Mead Lover's Digest #0720 Mon 18 January 1999


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



Rhodomel and other flower meads ("Marc Shapiro")
Mold? ("Marc Shapiro")
honey color (Pierce)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999 (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999 (
Re: Is it Mold? (Steve Daughhetee)
Hangovers & Pollen Count ("Jake Hester")
Campden question ("Jake Hester")
Legal perceptions of mead (Tidmarsh Major)
RE: stirring up controversy (
Hangovers (
Mead Hangovers (Brent Dowell)
Eucalyptus mead (long) (Mark Taratoot)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999 (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999 (matt dick)
Mazer Cup '99 ("Ken Schramm")


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Subject: Rhodomel and other flower meads
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:01:04 +0000

Nathan Kanous asked:

> Now, WRT rhodomel, I don't have any rose bushes and I don't plan to buy
> enough roses to accomodate a rhodomel (not right now, anyhow). How about
> carnations? Inexpensive, relatively fragrant, and readily available.
> Should I worry about the use of pesticides in commercially available
> carnations? Probably, eh? Any feedback would be appreciated. TIA

You can expect ANY commercial flower to have been sprayed — NOT a good
candidate for mead at all IMHO.
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: Mold?
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:09:04 +0000

Greg Smith said:

> I was about to bottle my latest batch of mead, when I saw something that
> appeared to be mold. It doesn't look fuzzy or anything, but it almost
> looks like it could be a thin layer of mold or the crystallization that
> forms on the top of honey when it sits for a while…

If it was just a thin, sort of crackly looking film on the surface than it was
probably a film yeast (like sherry yeast) that likes to work in an aerobic
environment. This can sometimes oxidize the mead, but if you caught it
quickly and racked the mead away from it then you probably don't need to
worry. I have seen books that say to sulfite, which you may have done,
anyway, since you were bottling. I try to avoid sulfites, myself, but that is
my personal choice (NO FLAMEWARS, PLEASE!).



Marc Shapiro

Subject: honey color
From: Pierce <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:03:58 +0000

Rex, LIght honey is always extracted honey which, if you are buying it
from a beekeeper, haas only been filtered. Some dark honey which people
call cooking honey has been caramelized by the beekeeper. When all the
honey that can be ealily extracted from the combs is in the jars the
beekeeper is left with a mixture of wax and honey. I wash this mixture
is warm water, filter out the wax, and proceed to make mead. The
uninitiated beekeeper separates the wax and honey using heat, and
caramelizing the honey which he then seels as cooking honey.
That said, my fall hhoney is naturally dark and makes a tasty mead.
Jo Pierce

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:36:39 EST

In a message dated 1/14/99 7:12:10 AM !!!First Boot!!!, mead- writes:

<< Subject: mead hangover
From: Mike Allred <>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 05:55:43 -0700

Is this true? If so why? >>

To my knowledge, and experience, the biggest reasons for the infamous "mead
hangover is not only because of the amounts that people drink of it…because
it's sooo good and you may not notice how you're drinking it like water….but
also because of the sugar content of it. Same thing happens when you have a
"Aftershock" or similar sugery…nice tasting alcoholic beverage.

  • –Mike

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 11:38:02 EST

In a message dated 99-01-14 02:18:37 EST, you write:

Re: Table vs. Cooking Honey
From: "Rex E. Stahlman II" <>

<< The local honey dealer (I'm sure he has a proper name!!) is
getting REAL stingy with the "table" honey and is offering the "cooking"
honey instead. …snip….. Can I make mead with the
darker honey? Will it clear out? Is the taste going to be different? Is
it any better or worse that the "Table" honey?>>

It depends! The definition of table and cooking honeys is quite

variable. In eastern US (and that is the only area I can speak about), the
spring honeys tend to be light and mild flavored, and the later honeys darker
and stronger. This is the way many beekeeper separate table and bakery grade.
Further qualification is needed, because some dark honeys (and even a few
light ones) don't taste very good. Yet there are also dark honeys that are
very nice. And you have a few areas such as northern NY, Vermont, parts of
Michigan, Minnisota, where limestone based soils make nearly water white honey
(and usually very nice tasting honey) throughout the entire season.

