Mead Lover's Digest #0724 Thu 4 February 1999


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



Aging your NaOH ("Charles Hudak")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #723, 30 January 1999 (Bill)
Re: Hawaiian Honey (Ben Pollard)
My First Mead – Ideas Please (Carl Wilson)
Re: Carbonation Procedures ("Mark Nelson")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #723, 30 January 1999 (John J. Cunniff)
NaOH and acid testing ("Stephen J. Van der Hoven")
Hawaiian Honey ("David Turnbull")
New mead maker ("David Turnbull")


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Subject: Aging your NaOH
From: "Charles Hudak" <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 12:14:42 -0800

The biggest problem with "aging" your NaOH solution is that you will loose
some water to evaporation (see the dried white gunk around the mouth of the
bottle? That is NaOH). This will generally increase the concentration of
NaOH and throw your titration results off. Since you will use fewer drops to
neutralize the acid and reach the endpoint of the color change, you will get
artificially low acid readings. The best solution is to change your test
solution periodically and keep it in the refrigerator between uses. Shake
the solution well before using.

There is nothing that you can use to test your solution at home unless you
buy some lab chemicals and have some good analytical glassware. Calibrating
a standard requires another VERY accurate standard of known concentration.
You usually make these from certified solutions by dilution in analytical
glassware (volumetric flasks) to a known concentration or by diluting a very
stable pure compound. These are usually very expensive and not worth the
bother in a home environment (unless you have an unusual interest in
chemistry). You are better off buying new solution periodically-much

Cheers and happy meading


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #723, 30 January 1999
From: Bill <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 14:22:29 -0600

> Subject: [FWD] Applegrinding with Garbage Disposal
> From: Dan McFeeley <>
> Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 11:52:42 -0600
> The post by Donald Yellman below appeared on the most recent Cider Digest
> and because it looked of interest to the cyser makers on this list, I got
> his ok to cross post.
> <><><><><><><><><><>
> <><><><><><><><>
> Dan McFeeley
> – ————[snip!]——————————————-
> The following idea was submitted to "Pomona", the quarterly journal
> of the North American Fruit Explorers Association, Chapin, Ill.. While
> I have not yet received the winter 1999 edition of that journal, I have
> been informed by cidermaker Bob Capshew of Indiana that the article
> appears there. Bob suggested that I share the idea with Cider Digest.
> I also contacted Andrew Lea of Somerset, England, a well known
> cidermaker who thought the idea worth sharing.

> Garbage disposal motors rely on the liquid they process for cooling, and
> they are not really built for continuous duty. While you can feed in
> apples at an amazing clip, after 25-30 minutes the motor will overheat
> and trip the internal circuit breaker. Then you must wait 10-15 minutes
> before you can reset the breaker.

Two thoughts on this. First, chill the fruit before running it through
the grinder. Since the grinder depends on the juice for cooling,
starting with fruit as cool as possible will help.

Second, wrap half-inch or larger plastic tubing around the solid parts
of the motor casing and run cold water through it (don't obscure any
ventilation holes in the casing), ala wort chiller.


Subject: Re: Hawaiian Honey
From: Ben Pollard <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 14:35:25 -0600

A source of Hawaiian Hone can be found at
They have a number of varieties and all are unprocessed. Never have used
it, but know a few beekeepers that use their queens with good results.

Ben Pollard
Homebrew shop owner, beekeeper, meadmaker, homebrewer, Graduate Student,
Engineer (like we have time for such things as work!)

Subject: My First Mead - Ideas Please
From: Carl Wilson <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 21:51:14 -0600

Having brewed a couple of batches of beer, I've decided to make a mead.
I've never tasted mead, but the idea of a cyser or apple flavored mead
of some sort sounds like it might be good. But getting cider to make a
cyser with at this time of the year would be difficult at best. So
rather than using cider, I was thinking about slicing up some apples and
simmering them in the brewpot, straining them out, then adding in the
honey and the other ingredients. Or, instead of straining the apple
out, should I just leave the apple in and pour them into the fermenter
with the must? Has anyone ever tried this, or does this sound like a
recipe for disaster?

Here is what I plan on:
10 lbs. sliced apples (simmered)
15 lbs. honey
1 Tbsp. gypsum
4 tsp. acid blend
2 1/2 tsp. grape tannin
yeast energizer (as per package instructions)
Cote de Blancs Yeast

Any comments welcome!

Subject: Re: Carbonation Procedures
From: "Mark Nelson" <>
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 09:17:31 -0500

Jay wrote:

As to how to get a sparkling mead — that's more tricky. Got a CO2 system??
If so, it's a snap. If not, you'll have to judge when fermentation is about
done using a hydrometer and then bottle at just the right time. It's risky
because if you misjudge it could either be undercarbonated, or worse, you
could get gushers or bottle grenades. Neither are fun or safe. I'd advise
to go with a still mead for your first one, especially if you are unfamiliar
with the yeast.

And I reply:

Isn't there a pretty clean and uncomplicated way to carbonate mead, or beer,
or whatever?

First, let the young mead/beer ferment out *completely*. If it's not
completely fermented, you'll risk the bottle grenades that Jay mentions.
Prepare a water/sugar solution using about one pint water and one cup corn
sugar or table sugar, mixed together and boiled for a few minutes to
sanitize. Place this mixture into the bottom of a sanitized bottling
bucket. Rack the mead or beer into the bucket. (The solution should mix
into the mead without help, but you can also stir a little at this point.)
Add some fresh yeast. And bottle into something that can take the pressure
(champagne bottles or Grolsch bottles) and cap/cork. Let carbonate and

I haven't done the above with mead, just with beer. But, I plan to on my
most recent batch of gallberry honey mead. Any problems I should be aware

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #723, 30 January 1999
From: ed372@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (John J. Cunniff)
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 09:45:08 -0500 (EST)

Reply to message from of Sat, 30 Jan
>Subject: NaOH aging
>From: (John Wilkinson)
>Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 12:29:42 -0600
>In my earlier post about NaOH I forgot another question I had. Is there a way
>for someone without a chemistry lab to check if NaOH is good? I suppose if
>there is something I would have around that could be used as a standard I could
>test the NaOH. Is that possible? What would it be?
>John Wilkinson – Grapevine, Texas –

You could set up a control reaction with your acid test kit when you first
open the bottle of NaOH. You'd have to experiment a bit, but maybe you could
have an acid "standard" like your normal brand of orange juice or apple juice,
or maybe a few drops of vinegar in water. When you first open the NaOH, test
your "standard". Test it several times to make sure you are getting consistant
results. Then test it before you're going to start a batch. If you get
drastically different results, you know that your NaOH has gone bad over time.


Subject: NaOH and acid testing
From: "Stephen J. Van der Hoven" <>
Date: Mon, 01 Feb 1999 09:26:51 -0700

John Wilkinson asks:
"I would assume the age of the NaOH when purchased would not be a
problem since it is closed but would be after opening. Is that
correct? Also, how long a life can I expect (for the NaOH) after
opening a bottle? Do I need to buy fresh NaOH with each batch I test?"

I would expect that an unopened bottle would not have absorbed much
CO2. However, gases can diffuse through plastic (that's why you
shouldn't use your fermenting bucket for long-term storage) and if the
solution is really old, I'd want to test it or better yet, buy a fresh
solution. How old is "really old" and what is the lifespan after
opening? I don't have a set answer for that, so I'm guesstimating now.
If the new solution has an expiration date, then obvisouly don't buy it
past the date. Even after it's been opened, it's kinda hard to say how
long it will still be useful. If the solution is only exposed to the
atmosphere for a short period and has a small head space, it may be good
for up to a year. The larger the head space in the bottle and the
longer the exposure to the atmosphere, the shorter the lifespan. The
best way to test your solution is to titrate an acid solution of a known
concentration. If you can get it, I would recommend a dilute
hydrochloric acid (HCl) solution. HCl is stable for long periods of
time and in a dilute form not very hazardous. If you're not keen on
storing a bunch of chemicals around the house, then just make sure you
have fresh NaOH solution. If anyone wants to know the math/equations
for checking the quality of your NaOH solution with a HCl solution, let
me kow and I can either respond privately or to the list if enough
people want to know. It's quite easy, all you need to know is the
concentration of each solution and the amount of each used to reach the


Subject: Hawaiian Honey
From: "David Turnbull" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 10:53:42 -0600

Chris, you can get some Lehua honey from Smithfarms in Hawaii. It is raw.
It's not cheap, but you could probably work out a deal for a large amount.
One thing, they are so small that they don't take credit cards, but I have
bought green coffee from them twice and can testify thay are a real
business. If you contact them, say hi to Cea for me.

  • -david

Subject: New mead maker
From: "David Turnbull" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 11:46:16 -0600

Hello all. I a new meadmaker and thought I'd introduce myself and ask a few

Why would I make mead? Because I want to. I love honey and find bees are
very interesting. I've made beer and have all the equipment (4 carboys),
but find that I can't really do better than my favorites from the store.
So, I thought I would start fermenting things you just can't buy. I'll
probably keep brewing a pale ale and a honey brown ale, but don't think I'll
work on anything else in the way of beer.

Right now I have an Imperial Stout (um, I call this sparkling barley wine,
not beer), a sweet mead, and a Barkshack Gingermead fermenting. I used
supermarket honey from Sue Bee, which I know is on the bland side, but this
was before I found the nearby apiary.

The sweet mead was made with Wyeast sweet mead. I think this one is
destined for failure, but I'll try to keep it going and see. I've read many
comments about this yeast being too slow and such, and it's very true. I
used 2.7#/gallon and added what I'm sure is too much nutrient. It's at
1.070 after two weeks. I'm thinking of pitching some Lalvin K1V to this
batch. I'm sure now that the Wyeast will end up way to sweet for my tastes.

Speaking of nutrient, the brew shop was out so I used energizer. Any
thoughts on this? I haven't found strong arguments in favor or aginst it.

The Barkshack Gingermead I'm confident is on the right track. I used the
Wyeast dry mead and two teaspoons of the energizer (five gallons). It's
going real strong and is more what I expect from a good fermentation. It's
the recipe from the back of "Joy of Homebrewing" with an extra 1/2 pound
honey and I used 1.5 tablespoons of ginger.

I'm very happy that I found an apiary that is within driving distance.
Honey Hill Apiaries. They have clover+alfalfa honey and wildflower honey.
I haven't visied them yet, but expect to this week. It seems they also
supply bees.

The one "skill" it seems I don't have is this whole deal about acidity. And
also, real information about yeast seems impossible to find. Does anyone
have good sources for information about either of these?

Any know of upcoming mead events in the Chicagoland area?

  • -david

End of Mead Lover's Digest #724