Mead Lover's Digest #0704 Fri 30 October 1998


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #703, 24 October 1998 (Beth Ann Snead)
Re:cider ("Mr. Warren Place")
apricot puree (Mike Allred)
Re: Oxidation/loss of volume in racking (Bill)
Stopping Cider Fermentation ("Michael O. Hanson")
Topping off (Nathan Kanous)
More On Irish Mead (Dan McFeeley)
Book recomendation ("Michael Scott Meiners")
Questions about Wyeast Belgian Trappist yeast (Derrick Pohl)
Commercial meads – recommendations? (ALAN KEITH MEEKER)
oxidation (


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #703, 24 October 1998
From: Beth Ann Snead <>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 05:28:08 -0800 (PST)

> A question about mead oxidation, from a veteran homebrewer.
> Since ~6 days ago, I have been fermenting ~5.8 gal of mead (10 lb linden
> honey, 5 lb wild flower honey, 2 lb tupelo honey, 15 g Red Star Grand
> Cuvee, 5 tsp Fermax) in a 6.5 gal plastic bucket. I plan to transfer to
> a carboy soon, but only have a 6.5 gal carboy available.

In winemaking, where oxidation is very probable, not possiblem it's
quite common to use large, slightly flat, glass marbles available at
craft shops (and I believe Walmart) and gardening centers to top of a
carboy that has too much headspace. Glass because it's easy to
sterilize, slightly flat so they don't roll around and disturb your
lees every time you rack your must. I've used them and they work

Beth Ann

Subject: Re:cider
From: "Mr. Warren Place" <>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 07:50:30 -0800 (PST)

> Subject: Cider
> From:
> Date: 22 Oct 1998 08:36:34 -0400
> I want to make a hard cider, but I don't want to ferment it out completely.
> What I would like is to leave some of the sweet cider taste and some alcohol.
> What can I do to stop the fermentation when I reach my desired taste and
> gravity? Will campden tablets work?
Nope. You will have to heat-kill all the yeast and bacteria if
you want the ferment to stop. Refridgeration will slow the
process down (maybe long enough for you to drink the entire
batch before it completes fermentation). I put a gallon is the
fridge once and as far as I could tell it stopped fermenting.
By the time I finished it though (about a month), I did notice some
carbonation appearing. Your only other option is to let it ferment dry,
then dose with sugar, sulfite, and sorbates to get a still, sweet cider.
Warren Place

Subject: apricot puree
From: Mike Allred <>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 09:24:40 -0700

All this talk about apricot puree has got me aching to make an apricot mead.
When adding fruit, I use either fresh or the canned puree from oregon fruit
products (steinbart). Has anyone ever made a good mead from grochery store
canned fruit? Or what about sunsweet dried apricots / prunes / dates, etc.

Subject: Re: Oxidation/loss of volume in racking
From: Bill <>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 14:31:35 -0600

On 10/24/98,


If indeed oxidation will be a problem, then the remedies may include:
1. Buy a smaller carboy.
2. Add more honey & water (and nutrient) to increase the volume to just
shy of 6.5 gal.
3. Any others?

I seem to recall reading that this was a problem, that loss of volume in
racking left too much headspace in the carboy, with attendant risk of
oxidation. One solution someone mentioned, probably in _Inside Mead_,
was to add sterilized glass marbles to the carboy to make up the volume.

I haven't tried it yet.


@Motto of the _Order of the Garter_: "Honi soit qui mal y pense."
@Motto of Minsky's _Star and Garter_: "Yoni sois quay valide penes."
@ICQ: 1-424-1229

Subject: Stopping Cider Fermentation
From: "Michael O. Hanson" <>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 17:27:45 -0800

There are two basic methods for stopping fermentation in wine, mead, or
fermented cider. Sulfites or Camden tablets are one method. Consult the
instructions to figure out how much to add depending on the amount of cider
you wish to stop the fermentation in.

The other method is to add potassium sorbate. Either of these methods can
stop fermentation. If you use sulfites, you should not use them
immediately prior to bottling. Sulfites produce sulfur dioxide which is
given off through the airlock of a fermenter if the cider remains unbottled
for a period of time. Sulfur Dioxide is not recommended for drinking. In
any case, you will probably want your yeast to settle prior to bottling.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Mike Hanson

Subject: Topping off
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 07:43:23 -0600

As mentioned in "Making Mead", you could always sanitize some marbles or
other such "filler" and use that to take up space. I've heard rumors of
lead leaching out of some marbles, and people fearing bacteria hiding in
the small pores…it's your choice. Just another option.

I've also had advice that indicates mead and wine are a little more hearty
than beers and may be more tolerant of that extra headspace. I was worried
about one I've got in secondary and Jim Branigan convinced me to not worry
about it. We'll see. Good luck.

Nathan in Madison, WI

Subject: More On Irish Mead
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 09:44:14 -0600

I asked about Irish meads on the Historical Brewing List but no one has
ventured a reply yet. I also checked Cindy Renfrow's _A Sip Through Time_
but didn't find anything specifically Irish. (Cindy — if you're reading
this and I missed something, please feel free to correct me) In the meantime,
here is a sampling from Robert Gayre's _Brewing Mead_ and Amy Ransome's
_The Sacred Bee_. Also — both of these books are quite old. Gayre
was originally published in 1948 and Ransome in 1937. Although widely
recommended, some of the material is dated and possibly questionable.

>From Gayre, pp. 54, 59-60:

>From the widespread distribution of the word mead in all its variants
throughout the Ayran world, it is clear that we ought not to limit our
study of its use to our Anglo-Saxon and Norse ancestors in these islands.
Their enemies, the British Celts in the West and the Slavs in the East,
were not unacquainted with its use, and so far as the Britons were
concerned, they held it in no less high esteem than did the court of
King Alfred the Great or the earlier and ruder Harolds, Olafs and Beowulfs.
Pliny, speaking of the British Celts, tells us that "these islanders
consume great quantities of honey-brew" (mead). We also learn that it
was drunk by the Gauls, in nearby France, where we learn they had a rich
mead called 'zythus' and a less generous one known as 'corma'.

Britain was, of course, called, among the Celts, by the bardic name of
the "Honey Isle of Beli" which, no doubt not only referred to the quality
of its honey, but had an oblique reference to the mead wine held in high
esteem by the Celtic nations.

One of our principle sources of information on Celtic mead lies in the
'Mabinogion' and related documents. Since these were written down in
the Middle Ages, after they had often been handed down for generations
by oral tradition, they obviously relate to much earlier times.


Among the Irish (as may be gathered from the Ultonian reference to the
satisfying qualities of old mead) the culture of the bee was as important
as among the Welsh, and a large part of the native Celtic (Brehon) laws
is devoted to it. Besides its use as a sweet and for cooking, its
principle use was, as elsewhere, for making mead, and, perhaps, at an
earlier cycle, ale too before the malting of barley had been discovered.
At any rate up to the Middle Ages mead and ale were the two chief drinks
of the Irish. In Gaelic poetry we read of the golden-haired Niamh
describing paradise to Ossian, and saying — "Abundant there are honey
and wine." While a princess handed to the great Irish hero, Finn Mac
Cumall, a silver cup filled with mead, with the words — "Mead, delectable
and intoxicate." Indeed, mead was in great request among them, and it was
known as the dainty drink of the nobles, and the great royal hall of Tara,
where the High-King of all Ireland ruled, was called the House of the
Mead Circle.

Even (Irish) saints partook of mead. We find that St. Findian lived for
six days a week on bread and water, but, on Sundays, he feed upon salmon
and a "full of a cup of clear mead." There are also connections between
mead and the famous and popular St. Brigit, who, as Our Lord changed water
into wine, changed vats of water into mead. When the King of Leinster
came to drink the mead prepared for him it could not be found. Whereupon
St. Brigit, equal to the occasion, blessed the empty vessels which
immediately filled with mead.

A variant of mead was also drunk by the Gaels, and this was hazel mead.
We read, in the seventh-century poem, 'King and Hermit,' of Marvan drinking
this liquor, and Joyce tells us of hazel mead drunk from cups of gold.

>From Ransome, pp. 189-190:

As among the Germanic peoples, mead was the drink of the gods. When the
gods and heros sat down to meat, they devoured whole oxen and drank their
mead from vats. In the Celtic Paradise there are rivers of mead. The Irish
gods when they were sent to exile sought a paradise, situate in some unknown
isle of the west; the chief of the gods who went there was Manannon, son of
Le'r,(1) and he sang a song extolling this land of the gods:

Rivers pour forth a stream of honey
In the land of Manannan, son of Le'r

(1) He gave his name to the Isle of Man. Note that the fairies came from

the west; Fairlyland, the underground paradise, is in the west.

In some of these songs there is mention of a hazel-mead. A poem of the
seventh century, "King and Hermit," tells of Marvan, the king's brother,
who became a hermit and who rejoiced in the honey, the cup of "mead of
the hazel-nut," and the swarms of bees, the "little musicians of the
world," which God had given him; and in the story of the four children of
Le'r who had been changed into swans, but retained their human mind, the
daughter, Finola, remembering their former happy life, sang:

Yet oft have we feasted in days of old,
and Hazel-mead drank from cups of gold.

Dr. Joyce, in his _Social History of Ancient Ireland_ infers from these
poems that "hazel nuts were sometimes used as an ingredient in making mead,
probably to give it a flavour." In the Highlands of Scotland, however, an
elixir is still remembered by the people made of "Comb of the honey and milk
of the nut." The Highlanders regard the hazel as a "milk" tree, the "milk"
being the white juice of the green nut. In many countries the Mother-
Goddess" is connected with trees whose fruit produces "milk"; it was, as we
have seen, an ancient custom to feed newborn infants on milk and honey
(*do not* feed honey to infants — because their immune system is not fully
developed, they are vulnerable to the spores of micro-organisms contained in
honey), and this hazel-mead may be a remembrance of this custom.

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Book recomendation
From: "Michael Scott Meiners" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 21:56:21 -0500

Howdy all. Anybody have suggestions on which book is the better one to buy?
Mad About Mead! : Nectar of the Gods, Brewing Mead: Wassail! In Mazers of
Mead, or Making Mead Honey Wine : History, Recipes, Methods and Equipment?
So far all of my mead info has come from CJJ Berry's First Steps in
Winemaking and the MLD. I would like to get more info, but I am a poor
college student and can only afford one book. Thanks,

  • -Mike

Subject: Questions about Wyeast Belgian Trappist yeast
From: (Derrick Pohl)
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 23:21:41 -0800

I popped a pack of Wyeast Belgian Trappist beer yeast (#3787) on the
weekend, intending to use it in a Belgian-style strong spiced winter ale,
but alas didn't have time to use it.

It now occurs to me that given its high alcohol tolerance (12%), this might
be a good yeast to use in a mead.

What I have in mind is a strawberry melomel, with just a hint of sweetness.
So I'd be feeding the must until the yeast poops out.

Has anyone tried this yeast in a mead? The one concern I have is that it
probably has that characteristic banana/clove aroma which marks many
Belgian yeasts and is a desirable characteristic in Belgian beers. But I'm
not sure how desirable it would be in a mead.

The other question is: now that the Wyeast yeast pack is all swollen and
puffy, do I need to make a honey must for a starter, or can I just do a
light malt extract wort? The advantage of malt is it has all the nutrients
and a just-right pH for the yeast already to go, whereas a honey must
sounds a little more tricky. I must admit I haven't made a yeast starter
for a mead before.

If I do make a honey must, how much nutrient should I put in? The package
I have calls for 1/2 tsp. per gallon, but that's for beer and wine. I
would think mead might need a little more, as it has less naturally
occurring nutrients. The ingredients for the nutrient I have are:
Diamonimum Phosphate, Vitamin B Complex, Magnesium Sulphate.

Derrick Pohl <>
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Subject: Commercial meads - recommendations?
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 15:07:51 -0500 (EST)

Hello. In the last digest Andrew Henckler wrote:

_________________ ________________

"….. I bought a commercial mead (Chaucer's, rather

unimpressive) and drank a glass or two of white wine (far from my normal
tipple). I noticed that the dry whites that had lots of fruity, zesty…"
____________________ __________________

I too recently tried a bottle of Chaucer's commercial mead and did not
care at all for it. Was WAY too sweet IMHO. Ended up feeding it to a
seasonal pumpkin porter I had fermenting away, the yeast seemed to enjoy
it just fine! I have been quite pleased with the few meads I've made so
far and bought the Chaucer's just to get an idea of what a commercial mead
tastes like. I'd still like to taste some good examples of what is out
there – any recommendations? Guess I'd prefer a drier mead based on my
experience with this one store-bought example. How about it, any good
meads out there??

  • -Alan Meeker

Baltimore, MD

Subject: oxidation
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 23:50:25 -0500

Thanks to all who responded to my question about the possibility
oxidation when mead is stored in a carboy with lots of headspace.
(Digest #703; Oct 24, '98). I summarize the responses below:

One person said that oxidation problems "… only occur over a very long
time. If you plan on drinking your mead within 1-2 years, then don't

One person suggested using sanitized marbles or other "filler" to take
up the extra headspace in the carboy. This person also said that mead
and wine may be more tolerant than beer of extra headspace.

One person suggested racking to a new container before fermentation is
complete, so that CO2 will purge the headspace.

One person said that racking to an oversized carboy will not be a
problem since CO2 is still being produced.

Finally, Dick Dunn previously said ( ) in the Homebrew Digest
that excess headspace "will harm the character of the mead" when it is
stored in a carboy after fermentation is complete. He said that the mead
may develop a "sherry-like" character.

Thanks again for the feedback.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #704