Mead Lover's Digest #0598 Mon 29 September 1997


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



re: Pyment, fruit in secondary (Dick Dunn)
Re: making starters for mead yeast? (Marc Shapiro)
Re: New brewing Newsgroup (Jon McCoy)
Re: Mead Starter (
Plastic bottles (Travis Nicklow)
Mead Lover's Digest #597, 26 September 1997 (ddawson@MailBox.Syr.Edu)
re: Wyeast starters. (David Ghere)
Melomels and Metheglins / Sweet vs. Dry (
Carbonation ("Val J. Lipscomb")
More on use of oak. ("Glenn Mountain")
Newbie questions (Kris Southerland)
BASIC recipe needed (
Yeast Starters (David Brattstrom)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #597, 26 September 1997 ("CHUCK HUDSON MEAD MAKER, DRINKER, HANGOVER GETTER.")
Sasparilla Mead ("Curtis,Dave [St. John's]")


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Subject: re: Pyment, fruit in secondary
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 26 Sep 97 17:56:37 MDT (Fri)

Daniel Juliano <> wrote about several topics
related to fruit in mead, including…
> …Before doing this
> I posted on rec.crafts.brewing asking if people ever put fruit into
> the secondary and got a postive response. Now I'm wondering why
> anyone would put the fruit in the primary. You can get a fresher
> fruit flavor by putting the fruit in the secondary. It hasn't
> been sitting around as long by the time you drink it, and the
> aroma doesn't blow off like it would in the primary. Any comments?

I'm not at all convinced on the points of freshness or aroma-blowing-
off. The loss-of-aroma argument is a common one, but so far as I can
tell it's mostly an argument based on common sense rather than actual

Just to be slightly argumentative, I'd point out that winemakers and cider-
makers perforce put fruit/juice in the primary!

I've nearly always put fruit in the primary, and having compared to a lot
of other melomels made by friends/acquaintances, I feel I've gotten good
fruit character and aroma. Trying to reason about this a bit, I say:

* Fruit in the primary is going to ferment quicker because it's going
along with the rapid primary fermentation of the honey. Seems like
if you add it to the secondary you've got to get the yeast cranked
up again after they've started to quiet down.
* Since it's quicker, you can get good flavor extraction without leaving
the fruit on the mead long enough to extract too much tannin.
* You don't need any sort of yeast nutrient; the fruit contributes what-
ever is needed.
* The first racking really cleans up the mead, since it takes off the
bulk of yeast from primary fermentation _and_ the spent fruit. I
usually rack a melomel within a week of pitching, at which point I've
gotten at least 2/3 of the total SG drop (sometimes as much as 90%).

HOWEVER…note that parts of the above argument are, again, "common sense"
reasoning, and this doesn't really help. Seems to me that what we need are
some careful experiments: Same honey, same yeast, same fruit (not just
same type, but same origin), but start fruit in primary in one and secondary
in the other. Ferment, age a bit, double-blind taste. One tricky point I
don't know how to address is yeast nutrient: If you don't give the fruit-
in-secondary batch a bit of nutrient, you're biasing against it. If you do
give it nutrient, you've added a variable. Thoughts?

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Subject: Re: making starters for mead yeast?
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 21:14:28 -0400


Mead needs a yeast starter just as much as beer, or wine. Rehydrate
your yeast in warm water and then make a starter as close as possible to
the must that you will be fermenting.



Marc Shapiro

Subject: Re: New brewing Newsgroup
From: Jon McCoy <>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 18:25:23 -0700

Eric A. Rhude writes:


>It is available to those of you who have a Usenet II
>news feed. Ask your provider if you done know.

>What this means is that it is spam free.

It also requires that you post using a valid email return address. No more
munging From: headers to prevent your address from being harvested by email
(UCE) advertisers. For those who haven't (yet) had a lot of junk mail as a
result of posting on USENET, I guess that's not a concern. And I expect
the spammers will find a way around this as fast as legitimate posters do.

  • -Jon McCoy Old pinballs, old trucks, old guns

  • -Federal Way, WA What could be better?

Unsolicited commercial e-mail will be proof-read
with the help of the sender, his postmaster, and
if necessary, his upstream provider(s).

Subject: Re: Mead Starter
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 22:43:29 -0400 (EDT)

> i'm making my first batch of mead soon and was going to use wyeast sweet
> mead liquid yeast. is it good practice to make a starter for mead?

While I don't think mead starters are absolutely essential, I do think them
The exact ratio is suspect but I read once that the starter should be 10% of
the volume (i.e. 1/2 gallon for 5 gallons) My apologies to Dick Dunn if I am
wrong, but I believe that was his figure.

