Mead Lover's Digest #0697 Fri 18 September 1998


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



digests will pause in early October (Dick Dunn)
Commercial Mead Making (Raymond Malpas)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #696, 10 September 1998 (John Looney)
Cider, perry, etc ("David Johnson")
Re: adding spices (Sean Cox)
Re:, aging mead (len meuse)
Bees Lees II recipe (Andrew Lynch)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #696, 10 September 1998 (Martin Fredrickson)
Re: acetobacter in airlock (
Marmite/Vegemint (Steve Lamont)
Re Corn Syrup in Honey (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #696, 10 September 1998 (Andrea Pacor)
Antioxidants in Honey ("Chris A. Smith")
New brewer/first batch questions (RKP)


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Subject: digests will pause in early October
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 10 Sep 98 08:57:05 MDT (Thu)

Advance warning: The Cider and Mead-Lover's Digests will shut down for a
while in mid-October. They'll definitely be back; it's just a break to
deal with a handful of things here.

During the hiatus, messages and subscription requests will accumulate but
won't be processed.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

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

Subject: Commercial Mead Making
From: Raymond Malpas <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 05:19:05 -0400

I have been making mead in small batches over the last three years in glass
demi-jons with a view to making mead commercially, i.e 1000's of litres at a
time. After this time of experimentation there are still a number of questions
which I would appreciatte feedback on, particuarly from commercial mead makers.

1/ I have typically sulphited the must prior to initial fermentation, is it
found that this unduly affects the flavour or colour of the mead, do commercial
meaderys generally sulphite or heat the must prior to initial ferementation and
then not add any sulphite during racking or bottling.
2/ Do many people use enzyme additive to help the yeast work?
3/ Have people found that maintaining a constant temp. during the initial
ferment ( which may last 6 or more months) to be worthwhile? i.e produce a
quicker initial ferment or a better quality product?
4/Is it generally people's experience that balancing acid by taste and perhaps
measurement of total acidity during aging or prior to bottling is worth while?
5/Do many commercial meaderys age their mead in old sherry casks or simply age
it in stainless?
6/ Is it common to rack the mead after initial ferementation and age off the
lee's or do people often age the mead on the lees and only rack it off prior to
7/ What yeast /yeasts do commercial meaderys typically use?

I certainly appreciate any help with these issues, I have some ideas of my own
but mead making in Australia is a lonely practise. What people are making mead
commercially do not like to share their hard earned knowledge, to their
misfortune and others.

Please feel free to email me directly , I am keen to get some answers.

Raymond Malpas

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #696, 10 September 1998
From: John Looney <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 14:03:06 +0100

Ar Thu, Sep 10, 1998 at 06:07:28AM -0600, scriofa
> 7.) "Vegemite" and "Marmite" — supposedly available at health food
> stores. What is it and why have none of the health food stores by me
> never heard of it?

It's a malt syrup, with a few other additives. A most disgusting concept.
Malt should be reserved for beer making *only* <grin>

I can't see what harm some malt, and vitamins would do to some mead.


"I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star.

We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light."

John "Kate" Looney, Horizon Open Systems. Sun Microsystems distributor and
Support centre. Hotline: [+353 1 8055700] Web

Subject: Cider, perry, etc
From: "David Johnson" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 08:55:52 -0500

I finally decided to take advantage of the NAFEX library and got the copy
of Hogg&Bull's "Apple and Pears as Vintage Fruit". It is a fascinating
read. I really enjoyed their commentary on varieties of cider apples and
perry pears. and am still devoring it. It appears that one of the authors
died before the final printing and the other completed the writing. (by the
way, this is only a photocopy). One of the pieces of data is that it shows
the specific gravity of the fruits. An Interesting note is that the
gravities are considerably lower than I would have expected. For example
the quoted SG of Butt pear is 1.042 whil that reported on the Real Cider
and Perry page (taken from Long Ashton) is 1.056. I believe that
LongAshton's data is taken over a 10 year average. Many of the cider apples
had gravities were in the 1.037-1.040 range which is lower than most
dessert apples which also doesn't make sense. Also the "densities" given
for French apples wer a lot higher. Were there differences in techniques
for measuring at that time?
Another interesting section in the book, is that dealing with the
microbiology of cider and perry production. Much of the information was
quoted from a French scientist named Pasteur. " M. Pasteur has succeededin
provingthat on the external surface of all fleshy fruits when they become
ripe, there exists certain minute particles, or germs, whichdevelope into
minute plants and forthwith grow with great rapidity." This was written in
the lat 1800's . Thoses must have been exciting times for those benefitting
fromPasteurs work.
Returning to the measurement of gravity. Medaille d'Or apples were measued
in England as having a SG of 1.045 in England but1.102 in France. Growing
conditions can account for some of these differences, but this seems to be
an awful lot.
As for varieties, the authors seem to be impressedwith the French
Varieties Rouge Bruyere, Bramtot, Medaille dOr, Bedan des-Parts, Michelin,
Argile Gris, De Bouteville, and Frequin Audievre. I am trying to find a
list of recomended pears and apples from English sources, but I am still
reading. I can tell you they wer impressed with Foxwhelp, Kingston
Black(which at that time, "its cultivation was extending throughout the
country"). It also appears that grafting was becoming more practised at
that time. This may account for earlier observations that apples seemed to
be good for cider for awhile and then declined. This is probably due to
genetic drift as a result of using seedling apples.
As far as perry pears go, I notice that he has both Rock and Brown
Huffcap, which thought were the same variety. Both were highly rated.
Blakeny Red made a perry that was described as" rough and course in flavor,
'bominable trash', and fit for only the most ordinary purposes, when
nothing better can be got." Talk about not mincing words! Butt pear was
said to make a rough strong perry and this is the first time I saw a
reference to blending pears for perry and might be used with dessert pears
to pick up the blend. It is one of the few bittersharps available in the
states. Moorecroft and Rock pear seem to be the most highly rated pears for
perry. I have been unable to find either in the US. Moorecroft is available
at the Brogdale Horticultural Trust so if anyone happened to bring some
scions from the UK , I would find them a home. This includes Rock, but I
have no source to direct you to. I haven't gotten a response from Bulmers
which has a orchard division but hasn't responded to my email.

That's all for now,

Subject:  Re:  adding spices
From: (Sean Cox)
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 11:29:13 -0400 (EDT)

According to Scott Murman:
>Marc Shapiro wrote:
>> No. You don't want the cinnamon in the must while it is fermenting.
>> Alcohol will draw out different flavorings (often bitter ones) than
>> water will from most spices. In most cases this is not what you
>> want.
>Huh? Where'd you hear this? Aren't most flavors both water soluble
>and alcohol soluble? Isn't the pH of the alcohol lower? I would
>think that more tannins would be extracted in boiling water. I either
>add the spices/whatnot while I'm pasteurizing *and* then add them into
>the primary as well, or I prepare an infusion using grain alcohol and
>add this before bottling. Never noticed any bitter flavors either

Water and alcohol do have different abilities to dissolve things.

Water is an ionic (mostly) solvent, and alcohol is non-ionic, this is why
you extract vanilla in alcohol, it gets out more/different flavor components
than water does. Whether cinnamon has flavor components that are alcohol-
soluble but not water soluble is an exercise left to the reader 🙂

Yes, this is an oversimplification, but I think it addresses the

question at hand well enough. 🙂

  • -Sean

Sean C. Cox
Director of Information Security
FactSet Research Systems, Greenwich, CT

Subject: Re:, aging mead
From: len meuse <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 08:43:10 -0700

>Subject: Aging/yeast
>Date: 2 Sep 1998 12:49:13 -0400
>I have a question about aging mead. Should you age mead with the bottle on
>it's side like wine, and if so why?

The reason wines are aged this way is to keep the cork from drying out
completely, so this is unnecesary when the mead is bottled and star capped.
If however you cork your bottles then this could improve thier durability.

Subject: Bees Lees II recipe
From: Andrew Lynch <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 10:02:47 -0700

Does anybody know what happened to the beeslees II link? It used to be

Or if anyone has a copy of it in html or text I'd appreciate it.


Andrew Lynch / Animation Technology / DreamWorks SKG /

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #696, 10 September 1998
From: Martin Fredrickson <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 10:49:37 -0700

> —–Original Message—–
> Subject: Aging/yeast
> From:
> I have a question about aging mead. Should you age mead with
> the bottle on it's side like wine, and if so why? Also, what is a good
> yeast to use if making a cyser?
> ——————————

Are your bottles corked? If so, than they should be stored on their sides to
keep the cork from drying out. If you are using crown capped bottles, store
them upright.

As for yeast, that is always a matter of personal preference, I like to use
yeasts that are a little less alcohol tolerant to get a little sweeter
result. Some of the white wine yeasts and more tolerant ale yeasts are my
usual choices. One yeast I never use is Champagne yeast, in my opinion it
makes a horrid mead, I have never had a mead made with it that I liked and I
have tried plenty of them.

Subject: Re: acetobacter in airlock
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 15:46:53 EDT

Rod says. . .

<< Only a couple of weeks ago I had to sterilize and re-fill all my airlocks
(abour 8 wines/melomels/meads on the go at the moment) . Every one of them
smelled strongly of vinegar, and had little white masses of (I assume)
acetobacter in them – god only knows what they were feeding off! Thankfully
not one mead or wine was tainted. >>

That's a good reason to use (cheap!) vodka in the airlocks for anything that
will be in the carboy a long time. Sure, it's not "necessary," but it's great
for peace of mind.

Subject: Marmite/Vegemint
From: (Steve Lamont)
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 98 20:35:24 PDT

> 7.) "Vegemite" and "Marmite" — supposedly available at health food
> stores. What is it and why have none of the health food stores by me
> never heard of it?
> They are Australian made B vitamin spreads. Supposedly taste horrible.
> Made famous in an old song by Men at Work (am I giving away my age by
> saying this?). Any decent health food store should at least have heard of
> them, whether they sell it or not. And I wouldn't put them into my wine or
> mead.

Both are certainly an acquired taste (I like them — prefer Marmite to
Vegemite marginally — my SO can't stand them — won't even kiss me if
I have them on my breath).

For the record, since I have specimens of both in my cupboard, the
ingredients for Marmite are (in *very* small print):

yeast extract, salt, carrot and onion extract, spice extracts,
enriched with niacinimide (niacin), thiamin hydrochloride,
riboflavin, folic acid, and cyanocobalimin (vitamin B12)

Vegemite contains

yeast extract, salt, minerals (potassium chloride, calcium
chloride), malt extract, caramel color, natural flavor,
thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.

Marmite is a product of the UK, Vegemite is from Australia.

They can be found in a lot of "better" markets, gourmet shops, and
sometimes at Cost Plus Imports.

I agree that you probably wouldn't want them in your mead or wine.


Subject: Re Corn Syrup in Honey
Date: Sat, 12 Sep 1998 16:54:18 EDT

From: "Mike Allred" <>


You can have a suspicious jar tested by the American Beekeepers

Federation. They probably won't do just any jar, since tests are quite
expensive. But if you have any clues that it is possibly adulterated, they
want to get the stuff off the market. It gives a bad "taste" for all

Without the lab tests, here are some clues:

1. Hold the jar up to the light. Honey varies in color quite a bit, according
to the flowers that gave the nectar to make it. But raw honey has a slight
cloudiness that comes from the dispersed pollen in it. If it is crystal clear,
it is either corn syrup or overprocessed honey.

2. Taste it: Honey has the distinctive taste of the flowers in it, which may
vary from tangy, or spicy, or fruity, or rich and buttery, to menthol or
minty. Corn syrup is simply sweet. If you want a fine mead, start with a fine
honey. This takes a bit of practice to refine your taste buds, just as with
wine tasting.

3. Is the weight VERY conservative? A pint of honey weighs in excess of 23
ounces. If a pint jar is labeled 20 or 22 ounces, it is a caution sign. Corn
syrup is thinner than honey, and the scam packers don't want to alert an ag
inspector with a blatant signal like underweight containers, that can be
checked with a scale in ten seconds, then have them go on to do the more
expensive chemical analysis.

4. Does the producer put his name and address on it? This is a plus, because
he has to stand behind it. Or does the label say "packed for" and name some
produce outlet, etc. This introduces a lot of variables and gives more wiggle
room for those who adulterate.

5. Is the honey from Mississippi? This state has no laws against
adulteration. Of course it is still illegal in federal statutes, but the feds
are less likely to prosecute. One family has given all Mississippi beekeepers
a bad name, by getting into the adulteration big time. Some of their stuff is
100% corn syrup. They pack under many labels, and state laws make it illegal
in all neighboring states, but some states are more lax than others in
catching and prosecuting. A few states now seize this "honey" when found in
markets, and this has stopped a lot of produce stands from buying. The family
that packs it regards fines as just a cost of doing business. Corn syrup is
obtainable at about 12 cents a pound, so the scam is quite profitable.

6. Where did you find the honey? You probably won't find adulterated honey in
the supermarket, though it will always be highly processed, not raw. You are
most apt to find it in touristy outlets and produce stands among syrups of
various kinds. Some produce stands are conscientious about establishing a
relationship of trust with the honey producers. Some just buy anything from
packers. If you see brands of syrup and "honey" all packed by the same outfit
in the same retail outlet, you have been given a warning.

7. In the southeast, a common scam is to represent honey as sourwood, a
premium honey commanding top dollar, and actually having a substitute honey
such as star thistle or corn syrup, or a blend of these. Star thistle is very
nice honey, but it is not expensive, because it is a fairly common midwestern
and northeastern honey. So, if you want star thistle, buy star thistle, and
pay half what "sourwood" will cost.

A frequent clue with sourwood scams is containers that imply sourwood, but

do not actually say it. One large North Carolina packer calls his "Sour Wood"
Since sourwood is all one word, and the the other doesn't legally exist, it is
unenforceable. Thepackers gets away with it. Ag officials are aware, but their
hands are tied. Another approach is to put sourwood in the brand name, as one
packer did for years (Sourwood Mountain Brand). This packer, the last I heard
was facing criminal charges on another unrelated fraud, so may be doing some
jail time.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #696, 10 September 1998
From: Andrea Pacor <>
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 11:15:26 +0100

It's getting colder here in the north-east of Italy and my first two
batches of mead ever are giving me a few worries.
I made a metheglyn with cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and juniper berries
(we usually put them in "grappa" which is a strong spirit in the range of
45-50?). The other batch is a cyser made with apples that grow in my garden

  • – it smells winy through the airlock.

My problem is I only find products for winemakers – yeast package was 500g
and instructions said 50g per hl!! But what worries me are the
metabisolfite tablets. Package says one 10grams tablet per hl of wine – I'm
afraid of putting too much, but I calculate 1gram or less per batch should
do. I'll also use granular bentonite as a clarifier.
Any comments/suggestions are welcome.
Now the two carboys have been in my attic for a week and they are bubbling
happily. External temperature is around 25? but I'm afraid it may drop.
Which is the critical temperature for fermentation? When should I take
emergency precautions to prevent it from stopping dead? Does anyone over
there brew mead in the winter?

Must be my slavic blood (I'm part Slovenian, living on the border with
Slovenia) that pushes me to this ancient beverage.

Na Zdravje

Subject: Antioxidants in Honey
From: "Chris A. Smith" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 15:59:10 +1300

Check out this article in Science News
discussing the antioxidant properties
of US honey:

Chris A. Smith
Document Center
Infrastructure Networks Division
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Seoul, Korea

Subject: New brewer/first batch questions
From: RKP <>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 22:49:18 -0500


I am an utter novice at the art of mead making who needs some advice. I've
been reading the digest for a little over a month now and hope that someone
out there can guide me. Any replies to my email are quite fine; I am eager
to find out what to do.

I started a five gallon batch of traditional mead 7 1/2 weeks ago, using 3
1/2 pounds honey/gallon, 1/4 cup each of strained orange juice and strong
tea, and Red Star Cotes de Blanc yeast. There was a lag time of at least 7
hours after I pitched the yeast, but the intial fermentation seemed well.
After two weeks, I racked the mead into a glass carboy. After 4 weeks when
the bubbling in the airlock slowed considerably, I started hydrometer
readings. Readings spaced over a bit more than a week show that
fermentation has stopped. The S.G. was 1.128 at the beginning of this all,
1.068 when racked, and is holding at 1.040 now. Throughout, I have tried
to keep all my equipment scrupulously clean.

My questions are these:

1) I didn't boil the must, but pasteurized it. I have Sparkolloid to clear
it, and potassium sorbate to prevent renewed fermentation later. Which do
I add first and do I really need to add the sorbate?

2) I tasted the mead when I racked it, and during each hydrometer reading.
It improved from the time I racked it until the inital readings, but over
the last few days has begun to have a bitter taste. What, if anything,
can/should I do about this? I planned on a flat mead, but is there any way
to add more honey to sweeten it? (perhaps after the sorbate?)

3) Most of my information on how to make mead has been gleaned from the
web. The few homebrew supply stores in nearby towns are geared mostly for
beer brewing and I have only gotten generic advice there. Similiarly, all
the books I can find in local stores/libraries are likewise biased. Is
there a good book on mead making I can buy via mail order?

Please pardon the length of this post. I am worried about how my mead will
turn out. I know this all takes patience, and I look forward to the future
where I will have several past batches safely aging as well as new ones in
the works. It has to start somewhere, though, and I'd greatly prefer this
batch to be the beginning.

Many thanks for your patience in reading and for any assistance given.


"I have a firm grip on reality. Now I can strangle it."

End of Mead Lover's Digest #697