Mead Lover's Digest #0641 Mon 2 February 1998


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



re: Alcohol-Water Mixtures and Boiling (Dick Dunn)
Darkening Mead ("Glenn Mountain")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998 (John Munn)
Mead by the Gallon from a Beginner's Kitchen (Lourdes Mila)
hoses, alcohol ("Mr. Warren Place")
Re: Alcohol-Water Mixtures and Boiling (Di and Kirby)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998 (Myron Sothcott)
Odors from Mead (Stan Wood)
More honey + poetry ("Leo Demski")
Cranberry blossom honey ("David Johnson")
Re: hose maintenance (Bill Shirley)
Re: Pine Mead. Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998 (Madbrewer at the…)
Re: Pine Mead. Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998 (Madbrewer at the…)


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Subject: re: Alcohol-Water Mixtures and Boiling
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 31 Jan 98 15:38:40 MST (Sat)

"Wallinger" <> wrote in Digest 640:
> …Hang on for a chemistry lesson.
Be careful.

> Alcohol-water mixture display an interesting property. This is the classic
> example of an azeotrope (AY-zee-o-trope). An azeotrope is a mixture that
> reaches an equilibrium concentration of one component in another when boiled
> that cannot be reduced to zero by further boiling…

You're on the wrong side of the boiler, there. The azeotrope is achieved
in a distillate (i.e., if you were to catch the vapor and condense it).
That's not what we're doing.

>…For water and ethanol
> this equilibrium is reached when alcohol is at 4.5 weight percent (per
> Lange's Handbook of Chemistry, 12th edition).

You've gotten something way flipped around there. The azeotrope of ethanol
and water contains mostly ethanol. (from CRC Handbook of Chemistry and
Physics, 46th ed, the composition of the ethanol/water azeotrope at
atmospheric pressure is 95.6% ethanol, 4.4% water).

It is demonstrably not hard to reduce the amount of ethanol in water to way
below 4.5%.

> What this means is that ethanol is driven off (along with a fair bit of
> water, I might add) when boiled until the concentration of alcohol in the
> water drops to 4.5%. At that point, both the vapor boiled off and the liquid
> that remains maintains this 4.5% ethanol concentration.

Still backwards. You get to the azeotrope by boiling and condensing the
vapors. Each time you do this with an ethanol/water mixture, the
concentration of ethanol in the result gets higher (because ethanol is the
more volatile of the two) but the returns diminish (you get less and less
of a concentration effect) as you approach the azeotrope concentration,
because the percentage of water in the vapor grows closer to the percentage
of water in the boiler. This is why, for example, Ever Clear(R) is 190
proof–that's 95%, which is as close as they can get to pure ethanol by

BUT note that this process involves repeated distillation, which is NOT
what we're talking about. We're boiling and letting the vapors go, keeping
what's left behind. The process of azeotrope formation says nothing about
how the content of the vapor above the boiler affects what is *in* the

> I hope this explains why you cannot determine the alcohol content by
> boiling…

It doesn't.

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…I'm not cynical – just experienced.

Subject: Darkening Mead
From: "Glenn Mountain" <>
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 08:32:00 -0600

Hi All,

Thanks (belated) to all those who helped out with my recent questions on
oak and acid.

I have another question now. I have a mead which finished fermenting maybe
2 months ago, was racked and is waiting for me to bottle. During the time
since I have noticed the mead had turned a darker colour. My two thoughts
are that oxidation has occured with the O2 introduced at racking or it has
been affected by heat (the hottest December on record here in Melbourne).

Any ideas or similar experiences ??

Glenn Mountain
Melbourne, Australia

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998
From: John Munn <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 23:34:00 -0500

> Subject: hose maintenance
> From: "Linda or Darin" <>
> Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:51:04 -0800
> Would the collective please be so kind as to share with me techniques to
> take care of my racking hose? It is dirty, and doesn't seem to want to get
> clean.
> Darin Trueblood

Darin… I rin hot tap water through my hose immediately after use to
remove whatever might be of interest to the biological nasties. If the
hose appears cloudy, it may be calcium build up… or it may ba a
reaction between the plastic and water… in that case, don't worry too
much. Just hang it up to dry as best you can.

If the hose appears to have mold or other funkiness (a scientific term
for nastiness)… just replace it. It's not that expensive to do. You
can try boiling the hose if you want. Treat it with chlorine bleach
(remember to rinse all traces)… but if all else fails… replace it.

John Munn

Subject: Mead by the Gallon from a Beginner's Kitchen
From: Lourdes Mila <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 22:30:41 -0700

Mead by the Gallon from a Beginner's Kitchen
>From Lourdes Mil=E1
Well, to my great surprise, what I thought was an off the wall idea, is
an established practice by fellow enthusiasts! Many, many thanks to all
of you who so kindly shared your experiences with me. Let me give a
little something back. I have these two recipes doing their thing in my
kitchen and they are looking good! In great measure, I owe it to all of
you. Also, included below are the very good tips that I received from
so many of you. While I haven't implemented them all yet, I intend to.
Cyser – sent to me by someone who tells me he got it off of the 'net'.
1 gallon of natural apple juice (no potassium sorbate), in a glass jug
1 pint of honey (1.5 lbs.) – I used Colorado Clover
12 oz can of fruit concentrate grape or cranberry (no preservatives) – I
used a Knudson grape mix.
1 heaping table spoon of yeast energizer
1 package (5 grams) of Red Star Champagne yeast – I didn't hydrate the
yeast as the recipe didn't call for it and yeast activity is happening,
but it is very slow.
Pour off 48oz of juice – put aside for drinking.
Pour the honey into the jug, put in the yeast energizer. I placed the
honey in warm water prior to pouring and this made it pour easily and
dissolve faster.
Shake and shake until the honey is dissolved.
After the honey has dissolved pour in the fruit concentrate which, you
have thawed earlier.
Shake well again.
The fluid level should be just above the jug's shoulder. This is where
the body of the jug begins to taper to the neck.
Add the yeast to the jug. I swirled gently – don't know if it was
required but I couldn't help myself.
Put on the air lock and set the gallon on an unused corner of the
kitchen counter.
Fermentation is said to take 3+ months (This seemed long, is this
correct?). If fermentation ends early, rack off into another jug and
add more yeast. Set the airlock. When fermentation is complete,

Maple Mead – reduced from a larger recipe given to me by the Maple Mead
1.5 quarts of maple syrup – grade B Dark and honey (I used half and
half. Colorado Clover Honey and Maple Syrup from a bulk store)
1 heaping tablespoon of yeast energizer
1 package (5 grams) white wine yeast
1 gallon of Spring Water – you will need less than the full gallon.

Boil half a gallon of water. When it has cooled – you can place your
finger into it, but it is warmer than bath water, pour into the glass
gallon jug.
Hydrate the yeast with the yeast energizer in =BD cup of warm water (bath
water temp). Soak for approximately 30 minutes.
Add the honey and maple syrup to the water in the jug. This should
bring the mixture level to the shoulder of the jug. You can add more
spring water if required.
Shake and shake to mix completely and aerate the mixture.
Pitch in the yeast/energizer mix. Mind the temperature of the fluid in
the jug or you will kill the yeast.
Place on airlock.

In a month or so, the alcohol will kill the yeast before it runs out of
sugar. If not, and the mead turns out too dry, add some more honey. It
is ready to drink as soon as fermentation stops. Maple wine becomes
crystal clear with a beautiful sherry color within sixty days. Mead will
sometimes clarify in ninety days. If you choose to bottle the mead
before it is clear, it will clarify in the bottles, leaving unsightly
but delicious sediment.
Sage Advice
Mead by the Gallon – from J. Brangan
"Since mead making does not (usually) involve boiling hops, you do not
need to worry about differences in extraction rates when scaling
recipes. Beer making recipes do NOT scale easily.
Just start with about 2 – 2.5 lb of honey per gallon, and keep it
simple. Don't try exotic things right away. When you *do* decide to
try using fruit, I have a technique which works well, that I use when I
don't have the "right" size fermenter for my batch.
Since a typical fruit mead (melomel) calls for 2-3 lbs of fruit per
gallon, you will not have much room left in your one gallon fermenter
for the mead. Just split the mead between two fermenters at first and
let them ferment. When you are ready to rack them, rack them back
together into one 1 gallon bottle.
Another alternative is to find a homebrew shop. Many of them stock 2,
2.5, or 3 gallon fermenters. Almost ALL my meads are made in 3 gallon
Yeast – Most home beer, wine, mead, and cider makers grossly underpitch
their batches. They typically use anywhere from 1/10 to 1/3 of the
amount of yeast that they should. What does this mean to you? Go
ahead, use a whole packet of yeast in your one gallon batch. (I do,
when I test 1 gallon batches.) The yeast are going to multiply =
before they switch to making alcohol. Even if you pitched a smaller
amount, they will still multiply before making alcohol. Adding extra
yeast will help your mead ferment to completion quicker, and will help
assure that the "good" yeast which you pitched will outnumber and
overrun any undesirable 'wild' yeast.
You do not want to save a portion of a packet of yeast. Once opened,
the yeast will begin to absorb water from the air, and breakdown. They
will also pick up contamination (wild yeast and bacteria).
Even though I do have the room to ferment in my basement, I still make
some batches on my kitchen counter. First, it is warmer up there in the
winter, and second, it is fun to watch the mead ferment. I *do* cover
the fermenting mead with a brown paper bag, with a hole cut for the
airlock, but I lift the cover and peek when ever I walk by."

Use bentonite (clay) to quickly clarify a mead any time after
fermentation stops. Boil 3 ounces of water in a saucepan. While
simmering, slowly sprinkle and stir in 1 tsp. of bentonite. Cover and
let stand for 24 hours. Add during racking. It may be necessary to rack
and bentonite twice. The result is crystal clear.
the Maple Mead Chief

Bill Shirley warned me and I should have listened because it would have
saved me a trip. Jugs have different neck sizes. Take the intended jug
in with you to get the right fit for your air lock stopper! I wound up
needing a number 8 stopper.

For the recipes above, I did not use a starter, but the following is
something I plan on attempting in my next batch(s).
Starter Tips – from Darin Trueblood
"The specific reason I am answering your post pertains to the yeast. I
normally get at least 3 to 5 (one) gallon batches out of a package of
dry yeast. I use a starter of 12 ounces of water and 2 tablespoons of
fermentables (honey, dried malt extract, white sugar in a pinch) and a
pinch of yeast energizer. I also re-hydrate the yeast in 90=B0F water
(1/4 cup or so) before I toss it into the starter. The rest of the
yeast I leave in the package fold it up and rubber band it shut, put it
in a zip-lock bag, and store in the refrigerator. Let the starter
ferment (covered to keep airborne beasties out, I use a 1.5 liter =
with an air lock) until the air lock activity subsides and the yeast
settles into a cake. You can then decant the liquid off and pitch the
slurry, or, if an extra 12 ounces of liquid doesn't matter, just swirl
it up and pour it into the must. It usually takes something like a =
Oh, BTW, that is 3 to 5 *starters* from a yeast package. I get many
more batches then that from a package by using the dregs from the
secondary fermenter in place of the yeast from the package. Also, apple
juice (esp. unfiltered) makes a great starter solution, and you can
drink the cider when it is done."

Head space and other concerns – from Glenn Ferrell
"Use an entire package of yeast. A larger yeast sample will just help
fermentation start sooner and protect your mead from infection. You can
make 1-gallon batches. I sometimes the 4 liter wine jugs (just a little
more than a gallon). And you might find that 2 =BD gal. carboys don't
take up too much room, even in your apartment. These containers don't
have to be in your kitchen all the time. Once fermentation is underway,
or while you're letting the sediment settle out after fermentation (a
process that might take several months), your container may be stored in
a closet, pantry, under a table, or other out of the way place. Just
watch out for initial fermentation (ie. first few days) if you don't
have much head space in your fermentation container. You can get a lot
of foaming. You wouldn't want fermenting mead exploding all over things
in a closet. Initial fermentation might best be done in a bath tub or
kitchen sink. It is actually better to keep them out of direct light.
Even if you make mead or wine in one gallon batches, you'll eventually
want to have several different batches underway at the same time. Also,
you need to realize that once your siphon off your product after initial
fermentation, you'll have less volume that you began with. Your yeast
sediment at the bottom of the fermentation vessel will reduce the
overall yield. It is customary to top off the secondary vessel with
additional honey and water or previously made mead or wine. This
prevents oxidation from oxygen in an excess head space. This is not a
problem during fermentation because the head space if full of CO2.
During settling, there is little or now CO2 formation."
Thanks a million gang!

Lourdes Mil=E1

Subject: hoses, alcohol
From: "Mr. Warren Place" <>
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 07:28:22 -0800 (PST)

On hoses:

You're best off replacing those when they get nasty. To this day

I haven't found a brush that fit well enough to do the job, and hoses are
somewhat inexpensive (I throw mine out when it looks nasty or about
yearly). The best way to keep from having to replace them all the time is
to clean them as soon as you finish using them.

On alcohol:

I love hearing all the experimental data about alcohol removal.

Since some is contradory I will have to try this when I get a free moment
in the lab. I've been thinking about making a batch of sweet cider buy
heating up the cider to about 160F and then cooling it to force carbonate.
I'm not worried about all the oxidization and other gremlins that might
occur, I just want to try a gallon and see how it affects the flavor. The
discussion here has been reassuring that I won't be left with
non-alcoholic applewater. Anyone try this? (I've heard it done in the
bottle, but the possibility of explosion scares the hell out of me).

Warren Place

Subject: Re: Alcohol-Water Mixtures and Boiling
From: Di and Kirby <>
Date: Sun, 01 Feb 1998 09:45:47 -0600

Wade Wallinger wrote:

> I hope this explains why you cannot determine the alcohol content by
> boiling. Nor can you produce a non-alcoholic beverage be boiling.

What if, instead of actually boiling, you kept the mixture at a
temperature *above* the boiling point for alcohol, but *below* boiling
for water? Like, say, not quite warm enough for vivible steam? (isn't
ethanol's BP something like 70 degrees F?) *Then* when you got down to
50% of original volume, or whatever, you'd have accidentally lost much
less water, it seems to me. And if you figured in that 4.5%
concentration, you'd be able to make a pretty damn fine guess about the
alcohol percentage before warming. No? It would take a bit longer, and
I'm not sure I'd personally care that much, but could it work?


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998
From: Myron Sothcott <>
Date: Sun, 01 Feb 1998 14:00:33 +0500

>Subject: hose maintenance
>From: "Linda or Darin" <>
>Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:51:04 -0800

>Would the collective please be so kind as to share with me techniques to
>take care of my racking hose? It is dirty, and doesn't seem to want to get

>Darin Trueblood

I replace mine when it gets bad. That is better than taking a chance of
contaminating a brew or mead.

The procedure I use to keep the hose clean between replacements:

Always rinse with flowing water as soon as possible after a siphon, then
drop in a tub of sanitizer (I use bleach – 1 cup to 5 gallons of water).

I have a length of heavy nylon cord a little more than twice the length
of my tubing with a small piece of coarse terry cloth tied in the center.
I crimped a couple of small led fishing sinkers to one end and feed that
end through the tubing then pull the terry back and forth through the
hose to loosen anything that wasn't washed out in the rinse.

The hose turning cloudy doesn't mean that it is dirty, but I retire it
when it gets so cloudy that I can't tell if it is dirty.


Subject: Odors from Mead
From: Stan Wood <>
Date: Sun, 01 Feb 1998 14:26:26 -0600


I made a cyser last April and added those little spice
packages from Chaucer's Mead to the pasturizing must. When I
transfered the mead to the primary one of the packets slipped past me
and sank into the carboy. I shrugged it off. A couple of weeks
later I noticed it floating in the foam and fished it out with a
fork. The smell from the spice packet nearly gagged me. I was
afraid the mead had picked up the flavor, or worst, was infected.
I figured that maybe the smell would eventually go away —
but for months it persisted – nasty. Then in December I checked
again, and my, but that mead was sweet smelling. Recently I bottled
it and also mulled some for a bunch of my gaming friends
(including two guys who've made much more mead than I) and it
received rave reviews.

Lesson learned: Time heals. Don't give up on a mead for at
least a year.

I got that lesson from reading all the posts on this digest
and it saved me 5 gallons of (now) nectar.

Thanks people!

Stan Wood
GIS Specialist, Webmeister, Mead-maker,

Subject: More honey + poetry
From: "Leo Demski" <>
Date: Sun, 01 Feb 1998 21:11:23 PST

Hi All!

I'm in the process of making my third mead- I made a batch of prickly
pear fruit mead a la Papazian, but I originally made it to be dry. It's
been in the secondary for approximately 9 months now, and its' about 11%
alcohol (and very dry). I was considering adding some more honey to
give it a better, fuller flavor, but I have several questions:

1. If I add more honey should I add more yeast? Or do y'all think that
the yeast (Champagne) would still be active enough to handle new honey?

2. If I do add more honey, how can I gauge how much alcohol it'll
produce? I don't want to end up with an extremely cloying mead, i.e.
too much honey for the yeast to handle…

3. Also, just out of curiousity, which do you prefer making and/or
drinking, sweet or dry meads?

Also, I thought y'all might enjoy this poem I recently came across(It's
about kvass mostly but also pertains to mead):

KVASS by George Thurberville (1568)
Drink is their whole desire, the pot is all their pride;
The soberest head doth once a day stand needful of a guide.
If he to banquet bid his friends, he will not shrink
On them at dinner to bestow a dozen kinds of drink,
Such liquor as they have, and as the country gives;
But chiefly two, one called kwas, whereby the Moujike lives,
Small ware and water-like, but somewhat tart in taste;
The rest is mead, of honey made, wherewith their lips they baste.


Subject: Cranberry blossom honey
From: "David Johnson" <>
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 18:12:02 -0600


I had a couple of requestsabout my source for cranberry blossom

honey.Here is theri address:
On their page they offer the following list:
"Our seven varieties include (from mildest to strongest): Alfalfa, Clover,
Orange Blossom, Sunflower, Cranberry Blossom, Wildflower, and Buckwheat. "
Going by the other honeys on this list would one guess that this would make
a straight mead or would it need to be combined with other milder honeys.


Subject: Re: hose maintenance
From: Bill Shirley <>
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 1998 08:54:02 -0600

> Would the collective please be so kind as to share with me techniques to
> take care of my racking hose? It is dirty, and doesn't seem to want to get
> clean.
> Darin Trueblood

try soaking in amonia diluted with water,
then flush with hot tap water

  • bill

Subject: Re: Pine Mead. Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998
From: Madbrewer at the Skulafoss homebrewery and meadery <>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 08:49:27 -0700 (MST)

I have never tried a "pine" Mead but I do a annual Spruce mead by using
about 1-1.5 oz of fresh spruce tips per gallon. The flavor is "What is
that flavor?" Just a hint of spruce and the flavor is pretty stable.

In Firth.
Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime.
A redirected quote by my wife circa 1991

Subject: Re: Pine Mead. Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998
From: Madbrewer at the Skulafoss homebrewery and meadery <>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 08:49:27 -0700 (MST)

I have never tried a "pine" Mead but I do a annual Spruce mead by using
about 1-1.5 oz of fresh spruce tips per gallon. The flavor is "What is
that flavor?" Just a hint of spruce and the flavor is pretty stable.

In Firth.
Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime.
A redirected quote by my wife circa 1991

End of Mead Lover's Digest #641