Wyeast seems to be particularly a slow fermenter, IMHO Wyeast just doesn't
have enough in it's smack pack to do the job

Subject: Plastic bottles
From: Travis Nicklow <>
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 01:49:36 -0400

I am very very new to this, Anyway, I was wondering, I'm not looking to
make a lot of mead until I know what it is like, Can someone send me
detailed instructions on how to make a small batch of Straight forward
Mead for just one 2 Liter bottle or something small? I've read the FAQ,
but some stuff is left out or something… what is a carboy??? How
do you ferment it? Please any info would be greatly appreciated


Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #597, 26 September 1997 
From: ddawson@MailBox.Syr.Edu
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 03:34:23 -0400

reply to:

> Subject: Mead Grenades? (Ron Barnes)
> From:
> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 07:14:06 -0400 (EDT)
> In a message dated 97-09-25 02:21:02 EDT, you write:

>> And when they grenade they don't perforate your house in the manner
>> of a sealed glass bottle.
>> Dick

> What kind of mead would do that? I've been doing mead for years
> and have never had a bottle explode! Though one time, commercial
> mead did blow its cork on me.

My bithead friend came up with a process: boil some water, add honey,
leave uncovered overnight (get wild yeast), pour into 1L or 2L coke
bottles, cap tight with coke cap. Sometimes he's throw in a package
of frozen strawberries per 2L of liquid. Bottles get glass hard and
swell a bit in 2-6 weeks. Best to crack the cap slightly about once
a week but he's had a royal bubblebath doing it. First college dorm
room he was in made ultimately wondrous mead, smooth, sweet and nitro
strong after 4-6 weeks. Next year he was in a different room.
Produced essence of distilled gym sox. Or camel's armpit sweat. 🙁

Point of the grenade being that the ferment produces plenty CO2.

He's brewing more conventionally now: bigger glass jugs, water traps
from a winemakers' supply. Mead's kinda poorly; he hasn't caught on
to the technology yet.

> Poor me, had to drink the entire bottle that night 'cuz I couldn't
> cork it!

pity. 🙂

> Ron


Subject: re: Wyeast starters.
From: st5bx@bayou.UH.EDU (David Ghere)
Date: Sep 27 1997 03:55:27 PM

I had a similar problem when I used Wyeast for the very first time. I didn't
know that a starter was recommended. It took almost two for fermentation to
get going. My brew shop gave me this recipe for a Wyeast starter…

1. 2 days before brewing/vinting smack the pack. store 65-80 degrees.
2. 1 day before brewing. simmer 2 tablespoons of dried malt extract
in 2 cups of water place airlock on it when it cools.
3. pitch when wort or must is ready.

For a mead, the malt could be replaced with sugar. That is what I do with
my dry yeast starters, I have never tried it with the Wyeast.

  • -David

Subject: Melomels and Metheglins / Sweet vs. Dry
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 17:05:26 -0400

A couple of things. Firts, my melomel. I will be making a blueberry
melomel soon. Two questions. One, does 10 lbs of blueberries seem O.K.
for 5 gals? Second, sweet or dry? I don't really care for VERY sweet
wines. The only melomel I have made was CP's barkshack ginger mead.
Enough ginger and hops to hide even the best honey. Extremely dry too. I
like it, but I think raspberries and ginger would do better with just a
touch of residual sweetness. Would a final gravity around 1.010 provide
enough residual sweetness to my blueberry mel without making it SWEET?

Second, I would like to make a traditional metheglin with ginger, cinnamon,
cloves and rosemary and have the same question, sweet or dry? Any help
would be appreciated.

Nathan in Frankemnuth MI
P.S. glad my father-in-law has an apiary!

Subject: Carbonation
From: "Val J. Lipscomb" <>
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 16:07:04 -0500 (CDT)

Greetings All,

I just made a,hopefully,sparkling,slightly sweet

ginger mead and I'm worried that it wont carbonate. The recipe
was 7 Lb honey, an ounce of grated ginger and Edme ale yeast in
a 3 gallon batch. The OG was 1.089 and I would expect a FG in
the high teens or very low 20's. My only other attempt at a
sparkling mead never carbonated (FG 0.997),same yeast-obviously
the yeast was exhausted and couldn't ferment the priming sugar.
I really need suggestions as to whether to re-pitch the same yeast
or another yeast and how much priming sugar,if any, to use. I really
prefer not to force carbonate. With the expected residual sugars
that will be present it would seem like "mead grenades" are possible.
I really don't care to wear a face shield and flak jacket, so I need

Val Lipscomb-brewing in San Antonio

Subject: More on use of oak.
From: "Glenn Mountain" <>
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 09:44:07 -0500

Thanks to all who responded directly and through the list to my question on

Dan McFeeley's post hit the nail on the head with

>"Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey would have nothing less than mead aged in
>wood. In the reprint of his article on mead from Bee World, he states
>that mead cannot be matured to perfection in small quantities, nor aged
>in glass, plastic, or stoneware. The best barrels are used wine casks, he
>says, and especially casks that have held sherry if you can get them.
>After the primary fermentation has ceased, the mead should be aged in the
>cask for a minimum of two years on the lees, sometimes for as long as

This is along the lines of what I had in mind. I figured a used oak wine
cask would be good to bulk age my mead. My concern of over if oak flavour
was acceptable in mead seems to be unfounded. There is an air of 'anything
goes' with mead making that suits me well and oak has certainly been used
before for this purpose.

I hope to age in a used (up to 225L, or whatever is available) in the cask
for 1-2 years depending on all the variable. Although experienced in
sanitation with brewing beer, my adventures into mead and wine are only
beginning. Could anyone provide information on how to handle a used cask ?

I understand that one that has dried out completely may not seal again when
wetted, so that is obviously one point. I am more concerned about the
initial cleaning and sanitation and the care and feeding of the beast for
the subsequent aging period. Last thing I want to have is 200+ litres of
mead vinegar a year down the track.

My other concern is oxidation….but one step at a time.

Thanks for the help.

Glenn Mountain
Melbourne, Australia

Subject: Newbie questions
From: Kris Southerland <>
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 09:09:10 -0500

Greetings, I'm new to mead making and was wondering if anyone out there
can help me get started. What I need is a dependable recipe. What I have
is Wyeast Sweet mead yeast.
Thanx In Advance

Kris Southerland

Subject: BASIC recipe needed
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 14:18:06 -0400

Could someone e-mail me a BASIC step-by-step recipe for a white grape
melomel (or is that a pyment?)…when I say basic I mean "assume I'm a
moron"…I have a ton of mead and brew books but they all read like
translated Japanese stereo instructions…thanks in advance!


PS It seems to be national honey month, the Internet Chef
( has some interesting stuff…

Subject: Yeast Starters
From: David Brattstrom <>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 09:49:06 -0800

Often people ask about building up the yeast population. It is very
important to have a strong population for beer to have a fast ferment to
prevent DMS build up.If you are not going to sulfite or boil your mead
then I would say that a large yeast population is important. Your "good
yeast" must beat the wild yeast and bacteria.

I question if a large yeast population is needed for a boiled or

sulfited mead. A large population will increase the rate of fermentation
and raise the temp of the fermenting mead. Higher temps= fusel alchols
While I have no evidence that a large vs Small population makes a
difference in mead we sould be careful not to use knowledge of what is
true for beer is true for mead.
PS some of the best mead makers I know are also wine makers!
We can all keep on learning.
David Brattstrom
Plymouth California
Member of
Gold Country Brewers Asso.
Brew Angles Home brew club
Sacramento Area Beekeepers Asso.

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #597, 26 September 1997

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 1997 10:10:21 -0600

In making starters or Wyeast Mead or wine yeasts it is best to use the same
type of must as your are going to ferment. Not meaning to dredge up the long
dead (I hope) yeast thread, give the Liquid yeasts a try and then compare to
the dried. US $4.50+ vs $.69- $.99 I have used the Wyeast Sweet, Dry and
Champagne, and I do like them. However the best use for the Liquids is in beer
OR if you plan to harvest and freeze your yeasts for use later down the road.

Well I guess that I can go back to lurk mode for another two years.

Chuck Hudson

"Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour

Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime"

My wife circa 1989 and I don't know where she heard it!!

Subject: Sasparilla Mead
From: "Curtis,Dave [St. John's]" <Dave.Curtis@EC.GC.CA>
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 1997 16:26:04 -0230

Hello everyone !
Great hearing about all the brewing going on this past summer. I have a
question which I'm hoping I can get an answer for. I am making a
Sasparilla mead from about 7~8 lbs of berries but the stench from the
airlock (which reminds me of used oil) is quite offensive. I've been
told a half a dozen stories about the fantastic Sasparilla wine
grandfather made, etc etc but whoa does this stuff make me wonder. One
knowledgeable friend suggested that I was not supposed to have the seeds
and skins fermenting, only the juice; but even he couldn't quite
remember for sure. So…
Does anyone know what the story is with sasparilla berries?

Dave Curtis
Microbiology Technologist
Environmental Protection – Newfoundland
tel: (709) 772-4359
fax: (709) 772-5097

Experience Environment Canada's Regional "Greenlane" at:

For non government recipients:
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employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."

End of Mead Lover's Digest #598