Mead Lover's Digest #0620 Thu 4 December 1997


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



ale yeast question in MLD 619 ("Grant W. Knechtel")
Re: Too sweet? (Spencer W Thomas)
Re: Commercial Meads (
New Member (LaBorde, Ronald)
Re: Commercial Meads (Michael L. Hall)
Re: Commercial Meads (Vicky)
Vanilla-cinnamon meth ("Thaddaeus A. Vick")
clearing, cooking and newbie's sorrow ("Wout Klingens")
Feeding your ferment (


NOTE: Digest only appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests. When

subscribing, please include name and email address in body of message.

Digest archives and FAQ are available for anonymous ftp at

in pub/clubs/homebrew/mead.


Subject: ale yeast question in MLD 619
From: "Grant W. Knechtel" <>
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 1997 22:05:56 -0800

Richard Gardner had a problem with an ale yeast:

>I've recently had a strange experience with a sweet show mead that I >can't
explain. After adding Polyclar, the fermentation started up again.
>Specifics for this 1 gal batch are:

>20 Jan 97 44 oz Fireweed honey, Wyeast 1928 (London Ale) yeast to >make
1gallon (nutrients too) 4 racking since (CO2 purge), and no >noticable
fermentation for months Did not clear, so added 1t Polyclar on >1 Nov.

>Fermentation recommenced. Slightly clearer. White foam on top, lots of
>sediment on the bottom, and 1 bubble about 2 times per minute.

>My big question is why did the fermentation start up again? Tasting the
>dregs when I racked and added the polyclar gave me a very sweet >mead, but
there had been no fermentation for several months, and the >mead was still
slightly cloudy. My best guess is that the yeast selection >may be the reason,
but I don't know why.

The Wyeast circular lists 2 London yeasts, 1028 London ale and 1968 London ESB
ale. Suspect you had 1968. This yeast is notorious for stuck fermentations.
Needs a large starter, good nutrition and growth conditions and it helps to
rouse it frequently. To quote the Wyeast circular:

"1968 London ESB ale yeast. Highly flocculant top-fermenting strain with rich,
malty character and balanced fruitiness. This strain is so flocculant that
additional aeration and agitation is needed. An excellent strain for
cask-conditioned ales. Flocculation – high; apparent attenuation – 67 – 71%
(64-72 degrees F)"

My guess would be you were very careful to avoid aerating or disturbing when you
racked. When you added polyclar, you may finally have added some oxygen,
rousing the yeast. Some homebrewers "drop" this yeast, where they rack around 1
day after fermentation starts, to agitate and aerate, also increasing diaceytl
sometimes desirable in English style ales.

Am not familiar with Wyeast 1028 displaying similar quirkiness, but when
fermenting a mead with ale yeast it may be possible.

  • -Grant

Neue Des Moines Hausbrauerei
Des Moines, Washington

Subject: Re: Too sweet? 
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 1997 09:48:05 -0500

Well, Jeff, the sweetness of taste depends on many factors. These
include the OG, the acid content, and the aromatic characteristics of
the honey. Let me take them one at a time.


Alcohol is lighter than water with a specific gravity of about
0.800. Thus, an alcohol-water mixture has a specific gravity less
than 1.000. What does this mean for you as a mead maker? When the
gravity of your mead reaches 1.000, there is still a fair amount of
sugar left. An equation from brewing, which probably works here,

RE = .1808*OE + .8192*AE

The "E" stands for "extract", and is the sugar percentage by weight.
Roughly E = (SG – 1) * 250 (take the last three digits of the SG and
divide by 4.) RE is "real extract", and is the amount of sugar
remaining in the fermented beverage. AE is "apparent extract", and is
what you measure with your hydrometer. OE is "original extract". So,
if your OG was 1.100, or about 25% (OE), and your FG is 1.010, or about
2.5% (AE), the real amount of sugar remaining is 6.5% (RE). To put it
another way, if you were able to remove all the alcohol from your mead
and replace it with an equal volume of water, the hydrometer would
read about 1.026!

In simple terms, the more honey you start with, the sweeter tasting
the mead will be at any particular "final" gravity reading.


This one's pretty obvious. The more acid in the mead, the less sweet
the taste. So if your mead is finished, but it's too sweet for your
taste, you can add some acid until it tastes more balanced. I've seen
guidelines for acid percentage based on FG, but I'd rather go by

Honey variety

Some honeys just "taste" sweeter than others. A good example is
tupelo honey. Something about the aroma of this honey makes it taste
exteremely sweet (to me). I doubt that the sugar content is
significantly higher than other honeys, but the combination of sweet
on your tongue with the sweet aroma pegs your "sweetness meter."

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: Re: Commercial Meads
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 10:03:12 +0000 writes:
>… Here in Ontario our government owned liquour stores sell a mead
> called Chaucer's mead which is made in California. Next week they get in
> Moniack's Mead from Scotland. Has anyone ever heard of these products and
> have any opinion's on their quality.

I've had Chaucer's.It has a clean flavor but it is very very sweet! My
sweetest mead had a F.G. of 1.020, Chaucer's was significantly sweeter.

PGP key available at

Subject: New Member
From: (LaBorde, Ronald)
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 10:06:03 -0600


I am a new member of the digest and happy to be on board.
You will surely be reading posts from me sometimes in the future after I
do a bit of lurking to get the feel of the waters.
I live in Metairie Louisiana, have just started making wines and meads –
about 2 of each.
I have about 20 pounds of freshly spun honey from Iowa that I will be
putting to good use soon.


Ronald La Borde – Metairie, Louisiana –

Subject: Re: Commercial Meads
From: (Michael L. Hall)
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 11:27:28 -0700 writes:
> Does anyone have a list of commercial meaderies and a discussion of their
> products? Here in Ontario our government owned liquour stores sell a mead
> called Chaucer's mead which is made in California. Next week they get in
> Moniack's Mead from Scotland. Has anyone ever heard of these products and
> have any opinion's on their quality.

Chaucer's Mead is sweet without much character. Most people regard it
as an inferior product.

Mead from the Moniack Castle in Scotland is excellent, IMO. I picked up
some at the castle (near Inverness) last year, and I've only got about
half a bottle left. It's made from heather honey and has a dark brownish
color. Very complex, lots of floral notes. Medium to full sweetness. No
wine character, such as grassiness (IMO, this is a good thing).

Does anyone else know of Moniack Castle Mead being sold in the US? If so,
where and at what price? Maybe we should start a mead shipping co-op…

  • -Mike

| Michael L. Hall, Ph.D. <> |
| President, Los Alamos Atom Mashers <> |
| Member, AHA Board of Advisors <> |

Subject: Re: Commercial Meads
From: Vicky <>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 1997 21:12:05 -0500

Wayne_Kozun said:
Subject: Commercial Meads
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 09:43:25 -0500

Does anyone have a list of commercial meaderies and a discussion of their
products? Here in Ontario our government owned liquour stores sell a mead
called Chaucer's mead which is made in California. Next week they get in
Moniack's Mead from Scotland. Has anyone ever heard of these products and
have any opinion's on their quality.

I say:
I've had Chaucer's, and it's not bad for a very sweet mead. If you want
to try a really good mead, tho, get some from White Winter Winery at:
They've a sweet and dry mead, a raspberry and blueberry melomel and a
cyser. I got at least one of each, and so far, all have been absolutely
fabulous. If you do order from them, tell them Vicky Rowe sent you. Kim
and Mark know me, and will take good care of you!

Vicky Rowe
meadster at large
visit my homebrew info at
and click on homebrewing

No good deed goes unpunished. — Clair Boothe Luce

The thing to do with a silly remark is to fail to hear it. –Zebadiah J.

Where I come from, anyone who says "Excuse me" is a human being. –Joe

The return address has been despammed.
Please respond to rcci AT mindspring DOT com.

Subject: Vanilla-cinnamon meth
From: "Thaddaeus A. Vick" <>
Date: Thu, 04 Dec 1997 00:22:45 -0500

>I also made a vanilla cinnamon metheglin with fresh vanilla beans and
>crushed fresh cinnamon sticks in the primary. After fermentation was
>complete, I found absolutely no vanilla or cinnamon taste in the mead. I
>expected I would have to beef up the flavors before bottling but since these
>spices are fairly potent, I expected more to be in the flavor at this stage.
>Any suggestions?

How old is it? The balance of flavors can change as the mead ages. I

made a stout recently with licorice and molasses. When I brewed it I tasted
a bit of the wort and it just tasted like beer. When I bottled it, it tasted
like licorice. A week later it tasted like molasses. Now it's kind of evened

| Thaddaeus Vick, Linguist to the Masses | |
| ||

| "Papa Hegel he say that all we learn from history is that we learn nothing |
| from history. I know people who can't even learn from what happened this |
| morning. Hegel must have been taking the long view." |
| — Chad C. Mulligan, sociology burnout |

Subject: clearing, cooking and newbie's sorrow 
From: "Wout Klingens" <>
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 08:11:08 +0100

To everyone who is going to make some mead for the first time.
( Read it with a big 🙂 or even :-o)

Mead, the drink of Gods. As one of the great webpages mentions. Mead has a
magical ring to it. At least for me it has. The oldest alcoholic beverage
known to man. Drink of the earth's greats in the past and in the present.
Mead tastes nice. Not great but nice. If you expect a sweet honey taste
from commercial meads you won't get it.
So I thought that if I could make a mead, I could change it to my taste.
For experience with fermenting I starting with a beer kit. 2 weeks of
fermenting, bottle with a little bit of sugar and you are ready to enjoy in
about 2 months.
Then read a lot. Especially the Internet gives a lot of information and
especially experience from people who made hundreds, maybe thousands of
gallons of mead and wine.

The first batch: let's make things simple: do it exactly according to a
And then wait, rack some and wait again.
After about 4 months my batch stopped fermenting. FG about 1000. My airlock
even showed
negative pressure. This was strange: I clearly read that some magicians had
dry mead after 3 weeks! I was certain that I added nutrients.
Well, I am not the only newbie out there so I took some advise I read
earlier: I waited and waited and waited (really I did, Spencer) and after
three months I became worried. I read, that *sometimes* clearing would take
" as much as 3 months!"
I had no indication of an infection. The wine tasted great (yes, GREAT, he
yelled) but hasn't cleared. I know I administred a little tannin for taste
(adstring… is too difficult to
spell for me), a little acid and also sulfites against oxidation and for
binding proteins. I was very precise in sanitation, the only thing I didn't
do was simmering and skimming the honey.
So let's ask some people of this greatly appreciated Digest, which I
received for the first time a month ago. (Thanks for the work, Dick)

And yes, I got a lot of response. Very nicely put and very patiently
explained. Thanks ye all!!!
Here are the results:
A cooked or non-cooked mead will always clear in time.
Filtering should clear the wine. At the cost of colour and flavor.
Fining agents might clear the wine at the cost of colout and flavor, but
then again they might not.
Chillproofing might clear the wine, then again it might not.
Mead might be ready within a year, then again it might not.
You can use nutrients and the wine might ferment faster, then again it
might not.
High pitching rates will help, the again they might not.
Fermentation might have stopped when you see no bubbles in your airlock,
then again it might not.

Ye all have to realize, that this is too much for an old math teacher 🙂
Logic only seems to apply to a winemaker with a huge laboratory. But then

Well, I tell you what I did.
With every racking I topped it off with a little water and honey. No wonder
it took so long you might say and you are right. But then
again….(spilling that fine wine is't my favourite either. Thanks, Jim).
When my airlock stopped bubbling (for a week or so according to some
document) I thought there were no nutrients left. So it should clear.
Logic. I racked and topped it off with water and honey. Maybe this is the
reason. But then again….
(Maybe you were right, Chuck, it wasn't ready. Thanks.)
So… After all your advise I restarted fermentation with some nutrients
and indeed, even after using Bentonite it restarted s l o w l y (I
think). I will let it
go till it stops again and then, when its bone dry I will wait…. and
I am 45. If I only had time…. I was planning (eventually) to drink my
concoctions at a rate of
about 2 bottles a week. One for me and one for my wife.
Now, don't you laugh at me. This is really sad 🙂
It gets even worse: I bought another bottle ( 2 bottles a week, remember?)
and started an orangejuice melomel with real oranges. Stuck fermentation!
Nice for a newbie. This one will be alright, so don't you worry.
So I bought another bottle to make a quick 'n easy one: applejuice from the
grocery and *some* sugar and no honey(!). Starting gravity: 1130! And you
all know what that means! I
didn't. Now, don't you worry, I got it started again!

Do I still like to make wine?? What do you think?

My way of saying thanks to your reactions.



Subject: Feeding your ferment
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 08:22:10 -0400

I had asked about "feeding" your fermentation a long time ago. I did
receive a response to the posting. I had just saved it in my e-mail and
was cleaning things out and thought some of you may find this of interest.
I haven't tried it yet…but…

When I want to add 1 to 3 pounds of honey to an already fermenting
5 gallon batch of mead, I pasteurize the honey by heating it to
145-150 F for 15-20 minutes. My microwave has a temperature probe
so it is easy for me (the microwave) to hold the honey at a constant
temperature. The I slowly pour the hot honey directly into the mead
(in glass carboy). If the mead is actively fermenting, lots of
bubbles are produced. If the mead has slowed down, there is very
little reaction.

I do not stir or agitate and I have never found a layer of honey
sitting in the bottom of any carboy. I do not dilute the honey
with water before pasteurizing it. I've never cracked a carboy,
the honey poured slowly in the center cools before it gets to the

If you feel this is worth posting, feel free to do so.

Your post was not very long, in my opinion.


| ?Gordon L. Olson ?????????| U.S. Postal Service: ????|
| e-mail: ?| 1632 Camino Uva ?????????|
| ?phone: 505-662-0705 ?????| Los Alamos, NM 87545 USA |

Nathan in Frankenmuth, MI

End of Mead Lover's Digest #620