Mead Lover's Digest #0700 Sun 11 October 1998


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



admin requests (Mead Lover's Digest)
Re: Spanish Mead & Hawaiian honey (Spencer W Thomas)
Vanilla Mead (Nathan Kanous)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #699, 6 October 1998 (dennis key)
Black Cherry Mead ("James Perry")
RE: Vodka in the airlock, why you should not do it. (Martin Fredrickson)
Firethorn & ASCII problem ("Richard Weiss")
1st Mead – Won't Clear (
Fermentation/Aging Container (David Hamilton)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #699, 6 October 1998 ("Shane Gray")
Trappist High Gravity Ale yeast (Herbert Bresler)
Tannin in mead / Aging oak chips (zemo)


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Subject: admin requests
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 7 Oct 98 09:00:28 MDT (Wed)

Response to admin requests (subscribe, unsubscribe, etc.) will be very slow
during October.

Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder County, Colorado USA

Subject: Re: Spanish Mead & Hawaiian honey
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 09:52:04 -0400

A local store has (in the past) imported some wonderful honeys from
Spain. Of course at $10+/500gr I wouldn't brew with it. They had, as
I recall, sunflower, lemon, and one other I can't now remember. The
lemon was wonderfully aromatic, reminiscent of orange blossom but more

The note from Michael Kliks reminds me of the wonderful afternoon my
wife and I spent with him in his house high on the side of the Manoa
valley (above Honolulu). The honeys were amazing and the meads were
delicious. I came home with about 20lbs of honey in my carry-on.

I had never encountered aged honey before. It's got a whole different
range of flavors and aromas. In talking with local honey-buddies, we
concluded that this could happen only in a (sub-?)tropical climate
where the bees are not stressed by the winter.

=Spencer Thomas in Ann Arbor, MI (

Subject: Vanilla Mead
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 09:02:37 -0500

Tell me a little more about the vanilla mead. With 9 lbs of honey, what
type of yeast did you use? Did this turn out to be a dry mead? O.G.?
F.G.? A little more detail please…the honey's come in and I'm real

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: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #699, 6 October 1998
From: dennis key <>
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 09:37:00 -0600 (MDT)

Re: sanitizing airlocks: Silly me! In my ignorance, I have never used
anything but plain tap or well water in my airlocks. In 20 years of
brewing and mead making I have never had a problem.

Never Thirst,


Subject: Black Cherry Mead
From: "James Perry" <>
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 10:00:43 PDT

I've just gotten back into brewing and was wondering if I could get

some help figuring out a recipe. A few years ago a friend gave me a
few bottles of mead he'd gotten from a friend… Well the thing is I
have never been able to reproduce anything close to this stuff, it was
clear as a bell, reddish-purple and had a fairly strong cherry taste,
kinda sharp/sour but not enough to overpower. I'd say it was as strong
as a good sack mead and it was also a still mead. I don't have any
numbers to give any one interested, lost some stuff in a move. But I do
know the guy who made it was living in the Pacific Northwest and had
dealings with the SCA.
Get back to me with any info you can.
James Perry —

Subject: RE: Vodka in the airlock, why you should not do it.
From: Martin Fredrickson <>
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 10:32:20 -0700

Several people have responded to my comments regarding why you should not
use any alcohol product in your airlock as a "sanitizer." Several of the
respondents stated that at 40% alcohol, acetobacter will not be able to
survive. That is absolutely true but you are all forgetting one thing.
Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. This means that it has a
higher vapor pressure at all temperatures which means that it evaporates
faster than the water. I don't have the exact figures but I expect that if
you leave some amount of vodka in an airlock for an extended period you are
going to drop below the tolerance level of acetobacter and set yourself up
for trouble.

What works for me is to simply clean my airlocks very well and then sanitize
them with an iodine no-rinse sanitizer. I then fill them with boiled water.
I have never had a problem with anything growing in my airlocks. One thing
you have to be careful of is that nothing gets into the airlock from the
fermenter. This is more often a problem with beer than it is with mead, but
if you are using fruit in your must it is a potential problem. If it does
happen, clean your airlock very well and sanitize it. Make sure the neck of
the carboy is clean too and wipe it with sanitizer before putting the
airlock back in.

There is one other precaution I would take if I ever did have a contaminated
airlock, I would throw it away and use a new one. Due to the nature of the
materials involved, they cannot be sterilized, this leaves the potential for
a scratch in the plastic you can't even see to harbor the contaminating
organism. Throw it away, a couple of bucks can save you from losing months
worth of investment in your prized mead.

Subject: Firethorn & ASCII problem
From: "Richard Weiss" <>
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 19:40:32 -0400

My neighbor has several Fire Thorn (Pyracantha) bushes in his front yard
with lots of red/orange berries on them. I've looked around to find
information on this shrub/bush but have come up with conflicting
information. My local garden center said the berries are poison but I
have a book on wine recipes that has a recipe for wine made with the
berries. The site at Texas A&M has a recipe for a jelly made with the
berries. My questions are this:

1. Has anyone ever made a beverage with these berries?
2. Are they strong/mild tasting?
3. How many cups of berries to a 5 gallon batch of mead (figuring

10-12 lbs.. of honey) to the batch?

4. If the berries are strong tasting what type of a honey would

compliment the berries?

5. Is there any real sugar content to the berries or just taste?
6. And finally, should they be cooked first or just smushed up to

extract the juice?

I've never tried this before with a mead so any comments or ideas

would be appreciated.

Dick Weiss

I hope this takes care of the ASCII problem…I've reset my mail program
and didn't know it was any different.


Subject: 1st Mead - Won't Clear
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 22:16:53 -0500

Kicked off my first mead in February. 5 gallon batch. 13# mesquite honey,
water to 5 gallons, pastuerize must at 155F for 20 minuts. Added slurry
from multi stepped 2 liter starter (Wyeast Dry). Racked to tertiary carboy
on 5/11, SG 0.990.

Chilled mead in beer fridge/freezer to drop bright. Took out to bottle
today and noticed many "rice" sized, loosly formed particles still in
suspension. They appear to have the same density as the mead and really
just kinda hang there.

Question 1: What are they? I'm assuming protiens etc. Am I on the right
Question 2: Can I fine these out. Which fining should I use? How? How
long should it take?

Chuck Bernard
Music City Brewers, NAshville TN

Subject: Fermentation/Aging Container
From: David Hamilton <>
Date: Wed, 07 Oct 1998 13:43:12 +1000

Hello all!

I'm about to start my first batch, and have a couple of questions that I'm
wondering if anyone can answer.

1. I can obtain a couple of 20 litre plastic water containers and i'm
wondering if these would be OK to ferment my mead in.

2. Would the same container be OK to use as a secondary as well?

These bottles are the ones that most office water coolers have on top.

Any responses would be appreciated.

Please respond to my home email – as I'm going on
holidays as of 13/10/98.


David Hamilton.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #699, 6 October 1998
From: "Shane Gray" <>
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 19:29:18 +1000

Steve writes;

> Well, sure, acetobacter works on alcohol, but 80 proof (40% ethanol)?
> Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought even stronger wines
> alcohol) pose a challenge to acetobacter (any response from vinegar
makers is
> invited). Anybody ever heard of brandy turning to vinegar? Or vodka,
> goodness sakes, being turned to vinegar? An iodine solution in the
> will dissipate. Boiled water is adequate but certainly won't be sterile
> long. I'm not saying you HAVE to use vodka in the airlock, but I do
> it's wrong to suggest the use of vodka is counterproductive or will
> acetobacter in an airlock.

Furthermore to the airlock debate. I agree with Steve and Marc, 40% alcohol
is much too high for acetobacter. But in regards to using it in an airlock,
well you'd have to change it regularly as ethanol has a relatively low
boiling point, 78.3 degress celicius. So every moment it is left exposed to
the air more alcohol evaporates than water, hence lowering the amount of
alcohol per volume. If it gets low enough you could actually be providing
an ideal environment for the acetobacter.

This is just a theory, and in fact the reality may be something else
entirely, but hey why risk your precious mead when so many other options
are available. E.g., I use dilute sodium metabisulphate in my airlocks,
which has a higher boiling point than water, but just to be on the safe
side, I change them regularly.

I'll jump off the soapbox now.


Subject: Trappist High Gravity Ale yeast
From: Herbert Bresler <>
Date: Wed, 7 Oct 1998 13:03:16 -0400

Ladies & Gentlemen:

Is Wyeast Trappist High Gravity Ale yeast (#3787) suitable for a mead? I'm
going to be brewing a Strong Ale with this yeast and thought I could use
the fresh yeast cake from the primary to ferment a mead with an O.G. of
about 1.130. I'm trying to brew a sweet still mead. Given the high
attenuation of this yeast, I figure I'll have a F.G. of about 1.030.

What's your opinion? Thanks.

FYI. These are the specifics from Wyeast:
#3787 Trappist High Gravity.
apparent attenuation; 75-80% Robust top cropping yeast with phenolic
character. Alcohol tolerance to 12% ideal for Biere de Garde, ferments
dry with rich ester profile and malty palate, medium flocculation.


Subject: Tannin in mead / Aging oak chips
From: zemo <>
Date: Fri, 09 Oct 1998 13:54:31 -0500

Awhile back, there may have been/were discussions of how some finings
use/need tannins for clearing (no reference, just a foggy recollection).
So, I decided to add tannin to this fall's batches of meads. With the
addition of 1 gram (1 teaspoon) of grape tannin dissolved in 1 cup of
warm water, Batch #1 has dropped clear in less than 8 weeks without any
finings. Particulars (for 5 gals.): 13# orchard honey, Chicago municipal
water (boiled), minimal nutrients and acid, a big pinch of Epsom salt,
Lalvin D-47 yeast, OG: 1100 / current SG: 1014. Must pasteurized at 150F.
Acton and Duncan in 'Making Mead' recommend adding tannic acid at the
rate of 5-6 g / 5 gals as a source of astringency, not as a fining agent.
In the half-score batches of mead that I've made, I've never had a batch
drop so quickly, whether boiled (early batches) or not. I'm wondering if
anyone else has experienced clearing that they can attribute to tannin.
A taste of Batch #1 was very favorable, considering the age (youth?).

In preparation for next spring's Mead ala Brother Adam (ref: MLD#…),
I have begun artificially aging toasted French oak chips in a jar with
dry sherry. After 2 weeks, I tasted a bit of the oaked sherry and, for
the first time, tasted vanilla so often referred to wines/liquors aged
in oak. The aroma of the oak-sherry compote is reminiscent of smells
encountered at the Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg, TN (the free
tour is highly recommended). I'm not an aficionado of sherry, so I'm
not familiar with its characteristics, and frankly, I bought inexpensive
(read: American) sherry for this experiment. I didn't taste any vanilla
from the bottle. At the next racking, I might add some of the chips to a
separate jug of the mead mentioned above. Hopefully, some of the vanilla
character from the chips will carry over to the mead.



All hail Dick Dunn! A true Friend of Mead. Thanks Dick.

Steve Holat
Underhaus Brewery (& Meadery)
Batavia, IL

End of Mead Lover's Digest #700