Mead Lover's Digest #0592 Mon 8 September 1997


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



gentle reminders (Mead Lover's Digest)
Re: Preservatives, retardants, etc…. (Peter Miller)
RE:Apple Cider and E. coli ("John R. Bowen")
Preservatives, again ("John R. Bowen")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #591, 3 September 1997 (Charles Hudak)
change of subject/anise mead (Leonard Meuse)
preservatives (Rod McDonald)
more on yeast ("Linda or Darin")
M. de Salas on WYeast sweet mead yeast (Mark Koopman)
sweet mead yeast (PickleMan)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #590, 2 September 1997 (Matt Maples)
Re:bottle sizes (Matt Maples)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest (
Uncooperative mead ("Robert Alley")
gradual feeding of the fermentation (Olson)
Sorry but it's a cider question (David Johnson)
sulfites question ("Linda or Darin")


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Subject: gentle reminders
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 3 Sep 97 11:24:35 MDT (Wed)

A couple of suggestions to avoid getting a plethora of responses to one
question like the "bottle sizes" item in the last digest:

* If you're asking a reference question like this (something that calls
for just data, not experience or opinion), it's a good idea to say
"please email; I'll summarize" rather than "please post". With close
to a thousand subscribers to MLD, it's nearly certain there will be
multiple responses. Also, you'll likely get your answer(s) sooner
since they'll come directly instead of waiting for the next issue of
the digest.
* If you're answering a reference question, consider sending the answer
via email, especially if you've got an incomplete answer or you're not
sure of your answer.

I don't mean to imply any serious criticism of the bottle-size question or
answers, as they only generated a brief flurry. I'm more intending to use
them to illustrate the reason for what I'm suggesting above and how it can
help the digest.

When we come across reference questions, they're always candidates for
inclusion in the MLD FAQ–let me know if this seems to be the case. (I'm
not sure whether bottle size names should go in, although it has come up
more than once in the past.)

Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder County, Colorado USA

Subject: Re: Preservatives, retardants, etc....
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 97 11:23:37 +1000

>From: Charlie Moody <>
>Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 10:48:27 -0400

>I mention all this as
>prelude to my first main point – if someone can't produce mead without
>extraordinary preservation methods, how can they *feed* themselves???

Reiterating my last comments about sulphite as a preservative, it can
hardly be considered an "extraordinary" preservation method. In fact even
by by the most back-to-basics culinary yardstick it would have to be
judged as commonplace. The ancient Romans used sulphur in their wines.
The ancient Egyptians almost certainly did. French winemakers have been
doing it for centuries.

Seems to me that some folks are equating "sulphite" with artificial
made-in-a-testube polymer-coated fluoro-coloured chemicals and when in
fact sulphur is a naturally occurring, easily obtainable mineral, with
preservation properties that are well known and understood. The
metabisulphate commonly used in brewing is just an easily soluble form of

Now I'm not advocating the willy-nilly dumping of handfuls of
metabisulphate into your meads. In fact I use it only occasionally
myself. I'm not even suggesting that you _need_ it, especially if your
ales or meads disappear fairly quickly. But it does have its uses,
particularly as a quick and efficient sterilizing agent for your brewing
equipment. Used in this capacity, only very very tiny amounts will end up
in your final product.

>I've yet to hear a
>compelling, or even thought-provoking, reason for sulfiting, etc. It all
>seems to me to boil down to fear.

Not so. I will give you one compelling (or at least thought-provoking)
reason for using sulphur: barrel aging. Now this might not apply to you,
if you use glass or plastic for your meads, but if you _do_ decide to try
and age your vintage best in oak, I think you should be prepared to pour
it all down the drain after a few years in an unsulphited oak cask.

>It strikes me as the same motivation
>behind stuffing beef cattle full of antibiotics: we worry that something
>*might* happen so let's take extraordinary pre-emptive measures

I think it would equate better with salting the beef…

>It's not my intent to belittle the concerns and efforts of others; however,
>modern history is filled with examples of technological fixes gone awry. My
>bottom line is I'd rather put my faith in my own skills, my own patience,
>and in the nature of the process itself, than in any easy techno-magick.

… and cheers to those sentiments.



Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: RE:Apple Cider and E. coli
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 1997 11:31:56 +0000

Yes, let us hope we don't start a "botulism" thread. I am no expert,
nor do I play one on the MLD, but I have heard two relevant things
from those who profess to be:

The E. coli in question is a new strain with an appended number
designation that I cannot recall. It is not your garden-variety E.
coli. It seems to have developed the ability to embed itself in the
tissue of your digestive system and make nasty toxins from a sheltered
environment. It is not to be trifled with.

However, I have heard that it has been reported but not officially
published (how's that for a CYA?) by scientists within the Center for
Disease Control that brewing kills this particular organism, so that
it should not survive mead making.

So its up to you.


Subject: Preservatives, again
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 1997 11:55:56 +0000

Yes, this discussion of bisultfites and preservaties and well (or not
so) made mead is fairly interesting. But now I am open to

I have a red currant melomel that is fairly light (og about 1.07) and
fairly dry (fg aroung 0.095). I want to bottle it as a medium sweet,
sparkling mel.

I know I may add lactose to sweeten, but I haven't tried that and I
have heard that it doesn't sweeten very much.

So if I don't use lactose, and I don't counter-pressure bottle or
otherwise artificially carbonate, how can I sweeten, carbonate and
bottle without 1. using a stabilizer or 2. making glass grenades?

For that matter, if I do use a stabilizer, how can I do it?



Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #591, 3 September 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 1997 13:11:48 -0700

In MLD #591 Miguel writes:
>If you boil the fruit, you set the pectin. It DOES boil down to that, and if
>you don't want to use pectic enzyme or have a cloudy mead, you will want to

Wrong. I get brilliant melomels and I've not sulfited a one. Rather, I
pastuerize the fruit by pooring hot must over the fruit and letting it sit
at ~170F for 30 minutes. Pop in a wort chiller and chill down to
fermenting temp and your all set. Remember, heat kills too.

>Do you realise that SO2 has been used for approximately 2,500 years, having
>been used by Greeks and Romans, throughout the middle ages, renaissance,
>It is neither an extraordinary chemical procedure, nor a technological fix,
>nor techno magic, but a standard additive to wine almost since wine has
>This aversion to preservatives seems to be funded on the ignorance that
>alcohol, sugar and acid are all preservatives. None of them are going to be
>bad for you. (Except perhaps alcohol).

My knowledge of Roman chemistry is lacking but I don't think that Romans
used sodium or potassium metabisulfite. It's true that they had a
knowledge of sulfur and might have used burning sulfur to sanitize barrels
and the like (burning sulfer gives off SO2). I don't think that they
actually put it in their wine. In fact, until only recently, brewers and
vintners didn't even know how the transformation from grape juice to wine
took place. They certainly didn't know it was yeast. Wine used to be made
by crushing the grapes and letting the natural yeasts on the skins ferment
the wine. Although they didn't know why this worked, it did. This
traditional method is still practiced throughout Europe, although the fear
which many have demonstrated is starting to turn the tide towards chemical
treatment. Sulfiting has gained popularity as wineries have moved away
from the practice of growing their own grapes (which would ensure that the
flora are consistent for a particular vinters wares) and have started
buying them from all over. The only way to get consistent wines this way
is to pitch a master culture. In fact the only way to get consistent wines
at all is to pitch a master culture. Research has shown that in years of
extreme weather, especially wet weather, the indiginous microflora change
and may not be conducive to quality wines due to the presence of high
amounts of oxidative yeasts. In any event, sulfiting of musts is a
relatively recent phenomenon.

Also, sugar is not a preservative. This is absurd. ANY slightly dilute
sugar solution will be a playground for any number of wild yeast, molds and
bacteria. Honey is a miracle of nature in that it has just enough water to
be *liquid* yet not enough to support microbial growth; about 15% water. It
is essentially a super-saturated sugar solution (which is why it will
crystalize after time) to prevent fermentation in the hive. Dilute this by
a factor of 25-50% with water and you will have an optimum growth medium.
Any preservative effect it has in superconcentrated solutions is surely due
to the huge osmotic pressure it exerts on unicellular organisms which
bursts their cell walls. I hardly think that you'll ever have enough sugar
in any finished drink you make to utilize this, unless you don't ferment
your mead but just add everclear to raw honey. In that case, is it the
honey (sugar) or the alcohol?

>Modern history is also filled with people who have DIED directly or
>indirectly by the effects of alcohol consumption. Do you find that a
>deterrent? I don't.

I object to using sulfites for the same reason I object to mass pesticide
use. We have the knowledge to utilize alternative procedures and get the
same result. Do you spray pesticides all over the vegatables in your
garden knowing that you're going to eat them? I don't. I try to use
alternative methods. Besides, many people are allergic to sulfites (which
is one reason wine bottles HAVE to be labeled if they contain them)

What we're talking about here is acceptable risk. People complain about ppb
(parts per billion) of pesicides in their food (levels that would take
20-30 years to cause cancer, if they even did) but will hop in their car
and drive 80mph without a seatbelt. They have control over one risk factor
they don't over the other. People like to have control over their risk
factors. Hey, if you want to use sulfites in your mead, great. I don't.
I know the risks and I don't see the need to expose myself (haha). Let
others make an informed decision, knowing that there is an
alternative…you don't HAVE to use them.

Nuff said.

Charles Hudak

Subject: change of subject/anise mead
From: Leonard Meuse <>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 1997 14:08:29 -0700 (PDT)

I really want to try an anise and/or fennel and/or brewers licorice mead.
Does anyone have any helpful experiences with licorice flavor? I've really
enjoyed the porters that I've made with Licorice, but I think fresh anise
heart would do better for a mead.
I'm planning on using all buckwheat, ar at least a 50/50 mix with a
lighter honey, Ive got 2 gallons of blackberry honey on hand. The reason
for this is to give the anise or whatever a good complex blend of flavors
to back it up/highlight it.
I plan on adding honey until the yeast poops out and then adding more,
wanna sweeter, still final.

Len Meuse

ps im gonna use a liquid sweet mead (after larger starter) from wyeast

Subject: preservatives
From: (Rod McDonald)
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 10:28:54 +1000

Subject: SO2 and other preservatives
From: Miguel de Salas <>

This aversion to preservatives seems to be funded on the ignorance that
alcohol, sugar and acid are all preservatives. None of them are going to be
bad for you. (Except perhaps alcohol).


Alcohol is alcohol, sugar is sugar, and acid is acid – they are all part of
the process and aren't there for preserving purposes. Sulphites are there
for preserving (sanitizing if you prefer it that way), and in some cases of
dessert wines (no pun intended) they add to the flavour profile, clarity

Your aversion to aversions to preservatives seems to be funded on ignorance
of very real physiological affects of certain chemicals on both the human
body and the ecology, especially if there is an allergic reaction in the
human body. And allergic reactions to sulphur are comonly a result of long
term environmental exposure to 'safe levels' of sulphurous wastes from
industrial processes.

Couple that with the fact that there has been no perceivable impact on the
meads and wines I have been making for the last ten years through non-use
of sulphur in its various forms, and you have a position that says: if you
take care why would you add *any* substances that you don't need to?

And if you are really paranoid, you should actually be autoclaving
(pressure-cooking) your ingredients – boiling doesn't kill everything!

In cider making sulphites will kill the bacteria necessary for malo-lactic
fermentation, so you are actually going to bugger up the process if you
sanitize freshly pressed apple juice.

Oh, and BTW, Peter Miller, I do have Ben Turner's book, but the answers to
bottle sizes are already in. It's probably about time I gave the book back!
There you go – an incentive for a visit!


Subject: more on yeast
From: "Linda or Darin" <>
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 04:53:48 -0700

A couple more data points for you:

First, I LOVE Lalvin D47 for anything I brew that has any kind of fruit or
fruit juice in it. I did not have much success using it for straight mead,
as it seemed (to me) to lack the nutrients it needed. If, however, I add
some apple juice, or something like that, it goes great guns. Might I
point out that we spend $100+ a month just to keep the house (where we
ferment) down to 80 deg F during the summer. I have not noticed the
additional flavors that Dick D mentioned, but then I am not that
experienced when it comes to meads that I haven't made.

Second, with regard to Vierka Mead yeast, Linda has this summers batch of
lavendar perking right now. She puts the flowers in the secondary, so it
is basically a traditional right now. It started with an OG of 1.17 (!!!),
and has been going for about three weeks now. She used 1/2 of the package
to make a starter. I'm curious to see where these beasties conk out. A
former brew shop know-it-all once told me that some dry yeasts suffer from
hit-or-miss quality control, and that could explain the different results
that Olin Schultz obtained with this yeast. It could also be that Olin
failed to dance naked around the fermenter three times, singing "grow,
grow, grow," which is a vital step best not omitted 😉

One more thing. I use a new starter every batch (though I'm learning from
the list, and plan on pitching onto the dregs in the future) but I seldom
use a whole package of dry yeast at a time. I usually get 2 or 3 starters
from a package. How's that for chinsey? I used to use whole packages, but
failure to start was never a problem, so I kept backing off on the quantity
of yeast, and spending more time building a lively starter. Works fine.

Q: What's the differance betwixt Ignorance and Apathy?

A: I don't know and I don't care.

Darin Trueblood

Subject: M. de Salas on WYeast sweet mead yeast
From: Mark Koopman <>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 1997 07:13:07 -0500

Miguel de Salas wrote:

"I get the impression (correct me if I'm wrong) that it is called a
sweet mead yeast because it can't cope with a lot of alcohol, and thus
leaves some residual fermentation. So if one starts the fermentation
with the amount of honey one would use for a sweet mead made with a
tolerant yeast, the sweet mead yeast is going to poop out and leave an
excessively high final gravity, because it will only ferment to about
10-11 per cent alcohol, which is all it can cope with."

Yes, I've tried it on quite a few batches. My wife really likes it the
best of all my efforts, so far. We don't really "need" 18-20 percent
alcohol. As I posted a month, or so ago, the only real problem I've had
with this yeast is inconsistancy of tolerance. This is easily overcome,
if inconvenient, by using the gradual addition of honey method. Simply
start with about 2 pounds of honey per gallon, and add honey gradually
to taste. Also, like many other yeasts, sufficient nutrients and a pH
above 3.6 help a lot. I've had no trouble making and pitching starters
from this yeast.

The best aspect of this yeast, IMO, is that every batch I've made
(varying from lightly sweet to desert wine sweetness) has been
unquestionably drinkable at bottling. It ages well and adds some
character up to two years (caution here, I'm still a novice), but aging
is not required.

Mark Koopman

Subject: sweet mead yeast
From: PickleMan <>
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 07:10:33 -0700 (PDT)


You're right that wyeast sweet mead yeast should have a low

alcohol tolerance. Somebody told me it was about 9.5%. I ended up with
S.G. of 1.112 and figured that it would ferment down to near 1.030 since
the people at wyeast said it would ferment about 75% of the available
sugar. Thats quite sweet, but thats what I wanted. I plan to make the
same mead again with a couple pounds less honey. If it should come out a
bit dry I will blend it with the mead that ended at 1.048. I guess the
lesson with this yeast is to start out on the light side because you can
always add more honey.


Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #590, 2 September 1997
From: Matt Maples <>
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 09:33:29 -0700

> Subject: Fruit in Braggot, ageing
> From: Nathan Moore <moorent@bechtel.Colorado.EDU>
> Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 12:24:47 -0600 (MDT)
> I have 5 gallons of a very strong braggot that has been in the
> carboy for three months. The recipe was 8lbs pale extract, 8lbs citrus
> honey, 1/4 lb Belgian chocolate malt, and 1/4 lb 120L crystal. I also have
> a hell of a lot of blueberries in the freezer. So has anyone tried adding
> fruit to a braggot?(Mel-got?). Were the flavors complimentary? I'm
> having trouble picturing this one in my head so any advise would be
> appreciated.

I tried raspberry and I didn't like it much. That's not to say other
fruit wont work but I thought the braggot was better without the

Subject: Re:bottle sizes
From: Matt Maples <>
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 10:07:04 -0700

Just a quick note to say thanks to all of you who answered my post.
There were a few discrepancies between the posts but considering the
historical nature of the topic it's not all that surprising (or
important). I hope everyone knows what a great group of people we have
here at MLD. Thanks again.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 19:11:49 -0400 (EDT)

As a newbie to this forum and to mead making (I have only made and drank one
1 gallon batch of Metheglyn, have a 6 gallon batch bottled and waiting) I was
wondering about something I read in a recent sales letter from my local
supply shop about using what they call a "Party Pig" instead of individual
bottles, it seems to be designed for beer, but could it be used for mead?
That's all,

Subject: Uncooperative mead
From: "Robert Alley" <>
Date: Sat, 6 Sep 1997 09:04:57 -0400

I've been brewing just about everything with good results (usually) for a
few years now and have not had a problem quite like this before. This is
also the first mead I've brewed here in the US. I'm in the military and
have been in England for over six years.

This problem is worse than stuck!

I sterilized everything before I started.

I boiled 24 pounds of honey (20 of standard Sue Bee stuff and 4 of the Sue
Bee Wild viriety) in two batches (only have a 20 quart pot). This almost
filled the plastic 5 gallon carboy to the top (probably between 6 and 7
gallons). I added 3 tsp Tartaric Acid and one each of Malic and Citric
acid (all dry brands from English companies that I've never used before).
Started to cool it down by setting it in the bath tub with fairly cold
water (as cold as you can get from the pipes in Florida). At about 80
degrees the specific gravity was 1300 even. Started the yeast with one
tablespoon of CWE brand Formula 67+ (high alcohol tollerant all purpose
wine yeast) about 4 oz of tepid water, 1 tsp white sugar and one tsp
nutrient (also an untried new brand). I let this set overnight and pitched
the yeast the next morning.

Two days later and no action from the air lock I removed the top. There
was a few green globs floating in it!

I skimmed what I could off, washed and sterilized another plastic demijohn
and siphoned the must from one to the other filtering it through two layers
of cotton cloth. Next, I started a new batch of yeast like before, took
out a pint of must and disolved 12 tsp of nutrient into it on the stove and
pitched the must back in the demijohn.

Next evening, opened the demijohn and noticed a small but fervent bubbling
comming up to the top, pitched the new yeast and everything immediately
began to errupt! It was a good thing the demijohn was still in the
bathtub. The must began to bubble and push its way out of the demijohn
like Mt St. Helen. This went on for a short while and I just let it pour
out. I scooped some of the foam off before putting the top back on. Its
now more than 24 hours and there is no appreciable action from the air

Is there any way to save it? I've tried what I know, as I said I've done
beers, ales, mead, metheglans, and memomels. I've even done cordials from
scratch and never had something get this infected or stopped where I
couldn't get it started again.

Thanks in advance for any help,
my email address for direct contact is

Subject: gradual feeding of the fermentation
From: Olson <>
Date: Sat, 6 Sep 1997 08:57:59 -0600

There has been some discussion about why one would add honey
gradually rather than all at once at the begining:

> > >I've only recently heard of this gradual honey addition stuff.

> > Adding honey gradually is really just a way to get your final alcohol
> > content up as high as possible with the yeast you are using.

> Not really. If you use a highly-attenuative yeast, like I do, this is a
> good way to gain max-alcohol; however, it is the simplest and most
> straightforward way I've found to ensure complete fermentation AND exercise
> fine control over the final sweetness.

The main reason that I add honey in stages is that I have a healthier
fermentation if the initial honey content puts the specific gravity
in the range of 1.070 to 1.090. My experience is that the yeast
initially ferments faster and cleaner at these gravities. I don't
add more honey until the fermentation slows down and the gravity is
below 1.020. Sometimes it gets below 1.010 before I get around to
adding more honey, but the yeast takes off again. If you wait too long,
the fermentation can be really slow and the gravity below 1.000,
then the yeast may be partially dormant and it may take time for it
to be re-activated by the addition of more honey. By paying attention
and not ignoring my fermenting meads, I have done away with stuck
fermentations and decreased the total fermentation time.

This has been my eperience in 10 years of mead making, your experiences
will differ depending on your fermentation setup and the yeast that
you use. I ferment around 65-68F with Lalvin K1V-1116.


Subject: Sorry but it's a cider question
From: David Johnson <>
Date: Sat, 06 Sep 1997 15:24:26 -0700


I apologize for this non-mead question but the principles are the

same and I know someone on this forum can help me. Sulfites are not an
infrequent subject here. My questions are about my first batch of cider.

I pressed juice from a mixture of apples. My early season apples

are Lubske Queen, Red Astracken, and Irish Peach. I used these in about
equal amounts. I got about 2 gals of juice. I then added 2 lbs light
brown sugar and 2 lbs dark brown sugar in 1 gal of commercial apple juice
(No preservatives). I then added enough more comercial apple juice to
make a total of 4 gals. OG 1.094 pH was 3.6 I added 10 campden tablets
(crushed).as recommended by "Sweet and Hard Cider" by Proulx & Nichols.
It sat for 24 hours before I pitched the yeast. The yeast was a mix of
belgian ale yeast and scotch ale yeast that I stepped up from slants to a
500cc starter . The unsweetened must was very appley, sweet in the
middle, with a smack at the finish. The interesting thing was a creamy
texture that I hope will carry through to the finished product.

My suspicion was that I over sulfited or I did not oxygenate the

way I usually do because I did not want to darken it too much. I made up
a new starter and pitched it 4 days after the first batch. Nothing. I
added a packet of dry champagne yeast because I thought the beer yeasts
might not be sulfite tolerant. I am still waiting. Any ideas?


Subject: sulfites question
From: "Linda or Darin" <>
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 1997 20:07:08 -0700

Can somebody please give me (us) a more detailed explination of how
sulfites work? What do they do to whatever is "volunteer" in the must, and
what happens to the sulfites over the course of the recomended 24 hours so
that they don't do the same thing to the yeast that we pitch?

Darin Trueblood

End of Mead Lover's Digest #592