Mead Lover's Digest #0632 Thu 8 January 1998


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



re: bad mead (Dick Dunn)
co-op cold water bath ("Spies, James")
cloudiness / nips ("Spies, James")
Re: First mead (davep)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #630, 6 January 1998 (NL Steve)
Re: Mead Co-op (Nova)
Re: 1st Raspberry Melomel (Bryan Fitzhugh)
mazer Cup results (Chuck Wettergreen)
How long does mead take? (Chuck Wettergreen)
Commercial Meads ("David Johnson")


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Subject: re: bad mead
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 7 Jan 98 01:01:45 MST (Wed)

Brian Fackrell <> wrote:
> I have been lurking for some time and have recently tasted the first
> mead that I have made. The taste is something like gasoline. This was
> not the desired flavor…

I have to say that those last two sentences left me on the floor, gasping
for breath! No, Brian, I am NOT laughing at you…far too many of us have
been there, alas! It's just that I've never seen the exasperation of a
new mead-maker understated quite so eloquently. (I've not said "gasoline"
but I've said "Listerine" enough times about young meads that if it'd been
heard I'd have had a bevy of attorneys at my door.)

Well, then…the news is that this may be either good or bad. A few meads
mature quickly and are literally drinkable from the first racking onward.
Many more meads are harsh and undrinkable when young, but slowly mature to
something wondrous. Let us not stop there; we must admit that there are
some meads which are never pleasant or right. They give warning early on;
we hold out hope but they fulfill their promise of being undrinkable.

There are a lot of potentially mitigating factors with mead, especially
young mead. There are some things to ponder.

Some folks come to mead-making with a sort of vision-of-things-medieval
thought that this will be an elixir. They add to it their expectation of
anything made with honey, that it will be all things sweet and mellow.
Then some clod hands them a glass of a very dry mead; their taste buds
revolt. This is way at one end of the spectrum: the new mead-drinker
confronted with the reality of a type of mead unexpected.

But folks also come to mead with an understanding of beer and wine, and
they're ready for something light or heavy, faintly sweet or so dry it
seems to take the finish off your teeth…and if they're disappointed, it
means something's wrong, really wrong, with the mead.

Brian: Have you tasted other meads? Have other folks tasted your mead?
It sure sounds like you've got a problem…your description is complete
enough to make me think you know some of what to expect, and you've got a
bad batch. Tell us some details: what type of honey, OG, FG, what else
added (you said "orange", but what and how and how much?)? If it's past a
year, you should have something at least reasonably drinkable, so if not,
let's dive into the details.

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…I'm not cynical – just experienced.

Subject: co-op cold water bath
From: "Spies, James" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 09:51:15 -0500

Bill pointed out recently that:

>>Most states are extremely hostile to the
idea of anyone other than a licensed dealer importing alcoholic
beverages into the state – they want to make sure they collect their
taxes. So, anyone involved in this could be liable for violating their
state's liquor control and tax laws.<<

Hate to say it, but he's right, at least in Maryland. As a lawyer, I
can say that without a wholesaler's license, you run the risk of State
and Federal prosecution for importing alcoholic beverages for sale. ATF
agents would definitely come a-knockin if they caught wind. I really
don't see any loophole in this theory that would allow such a co-op to
exist. In MD, homebrewed beer/wine/mead is allowed for home
consumption, but shipping interstate is definitely not. The same
prohibition applies to alcoholic beverages offered for sale. You can
buy them *from* a wholesaler, but you can't then ship them to someone
else as if you *were* a wholesaler.

I'd steer completely clear of this one. Sorry to rain on the collective

Wassail !

Jay Spies
Wishful Thinking Basement Brewery

Subject: cloudiness / nips
From: "Spies, James" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 09:34:09 -0500

All –

I have a Cyser in secondary that was begun a little over a month ago (5
gal batch w/15 lbs. of clover honey, 8 lbs of cored/skinned/squished
apples, 2 pkgs pasteur champagne yeast). This is my first mead. I have
a couple of questions for the esteemed readership.

There are no problems with fermentation, as far as I can see. I've been
getting about 1 bubble every 5-8 seconds since I first began, and SG has
dropped to about 1.020 (OG 1.102). Ferm temp is about 62dF.

On to the questions: I have yet to see one smidgen of clearing. Most
recipies that I have seen for Cyser have used apple cider, but I came
into a bushel of ripe, unbelievably sweet Jonathans for *free* (how can
you argue with that), so I decided what the hell. Cider would have been
easier to clear, and I had a hell of a lot of pulp in the primary that
could have lent itself to cloudiness. I know this mead still has
another few months in the carboy, but should I just wait it out or
should I add some pectinase enzyme when I transfer to tertiary in about
two weeks? When I say cloudy, I mean cloudy yellow that you can't even
shine a spotlight through. Tips?

Question 2 – does anyone out there in the collective know of a source
for the 6-7 oz bottles sometmes referred to as nips? I've managed to
collect about 20 through barleywine consumption 🙂 and new years eve
scavenging %-D but I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions
or empties lying around. I'll need about 40 more. Suggestions?


Jay Spies
Wishful Thinking Basement Brewery

Subject: Re: First mead
From: davep <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 98 08:43:46 -0600

>Well, I bottled my first-ever mead–a cyser–last week (pause for
>applause). As
>I mentioned in a previous post, it was based on DaveP's "Hangover Cyser" from
>"Mead Made Easy."

Hey. That's me. I suppose I should comment, since I've a lot of
experience with that recipe.

>Taste notes: smelled like a dry apple wine (surprise, surprise), tasted like
>firewater. Methinks this one is going to have to sit awhile. I couldn't
>drinking the few ounces I saved. It tasted pretty good, but with a serious
>alcohol burn. Any ideas how long before this one will be drinkable? I thought
>about busting one open on my birthday (Feb. 10) to test it, or would I be
>wasting my time to try it that early?

Sounds about right. In my experience, forgetting for it for a couple
months usually does the trick. I would test it on your birthday, since
it's a good excuse to open a bottle, and if you wait longer and it's fine
then, you won't know how long it took to get yummy. It continues to
improve for roughly six months in my experience.

I brewed a batch with a very similar composition to yours in October. It
was drinkable, but hot (alcohol burn) at Thanksgiving. It was noticeably
better at Christmas, but still had a little heat. I expect need to get
another batch going soon, since I'll probably be polishing the rest off
in March and April.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – personal: or
PGP key and other spiffy things at <>
Dave's Rule of Gun-Control: You kill it, you clean it.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #630, 6 January 1998
From: NL Steve <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 20:32:34 EST

Regarding the mead co-op idea:
I am trying to think of a way of expanding the types of honey I've got to work
with, beyond those I can find in my region. What if we create a directory or
master list of beekeepers & honey vendors, particularly those who can ship
unusual or regional varieties of honey? Any takers or suggestions? For
example, I stumbled on some nice raspberry blossom honey at a shop in the
Santa Cruz, CA mountains, & would be glad to pass along the info. But I'm
still looking for rosemary and heather honeys.

Subject: Re: Mead Co-op
From: Nova <>
Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 21:42:25 -0500

> Subject: Re:Mead Co-op
> From: Bill <>
> Date: Tue, 06 Jan 1998 18:57:50 -0600
> In MLD #630, Matt Maples expanded on the idea of a Mead buying co-op. I
> hate to throw cold water on this idea, but I really think someone needs
> to talk to a lawyer about this. Most states are extremely hostile to the
> idea of anyone other than a licensed dealer importing alcoholic
> beverages into the state – they want to make sure they collect their
> taxes. So, anyone involved in this could be liable for violating their
> state's liquor control and tax laws.
> I hope I'm wrong.
> Bill

I live in NY, which must be the most hostile state in the US. I was
a member of a beer club for a while, beer across America it was called.
They would mail me 12 various beers from all over the country to try
every month. I had to drop out though, too many calories.

I don't remember any tax on my monthly bill. Just the beer charge plus
shipping and handling.


Subject: Re: 1st Raspberry Melomel
From: Bryan Fitzhugh <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 03:14:34 -0600 (CST)

First off, thanks so much for all of the responsed I've received

from my initial posting (in digest 630) regarding my futile attempts at a
perfect mead achieved by way of zero experience. Since my mead is
currently 3 hours away I won't be able to taste it for another 10 days or
so, but plan on doing that ASAP in order to see how it differs from teh
bottom-of-the-bucket sample I had earlier. For those interested in
responses the general consensus was to add more honey next time for a
sweeter mead and more raspberries. Both of which I suspected at first but
thought I could skate by without.

The major problem I have is that I was hoping to have this fairly

drinkable in the next 4-5 months. Consequently adding more honey doesn't
seem like a very viable option, especially considering it has nearly
cleared and I would prefer not adding more yeast and waiting for
fermentation again. I'm considering the option of adding an additional
4lbs. or so of raspberries, racking after a week or so, and seeing what
that does. Then perhaps adding sodium benzoate along with a half pound or
so of honey to taste. Perhaps some orange blossom or buckwheat?

The initial 60 oz. of raspberries sat in the secondary for a

little more than 2 weeks. Might this have contributed to 'extra'
tartness? Should I add yeast along with the new raspberries or should it
still take off fermenting again? Any other helpful suggestions?


  • -Bryan Fitzhugh

Subject: mazer Cup results
From: Chuck Wettergreen <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 06:59:40 -0600

Was there no 3rd place awarded in the Pyment category in the Mazer Cup?


Subject: How long does mead take?
From: Chuck Wettergreen <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 08:31:07 -0600

For some time I have pondered the repeated statements on HBD/MLD to the
effect that "meads take a long time to make". I first experimented with
a pie cherry melomel and succeeded with a 30 day start-to-finish melomel
which I reported in MLD #502 (10/8/96). It was this same melomel which
took second in melomels and a first in open/mixed (cherry jack melomel)
in the recent Maser Cup contest.

Now somewhere in November 1997, Wout Klingens <> wrote
to the MLD asking for help in clearing his first mead effort. Wout and
I carried on an extensive correspondence about his particular problem
and mead-making in general. In the course of the correspondence Wout
mentioned that he had a beekeeping friend who was very sick and he
(Wout) wanted to quickly make a show mead for his friend using his
friend's honey. I blithely dashed off a recipe and set of instructions
with which, I assured him, he could produce a show mead in "a short
period of time".

After I sent the e-mail to Wout, I sat back and thought about what I had
just done; I have never made a "quick" show mead, yet I was assuring
him that it could be done. I decided to make sure I could do what I
assured him he could do. Here's my brewing log:

RECIPE (brewed 12-11-97)
6 lbs. Bowen's farm honey, water to make 3 gallons (@75 degF) in 5
gallon carboy, 2 tsp. yeast nutrient ,
2 tsp. yeast energizer, oxygenated 20 minutes, OG 1.100, ambient
temp 65 degF
I had previously found this honey to be high protein and thought that
the protein was being denatured by the heat of pasteurization, causing
the mead to be especially hard to clear. Thus this time I "brewed wild"
and did not use any pasteurization.

12-14-97 IG 1.090
12-16-97 fermentation slowing, Ph approx. 3.2 to 3.4 added 1 tbs. CaCO3
12-17-97 IG 1.055, Ph 4.0, fermenting well
12-21-97 IG 1.001, Ph 4.0, fermentation slowing, tastes slightly
sweet, citrus aroma, still fermenting
12-22-97 IG 1.001, racked off of lees to 3 gallon carboy
12-24-97 into refrigerator at 38 degF
12-26-97 out of refrigerator, racked off of large amount of creamy tan
yeast which had fallen out of solution. Added pack of Knox's gelatin in
8 oz water heated to near boiling, then cooled.
12-27-97 gelatin had little effect, apparently it isn't the heat that's
denaturing the protein, it's the acid drop produced by the yeast, sort
of like lemon juice curdling milk when added
12-28-97 added 3 tsp. Sparkloid in 1 cup water (boiled)
12-29-97 racked clear mead off of dregs, added 1 1/2 tsp. Potassium
sorbate, added 1/8 lb. Bowen's Farm honey for slight sweetening and
additional aroma, FG 1.000 alcohol approx. 13%
12-30-97 mailed two champagne bottles (corked and capped) to Wout in
Holland. Unfortunately, it's going to take longer to mail than it took
to make.

So here's a show mead in 17-18 days. No it's not my usual "fed" mead of
17-20%, but it doesn't have any off flavors, it's clean, clear, and
while a little thin, just fine for drinking.

But back to Wout, when he couldn't find the yeast I recommended (Lalvin
k1-V1116), I sent him some. He, using that yeast and some innovative
procedures ( which he will report later), apparently is well ahead of my
18 day record, and this for a mead using 18 (probably now 19) approx.
1-pound jars in an approx. 5 gallon batch.

Mead doesn't have to take a long time to make.

Geneva, IL

Subject: Commercial Meads
From: "David Johnson" <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 17:31:33 -0600

I am posting this on behalf of a friend. He has a relative who is a pilot .
This pilot apparently flies to Sweden, England, and France on a regular
basis. He has offered to bring back some bottles for my friend. He would
like recomendations on commercial meads as well as where to buy them. I
must admit that my own motives are not pure. This friend has been generous
enough to share with me in the past. I am hopeful the pattern continues.

Monroe, WI

End of Mead Lover's Digest #632