You need to taste his "bakery grade." Does it have off flavors from floral

sources like purple loosestrife (slight greenish tint is another tipoff to
this nasty honey) or other such flowers? Does it taste carmelized, even a
little bit? If so, it has been heated in a cappings melter, and is strictly
bakery grade. Honey that has been heated over 120 degrees for any length of
time will lose the best flavor elements, and the enzymes will be broken down.
(That's why I shudder, every time I hear of someone boiling honey – a medieval
practice!) If your honey passes the taste test in it's natural form, whether
light or dark, it should make a nice mead. If it already tastes like junk,
forget it; aging will not improve it a bit.

Some very nice honey is sold as bakery grade. Goldenrod is a common honey

source, and throughout the Appalachians has a flavor that definitely does NOT
impress me, but Michigan and New York goldenrod can be delightfully spicy and
usually not real dark. Melaleuca and Brazilian Pepper from Florida are
strictly bakery grade and I would NEVER try a mead from them. Some summer
honeys from the southeast would be pretty bad, as well (we leave the off-
tasting ones with the bees). Buckwheat (make sure it's real) or Japanese
Bamboo (a milder wild cousin of buckwheat) are delicious and would make
excellent mead. Poplar is a little strong for me, but some folks, who grew up
on it, would love it as a mead. Tallow from the southeastern and Gulf coast is
usually sold as bakery grade, but has a rather nice, unique taste.

We sell our darker honeys to bakeries, but they would still be delicious

to those who prefer a darker honey. We never market bitter or nasty tasting
ones; the bees can keep them. But not all beekeepers think that way, and you
need to know your beekeeper well enough to trust.

Dave Green

Jan's Sweetness & Light Shop on the Internet (Honey, Beeswax Candles)

Subject: Re: Is it Mold?
From: Steve Daughhetee <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 11:51:15 -0500

Greg writes:

>I was about to bottle my latest batch of mead, when I saw something that
>appeared to be mold. It doesn't look fuzzy or anything, but it almost
>looks like it could be a thin layer of mold or the crystallization that
>forms on the top of honey when it sits for a while.

It sounds like a low-level infection by a film-forming yeast. These yeasts
are generally micro-aerobic, and prefer to grow when there is a lot of
headspace in the carboy. Somebody else asked how headspace could be a
problem if the carboy is flushed with CO2 before racking. When the
temperature falls (and barometric pressure rises) a partially full carboy
can actually suck air backwards through the airlock. I've seen it happen.
Not a lot of air, but meads often age for a long time. Anyway, do the
bottles of mead have rings around their necks? This is common with film
yeasts. I've seen this a couple times and the only real side effect is
very slow fermentation in the bottle, leading to overcarbonation.

Subject: Hangovers & Pollen Count
From: "Jake Hester" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:09:41 PST

Just another contribution to the hangover discussion-

First: I've always been told that the primary "villain" when it comes
to hangovers is dehydration, and that if you drink enough water before
going to bed, you'll dodge the proverbial bullet… although you might
have to go pee a time or ten during the night. I've always done this,
and I've never had a hangover…. except from mead.

With that in mind….

I remember reading an article a while back on hangovers saying that they
were partially caused not by the effects of the alcohol itself, but by
residual impurities from what it's derived from… I also read something
later saying that Skyy vodka was supposedly freer of impurities than
other vodkas, which was supposed to reduce the severity of hangovers.

I happened to be thinking about this when shopping for honey at a nearby
natural foods store. One brand advertized having a "high pollen
content". Now, I know that sometimes in the spring pollen gives me
headaches… d'ya think it could be pollen residue that might make mead
hangovers a little (okay, a LOT) worse? Should we look for honeys with
a low pollen count for this reason?

Just a thought…. anyone have any opinions?


Subject: Campden question
From: "Jake Hester" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:12:56 PST

Another newbie question:

When are you supposed to add campden tablet(s)? One article I read said
that you should add one just before bottling; yet another said that they
should be added before pitching the yeast. In between, one page said
that should be added at the first racking.

Help! When should I add them?

Many thanks-


Subject: Legal perceptions of mead
From: Tidmarsh Major <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 14:24:17 -0600

>From a 1909 Alabama Supreme Court case: "The court does not judicially
know that mead or metheglin is an alcoholic, spiritous, vinous, malt
or intoxicating beverage, or that if drunk to excess, it will produce

Tidmarsh Major
Birmingham, ALabama

Subject: RE: stirring up controversy
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 15:42:43 -0800

>From: "Chuck Wettergreen" <>
>Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 13:35:31 -0600
>I thought I'd stir the mead pot a little to try and generate a little
>I never "top off" my carboys. There is always headspace above my meads,
>filled, I hope, with CO2. This, I believe, protects them from oxidati

I'm with Chuck, I dont top off either. I'm not sure how many times people
are raking but I only do it 3 times. Once after primary, and maybe two for
fineing. I have never had a mead get a oxidation flavor and I have had only
one batch ever get sherry flavors to it and it took 5 years to develop it
so I'm not sure if it was from racking or maybe a poor seal on the few
bottles that made it that long. Frankly that 5 year old blackberry mead
tasted better with the sherry notes than without.

I think that if someone is going to worry about O2 in the head space they
ought to purge it with CO2 rather than top off. IMHO you get a more
consistent result if you do not top off. Not to mention that topping off
give you one more chance to introduce infection.

For all of you beginners out there, I love making mead but I don't believe
in sweating over things that I do not have a problem with. I get good
ferments so I see no need to check and adjust my pH, I don't get oxidation
flavors so I see no need to top off. If and when I do I'll do something
about it, not before.

Don't sweat the petty things


Don't pet the sweaty things

🙂 🙂 🙂

Subject: Hangovers
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 16:08:47 -0800

Well here is my 2 cents worth. I do not have a hangover with mead per say.
What I have found out in my 10 years of devoted drinking 😉 is that sweet
drinks give me a real pounder. Be it sweet mead, schnapps, liquors,
pinacoladas, white zins, port or real sweet reslings, if I get buzzed on
these things I will pay for it. On the other side I can drink copious
amounts of dry mead, cider, white wine (red wines are in a hangover class
all there own) or beer and be ready to fly the next morning. It doesn't
really make much sense to me either but it's true. I don't drink hard
alcohol so I can't add that into the equation. So it is only a small glass
of port or sweet cranberry mead before bed and break out the dry concord
pyment at party time.

Subject: Mead Hangovers
From: (Brent Dowell)
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 00:19:15 GMT (Dick Dunn) Said Something Like:

> I have a friend–big guy–who can go through a large
> amount of beer, wine, or brandy in an evening…and
> he'll be up early the next morning, bright and chipper.
> (No, he doesn't do this often, but he can.) But give
> him acouple glasses of mead and you don't want to=20
> be in the same *county* with him the next day. There
> is something in mead that doesn't metabolize right for him.

Wow, That explains a lot. I've been known to make and
consume a lot of beer, but so far I've only made one mead.
It turned a year old just a little while ago and I opened up
one bottle and sampled 1 glass, probably 8 oz of mead. I
had probably had about 4 other homebrews that night of a
vintage that had previously had no ill affects on me. That
night I woke up at 2:30 am with a SCREAMING headache. I got
up took some aspirin, drink a bunch of water (all the usual)
and watched crappy movies till dawn with this headache still
splitting my head wide open.

It was a Cyser that I made with some honey I got from a
homebrew shop that went out of business that said "Brewing
Honey" on it. Got the OG up to about 1.120. Came down to
around 1.030, if I remember right. It was quite hot and
fiery when real young, but is now starting to mellow out
into something that actually tastes pretty interesting.
Nice apple overtones and some other flavors that I'm not yet
quite accustomed to. In the interest of science I'll
probably conduct another experiment this weekend to see If I
can repeat the headache. (Nothing like being your own
guinea pig.


Brent Dowell
Lone Unknown Brewing=20
Antioch CA
N 37 58.336'
W121 46.803'

Subject: Eucalyptus mead (long)
From: Mark Taratoot <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 17:52:40 -0800 (PST)

In early November, I purchased a gallon of Iron Bark Eucalyptus
honey. Our food coop usually carries two types of bulk honey at a
time, and the selections change often. I remembered hearing that
eucalypt honey did not make the best mead due to strong flavors,
but I didn't want to pass up my opportunity to buy it. We like
the honey for everyday use; it has a strong buttery flavor.

I asked the Digest if any participants had any experience
fermenting eucalypt honeys, and specifically Iron Bark
Eucalyptus. The initial responses collaborated my memory about
eucalypt honey and mead.

One respondent warned, "Somewhere in the dark recesses of my
brain lies the admonition never to use Eucalypti honey for
meadmaking. It ferments into some kinda foul tasting stuff. I
don't know if I am remembering correctly and I didn't want to
wait until I got home and looked through my resources before
warning you."

Another respondent named Steve also warned, "Wanted to get you a
quick warning regarding that eucalyptus honey. I have no
personal experience with it, but I think conventional wisdom is
that the "menthol" or medicinal taste in it comes out very
prominently after you take out the sugar, so it makes a poor
mead. (Source: Acton & Duncan's mead book & elsewhere)"

I also received responses from two people who have some
experience with fermenting eucalypt honey.

Peter Miller wrote, "Some of the mead books I've read,
particularly the English ones seem to think that eucalyptus honey
imparts a "bitter" taste to mead (Acton even goes so far as to
say "unpleasant" and recommends you don't use it). I have not
found any bases for these observations. From personal experience
a Yellow-Box honey mead I made tastes just fine and I have also
tasted commercial Grey-Box, Green Mallee, Bimble-Box and
Stringybark meads from the Mount Vincent meadery in NSW, all of
which were eminently palatable. Some of the flavours are unusual
so I guess if you're really used to English style meads you might
find they take a bit of getting used to, but I couldn't describe
them as bitter or unpleasant."

Raymond Malpas wrote, "Eucalypt often do not make the best meads,
I have no experience with ironbark itself but certainly other
species such as Yellow Box , Red Gum, Yellow Gum, Jarra, Marri
which are all part of the Eucalypt species are difficult to make
mead from, mainly because of the typically strong overt flavours.
It is generally accepted in Australia that with a few exceptions
you are far better using clover or a fruit based honey i.e orange
blossom etc, or at least using a blend."

I asked Raymond if he had experienced what I found rather unique,
which as the strong buttery flavor of this particular honey. He
responded, "Each one of the species can be quite different as
Clover and fruit blossom honeys are more difficult to get I have
spent a lot of time making meads from Eucalypt varieties against
conventional wisdom. I have found these meads to be more
difficult to make (very long initial ferment 12-18 months, to
ferment to dry) and long aging up to 2 years before producing
something reasonable. I am now only using Clover and Fruit
blossom although more difficult to get and a heck of a lot more
expensive but it is easier to produce with a better result
quicker." Raymond also volunteered that "Stringy Bark another
Australian Native does however make good mead, also if you want a
strong interesting honey try and get some leatherwood Honey."

Early this month, I finally had carboy space to start a new
batch. I typically make dry meads using about a gallon of honey
per five gallon batch. This usually results in an OG of
1.085-1.092, depending on the honey. I often feed the mead with
a pound or three of honey at racking and tend to have final
gravities between 1.002-1.008. About four years ago, I began to
use Lalvin K1V-1116 almost exclusively for mead. My results with
this yeast indicate that it is a neutral yeast, is tolerant of
cool temperatures, ferments clean, floculates well, and has
competetive factor. I have noticed, however, that when used for
braggots (malt mead), it tends to produce high levels of
bubblegum flavored esters; I now use ale yeast for braggots.

Since this eucalyptus honey had a strong buttery flavor, I
intended to try to leave a bit more residual sweetness to balance
any strong flavors. Rather than make a mead of usual strength
(1.090) and feeding, I went ahead and used almost 18 pounds of
honey in the initial must. This total amount of honey included
the original gallon (twelve pounds) of ironbark eucalyptus honey
as well as almost six pounds of local raw wildflower honey. I
used my usual proceedure, which is to boil about two gallons or
so of water, then remove from heat and add the honey, stirring
well. At this point, the temperature of the must is usually over
140-150 F, so that's all the heat I add. For this mead, I added
about two teaspoons each of earl gray tea, yeast nutrient, and
yeast energizer, and the juice of a lime. I put the lid on the
kettle and left it be. When it was partially cooled, I ran water
from our water filter into a 6.5 gallon plastic bucket, then
added the contents of the kettle and topped up to about five
gallons with filtered water.

The initial gravity was at the upper end of the scale of my
hydrometer (~1.130). I knew that at this sugar concentration, I
would need very healthy yeast. I racked a carboy of traditional
mead to a clean carboy and poured the yeast sediment directly
into the fresh eucalypt must. Fermentation was visible within a
few hours, and has been proceeding slowly for the past week or
so. In a year or so, I'll let everyone know how it is

Thanks to everyone who provided input!

And, as always, thanks to Dick Dunn for maintaing this forum.
The high signal to noise ratio is appreciated, even if the
traffic level is small.

Mark Taratoot

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 00:56:56 EST

In the 1/13/98 issue of MLD I stated:

" Honey is a buffer solution — which means it resists changes in pH — so it
may take more acid than one would expect to lower the pH to the desired level.

In the same MLD Dan McFeely had some reputable information that stated honey
was not well buffered and required less acid to adjust the pH. My statement
was based on information I read in a book recently. I must admit that I was
surprised that the juice of one small lemon and 1/4 tspn of grape tannin could
adjust the pH of a gallon of mead must to the proper pH. I suspect that Dan's
information is correct and mine was at best out of date. Any light on this
subject would be appreciated.

And now for the major OPPS ! In the same post I also stated:

" Since alcohol is a base, I would not attempt to adjust the pH once the
fermentation has started. If you intend to tease the mead with more honey
when the the SG is around 1.01, you may want to adjust the pH of the honey you
add before mixing it with the must. "

Nathan in Madison WI kindly called to question my identifying alcohol as a
base. It is not. I based the statement on the -OH attachment in an alcohol
molecule and the memory of phenothalen giving a pink indication when alcohol
was added to rubbing alcohol. I added a drop of phenothalen to some 190 proof
grain alcohol and OPPS, it is not a base. Although I made an A in organic
chemistry, it's been over 20 years and I must have forgotten more than I knew.

This raises an interesting question. Does the fermentation process affect the
pH of the must? If it does not, then readjusting the acidity of the must when
teasing would be the right thing to do. If it does, then the adjustment could
be done to the teaser before adding it to the must. Another experiment to
conduct … unless someone already knows the answer. <hint ! hint ! >

Still learning …

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #719, 13 January 1999
From: matt dick <>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 14:09:35 -0600

I tried to reach Chuck via email, but mcs is telling me he
doesn't exist. Chuck, mcs is acting up…

> Subject: stirring up controversy
> From: "Chuck Wettergreen" <>
> Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 13:35:31 -0600
> I have never had an "oxidized" taste reported by any judge of any of
> my meads entered in any contest.

I was really writing to see if Chuck could tell me where in the
area (suburban Chicago) there were mead tastings where I could
enter my mead and get it judged.

> So how about it? any strong disagreement? Why?
> Chuck Wettergreen
> Geneva, IL

I think your preparation (no topping off, filling excess carbouy
space with CO2 is just about what I do, and sounds perfect. I
don't plan to change unless something drastic changes my mind.

matt dick

Subject: Mazer Cup '99
From: "Ken Schramm" <>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 15:44:44 -0500

Just a reminder that entries for the Mazer Cup Mead Competition will be due:
Feb 1 – 20. Eight Categories, GREAT Prizes.

Additionally, Cindy Renfrow, Auhor of "A Sip Through Time, A Collection
of Old Brewing Recipes" has donated a copy of her book (maybe we can even
get her to sign it) to serve as an additional prize to the Best of Show

Info available at

or contact Dan McConnell:
or Ken Schramm

Enter early and often.

Ken Schramm

The judging will be held at Jeff Renner's home,
0 miles from Jeff Renner.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #720