Mead Lover's Digest #0690 Sat 8 August 1998


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



Oak (Nathan Kanous)
Titration and acid levels/Bulk vs. bottle aging ("Henckler, Andrew")
another commercial mead producer (Samuel Mize)
1998 mazer cup (Daniel S McConnell)
Help needed (John J. Cunniff)
Re: Speed Mead II: Cruise Control (Scott Murman)
What hath Bob wrought? ("Bob Zamites")
Fast and slow (Samuel Mize)
procedures for adjusting pH (Samuel Mize)
Further A.M.A. Updates (Dan McFeeley)
Sweet Meads (
Strwberry-Kiwi Mel (Michael Tucker)
blending (Scott Murman)
A Commercial Meadery Revisited (zemo)


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Subject: Oak
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 08:16:20 -0500

Who has used oak chips in their mead? How did you prepare the oak? How
much did you use? I'm almost entirely ignorant about its use, but am
curious. Hearing about oak casks would be nice too, however, they are a
little less accessible for most. But it doesn't hurt to dream.

Nathan L. Kanous II, Pharm.D., BCPS
Clinical Assistant Professor
School of Pharmacy
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Office Phone (608) 263-1779
Pager (608) 265-7000 #2246 (digital)

Subject: Titration and acid levels/Bulk vs. bottle aging
From: "Henckler, Andrew" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 09:36:47 -0400

I have a couple of meads that are nearing completion and I am trying to
be a bit more educated about meadmaking (which hasn't been the case in
the past). I'm aware that many people add acid blend at some point in
the process. Not wanting to lower the pH too drastically before
fermentation, I will add it at bottling if at all. How does one
determine how much to add? The local HB shops sell acid titration kits
and I'm sure I could successfully follow the directions if this would
help. How do you figure out what % acid should be your target?


I'm also considering bulk aging some or all of these two batches for a
while before bottling. Since I expect to be moving within 2 to 3
months, this is as long as I could wait before bottling. Should I go
ahead and bottle when the meads are clear or should I wait as long as
possible? What have people's differing experiences been?



Subject: another commercial mead producer
From: Samuel Mize <>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 11:42:47 -0500 (CDT)


The following winery also claims to sell mead. I haven't had a chance
to try their product:

La Buena Vida Vineyards
416 E College Street
Grapevine, TX

This is an outlet for the main vineyard in Springtown TX, which is
where the mead is produced. The Grapevine location is near me, but
they don't have any mead in stock right now. I haven't found a net
reference for the Springtown location.

Sam Mize

Samuel Mize — (home email) — Team Ada
Fight Spam: see \\\ Smert Spamonam

Subject: 1998 mazer cup
From: (Daniel S McConnell)
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 13:20:08 -0400

micah millspaw asks:

>Is the mazer cup date been set yet?
>I managed to completely miss it last year ( my fault ). I still have last
>years entries to send , hell, they might even have improved.

Yes. We have set a date for the first round. It will be November 29. The
second round will be the following weekend and Best of Show ASAP after that
(if our usual pattern holds up). Details will be sent out in October.


Subject: Help needed
From: ed372@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (John J. Cunniff)
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 15:38:03 -0400 (EDT)

I have a newbie problem for the collective.
I recently discovered the airlock had been knocked off
of a one gallon batch of mead that was clearing. I suspect
this was the work of one of my children who expected that
Dad would be annoyed and didn't want to fess up. But I
digress. I see my choices are:
A) Go ahead and bottle it anyway
B) Add a small amount of honey to restart fermentation

and drive off or use up the oxygen that has been introduced

C) Forget about getting anything drinkable from this batch.

Any other options? Any opinions on these options?
Thanks in advance,
John Cunniff

Subject: Re: Speed Mead II: Cruise Control
From: Scott Murman <>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 16:18:02 -0700 (PDT)

I was going to just send this to Bob, err, Sam, but the digest seems a
little slow these days so what the heck; let's have a philosophical

Sam writes:
> I'm not looking for some kind of fruity, fast, cheap drunk. I'm making
> a serious inquiry into the brewing process. I don't feel this kind of
> cheap shot is appropriate, and furthermore Bob's your uncle.

Bob is actually my dad. And my brother. And furthermore, so's your

Now that that's out of the way.

I have no problems with anyone trying to understand the processes,
ingredients, etc. that go into making mead, and understanding how
those same processes can affect aging time, fermentation time,
drinking time, whatever. I think it's something we all strive for in
our own way. I do have concerns about telling people "you can drink
good mead in X months if you do this and this". The last two posts by
Sam highlight just how many variables there are in this process, and I
think Sam has just scratched the surface. You could (and some have)
write a whole book describing trends observed with things like honey
variety, ferment temperature, etc. With so many variables involved,
there's going to be quite a bit of variation, not just from
meadster-to-meadster but also from batch-batch, even for experienced
mead makers. The best we can really approach is "X tends to decrease
Y. Usually. But then once I noticed…"

Mead can be considered a wine, and having a alcohol percentage of
10-20% gives it wonderful preservative properties, but also means that
it is going to require a good amount of time in order to have an
appealing taste. I don't think there's a way around that, because you
can't have one without the other.

You mention wanting to foster new mead makers by encouraging them they
can have good mead at 4 months. What if their mead doesn't turn out
well at 4 months? Wouldn't this have the opposite affect you
intended? What if they end up thinking that the way mead tastes at 4
months (usually not too good) is how all mead tastes? What if they
smash all their carboys and start taking large quantities of dangerous
drugs? How would you feel then?

I guess it boils down that I have two problems. First, I'm skeptical
that very good mead can be drank within 4 months of pitching the
yeast. Certainly, being able to appreciate that a wine will turn out
quite well in time is possible at 4 months, but I doubt that many
would serve it to company. Second, I don't like seeing hard-n-fast
rules like "do X and Y and you will have quality mead in Z months"
propogated (and I'm not saying this is what Sam was attempting).
There are many, many variables involved, and I'd rather see more
effort go into educating new meadsters senses and minds so that they
can understand for themselves when a meads taste is in harmony, than
trying to get them to follow a cookbook process. Why call it "Speed
Mead" at all, why not simply say "here's some helpful hints for making
good mead".

We have enough pursuits where we must follow linear thinking, and
step-by-step procedures, and in the end we're rewarded with a
(previously) well-defined result, but I'd prefer that we don't lose
site of the artistry and the unknown that really makes creating
something on your own so exciting. There's imagination in those wee
yeasties, and I'd hate to see their work washed down the drain after 4
months in order to free up a carboy, because someone read that mead
would taste great in 4-6 months if we just ferment it with 1/4
tsp. CaCO3, or some such advice.


Subject: What hath Bob wrought?
From: "Bob Zamites" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 20:48:16 -0600


I am new to the mead/cyser/metheglin making world — I had some idea of

what was involved through our local HB club (The Grainful Heads), and
TNCJOFB. I created something, but I'm not sure what:

#3 light clover honey
2 gallons apple juice
7 cups fresh apricots ( pureed w/some water and 3/4 c. corn sugar)

Flor Sherry yeast

It started @ 1.095, and I racked into the secondary two days ago @ 0.998. It
tasted great — dry, alcoholic warmth and a nice apricot tartness.
Could someone out there (Hello again Sam!) answer the question of what I've
created? TIA,

Subject: Fast and slow
From: Samuel Mize <>
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 09:22:53 -0500 (CDT)

Scott Murman makes some very good points.

> Why call it "Speed
> Mead" at all, why not simply say "here's some helpful hints for making
> good mead".

Partly to get the attention of people who disagree. One of the best
ways to get information on the net is to say something outrageous.

I did re-title and rework the first paragraph of my write-up, to
emphasize that the point is not to hurry it up, but to eliminate
needless delays, and to keep from putting in BAD character that must
be aged out.

I'm too lazy to rework that into a proper paragraph.

> I'd hate to see their work washed down the drain after 4
> months in order to free up a carboy, because someone read that mead
> would taste great in 4-6 months if we just ferment it with 1/4
> tsp. CaCO3, or some such advice.

I'll look it over again, and try to make sure that it doesn't give an
unrealistic perspective.

On the other hand, I doubt this is the only write-up someone will use
to make mead — it doesn't even say how, really. It's just a
collection of ideas. If they're surfing the net or whatever, if
they're doing research enough to find it, they've probably got a lot
of other info about aging and proper expectations.

Thanks for thinking and caring about it.

> SM

Hey, I like your initials.

SM, son of Bob

Samuel Mize — (home email) — Team Ada
Fight Spam: see \\\ Smert Spamonam

Subject: procedures for adjusting pH
From: Samuel Mize <>
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 11:43:40 -0500 (CDT)

Greetings to all. This post concerns adjusting the pH of a must.

One person wrote to me:
> The sample needs to be de-gassed before measuring a fermenting sample's
> pH so to avoid fooling the meter/strip with the acid in the CO2

Is that right, or (when considering the effect of pH on yeast) should we
take into account the acidity of the CO2?

  • – – –

Also, can you pre-determine the amount of calcium carbonate to add, to
make a specific adjustment? Some just say to throw in 1/4 to 1/2
teaspoon. Charles Hudak posted to add a little, measure pH, repeat until
you hit the target. Is there a more precise way to determine how much
should be used, or at least to get in the ballpark in the first place?

I would plan to undershoot the calculated amount and creep up to the
target. But I'd like to have a starting guess, and an idea of how much
would be too much.

  • – – –

Also, some people have had trouble with getting CaCO3 to dissolve. I
assume I should add it gradually (sprinkled, not poured) and stir well to
avoid clumping. I assume I should give it a while to dissolve before
reading the pH again. Any other tips?

On the other hand, Ken Schramm posted in MLD #557 that the reason we use
calcium or potassium bicarbonate "is the relative insolubility of the
salts created by the acid fixing reaction. They precipitate out readily
and quite thoroughly, and leave minimal, if any taste in the mead." Might
people be seeing these salts and thinking their CaCO3 didn't dissolve?

Sam Mize

Samuel Mize — (home email) — Team Ada
Fight Spam: see \\\ Smert Spamonam

Subject: Further A.M.A. Updates
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 15:07:11 -0500

I spoke with Andrew La Morte today about the current status of the American
Mead Association and what the future plans of the organization might be. As
you probably already know, Andy stepped in as acting head of the A.M.A. for
Julian Strekel due to financial problems in the organization. The
difficulties with the A.M.A. had been more serious than anticipated, and it
became apparent that the only way to bring back the organization would be to
rebuild it entirely from scratch.

The plans for the organization are focusing mostly on the new publication,
slated to come out some time this fall. At the moment, Andy is looking
at something like the American Homebrewer's Association, where membership
consists mostly of a _Zymurgy_ subscription and membership benefits.
There are many questions yet for the organization of the A.M.A. itself,
such as whether it will be a non-profit or profit organization, and specific
future plans. Andy would like to see the A.M.A as an education and
research association, with general interests (i.e., nothing specifically
commercial) in the marketing and promoting of mead as a beverage. The
publication will be a separate organization from the A.M.A., although it
seems that it will probably become the education branch of the organization.

It seems that Andy is back at about the same position as Pamela Spence, back
in the early days when the A.M.A. was first founded, when its publications
were typed out on a typewriter and few people knew of its existence. It will
take a huge effort to bring it to the point envisioned for it, and it seems
that its fortunes will mostly ride with the popularity of mead in this
country. From the plans I've heard from Keith Wanless and Andy LaMorte so
far, it seems that what we will see from the A.M.A at first, and probably for
a while, will be the new publication.


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Sweet Meads
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 17:23:56 -0400

I want to make a sweeter Mead, and I have started two batches with which I
need some information.

Batch 1 is a 1 gallon batch of Buckwheat honey with an initial SG of
1.108. I am using Lalvin K1V-1116 yeast with about 1/2 tsp of yeast
nutrient. This SG was a little higher than I was hoping for, but I figured
what the heck, just go for it. If I want a sweet mead, how low show the SG
go down to? Has anyone used this yeast before? Is it suitable for sweet
meads, or will it produce a drier mead?

The second batch is a 2.5 gallon batch of dark honey. This must had an
initial SG of 1.100, also higher than I was hoping for. I am using Danstar
Nottingham Ale yeast with about 3/4 tsp of yeast nutrient. Did I start
with too high a SG? What should I expect for a finishing SG? If the mead
is still too sweet what can I do to fix this? At what alcohol
concentration would this yeast die out? If it is too sweet should I add
another yeast? What are the pros and cons of this? Or should I add more
nutrient, hoping that the fermentation just needs a little help.

Subject: Strwberry-Kiwi Mel
From: Michael Tucker <>
Date: Fri, 07 Aug 1998 12:00:54 -0400

Hi All,

I have another fruit mead in the fermenter now…. the recipe and procedure:

1.5 gal. (18 lbs) Local Honey
7 Campden Tabs (dissolved in a bit of water, maybe a pint)
1.5 tsp. grape tannin
Tap water to 5 gal.

I mixed all of this together in a 5 gal. carboy. Meanwhile, the day before
I'd made my starter with 1qt. Apple Juice and a packet of Red Star Ale
yeast. I stirred the must vigorously, and then let it sit a day. Pitched
my yeast.

I got a vigorous fermentation almost immediately. After 7 days, I took 2
lbs. fresh strawberries (washed and chopped), 2 16 oz cans of Oregon Fruit
whole strawberries in syrup, a handful of chopped raisans, and 6 skinned
and chopped kiwis and put that fruit mix into a secondary carboy. I then
racked the mead onto this.

I'm basically following the recipe I used for a boysenberry mel that turned
out fabulously.

The differences here are that I boiled the boysen must, and here I used
campden tabs for the must. Also, in the boysen, I used a champagne yeast,
here I used the ale yeast.

This batch smells kind of funky. I tasted it when I racked into secondary,
it is very sweet, but it does have this barnyard funky smell. How do I
know if the campden tabs worked? I guess by now I was expecting a nice
strawberry smell out of the secondary- I do get a bit of fruit smell, but
in the background is that same funky smell. I've got to tell ya, if it
smells like this forever, people won't drink it! 🙂

Also, my boysen cleared very quickly, we were drinking it within maybe 60
days? Here, I think I'm going to have to "urge" this one to clear. Any
suggestions on a fining agent?

Anyone know the characteristics of this Red Star ale yeast? Could it be
the culprit of the funky smell?


Michael R. Tucker
Web Developer

Subject: blending
From: Scott Murman <>
Date: Fri, 7 Aug 1998 11:45:41 -0700 (PDT)

Sam and my discussion of "speed mead" prompted me to post about
something I've been working up to lately; blending batches. I know
many (most?) commercial wineries and many breweries blend as a matter
of practice, but it seems that most on the home hobbyist level look
down on this as creating some sort of lesser product. I don't think
this is accurate or fair.

It's my understanding that blending can be done to either create a
uniform product from season-season, or to create a better tasting
product. Obviously, the first probably doesn't interest us on this
level, but the second certainly does. Blending young with old is the
most common method, but there are also "cross-blending" options that
are almost endless. Different honey varieties, different fruit or
other flavoring, young fruit with old straight, high gravity with low
gravity, etc. The blending of a young mead with an aged product that
may, or may not, have developed the flavor that was intended, directly
relates to the discussion of "how do I free up these carboys so I can
make more mead?". (Sam – you might want to add this to your notes).

So does anyone have good experience with blending, or can offer some
helful hints or guides? I've started to experiement with blending and
about the only advice I can relate is the obvious; blend a small
amount first until you get the correct ratios for the taste you're
looking for, then blend (and bottle) the entire batch size. There was
also a good article in Zymurgy a couple of years back on blending
meads, and specifically the method used to generate a batch for some
large AHA(?) conference.


Subject: A Commercial Meadery Revisited
From: zemo <>
Date: Fri, 07 Aug 1998 14:45:27 -0500

On the way to Kalamazoo, MI last weekend, I took a side-
trip to Anderson's Orchard and Winery in Valparaiso, IN.
Despite calling ahead and being told that the mead was
finished but hadn't been bottled, I decided to go out of
my way anyway, since they sell bulk honey for $1.25/lb
(call ahead and bring your own container) and a batch of
traditional mead that I made last year (which is also finished,
but not bottled) has turned out quite well. So, imagine how
lucky I felt when Dave (owner/manager?) told me to stick
around for a while, and he would get his crew started bottling
the mead! I was able to taste the mead as it was being bottled,
and I've got to tell you, it's wonderful! Beautiful floral nose
and flavor; not overly dry. I bought the first four bottles off the
line, along with various other fruit (blueberry, cherry, rhubarb,
dry hard cider) and red wines to make a case (for the 10%
discount). IIRC, the mead was $6.99/bottle. Dave was very
forthcoming with information about his products (and his
success in local wine competitions;^) – i.e., he uses only
Premier Cuvee yeast in all his products and he racks off the
lees as often as necessary. I also overheard him tell another
customer who asked about cider (which he doesn't begin
pressing 'til mid-September) that if the FDA requires him to
pastuerize his product (which, he claims, will require $20,000
in new equipment), he might give up pressing apples and
just grow grapes. (I wonder what will happen to the honey,
which has given my mead a nice apple undertone.) He also
showed me some synthetic corks that he's thinking about
using, since the quality of natural corks has been diminishing
lately (has anyone else noticed how crappy the corks are lately?).
Anderson's is located on Rt 6, about 3.5 miles east of Rt 49,
which is Exit 26 on I-94 and Exit 31 on I-80/90. They're open
10-6 ET, but call ahead – (219) 464-4936. No affiliation, yadablahblah.

Steve Holat
Underhaus Brewery (& Meadery)
Batavia, IL

End of Mead Lover's Digest #690