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Mead Lover's Digest #0568 Sun 1 June 1997


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



Acid ("Matt Crapo")
Lemon Melomel ("Matt Crapo")
aging (
Rose hip rhodomel/Habanero Capsimel ("Ted Major")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #567 (Charlie Moody)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #567, 28 May 1997 (Daniel S McConnell)
Re: Strawberry Melomel (Marc Shapiro)
Re: praise of older meads (Thaddaeus A Vick)
Aussie bees/honey (Jane Beckman)
old meads (Jane Beckman)
Re: Strawberry mead (Rebecca Sobol)
Re:Australian Honey (Peter Miller)
Re: Aging the Mead (Peter Miller)
Australian Honey (DuG)
Re:Bottling ("John R. Bowen")
Beginners ("Jeff M. Ashley")
Cyser & the Millenia ("Dione Wolfe, Dragonweyr, NM")
stuck ferm (kathy)


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Subject: Acid
From: "Matt Crapo" <>
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 22:43:09 -0700

There were some questions about acid a while back. I don't know how much
this will help, but here's some info I found. I'm quoting directly from
"Making Mead" by Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan [ISBN 0-9619072-8-2, c. Argus
Books Ltd. 1984] published by G. W. Kent, Inc., 3667 Morgan Road, Ann
Arbor, Michigan 48108.


Acids play a big part in fermentation, and, indeed, on the final

flavour of the mead. Where a must is deficient in acid, certain peculiarly
flavoured substances are produced during fermentation and these spoil the
finished mead. It tastes more like cough-mixture than mead! Since honey
and water form a solution with a very low buffer capacity in comparison
with normal wine musts, however, small amounts of acid have a very
significant influence which is much more apparent with meads than with
other wines. Indeed, mead is about the only wine where some correlation
between titratable acidity and pH can be observed and the latter does give
a fairly reliable indication of its acidity and acid taste (provided it be
measured accurately). In consequence, meads require a lower acidity than
other wines and should preferably contain no more than about 2.5 – 3.5
parts per thousand acid (in terms of sulphuric acid standard) with 3.0 ppt
being a good average value. Pure mead musts therefore need only 15 – 20 g
(0.5 – 0.75 oz.) acid per 4.5 l (1 gal.). On the other hand, melomels and
other similar honey drinks (except metheglins) should be treated as normal
wines with respect to acidity.

The type of acid used in mead-making is rather important. Citric acid

has always been the standard additive in mead-making and many mead-makers
like the flavour it imparts. Nevertheless, it is not the best acid to use
if superior meads are sought. The best acid combination is two-thirds
malic acid and one-third tartaric acid (Mead acid mixture).
OK, if my math is right, 3.0 parts per thousand is 0.3%. However, it says
"in terms of sulphuric acid standard." As opposed to tartaric acid? I
recall people signifying tartaric in acid measurements, and I thought my
acid test measured percent acid tartaric, but all it says in the literature
is "tests total acidity" and says to add tartaric acid if it's too low. Is
this different than "sulphuric acid standard"? If so, is there any way to
convert? Do I need to get a different test for sulphuric acid standard?

I've heard it said that yeast like an acidic environment, and not being a
chemist, I have some questions about acidity: Does acidic mean x amount of
total acid, or more acid than alkaline? If a solution has 0.9% acid but
balanced pH, is it considered acidic? Do yeast get whatever they like from
acid regardless of alkalinity? If it needs to be more acidic than
alkaline, what good does it do to test total acidity without testing total
alkalinity? Wouldn't that be just testing the pH? Or do the yeast need
the proper amount of acid AND that it be higher in proportion than
alkalinity? Does anybody REALLY know?

<staring wistfully at four full carboys>

Subject: Lemon Melomel
From: "Matt Crapo" <>
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 23:43:25 -0700

Well, medicinal mead is out. No telling what those yeast critters will do
to the herb, or vice versa. Most medicinal herbs lose effectiveness with
time, and I'm certain most if not all healing properties wouldn't make it
through fermentation. So here's what I decided to do: Make a sweet lemon
melomel (got any sweet lemons?), then for a cold remedy, warm it and steep
medicinal herbs in it. Doesn't the alcohol aid in extraction?

So how much lemon? I want it very lemony – not just lemon flavored mead.
Should I use the peel? Juice? Both? It will be extremely acidic – is
this OK?


P.S. Call me silly, but if I were to make a mead for the millennium, I'd
make it the way they did a thousand years ago. There's a 450-year-old
recipe at but beware – the
person converting the recipe is a recipe expert – not a brewing expert. I
would take your current knowledge, read the old recipe, and use the
conversion as a guideline (I love the bit about exploding bottles). Please
ferment to completion. Anybody got an older recipe?

Subject: aging
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 05:45:30 -0400 (EDT)

In this past MLD, Chris asks:
"any comments? how old was your oldest bottle of mead that still tasted

FWIW, I've been working avidly at mead making for five years.
My first three batches were made with a dark wildflower honey,
champagne yeast, nutrient, and water in 1992-3. The resulting
mead tasted something like dried flowers devoid of sweetness,
and smelled like nine acres of bad vermont soils. I read every
book, posted endless questions to this digest, and on and on,
and you know the rest. I drank it like a tough camper except
for a case, and now it's as unique and distinctive a drink as I
can imagine. FOUR YEARS has proven to make for a very special
mead for me. Many of us have heard of Brother Adam who would
let a clover mead age in bulk for seven years.

At 36 with room and bottles enough to age a lot of mead out, I
figure a strong mead can go up to seven years. As someone else
mentioned, light metheglyns, like my recent peppermint or
lemon-thyme meads, I think might lose some of their balance
after a shorter period of time, but the bottom line for me is
that 12-18 months in the bottle in my cellar seems to bring out
an amazing balance of all the ingrediants.

I guess the real answer is just to make lots of mead and slowly
track each batch over the course of several years!

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont

Subject: Rose hip rhodomel/Habanero Capsimel
From: "Ted Major"<>
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 08:43:07 -0400

As the flowers wither from our rose garden and the habanero plant begins to
grow, I'm thinking of meads for the end of the summer.

I saw an article in _Food & Wine_ about making rose hip-flavored vidka, and
it looked like a wonderful adition to a mead. Has anyone used rose hips to
flavor a mead, and if so, could you share recipes, quantities, and tips?

I recall awhile back there was talk of a habanero mead. Did that ever get
made, and if so, how about an update and suggestions from experience?

Thanks again,
Ted Major
Athens, Georgia

PS–I also vote to keep the ASCII standard to maintain the inclusivity of
the list and avoid a technological double-standard.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #567
From: Charlie Moody <>
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 09:57:37 -0400

regarding millenial meads: with this idea catching on fast (or so it
seems), maybe we can look forward to a show specialising in these aged and
extra-special batches.

Regarding aging meads: my oldest batch is only 15 months old (in bottle for
8), and the transformations in its flavor are just amazing. Same is true
(even more) for the pineapple/cranberry/mango batch (14 months old, and
completely undrinkable once…and now unbelievably fine. I figure, if you
want stand a chance of letting your mead age, never make less than 5
gallons. A one-gallon batch would be gone by the time my friends and I were
done tasting it! I'm so sold on aging, that I'm changing over from 5-gal
carboys to 6.5-gal, just so there'll be a better chance that some will
survive the first month!

Regarding "cold medicine" mead: honey and lemon, absolutely, but don't
forget the GINGER…. Depending on the freshness (and desired strength!) ,
you might want to use as much as a pound of ginger in a 5-gal batch.
Despite the 'yuck' factor (pepper in mead really *doesn't* sound very good),
cayenne would be an excellent addition – just keep the quantity *LOW* (2 oz
or less (fresh weight) in 5 gal): it's the heating, vasodilatory effect
you're after, not the taste! And just as a nod to the Law of Fives, an oz
or so of chinese licorice (not domestic!) could be a good choice.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #567, 28 May 1997
From: (Daniel S McConnell)
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 10:28:14 -0400

>From: Chris Stankaitis <>

>I think a crime worse than dipping into your stocks after 4 months must be
>popping a bottle after XXX number of years and finding that it's gone bad and
>you should have drank the mead a year ago..
>any comments? how old was your oldest bottle of mead that still tasted

They will indeed go off if care was not taken in racking, bottling etc.
Here is a case where a bit of sulfite (at bottling) might be a good and
prudent idea.

I have a single corked 750 mL bottle from a 1978 Traditional (that may wait
for the Millenium) which was stunning at last sampling (IMHO) and a dozen
or so similar bottles of a 1988 Traditional. The 1988 is due for a sample
this weekend and a report to this list. After prattling off for the last
few days, I sure hope this is good! Schramm will be the other sampler to
keep me honest about its condition. It has thrown a fair amount of dusty,
brownish sediment.


>From: (Rod McDonald)

>As far as I know honey from bees in Australia only differs from honey in
>countries by virtue of the nature of the blossom upon which the bees feed.

Agreed. But you and the NZ folks have some really cool honey. I have some
nice honey samples (tasting and snuffing only) from Blue Borage, Tawari,
Manauka, and Rewarewa. I would love to obtain a gallon of these.



>It is nearly June. What's the skinny on the Mazer Cup Mead Competion 1997?
> We've been brewing some goodies and we're chomping into bits with

We're chomping too, but life and associated responsibilities have delayed
this a bit. On the other hand, since it looks as if the Ambrosia will not
occur this year (help me on this one, please) we do not have to be
concerned about conflicting with that competition. We have tried to offset
them by 6 months in the past.

The entries will be accepted in September (up to September 14 actually),
and the competition will be the third and forth weekends of September. I
will post the information here soon.


Subject: Re: Strawberry Melomel
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 11:56:05 -0400

I use 3.5 to 3.75 lbs of strawberries in my melomel and it tastes
great. You certainly did _NOT_ use too much, but if the strawberry
taste comes through, then it wasn't too little, either.

I don't think that the champagne yeast would make it taste horrible, but
it is probably not the right yeast if you want a sweet mead. Champagne
yeast tends to ferment very dry and my Strawberry Melomels ferment right
out very rapidly.

As Darragh Nagle said, I press out the juice and then go stright to a
carboy with an airlock. I try to avaoid open fermentations whenever
possible. You may have picked up an infection with the open
fermentation and daily aeration.

Now I have a few questions: You say that it tastes horrible. That can
mean many things. Did it simply go drier than you like? Is it
vinegary? Does it taste like rotten fruit? Also, what does it look
like? Is it clear, or cloudy? Does it have "floaters" in it? Is it of
proper consistancy, or is it thick or ropey? Enquiring minds want to



"John B. Hinkle" <> wrote:

>I am seeking advice, and suggestions for my Strawberry Melomel.
>I started with 2 1/2 lbs of Strawberrys (this was only a one gallon batch).
>Approx 3 lbs of honey, and used Red Star Champange Yeast. After simmering,
>I let the must stand over night before adding the yeast. I fermented it
>in an open container for a couple of days, airating each day. Then I moved
>it to a closed fermenter. It's been almost 4 months now, and it tastes

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: praise of older meads
From: (Thaddaeus A Vick)
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 15:08:40 -0400

> Third, I have never been known to turn down a glass of mead no matter
what the age,
> ingredients or political or philosophical perspective of the meadmaker.
Good meads
> come from all camps. Good meads are made by hedonists as well as those
that sip slowly
> with their pinkies up. I'm somewhere in the middle, although I admit
that I do tend to
> weave a bit from side to side.

Yeah, drinking mead makes me weave from side to side too. 🙂

Hugh the Barefoot
mka Thaddaeus A. Vick –or–

Subject: Aussie bees/honey
From: (Jane Beckman)
Date: Thu, 29 May 97 14:25:01 PDT

>As far as I know honey from bees in Australia only differs from honey in other
>countries by virtue of the nature of the blossom upon which the bees feed.
>Honey made from Eucalyptus blossoms is rather strong-tasting compared with
>a lot of other blossoms and as a consequence it requires longer maturation.

Uck, uck, uck! I *hate* Eucalyptus honey! It has *weird* off-flavors in
mead. (I got some *real cheap* once, and swore "never again!") I didn't
find the flavors changing a whole lot with aging—it got different, but it
was still weird. We get a lot of eucalyptus honey in California, though
it's only from a few varieties—a different balance of varieties might
make for a more pallatable finish. However, taste is subjective.

But there are some exquite varietal honeys from Australia, including what I
think is acacia, though I've never used them for mead. They are *expensive*
and far too good just by themselves. Now, if I were more flush…

>And I don't know what this black wax business is.

Speaking as a beekeeper, very old wax turns black, at least in the brood
comb. When it gets to be 4 or 5 years old, it's almost ebony black. And
I'm talking about standard honeybees. It could be that these were just
very old bee nests that folks saw.


Subject: old meads
From: (Jane Beckman)
Date: Thu, 29 May 97 14:38:36 PDT

A real key, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is *how sweet is your mead*?
Very dry wines don't age well. Sweeter wines will keep aging and evolving
for decades. EXTREMELY sweet wines, such as Sauternes, will keep aging and
evolving for *centuries.* Meads seem to follow similar rules to *white*
wines, not having to contend with tannins (unless you're making a very
stiff melomel or using oak barrels).

I've had late-harvest whites that have lasted 10-15 years. I've had *very*
sweet commercial meads that have had a similar life. Mead that I considered
only fit for pouring over ice cream turned very pallatable at 8 years of age.
And I've had a bottle of mead, kept for about 15 years (okay, it got forgotten)
go over the edge and start to decay. I opened it, and it tasted very much
like a slightly tart sherry. Which I suppose is okay if you *want* sherry,
but if either my white wines or my mead starts tasting like sherry, I
consider them to have deteriorated to the point they are no longer desirable
wines or meads.


Subject: Re: Strawberry mead
From: sobol@joss.ucar.EDU (Rebecca Sobol)
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 16:28:17 -0600 (MDT)

"John B. Hinkle" <> wrote:
about a 1 gallon batch of strawberry melomel, with 2.5 lbs. strawberries,
3 lbs. honey, and Red Star Champange yeast, and says it's horrible
after 4 months. Then asks: Did I use to much fruit? I don't it's possible
to use too many strawberries. We've put an entire flat into a 5 gallon batch
and sometimes I think it could use more. Of course it all depends on what
you want. Do you want a mead that shouts "STRAWBERRIES", or do you want a
mead that just whispers "strawberry" in a tentative way? John asks if this
is the right yeast for a sweet mead. Possibly not. We use this type of
yeast fairly often. It does have a high alcolhol tolerance so it will
create a drier mead. Is this mead unsalvagable? I'd let it age for a decent
amount of time before making that determination. The more honey in a mead
the longer it takes to age. Our standard batch has 2 lbs. per gallon and I
would never give up on a mead before it's been in the bottle for at least
a year. Yours has more honey, so I'd give it even longer. John says he did
an open ferment and airated each day for a couple of days before going to
a closed fermenter. I don't really know about how that would affect the
mead. We do start some of our meads in a plastic bucket, especially fruity
meads, but we do close the bucket and don't airate after pitching the yeast.
It is possible that some wild yeast with an off flavor got into your mead and
outdid the Red Star, but I'd still let it age for a while before giving up
on it. We have had a batch or two that we've tasted at 4 months and were
not too pleased with, but after another year of aging these are quite good.

Rebecca Sobol * * Boulder, Colorado <– Unicorn Unchained Meadery

Subject: Re:Australian Honey
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Fri, 30 May 97 10:23:38 -0000

>Subject: Australian Honey
>From: (Rod McDonald)
>Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 17:04:50 +1100

>>From: Kate Collins <> Date: Fri, 23 May 1997
>> 13:33:36 +0200
>> Wrote:
>> Or, with regard to honey, use something really unusual – for
>> example honey from Australian bees. They're a strange species
>> and the wax they produce is almost black and (apparently) very
>> different from other beeswax, so I assume the same would apply
>> to the honey.

>And I don't know what this
>wax business is. In fact I don't know anyone who would even think of
>looking for
>native honey, assuming native bees DO make honey.

Yes the "black wax" thing is a bit of a mystery – I've never encountered
it either. I think someone's pulling your leg (oh hang on, maybe that's
where all the Goths get their candles….).

Native bees do indeed make honey, but in very small quantities (they're
very small bees!) and by the time you've filtered out the bees, the dirt
and bits of wood and the ants, you don't get much to spread on a
sandwich, let alone the three pounds or so you'd need for a gallon of
mead! (The aborigines don't traditionally make mead, as far as I know…)
We also have a species of "honey ants" that store a high-sugar liquid in
their abdomens. I imagine that you _could_ make "mead" from them also,
but you'd need a lot of ants!

As Rod says, the bees we have here are European bees and some of their
honey comes from Eucalytus trees, giving it a fairly strong (but _not_ I
might add "Eucalyptus") flavour. The English meadmakers like Duncan &
Acton give dire warnings about making mead from Australian honeys, but
like all matters of taste, it's a matter of taste. I've sampled fine
meads made from Green Mallee, Bimble Box, Grey Box, Acacia, and Wattle
honey all of which are unique and unusual. Rules are made to be broken!

It may disappoint you to know, though, that like the rest of the world
most of the honey consumed here in Aust. is a bland mass produced
commercial blend. And supermarket honey is not for mead making.


Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: Re: Aging the Mead
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Fri, 30 May 97 10:23:35 -0000

>From: Chris Stankaitis <>
>Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 11:53:39 -0400
>Ok, since there is a lot of talk about it right now, I must ask.
>How long CAN you age a Mead for? I've heard people say a couple of
>years atleast, but can it go bad from just sitting on the shelf aging..
>I think a crime worse than dipping into your stocks after 4 months must be
>popping a bottle after XXX number of years and finding that it's gone bad and
>you should have drank the mead a year ago..
>any comments? how old was your oldest bottle of mead that still tasted

My preference is for a minimum of a year in the bottle, and generally two
to three. Despite what many people have said over the last few digests, I
find that it makes a _big_ difference to leave the meads alone for more
than a couple of months. I make mostly dry to very dry meads and mels.

The oldest bottle that I have opened was about eleven years – a very
slightly sweet (Gravity 1.005) Lemongrass Metheglin. It was very fine.
The years in the bottle had done a number of things: the taste had
mellowed considerably – the original lemongrass bouquet and taste had
become a much lighter note in the flavour, with the honey coming forward
a little, making a much better balance than at 2 years and 3 years. The
colour had changed from a straw/pale yellow into a rich golden honey. The
meth had been corked and the bottles transported through several changes
of house with no apparent ill effects. They had always been kept on their
sides. The corks were sound, though a little crumbly.

Opening these bottles renewed my respect for time as an essential
ingredient of meadmaking.


Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: Australian Honey
From: (DuG)
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 22:18:29 +1000

>As far as I know honey from bees in Australia only differs from honey in other
>countries by virtue of the nature of the blossom upon which the bees feed.
>made from Eucalyptus blossoms is rather strong-tasting compared with a lot of
>other blossoms and as a consequence it requires longer maturation. AFAIK the
>bees are the same.

This is true, for example leatherwood honey, this is only produced in
Tasmania (to the best of my knowlage anyway). It is "made" by the bee
hives been taken out into the forests where there are many leatherwood
trees and the bees do their work. Leatherwood honey is a very strong
flavoured honey that would make for a very interesting mead, (any
suggestions for recipes?). But i think Kate wa refering to the native bee.
These are as Rod said not farmed, and there are only a few species that
live in a hive and produce enough honey to harvest. I have never seen the
honey in shops, but i have found nests and their honey is very different,
and i would imagine the taste would depend on what flowers they visited. As
for the black wax, yes it is black.

just my 2c worth.

Oh yeah don't forget about the kolas, everyone has one as a pillow, they
are so soft an cudly, never mind the one inch claws on them….


Subject: Re:Bottling
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 14:42:24 +0000

I have been following these threads on aging mead and have been
wondering about bottling. My local brew shop owner (and a mead maker)
is concerned that crown caps may corrode after a year or two (he
contends that the final pH of mead should be 3.2 for stability and
anti-microbial activity, which my meads are, but that is another
story). He thinks I should use corked wine bottles. I have neither
many wine bottles nor a corker, but I do have many beer bottles and a
capper. I would appreciate hearing the voice of experience here.


Subject: Beginners
From: "Jeff M. Ashley" <>
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 20:36:11 -0400

Whew !

I really got some response from my "Beginners" posting! That's great –
goes to show there are as many strokes as there are folks. It's obvious we
all enjoy our hobby – making and drinking our creations.

Let's keep the information sharing going – and – to the other beginners out
there – don't be afraid to post your questions and comments – Variety is
the spice of life !

Subject: Cyser & the Millenia
From: "Dione Wolfe, Dragonweyr, NM" <DKEY@MEDUSA.UNM.EDU>
Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 20:30:43 -0700 (MST)

First of all, when one celebrates the Millenia is entirely their own business.
The fact is, however, that the year 2000 is the last year of the 20th Century
and 2001 the first of the 21st Century. There was no year "0". The count
starts with "1", 10 is the end of the first decade, 1000 the end of the First
Millenia, etc.

I hear all the hype about 2000 being the beginning of the 21st Century, but it
ain't! My plan is to celebrate the end of the 20th Century December 31, 1999
and the beginning of the 21st Century December 31st, 2000. Therefore I'm
making two batches–one for the end and one for the beginning.

Now for the heresy! I just bottled a raspberry cyser made from five gallons of
Smith's house brand frozen apple juice (Smith's is a supermarket chain) and two
pounds fresh raspberries (frozen to extract the juice) and about 24 pounds of a
local raw honey. I used the Duncan & Acton technique of feeding the must with
1/4 pound per gallon of honey every time the S.G. dropped to 5 until
fermentation stopped. I pasteurized the original 12 lbs of honey with the
raspberries and ran it in the primary with Red Star Cuvee yeast for about two
weeks then racked to the secondary and ran it to completion. I included yeast
nutrients and kept the pH in the 3.8-4.0 range with calcium carbonate. I
cleared it with Solu-Brite (bentonite works, too) and bottled it after
about two months. That particular yeast will tolerate 18-20% alcohol, so it's
rocket fuel and must be taken seriously when drinking.

I drew off sufficient must to make room for the honey additions and drank it
chilled. It started out fair and became fairly good at the end. The cyser is
quite drinkable now, but I've stashed a case to age for at least a year.

Never Thirst,


Subject: stuck ferm
From: kathy <>
Date: Sun, 01 Jun 1997 09:33:07 -0500

I'm sorry but I guess I wasn't paying close enuf attention when the
instructions were given for curing a stuck fermentation. The usual
condition is too acid and I believe the treatment was calcium carbonate
and possibly yeast nutrient.

I added yeast nutrient at pitching and the OG was 1.100. 5 months later
it is at 1.054 with no activity. I checked the PH with my super grade
litmus paper and it was at 4.0 or less as that was the lowest reading.

I added 1/2 t CaCO3 for 4 1/2 g but I think it will probably take more.
I plan to wait 36 hours or so before adding another 1/2t and so forth.

The sample at racking (1.054) was nicely flavored but sweet!

TIA for the assistance to a slow learner. Wassail jim booth of
boo-the-bum meadery. lansing, mi reply at

End of Mead Lover's Digest #568

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