Mead Lover's Digest #0629 Sun 4 January 1998


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



My mead scores (reding)
how much sparkling is sparkling (reding)
Titratable acid adjustment (Kirk Jones)
MLD #628 Starting out, Young Chaucer, Brian Ehlert (LYNDALAND)
Earliest Celtic Mead? (Dan McFeeley)
Re: Adding acid to a finished mead (Dan McFeeley)
Re: 1997 statistics (Spencer W Thomas)
Looking for fellow beginner in Toronto (Stephen van Egmond)
acid (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: My mead scores
From: reding <>
Date: Sunday, December 14, 1997 1:30 PM

Yesterday I entered 3 meads in the Happy Holiday Homebrew Competition.

They were:

1. Traditional Mead (1st place for all meads; score of 44)
2. Rose Hip Metheglin (2nd place for all meads; score of 43.6)
3. Strawberry Melomel (4th place for all meads; score of 37.5)

There were a total of 18 meads entered.

My meads were made using 60 lb of Missouri Mildflower honey. This was a 20
gal batch.
I boiled the 60 lb of honey in about 8 gal of water for 10 min with 2 tsp
of irish moss. Skimmed the top to remove the denatured protein. Chill,
Make a yeast slurry by adding 4 packages of Premiere Cuvee Dry White wine
yeast to 1 qt of lukewarm water to rehydrate. Transfer the chilled must
into 4 5-gal glass carboys. Top each one the next day by adding deaerated
water to 5-gal per carboy (Deaerated was made my filling a glass carboy
with hot tap water and let it sit overnight until cool).

1. Traditional mead – transferred to a secondary carboy when fermentation
was finished. F.G. 1.015

2. Rose Hip Mead – 4 oz of dried crushed rose hips into primary. Transfer
to secondary carboy when fermentation was finished. Add 4 additional oz of
dried, crushed rose hips contained in cheese cloth or other cloth. F.G.

3. Strawberry Mead – I originally added 1 tbsp of McCormick pumpkin spice
to the mead but I did not like it very well. So I added 10 lb of frozen,
blended strawberries. The strawberry flavor was nice but a hint of pumpkin
spices remained in the background. This hurt the score because the judges
could not tell what it was and I did not mention it in the recipe. Next
time, I will skip the spices. Overwise, it probably have taken 3rd or
higher. F.G. 1.015

4. Zinger tea mead – this is all in wine bottles. I did not enter it.

Overall, each of the meads has a nice honey flavor and aroma. The premiere
cuvee is a very neutral yeast. It ferments quickly and leaves the mead
semi-dry. It also flocculates nicely and leaves the mead very clear. I
think the 10 boil with irish moss has some to do with the clarity also.

The most suprising fact is that I made these meads April 1997, so they are
about 8 mo old. The judges were sure they were atleast 2 years old. I
wonder how they can improve with age.

This is only the 3rd mead I have made.

I will save some bottles for the Mazer cup next year!


Keith Reding
St. Louis, MO

Subject: how much sparkling is sparkling
From: reding <>
Date: Sunday, December 14, 1997 2:23 PM

Dear Fellow Mead Makers:

I have a mead that I bottled just before it was finished fermenting. It is
a semi-sweet traditional mead. The small amount of carbon dioxide for
carbonation allows a small amount to dissolve into solution in the acid
form and provide a nice balance to the honey sweetness, although this was
not the intent. This results in a very nicely balances mead. I guess I
could have still kept it as a traditional still mead and added some acid
blend for balance. But, I did not. If I enter it in competition, they
could say "carbonation too low for an effervescent mead" or "too sparkling
for a still mead". Any opinions on this? Personally, I would not want to
change this mead for the judges sake, even if I created it somewhat by
accident. It is great the way it is!


Keith Reding
St. Louis, MO

Subject: Titratable acid adjustment
From: (Kirk Jones)
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 1998 15:12:38 -0400

After some reading of texts and the mead-digest regarding acid adjustments
of finished meads, I bought a titration kit from the supply house and
tested two batches of mead; a dry orange blossom and a semi-sweet star
thistle, both show meads.

They both showed about .39 % titratable acid. The text suggests that most
wines falled beween .6 to .7 %. I added 8 grams per gallon ( suggested
application is 4 grams per gallon to increase .1%) to bring it up to .6% .
Think I got it right. What do other mead meisters aim for in titratable

It's been in the bottle for a couple of days and I opened a mis-corked one
to sample it and found it to be quite uneven as the acid kind of nips one
as it hits the tongue.

In anyone's experience,* will this nip of acid mellow as the mead bottle

Also, any comments regarding meads flavor vs. time are appreciated.

Note: the kit starts at about $25 and is quite fast and easy.

Happy New Year

*Kirk Jones/ Sleeping Bear Apiaries /971 S. Pioneer Rd./Beulah,MI 49617
*Sharon Jones/ BeeDazzled Candleworks /6289 River Rd./ Benzonia, MI 49616


Subject: MLD #628 Starting out, Young Chaucer, Brian Ehlert
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 1998 19:59:24 EST

I am replying to a few questions, first: How to start out?
Elizabeth, when I first started, I really had very little idea of what to use,
but have found the most essential and basic tools to be:
1. 7 gallon primary fermenter (I like a little air space)
2. 5 gallon carboy
3. at least 2 air locks (one for each of the above, and a spare in case of
"bubble over")
4. if making mead with fruit, a nylon press bag
5. six feet of tube for racking
6. a racking cane
7. a bottling wand (this is a hard platic tube with a valve that opens when
pushed against the bottom of the bottle)
8. a good stainless steel or enamel coated pot (new, no cracks)
9. a corker

I really don't feel that an acid titration kit or hydrometer are necessary. I
have used them, and really come so close to the readings I prefer just by
myself, that they are used usually only once during each batch. Now, a good

for five gallons
15# honey
juice of 10 lemons
juice of 3 – 5 oranges
5 cups very strong black tea
water to five gallons

First, measure five gallons of water into your primary and mark the outside
with a permanent marker. Dump out the water.
boil honey (I know this will open up a can of worms with many out there) in 1
gallon water. Pour into the primary, and add the juice and tea. Have
prepared 4 gallons of boiled water (to steralize) that is cooled to room temp.
Add this to the primary up to the five gallon mark and cover. When completely
cool add yeast and snap in air lock. This should give sign of activity within
24 hours. Makes a really decent mead. for a sweeter mead, bump up to 20# of

Now about Chaucer's mead being drunk young. From what I can figure out, that
aging a mead is really only useful if it still contains constituents that will
react over time. Heavily filtered meads with pH's closer to neutral than
normal will not improve significantly with time, and often lose a freshness
that is appealing, since the depth of their character is already diminished by
mediocre honey and heavy processing.

And, Brian, since you mentioned filtering, if you used a sterile filter it is
possible that the yeast are dead, and much of the honey proteins were filtered
out with it, leaving a less flavorful batch, and the aging bottles that
suddenly got alcoholic, I have noticed sometimes a slight malolactic
fermentation that will raise alcohol by a % point or so and also when sediment
starts to form, you will notice alcohol more, because there is less in
suspension to coat the tongue. These are some possibilities.

Hope this helps

Doug Thomas

Subject: Earliest Celtic Mead?
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 1998 23:06:57 -0600

In the September/October 1996 issue of _ARCHAEOLOGY_, there is a
brief report on p. 33 on the excavation of a 2,500 year old Celtic
grave near Frankfort, Germany. One of the artifacts found in the
grave is a bronze flagon with a humanoid figure on its handle that
had held mead. The article does not specify whether pollen grains
typically found in honey were identified in the flagon, just that
it had held mead.

I'm not positive on this, but the finding may be the oldest archaelogical
finding to date establishing the use of mead. Anyone else aware of
older artifacts?

In the same issue, there is another brief report of the earliest
identification of winemaking (p.26). A sherd from one of 6 pottery
jars excavated from a 7,000 year old Neolithic site in Iran's northern
Zagros mountains was found to have calcium salt from tartaric acid,
a wine residue. This discovery is supposed to have pushed the known
beginings of winemaking back some 2,000 years.

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Adding acid to a finished mead
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 02:38:59 -0600

"Glenn Mountain" <> wrote:

> I have read many references to adding acid blend to a finished mead
> to balance the sweetness. Makes sense but for one point. How is
> one to know how much acid to add? Is there a certain pH I should
> be aiming for?

Typical titratable acid levels for wine are about 0.55 for reds and
0.65 for whites, however, I think most would agree that acid correction
for a finished mead should not imitate wine styles. The recommended
acid levels for red & white wines suggests this — they're both different
types of musts even though they are both made from wine grapes, and
they require different acid levels. Honey is an altogether different
product, which certainly suggests a much different acid range. Acton
and Duncan in _Making Mead_ suggest 2.5 to 3.5 parts per thousand acid
for finished meads, and their recipes list 10 gm. tartaric acid and 15 gm.
of malic acid per 4.5 litres as an acid blend ingredient. Roger Morse in
his book _Making Mead_ seems to disagree here — the only guidance he gives
for acid adjustment is to note that most wines should have a total acid
range from 0.5 to 0.7 percent, suggesting that meads should have acid
ranges similar to wines. Brother Adam recommends adding 2 1/2 oz. cream
of tartar and 1/2 – 1 oz. of citric acid per ten gallons of must to aid the
fermentation (a practice not recommended in discussions on this list) in
his 1953 article on mead. Papazian suggests acid adjustment for mead in
TNCJHB to add a slight fruitiness to the mead and offset the hotness of the
alcohol, and his other sections on mead in _The Home Brewers Companion_ and
the short chapter in Gayre's _Making Mead_ say even less. The only guideline
he offers seems to be that of taste, not an easy thing to develop if you're
not sure what you're aiming for!

There isn't a direct relationship between pH levels and the amount of
titratable acid. PH is an indication of the amount of dissociated
hydrogen ions resulting from the addition of acid to a solution, and
titratable acid is the total acid value of the solution. I think it's
possible to closely predict pH levels from a measure of TA in a simple
solution of acid and water, but in musts and worts there are many
confounding factors resulting from the interractions of complex
biochemical ingredients that will throw off attempts at prediction.
Grapes from Washington state, for instance, can sometimes have high acid
*and* high pH. Acton & Duncan say that the relationship between pH
and TA is much closer than that of other musts, but I'm not sure of this.
A good pH range is probably between 3.0 and 4.0, preferably lower than
4.0 to prevent spoilage and to better aid sulfite and sorbate use, and
also to speed the clearing process.

Although some mead recipes recommend adding additional acid such as those
listed by Acton & Duncan or Brother Adam, many others do not include acid
at all, including, of course, the older period recipes such as Digby. A
dry to medium mead may not need much acid at all, if any, to balance the
sweetness because most of it is gone from the fermentation. The strong
flavor of the honey itself may be enough to balance the remaining residual
sugars (depending on the type of honey you use) in a similar way perhaps
to red wines which don't need as much acid because of the astringency of
their tannins. Mead, after all, is not wine.

Acton & Duncan's suggestion of 2.5 to 3.5 ppt might be a good ballpark
figure to start experimenting with, but you can probably get good results
with no additional acid at all. Personal taste is probably the most
important guide, especially with the varying styles of mead and wide variety
within those styles. If you like the results and it knocks the socks off
the people who also try your mead, then you're on the right track.


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: 1997 statistics 
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 10:33:41 -0500

> … total content being about 1.5MB.

About the same as JudgeNet, and about 12% of the HBD volume, by
looking at my archive.


Subject: Looking for fellow beginner in Toronto
From: Stephen van Egmond <>
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 11:51:30 -0500 (EST)

I had my first (and only) taste of mead at a party full of SCA people
while at the University of Waterloo, and fell in love. With the mead, not
the angel that brought it to me.

So, now I'm graduated and in the real world, and have a bit of space here
in the apartment, and I want to get started. So perhaps out there among
the subscribership there is someone who is as much a beginner as I am and
wants to learn the art.

I am fortunate enough not to have a car, so I'm confined to the boundaries
of the TTC & Mississauga Transit for casual travel.

By my math, there's ~6 people from Toronto out there (out of the 1000
subscribers), so maybe one of them's a newbie too.


Subject: acid
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 4 Jan 98 12:57:17 MST (Sun)

A couple quick thoughts on adding acid (like acid blend) to mead…

1. Don't try to get acidity up to wine levels. There's no need for that
much acid, and it's too easy to end up making your mead taste like it's got
artificial fruit flavoring in it, or like it's a cheap white wine.

2. Keep in mind the difference between pH and titratable acidity. For my
own part, I don't pay attention to pH at all since it wanders around so
much…a little bit of dissolved CO2 can make a significant difference.

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…I'm not cynical – just experienced.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #629