Mead Lover's Digest #0684 Sun 5 July 1998


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



re: Currant mead (Dick Dunn)
Re: Various & Sundry Questions ("Marc Shapiro")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #683, 30 June 1998 ("Marc Shapiro")
Muscadine Pyement, hope its a good year for the wild grape! (Mark Koopman)
yeasts and berries ()
Re: Salal berries and currant mead (Terry Estrin)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #683, 30 June 1998 (
Re: star jasmine & currants (Joyce Miller)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #683, 30 June 1998 ("Wout Klingens")
Oregon Grape Holly ()
Re: Raspberry Chocolate mead (Dan McFeeley)
Rea$on$ to Make Mead (Dan McFeeley)
Yeast Activity (Phill Welling)
tasting notes on cyser (Neal Dunsieth)


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Subject: re: Currant mead
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 30 Jun 98 23:48:57 MDT (Tue)

"Stephen J. Van der Hoven" <> wrote:
> In the yard of the house that I moved into recently there is a currant
> bush that is brimming with berries. Anyone out there had any experience
> with using currants in a mead?

Yes! I'm assuming you mean redcurrants, which make a wonderful mead. Made
dry/sparkling, it carries the currant taste nicely, no hint of bitterness
or too-sour, and it's a beautiful color.

Also, you get to play with a lot of interesting batch-names: Currant
Event, Electric Currant, Eclectic Currant, Currant Rage, With the Currant…
(My first currant mead was named Currant Event. If you've ever tried to
pick enough redcurrants to get a reasonably strong fruit character–I
suggest 2 lb per gallon–you probably found that the picking was quite an

My technique, which I know is slightly heretical, is to add the fruit to
the primary fermenter right from the start, and leave it on the fruit for a
few days (less than a week, anyway). Then remove the fruit (skim, or if
you had the foresight to put it in a nylon strainer-bag, just lift it out)
and press it; return the juice to the fermenter. The fermentation will get
through the skins, so don't worry.

If you have blackcurrants instead, I would suggest caution in the quantity
you use. I've not made a blackcurrant mead yet; our bushes are not yield-
ing enough. But we use them for sauces and such (excellent foil to stronger
game). They have a rather assertive and quite unusual taste that I'm sure
would put off a lot of folks if you got carried away with it. For that
matter, redcurrants have a bit of a strange taste, but it's in the back-
ground so that people are puzzled by it without being put off. I know the
redcurrant taste gets a lot of reactions of half-smile, wrinkled brow, and
"I like it…but what IS it?!?"

If you're looking for plant varieties, we (Diane/I, and friends) have found
Red Lake currants to be generally available (most good nurseries), hardy,
productive in a couple years, and producing heavy crops in any decent
year. Our experience with blackcurrants is more limited, so I'll leave
comment on those for the next millennium.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

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

Subject: Re:  Various & Sundry Questions
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 08:45:25 +0000


In answer to a few of your questions:

> 1) I am planning on starting with a medium-dry mead, using about
> 12# of honey for a 5 gal batch. Is this about right for a medium
> mead?

For a traditional mead that will probably come out pretty dry. I use
about 12 lbs per 5 gallon batch in my melomels and even with the
added sugar from the fruit they come out dry to medium-dry. I am
using a yeast with a high attenuation. You might still be able to
get a medium-dry with a low attenuation mead. Maybe someone will
answer your second question with a good yeast to get what you want.
Remember, too, that leaving the mead sweeter with that honey content
will also result in lower alcohol. Using 12 lbs in a 5 gal batch is
just about right for 12% alcohol if fermented all the way to dry.

> 3) I was planning on not boiling the must in order to preserve more
> honey aromatics. Can I get away without pasteurizing if I oxygenate
> and pitch enough yeast?

I don't like to boil my honey, either. I suggest the following
method: Bring 2 gallons of water just to a boil and remove it from
the heat. Then add your gallon of honey, stirring constantly,
until all of the honey is disolved. This should be sufficient
temperature and time to take care of any wild yeasts that may be
present in your honey. If you feel it is necessary, boil the rest of
your water seperatly and add it to the honey when it has cooled to
between 150 and 160 Fahrenheit.

> 4) I was planning on adding yeast nutrient. Is 1 tablespoon right
> for a 5 gal batch? Should I be adding yeast nutrient as well?

Check the instructions that came with your nutrient. I usually only
use 1/4 tsp/gal which comes to only 1 1/4 tsp for a 5 gal. batch.

Marc Shapiro

Visit 'The Meadery' at:

"If you drink melomel every day, you will live to be 150 years old,
unless your wife shoots you."

  • –Dr. Ferenc Androczi, Winemaker of the Little Hungary Winery

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #683, 30 June 1998
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 09:08:52 +0000

Ras asks:

> Would any one have a "fool proof" recipe for a gross beginner for
> mead? I have a gallon of local honey and wish to make my first mead.

1 gallon honey
3.75 gallons apple juice
5 oz lemon juice.
2 dozen cloves
7 sticks of cinnamon
5 thin slices of fresh ginger root
1 packet wine yeast

The spices are optional, but I like it this way. The cyser does not
come out tasting heavily of the spices.

Heat the apple juice to a near boil. Remove 1 pint of the juice to
make a starter solution. Place the spices in a muslin, or
cheescloth bag and hang them in the pot of juice. Cover the pot and
allow it to steep overnight. (Your kitchen will smell wonderful in
the morning). Sprinkle your yeast on top of 1 cup of warm (100 F)
water and let it sit for 10 minutes then add it to the pint of must
that you removed from the pot once that has dropped to 90 degrees and
put this in a 1 quart container, covered, overnight. The next day
remove the spice bag from the pot and heat the juice back up to about
180 Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat and add your honey and lemon
juice. Stir until well disolved. When the temperature of the must
has dropped to 85 F or below pitch the yeast starter, which by this
time should be fermenting very well. Put an airlock on your carboy
and allow the yeast to do their thing.

When fermentation has ended (no more bubbles throught the airlock),
which will probably take 1 to 2 months, siphon (rack) the mead into a
clean carboy, leaving the sediment behind. Put an airlock on this
carboy, as well, and leave for another month. Rack the mead again.
Continue this process of rackings every month or so until the mead is
clear, then rack into bottles. You may find that the mead is
drinkable at this time, but resist the temptation to drink all of it.
Let it age, it will get better.



Marc Shapiro

Subject: Muscadine Pyement, hope its a good year for the wild grape!
From: Mark Koopman <>
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 08:04:00 -0500

Dave inquired about muscadine pyement.

I've made about four batches, thus far. My favorite uses 6 cups of
muscadine/gallon. Freeze and thaw for best juice extraction. I use
cheeze cloth and squeeze the juice into pateurizing temp water, then
toss in the skins, having removed the seed and seed sack. I then rack
off the skins after about a week. A bit tricky, that, but you get to
sample the must…mmmmm.

To you pyement makers: should the seeds be left in the primary?

My best results have used Red Star Champaigne yeast with a couple pounds
of orange blossom honey,…rather dry. The best sweetner, at decanting
or in the glass, has been a sweet mead of star thistle honey (that one
carbonated to the near danger point ;). The first batch of muscadine I
made was with liquid sweet mead yeast, which tasted great at bottling,
and went downhill over time. This was the only mead I've made that
deteriorated with aging. Good luck, and please post your results,
especially if they differ from my own.

Subject: yeasts and berries
From: <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 98 09:57:40 -0400

I would appreciate any recommendations for good yeasts to make a
semi-sweet mead that would finish out without too much alcohol, maybe
about 12 to14%. Possibly a yeast that would ferment out about 3.25 lbs.
to a gallon and still have residual sweetness, but not overly so.

I've tried the D-47 Lalvin with 2.75 to 3.00 per gallon with good
results. It is somewhat dry and I've had requests to also make some a
little sweeter. I will try to D-47 with 3.25 lbs/gal. next. I'd like to
try something different though.

I just racked off two batches , one Orange and the other Star
thistle(from northern michigan, called knapweed in the Peterson book).
The orange has a floral nose but astringent at first rack and the star
thistle is smoother but not so floral. I wonder why the orange is
astringent? Any ideas out there? What causes astringentcy?

Last winter I did the same two batches as above and adjusted the drier
orange (2.75 lbs/gal) to .6 TA *after* fermentation. I think it is too
acid now and would recommend that the drier meads be adjusted to .5 or
so. Do you think it will mellow a bit in time? It's a bit tart.

With the advent of raspberries ripening, I could use some ideas from any
berry heads on how to best handle getting the juice into the must. Like,
put all the berries in a nylon bag and squeeze out the juice in a press
or put the whole wad into my tank(50 gal) and pull it out after a bit or
whatever other idea may be floating out there.

Forgive any questions above that have been discussed recently.

Happy summer!

Subject: Re: Salal berries and currant mead
From: (Terry Estrin)
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 09:53:55 -0600

I'm from British Columbia, a place with a lot of salal berries. While it is
true that they are a tad bland eaten off the bush, they have a distinctive
pleasant taste. When I was off camping a couple of years ago, I made some
salal berry jam (just berries boiled with sugar), and it was quite good – a
lot like blueberry jam. My guess is that if you were going to make a salal
berry melomel, it would be a good idea to cook the berries slightly first.

As for the question about using currants in a mead: I made a fireweed
honey/blackcurrant melomel that is (humility aside) THE best I have ever
made. So my advice is, go for it. As with salal berries, currants are best
cooked a little before adding them to the must. Also, because they are a
bit astringent, I would recommend a sweet, rather than dry melomel.

Terry Estrin

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #683, 30 June 1998
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 09:00:49 -0700

>Subject: Dandelion mead?
>From: "Leo Demski" <>
>Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 16:28:54 PDT

>Hey everybody!

>I was wondering if anyone out there had any recipes and/or knowledge
>concerning making a dandelion mead? I have a good source for
>non-sprayed flowers, and good Dakota honey…

>What about Flower meads in general? Any recommendations? Procedures? I
>don't have any of my mead references with me (I'm on a working vacation
>in the Black Hills of South Dakota)….

>Also, has anyone experimented with using spruce in mead?

>I greatly appreciate any information anyone can provide (please post to
>the journal)

>- -Leo Demski


I have a peach-elderflower mead that is 18 months old and still in the
carboy. I left the elderflowers on a little too long, so that taste is a
little strong. You start the base mead or melomel and at first racking,
add the flowers. For elderflowers, FRESH flowers should be on no more then
two weeks, DRIED flowers should be on no longer then a week. My mistake
was to leave the DRIED flowers on for two weeks, so now I have a very
pretty peach colored mead that tastes almost exclusively of elderflowers.
This isn't a bad taste, just not what I was looking for.

BTW, this is the clearest mead I've ever made, and I have not used any
clearing agents at all. I suspect the dried flowers must contain some form
of tannin and caused the mead to clear. One other note, some of the
elderflowers floated and some settled, so racking is very interesting. You
may have to rack several times to get all the flowers off the mead.

  • – leeam

Subject: Re: star jasmine & currants
From: Joyce Miller <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 18:53:11 -0400 (EDT)

I've used rose petals in mead with excellent results. I've also considered
(but have not yet tried) using linden flowers, since they too smell very
sweet. With the roses, I started a plain mead, waited till it died down,
then racked it onto the petals. Adding the flowers to the secondary seemed
to extract the flavor, rather than blowing it out the airlock.

It's probably too late for this year, but you could write down when the
jasmine blooms, and have a plain mead ready for this time next year. I'm
certain that freezing the flowers will not work.

Currants: What kind? White, red, or black? The white and red are very
tart, and excellent for eating fresh, and making jelly too, I think. The
black currants are lovely in mead (and eating and jelly). Unfortunately for
you, I have only ever used Ribena brand black currant concentrate.

Acton & Duncan has a "Black Melomel" that uses 4 lb black currants, 1/2 pt
red grape concentrate, & 2 lb honey (for 1 gallon). They also have a red
currant recipe, which uses 5 lb currants, 1/2 1/2 pt white grape
concentrate, & 2 lb honey (for 1 gallon). White currants can probably be

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #683, 30 June 1998
From: "Wout Klingens" <>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 17:26:00 +0200

Steve <> wrote:

>They import it; if any heather honey is produced in the U.S., I'm unaware

Sorry, Steve, no heather on the American continent, I am told. Likewise we
don't have cranberries. Except for 1 small Dutch island. And that's only,
because some seeds floated this way and settled.

Some update on my heather mead: 3 months on the way. The 2 batches taste
baaad. 1 batch starts *smelling* absolutely heavenly though. Lots and lots
of lees. 2 inches in a 2.5 gallon batch! The fluffiest stuff you ever saw.
Be prepared to loose a lot while racking. Unfortunately I don't have a good
filter, but at these honey prices it is probably worth getting one.
Be aware, that sparkolloid nor bentonite gets it clear! I added that to one
batch, hoping for a more compact lees. It didn't help. It did do something
though, because that is precisely the batch that smells great.
Be also prepared for a lot of foam during fermentation. I use tear shaped
fermenters, and that won't help against the foam. If you use the cylindrical
(sp?) shaped carboys you probably will be alright.
No pH drop on heather honey. So no CaCO3 is needed. The fermentation time is
about 2 weeks.
Both batches start clearing on their own now. Probably, because I added a
bit of tannin after fermentation 🙂

I hope this helps.

Subject: Oregon Grape Holly
From: <>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 12:03:16 EDT

In a message dated 98-07-01 02:36:53 EDT, you write:

<< I was talking to a friend in the Pacific N.W. (USA) that said he
>had heard of wine made from Salal berries and also wine made from Oregon
>grapes (not grapes grown in Oregon, but purple berries on a spiney little
>bush that makes hiking in shorts sometimes painful). Has anybody ever
>triend making mead with either of these berries? I didn't think either of
>them were edible (and still have my doubts). >>

Mahonia is the botanical name of the Oregon Grape Holly.
It is in the barberry family
There are more than one species that are native to and grow in that area.
The fruit is not poisionous according to my references. (Hortus)
There is a differece in the meaning of edible and palatable though…..

Botanist/Brewer/MidWest MeadMaker

Subject: Re: Raspberry Chocolate mead
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 11:27:38 -0500

On Sat, 20 Jun 1998, in MLD 680, Richard Weiss wrote:

>I've got a nice<IMHO> raspberry mead in bottles that is about 6 months
>old. I'd like to add some chocolate to this but don't want to mess up
>the clarity. It's really clean. Any ideas on how to blend this mead with
>something that will give me a raspberry chocolate mead?

Coffee gourmet shops sell flavored syrups to add to coffee — I've seen
chocolate raspberry in some of them. A little added syrup would give
you the flavor you're looking for without worrying about clearing


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Rea$on$ to Make Mead
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 13:11:36 -0500

This was in today's Chicago Tribune:

Seasoned wine connoisseurs say novice collectors with fistfuls of
dollars are inflating prices almost beyond reach

Nancy Ryan
Tribune Staff Writer

The 11 a.m. auction at Davis & Company is still 30 minutes away and the
spittons are filling up fast — not with tobacco juices from a #3.50 tin
of chew but from fermented grapes in a $275 bottle of Vosne-Romanee Cros
Parantoux red Burgandy….famous and obscure regions of France and
California's Napa Valley, as well as velvety texutres, subtle bouquets
and fruity aromas are on the audience's minds — and palates. Proud
oenophiles, they're a group of regulars invited for a morning
wine-tasting before the auction — one of six held each year by the
Chicago-based Davis, a world-renowned wine auctioneer….But the
bidding prices of the wines sold during the morning session, including
the Vosne-Romanee, were too high for Licconi's (one of the patrons at
the auction) work or home, an increasingly common phenomenon noted by
many of the regulars. "All I can say is three things: high, higher,
and out-of-sight," said Robert Millman, 61, a collector for 25 years.
"Some of the items are starting above my top bid." In the last several
years, fine and rare wines have become one of the new status symbols
for the thousands of Americans who've cashed on on the turbocharged
stock market, said Peter D. Meltzer, auction correspondent for Wine
Spectator magazine. Consequently, the prices for some of the most
expensive wines have jumped 200 percent since 1994….The appearance
of wealthy but unseasoned buyers on the wine scene is disconcerting for
some longtime collectors. At the Davis auction, Charles Binder, a
New York attorney who's bgeen collecting wines since his college days
in the 1970's, questioned some of the purchases of what he assumed were
novice buyers. He was dismayed that one bidder paid $2,200 for three
bottles of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the California
cult wines, called so because of their scarcity and quality. "A lot
of the people who made a lot of money in the stock market are here and
they don't know what they're doing," Binder said. The 1993 Screaming
Eagle wine "will not be ready to drink for 10 years," he said. "It's
insane to spend that kind of money."

There you have it folks. Why chase after the rare, unusual, and
ethereal in wines when you can make it yourself at a fraction of the
inflated cost?

Anyone for a Dunn Chateau de la Hygiene 1992? I've been told by
enthusiasts that a Cranberry Wylie Canis Lutrans 1990 offers a subtle
compliment to pheasant under glass. And who can forget the McConnell
Liebfrau Milch und Honeg? 🙂

Dan McFeeley, MA Riverside HealthCare
Behavioral Health Services Kankakee, Illinois

'One must imagine Sisyphus happy.' – Camus

Subject: Yeast Activity
From: Phill Welling <>
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 11:44:02 -0600

I am on my second batch of mead with the following recipe:

1# maple syrup
1# honey
1 package yeast
1t yeast nutrient
I am planning on adding 1# more of honey and 1# more of maple syrup later.

Starting SG: 1.082
Temp has been 74 – 76 F

It has been in the carboy almost 2 weeks and the yeast activity has dropped
about 1/10th from the start.

My questions are:

Is this drastic a change in the yeast activity normal?
When would be a good time to add the extra honey & maple syrup (would like
to add them separately.

"Any suffiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Arthur C Clarce

Phillip J. Welling
ICQ #: 2579862
Visit my home page at:

Subject: tasting notes on cyser
From: (Neal Dunsieth)
Date: Sun, 5 Jul 1998 09:46:48 -0400 (EDT)

I have been somewhat lazy in my meading efforts as of late (new house, new
baby) but I started a batch of cyser almost 2 years ago that I just racked
into the bottles. It has been sitting in my old house in the shade, and I
racked it several times to keep it from sitting on top of the old wort, but
unfortunately there was no air conditioning and it was subject to relatively
warm temperatures throughout its aging.

Now that it has been racked, I am detecting very pungent, alcoholic
overtones up front that are not entirely pleasant, but they give way to a
nice flowery finish. The bouquet was actually quite nice, very appley. The
sg plummeted from a reasonable start (I don't have my notes with me for an
exact measure) down to slightly less than 1.000. I can't quite figure it,
but problems like this with some of my other strong meads (regarding taste)
have aged out at about the 4 year mark. (Yes, I'm drinking 4 year old
mead!) I have the mead sitting in the cool basement of my new house now,
and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Any advice? Thanks in advance.
Parting Shot:

"Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar."

(quote from my psychiatrist wife)

"Well, that's because I smoke Opus X."

(my reply)


End of Mead Lover's Digest #684