Mead Lover's Digest #0691 Wed 12 August 1998


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



Re: Various topics ("Timothy Green")
gnats? ()
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #690, 8 August 1998 ("Jack Rickard")
New Guy Comments ("Snydock, Gary E")
Re: procedures for adjusting pH (Spencer W Thomas)
Floral Wines & Meads (Dan McFeeley)
("Kuhl, Brian S")
Acid Test ()
Strawberry melomel flavour adjustments (Eric Reimer)


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Subject: Re: Various topics
From: "Timothy Green" <>
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 1998 15:34:53 -0400

Bob writes asking what he has made. Since it is mainly honey and apple
juice, I would think that it is a Ciser of some sort.

To Scott Murman:

I for one have never had the extended fermentation times that others on this
list have had. I always pitch a large starter of yeast, use yeast energizer
and/or yeast extract, and I do not use any acid blend until my meads are
almost finished.

Using this method, I have had many meads that were quite good at four
months. I think that to flat out say that it is not possible to make a good
tasting mead in four months is as bad as telling someone that it will take
at least 1-2 years before a mead they make will be drinkable.

The first mead I made several years ago was based on a recipe origionally
published in issue #267 of this digest in 1989. It was written by a lady
named Cher Feinstein and called "Basic Small Mead" Her ending comments were:
"This is a quickie mead, drinkable in weeks, however it does improve with

When I made this mead, it was quite tasty at 2 weeks, and it did improve
over time with the last of it being consumed after about 90 days. As an
introduction to making mead, it was a wonderful recipe that gave rapid
results. Based on those results, I was willing to try more complicated
recipes, some of which I created myself.

The point here is that if you tell a new brewer that he/she can make a mead
that is drinkable in a month or two, they are more likely to continue on
with the hobby as they taste the fruits of their wares. Granted that these
meads will not be of legendary quality, but they are good table meads and
nothing to be ashamed of. I think that is all that Sam is trying to do.

I'll get off the Soapbox now….

Tim Green

Mead is great…
Beer is good…
(But beer is much faster)

Subject: gnats?
From: <>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 10:28:45 EDT

I have a problem with gnats! A few weeks ago, my eldest threw a poker party
in the basement and some of the players decided to sample a mel-in-progress.
They managed to slosh some of it on the outside of the fermentor. Of course,
I was not told about this until I spotted spilled mel and a few gnats hovering
about upon my return from a long trip.
Now, after last weeks cleanup, I have more gnats than ever! As all my brewing
supplies and equipment are in the basement, I am loathe to bomb the premises
with an insecticide. Any suggestions??

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #690, 8 August 1998
From: "Jack Rickard" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 14:41:16 -0600

> 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
> 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)


I've been experimenting for the past two years with making mead with and
without oak and at this point I probably won't go to the trouble, time, or
expense of ever making another batch of mead without oak. I've never used
the chips, but rather the smaller toasted oak barrels, both American and
French made.

Now the usual howl is that oak barrels are prohibitively expensive. I
really don't quite comprehend this. The making of a good mead really is a
time intensive process with a lot of periodic attention to racking and so
forth. Oak barrels are widely available for $100 to $300 depending on size
and origin. And on a per bottle basis, the cost is truly trivial. A 10
gallon cask renders 50 bottles of wine. If you bought a barrel at $125,
used it once, and then burnt it in the fireplace, you have $2.50 per bottle
invested in the barrel. And of course, you can reuse the barrels quite

As to the difference in the wine, perhaps my tastes just naturally run to
oak aged wines. I know my taste in Cabernets heavily favors oak aged
wines. But to me, it isn't close, it isn't a debate, it unquestionably
improves the wine to a starkly noticeable degree.

I don't sell oak barrels. But I've bought quite a few of them. And I just
wouldn't go to all the trouble of brewing up a must, fermenting it, and
then racking it around for a year, without using oak barrels for all the
aging. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Jack Rickard

Subject: New Guy Comments
From: "Snydock, Gary E" <>
Date: 10 Aug 1998 09:56:05 -0500

I have been following the last editions of MLD with interest. I am an
experienced beekeeper who has finally decided to turn some of my product
into mead for my own enjoyment. Beekeepers have a saying, "If there are
twelve beekeepers in a room, and you ask them a question, you'll get
thirteen answers." I can see that the same true of mead makers. As a
beginning mead maker I find this encouraging.

My experience with homebrewing is in the area of home made wines from fresh
fruits. I have enjoyed great success here and have learned a few things
along the way that may be of interest to other 'newbies.' First, you don't
have to have a PhD. in chemistry to be a successful home brewer. Second,
patience will win out over haste in every case. Third, you'll never get
tired of sampling your products and learning from your mistakes. Fourth,
the choice of yeast can and does influence the final product, find the one
you like best.

I have a question for you experienced guys, How did they make mead in the
old days? You know, back in the days of Friar Tuck and Robin Hood. Do any
of you in your files have any old documents or recipes that the original
mead makers used? I would be interested in reading these.

Thanks for all of your inputs, I find the exchanges interesting and
stimulating, and I'm looking forward to my first batch of mead which
I'm making following the recipe in C.J.J. Berry's book, "First Steps In
Winemaking". He offers good straight forward advice about home winemaking
and I recommend his book to everyone.

  • Gary Snydock

P.S. What does 'TIA' stand for?

Subject: Re: procedures for adjusting pH 
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 13:10:20 -0400

>>>>> "Samuel" == Samuel Mize <> writes:

Samuel> – – – Also, some people have had trouble with getting
Samuel> CaCO3 to dissolve.

If it's well powdered, it should dissolve almost instantly in an
acidic solution. At least, this is my experience.

If it's clumpy, then grind it in a mortar or put it in a bag & smash
it with a hammer a few times, until it is finely powdered.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: Floral Wines & Meads
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 11:45:48 -0500

I happened to spot an article in the summer 1997 issue of _The Herb
Quarterly_ titled "Brewing with Flowers" by Patricia Telesco, on the use
of flowers to enhance the making of wines and meads. The article was
interesting and the guidelines the author suggested looked like they would
be worth posting here.

Rather than using hot or boiling water to extract the aromatics, the
recommended method is to make a floral water by steeping the gathered
flowers in cold water, using a non-aluminum pot, until the petals turn
translucent. The flowers are prepared by first rinsing them with cold
water and then carefully removing all stems and green parts in order
avoid imparting a bitter taste to the floral water. The author warns
against purchasing flowers from a store or nursery as they may have pesticides
or other harmful chemicals on them. Flower gatherers should also avoid
picking flowers close to roadways, where they may pick up chemicals from
motor vehicle exhaust. The best time to pick flowers is during the morning,
according to the author, before the afternoon heat, when the aromatic oils
are at their strongest.

This process of cold steeping is repeated with fresh flowers until the
liquid smells strongly of the flowers. It can be adjusted according to the type
of flower and the intended use of the floral water.

A basic recipe was given for floral wines or meads which is as follows:

1 gallon floral water
1 slice of orange or lemon
1 tea bag or slice of ginger root
2 pounds of sugar or honey
1/2 package wine yeast
1 pound of fruit (optional)

Combine all ingredients, heat over a low flame until the
sugar or honey has dissolved into the must. Allow to cool,
add the wine yeast which has been rehydrated in 3/4 cup
warm water and allow it to work.

Some arguments against using hot or boiling water to steep flowers are
that the aromatics are destroyed or greatly reduced by the heat. I think
there was a discussion on MLD a while back where one of the methods
recommended for floral meads was to use a method of "dry hopping" the
flowers to preserve as much of the aromatics as possible. Others have
said that it is best to not add flowers at the first stage of primary
fermentation because of the possiblility of too many of the aromatics being
carried off by the initially violent production of CO2.

The use of floral water has the benefit of being able to adjust its strength
during its preparation to compensate for any anticipated losses during the
fermentation of the wine or mead. One would also have to have some good
eperience with different types of flowers to get a feel for how much of the
flower to add for different types of floral waters, depending on how heavily
scented the flowers are or how well they respond to the steeping process.

The article also had verses from different poems quoted along the margins,
such as . . .

Be she fairer than the day,
or the flow'ry meads in May,
If she be not so to me,
What care I how fair she be?

  • Fair Virtue, George Wither 1922


I met a lady in the meads
Full beautiful, a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
and her eyes were wild.

  • La Belle Dame Sans Merci, John Keats 1819


I, in these flowery meads would be;
these crystal springs should solace me.

  • Thomas Carew

For me, these poems catch reflections of an older tradition of meadmaking,
when mead was a part of everyday life and culture. Seems a shame that the
tradition has diminished or been marginalized to the extent that today's
poets no longer draw on the virtures of mead to weave their metaphors.

"Brew on brethren of Bee, Barley and Vine" – John Wylie "Coyote"


Dan McFeeley

From: "Kuhl, Brian S" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 15:49:00 -0700

"Henckler, Andrew" Wrote in part…

>>>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
inthe 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?>>>>

Please keep in mind that pH and % acid are independent of one another.
Adding acid that comprises mostly of the acid of the must, will not
change the pH very much. It will affect the acidity though. A rule of
thumb is .6% for white wines and .75% for reds. As for how much acid to
add to achieve these levels, I do not have any formulas. Perhaps someone
can help there.
Brian Kuhl

Subject: Acid Test
From: <>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 06:30:59 EDT

> 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've added acid before and after fermentation, and I think it's best to adjust
the acid AFTER fermentation is complete, because you don't want to drop the
level too low.
I use an acid test kit. Pretty simple directions, and it'll tell you how much
to add.

Subject: Strawberry melomel flavour adjustments
From: Eric Reimer <>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 10:21:53 -0400

I recently made a strawberry melomel. (First mead ever.) The recipe is:
* 10 lb. clover honey
* approximately 10 qts of strawberries
* one tsp. yeast nutrients
* one packet (11g) Coopers Ale yeast

I first made 5 gal of mead using the honey, yeast nutrient, and yeast. The
honey was added to 180 F water and allowed to pasteurise for 15 minutes.
The must was aerated with a aquarium pump and airstone for one half an
hour. SG 1.070. After ten days, the SG was 1.000. I racked onto
strawberries (which had been frozen for two weeks, thawed, and placed in a
pail with one Campden tablet and enough water to cover over night). This
was allowed to ferment for about another week. I racked again to a glass
carboy. This was allowed to sit for about another month. The mead had
cleared somewhat, so I again racked to another carboy. SG was 0.995. After
about another week (now) the mead has cleared completely, and I would like
to rack it (again) off the sediment.

My questions:
* I wanted a medium sweet melomel, but because I used too much water to
make the initial mead, I have ended up with a dry mead. (I wanted 5gal but
have ended up with 6gal) Can I add more honey when I rack without causing
problems? I don't believe their is enough yeast left to ferment any added
honey. Comments please.

* What is the difference between adding honey now (after fermentation) and
extra honey at the start which the yeast (hopefully in my case) doesn't

* The melomel tasted a bit thin. How can I beef up the body of the
melomel? Will adding more honey accomplish this?

Thanks in advance


End of Mead Lover's Digest #691