Mead Lover's Digest #0712 Sat 5 December 1998


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



Acid levels (Gregg Stearns)
Chocolat Mead? ("Patrick Bureau SCA: Patric de Long-Coeur")
You silly chemists!! ("Charles Hudak")
Sweet Mead (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #711, 30 November 1998 (Bryant Johnson)
disgorging ("Spies, Jay")
Belgian ale yeasts make funny tastes? ("William W. Macher")
Acid levels in mead (ALAN KEITH MEEKER)
re:Screammmmm (Shane & Laura)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #711, 30 November 1998 ("McDonald, Rod")
Help with Cyser (Randy Nessler)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #711, 30 November 1998 (
First batch done! (Gregg Stearns)
to transfer or not to transfer ("Mike Allred")
Heating the Honey Must (Dan McFeeley)
Aging questions ("Andrew M. Hartig")


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Subject: Acid levels
From: Gregg Stearns <>
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 00:48:20 -0600

Well, that answers that last post concerning my bad cyser.
Its acid level was 1.0%! about .35% high. Its about halfway through
fermenting, so I added half the amount of Calcium carbonate required to
lower the acid level, hoping to make it better, without overdoing it.

Anyone have suggestions on fixing an acidic, tanic acidy cyser, to
restore sweetness?
(I'll add more honey after fermentation if need be)

Gregg Stearns

Subject: Chocolat Mead?
From: "Patrick Bureau SCA: Patric de Long-Coeur" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 04:59:03 -0500

Does anyone have a Choclate Mead Receipe?

Patrick Bureau
SCA Name: Patric de Long-Coeur
Kingdom of Ansteorra,
Barony of the Steppes,
Burning Thunder,
Dallas, Tx
Mead Maker and Archer.

Subject: You silly chemists!!
From: "Charles Hudak" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 04:31:58 -0800

Jade writes:

> I still have not
>attempted to make a mead, because of the "chemistry" "specific gravity" you
>seem to all get into. I find this all too overwhelming, yet most of the pagans
>I know who make their own claim it is so easy, and it doesn't sound like they
>do all this testing, preparing, adding additives….am I over reacting here,
>or can this be a lot simpler then what you seem to be doing? JADE

While it is feasible for you to just mix some honey with water, toss in any
old yeast, wait 6-9 months and end up with a "drinkable" mead, the chances
of making a respectable mead repeatably are much higher if you pay attention
to certain variables such as O.G., acidity, temperature and the like.

Most of us are hobbyists, and in my case, former professional "yeast
wranglers" and have quite a bit of knowledge garnered through experience and
information exchange. We find the "chemistry" quite interesting and our
knowledge of it contributes to a better product.

I surely don't want to discourage you from making mead but, like all things
in life, the more you know, the better your chances of success.


Subject: Sweet Mead
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 07:56:38 -0500

I have made a sweet mead (which I intended) which is pretty much completed
fermenting and has a SG of 1.040. The yeast used for this mead was a
Nottingham ale yeast and it fermented down from about 1.090. What should
the final SG for a sweet mead be? Is 1.040 too high? If I want to reduce
the mead I guess I can add a more alcohol tolerant wine yeast, but will
that mean that I end up with a dry mead? If I want the mead to fininsh
around 1.020 what should I do?

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #711, 30 November 1998
From: Bryant Johnson <>
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 08:27:24 -0500

Mead Parfait
> Subject: Use mead in this dessert!
> From: Bruce Conner <>
> Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 13:04:29 -0500
(wonderful recipe snipped and put into recipe database)

Thanks for the wonderful dessert recipe! I'll be trying it to impress
my future mother- and gradmother-in-law at Christmas!

> Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #710, 26 November 1998
> From:
> Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 13:01:57 EST
> Screammmmm.
> I find this all too overwhelming,
>….am I over reacting here,
> or can this be a lot simpler then what you seem to be doing? JADE


All this IS simple. Granted, you don't have to necessarily worry

about acid levels and Ph and "chemestry" early on, but you will want
to eventually so that you can CONSISTENTLY produce wonderful meads.
This should be fun! So….get your stainless steel stock pot out, buy
some honey, add some water, follow the directions to the best of your
ability, and……HAVE FUN experimenting.

I WOULD, however, suggest the barest of equipment: some glass jugs

(until you decide to buy a 5-gallon carboy), a length of racking tube,
some airlocks, and (most importantly) a hydrometer. That last is so
that you will have a way of monitoring the fermentation and know about
what to expect concerning the "kick" your brew will have.

Good Luck!

….and now a question of my own:

Is montrachet supposed to be a high-alcohol-tolerance or
low-alcohol-tolerance yeast? I've had some people tell me that
montrachet will poop out at about 12-13%, but the current batch of
mead I have has fermented out to dryness from SG 1.110 to 0.995
(that's 15.6% abv!) and I've had similar results with other wines I've
made with it (provided the SG was high enough in the beginning). Any


Bryant Johnson

Subject: disgorging
From: "Spies, Jay" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 09:06:18 -0500

All –

Michael Meiners intones thusly:

>>> I am amazed by the trouble it takes to disgorge a sparking mead.<<<

Hmmm. Drink enough of it, and it becomes suprisingly easy . . .


Jay Spies
Wishful Thinking Basement Brewery
Baltimore, MD

Subject: Belgian ale yeasts make funny tastes?
From: "William W. Macher" <>
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 08:39:40

Hello all,

Joyce Miller <> wrote:

>[snip]…and use an ale yeast (no Belgians, they produce
>funny tastes in honey)….[snip]

^^^^ ^^^^^

This was written in reference to low gravity mead…but has
me concerned, since I have what I hope will be a sweet
mead in the works now, two days in the carboy and
fermenting happily with BELGIAN ALE YEAST, Yeast
Culture Kit type A36 (if my memory is right on that number

What I intend to do is keep feeding this mead until the yeast
can handle no more. It will be my first sweat mead, and
third mead ever brewed. Currently it started at an OG of
1.100, and used 14 LB of local wildflower honey in 5 US

I also tried something different, as I added about 700 ml of
hopped wort left over from a pale ale batch of beer I brewed
the day previously. When I move this stuff into a secondary
carboy, I will add raspberry puree (3.3 LB can).

But I am wondering…did I error in using Belgian yeast for
this mead? Most naturally I will find out on my own in a
year or so, but I would rather not wait that long…

Any Belgian-yeast-using mead makers out there? I
particularly like Belgian ales and the flavor contribution that
Belgian yeasts add to these beers….I did not consider that
they might not compliment the taste of fermented honey…

Bill Macher Pittsburgh PA USA

Subject: Acid levels in mead
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 10:11:16 -0500 (EST)

I'd like to thank Dan McFeely for his recent post on acid levels in mead.
I do however have a couple of questions regarding this post:

Dan, I'm not sure I understand your definition of "Titratable Acid (TA)"
you said, "Titratable acid levels (TA) are the measure of the amount of
remaining cation after the acid molecule has dissociated. For example,
hydrochloric acid dissociates as follows: HCL —> H(+) + CL(-)
Titratable acid is a measure of the amount of HCL in solution." If it is a
measure of *cation* in solution then for any acid this will be a measure
of the hydrogen ion (H+) not the amount of *undissociated acid* (HCL in
the above example) in solution. I guess H+ makes more sense as this is
what you will be neutralizing by addition of base with an acid test kit.

Also, I was confused by your discussion of converting from ppt to grams
per liter. You said, "…Since a liter is equal to a thousand mililiters,
it is a simple matter to multiply ppt by 10 to obtain grams per liter…"
Since there are 1000 mililiters in a liter and (for water anyway) one
mililiter weighs one gram, ppt should *already* be equivalent to grams
per liter. What then is the purpose of multiplying by 10 here?? Either I'm
missing something or the calculated amounts to be added are all 10X too

  • -Alan

"Graduate school is the snooze button on the alarm clock of life."

-Jim Squire


  • -Alan Meeker

Johns Hopkins Hospital
Dept. of Urology


(410) 614-4974

Subject: re:Screammmmm
From: Shane & Laura <>
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 08:53:14 -0800

I still have not
attempted to make a mead, because of the "chemistry" "specific gravity" you
seem to all get into. I find this all too overwhelming, yet most of the pagans
I know who make their own claim it is so easy, and it doesn't sound like they
do all this testing, preparing, adding additives….am I over reacting here,
or can this be a lot simpler then what you seem to be doing? JADE
Jade, my advice is to just relax and give it a try. All that you really
need to make mead is some water and honey, mix well, try to keep it
sanitary, add some yeast and wait. Remember that mead was invented long
before the term specific gravity. The reason many people do lots of
testing and preparation is in an attempt to control the process in order
to get good tasting mead more often and to try and match a style
guideline. Also, if your mead does not end up tasting good the test
measurements can help in deciding why and also how to change the process
so that the next batch is better. Once you have made a batch or two you
might want to find out what a hydrometer is so that you can measure the
specific gravity or get an acid test kit to ensure the correct ph, but
this is far from necessary. I brewed half a dozen batches of beer and
one of mead before I tried to test anything. So give it a try. To use a
well know brewing quote: "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew"
Just my 2cents worth.
Shane Cook
Phone: (604) 736-1187
ICQ #: 15754362

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #711, 30 November 1998
From: "McDonald, Rod" <>
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 09:55:05 +1100


> Screammmmm.
> I find this all too overwhelming, yet
> most of the pagans
> I know who make their own claim it is so easy, and it
> doesn't sound like they
> do all this testing, preparing, adding additives….am I over
> reacting here,
> or can this be a lot simpler then what you seem to be doing? JADE
You don't need the applied chemistry to be able to make meads. It *IS*
surprisingly easy, if time consuming. The chemistry becomes more relevant
when you start experimenting with ingredients or process, and more often
than not the chemistry is used to understand what is going or has gone
wrong, or what might be happening that seems unusual. If you keep clean and
start by following a recipe there is a very good chance that you will have
success. And doing it that way it is actually very simple. The only rider to
that is that there seems to be a general rule of thumb that the more care
you take and the more time you take the better the end result.

PS. Dick, sorry about causing an avalanche of posts about the quaint and
parochial use of # in an historically quirky measurement system that *sigh*
alas and alack, not many people see the good sense of using any more. 😉

Subject: Help with Cyser
From: Randy Nessler <>
Date: Wed, 02 Dec 1998 08:42:20 -0600

I need some advice on what to do with a cyser that won't start. My
wife picked up four gallons of cider, two from local orchards, two
"commercial". I threw all of this into a carboy, with about a gallon of
home produced honey. The recipe we were following said to sulfite it,
so we dissolved about four Campden tablets in some cider we held back,
and then added it. We let it sit for 48 hours covered with a paper
towel, then threw in a package of dry Edme ale yeast. Nothing happened
in about five days. I wondered if the campden hadn't dissipated, so we
racked to a new carboy, let sit overnight with a paper towel, then
pitched another packet of rehydrated Edme ale yeast. It's been two
days, and the airlock doesn't seem to be active, and a look through the
glass shows a very little amount of foam on the surface. I wondered if
the "commercial" cider had preservatives, but I had recycled the plastic
jugs, so can't check (in hindsight, I should have checked first). I am
wondering what to do to try to save this. Should I try to boil/heat it
to drive off/break down any preservatives if there were any? Should I
through in some yeast nutrient (just add it in the crystal form, or mix
with boiled water)? The cider was refrig temp when we started, and the
now the carboy is almost cold to the touch (the average daily temp in
the room is about 66F. Is it too cold? Move it next to a heat run to
try to jump start fermentation? I hate to lose all the $$$$$$.
Thanks in advance,

Randy Nessler
Views expressed are my own.

Subject: Re:  Mead Lover's Digest #711, 30 November 1998
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 15:59:10 EST

In a message dated 12/1/98 6:41:40 AM, Jadeshaman wrote:

<<Screammmmm. When I went to my first pagan festival I was introduced to a
variety of meads, clarets, etc. with a variety of tastes. I found most all
them to be far too sweet for my tastes, yet a dry mead was quite promising. I
found your website and subscribe to your email Digest. I still have not
attempted to make a mead, because of the "chemistry" "specific gravity" you
seem to all get into. I find this all too overwhelming, yet most of the pagans
I know who make their own claim it is so easy, and it doesn't sound like they
do all this testing, preparing, adding additives….am I over reacting here,
or can this be a lot simpler then what you seem to be doing? JADE

I've been mking mead for a couple of years now, and I have NEVER checked a
gravity or known anything about the chemistry. I'm a cook, not a chemist. It
is easy. All I do is boil my honey, add my juice/spices, add yeast and let it
ferment. What comes, comes. I've made good mead and bad, and that will
happen even if you know your specific gravity first. Get Pam Spencer's Book
MAD ABOUT MEAD. She doesn't go in for the chemistry side either. Good Luck!

Subject: First batch done!
From: Gregg Stearns <>
Date: Thu, 03 Dec 1998 10:41:50 -0600

My first 3 gal. batch of mead appears to be finished with primary
I didn't take an OG. reading (cuz I was stupid) but my FG is 28. I took
two readings last week, and one today, all 28, so it must be done.
Am going to bottle today, using a small amount of honey, to make it
slightly sparkling.

Still watching the other batch bubble away though. Any my cyser is
clearing well, although the acid level was far too high, so it might not
be worth drinking. 🙁

Subject: to transfer or not to transfer
From: "Mike Allred" <>
Date: Thu, 03 Dec 1998 10:27:00 -0800

Everything being equal… which problem will present the most significant
flavor problems for Melomeads (with fruit juice, no seeds or fruit
pieces)? Oxidation due to excess headspace, or sitting on a yeast cake
for a year or so? I know there are ways to reduce headspace in a carboy.

Subject: Heating the Honey Must
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 11:54:48 -0600

There has been discussion in the past on the virtues of boiling or heating
the honey must on this list, and I thought some information from John
White's chapter on honey in _The Hive and the Honey Bee_ (Dadant
Publication, 1975) might be helpful.

>From what I can see, the benefits of boiling the honey must are meads
that clear more easily due to the denaturing of the proteins that cause
haze. The scum that comes to the surface can be skimmed, resulting in
a cleaner must. The disadvantages are an alteration of the flavor of
the mead from the high temperatures used in order to boil the must, and
a driving off of the volatile components that add bouquet and the more
delicate honey flavors to the mead.

John White cited research by G. F. Townsend in 1939 examining variations
in temperature and time needed to kill off five vegetative forms of wild
yeasts found in honey (at 18.6 % moisture). White drew up a table which
was calculated from the data in Townsend's article. This is the table
(p. 513) below:

Time at Indicated Temperature Temperature
470 min 123 F
170 130
60 135
22 140
7.5 145
2.8** 150
1.0** 155

** Extrapolated from logarithmic curve constructed from Townsend's data

White suggests heating honey at 140 F for 30 minutes in order to eliminate
wild yeasts in the honey that cause fermentation, should the moisture level
rise high enough to allow the yeasts to stir from their inactive state. For
anyone who is interested, this is the citation for Townsend's article:

Townsend, G. F. 1939. "Time and Temperature in Relation to the
Destruction of Sugar Tolerant Yeasts in Honey." J. Econ.
Entomol. 32:650-654.

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Aging questions
From: "Andrew M. Hartig" <>
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 20:11:31 -0800 (PST)

In some of the recent MLD's there has been discussion about the use of
corks, crown-caps, and wax-covered corks for bottles of mead. So I
present this question to the succesful bottlers of mead out there:

It is generally agreed that mead needs a degree of aging before it is
drinkable (well, palatable anyhow). In former postings it seems to be
agreed that mead is best bulk-aged (in a carboy or cask). After bottling
(it seems to me) mead would still be aging. Corks would seem to allow the
mead to "breathe" like a red wine, and would also allow the mead to
develop. Crown caps, or wax-covered corks would seem the prevent that
"breathing". So the question is: is it detrimental to the aging of the
mead to crown-cap it or wax-cork it? Or will the mead still age in a
crown-capped bottle? If my mead tastes like gasoline when I bottle it,
will crown-capping prevent it from mellowing and turning into something
decent, or will the mead cease aging and retain its diesel flavour?

My observations at the market indicate that wax-capping is done primarily
on white wines, where perhaps the flavour is more delicate and in danger
of changing. Does this indicate that one should only cork those meads
(without wax) which are fuller like a red wine and require some degree of
breathing (oxidation?) [or those which we plan to put away for many years]
and crown or wax-cap those that resemble white wines?

What is the practical experience of you successful meaders out there?

  • -A:

End of Mead Lover's Digest #712