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Mead Lover's Digest #0557 Mon 28 April 1997


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



Thistle honey (JD Pierce)
cherry melomel (Todd Miller)
diluted honey? (michael rose)
Mead Brandy (Spencer W Thomas)
First mead questions (Jim Poder)
Re: Mead Brandy ("Linda or Darin")
acid testing kit (Derrick Pohl)
Crystallized Honey and pH correction (Ken Schramm)


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Subject: Thistle honey
From: JD Pierce <>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 17:06:15 -0400

I have my first batch of mead going right now and I have an awful lot of

And here's another…

My current mead, a traditional with champagne yeast at just under 3 lbs
of honey per gallon, is made with honey from hives on my stepfather's
land. The honey is predominantly wild thistle. I have seen almost
nothing on the web about this type of honey and how well it makes mead.
Anyone worked with this kind of honey before? How does it do? Thanks.


Subject: cherry melomel
From: Todd Miller <>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 21:24:26 -0500 (CDT)

Hi, everyone-

I'm very new to mead making, and just last night made my third 5 gallon
batch, a cherry melomel using 5 quarts of R. W. Knudsen black cherry
juice. The first two batches I made seem to be working very well (while
none of them is bottled yet), but this one has something going on in it
that concerns me a little. It's been in the primary for about a day, and
I've noticed a strata of what looks (for lack of a better description)
like cotton candy towards the middle, and another pile of the stuff about
2 inches thick settled on the bottom. Can anyone give me a clue as to
what this is? This isn't something I was expecting… Just FYI, I
pasteurized at 180 degrees for 30 min, cooled and pitched yeast,
Vintner's Choice liquid dry mead. Thanks for any thoughts/ advice
anybody might have…


From: Randy Ricchi <>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 23:08:38 -0400

I'm new to this digest, as well as to mead-making. I've been homebrewing
for years, and have made wine (mostly chokecherry) since the late
seventies. I made my first and only mead February 1996. It was a
sweet,still mead. Fairly nice, but needs some complexity, I think.

Anyway, at this point I have two questions. One, how do I get to the
archives to read all the good stuff that's gone on here before?, and two,
how can we increase the participation in this digest? I've been into the
homebrew digest for a few months now and the participation is great.
Granted, there are probably a lot more homebrewers than mead-makers, but
why should there be? Mead is a very noble beverage, and I believe, (yes, I
know I only have one mead under my belt) it doesn't have to take forever
for mead to be good if you pay attention to ph, nutrients, aeration at
pitching, and perhaps fine with sparkalloid after primary. This is what I
did, and my mead was very smooth and drinkable two or three months after
brewing it. I think that a lot of people, like I once did, stay away from
mead-making because they think it's going to take years to taste the results.

Maybe this has already been thrashed around here, and if so, sorry. I need
to find that archive so I can get down to studying about mead. Thanks.


"Should anyone thirst, let them come unto me and drink"

Subject: diluted honey?
From: michael rose <>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 23:57:16 -0700

Just bought 15 pounds of honey at a local produce stand at a weekly
street faire. Got home and was comparing it to some "Sue-bee" honey that
I had in the kitchen. The produce stand honey was much lighter in color
and much thiner in viscosity. I think its been watered down!! that or it
was made by a bunch of diabetic bees. Is watering down honey a common
practice? TIA Mike

Subject: Mead Brandy
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 03:03:07 -0400

I did some poking into the US Code (online at and came
up with the following.

26 USC Sec. 5601 (a)(8) Unlawful production of distilled spirits

[Any person who]
not being a distiller authorized by law to produce distilled
spirits, produces distilled spirits by distillation or any other
process from any mash, wort, wash, or other material;

Note "any other process" and "or other material".


27 USC Sec. 211 (a)(5)

The term ''distilled spirits'' means ethyl alcohol,
hydrated oxide of ethyl, spirits of wine, whiskey, rum, brandy,
gin, and other distilled spirits, including all dilutions and
mixtures thereof, for non-industrial use.

So, unless there's a specific exemption for alcohol concentration by
freezing (which I didn't find), it appears to be against the law.

There was a recent BATF ruling that ice beers are not "distilled". (I
read this last year and can't find it now.) Shows what a lot of money
and a good lobbyist can do for ya. 🙂 Also, the fact that they had to
issue a ruling on the topic indicates to me that it could otherwise be
construed to be illegal.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: First mead questions
From: Jim Poder <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 01:13:39 -0700


Back in January I started my first mead with 14# of mesquite honey in ~5
gallons of water. I pitched using Wyeast's sweet mead yeast and added 3
TBS yeast nutrient and ~1/2 Tbs of yeast energizer. My O.G. was 1.125

Now 4 months later the gravity is at ~1.030 with bubbles escaping the

airlock at about every 3 minutes. =20

Knowing that mead can take quite a while to ferment out and age I brewed
my mead at my parents house where my father, a home wine maker, can keep
an eye on it and by telephone keep me appraised of how things are
progressing. He tasted my mead the other night and said that it tasted
like a (somewhat) sweet wine with a fruity taste to it. I'm going home
in a couple of weeks (end of the semester! yea!!!!!) and would like to
know if I will be ready to bottle. I am trying to make a sweet
sparkling mead and, as a beer brewer, I know very little about mead. I
have read most of the on-line info on mead making and find much of it to
be contradictory. This forum seems to be very helpful, but I haven=92t
lurked here very long. Anyway I would like to hear from the collective
mead making brain trust on what I should do. Should I let it sit and
keep fermenting? How low can I expect the gravity to go? Should I add
something to stop fermentation so that I can bottle? And if so how do I
make it sparkling without making bottle grenades? How long should I let
it age in the bottles?

I have been considering splitting the batch and doing some as a sweet
still mead and carbonating the rest. My father has a small (a little
over a gallon capacity) thick walled plastic keg that he bought once
upon a time to make sparkling wine. Has anyone ever used such a thing
to force carbonate mead? It is a round jug with a brass fitting on the
top to attach one of those small CO2 cartridges. You fill the sucker
up, puncture the cylinder, and let it sit for a bit to dissolve the
gas. I guess you could then bottle it form there. What do you think?=20
This is the only was I can think of to make a sweet sparkling mead
without having bottles explode. Is there another way? =20

I am really anxious to be able to serve my first mead, and don't want to
screw it up (duh!). I'm also hoping that I'll be able to bring a couple
of bottles back to school with me (I'm going to need something to drink
in order to make it through another summer in Phoenix). Any help you
can offer would be greatly appreciated either through the digest or by
private email. TIA

  • Jim

Subject: Re: Mead Brandy
From: "Linda or Darin" <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 08:08:17 -0700

> … I found it in a semi-frozen state …
> … and poured it through a wire strainer …

Out here, if I or any of my SCAdian friends were to make such a concotion,
< 😉 > we would call it "Dragon's Breath." Theoretically, this might not
be such a bad thing to do with that little bit of mead left on the lees
when you rack. (The low temp. in the freezer really helps settle out any
muck you pour in.) I would also recomend using a plastic bottle in the
freezer, so you can squeeze the hooch out. BTW, this is how apple jack was
historically made from cider.

Also, the longer you leave it in the freezer, the more the ice and the
'breath seperate. Due to the extreme miscibility of alchohol and water,
however, you will always be pouring alchohol out with the ice. If you want
to take this process to the max, though, you can keep putting the 'breath
back into the freezer until there is no more ice. After the first or
second time, you will get ice on top, 'breath in the middle, and muck on
the bottom, and you can actually rack the stuff. I have heard, (from no
particularly reliable source,) that the theoretical limit for this process
is about 60 proof.

maintaining plausable denyability

Subject: acid testing kit
From: Derrick Pohl <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 12:24:16 -0700

Sorry to keep harping on this pH business, but…

Went to one of the local supply stores, and they have an acid testing kit
that is neither electronic nor does it involve paper strips. Instead, it's
a couple chemicals that you drip into a sample (or something to that
effect) and watch for a colour change. The results obtained are not given
in pH value. Rather, it gives a result in grams of acid per litre.

Is this appropriate for controlling pH levels in a fermenting mead, and
what would the desired figures be in grams of acid per litre to be
equivalent to the optimum fermentation pH of 3.6 to 4.0? Or do things like
amount of buffering agent make the figures not readily convertible to pH?
If this is the case, can it nonetheless be used to adjust a fermenting
must's acid content to ensure rapid fermentation?

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

Subject: Crystallized Honey and pH correction
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 16:16:15 -0400

Dan seems to have hit the nail on the head with his comments, and I
just want to state that if the comments in the paper lead one to
believe that crystallized honey will not be good for mead, I have not
been clear enough. The separation of liquids (due to crystal
formulation around nucleii) is the key determinant of suspect honey.
Some honeys with high dextrose counts (especially if unfiltered) will
crystallize in a matter of days or weeks. This will be accelerated by
storage at the ideal crystallization temps listed in the article.
Given proper storage and care, they will produce fine mead.

On the pH issue, I speak from experience when I say that pH
correction with sodium bicarbonate will yield a salty tasting mead.
I would avoid it. It cost me a batch of cyser. The reason for the
use of calcium or potassium based bicarbonates for pH correction by
mead and wine makers is the relative insolubility of the salts
created by the acid fixing reaction. They precipitate out readily and
quite thoroughly, and leave minimal, if any taste in the mead. Sodium
chloride, on the other hand…..

If anyone out there knows of a listserv or discussion group on fruit,
antique or premium varieties and growning/cultivation techniques,
could you clue me in, please? Thanks.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #557