Mead Lover's Digest #0563 Sun 18 May 1997


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



Re: Historical recipes/Medieval brewing ("Ted Major")
Medieval mead query ("Rodney Valdez")
rebottling grenades (Unlisted)
Re: Medieval mead query (Marc Shapiro)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #562, 16 May 1997 (Mitzy Dew)
Re: Medieval mead query (Bill Shirley)
Re:Book on Historical Brewing (Peter Miller)
Re: Mead Beginners (Daniel S McConnell)
bawm and orrioe root (Di and Kirby)
Rosewood ("Linda or Darin")
Commercial Mead ("Rev. Mike Martin")
Medieval mead query ("Rev. Mike Martin")
Strawberry melomel (
Long term-low maintanence storage (Evan Randall Page)


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Subject: Re: Historical recipes/Medieval brewing
From: "Ted Major"<>
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 11:13:40 -0400

In the last digest, I noticed the following comment about Cindy Renfrow's
recipe book:
"the author even left in the spelling mistakes."
Now I realize I'm quibbling here (and I don't mean this as a flame, so
please take it with as many grains of salt as you wish), but they're not
spelling mistakes. Standardized spelling is a relatively new aspect of
English: the first dictionaries of English didn't appear until the 18th
century, and standard spelling didn't really begin to take hold until the
nineteenth century. Spelling was highly dependent on local dialect, and
thus differences in spelling indicate dialect variation not mistakes.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now (do I need to get out of graduate school
or what?).

Jonathan Day asks about "bawm" and "orrioe root":

"Bawm" is almost certainly a variant of balm, "a chiefly Mediterranean
perennial herb (melissa officianalis) in the mint family, used as a
seasoning or fro tea."

"Orrioe root" looks like it could be "Orrice root" and thus possibly a
variant of orris root, "the fragrant rootstock of the orris, used in
perfumes and cosmetics," the orris being "any of several species of iris
having a fragrant rootstock, esp a variety of the hybrid _Iris germanica_."

I'm not positive about this, and I have no idea whether or not irises or
edible, toxic, or even lethal, so please do some research before throwing
some iris root into your mead. Does anyone else have any info on this one?

Ted Major, Athens, Georgia

Subject: Medieval mead query
From: "Rodney Valdez" <Rodney.Valdez@MCI.Com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 10:10 -0600 (MDT)

Jonathan Day <> wrote:

>The two ingredients I'm having most problem with are Bawm and
>Orrioe Roots. Any ideas what these are?

Bawm (Balm, Baulm) is balsam (aka the Balsam tree).

Orrioe root is orris root. Orris Root is used as for cooking and has
medicinal uses. It has been used to add a bitter flavor to liqueurs
and wines.


  • -Rodney

Subject: rebottling grenades
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 09:35:33 -0700 (PDT)

okay, it's happened to me now…

i started a batch at christmas time and let it ferment until feb. before
bottling. the gravity seemed to have leveled out despite the fact the mead was
still *too* sweet by my stds, esp. since i'd used a champagne yeast. so i
bottled it. a month later i openned a bottle and it was slightly effervecent,
but not too remarkable. it got stronger with time until last night when i
openned a chilled bottle and found a virtual fountain inside the bottle. fun,
but i can tell i'm heading towards disaster. has anyone ever uncapped such a
mead to vent, then recapped with sterile caps? i'm willing to sacrifice a
couple bottles to contamination if i'll avoid the grenade syndrome. any advice
is appreciated.


Subject: Re: Medieval mead query
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 12:46:24 -0400

Jonathan Day <> wrote:

> The two ingredients I'm having most problem with are Bawm and
> Orrioe Roots. Any ideas what these are?

The most likely answers are:

Bawm: balm, also known as lemon balm
Orrioe Root: orris root (a type of iris, commonly used in purfume
and potpourri these days)



Marc Shapiro

Visit 'The Meadery' at:

"If you drink melomel every day, you will live to be 150 years old,
unless your wife shoots you."

  • –Dr. Ferenc Androczi, Winemaker of the Little Hungary Winery

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #562, 16 May 1997
From: Mitzy Dew <>
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 22:02:52 -0700

In the

Mead Lover's Digest #562
dated 16 May 1997

Jonathan Day spoke of a book written by a William Salmon, MD.

First of all, the spellings of the words haven't changed, they have just
standardized. In the 1700's each person basically spelled each word however
it worked out phonetically for them.

My guess would be that bawm is balm or Melissa officinalis (sp) and that
Orrioe Roots is Orris Root. Then again, maybe he knows the location of the
famous Oreo tree and is suggesting root thereof.

Good luck.


Subject: Re: Medieval mead query
From: Bill Shirley <>
Date: Fri, 16 May 97 16:32:57 -0400

Orrioe Roots could be orris root, about which webster says…

or*ris \'o_r-es, 'a_r-\ n
[prob. alter. of ME ireos, fr. ML, alter. of L iris]
:a European iris (Iris florentina) with a fragrant rootstock that is used
esp. in perfume and sachet powder; also: its rootstock

I don't know…

  • bill

Subject: Re:Book on Historical Brewing
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Sat, 17 May 97 09:11:27 -0000

>From: Matthew C Maples <>
>Date: Wed, 14 May 1997 10:46:41 -0700
>Just thought I would let you all know about this GREAT brewing book I just =
>bought. It's called "Sip Though Time" by Renfrow. It compiles brewing recip=


Thanks for the recommendation. I for one will be looking it up.


Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: Re:  Mead Beginners
From: (Daniel S McConnell)
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 23:27:30 -0400

Well Jeff, you really got blasted in the last MLD, eh? While the body is
still warm, let me add a comment or two…..

From: "Jeff M. Ashley" <>

>1. Make sure you use champagne yeast. Wine yeast isn't alcohol-tolerant

Champagne yeast IS wine yeast.

>3. I hope you have more success than I have in staying out of your mead
>for 3 or more months before drinking it all. It really is worth the wait.

I'm sure that you ment to write YEARS not MONTHS. Right? Please?


From: (Rod McDonald)

>Thanks, Dan, but what does this mean for us? How do we work with titrable
>acid as opposed to Ph information in our mead-making (assuming we can
>actually measure it)?

Titrable acidity is a way to obtain an analytical measure of estimated
sourness. It can be used to blend to or create a balance. Good quality
grape juice to make crisp, white wines have target acidity in the range of
0.6-0.7% (6-7 grams/L).

**Opinion mode on**

White wines have a nice balance when this acidity is matched with 0-1%
residual sugar. Higher residual sugar demands more acid to balance. Sour,
dry white wines are not that pleasant. Which is why, in some wine growing
regions that have difficulty ripening grapes, the wines produced there are
made to a style that balances the high acidity with some residual sugar.
German whites are a good example.

The same logic applies to meads. Higher residual sugar in mead needs some
backbone, some support to achieve a balance or it is overwhelmingly sweet.

**Opinion mode off**

Where this balance lies is an individual taste. Some will argue that sweet
meads require no acid, others feel (myself included) that some acid is


Subject: bawm and orrioe root
From: Di and Kirby <>
Date: Sat, 17 May 1997 00:34:55 -0500

> From: Jonathan Day <>

> The two ingredients I'm having most problem with are Bawm and
> Orrioe Roots. Any ideas what these are?

My best guess, judging from what I know about herbs in general, would be
that what you have is know known as Balm and Orris Root (which is it's
fancy herbalist name. It's the root of Florentine Iris to gardeners and
flower-sniffers. I'm not sure if it's different from regular ole
irises.) I have a relatively old metheglin recipe that calls for
"Balm"–there are various varieties, like lemon balm, bee balm (also
known as melissa) etc. It might mean Balm of Gilead, which is a
different herb, but still perfectly drinkable, sometimes steeped in wine
(and both it and orris root have associations with attracting
love–actually so do bay, ginger and thyme, so be careful who you drink
this with! 🙂

I've often heard of using orris root for incense and stuff, but I

can't recall if I've ever heard of anyone *drinking* it before. Blue
Flag, which is sort of a more wild type of iris, can be drunk
medicinally, but I dunno if that generalizes to florentine iris, or if
it did, if you'd want to drink a bunch of it. And of course, I can't
find my _good_ herbal book now that I need it <sigh> but if it turns up,
I'll let you know if it has any more information. Actually, of you have
a book handy about hippocrases, or if you can get onto the wine making
list (if there is one, and if they ever get into herbal wines) that
might help too. Obviously if I knew more, I would have typed less. 😉

If you have a heath food store or herb store near you, and your

mystery ingredients are indeed balm and orris, you should have no
trouble finding them. They aren't horribly obscure. There are mail order
catalogs around, but I don't know any names or addresses offhand.


Subject: Rosewood
From: "Linda or Darin" <>
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 23:03:08 -0700

A few years ago, a thread ran through the digest about oak flavoring, both
in barrels, and with oak chips. The specific technique that interested me
was to make a "tea" with oak chips and some of your mead. Make the tea
strong, and then mix it back into the batch to taste.

The reason I bring this up, is that it is the time of the year for me to
start my rose petal mead. I hadn't ever thought to use rosewood to flavor
rose petal mead until I smoked a roast today, using water-soaked rosewood
chunks. The "tea" it made was so pretty to look at, I had to try it. And
now, patient mead makers, we get to my problem. I had to spit it out,
because I don't know if rosewood is dangerous in some way. The flavor I
will not even try to describe, but I will say I would like to try it with a
portion of this years batch.

