Mead Lover's Digest #0698 Wed 23 September 1998


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



RE: Mead Lover's Digest #697, 18 September 1998 (Martin Fredrickson)
Mead from Denmark ("Curt Speaker")
Re: Yeast & Sulfite for less than 1 hl batches ("Marc Shapiro")
Re: New brewer/first batch questions ("Marc Shapiro")
RE: Bees Lees II recipe (Sparrow)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #697, 18 September 1998 (Kelsie)
Vanilla Mead and Vegemite??!!!? ("Shane Gray")
Help for my mead ("Lanham, Steven I.")
Weight Vs Volume of Honey ("Mike Allred")
temperature, clarifiers, etc… ("Stephen J. Van der Hoven")
Re: Bees Lees II recipe (Sheryl Nance-Durst)


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Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #697, 18 September 1998
From: Martin Fredrickson <>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 10:20:12 -0700

>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
>(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.

No, no, no! Steve, you are badly mistaken here. Acetobacter lives on alcohol
and requires oxygen to do it's dirty work. Acetic acid is only a few
molecules different from ethanol, the respective formulas being CH3COOH and
CH3CH2OH. Essentially, acetobacter performs an extremely inefficient
metabolism of ethanol. In my opinion, absolutely the last thing you want to
do is put alcohol in an airlock. I would recommend a few things, clean and
sanitize your airlocks very well and use either boiled water or an iodine
based no-rinse sanitizer solution to fill them. And check your airlocks from
time to time to ensure that they have not dried out and have nothing growing
in them.

Subject: Mead from Denmark
From: "Curt Speaker" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 14:05:58 EST

A friend just returned from a trip to Europe and brought me back a
small bottle of mead from Denmark (don't have it here a work to tell
you the exact name). Anyway, this mead is labelled as 21.8% alcohol
by volume – Yikes! How would you get a mead that strong? Fortify it
with grain? Multiple pitchings of yeast? Or is there some
ultra-strong Viking yeast available in Denmark that I am not aware
of??? Anyone have any information?

Regarding vegamite/marmite – I had always heard that it was spent
brewers yeast with salt and a few other things added. Sort of a
"poor man's peanut butter" – a good source of protein, but not the
best tasting stuff in the world.

My next project: Picard's mead (flavored with Earl Grey tea) – "make
it so" 🙂


Curt Speaker
Biosafety Officer
Penn State University
Environmental Health and Safety

Subject: Re: Yeast & Sulfite for less than 1 hl batches
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 16:24:28 +0000

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

> 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

Those quantities are about right for the volume. They are each a bit
higher than I would use, but not by enough to be worrisome. For the
yeast (I also have a 500g cannister) about 1 gram per gallon is
sufficient if you make up a yeast starter. I figure about
4g/teaspoon and just measure that way. It's a lot easier than
weighing out such small quantities. For the sulfites I would
suggest between 1g and 2g per 5 gallon (19 liter) batch. If you have
10g tablets (which I have never seen) then I would crush one and
dissolve it in water. Then you can measure out an appropriate volume
to get the right amount. That will be a LOT easier than trying to
deal with crumbling tablets. Next time see if you can get the
metabisulfite in powdered form (which is what I do) and then you
don't need to crush it before dissolving.



Marc Shapiro

Subject: Re: New brewer/first batch questions
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 16:44:24 +0000

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

I usually don't use either. I prefer to let time do my clarifying
for me and I make fairly dry meads, so I don't worry about sorbat.
On the other hand, if you want something sweeter then sorbate is a
good idea, and I would add it before the Sparkolloid. Unless you are
sensitive to sulfites (or your drinking buddies are) then that should
be used along with 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?)

If your SG is really at 1.040 then you don't need to add ANY MORE
honey! That mead should be overly sweet right now. Your alcohol
content should be OK — just under 12%, but I would be worried about
that bitter taste. It could be an infection. Is there anything else
that you can tell us about the mead. Any change in color or clarity?
Anything visible in, or on the mead?

> 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?

There are a few books available, some can be gotten on-line from I have links to a few of them on my page. (YES! This is
a blatant advertisement — If you go to my page and link to and then purchase something there I do get a commission,
small though it may be.) "Brewing Mead: Wassail! In Mazers of Mead"
devotes most of its space to history, but does have several recipes
and instructions toward the end. "A Sip Through Time" has a lot of
'period' recipes if you are interested in that sort of thing. "First
Steps in Winemaking…" is an older book, but a lot of people like
it, despite its quirks.



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: Bees Lees II recipe
From: Sparrow <>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 21:28:33

>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.

It was moved to

Alex (Sparrow) /|\ brewing on the web

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #697, 18 September 1998
From: Kelsie <>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 13:40:08 +1200

> 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?
>> > 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.

They are actually yeast extract spreads. Most people in New Zealand have them
for breakfast, same as you would peanut butter (but not with jelly :-{)
Here you buy them in the supermarket, next to the jam. THey're very strong
tasting (sort of hot) and black, but that's concentration. I'm sure they taste
better than chemical additives would on toast and we use those. I haven't
tried them but will one day, carefully.


Subject: Vanilla Mead and Vegemite??!!!?
From: "Shane Gray" <>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 20:48:53 +1000

Hi All,

I've been quietly reading the digest for a number of month's now, and
thought I may be able to help with a recent problem. The problem was the
Vegemite thingy, and the associated problems with getting it in the States.
I'm not sure if it has changed at all, but a while ago (about 12 months I
think??) vegemite was forcibly removed from the american market due to the
labels being marked in metric as opposed to the imperial measures. Here in
Aust. we have a metric system, but it is possible that the manufacturers
reconfigured their equipment to suit, so it may be available now.

Also, I'm just about to start another mead and am looking for some good
vanilla mead recipes (and/or any variations of the above), so if anyone has
any tried and tested recipes they'd like to share I would be most grateful.

Clear Skies and Calm Seas,

Shane Gray D.R.M., Cert. Pol. Ther.

Subject: Help for my mead
From: "Lanham, Steven I." <>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 05:23:24 -0500

Hello I have a cyser that's just under one year old and it has almost no
taste at all.
The mead was made with 4.5 gal of water 15 LB of clover honey from a
local beekeeper "it was boiled but I know better now"
champagne yeast and natural blueberry extract. I fermented in a glass
carboy and racked it off the sediment
5 times. The nose is SLIGHTLY honey and it taste allmost watery with a
hot then faint honey taste. What did I do wrong??
I plan on starting a 13 LB honey 5 gal apple cyser in one to two weeks
and don't want to repeat my mistake.
Please reply to list or my home email address
Regards and thanks Steve I Lanham
P.S I will not give up even it this batch don't work out too!

Subject: Weight Vs Volume of Honey
From: "Mike Allred" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 07:48:00 -0700

( said)
>. 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

THANK YOU very much for such a detailed response.

Now, is does anyone know what the normal weight to volume ratios for
honey are? I would need something alittle more detailed then 12 pounds =
1 gallon.

Subject: temperature, clarifiers, etc...
From: "Stephen J. Van der Hoven" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 09:54:30 -0600

Andrea wrote:
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?

The "critical" temperatue for fermentation is dependent on the strain of
yeast you're using. Usually, it is a range in which the yeast are
happiest. Talk to the folks at the shop where you got the yeast to see
if they know the temp range. I usually like to keep my fermentation
temp at around 21C (70F for those of us in the US). I maintain the temp
by putting the carboy in a water bath and using a fish tank heater to
get the desired temp. I use this method year round since the temp in my
basement never quite reaches 21C. I just bought a large plastic
Rubbermaid storage box that can hold 3 carboys in the water bath. Even
if the temp drops to the point where fermetation stops, the yeast won't
die, they'll just go dormant until it gets warm enough again. However,
this may give other microorganisms which live at lower temps a chance to
spoil your hard work.

Andrea and Robyn asked about sorbating and clarifiers. Never used
sorbate myself, but other folks in this forum have said that it is not a
guaranteed method to make a sweet mead. It seems as though some yeast
(or other microorganisms) survive the sorbating process. The best
method seems to be use a lower alcohol tolerant yeast and feed them
honey until they can't ferment any more, then add a little more honey to
sweeten. As for clarifiers, are you sure you need them? Have patience
and see if the mead will drop clear on its own. I have used Sparkolloid
and it will drop your mead clear in a few days. Even after adding
Sparkolloid, I would let the mead sit. I think I bottled too soon after
using Sparkolloid and ended up with fine fluff in all my bottles. The
mead was still crystal clear until you got to the bottom of the bottle
and the fluff kicked up. It still tasted good, it was just cloudy.

Robyn, if you're going to sorbate and clarifiy, I would sorbate first,
see what drops out and then clarify. Your gravity of 1.04 sounds kinda
high. At that gravity, I would think that the mead would be pretty
sweet. There should be lots of sugar left, maybe the yeast reached
their alcohol tolerance. I suspect that fermentation will continue
slowly for some time also. The graivty may not have dropped noticeably,
but if the airlock cap is still pushed up, their's still some
fermatation going on. I wouldn't worry too much about bitter or off
flavors right now, just let it age in bulk in the carboy. You already
know to be patient, so don't worry, sounds like you're doing things
according to standard parctice.


Subject: Re:  Bees Lees II recipe
From: Sheryl Nance-Durst <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 19:23:52 -0500

>Andrew Lynch <>
>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.

The Bees Lees Part II has been generously hosted (and HTMLified)
by the Well of Latis at

Sheryl Nance-Durst

End of Mead Lover's Digest #698