Mead Lover's Digest #0576 Sun 6 July 1997


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



Re: Mead & Religion ?!? (Dan McFeeley)
Re: Acid, pH…Jim Brangan ("John R. Bowen")
Request for a rhubarb melomel recipe (Fred Salter)
Re:Mead & religion ?!? (Peter Miller)
Wyeast sweet mead (PickleMan)
Nutrient source? (PickleMan)
Rhubarb wine color (Andrew E Howard)
Banana's (
sparkaloid (
water (Robert J Skala)
Re: Flavoring mead w/ extracts (Thaddaeus A Vick)
Re: Wyeast Sweet Mead (Dave Polaschek)
mother of vinegar, kombucha (ddawson@MailBox.Syr.Edu)
orange mel ideas (
Gypsum, Nutrient question (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #575, Mead & Religion (David & Christina Martin)
mead and religion (Dick Dunn)
AMA and honey… (Mark Koopman)
rose hips ("Linda or Darin")


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Subject: Re: Mead & Religion ?!?
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 1997 09:54:05 -0500

David Crafts wrote:


>Q2: "Wait a minute. Isn't that what devil worshippers drink before they
>do a human sacrifice?" (Stunned pause on my part, followed by delivery
>of crash course on history of mead)
>I was amused at the whole experience at first, and now I'm kind of
>disturbed. I'd be curious to see if anyone else has run into anything
>similar. Hopefully not. The last thing I need is to have mead become
>the target of some religious group.

Hard to say. Isn't there a Norse myth where two dwarves killed a wise
immortal named Kvasir and made the first batch of homebrewed mead by
mixing his blood with honey? 🙂

If there really is any truth to this, it would likely be a small cult of
some kind in, say, England or Poland at a time when mead was still popular.
Mead would have been used in favor of wine because it was more obtainable.
Actually, mead does seem to have been widely used in religious liturgies.
Dionysus seems to have been a God of Mead before he was a God of Wine.
Honey has long had mythic significance to many cultures in history, so its
fermented product naturally took on a similar significance. I doubt if there
were all that many "devil worshipers" sacrificing people over sips of star
thistle mead, but there have been lots of happy pagans juicing up their Rites
of Spring with mead.

Should any Fundamentalist type groups decide to get their feathers ruffled
over mead, I'd suggest opening a bottle for them and invite them to
partake with the line, "Come up and save me sometime." ;->


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Acid, pH...Jim Brangan
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 13:47:52 +0000

Jim, let me take a shot here on the pH and acidity. This is the voice
of not much experience, so I hope we get some more experienced

IMHO, you don't need to worry about the pH of the must if it is below
6. The yeast doesn't seem to care, and the pH will drop rapidly as
the fermentation produces CO2 and other acids. (Unless you are
treating with campden tablets to "sanitize" your honey. The pH there
is critical, and you will probably need 3.5). If I had to lower the
pH, I would add acid blend first, the use phosphoric acid if that
wasn't sufficient. But I haven't had to yet.

As to the total titrable acidity, I see two questions: How much tta
do you need, and what should be the acid composition? A typical
honey is reported to have glucuronic acid as the main acid, at 0.6%.
This would titrate out as .23% tartaric. I understand that winemakers
shoot for about .5% tta, so you might add about 1.5 tsp acid
blend/gallon. But you are still going to be short of the tartaric,
citric and malic acids that Acton & Duncan think are so important. So
you might also just ignore the contribution of the glucuronic acid and
add about 3 tsp./gal. Your tta will be high, but Acton & Duncan would
approve of your acid composition. They seem to have a preference for
tartaric/citric/malic blends in various combinations rather than just
citric or malic. I don't know.

But another thought: Acton & Duncan have also written a book on
winemaking. It seems to be comprehensive and well-regarded. In their
chapter on acid adjustments of wine must, they state (paraphrasing
from memory) that wines made from musts without adequate total acidity
can finish tasting like cough syrup. This is also almost exactly what
they say in their mead book about meads made with too low total
acidity. Pardon my skepticism, but I wonder whether they are just
extrapolating from wines to meads or whether this is the voice of mead
making experience.

Is any added acid really necessary? There are at least two schools of
thought on this acid addition thing. I wish it didn't take two years
+ to do my own split batch experiments.

Do you feel that you get better meads with added acid? If so, you
might try adding 1.5-3 tsp. acid blend to the must. If it turns out
great, you will be hailed as a brilliant and perceptive meadmaker, and
a pretty good chemist. If you don't see the need for the added acid,
leave it out, and if it turns out great, you will be hailed as a
brilliant meadmaker, a true artist in touch with the essence of honey
and the roots of civilization.

In any event, I think 1) add the acid blend to the must (if you
must?), and 2) don't worry about the initial pH.

I wouldn't check or worry about either during fermentation, but I
would check the final pH. The cautious will want to adjust it to
3.2-3.5 as a preservavative. I would use phosphoric acid over acid
blend for the final adjustment, but either way you will have to stir
and check without aerating. Mine seem to come out about there by
themselves, so I haven't had to adjust yet.

Good luck.


Subject: Request for a rhubarb melomel recipe 
From: Fred Salter <fsalter@Alaska.NET>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 1997 08:46:41 -0800


I've made a few batches of it myself and it's come out pretty decent most
of the time. I generally don't boil the honey but after last time I think I
will. The fellow that gets the honey for me told me that he gathered that
particular batch up on a hill where there were a lot of trees that he
thought there were aphids in. He thinks it was contaminated. Anyway, I got
the stuff started with about 12 1/2 pounds of Ruhbarb and about the same of
honey, added 5 tabs of Camden tablets and let her set for a few days. In
about a week I had the most AWFUL smelling stuff you could imagine. It
smelled like a skunk died in the room. I kept thinking that the smell would
quit but it didn't. After a couple of weeks of this I got to thinking I
might have a bad batch, although it tasted just fine. I called up one of my
old wine making buddies, and he suggested putting some concentrate in it. I
went down and picked up a couple of bottles of Black Cherry at about 10
bucks a bottle, and added it to the mix. Within a week I could hardly smell
the odor. It took a couple of months in the jug till I finally did my
second rack and then eventually to filtering for my final bottling. I did
two batches. One with Mead yeast and one with Champagne yeast. I had to
share with my honey supplier so I thought I'd try both ways. The mead yeast
came out drier so I kept the champagne batch. Both flavors were very
similar. So far I haven't had any bottles explode. I added P. Sorbate and
Camden to it to keep it from popping. I also added some extra sugar just
before bottling the drier mead yeast. For sure I didn't want that to pop! I
haven't tried that method to sweeten up a wine/mead yet, but the book says
it works. I've gotten some real good results with mixing Rhubarb and
strawberry together. Add about 5 pounds of strawberries to your 12 1/2
pounds of rhubarb. I always freeze my fruit before I work with it. The
strawberries, no problem. Just run them thru the blender and cheesecloth
them. The Rhubarb, you freeze in small chunks. The cells then burst and you
get the juices to come out as you put a little warm water in the big
stainless steel pot and bring up the temperature. Just use a potato masher
to bust it down and a cheesecloth if you think you need it. Like I say, I
think I'll be warming up my honey water a bit to kill any foreign yeast etc.


Version: 2.6.2



Subject: Re:Mead & religion ?!?
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 97 11:18:58 -0000

>From: David Crafts <>
>Date: Mon, 23 Jun 97 20:48:30 -0000

>Leave the bottles out
>on the porch for the route driver(s) to pick up when they come by to drop
>off the water. OK, fine. I'm actually at home when the drop-off/pick-up
>happens, so I end up fielding some questions about the mead.

>Q2: "Wait a minute. Isn't that what devil worshippers drink before they
>do a human sacrifice?"

I dunno about you folks, but I always have a plentiful supply of mead on
hand when whipping myself up into a naked frenzy for the Horned One.

I guess the meme involved would probably be that of pre-Christian (pagan)
European religions drinking meads before (grape) wines were widely spread
by the Romans. More logically though, one should probably associate
_wine_ with the current perception of the devil since Dionysius and Pan
are usually depicted as horned half-humans and are popularly thought to
be the precursors of the common Christian images of Satan. Perversely,
wine is associated instead with the Eucharist. What a crazy world…


Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: Wyeast sweet mead
From: PickleMan <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 11:56:42 -0700 (PDT)


I been reading about Wyeast sweet mead yeast recently and it

seemed to be just what the doctor ordered so I made a starter today.
However, I just found a msg from Dick Dunn saying that he found it slow to
ferment. Others have seconded that opinion(3 people in HBD) and one has
said the converse. I plan to make a traditional mead that includes
Diammonium phosphate and acid blend. Anyone have any advice for special
care of this beast?


Subject: Nutrient source?
From: PickleMan <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 12:00:14 -0700 (PDT)


I'm confused about nutrients. Is yeast energizer a nutrient? I'm

familar w/ Diammonium phosphate and yeast extract(which is yeast cell
walls, right?), but not sure where energizer comes into play. Thanks


Subject: Rhubarb wine color
From: (Andrew E Howard)
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 18:24:10 EDT

This isn't strictly a mead question, but I thought no one would mind if I
posted it here. I made a 1-gallon batch of rhubarb wine today (3 lb.
rhubarb, 2.5 lb. sugar), tested and added acid, added grape tannin and
yeast nutrient. The must at this point was a sort of dirty pink color.
But when I added a crushed Campden tablet, the pink color seemed to
disappear, leaving me with what looked like dirty dish water.

Has anyone had any similar experiences? What causes such a change in
color? Is it really the Campden tablet, or something else?

Any help would be appreciated!


Subject: Banana's
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 21:31:09 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 97-06-29 00:59:05 EDT, you write:

> 3 lb banana
> 8oz Johanisberg Resling Grape concentrate
> 1 oz ginger
> 5 oz clove
> 7 pt water
> 2.5 lb honey
> 2.5 tsp acid blend
> 5 tsp tannin
> 5 tsp yeast enegizer
> Red Star Cote De Balnchs Yeast
> Slice bananas skins and all ( Don't let anyone give you that "banana
> skins have a psychoactive chemical in them" stuff, it just does not
> apply here), place everything in a press bag and tie it. in 1.5 qrts
> water boil them for 30 min. Remove pulp. Put honey into fermenter and
> pour hot liquer over it. Add remaning water (cool) Pitch. Age at lease a
> year. This stuff is VERY harsh young. Reducing the tannin and cloves
> should help that. After a year it starts to mellow and have nice
> spicyness to it with and good but not overpowering banana flavor and
> golden color.
> I hope someone tries it. Let me know how it goes.
I think I am the person you are talking about. Thanks for the recipe. I am
about to try two 1 gal batches one using skins and all (just like your recipe
with out the grape concentrate and spices) and one with no skins and no
boiling. I cant wait to find out which one takes longest to clear and whether
there is a problem with pectin! I will report my results to everyone.

Subject: sparkaloid
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 10:33:49 -0700

Someone two MDLs back asked about Sparkaloid. I must once again expound
on the wondrous virtues of this miraculous fining agent. I just recently
had a hop/ginger mead that I let cellar for 4 months in the carboy that
did not even start to become clear. Three days with Sparkaloid and it
was as clear as a bell. If anyone wants my tip and trick article again
let me know.

Subject: water
From: (Robert J Skala)
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 21:03:51 -0500

I am making my first mead this weekend after several years of brewing beer.
I have one question.When making beer, I boil the water for a half hour to get
rid of the chlorine. Do I need to do this when making mead?


Rob Skala

Subject: Re: Flavoring mead w/ extracts
From: (Thaddaeus A Vick)
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 01:21:39 -0400

Has anyone had any experience with using regular alcohol-based

and extracts as a shortcut for flavoring mead? How much would you think
be an appropriate amount?

Hugh the Barefoot
mka Thaddaeus A. Vick –or–

Subject: Re: Wyeast Sweet Mead
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 97 12:53:56 -0500

>I've got #12 of blackberry honey with 2 1/2 gallons of water. OG was
>about 1.100 and after three weeks, the Wyeast Sweet mead was able to
>ferment this baby all the way down to 1.070. I'm bottling it tonight,
>just kidding. But seriously, I've used this yeast twice and it has
>sucked twice. Have others had problems with it? Does it need some extra
>attention, like lots of aeration or nutrient? I think I'll stay with
>1056 American ale for sweet meads. It kinda slow to drop out but does
>finish a wisker lower than 1.070, like 1.015

I've never had great luck with the Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast, either. I
almost invariably substitute either a lager or ale yeast in place of it
and get good results that way. Another yeast to try is Wyeast 3068, which
is their Weihenstephan Wheat Yeast. It's similar in that you end up with
fruity and phenolic overtones, and it's got an even lower tolerance to
alcohol. The Weihenstephan is a very slow worker, though. Another
possibility that will also have a similar fruity/estery/phenolic profile
is a british ale yeast. I've used Edme Ale Yeast with good results in
meads, and also the Wyeast London Ale.

A very good resource for comparing various strains of yeast is the
Zymurgy Summer 1994 issue. The "Become Saccharomyces Savvy" column is
followed by a good table of available yeast strains, with some short
notes on characteristics of each. There is also a shorter summary of
yeasts in the Special 1989 issue of Zymurgy.

In short, yeast are one more variable to play with, and playing with all
the variables to make good mead is the goal. Feel free to experiment and
make notes of what you tried so when you come up with a real winner,
you've at least got a chance of reproducing it.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – or

Subject: mother of vinegar, kombucha
From: ddawson@MailBox.Syr.Edu
Date: Thu, 03 Jul 1997 00:43:35 -0400


> It sounds as though you have the early stages of a "vinegar mother"
> which my Grandma always kept going in a vat in the basement. Hers
> was a venerable creature about the size of a frisbee. If it were
> allowed to develop more, you'd be able to feed the bottle with
> juice and generate vinegar. Anyone know the natural history and
> health implications of this crittur?
> Leslie


> Subject: vinegar
> From: Joyce Miller <>
> Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 17:22:45 -0400 (EDT)
> Is it round and soft looking? If so, it's probably a mold such as
> _Aspergillus_. If it's long and thin or particulate then it's
> probably _Acetobacter_ which is the microbe that produces vinegar.
> It's also called "mother of vinegar". You could use it as a starter
> for making homemade vinegar. To do so put it into a large-mouth
> glass or earthenware crock and start adding leftover wine. Just keep
> it away far away from any mead-making stuff!

These descriptions suggest kombu / kombucha. There's a light tan
color floating organism, likely a fungus. It is apparently a vehicle
for several fermentation organisms. Standard procedure is to brew a
sweetened tea mix, float the kombu on it, store it at room temp for
5-10 days. It produces a tonic with a strong vinegar flavor and
smell and some obvious other elements. It also reproduces by
producing a 'baby' of similar configuration on its top surface.

The tonic has the usual multifarious health benefits. I've noted
some improvement in gastric function from drinking it.

The vinegar / acetic acid production satisfies the presence of

An instructive caution: do not wash the 'mother' in tap water!
Chlorination apparently kills all useful occupants of the large
kombu. The kombu reproduces just fine but the tea is sweeter than
normal, has no vinegar content and tastes somehow unhealthy. The
resident occupant microorganisms apparently die although mutha

Perhaps mother of vinegar is a similar collection of organisms.

I note that the kombucha tonic has dark brown stringy floating
material in it; I filter this out on harvest. It regrows in the
tonic under refrigeration; I usually refilter in a few days.

I also note a clear / colorless gelatinous mass that appears when
pouring a glass of the tonic on occasion. I filter when I see this;
it's kinda unpleasant looking.

Dick (unreliable) (temporarily reliable)

Subject: orange mel ideas
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 1997 15:30:32 -0400 (EDT)

Here's a recipe and a question:

I recently did an orange melomel that turned out nicely-

for two-and-a-half gallons:

5# clover honey
1# tupelo honey
juice from one orange
zest (no pith) from 2/3 orange
1/3 teaspoon nutmeg

gypsum, nutrient, energizer, etc.

Red Star Flor Sherry yeast

It's really easy to make, and finished nicely. I am a stickler
about aging, but after only three months in the bottle it's
getting nice.

For my next batch, I would like to do the same thing, but
increase the honey. So, for five gallons I think I'll double
the orange and nutmeg and use a gallon of clover honey.

My question is that on top of the gallon of Clover, I would
like to use a light varietal honey to go along with these
ingredients. Any ideas? The tupelo worked nicely, but I'd like
to try something else…

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont

Subject: Gypsum, Nutrient question
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 1997 16:46:58 -0400 (EDT)


I make most of my batches of mead using 12-15# of honey and
fruit, herbs, etc. with wine yeasts.

I understand that depending on what one uses with meads will
determine the amount of nutrient and gypsum that will benefit
the must. However,
I routinely add at least a tablespoon of each to any batch I
make for
good measure. As the fermentation begins to slow, I often add
an additional tablespoon of each to pep up the slowing

My question is in an average mead of light flavor, at what
point will I add too much and be able to taste it? In other
words, how much is too much? My goal is to keep the yeasts
happy so they'll finish faster without
overdoing it. Anyone found that fine line? any examples?

Thanks in Advance!

David Prescott, Shaftsbury, Vermont

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #575, Mead & Religion
From: (David & Christina Martin)
Date: Fri, 04 Jul 1997 03:31:07 GMT

Hi There

I may be able to shed some light on your question regarding mead &

>Q2: "Wait a minute. Isn't that what devil worshippers drink before they
>do a human sacrifice?" (Stunned pause on my part, followed by delivery
>of crash course on history of mead)
>I was amused at the whole experience at first, and now I'm kind of
>disturbed. I'd be curious to see if anyone else has run into anything
>similar. Hopefully not. The last thing I need is to have mead become
>the target of some religious group.

Mead does have religious connotations. Fermented beverages have always
been used in religious ceremonies from the dawn of brewing. The 'buzz'
imparted by the alcohol was thought to bring one to a state where
communication with the gods was easier (in the same way that many
religions used psychoactive drugs like mushrooms). In areas where wine
was made, wine was the preferred drink of choice. In other areas where
mead or beer was the preferred drink, this was used in ceremonies.
Wine is still used today by many 'mainstream' religions while mead has
declined and been almost forgotten as a religious accessory. It is
still used today by many pagans (myself included) as it is seen as a
more 'traditional' drink than modern wines (although home brew is
another matter ;-). I personally use whatever takes my fancy at the
time, mead,beer,wine,whatever.=20
The comment about satanists probably comes from the misconception that
all pagans are satanists.

Hope this helps

Blessed Be

Airgead Studio
MS Access Application Development
DNRC: Director General of the Smacking Your Head Against=20
The Monitor In Frustration Institute

Ineffibles Effed
Inscrutables Scruted

Subject: mead and religion
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 3 Jul 97 23:28:38 MDT (Thu)

Regarding the odd question about mead being connected to bizarre cults:
I don't know of any such particular connections (although I confess to not
exactly being a diligent student of satanism:-), and more to the point,
mead has been an element of mainstream culture where it has been made.
The association of mead with the bee has generally kept the connotations
and mythology on the light rather than dark side–by being associated with
bees, honey is connected to sun, light, flowers, out-of-doors, and (via the
significance of pollination) to fruits, vegetables, and harvest. Try as I
may, I can neither find nor invent a "dark" connection with mead.

Another interesting (though perhaps only conjectural; I can't evaluate the
validity) connection to "mainstream" religion is the observation that mead-
making supposedly declined in Europe after the Reformation because the move
away from Roman Catholic liturgy required far fewer candles for the more
modest Protestant services. As this story has it, bee-keeping was important
because of the need for beeswax for candles; it produced enough honey that
it was practical to use the honey for a low-alcohol beverage. Leave this
as an open question among meadmakers, but it is an interesting response to
someone asking about dark-cult connections to mead, to point out that it
may have been directly connected to Christian religion in Europe during the
middle ages and later.

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…Boulder was.

Subject: AMA and honey...
From: Mark Koopman <>
Date: Fri, 04 Jul 1997 17:25:46 -0500

Greetings all,

I posted a month, or so, ago asking if anybody out there knows what's up
with the AMA? If there were any responses, I managed to miss them. I
joined only a few months ago, mostly because the mail order honey is (or
was) quite good.

The 800 Go honey phone number seems to be dead. Can anyone tell us what
the deal is. I know there was at least one MLD reader who seemed to be
in the know. If you are out there, PLEASE respond.

I've found good mail order orange blossom and wildflower honey from
Peterson's, but would like to be able to order other bulk varietal honey
by mail. Could anyone post or e-mail me sources for raspberry and


Mark Koopman

Subject: rose hips
From: "Linda or Darin" <>
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 1997 11:22:57 -0700

A while back, somebody was asking about rose hips. It got me to wondering,
mostly because my hedge looks like it will give me a few pounds this year,
and I found this site:

Check it out if the topic intrests you.

Darin Trueblood

End of Mead Lover's Digest #576