Mead Lover's Digest #0565 Thu 22 May 1997


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



warning from grumpy digest janitor (Mead Lover's Digest)
Newbie questions, cysers, flowers, etc. (Kate Collins)
Medieval Mead (Jonathan Day)
Re: Mead Beginners (Scott Murman)
Mixing sweet and dry yeasts (Dan Cole)
Re: Chocolate mead ("Ted Major")
Re: Mead Beginners (
youth and age (Jane Beckman)
Re: rebottling grenades ("Dale West")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #564, 21 May 1997 (Terry Estrin)
Honey Supply ("Brander Roullett (Volt Computer)")
Millenial Mead (Dan Cole)
Re: Am I nuts? (Dave Polaschek)
Re: am I nuts? (chocolate mead) (Sean Mick)
Joe Kaufman's post ("Dione Wolfe, Dragonweyr, NM")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #564, 21 May 1997 (
Chocolate (milk) mead (Pete Miller)
Cider Mate (Matt Crapo)
maybe not *too* nuts… (Di and Kirby)


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Subject: warning from grumpy digest janitor
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 21 May 97 09:02:33 MDT (Wed)

Folks – please realize that the Digest is distributed in ASCII (plain
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Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder County, Colorado USA

Subject: Newbie questions, cysers, flowers, etc.
From: Kate Collins <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 17:48:08 +0200

Hi –

I'm new to this list (whoopee!) and also to "standardized"
mead-making – I've always just sort of thrown stuff together.
Therefore, I have a few basic questions:

1. What do O.G. and F.G. stand for?

2. How do you tell if a bottle is explosion-prone (i.e.
over-carbonated mead) in time to release some pressure?

3. I brew in a 30L (~7.5 gal), 35cm (~13 in) diameter plastic
tub. How much head room should I leave and why? Isn't it
good to oxidize mead in certain stages and bad in others?
Why/why not?

And a couple less basic questions (maybe):

1. Cysers – does anyone have any recipes for cysers made
from apples, not juice? What's the general ratio of
apples to liquid? Does freezing help for apples, or
do they have to be squishy-overripe and messy?

2. Flower meads (Floromels?) – does anyone have any
experience in this area? I've seen recipes for
rhodomels floating about, but no other flowers. What
about elderberry, violets, apple blossom, dandelions?

All tips are welcome and appreciated –

/Kate Collins

Subject: Medieval Mead
From: Jonathan Day <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 11:38:25 -0500 (CDT)


A /very/ big thanks to everyone who's either mailed the list with a
suggestion or mailed me. You've all been extremely helpful.

Now I've got all this information, I'll have to try this recipe. 🙂
(Ummm, scaled down somewhat, not having a 60 gallon container handy –
besides which, I don't think you're supposed to brew more than 20
gallons at a time in the UK. 🙂

The medicinal properties of Orris root were interesting. Unless I'm
mistaken, MD is 'medical doctor', so the idea that the meads would
have a health value as well as being a good drink would make a kind
of sense.

I shall have to play around with the various possibilities and see
what happens.


Subject: Re: Mead Beginners 
From: Scott Murman <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 08:55:05 -0700

On Mon, 19 May 1997 09:17:16 -0500 "Joe Kaufman" wrote:
> I know I am an irreverent cur, but I generally buck all the rules of "good"
> mead making,

Joe, there's nothing wrong with your approach, but there's also
nothing wrong with others trying to make the best mead they can by
trying to perfect their process. Just as you don't want to be slammed
for the procedures you prefer, don't slam others because they feel
aging or using specialized honeys is important. People approach this
hobby from many different angles; some just want to make cheap wine or
beer, while others have almost commercial setups. We're all here
because we love the hobby, and we like to discuss it. There are many
nuggets of knowledge here, take what you want, but don't bury the


Subject: Mixing sweet and dry yeasts
From: Dan Cole <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 12:04:10 -0400

Has anyone tried to mix using sweet and dry mead yeasts in the same batch?

I am thinking of making a mixed starter and pitching the two at the same
time (rather than the staggered pitching some use).

Any advice from other experimenters out there?

Subject: Re: Chocolate mead
From: "Ted Major"<>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 12:47:09 -0400

I saw in a recent Williams-Sonoma catalog a bottle of chocolate extract,
which would probably work well for a chocolate mead (or a chocolate stout,
but that's another mailing list). It was a bit on the pricey side if I
recall ($12-16 a bottle, I think) but could be added a little bit at a time
at bottling to get the flavor balance right.

Another option might be to make a metheglin with chocolate mint, which
wouldn't be a straight chocolate mead, but chocolate mint does have a
slicght chocolatey flavor to it. Someone asked about a chocolate mint mead
here awhile back. I wonder how it turned out? Any updates?

Ted Major
Athens, Georgia

Subject: Re: Mead Beginners
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 12:35:23 -0500 (EST)

Joe Kaufman wrote:
> On Fri, 16 May 1997 23:27:30 -0400 Daniel S McConnell quipped:
> >> 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?
> Perhaps this is just a harmless jibe, but I am actually wondering if YOU
> are serious…I know I am going to spanked by the venerable die hards on
> this group, but waiting years and years before drinking one's wares is in
> my opinion overkill for many pallettes and many meads. I for one have
> generally started drinking my various brews within 2-3 months, and while I
> can tell the mead is getting _slightly_ better into the 6-9 month range
> (don't even have any that is a year old yet…), there comes a time when
> the taste increase is NOT worth the wait (at least to myself and to all of
> my friends who have tasted any of my mead). Heck, call me and my friends
> simpletons, but we generally enjoy a nip of a batch within a few weeks of
> bottling (yes, some of we plebians are in it for the alcohol…)

Well, I have to agree with Joe here. While I am not just in it for
the alcohol, some meads are drinkable (some are even tasty) at 2-3
months. I've been making beer, wine and mead for about 4-5 years now,
and have never had the patience to wait a very long time on the meads.
I have found that melomels made from fruit juice and honey improve
dramatically during the first six months with each passing week, and
then slowly level off past that. After a year, in my experience,
aging doesn't add much more than intangible value to my meads.

Now, while I agree it is a good thing to encourage patience in new
meadmakers, I think it is likely to scare off newcomers if they think
they must wait several years to sample their products.

I have a little trick to helping my patience, though. When I bottle a
mead or wine, I hide half of the bottles in wine boxes in my garage.
I make the others more accessible. I always feel free to drink from
the accessible bottles, and leave the hidden ones alone. That way, as
I make more wines and meads, I can always drink the new stuff, and
once in a great while, I pull out an old bottle.

Come to think of it, I haven't looked in the old stock in awhile.
Maybe I better make sure it's still good. 🙂

> Mead making is about two things (for me)…having fun and creating a liquid
> that gives me a buzz without making me gag. Perhaps my attitude is a bit
> flippant for this digest, but according to the title, I drink/make "mead",
> I "love" doing both, and now that I have posted for the first time, I am
> part of the "digest". Let's have some fun, people!

This is a bit extreme even for me. 🙂 Mead making is a craft to me,
I want to make something I enjoy drinking, but at the same time I am
not shooting for contest material, and I don't have a problem with
drinking it early.


Subject: youth and age
From: (Jane Beckman)
Date: Wed, 21 May 97 11:03:21 PDT

>I know I am going to spanked by the venerable die hards on
>this group, but waiting years and years before drinking one's wares is in
>my opinion overkill for many pallettes and many meads.

I agree. I've started drinking some at about 4 months. I've found that
flower-petal meads start to deteriorate a bit after about a year-and-a-half
and are best drunk young. Really *sweet* mead can do with a bit of age,
but I prefer mine very dry. And dry mead doesn't really improve a lot with
more age. I had one batch that was quite the opposite. By the time I
cracked the last bottle, with 3 years of age, I ditched most of it, because
it was terribly astringent and the flavor wasn't what I'd call inspiring.

And of course, there are meads such as taj, which are *meant* to be drunk
right after primary fermentation. And I love taj!


Subject: Re: rebottling grenades
From: "Dale West" <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 14:34:52 +0000

> > has anyone ever uncapped such a
> > mead to vent, then recapped with sterile caps?

If you have mead you are suspicious of when bottling, put it in
ceramic top beer bottles to start with. If the pressure gets a
little high, it can easily be vented (sometimes over & over

Dale West

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #564, 21 May 1997
From: Terry Estrin <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 13:14:36 -0700 (PDT)

Hi all,

Just a quick question: When is this year's Mazer Cup, and how do I

submit an entry (thought I'd try my Kaua'i Blossom wildflower mead)?


Terry Estrin

Subject: Honey Supply
From: "Brander Roullett (Volt Computer)" <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 13:39:09 -0700

Is anyone in the Pacific Northwest (specifically) wise to place where i
can buy large bulk quantities of honey? my source for thistledown honey
won't have anymore till august. I would appreciate any help you can
give. plus any mail order places anywhere else?

Brander (Badger) Roullett

  • ———————-In The SCA———————-

Lord Frederick Badger of Amberhaven, TWIT, Squire to Sir Nicholaus
Red Tree Pursuivant-Madrone, An Tir Marshal-College of St Bunstable

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline–it
helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons,
but at the very least you need a beer."

  • – Frank Zappa

Subject: Millenial Mead
From: Dan Cole <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 19:12:18 -0400

Well, I am faced by a problem rarely faced by most people, but one which
all us home vintage makers should be familiar with… brewing a special
batch for a special occassion. And what could be more special, more rare,
than the turn of the millenium?

I am suddenly preoccupied with the thought of putting together a mead that
I will leave undisturbed and untasted until the turn of the Millenium (Jan
1, 2000 or 2001, I haven't decided which one I will celebrate the most).

So I am asking everyone out there with more mead experience than myself (3
batches down so far) for their suggestion for something so spectacular that
it is deserving of the spotlight of center stage on such a rare occassion.
For something like this, money should be no object (within reason, please).

Anyone else planning some special concoction for the evening?

Subject: Re: Am I nuts?
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Wed, 21 May 97 20:16:04 -0500

Di and Kirby <> wrote:

>I was looking at a couple of mead sites today, and one mentioned, in
>passing, the idea of *chocolate* mead. This sounded kinda yummy to me,
>until it occurred to me that while I could imagine cocoa in mead, I'm
>not sure how one would recreate the true flavor of chocolate. I mean,
>you can't put milk or cream in mead…or *could* you? Would it be
>possible to make a rich, creamy, chocolaty mead? For that matter, how
>about an Irish Cream Mead? Would the alcohol level protect it, assuming
>you used a high-alcohol tolerant yeast, or would you really need
>something with a whiskey-level proof? Would it be yummy or disgusting?
>I'm wondering if I've hit on something brilliant, or if I'm delirious
>with exhaustion and know not the horrors of which I speak…Please let
>me know which it is.

Hmm. If one were to be feeling extremely experimental, one could make a
batch of fermented mare's milk (kumiss) (camel's milk supposedly works
too, but is probably ever-so-slightly harder to come by), add chocolate
to it, and get something that might be potable.

This is one of those things that's been on my list of "try this when I
find a source for the ingredients" and I haven't gotten to yet. Cow's
milk doesn't have as many sugars that the yeast like, from what I've
heard (hard data on this sort of thing isn't exactly easy to come by),
but may work as well. Any biochemists with some hard information for the
rest of us?

In any case, my guess for a recipe was 1 gallon of milk and 2-4 pounds of
honey depending on how sweet I wanted the final product to be. I'm
thinking with chocolate, you'd want to be on the sweeter end of the

Reports I've heard of kumiss (none firsthand) mentioned it as "somewhat
vile," but that could've been due to a lack of care on the part of the

If you attack this problem, please keep careful notes and send 'em on to
the rest of us. You're not the only curious one.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – or

Subject: Re: am I nuts? (chocolate mead)
From: (Sean Mick)
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 18:30:12 -0700 (PDT)

Diana asked:

>Would it be
>possible to make a rich, creamy, chocolaty mead? For that matter, how
>about an Irish Cream Mead?

One of my customers (I have a brew shop) has made a sweet stout using
Kahlua at bottling time. He added Sorbistat K after fermentation (to retard
further fermentation of the sugars in the liqueur) and then added the
Kahlua. (And force carbonated in a cornelius keg). You could, I suppose,
apply the same procedure to a mead. Just pick the chocolate liqueur of your
choice. Or, better yet, buy an extract like those from Noirot. They offer
flavors like Cocoa, Moka, and Irish Cream. They sell for $4-5 in brew shops
or liquor stores. Have fun!