BTW, I pitched the starter today. Should pitch the batch Sunday. My roses
are having a wonderful time this year, and making many petals. I should
have two gallon zip-lock bags of petals in the freezer by the time the
fermentation in the five gallon batch is almost done. Then I'll shove them
into the bottle, and leave them until they look like their done. (Probably
two weeks, or so.)

My wife just tried the "tea," and told me that she didn't spit it out. If
she dies I'm not supposed to use it in the mead…

Darin Trueblood

Subject: Commercial Mead
From: "Rev. Mike Martin" <>
Date: Sat, 17 May 1997 08:59:06 -0500 wrote:
> > Does anyone know of a wholesale distirbutor of GOOD mead ?? The only
> > commercial mead I've found was a "dessert wine" that was disgustingly
> > sweet.
> I bought some Chaucer's mead made in Soquel, CA — a sweet mead.
> (Soquel is near Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast.)

I drank a LOT of Chaucer's at KC Ren Faire.. not too bad.

There is also a winery in Weston Missouri making `Pirtle's Mead` that's
not too bad but nothing is like homemade.

Rev. Mike Martin Lord Hrothgar the Smith

"Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes" ICBM 39:05:28N 94:24:55W 931'

Subject: Medieval mead query
From: "Rev. Mike Martin" <>
Date: Sat, 17 May 1997 09:35:18 -0500 wrote:
> The two ingredients I'm having most problem with are Bawm and
> Orrioe Roots. Any ideas what these are?

Orrioe… Orris Root (Iris x germanica florentina) the root was used at
one time to treat coughs, it's a powerful purgative now sonsidered too
strong for internal use.

Bawm… Balm of Gilead maybe? Balm of Gilead (Cedronella Canariensis)
or (C. triphylla) as to what parts to use, Aromatically the leaf is
used, it has a musky scent. Medicinally the leaf, used as a stimulant
and tonic, antiseptic and expectorant. (Internally used to treat coughs
and bronchitis, Externally for cuts and bruises)
Medicinally the stem, (Specifically the resin) ascribed with
near-miraculous powers.

Or Bawm might be Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) use the leaf,
medicinally used in teas for coughs, colds, headaches…
Lemon Balm would be my choice, it's got a nice taste as well which I'm
not at ALL sure Blm of Gilead would have. (Unless you like musky tastes)

Sounds like he was making a Mead good for coughs (Not a bad idea as
Honey is excellent for the same and the alchohol doesn't hurt in
My advice, consult an herbalist in your local area about adding any of
this to your Meads.

Rev. Mike Martin Lord Hrothgar the Smith
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion, it is by the beans of
Java that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shaking, the shaking
becomes a warning, it is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

Subject: Strawberry melomel
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 09:09:51 -0400 (EDT)

Last week I visited a fellow mead maker out in California and got to sample
an excellent sparkling strawberry melomel , on draft in fact ! I got the
recipe and permission to pass it along so here it is:

15 pounds – Sage honey
8 pounds – fresh strawberries / destemmed, washed and pureed
2 tsp – irish moss
6 tbs – vanilla extract
800 ml slurry – MCBC ale yeast
1 pkg – yeast nutrient for mead
OG 28 B FG 3.5 B

The honey was rehydrated to 28 B and heated the irish moss. It was then
skimmed until clear, then yeast nutrient added and then force cooled. When
cooled to 70 F and racked to a 10 gallon fermenter then yeast was pitched.
After 2 days of vigorous fermentation the strawberries were added to the
must. A extremely active fermentation followed. When subsided the must was
racked to a carboy to finish out and clear. The vanilla was added at racking.
After one month the mead was racked to a soda keg, chilled and force
carbonated. A portion of it was C-P bottled. the rest on draft.
This was/ is a very drinkable melomel, light pink in colour with a definite
strawberry flavour, you really cannot pin down the vanilla though but it may
be adding some complexity. The acidity of the strawberries real help out the
with the balance.

I think that this is a good, quick sort of mead ( 4-6 weeks ) since the honey
used is so mildly flavoured. And there is still time to get one started for
drinking this summer.

micah millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: Long term-low maintanence storage
From: Evan Randall Page <>
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 22:27:24 -0400

Good brewers,
I am shipping off for a 4 year period of enlistment in the military in
late Sept. and was hoping to learn how to brew mead and put away some for
when I get out (this probably being the only way I could let it age a
lot without drinking it all first). Any suggestions about how to produce
and store the mead for the best results and the least maintanence?
I've also heard that you can make good yeast without adding yeast
if you don't boil it and kill off the natural yeast in the
begining. Is that a good method? Thanks for your time.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #563