Mead Lover's Digest #0599 Sat 4 October 1997


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



Syrup adjuncts in mead (Dan McFeeley)
fruitless in baltimore ("Jay Spies")
Oak Chips (John Mason)
In the Raw (Andrew E Howard)
Sarsaparilla (
Re: yeast starters (
Using Belgian Yeast (Miguel de Salas)
Moldy wort (Thaddaeus A Vick)
Utter Failures at Brewing Mead ("John B. Hinkle")


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Subject: Syrup adjuncts in mead
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 08:08:21 -0500

Last winter I hit on the idea of experimenting with some of those
"gourmet" coffee syrups you see in Starbucks and other places.
I tried adding a measure of hazelnut syrup to a dry mead, but had
trouble at first because of the differing viscosities. The heavier
syryp sat on the bottom of the 4 liter bottle and just kind of
sloshed around defiantly until I was able to *gently* (to avoid
spashing air into the mead) blend the two together. The finished
product had a nice balance of the honey mead with the hazelnut flavor
in the background.

I liked the results, and friends who tried it really enjoyed it. Our
local librarian thought it was wonderful and told me that she felt like
she was in heaven when she tried it. A Greek psychiatrist served it to
his family and later told me that his father had said that it reminded him
of wines he'd had in Europe (???) The mead really wasn't that good;
it was probably a pleasant reaction to the uniqueness of the flavor
by people who were first time mead tasters (my wife didn't care for it
much at all).

Now I'm experimenting with adding the syrup to the honey must itself.
I was concerned that the sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate in the
syrups might hinder the fermentation but that hasn't been the case.
Another batch of hazelnut mead along with a batch of cherry ameretto
melomel fermented very nicely from yeast starter to finish. They're
going through bulk aging now — I'll post the results after they're


Dan McFeeley

Subject: fruitless in baltimore
From: "Jay Spies" <>
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 10:07:40 +0000

All –

Being a regular subscriber to the HBD, and a brewer by hobby, I enter
the world of meadmaking with a bit of naivete. I have been reading
the MLD for about a month, and having a friend who is an amateur
beekeeper, I decided to try a batch of mead. I would like to make a
melomel (perhaps raspberry/peach or apricot). I bought about 13 lbs.
of honey from my friend at $1.25/lb (mostly clover). My problem lies
in the fact that, being October, I *can't* find any fresh fruit.
Since some frozen fruit that I have bought in the past has been
*less* than sweet, I am at a loss. However, at the local market, I
saw Dole 100% fruit concentrate in cans (like O.J.), and they had
raspberry, peach, and the like. My question to the collective is can
I use these in place of fruit? Do they have the necessary sugar,
considering my honey stock, and most importantly, for those who have
used it, does the end result taste funky? I would like to make the
mead (my first), but don't want to ruin the batch. Private e-mails
are fine, but posts to the digest might help others who want a winter
mel for the springtime and are in a similar predicament.

Jay Spies

Subject: Oak Chips
From: John Mason <>
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 09:16:35 -0500

Does anyone have some advice on the use of oak chips? Oak barrels
aren't really an option for me.

Last year I put some oak chips in a five gallon carboy of cider, and
drew off a gallon a day in an attempt to see what level of oak I would
like best. Every single gallon developed a film yeast. Preparing to
toss the whole thing I timidly tasted my creation and was surprised to
find a quite delightful flavor. Certain that conventional bottling would
result in the film yeast redeveloping in the bottle in an unattractive
fashion, I bottled in pet bottles and stuffed them in the freezer. They
remain quite good.

Anyway, I tried oak chips again in a recent batch of mead. I soaked
them for a day in water and added roughly 5 ml of 10% sulfite solution.
I drained them and tossed them in. I let them sit about 4 days,
fretting by day 3 that I was over oaking. Upon tasting the mead at
bottling there didn't appear to be much oak flavor at all. Hmmm…

Any tips? What about toasted oak chips?

John Mason

Subject: In the Raw
From: (Andrew E Howard)
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 19:21:45 EDT


I have 12 pounds of raw, unprocessed honey. It has the approximate
opacity and consistency of a candle. Is there any special treatment I
need to give it before I use it to make mead? Will the wax be a problem?

Any help would be most appreciated.


Subject: Sarsaparilla
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 22:49:47 -0400 (EDT)

I faithfully looked through all of my herb books, and every single one of
them that mentioned the herb said that only the root was used. No mention of
berries, or leaves, not even to say if they were poisonous. But, I have a
feeling that since sarsparilla soda is made from the boiled root and root
stock, that this is what you are remembering as grandfathers mead. Checking
"Fortunes in Formula's," an old book on almost anything you can think of, it
lists the following as a favorite recipe:
1 pound sliced sarsaparilla root and stem, 1/4 pound guaiacum bark, 2 ounces
licorice root, 1 1/2 ounce aniseed, 1 ounce mezereon rootbark, 1/2 ounce
cloves, 3 1/2 pounds sugar, 9 quarts hot water. Mix in clean stone jar and
keep in a moderately warm room until active fermentation sets in, then repose
for a week.

It also mentions that this is much better with wild yeasts than with bread

Hope this helps

Doug Thomas

Subject: Re: yeast starters
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 22:40:47 -0400 (EDT)

Everything I've ever read about yeast says to use a starter to increase the
population of yeast cells. Except in the case of dried yeast where only
rehydration is recommended.

I've had plenty of beer brewing experience with various Wyeast yeasts.
Starters are essential. As I recall, the smack pack will generate only about
1/5 of the population needed for healthy fermentation.

Yeast starter with roughly the same starting gravity as what it is going into
is less stressful on the yeast.

The volume of starter that is of interest is the volume of yeast slurry
produced by the starter, not the liquid volume used to produce the yeast.
Carefully decant as much liquid as practicle and pitch the slurry.
The higher the starting gravity, the more slurry to get a fast starting,
healthy ferment.

Reuse the slurry from the bottom of your fermenter and see how quickly the
ferment gets cranking!

As we all know, the faster the ferment gets going, the less chance for
unwanted organisms to get a foothold. Plus a healthier ferment is less
likely to create off flavors.

Bob Talkiewicz, Binghamton, NY <

Subject: Using Belgian Yeast
From: Miguel de Salas <>
Date: Thu, 02 Oct 1997 17:18:16 -1000

Has anyone tried to use any of the Belgian beer yeasts for making meads? I
imagine that being alcohol tolerant, they would do okay, but is the fruity,
estery profile adequate, or does it not develop when fermenting honey? I am
still trying to find a yeast that is neutral enough anyway…

Miguel de Salas, in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.


Subject: Moldy wort
From: (Thaddaeus A Vick)
Date: Thu, 2 Oct 1997 19:23:22 -0400

Dear friends,

I have a bit of a problem here. I cooked up some cherry melomel

on Saturday (15 lb. sourwood honey, 12 16 oz. cans of cherries in pear
juice – *not* cherry pie filling). I put it in a plastic bucket with a
gasket and left it to cool overnight. Sunday afternoon I opened the bucket
and drew out a little bit for testing (SG is 1.100) and then went to pitch
some yeast, and I couldn't find any. I put it down somewhere and I have
no idea where it is. I left the wort in the bucket with the lid pushed
down tight. Today (Thursday) I finally managed to get to the homebrew
shop again and got a new packet of yeast. I opened the bucket
apprehensively. There were none of the usual fermentation odors, but there
are a few small mold spots on the surface, and a very faint moldy odor.
My idea is to skim off the mold, drain out the fruit, boil it again, and try
to put yeast in it again (hopefully I can keep track of it this time). I
may get a pectin haze, but better hazy mead than happy drains. Any
thoughts, ideas, suggestions, warnings, etc. would be extrememly welcome

Thaddaeus A. Vick –or–

Subject: Utter Failures at Brewing Mead
From: "John B. Hinkle" <>
Date: Fri, 03 Oct 1997 01:19:35 -0400

Yet again I have ruined a couple of batches of mead, I was going
for a sort of a quick sweet mead, but got nasty rancid foul stuff
instead. Following this message I will post my Mead Maker Journal,
it is kinda short, its only for three one gallon batches (I don't dare
do anything larger) 2 strawberry, and a raspberry. The later was so
bad I almost gagged. I don't know what I've done wrong Please help me.

Thanks in Advance.

John B. Hinkle

Mead Journal Following:

Strawberry Melomel.

Feb 28, 1997

Put 1 gallon of water into pot, sliced 2 lbs of
strawberrys in half. Placed strawberrys into
cheese cloth. Added approx 3 lbs of honey to
water. Simmered for 5-15 mins, added Must bag, and
simmered for 45 mins. Let stand one day.

Mar 3, 1997

Added Yeast on Saturday March 1, and left must
in pot to ferment. Also have been stirring
every day to airate. (Champainge Yeast)

Mar 16, 1997

Racked mead into another bottle, It tasted like crap.. don't
know why????

Sep 7 1997

Racked mead into another bottle, it's flavor improved a little.
I think it is ready for bottling.

Strawberry Melomel Part 2.

Sep 4 1997.

Put half gallon of water into pot, added 2lbs of honey, and
2lbs of strawberrys. Let simmer with honey and strawberrys
for 30mins, and transferred to bottle

Sep 7 1997

Put dry yeast right into the bottle. (montraceat wine yeast)

Rasberry Melomel.

Sep 7 1997

Put half gallon of water into pot, added 2.5lbs of honey and
about 2lbs of raspberrys. Let simmer for about 20mins, then poured
(fruit and all) into a one gallon jug will let sit overnight or
one day.

Sept 8 1997

Added Champainge Yeast mixxed with water.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #599