Mead Lover's Digest #0647 Tue 17 February 1998


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



Mead dust (Zaephod Beeblebrox)
Maple Mead (Zaephod Beeblebrox)
cyser (Di and Kirby)
Recent Discussions of Oxygen and Boiling Cider ("Michael O. Hanson")
High pressure mead prep (meadman)
Collecting bottles via dumpster diving ("James Hodge")
O2 in mead (
re: The great Boiling/Sulfiting/Pasteurization debate (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #646, Crown Caps & O2 (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #646, Corks & crowns (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #639, 29 January 1998 (dennis key)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998 (dennis key)
SG of sugars and such (Brian S Kuhl)
RE: The great Boil Sulfite ETC (Madbrewer at the Skulafoss homebrewery an…)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #643, 9 February 1998 (dennis key)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #646, 15 February 1998 ("Burnette, Ollen–G3")
cider/cyser (Dick Dunn)
oxidation (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: Mead dust
From: Zaephod Beeblebrox <>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 11:34:49 -0500

I too have noticed that a mead forms precipitates for a long time after
cleared. My solution is to postpone bottling, and after stabilizing,
post sweetening, and final racking:
o slam a #6 gummed stopper into the carboy,
o wrap a layer of plastic wrap over the stopper,
o secure it with a rubber band,
o put it away for a year.

This does two things:
1. Makes sure all things precipitate out into the carboy
2. Gain aging time. A year of bulk aging is worth about 18 months of
bottle aging.

The only downside is you tie up a carboy for a year.

Subject: Maple Mead
From: Zaephod Beeblebrox <>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 11:54:17 -0500

Also in the MLD someone asked about fermenting maple sap.

I checked into doing this about two years ago. First I had the problem
getting the sap. The vendor claimed this was possible if I timed my
visit correctly when the sap was running. However he said that the
actual sap tastes quite watery and nothing like you would want to pour
on pancakes. I guess it would probably taste worse in beer, as I was
going to mix it with malt.

The vendor claimed that a lot of flavor in the sap comes from
carmelazation ocurring during the boiling process, like roasting peanuts
or coffee beans. His sugesstion was to buy a half gallon of pure maple
syrup and add it to my brew. I thanked him for his time and went to
Price Club and purchased two 32oz of their "pure" Canadian maple syrup.

The 64 oz, was added to my standard 6.6 lbs amber malt extract recipe.
The result was the most cidery tasting stuff I have ever had,

Now the syrup tasted OK, it was even nice to sweeten coffee with, but it
didn't work out with beer. Seems that a while later 20/20 had a segment
on fake Canadian maple syrup companies. These slimeballs take cane sugar
solution and add thickeners, artificial flavors, and then pass it off as
real maple syrup. No disrespect to Price Club intended here, but I'm not
too sure if I wasn't one of the suckers who bought the fake syrup. That
would explain the cidery taste. However, it is possible that it was real
syrup and maple syrup ferments like that. So be sure of your source.

Just to be stupid and try it again, I reduced the dosage to 32 oz, and
added it to a clovermead. The results are still bulk aging. I'll post
'em when I bottle the stuff. Initially it didn't taste too bad.

Frank M.

Subject: cyser
From: Di and Kirby <>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 20:09:21 -0600

Robert J Skala wrote:

> I will be making my first batch of cyser this weekend, and I have
> one question. Should I boil the cider with the honey, or just dump
> it in the primary. The magazine where I got the recipe from doesn't
> say whether you have to or not. The cider that I have is pure cider
> with no preservatives, but it has been pasteurized.

I've made a few bathches of cyser/cider. I'd say that if you normally
pasteurize or boil your must when making mead, I'd take a bit of the
apple juice, enough to dissolve the honey in, and heat that. If your
juice has been pasteurized already, then I see no need to heat it again.
To be honest, I've done batches with unpasteurized fresh juice, and not
hadone turn out bad yet. (knock on wood.) Then stir this mixture well
back into the unheated juice. It will most likely be at a decent
temperature for pitching, to boot. You could probably get away with not
even heating the honey, but it seems easier to dissolve it in the juice
when it's hot. And then if the batch goes wrong later, you won't beat
yourself up about "man, if I'd only pasteruized that honey!"

There's also a cider/cyser digest, which you can subscribe to the same

way you did this one, at


Subject: Recent Discussions of Oxygen and Boiling Cider
From: "Michael O. Hanson" <>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 14:53:05 -0800

vRecently, there have been a number of postings regarding oxygen in the

Mead Lover's Digest. A winemaker's trick I have not seen mentioned
involves adding a teaspoon or so of ascorbic acid to mead at the time of
racking or bottling. Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant and scavenges oxygen.
Wine is made from fruits that contain ascorbic acid. This may be one
reason for an apparent lack of concern among some winemakers about oxygen.

As a brewer, I'd say that oxygen is not wanted in beer after fermentation.
Oxygen is generally desirable to some extent when pitching yeast.

I have tasted beer that has been treated with ascorbic acid. I did not
notice any difference in flavor.

Secondly, someone wrote in with a question about whether to boil raw
pasteurized cider. I wouldn't bother boiling it. If you clean your
equipment well and use a good yeast starter, there should be little reason
to boil or pasteurize cider a second time.

Keep up the good work. I have learned a great deal from the mead Lover's


Mike Hanson

Subject: High pressure mead prep
From: meadman <>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 98 16:22:20 -0000

NL Steve wants to know if there are other ways or if simple addition of
enormous yeast cultures will work?

>In other words, if we use a
>healthy yeast starter, does anyone out there have any first-hand empirical
>evidence that it is necessary that we boil, pasteurize or sulfite?

I have had the opportunity to taste barrel samples and finished meads in
NY state that were produced in 2 weeks from RO filtration preparation.
The physical separation of long chain proteins and osmotic yeasts does
work and produces a very nice mead that quickly. No heat or sulfites (to
kill wild bacteria) but some added as a preservative tho?

The thing that I believe adds character to this beverage is oak barrel
aging. Since two weeks in s/s tanks is not giving it to the wine. There
were some barrel aging tests ongoing and I will comment on them in a
month or two after my next convention trip to the ASEV NY chapter.

if water is added to honey and allowed to dilute it to a lower SG, the
yeasts inherently found there will go wild and create off flavors from
their metabolic consumption of glucose in the solution . I have not read
any specific testing reports or organoleptic analyses of the resultant
mixture but would expect pretty rough character.

Remember that this is all chemistry and the compounds formed during the
biochemical ferment can range from aldehydes and ketones to acids, bases
and other fun glorp like phenol and solvents such as toluene. Of course
everyone likes esters and ethanol but those other things can be nasty at
the right concentration.

OTOH , they started our move towards civilized culture many thousands of
years ago from a taste of wild mead from a tree cavity in the mideastern
countries, so it can't be all bad but? I believe that the gods gave us
wits to utilize and since men charred meat over the oak fires in the dark
ages we have generally not eaten raw beast.

I therefore prosletize that judicious use of fire can separate out the
bad proteins and wild beasties without damaging the essetial aromas of
the honey.

Now I pitch the tar out of barrels full of mead and only do the 15 minute
cycle from 155-170 before quick chilling the s/s tank of must on its way
to the barrels over a 15 min fill cycle. Seems to work for me and I like
my mead dry and oaky , so guess what I do then?

I leave it for 10 months to a years at cold cellar fermentation temps of
45-55 with cold tolerant yeasts.If you like it sweet and simple don't try
this. Underpitch yeast and ferment warm in glass. OTOH ,Just buy a 10-20
gallon oak barrel and leave it be for a year if you follow my drift. Lose
the glass except for secondary racking and clarification. Get the mead
off the lees and it should drop clear in 30 days with significant
residual body. Just dont add fruit to the barrels or you will be sorry.

Add it into the glass secondaries and use widemouth jugs if possible like
the 15 gal demijohns vinters use. You will get great fruit color and
flavor since the alcohol in the mead is a great solvent and it extracts
and generally prevents infections from wild yeast on the fruit. You
control the main batch and live large with the secondary flavors and
aromas from the fruit fermentation.

I am now filtering the many barrels of sauce we make and it is thinner in
mouth feel than the racked meads of homebrewing times , but much more
stable for storeshelves. Sorry for the long post but I needed to purge
the memory banks on some of these issues this morning . Time to go soak
some oak and analyze the barrels started 6 months ago, even if I do open
the wine to 02 and oxidize it a bit. Someone has to do it to keep the
customers happy!

Bruce P. Stevens – VP/Meadmaker @ Cask & Hive Winery – Monmouth, ME
(207) 933-WINE

Subject: Collecting bottles via dumpster diving
From: "James Hodge" <>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 16:58:20 -0600

Just a few comments on collecting bottles out of dumpsters: If you are
doing this in the dumpsters out in back of bars and restaurants, it can get
to be a pretty grisly and disgusting business. Depending on local
ordinances and recycling requirements, many places toss everything into one
big collective dumpster; leaving you the unpleasant and unhygienic task of
cleaning someone's leftover pasta primavera (or worse) off of your bottle.
The only time I have found this to be worthwhile is on New Years Day. Most
bars and restaurants will have had a midnight champagne toast and you can
generally get a year's worth of champagne bottles (along with the very
handy cardboard cases to carry them in) in just a few stops.

Generally, a much better strategy for collecting bottles is to visit your
local recycling center and do your dumpster diving there. You might have
to explain your actions to the recyclers, who will be confused by someone
wanting to take stuff out of their bins, but once they understand what your
up to, I have found that they will be pretty cooperative.

A few additional and, probably, unnecessary comments: First, if you're
dumpster diving, a pair of leather gloves is a prerequisite and second, the
bottles you will collect will need some industrial strength cleaning to
make them usable. I have my own prejudices on the best way to accomplish
this, but will leave that to another post.

Jim "Reusing is recycling" Hodge

Subject: O2 in mead
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 07:12:17 EST

In a message dated 98-02-13 16:55:08 EST, you write:

<< I would be interested to hear any "experts" on wine or mead making step up
to the podium and comment on this one (Dick, are you listening?).

Charles >>

While I am not one of the 'experts' I shall take a stab at this anyhow.

I feel that in many fermented products, beer included, the effects of
oxidation are a component of their flavour profiles. This is probably most
true in older, traditional style beverages. The effects of oxidation are
accepted and are part of the complexity of the finished product. Oxidation is
IMHO a very large player in the aging mead and wine ( beer), and when
controlled or regulated can greatly increase the perceived sensory value of
mead, or wine.

micah millspaw – brewre at large

Subject: re: The great Boiling/Sulfiting/Pasteurization debate
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 08:48:05 -0500

It is not necessary to boil/sulphite/pasteurize if you can ensure that your
honey does not contain any unwanted bacteria, wild yeast, or other
microflora. But that is not easy to do, therefore we assume there may be
some unwanted nasties and we use on the three methods above to try to get
rid of them.

Your "clean" methodology may work just fine at times, but what would that
prove? It is not a repeatable experiment as each batch of honey is a
little bit different and may contain different bacteria, wild yeasts, etc.
If you want to risk the odd batch of mead going bad then use your clean
methodology and, as you said, pitch an active yeast source.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #646, Crown Caps & O2
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 15:37:41 EST

Crown caps used to have cork inside instead of plastic, yet it has been a
long time since I've seen any of these. These might be nice to bottle
mead with the equipment I already have and allow for the oxygen
permeability recently promoted here. Does anyone know of a place these
are available? >>

I think they are now completely obsolete, simply for the reason you note, they
leaked. I can get them, of uncertain age, but I do not carry them in stock.
They persisted longest in the Champagne trade, with a disk of aluminized mylar
on the top to make them seal, and a disk of cork below for cushioning.

Jay Conner

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #646, Corks & crowns
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 15:37:45 EST

<< 1.) If anybody knows what type of bottles (brown & 12 oz. or so) will
corks for aging and then be crown cappable for competition, & where to get
them, I'd sure appreciate the info. >>

You're asking for an appleorange, but there are some tricks to pull this off.
Most domestic "champagne" or sparkling apple-juice bottles have a crown
cappable lip, and will take a normal crown cap, provided you have a capper
which is adaptable to a wine-bottle diameter. All bench-type cappers will
work, and most of the double lever types have a reversible or adjustable half-
moon cut for the larger bottles.

For corking, you will, of course, need a corker. The diameter of a standard #9
cork is just a bit too large. A beer-bottle diameter is about 2 mm smaller
than a wine bottle. There is also a slight downward flare to the champagne
bottle, which makes cork extraction difficult. However, a #8 x 1 1/2 cork will
fit just fine, and can be crown-capped over, or wired down, with some
modification of the usual wire, which is designed to fit over a bulbous
projection at the top.

You may be able to pull this off with a beer-bottle, but they are not very
strong at the top, and the chances of breaking the bottle either during
corking or when opening are considerable.

Jay Conner

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #639, 29 January 1998
From: dennis key <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 14:20:58 -0700 (MST)

I have found Bentonite used according to package directions to work the
best with any fruit-based brew. Sparlkoid left a huge glob in the
middle of the carboy which was very difficult to filter. I just bottled
six gallons of apple pie cyser that used five gallons of Knedsen's apple
juice (lots of sediment). It dropped clear with just less than a gallon
of sediment in 48 hours.

Never Thirst,

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #640, 31 January 1998
From: dennis key <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 14:36:14 -0700 (MST)

I seem to remember a maple mead discussed a couple of years ago. It was
reported to be very good but produced a migraine-level headache after
just one glass. Does anyone else remember that post?

Never Thirst,

Subject: SG of sugars and such
From: Brian S Kuhl <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 98 14:38:00 PST

Here are some specific gravity targets to use for four things…

Fermentable: SG:
Table Sugar 47
Honey ~42(varies)
Molasses 43
Dry Malt Ext. 42

Brian Kuhl

Subject: RE: The great Boil Sulfite ETC 
From: Madbrewer at the Skulafoss homebrewery and meadery <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 16:00:29 -0700 (MST)

> Subject: The great Boiling/Sulfiting/Pasteurization debate
> From:
> Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 16:51:33 EST
> Many of us assume that mead must be made from honey which has been boiled or
> pasteurized or sulfited. I was just wondering: has anybody out there ever
> made mead using "clean" methodology — but without boiling, pasteurizing or
> sulfiting, and then pitched a strong active yeast source but later had a
> contamination problem they blamed on this method? In other words, if we use a
> healthy yeast starter, does anyone out there have any first-hand empirical
> evidence that it is necessary that we boil, pasteurize or sulfite? Gracias.
> ——————————

I have tried on three different meads to for go the Pasturization(I have
never boiled or used sulfites) and on two out of the three I did pick up a
infection. The one that did not infect was a very dry still mead. The two
that did infect was a sweet mead and the other was a sweet Raspberry
melomel. All used the same yeast, ( a local vineyards) and I pitched @ 1
qt slurry.
I hope this helps

In Frith.
Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour
Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #643, 9 February 1998
From: dennis key <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 17:27:32 -0700 (MST)

Did you , perhaps, mean, 10 POUNDS of honey–not 10 gallons <9about 120


Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #646, 15 February 1998
From: "Burnette, Ollen--G3" <>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 08:03:53 -0600

In MLD #646, wrote:

> Many of us assume that mead must be made from honey which has been
> boiled or
> pasteurized or sulfited. I was just wondering: has anybody out there
> ever
> made mead using "clean" methodology — but without boiling,
> pasteurizing or
> sulfiting, and then pitched a strong active yeast source but later had
> a
> contamination problem they blamed on this method? In other words, if
> we use a
> healthy yeast starter, does anyone out there have any first-hand
> empirical
> evidence that it is necessary that we boil, pasteurize or sulfite?
> Gracias.
I have had the opposite experience. I have made mead using what you
call a "clean" methodology several times with no problems whatever. I
have become convinced that the key is using a strong active yeast source
with a high alcohol tolerance – if you use a low tolerance yeast, a
higher tolerance wild strain could take over after your low tolerance
strain is killed by alcohol concentration, especially is you are making
a sweet or semi-sweet mead.

Chip Burnette
Belton, TX

Subject: cider/cyser
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 17 Feb 98 09:17:37 MST (Tue)

Don't boil apple juice. Not necessary, very hard on the flavor, and unless
it's been filtered to death it will have a lot of pectin which will set
when you boil it.


Subject: oxidation
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 17 Feb 98 13:29:08 MST (Tue)

"C.W. Hudak" <> wrote, among other stuff…
> That said, I've noticed a certain lassaiz fair attitude in winemaking
> circles of the effects of oxidation…

> Personally, I've stopped worrying about O2. I used to purge my carboys with
> CO2 b4 filling; I don't anymore. While I don't splash the must around while
> siponing, I am convinced that a little oxygen during aging is, oddly
> enough, important for wines/meads in developing the complexities that we
> desire through biochemical pathways which need oxygen.
> I would be interested to hear any "experts" on wine or mead making step up
> to the podium and comment on this one (Dick, are you listening?).

Who, me? Yeah, I'm listening but I'm not an "expert" (even in quotes). I
don't spend much time worrying about oxidation either. I've had meads that
were definitely oxidized and were much the poorer for it, but these were
the result of somebody letting the fermentation lock go dry for a couple
months–obvious screw-ups, not minor bits of aeration, and the meads had a
significant brown cast to them. Even then, some of the folks who tasted
those meads liked the "sherry-like" character, but I would have to call it
a fault. I think a tiny bit of oxidation does add to the character, but I
don't think I'd seek it out. Use good technique and don't worry too much.

There is one case where I've taken extra care, and that's where a mead is
nearly done fermenting before I rack it. If I end up with a lot of head-
space in the carboy, I'll make an attempt to purge it. (I use one of those
wine-preserver pressurized cans.) My thinking here–and I admit I've not
done any sort of experiment to test it–is that I don't want to top up and
dilute the mead; the mead isn't going to generate enough CO2 fast enough to
protect itself; it might sit in secondary for a fair while (months).

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…I'm not cynical – just experienced.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #647