called
acidex, which he *thinks* is some sort of ionized CaCO3, they can tell me
just how much I should add at one go to get the desired pH, or at least get
pretty close.

Anyone familiar with acidex and this procedure? Will their madcap scheme
actually work?

P.S. I looked over the FTP site quickly. Don't suppose anyone has made a
search engine for the Mead Lover's Digest back issues available over the
net? Any other way to search back issues, other than by looking at the
index files which list subject titles for each issue (a rather inexact
science at best)?

Derrick Pohl <>
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Subject: Yeast starter, ginger, and carboy size
From: "Moyer, Douglas E" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 8:28:06 -0400

Collective soul,

I have a few newbie questions. This (or next) weekend I will try to make

my first batch of mead. I am planning on making five gallons of basic dry
mead. With that in mind, I have purchased Wyeast #3632. Typically, for my
homebrew, I don't make a yeast starter for my smack pack. (My sanitation
is very careful, and hopefully very good.) Should I worry about
propagating a starter?

Also, as I was getting ready for work this morning, I got thinking about

ginger. How many of y'all have made a ginger-flavored mead? Any good?
Could you use the chopped ginger that comes in a jar (Christopher Ranch)?
How much? I saw one recipe (Lemon-Ginger Metheglin) in Cats Meow, but it
looked too bizarre (four slices of toast?) to contemplate for my first
go! Another looked good (Orange Ginger Mead), but it mentioned ginger in
terms of grams. How much in dry measure? It also called for hops. Are
hops used often in mead? Any other good recipe ideas?

For a five gallon batch, do I need to use my 6.5 gallon carboy, or can I

use the five gallon carboy? In other words, how vigorous (read "foamy")
is the initial fermentation?

Thanks for the patience!
Doug Moyer

End of Mead Lover's Digest #554