Mead Lover's Digest #0649 Thu 19 February 1998


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



siphoning (re Moniak Mead) (Dick Dunn)
Siphoning, Irish Moss and the AMA ("C.W. Hudak")
Collecting bottles via dumpster diving (Daniel Gurzynski)
Re: Irish Moss (
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #648, 18 February 1998 ("Burnette, Ollen–G3")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #648, 18 February 1998 ("Burnette, Ollen–G3")
Irish Moss/Dumpster Diving/Siphoning ("Michael O. Hanson")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #648 (John Mason)
Sucking the tube (dennis key)
Licorice flavor in mead ("David Johnson")
Mead Mixers ("Dave Moore")
corney kegs? (L)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #648, 18 February 1998 (William Chellis)
O2 and mead aging (Zaephod Beeblebrox)
Obtaining bottles (Zaephod Beeblebrox)


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Subject: siphoning (re Moniak Mead)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 18 Feb 98 23:33:59 MST (Wed) (Rod McDonald) wrote, among other stuff:
> On another matter, a recent post (I don't recall from whom) spat on the
> practice of siphoning via sucking with the ol' gob. What is the general
> practice on MLD, and what range of methods do people use?

It's been 15 years since I've sucked on a siphon *or* been able to figure
out why anybody does it. Yeah, it probably works a lot of the time. Yeah,
it's a good excuse for a big swig of vodka. But why?

Put the clean racking cane (the inverted-J rigid tube) into the carboy.
Take the clean racking hose, turn ends-up so you've got a U-shape with the
ends at the same level. Pour clean water in one end, let it fill the
whole thing. Take it to the racking cane and slip one end over the cane
while the other end stays at the same level. Pinch the other end, take it
down to where you're going to siphon. Let go, letting the water run out
into a cup if you care (which you do during bottling, but probably not
during racking). No suck, no special gadget.

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…I'm not cynical – just experienced.

Subject: Siphoning, Irish Moss and the AMA
From: "C.W. Hudak" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 23:18:01 -0800

Rod writes:

>On another matter, a recent post (I don't recall from whom) spat on the
>of siphoning via sucking with the ol' gob. What is the general practice on
>and what range of methods do people use?

Well, tell you what *I* do. I have a piece of 3/8" OD copper tubing about
12" long that I sanitize. I stick that in the business end of my siphoning
hose and, while holding it up, suck to fill about half of the hose and
racking cane with liquid. I then pinch the tubing, remove the tubing and
stick the end into the receiving vessel. My lips never touch anything that
the mead will, though some might argue that my breath is a source of
contamination (ok, yeah, let the jokes fly if you must). I've done this
with beer, mead and ciders for years and never had any problems. I takes a
little practice (use water, not your precious beverages) to get it right.

Kate asks about Irish Moss:

>What exactly IS Irish Moss? My problem is that I live in Sweden, and
>I can't find anything with that name anywhere. And what is the purpose
>of adding Irish Moss to a mead? Is there a good substitute?

Irish Moss is red seaweed, scientific name Chondus Crispus. It is a source
of carageenan which binds with protein and causes it to settle (simple
explanation). It is usually used in beermaking due to the large hot break
of protein after boiling. It helps to eliminate chill haze due to soluble
protein-tannin complexes. I don't know if there is a suitable replacement
but you should be able to find it almost everywhere so you shouldn't need
to find an alternate. It's cheap; buy some from a homebrewshop and have it
shipped to you.

Regarding the AMA. I was a member…briefly a few years back. Here's my
take. I paid $20 or $25 dollars and for that I got half of the six
"journals" that I was supposed to. The journals that I did get were a joke:
A couple of dozen pages with almost no useful information for even a
reasonably experienced meader (had a whopping two batches under my belt). I
know that it was a "grassroots" organization but I found the cost/value
ratio way too high. Hell, I can get a years subscription to Zymurgy,
Brewing Techniques or Brew Your Own for about as much and get ten times as
much information/news.

I don't mean to posthumously berate Susanne…I'm sure that she meant well
and worked real hard but I found it to be a waste of my time and money.
This was probably back in 1994-1995. I never even considered for a moment
to resubscribe.

I sincerely hope that the people trying to breath life into the project of
resurrecting this organization do a better job than was done in the past.


Subject: Collecting bottles via dumpster diving 
From: Daniel Gurzynski <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 07:11:15 -0500

Another solution to acquiring bottles is to buy them! Not at the prices of
the brew stores (unless you want to) but at beverage stores. I just go to
anywhere that sells beer and accepts bottles for return. Both in Buffalo
and Albany NY all they charge is the rate return which amounts to about $
1.50 /case! In both cases they even let me look through and sort out the
broken tops, excessive biological component etc… This comes with a very
nice heavy cardboard case as well. If approached right I have never had a
problem this way.

Subject: Re: Irish Moss
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 06:53:43 EST

In a message dated 98-02-19 01:15:48 EST, you write:

> From: Kate Collins <>
> What exactly IS Irish Moss
It's a clarifier.
I use it occaisionally, but almost exclusively rely on Sprakalloid

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #648, 18 February 1998
From: "Burnette, Ollen--G3" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 08:13:50 -0600

My favorite source of bottles is also a small local winery. They
frequently have wine tasting evenings, and always have wine tasting for
their tour; and there is an ordinance which does not allow them to
"reuse" bottles for their product for sale. A free source of relatively
clean and uniform bottles, and the cardboard cases (w/ dividers) to
carry them in! They are happy to have me haul off whatever has not gone
to the recycle point whenever I stop by – frequently 4-6 cases at a
time. Of course, I also allow them to sample what I put in them, and
patronize their winery – they have a really nice Johanisberg Reiseling!

Chip Burnette
Belton, TX

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #648, 18 February 1998
From: "Burnette, Ollen--G3" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 08:22:13 -0600

Re: American Mead Association

I was not a member of the "old" American Mead Association (AMA), but
would be interested in joining a new, revised version, with the same
name or a different one. Please keep us informed of progress on
organizing or energising a new group!

Chip Burnette
Belton, TX

Subject: Irish Moss/Dumpster Diving/Siphoning
From: "Michael O. Hanson" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 08:55:10 -0800

Irish moss is a kind of seaweed used to help yeast settle out of beer. It
should do the same thing in mead. I don't know what the Swedish name for
it is. In the US, it is available in brewing supply shops.

You can filter mead to clear it. There is a chance of oxidation of alcohol
during filtration because of possible exposure to air. Bentonite and
sparkeloid are two commonly used fining agents. These are alternatives to
Irish moss.

In Minnesota, a good way to get twelve ounce beer bottles is to buy empty
cases from a liquor store. You may be able to return them and get your
money back after you're done with them. You'll need to inspect them for
mold growth and clean them thoroughly before use.

Siphoning is best started by some other means than the human mouth. As any
dentist will tell you, the human mouth contains bacteria. They could add
an off flavor to mead. Some siphons have a tube you can blow through to
get them started. According to a Microbiologist I have consulted, this is
cleaner than sucking on the siphon with your mouth. Alternatively, if your
siphon doesn't have such a tube, you could start it with a large syringe
available from a pharmacy.


Mike Hanson

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #648
From: John Mason <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 11:30:41 -0600 wrote:

> As my last batch of cyser is now aging in bottles (and after two months,
>STILL tastes like gasoline)

I'd like to offer yet another testimonial for the aging process (look
out AARP). After nearly 3 years, my first cyser attempt has turned into
something wonderful. This was HORRIBLE when young, and even the
kindest, gentlest, tasters with any sense of taste struggled to find a
good thing to say about it. Be patient, be happy.

"Shaun Funk" <> wrote:

>I would like to make a sweet mead with black licorice
>flavor. What flavoring agents are effective to impart
>this flavor? I have heard of dry star anise and brewers
>licorice, but have never used either.

I haven't tried it in mead, but I have had success making liqueurs using
blends of star anise, anise seed, fennel seed, and licorice root. If I
try to use just one of them, the flavor seems flawed. Except for the
licorice root, I use them lightly crushed. The star anise takes twice
as long as the others to produce a good flavor, so I would introduce it
independently. You'll have to experiment with maceration (?) time and
amounts, but as a rough guideline I go a week with just the star anise,
then go another week after adding the others. Bear in mind this is for
liqueurs that are strongly flavored.

There are also extracts available which are easy to use and don't affect
the color. I just don't find them as "personal".

John Mason

Subject: Sucking the tube
From: dennis key <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 14:37:14 -0700 (MST)

I have been brewing beer for over 20 years and making mead for six years.
I ALWAYS start my siphons by sucking on the tube (yes! with my mouth!) and
have had zero, zip, nada problems of any sort. I suppose it's a matter of
aesthetics and I'm not very!

Never Thirst,


Subject: Licorice flavor in mead
From: "David Johnson" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 18:34:25 -0600

Shaun Fumk wanted to know about licorice flavors in mead. I was searching
the archives and ran across a post about a fennel mead. It was by Micah
Millspaw. I found Micah's method for using fennel quite interesting and have
wondered how it aged out. I believe that fennel gives a licorice flavor and
might be used for this. I used some fennel in a Belgian strong ale and i
felt it turned out quite nice. For my BSA, I used 2 tsp fresh ground fennel
at 10 min left in the boil and 1/4 tsp dry. Boiling might not be
appropriate for a mead. I have quoted Micah's post below.

"I made a 15 gallon batch of sage honey mead ( 30 P original gravity ) after the
mead fermented out I racked the mead into 3 five gallon soda kegs. One I left
alone to age, one dry hopped with Tasmanian Hersbruckers and to the last
added a fennel extract that I had made. I took about a quarter cup of fennel
seed, crushed it, and then put it my expresso machine. The resultant steam
extract was very potent. The fennel flavoured mead was (is) very good, quite
drinkable without being overwelmingly spiced. As fennel is a rather strong,
nutty spice so a light hand using worked well.
micah millspaw – brewer at large"

Subject: Mead Mixers
From: "Dave Moore" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 20:13:06 +0000

My last mead was a cherry mead that turned out dryer and blander than I
intended. It's not bad, it's just not particularly good either. I have two
cases of the stuff in 750 ml champagne bottles. I've been quietly ignoring it
for about two years, occasionally opening a bottle. It's mellowed nicely but
is still on the bland side. Recently I've discovered a Wonderful answer.


The mead mixes with grapefruit juice and produces a "Mamosa-like" drink that
is pure ambrosia. Orange juice is good too, but grapefruit juice is the
answer, (that and 42). So don't toss your disappointments, try a mixer.

PGP key available at ""

Dave Moore

Subject: corney kegs?
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 19:08:54 -0800

As a newbie to the MLD, I have not seen any comments on the use of 5
gal. corney kegs for aging meads. I would appreciate comments as I
currently have 35 gal. aging in corneys, I would certainly hate to have
made an error in judgment.

Any thoughts on clarifying agents? Sparkaloid? Gelatin? Isinglass?
Bentonite? thoughts and comments more than welcome either email or to
the collective wisdom at MLD.


two wrongs don't make a right, but three do.
t. leherer

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #648, 18 February 1998
From: William Chellis <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 21:45:41 -0500 wrote:

> I would like to make a sweet mead with black licorice
> flavor. What flavoring agents are effective to impart
> this flavor? I have heard of dry star anise and brewers
> licorice, but have never used either. Are there others?
> How much would I use per gallon?

Ingredients for Licorice Mead (won best of show)

3 gal water
15 lb honey (any)
10 sticks of licorice root-crushed
( put in bag and beat with hammer)
2 tb anise seed-ground
3/4 cup star anise-crushed
8 oz chopped dates
5 tea bags
6 oranges-juiced

PA at start equalled 19% / finished at PA = 9

good luck

Subject: O2  and mead aging
From: Zaephod Beeblebrox <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 22:21:36 -0500

Reply to John Wilkinson about O2 and mead:

Does your green mead taste like a waste of time?
And does your aged mead taste like a reward for patience?

Then aging (oxidation) does affect mead positively.
That is unless I misunderstood your question.

Frank M.

Subject: Obtaining bottles
From: Zaephod Beeblebrox <>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 22:41:06 -0500

In reply to the ongoing question of obtaining bottles:

Dumpster diving is a desperate measure.

I prefer showing up at a wine festival with:
1 – minivan
1 – handtruck
2 – willing assistants (if possible)

timed precisely at closing.

I have succeeded in FILLING a stretched (Grand) Caravan with cases of
bottles, that's 4 x 8 feet, 4 feet high on a Saturday evening with an
hours work.

Then I decided to standardize on clear bordeaux bottles without a kick
in the bottom and gave 3/4 of them away. A repeat performance neted me
half a van full. Basicly my basement is glassed out.

If a wine festival is not available in your area I suggest finding a
winery who has public tastings and uses the type of bottle you
specialized in. Pretending that you like their wines helps. Buying a few
bottles is even better. Most states have laws that prevent the winery
from reusing the bottles so they just get trashed. Dumpster diving is
reduced to trash can rummaging. This is an acceptable form of demeaning
yourself to obtain glassware.

Now, why do I specialize on one type of bottle for all my wines you ask?
So I don't have to wait for 24 green burgandy's to show up to bottle! I
drink 'em, save 'em, store 'em, and soon (well not too soon) there's 24
empties just waiting for my next creation. And they are all alike and
fit into a case without any sticking up so as to make closing the cover
flaps a pain!

This is unless you consider my previous post on using beer bottles.
Those I personally enjoy emptying.

Frank M.

Sorry, no fancy ASCII graphic here….

End of Mead Lover's Digest #649