Sean Mick
Mick's Homebrew Supplies

Subject: Joe Kaufman's post
From: "Dione Wolfe, Dragonweyr, NM" <DKEY@MEDUSA.UNM.EDU>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 23:05:38 -0700 (MST)

I know many of us take the purist's approach to mead making, but I rather like
your attitude, Joe. I have just bottled two batches: an orange cinnamon mead
(three bottles already drunk, hic) and a raspberry cyser made from 5 gallons of
Smith's brand apple juice (from concentrate) and about 24 pounds of a local
blend of raw honey. I have been hitting on the raspberry every time I feed it
more honey and I LIKE the taste. I have six bottles set aside for more or less
immediate drinking and will hopefully be able to age the othersw.

Yes, mead does improve with age. I had a mango mead that was positively
sulfurous until it had aged about 9 months, then it went down very nicely. I
actually have a single bottle of an earlier orange cinnamon mead that is three
years old. I am looking forward to openning it. That batch was ambrosia when
it went into the bottle–so it went very fast, it's amazing one bottle has

Bottom line, IMHO, is to drink it if you and your friends like it, set aside a
bottle or two to age a couple of years and most meads that begin with
unpleasant tastes will improve to drinkable after a couple of years on the
shelf. For example, I have a New Mexico green chile mead that has been in the
bottle about six months. It was way too strong (not too hot, just STRONG) when
it was raw, but has improved significantly in six months. I expect in another
year it will be a great accompniment to a nice aged cheese.

May You Never Thirst (except for truth and wisdom)


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #564, 21 May 1997
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 01:47:33 -0400 (EDT)

In MLD 564 several people addressed questions about over-carbonated mead in
bottles and ways to decarbonate them. There was concern about contaminating
the mead by exposing it to air. I believe, through my own experience and
conversations with other mead & wine makers, that the mead should be
alcoholic and acidic enough to be inhospitible to any infecting organisms.
In addition the positive pressure within the bottles will cause an outflow
of CO2 which should keep any ambient air from getting in. Just use a modest
amount of cleanliness and there should be no problems with infection.
However, exploding bottles are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!
I would highly recommend wrapping yourself in kevlar. Take it from a
competetion organizer who opened a box of exploding bottles. Do not mess
with them!! They can blind you or even kill you. It's not worth it.
Destroy them safely! Saving a batch of mead is not worth losing your sight
Mead making is an art that requires patience. Mead ages just as well in the
carboy as it does in bottles. Let it sit in the carboy until you are certain
fermentation is complete, then bottle. Or better yet bulk age it in a
cornelius keg and bottle it as you need it.

Doris and I are getting married in one month (on the summer solstice). Then
we get to drink mead for a full cycle of the moon! All Right!!!!
Life Is Good!!!
Carl Saxer

Subject: Chocolate (milk) mead
From: Pete Miller <>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 13:37:05 -0700

Diane asks about putting milk in mead to make a genuinely chocolatey

>I was looking at a couple of mead sites today, and one mentioned, in
>passing, the idea of *chocolate* mead. This sounded kinda yummy to me,
>until it occurred to me that while I could imagine cocoa in mead, I'm
>not sure how one would recreate the true flavor of chocolate. I mean,
>you can't put milk or cream in mead…or *could* you?

If you look through or search the early digests (pre #100) you'll find
discussions about something called Kumis, which apparently was originally
a beverage made from fermented mare's milk. Some attempts at creating it
were discussed. I've never approached this kinda thing myself, but an
adventurous type might try putting some cocoa in it (or some strawberry
Quik, but I digress…)

Pete "Moss" Miller

Subject: Cider Mate
From: Matt Crapo <>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 13:24:06 -0700

I just brewed a batch using "Cider Mate." It's a mixture of sweet =
spices and orange & lemon peel for steeping in cider. (Yumm) It has =
(as I remember) cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and star anise. I =
found it at our local food co-op which carries a lot of bulk spices and =
organic foods.

Here's the mixture:
18 lbs. Star Thistle Honey & artesian water to 6 gallons
8 oz. Cider Mate
Yeast energizer per pkg. instructions
2 pkgs. Premier Cuvee (Prise de Mousse)

started this the night before in mixture of 1cup extra light malt =


to 2 cups water.=20

I steeped the spices in 1.5 gallons near-boiling water for half an hour =
in a hop bag, then removed and added the honey & boiled until no more =
scum (only took about 15 minutes). Then added to four gallons cold =
water in 6.5 gallon carboy.

Then My acid test showed .1% (very low), but I decided to leave it =
alone. It didn't taste cloying (oh I guess I should qualify: I like my =
mead sweet). I didn't test the pH, but next time I'm at the brew shop, =
I'm going to get some papers. After recent discussions, I think the =
balance of acid to alkaline is more important than total acid content. =
Also, this stuff actively blew foam out the blow-off tube for over a =
week. I don't think it minded the low acid content. Has settled down =
now and I've placed an air-lock on. =20

I'll let you know how it turns out. Should be a great sip around the =
holidays. In retrospect, I would add more spices than I did, or keep =
them in for the boil/pasteurization of the honey. But this still tastes =
wonderful, even though the flavor of spices is light. The honey is also =
light and delicate – should be a good combination. Definitely use more =
spices if you're using a heavy honey.

Now I want to brew a "cold medicine" mead. Somebody's comment about =
orris root got me to thinking about it. I'd put lots of lemon in it, =
because I know honey & lemon is great when you've got a cold. But what =
else??? Does anybody have a recipe for something like this, or are =
there any herbalists out there that can give me some suggestions? I go =
to a place here in Seattle (Tenzing Momo in the Market) that has =
everything I could ever want – even cubebs and grains of paradise (for =
those of you in the SCA) – so lay it on me. Can we add vitamins and/or =
minerals? Wheat grass? Spirulina?

Grymmas MacDonald
<mka Matt Crapo>

Subject: maybe not *too* nuts...
From: Di and Kirby <>
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 07:25:25 -0500

I happened to find a short discussion of milk in mead in an old digest.
I'm posting what I found, since a couple other folks seem interested.
BTW, someone succested using lactose as an additional sweetener to give
the brew a more "creamy" flavor, which sounds like another viable

<quoted text follows>

> Date: 1 Dec 1992 09:48:30 -0500
> From: "Daniel F McConnell"
> Subject: milk and honey
> Subject: Time:9:45 AM
> OFFICE MEMO milk and honey Date:12/1/92
> Whilst researching a talk on the making of mead for the Third Annual Taste of
> The Great Lakes Regional Homebrew Conference, I came upon a number of
> references to "milk and honey", including Biblical as in "the land of…."
> Anyway, during a sleepless night (due to a 2 month-old daughter) I had an
> inspiration. Were these guys talking about fermenting the stuff??? Sure
> enough the next thing I knew (4AM) I was gently heating a gallon of whole milk
> containing 2.5 lb of honey (no acid this time, I was afraid it would curdle th
> milk). Fermentation proceeded well, except for lots of some cheesy floating
> material. Racking produced a revelation…this stuff tastes like sweetened
> Devon cream! No sour-milk taste at all. Now the questions. What is this? I
> this a Metheglin? Has anyone else tried something similar? Would this be goo
> on Wheaties?
> DanMcC
> ——————————-
> Date: Thu, 3 Dec 92 10:58:55 PST
> From: Jane Beckman
> Subject: milk and honey
> Hmm, kumiss-mead. Sounds like you might be in the process of inventing
> (or possibly re-inventing) something like a kumiss/kefir cross. Let us
> know if it actually ferments out. I'm not sure what the boiling would
> do to it. (The resemblence to Devonshire cream is not accidental. Devon
> cream is made by boiling cream.)
> The folks I know who have made kumiss have always used unscalded milk. For
> those of you who have never had kumiss, imagine alcoholic, slightly
> sparkling, milk, with a slightly nutty taste. Weird as it sounds, the stuff
> is wonderful! If I were actually making a kumiss-mead, I would have boiled
> up the honey mix, then added it to the milk (uncooked milk) and proceeded
> from there. Scalding changes the structure of the milk, so I'm not sure if
> it will incorporate with the mead wort terribly well—probably why there's
> cheesy floating material. I'll BET it would be good on wheaties, though!
> Keep us posted!
> Jilara

I think if I end up with a bunch of time on my hands, I may try it.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #565