Mead Lover's Digest #0662 Sun 5 April 1998


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



Re: Ultrafiltration ("Wout Klingens")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #661, 1 April 1998 (GREATFERM)
Re: mead lunacy? (Dan McFeeley)
Re: Chimay Yeast in a Mead? (Scott Murman)
Lunacy (Chuck Wettergreen)
freezing mead (Chuck Wettergreen)
re: Lunacy? (
Ancient Celtic Metheglin Recipe (Dan McFeeley)
difficult-to-clear meads (serious this time) (Dick Dunn)
RE: Unusual Mead Recipes… (LaBorde, Ronald)
Re: Chimay Yeast in a Mead?(Richard Gardner) (Leonard Meuse)
well what is an appropriate level of nutrients? (Eric James Urquhart)
Chimay yeast (michael rose)
ale yeast (Randy Paul)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #661, 1 April 1998 (LYNDALAND)


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Subject: Re: Ultrafiltration
From: "Wout Klingens" <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 07:11:34 +0200

John Wilkinson wrote:

> A wine kit I have used a couple of times includes bentonite which it says to
> add to the primary at the start. It doesn't specify to let the must clear
> before pitching, though. As well as I remember, the bentonite is added after
> the concentrate is diluted and when the yeast is pitched. I thought this odd
> at the time since I always considered bentonite to be a fining agent used afte
> fermentation was complete. Could the bentonite use in the kit be for the
> above mentioned reason of removing protein?

I had some private questions too. I remember now where I saw the
answer to your question: the rec.crafts.winemaking faq.
It seems, that it helps the clearing process by 'The removal of
particulate matter'.
About another matter I had a private discussion with the much
appreciated George Clayton Cone.
He said:
'Because the bentonite adsorbs the amino acids and proteins, it is
best not to add it at
the beginning of the fermentation when the yeast needs all of the
nutrients that are
available in the must. Wait 2-4 days.'

Now we all now, that the proteins in honey-must cannot be digested by
the yeast. So hence my question to Louis. He answered me privately
with the remark that he feels, that bentonite would remove the larger
proteins but not the smaller ones, which cause the raw young mead

In the mean time I got the idea of using enzymes to break down the
proteins in amino acids. This is a well known practice in commercial
beer making to help the clearing process. Maybe those amino acids
*could* be digested by the yeast. So I would like to use them
*before* pitching again. But I just don't know, if those enzymes
would work on bee pollen proteins and the like. They are primarily
constructed for proteins from wheat.
Does anyone have a clue? Because, if it works, you have the nutrients
from amino acids and you don't have the drawbacks, if any, of
(ultra)filtration. It just "feels" more ethical to me also.
In the mean time I'll keep asking around. I'll let y'all know when/if
I find something out.

Wout Klingens

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #661, 1 April 1998
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 01:14:09 EST

In a message dated 98-04-01 22:56:04 EST, you write:

> MIke Hanson wonders how to shorten the time it takes for mead to become
> 'drinkable'.
> As posted on the MLD 18 months or so ago, this can easily be done.
> The idea is to forget about acid blend until fermtation is done.
> Unfermented mead (whatever the term is) has a natural pH below 4 which by
> itself is not ideal for the healthiest ferment.Adding the acid blend only
> makes it worse.
> Raise the pH to over 4 with calcium carbonate. PLus add some yeast nutrient
> and yeast energizer.
As a winemaker, this makes no sense to me, although I do agree that acid blend
is just a confused compromise…Use tartaric acid if you need to add
acid…..but a wine with a pH of 4 would NEED acid for a healthy ferment, we
shoot for a pH of 3.5 in reds, 3.2 in whites. Yeast must have an acid
environment, they love it and grow best, and with fewer deleterious bacteria
to contend with. In champagnes the pH will be about 2.8, and yeast are quite
active. If you raise the pH you increase the risk of oxidation, lessen the
effectiveness of SO2, and increase the risk of spoilage bacteria. Plus it
makes the wine taste flabby.

Jay Conner

Subject: Re: mead lunacy?
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 23:16:49 -0600

On 1 Apr 98 00:00:00 MST (Wed) Dick Dunn wrote:

>I've done some experiments that indicate that the rate of clearing of a
>mead may be affected by the moon-phase during which it is made. Specifi-
>cally, meads started (i.e., when yeast is pitched) during the full moon
>seem to finish and clear faster than meads started during a new moon.

Were these experiments done with the salad meads you were talking about
last April 1st? 😉


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Chimay Yeast in a Mead? 
From: Scott Murman <>
Date: Thu, 02 Apr 1998 00:12:15 -0800

R. Gardner asked:
> Does anyone has any experience in using Chimay ale yeast in a mead?

I've tried it, on a limited basis. Not to discourage you, but the
yeast didn't take too well to honey IMO. I ended up with a lot of
band-aid or medicinal type phenols with the honey must, but with the
beer wort, I get bubble gum and banana. Belgian yeast are notoriously
very picky, so this really says nothing about your particular
experiment. Please, let us know how yours does.


Subject: Lunacy
From: Chuck Wettergreen <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 07:04:15 -0600

Nice try Dick, but your annual April Fool's mead just doesn't quite taste
right. Actually, I thought the salad/vegetable mead last year was much
better. 🙂


Subject: freezing mead
From: Chuck Wettergreen <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 07:30:00 -0600

A pie cherry melomel that I froze to "remove excess water" 😉 took a first
in the last
Mazer Cup open/mixed category. I froze about three gallons and removed
about two
gallons of ice. Surprisingly, none of the judges comments mentioned (to
the best of my
recollection) anything about the alcohol taste being stronger or more
evident. Most comments emphasized that the other flavors were more

Would I do it again? While taking a first at the Mazer Cup was wonderful
(and the hand-crafted glazed pottery mazers given as prizes are
phenomenally beautiful), you have to consider that I basically threw away
two gallons of just-fine cherry melomel (which took a second or third, I
don't recall which). No, I probably wouldn't do it again. So little mead,
so much time…

On another matter, I had previously reported that my meads made with a
particular honey weren't clearing because of excess protein. I talked to
the beekeeper (while buying 60 pounds of basswood and 60 pound of Dutch
clover/soybean honey) and asked about this. He said, "It's got to be
pollen. I don't filter my honey, I only strain it through cheesecloth. The
pollen goes straight into the honey." Maybe I'll try a *gross* filtration
(say 2uum) to remove this and see what happens. Anyone have any idea what
size pollen grains are? Again, maybe I won't. 🙂


Subject: re: Lunacy?
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 09:49:05 -0500

in MLD #661, Dick Dun said:

I've done some experiments that indicate that the rate of clearing of a
mead may be affected by the moon-phase during which it is made. Specifi-
cally, meads started (i.e., when yeast is pitched) during the full moon
seem to finish and clear faster than meads started during a new moon. I
don't have enough data yet to know whether this follows a smooth transition
over the phases.

I have heard a rumour that mead made by naked virgins clears faster than
mead made by the rest of us. Does anyone have anything to substantiate
this theory?

Subject: Ancient Celtic Metheglin Recipe
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 11:43:35 -0600

I ran across this note on the excavation of the Hochdorf tomb, a Celtic
site just a few miles from Stuttgart Germany, dated approx. 540 – 520 BC.
Along with the artifacts that were recovered, there was a bronze 125 gallon
cauldron that had held mead, according to the analysis of the brownish
sediment at the bottom. The source was _The Celts: Conquerors of Ancient
Europe_, NY: Harry N. Abrams, 1993, p. 38.

Pollen analysis showed that honey had been used along with "local plants
such as thyme, mountain jasmine, plantain, knapweed, and meadowsweet."

A complete site report might give the complete listing of spices for
this metheglin, but of course the exact amounts are unknown.

Anyone want to try and recreate this Celtic version of metheglin?


Dan McFeeley

Subject: difficult-to-clear meads (serious this time)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 2 Apr 98 11:05:46 MST (Thu)

Most mead-makers will eventually encounter a mead that just won't clear
nicely. It may only happen once in a blue moon, but it is vexing when it

I was looking at my shelf of little containers of stuff I've experimented
with over the years…geeez, gelatin, bentonite, Sparkolloid, pectinase,
isinglas, Polyclar. Each of these has a particular purpose, a particular
problem that it solves. Some of them overlap with others, of course.
Some have annoying characteristics, like the sludge syndrome with bentonite
or the fluff factor with Sparkolloid.

Seems to me it would help if meadmakers had a couple of things here:

* a good characterization of each agent that might be used for clearing
mead somehow–what it is, how it works, what it requires in the mead
in order to work (in terms of pH or tannin or whatever)
* some way to examine or test a mead to decide *why* it's not clearing,
and thus guide the choice of a clearing agent

Without the second, in particular, I know that some mead-makers go through
a ritual of trying one thing after another, sort of shotgun. "Try
pectinase, wait a week…nope, the problem wasn't set pectin. Try gelatin,
wait a couple days…nope, no help…"

The references I have available to me don't have any good, consistent
information on the various finings and other clearing agents. At best they
will mention one or two.

Anybody got thoughts or better references on this?

Dick Dunn rcd, domain Boulder County, Colorado USA

…Mr. Natural says, "Use the right tool for the job."

Subject: RE: Unusual Mead Recipes...
From: (LaBorde, Ronald)
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 14:07:18 -0600

>From: Donellan <>


>(2) 4lb. jars peanut butter (smooth the crunchy makes racking a pain )

I am new to this and I need to know if the jars are crushed in the wine
press, or used whole. If you crush them, what settings do you use?

Subject: Re: Chimay Yeast in a Mead?(Richard Gardner)
From: Leonard Meuse <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 13:50:56 -0800 (PST)

>Does anyone has any experience in using Chimay ale yeast in a mead? I
>figured it might could withstand high alcohol and also give some
>flavors. I'm trying this out now. I cultured from a '97 Chimay Blue (alc
>9%/vol) straight from Belgium (BTW, the bottle says best drunk by the end
maybe not pertinent to the spirit of the question (my answer to that is
sounds cool) but chimay uses 3 yeasts at 3 different times during
fermentation. They finish up with a very tolerant strain as you might have
imagined, but if you culture from the bottle I'm not sure what you'll end
up with strain wise…
(just got back from Belgium and the abbey at Chimay was one of the
Len Meuse

Subject: well what is an appropriate level of nutrients?
From: Eric James Urquhart <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 13:58:08 -0800 (PST)

Well Dick, what is the appropriate level of nutrients to prevent the off
flavours and of what composition ie. minimum to what to consider
appropriate ? I have seen a wide range listed ?

Eric Urquhart, Centre for Pest Management,
Dept. of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University,
8888 University Drive,
Burnaby, British Columbia, CANADA V5A 1S6

lab (604) 291-3090 fax (604) 291-3496

Subject: Chimay yeast
From: michael rose <>
Date: Fri, 03 Apr 1998 10:21:07 -0800

Richard Garder wrote,
>Does anyone has any experience in using Chimay ale yeast in a mead?

The yeast you find in Chimay (and most beers) is the yeast used to

bottle condition (carbonate) the beer. The yeast used to ferment the
beer was removed after the fermentation ended. You don't want to use he
yeast you find in the bottle.

Michael Rose Riverside, CA

Subject: ale yeast
From: Randy Paul <>
Date: Sat, 4 Apr 1998 12:47:19 -0500

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question about using ale yeast to
brew mead. I thought I'd pass on my experience and see if I can get some
more advice.

I brewed a plain mead with no nutrient (expect there's enough in the
overpitched yeast cake), only 1/8 tsp of acid blend, and 1 tsp. irish moss.
OG was 1090 (FG below 1000). The yeast from Potomac Brewing (I think it's
a descendent of 1056) had been used sequentially for 5 low gravity
(1042-1053) clean tasting beers so it was as healthy enough for a
high-gravity brew. Fermentation started within 2 hours, and was most
active from day1 to day3. I racked at about 2.5 weeks and now, one week
later, it's reasonably clear with only a little fermentation continuing. I
fermented at 60-63F, which was perfect for the beer but may have caused
some strong fruitiness and banana esters in the mead (with weizen, banana
esters are usually associated with higher temps vs. cloviness at cooler
temps, but this is a very different yeast that usually doesn't do this).
Honey aromas and warming alcohol as well as bananas and fruitiness describe
the mead now.

Next, I plan to split the batch into two 2.5 gallon carboys, one as-is and
one onto some fresh fruit (depends on what I come across that looks good
this spring here in Virginia). I'm leaning towards cherrys or
strawberries, but am unsure about which flavors will complement the banana
esters (in case they don't subside). Hopefully there will be enough yeast
left in the secondary yeast cake that's not dormant or dead to work on the
fruit if I start within the next few weeks. I'm looking for suggestions on
which fruit to use, advice as to how much fruit to use, advice on how to
prepare the fruit before the second fermentation and advice on how long to
leave the mead on the fruit.

TIA — Randy

Subject: Re:  Mead Lover's Digest #661, 1 April 1998
Date: Sun, 5 Apr 1998 18:54:21 EDT

Still in fermenter is a batch of braggot (or pretty near so, don't want to
open that can of worms again). Ingredients were, 14 # orange blossom honey, 6
# amber malt extract, 6 # blueberries. Initial fermentation was wild. A
continuous stream out of the airlock. Now, after 2 weeks it has slowed to one
every 10 seconds, so gave a stir and a taste. Fantastic!!! Dark taste
(slightly creamy, but with a smokiness to it) and lots of fruit. Goes into
secondary in about 2 more weeks and then I am guessing it will have to sit for
as long as any mead. I plan to pitch a little sugar just before bottling to
get a small head on the glass when poured. I will keep you updated. Oh, just
opened a bottle of the strawberry port I posted almost 2 years ago (now in the
cats meow) and after that time it has really smoothed out. Waiting pays off!

Doug Thomas

End of Mead Lover's Digest #662