Mead Lover's Digest #0686 Wed 15 July 1998


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



Bottling/Fermentation Suggestions ("Michael O. Hanson")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #685, 11 July 1998 ()
bottling (Neal Dunsieth)
Jalapeno Mead ("Rex E. Stahlman II")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #685, 11 July 1998 ()
Gooseberry Mead ("Grant W. Knechtel")
Adding honey to a fermenting mead ("Henckler, Andrew")
mead / yeast (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #685, 11 July 1998 (Vincent Nylin)
Oregon Grape (
small bottles (
U. of Illinois on Honey (Dan McFeeley)


NOTE: Digest only appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests. When

subscribing, please include name and email address in body of message.

Digest archives and FAQ are available for anonymous ftp at

in pub/clubs/homebrew/mead.


Subject: Bottling/Fermentation Suggestions
From: "Michael O. Hanson" <>
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 1998 10:18:50 -0700

Corks can work if you don't want to make sparkling mead. If you make
sparkling mead, you'll need to use either champagne corks or crown caps.
Homebrewing supply shops often carry wine bottles, caps, corks, and
corkers. You can also use wine bottles you save or get from local bars or
restaurants. The owners may save empty bottles for you if you ask them.
I've used a corker when bottling wine. My personal preference is beer
bottles and crown caps. This is just a personal preference.

You may want to make up a starter bottle for a packet of yeast and see what
happens. I'd wait to add any starter bottle you make up until it is
bubbling. Aerate the starter and fermenter well by shaking them. Yeast
needs oxygen during the first stage of fermentation. Once fermentation
gets going, keep oxygen out of the must.

If that doesn't work, do you know if your must is infected? Does it have a
strange smell? If so, you may want to consider dumping it out and starting
over again.

You say you're using ale yeast. Is the temperature of your fermenter over
55 degrees F? Ale yeast can go dormant under 55 degrees F.

You may want to ask how fresh the yeast you're buying is. Old yeast
doesn't work as well as fresh yeast.

Finally, you may want to check the pH of your must and whether your water
has chlorine in it. pH can be important. Chlorine can kill yeast at high

In my experience, yeast nutrient doesn't get old. I would advise you not
to get too discouraged by this problem. We have all probably had at least
one batch we've had some problems with. Others may have additional

Hope this helps,

Mike Hanson

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #685, 11 July 1998
From: <>
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 1998 14:24:33 EDT

In a message dated 7/11/98 2:57:32 AM Eastern Daylight Time, mead- writes:

<< Subject: Midnight Bee Honey
From: Jeffrey Rose <>
Date: 06 Jul 98 10:36:03 -0400

Has anyone ever ordered honey from Midnight Bee apiaries in Wells Maine
(they also have a website)? Stay away. The proprietor is a smug
whack-job. The guy became obnoxious and insulting when I balked at the idea
of an immediate cash and carry sale off a highway exit ramp. Nice way to
treat potential customers. Do yourself a favor and boycott this place. >>

While I've not ever met him personally, I've known Bill Truesdell at

Midnight Bee ( for several
years through internet contacts, and he has always been courteous, friendly,
and helpful. He is a well known beekeeper, who maintains an outstanding,
informative web page on bees, and edits the Maine state beekeepers association

We all have bad days now and then. Give him another chance. Dave Green Hemingway, SC USA
The Pollination Scene:

Jan's Sweetness and Light Shop (Varietal Honeys and Beeswax Candles)

Subject: bottling
From: (Neal Dunsieth)
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 09:22:15 -0400 (EDT)

Andrew Hartig requested some bottling advice on his first mead. (Welcome to
the meadmaking fold, Andy!) There are considerations in bottling meads that
do not occur with beers or ales so much, one of which correlates to the
realtive volume of beverage required to produce an unconscious state. There
are, of course, four primary means of bottling: screw-top bottles, capping,
corking, and grolsch style bottles. Each of these has advantages and

The most trouble-free, I have found, is using a screw-top bottle like the
half gallon "growlers" that you might get from a brewpub carry out. The
problem is that this is generally for short term use only. Unless you wrap
the seam betweeen the cap and the bottle with parafilm or tape, you probably
should not store your mead in these bottles for longer than a few weeks.
(There are always exceptions, but generally I hold to this if I can.) The
problem is that with aging mead, it probably isn't the way to go. There are
some more ale-like recipies where this might be adequate, especially if you
are throwing an inventory reduction party soon after bottling. Generally,
it works better for flat meads than it does for carbonated meads due to the
thickness of the glass (most brewpubs are cheap about the glass that they
send out of the shop).

I would say that the next easiest is using Grolsch style bottles, which you
can obtain at most brewing supply stores – or you can just buy a few cases
of Grolsch and drink them down. The bottles have a ceramic stopper (at
least the high quality ones do), a rubber gasket for the seal, and a wire
contraption that applies the stopper to the lip of the bottle with
reasonable pressure. The gaskets can be sterilized and need to be replaced
periodically with repeated bottling, but they are inexpensive. The bottles
themselves, however, are quite expensive, so initially there is a sizable
outlay of cash. The nice thing about Grolsch bottles is that you don't have
to drink all of the bottle at once. You take what you want, then reseal the
bottle and refrigerate it. It keeps a good while like that. (I realized
the importance of this fact when my wife became pregnant and I had to drink
mead by myself. I suddenly found that a whole 12 oz. bottle of some of my
stronger stuff was getting me nice and blitzed, perhaps too much so.)

Capping is a standard method of bottling. There is minimal difficulty
associated with it, and it generally gives good results. Capping has broad
application, it isn't very expensive, and supplies are generally available.
It requires that you have a good supply of cappable bottles, but the size
and strength of the bottles can vary widely to assist one's purpose (i.e.
thicker bottles for carbonated mead, bottles in sizes ranging from pony to
12 oz., 16 oz, and 1/2 liter – single servings up to enough for guests.).
Capping can be used in conjunction with corking for bottles that one might
want to age for extended periods. (I have never done this, but I have seen a
few folks do it.)

Lastly, I would mention corking. I just corked a 5 gal. batch of cyser and
I can tell you that it's a labor intensive task. A 5 gal. batch makes about
2 cases of fifths after you take it off the trub (allow about a fifth's
worth for sediment). I really don't want to imagine myself corking 24
bottles in one afternoon again. Corking is probably the best method for
long-term storage, but most people I know are content to cap. I have not
noticed much difference, myself. If you would decide to cork, though, it is
essential that you get good equipment or you will be sputtering out after
about a case. This is chiefly due to the pressure you have to apply to the
cork to force it down. The corks come somewhat larger than in diameter to
the opening of the bottle for which they are intended. This means that
while you are forcing the cork in, you are also compressing it. This can be
difficult sometimes, especially if you haven't properly soaked you cork, or
if the cork is of poor quality. You will probably get some tough cork even
in a "first quality" assortment, so always plan to throw a few corks away.
The flexibility of corking is the same as for capping (tailor your bottles
to your purpose), it's just a little harder to do.

I hope that the review has been helpful. 🙂
Parting Shot:

Premiss: "No news is good news."

Corrolary:"But most mead isn't bad."


Subject: Jalapeno Mead
From: "Rex E. Stahlman II" <>
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 14:15:55 -0500

I recently wrote and asked about cloudy Meads. What causes it and how can
you clear it up. My 'peno Mead is about 7 months old and STILL not clear.
I'm also curious as to why nobody answered. Is it because I'm first a beer
brewer and not a wine maker or is it because of the jalapeno! 🙂 I hope I
get some answers this time. If they are of the sarcastic kind, please keep
them to yourself!! 🙂

Rex Stahlman
V.P. Basin Brewers

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #685, 11 July 1998
From: <>
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 18:33:46 EDT

Would wine bottles with corks be better for long-term storage? And if so,
where does one obtain new corks and how are they put into the bottle …

Hello Alex,

I have been making mead for close to 3 years now. There are stores about

that supply wine bottle corks that you need no other equipment for using. They
are also useful in case you have a vigorous mead ( one that stops and then
starts again).

Your choice,

Subject: Gooseberry Mead
From: "Grant W. Knechtel" <>
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 22:54:09 -0700

My sister-in-law got me 12 pints of gooseberries. I know I've seen
mention of their use to flavor mead, but need some ideas, as I'm totally
unfamiliar with their use.

I have a 5 gallon batch of dryish mead in secondary I've been saving for
fruit season. 12 lbs of mixed flower honey, Red Star Premiere Cuvee
yeast. I'm freezing the berries and plan to pasteurize at ca. 160 F for
about a half hour before use. Are gooseberries high in pectin? Will 160
be too hot and set the pectin? Is pectic enzyme needed? Any ideas as to
proportions of gooseberries to mead for a tertiary fermentation? I'm
thinking the whole 5 gallons might not show much berry flavor over the
roughly 6 lbs of berries. Perhaps 2 gallons or so? I tasted a few of
the berries and they aren't particularly strongly flavored, though they
have a pleasant tartness.

Any insights would be welcome. TIA.

  • -Grant

Neue Des Moines Hausbrauerei
Des Moines, Washington

Subject: Adding honey to a fermenting mead
From: "Henckler, Andrew" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 09:20:28 -0400

Hi all:

I put together a 5 gal batch of mead this weekend using 12# of raspberry
honey and Lalvin EC-1118 champagne yeast. I'd like to keep adding more
of this wonderful honey until I get a medium sweet mead. A few

  • – How do I dissolve more honey into the batch when I add it?
  • – How much should I add at a time (1, 2 or 3#)?
  • – Can those of you with more experience with this yeast enlighten me as

to its alcohol tolerance and nutrient needs? How much extra honey will
I need to get a medium sweet mead?

Thanks in advance! Wassail!


Subject: mead / yeast
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 12:28:21 -0400

> My question is should I use the starter bottle technique?
> Should I just add more yeast in hopes of fermentation happening?
> Or should I try another yeast?
> Also, does yeast nutrient get old and unusable?
> I appreciate any feedback on this…i am still relatively new to
> brewing mead and am feeling frustrated about this.
> take care
> alex

Well unfortunately your mead will probably not start fermenting with the
Vierka yeast you threw in. Doing a starter is an absolute must with Vierka.
The cell count on one of those packets are so low that even a small starter
bottle can take 3
days to show signs of life. I have had some that were just plane dead and
the starter never did do anything. Today I steer away from Vierka and use
Red Star "Cot De Blanch" as my staple yeast and only think about Vierka if
I want a more specialized variety. There is another German company that
makes a WIDE array of yeasts including one specifically for mead. The name
of the company escapes me at the moment. I just found a place near me that
carries it and I picked up a packet of mead and tokay. When I get around to
using them I will let everyone know how it went.

As a rule though you should always use a starter. It only take a short time
to do one and the time you save in fermentation times and stuck ferments
makes it well worth it. It also reduces the chance of infection.

As for the nutrient going bad I would have to say yes it probably does
although I don't know for sure. As cheap as it is (compared to the honey) I
wouldn't chance it.

Hope this helps
Matt Maples

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #685, 11 July 1998
From: (Vincent Nylin)
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 21:58:17 GMT

On 11 Jul 98 00:22:45 MDT (Sat), wrote:

>Subject: Bottling advice requested
>From: "Andrew M. Hartig" <>
>Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 10:12:08 -0700 (PDT)
>I am preparing to bottle my first mead (citrus) within the next month or
>two. Although it is some time away, I have begun to think about different
>ways of bottling.

Congratulations. 🙂

>I currently have some beer bottles and some larger 750 ml bottles
>(Martinelli sparkling cider type), both of which take crown caps. Since I
>have both crown caps and a capper, this seemed like the obvious way to go.
>But what about other alternatives? What do others of you out there use?
>Would wine bottles with corks be better for long-term storage? And if so,
>where does one obtain new corks and how are they put into the bottle (i.e.
>does one need a bottle-corker — the wine equivalent of a bottle capper)?
>[As there are no wine supply shops near me I am somewhat ignorant in this
>matter.] Or will properly-sealed crown-capped bottles work just as well?

I have used the oxygen absorbing caps with good success. I am still
drinking a 6 year old raspberry that I but in 22 oz beer bottles and
capped, then stored upright.

Catch ya later,

Vincent E. Nylin, PGP/IOOB/TIP#1086/ICQ UIN 2088209,
Home Page
PGP keyID=77F5C9E1 Key available via homepage/keyserver
Fingerprint=F8 79 7A 8E 58 50 EE 00 FF D5 9D 5F F8 63 A1 D6

Subject: Oregon Grape
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 13:37:54 -0400

The recent posts about Oregon Grape has motivated me to try my hand at
making a batch. Being from the NW they are all over the place around here
and I found a very large stash that is on my way to work. I found a wine
recipe that uses 3 lb per gallon and plan to base my batch off of this. I
also plan to use a tokay yeast and have it end up very sweet (being that
the berries are so sour). I am interested in knowing what Mr. Warren Place
is going to try for a recipe as well as anyone else that is going to give
it a wack.

Matt Maples
I drink life to the lees, and will regret not when I go.

Subject: small bottles
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 13:52:26 -0400

Does anyone know were I can get small 8 or 6 oz bottles? I don't really
want to use those small coke bottles and I know that some barley wines come
in nibs (I think that is the term for an 8 oz beer bottle) but one would
have to drink a lot of barley wine. Plus, the ones we have around here are
all screen printed on instead of labels. I am sure some retailer in this
whole wide world sell these darn things and I am bound and determined to
find them. Please post any info as I am sure I am not the only person on
this quest.

Thanks a bunch
Matt Maples

Subject: U. of Illinois on Honey
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 09:29:42 -0500

This article was in the July 3rd edition of our local paper:


by University of Illinois
Cooperative Extension

Honey bees pollinate the crops we eat and provide honey. Where they
forage for nectar now has gained nutritional importance. What they eat
determines the level of antioxidants in honey, according to new research.

In a study that analyzed 19 samples of honey from 14 different floral
sources, University of Illinois scientists found that honey made from
nectar collected from Illinois buckwheat flowers packs 20 times the
antioxidant punch as that produced by bees that lap up California sage.
Clover, perhaps the most common plant source tapped by honey bees, scored
in the middle of the rankings.

Antioxidants — substances that slow the oxidation of other substances —
counter the toxic effects of free radicals, which can cause DNA damage that
can lead to age-related problems such as arthritis, strokes and cancer.
Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are unusually reactive or

In an article to be published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, the
researchers say darker honey has less water and more antioxidants than
light-colored honey.

The co-authors of the study — funded by the Illinois Value-Added Research
Program and National Honey Board — were May Berenbaum, head of the
University of Illinois entomology department; Gene E. Robinson, director of
U. of I. bee research facility; and plant biology graduate student Steven
M. Frankel.

"Not all honeys are the same," said Berenbaum, who is also a research [sic]
of the U. of I. Functional Foods for Health program. "The antioxidant
content of buckwheat honey compares favorably, pretty much bite for bite,
with the ascorbic acid-related antioxidant content of tomatoes. Gram for
gram, antioxidants in buckwheat honey equal that of fruits and vegetables
such as sweet corn or tomatoes. It packs the antioxidant . . . .
(The article ended here and was not continued on another page. Kind of
reminded me of the editing that made the publications of the American Mead
Association infamous. 🙂

One caveat here for mead makers — although it's generally accepted that
moderate drinking can have healthy benefits, the specifics of those
benefits have not been fully determined. Some of the substances identified
in mead, beer, and wine as having healthy benefits have been researched
in isolated experiments but not 'in vitro,' i.e., its effects were not
observed in a living subject(s). Researchers are unstandably cautious
here — for example, on the front of a box of cheerio-style oat cereal
that I've been giving to my almost 1 year old daughter while I'm posting
this, there is a little red heart with the words " Soluble fiber from whole
grain oat cereals, as part of a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet,
*MAY* (emphasis mine) reduce the risk of heart disease." This kind of
qualification for experimental conclusions is typical of most solid
research done in nutrition

I think all are agreed here — we love mead, and we love making even more
mead. The fact that its primary ingredient, honey, is recognized as
a nutritious food, however, does not necessarily put mead in the same
class. Chocolate, for instance, contains substances that are recognized
as having potential health benefits in much the same way as beer and
wine. That isn't going to put chocolate cake on the shelves of health
food stores, and people are going to go on loving chocolate and anything
having chocolate in it.

Anyone for a chocolate mead? 🙂


Dan McFeeley

End of Mead Lover's Digest #686