Mead Lover's Digest #0593 Tue 16 September 1997


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



sorry about the slow digests (Mead Lover's Digest)
Bitter Peach Mead (Frank McDermott)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #592, 8 September 1997 (Charles Hudak)
aloe vera gel (
stuck? (
Re: gentle reminders (Peter Miller)
1997 Mazer Cup Mead Competion (Spencer W Thomas)
Vanilla Cream Mead (
preservatives (yes, again 🙂 ) (Miguel de Salas)
licorice flavor (Chuck Wettergreen)
Re: Party Pig ("John R. Bowen")
Buffers / Buckwheat / "feeding" your fermentation (
yeast/competitions ("Olin J. Schultz")


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Subject: sorry about the slow digests
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 16 Sep 97 13:42:48 MDT (Tue)

Gentle readers – I'm sorry about the odd/slow timing of digests lately.
Harvest time has made life a bit crazy around here…I should have put the
digest on auto-pilot but neglected to do so because I kept feeling sure
things would settle down soon. The digest should now be getting back to
the usual level of irregularity (determined by size/number of submissions).

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

Subject: Bitter Peach Mead
From: (Frank McDermott)
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 1997 14:48:32 +0100

I'm new so bear with me. i have an 8 month old 10 gal. batch of peach Mead.
Okay, I know it's not really mead. My problem is that it has a bitter taste. My
peaches were frozen and may not have been ripe. Any suggestions to save it. It
is very clear and looks wonderful. Thanks

Maine School Administrative District 6
Buxton – Hollis – Limington – Standish


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #592, 8 September 1997
From: Charles Hudak <>
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 1997 13:06:01

Re: Sulfites Question…

Sodium or Potassium Metabisulfite when added to your must generates sulfur
dioxide (SO2). Sulfur dioxide is a sanitizing agent like Iodine (I2) or
Chlorine (Cl2). Not being a cell biologist or biochemist, I can't tell you
physically what it does to the actual wild yeasts and bacteria; suffice it
to say that it kills or weakens the microbes. Beer and wine yeasts,
specifically Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, are SO2 tolerant which means that
they aren't much affected by it. After 24 hours, the gaseous SO2 has
mostly dissipated and so doesn't affect the SO2 tolerant wine yeast. Any
wild yeasts or bacteria that weren't killed by this treatment were at least
sufficiently stunned that the yeast that you pitch will get chance to
reproduce and begin fermentation, essentially outcompeting the very small
quantity of contaminating critters.

Charles Hudak

Subject: aloe vera gel
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 1997 13:05:09 -0700

A buddy of mine just moved and left me with some of the crap he didn't
want to take or throw out. Among this is a gallon jug of aloe vera
gel. The brown 1 gal. glass jug I can definately use, but I already
have an aloe vera plant, so I'm at a loss as to what to do with the 3
quarts or so of gel. I can give some away, but not all.

I was wondering if this can be used somehow as a mead/cider/cyser
indredient. I know they make an agave extract, and to me the aloe and
agave plants look very similar. Anyone have any thoughts? I was
thinking that boiling off some of the H2O from the gel might leave an
extract-type flavoring compound.


Subject: stuck?
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 1997 17:46:00 -0400

This may seem like a dumb question to you "old timers" but how do you
know when your fermentation is stuck? Is the airlock supposed to bubble
away for 3 months? 6 months? A year? I think I have every mead book in
general circulation, but none of them have very good answers to basic
questions like this…


Subject: Re: gentle reminders
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 97 09:25:58 +1000

>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 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.

…er, point taken Dick (and I confess I was one of those who answered
the list as well as to Matt directly – _and_ I was wrong with two of my
spellings anyway) but it's kinda hard to know which things will generate
a lot of response. I only ever answer the list when I think the reply
might be of interest to everyone and who woulda thought that obscure
bottle names were going to fire up such a frenzy…



Perpetual Ocean Music & Sound Design

Subject: 1997 Mazer Cup Mead Competion
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 1997 23:47:47 -0400

Entry details *and forms* for the 1997 Mazer Cup Mead Competition can
be found at

The forms are available only in Adobe Acrobat ("pdf") format. If you
can't handle that, you'll have to write to the organizer Ken Schramm,

The forms can be filled in on-line if you have a sufficiently recent
version of Acrobat Reader (I know 3.0 will do it, I'm not sure about
earlier versions). The values you fill in on the first page of the
recipe form carry over to the bottle forms, except that only the first
line of the "honey type and amount" field carries over.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: Vanilla Cream Mead
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 00:54:24 -0400 (EDT)

I'm looking to brew a mead inspired by Weinhard's cream soda. I'd like
it to have a low alcohol content (3-4%), and finish sweet. Can anyone
recommend a yeast that will do this and still allow for carbonation in
the bottle? If not, will lactose give me the sweetness I'm looking for
without overpowering the honey character? TIA

Dan Fox
Olympia, Wa

Subject: preservatives (yes, again :) )
From: Miguel de Salas <>
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 1997 15:49:07 +1000

Charles Hudak 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.

Yes, that is true, although whenever I have tried heating honey to
pasteurise I have found it becomes messy with the coagulation of proteins.
Also I find that heating certain fruits, such as rhubarb, even if it is only
up to ~70 C, extracts undesirable compounds (oxalic acid in the case of
rhubarb, which is poisonous) and changes the flavour (although not
necessarily for the worst)

>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?

Absurd? I thought everyone knew that the four things that dictate if a wine
will keep (preserve) are its alcohol, acid, sugar and tannin content (I
forgot to mention the last one in my previous post, but it is irrelevant for
most straight meads anyway). I suppose we haven't all studied oenology 🙂
Remember: we are not trying to inhibit yeast here, but spoilage bacteria and

Rod McDonald wrote:

>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.

The fact is that we are talking not about 'certain chemicals', but about
sodium/potassium metabisulfite, a salt that breaks down to produce
sodium/potassium sulfate (another salt with no physiological effects) and
SO2, which has been used literally for thousands of years as a preservative.
I wholeheartedly agree with you that people who are allergic to sulfur
should not use sulfites, as they should not drink most commercial wines, but
the fact that I try to let people know that SO2 has been used for a LONG
time as a preservative/sanitiser I do not see as aversion to aversions to
preservatives (what a mouthful 🙂
Still, it has not been known for 500 years that smoking kills, so you never

Subject: licorice flavor          
From: Chuck Wettergreen <chuckmw@Mcs.Net>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 08:03:33 -0500 (CDT)


In MLD #592 Len Meuse ( wrote:

MM> I really want to try an anise and/or fennel and/or brewers licorice mea
MM> Does anyone have any helpful experiences with licorice flavor? I've rea
MM> enjoyed the porters that I've made with Licorice, but I think fresh ani
MM> heart would do better for a mead.

I grow anise root in my garden every year; it self-seeds and
comes back everywhere! Knowing it as well as I do, I really
don't think that think that you're going to get enough anise
flavor contribution to make it worth your while. I'd suggest
that you use star anise instead. I've found that the spice
section of my local hispanic grocery store carries a star anise
which is bursting with flavor and aroma, once ground. I have a
small coffee grinder that is only for spices; two or three fresh
star anise clusters should be more than enough for a five gallon

MM> I'm planning on using all buckwheat, ar at least a 50/50 mix with a
MM> lighter honey, Ive got 2 gallons of blackberry honey on hand. The reaso
MM> for this is to give the anise or whatever a good complex blend of flavo
MM> to back it up/highlight it.

I'd step back a bit from using all buckwheat honey. Buckwheat
makes a *very* strong flavor contribution, so much so that it might
overwealm any anise flavor.

Geneva, IL

* RM 1.3 00946 *

Subject: Re: Party Pig
From: "John R. Bowen" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 13:13:10 +0000

I have used the Party Pig several times for beer, and I see no
physical reason why it wouldn't work well for meads. It is a 2.5 gal.
sort-of-keg that uses an internal sealed bag of (I believe) sodium
carbonate/citric acid to generate and maintain pressure for
dispensing. With beer, you prime normally to carbonate, and the bag
just provides dispensing pressure. With mead, you may or may not
prime to carbonate, but the dispensing pressure would still be used.

Possible advantages: Less work to accomodate 2.5 gal. Fits easily in
refrigerator, allowing you to draw off the desired quantity (like just
one small glassful) without introducing air or losing carbonation in
the remainder.

Possible disadvantages: Initial and operating cost of replacement
pressure bags. Need to refrigerate whole Pig rather than just a few
bottles at a time.

I usually Pig half a batch of beer and bottle the rest.

John (unaffiliated, etc.)

Subject: Buffers / Buckwheat / "feeding" your fermentation
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 1997 09:50:59 -0400

Greetings to all. I'm interested to find out some info about buffering.
If pH influences yeast health and metabolism to the point that it does, has
anyone developed an effective buffer for a mead? Many posts refer to
periodically checking fermentation pH and adjusting with chalk as the pH
gets too low for effective fermentation. Could a buffer work?

Buckwheat honey. My father-in-law is a neophyte apiarist. His honey has
not been harvested yet. He has access to lots of buckwheat honey (doesn't
seem too popular). I've seen references in past MLD's that indicate
buckwheat mead is excellent if you can wait. Is it best utilized in a dry
mead or a sweet mead? Any thoughts on recipes?

Feeding your fermentation has also arisen recently. Posters indicate
better control and healthier fermentations by using lower gravities for
initial fermentation with successive additions as fermentation continues
until the mead reaches the desired sweetness or alcohol content or whatever
(may still be a dry mead that you "fed" honey). I want to know how people
accomplish this. Do you directly add honey to the must? Do you mix with
water and pasteurize and add? Do you stir this mess? I don't get the
feeling you rack into another container. How do you do this? I think I
would much prefer this method to achieve the final degree of sweetness
rather than dumping in a ton of honey and hoping.

I apologize for the length of the post. Private e-mail would be fine, I
could post a synopsis. Thanks.

nathan in frankenmuth, MI

Subject: yeast/competitions
From: "Olin J. Schultz" <>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 08:44:51 -0700

In response to Vierka wine yeasts Darrin wrote:

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 😉

I did not see those instructions on the packet Darrin but I will keep it
in mind for future brews! I bought 10 packets of this stuff which
contain 7 grams of material. 6 grams was filler material and 1 gram was
yeast. Quite dissapointing. It also produced off flavors that were
phenolic in nature… not real clean tasting meads. Other varieties
from the same maker had larger quantities of actual yeast in the packet,
but flavor quality was not there with any of them.

On a side note I judged in a competition this last weekend. In our
flight we judged three meads. One of the judges had never tasted mead
and the other two had limited exposure. Be careful where you send your
meads to be judged because you might find out when you get your entry
form back that you have far more experience than the judges judging it.
Granted that this was a smaller competition, but just keep it in mind.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #593