Mead Lover's Digest #0742 Fri 21 May 1999


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



sour cyser (David Johnson)
Assorted newbie questions ("Russ Hobaugh")
Newbie response ("Stephen J. Van der Hoven")
honeysuckle flavor (ALAN KEITH MEEKER)
Definition of Melomel (matt_maples)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #741, 18 May 1999 ("Belinda Messenger Ph.D.")
Re: uses for botched mead? (Scott Murman)
Beginner ("Johannes Ehinger")


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Subject: sour cyser
From: David Johnson <>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 08:06:07 -0500

My guess is that you have an acetobacter infection. I am guessing that
you did not harvest the apples or press the juice yourself. If so, you
don't know how the juice was handled before you bought it. Most people
who sell juice are intending it for refrigeration and early consumption.
Thus they don't pay a lot of attention to things I worry about when I
pick and press my fruit like avoiding windfalls and excessively damaged
fruit. Even if you are scrupulous about this kind of sanitation, I would
do something to sanitize the must. Pasteurize (I use 160 deg F for 30
min) or sulfite (50 ppm or one campden tab per gallon) the juice first.
There is also something I don't understand about your OG reading. Taking
3 gal of apple juice and 14 lb. of honey in a 5 gallon batch, I would
expect an OG in the range of ~1.120 or better. Even in a 6 gallon batch
I would expect an OG around ~1.100. With a low OG, perhaps that is an
indication of bacterial activity that consumed fermentables before you

Dave Johnson

Subject: Assorted newbie questions
From: "Russ Hobaugh" <>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 10:43:53 -0400

I mainly brew beer, but I recently finished my first batch of mead: 1 gallon of

1/2 gallon of apple juice
1.5 lbs of clover honey
12 oz. of concentrated grape juice
1 tbls of yeast nutrient
1 pack of champagne yeast.

This fermented out in about 3 weeks, and went from an SG of 1.120 down to a FG
of 1.000. I was pleased at the taste–very dry but with a hint of grape: but it
had a HUGE alcohol content roughly 18%! A definate warming feeling in the
throat. Is this normal for mead?

How would I get a sweeter mead with a lower alcohol content? Would switching
yeast take care of this for example using a "sweet mead" yeast? I will be
brewing a strawberry melomel in a few weeks(once fresh strawberries are in here
in PA). This is for my wife who does NOT like dry wines, so any help will be
appreciated. Also if any one has a killer strawberry melomel recipe, I would
appreciate it.


Russ Hobaugh
Goob Dog Brewery, Birdsboro PA

Subject: Newbie response
From: "Stephen J. Van der Hoven" <>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 09:03:48 -0600

Erik Moe had some questions about his first batch of mead. In the
spirit of constructive criticism, there are a few things that I would
have done differently. First, it was probably not necessary to sulphite
since you were using canned fruit which was probably pasteurized.
Secondly, you may have pitched the yeast too soon after sulphiting. I
have always heard or read that you should wait 24 hours after sulphiting
before pitching. Third, I have never used the Wyeast sweet mead yeast,
but have not heard anything good about it. Almost all you ever hear
about it is it is very slow to start and prone to stuck fermentation.
>From your description, it sounds to me as though fermentation has not
started. Whenever I see negative pressure in the air lock, I take that
as a sign that fermentation as stopped (or not started). If CO2
production can't keep up with volume changes in the head space due to
temperature fluctuations, then there isn't much CO2 being produced. I
would also check the temperature in your basement. An inexpensive
outdoor thermometer works well for this. I don't know what part of the
country you live in, but here in Salt Lake, my basement temp is 56-58
degrees at this time of the year. This temp is too cool for a good mead
fermentation. I put my buckets/carboys in a water bath and use fish
tank heaters to regulate the temp. For meads, I like to keep it around
70 degrees.

So, if by the time you read this, you still don't have a decent
fermentation started, don't relax and have homebrew. Go immediately to
your local shop and get some more yeast. My personal favorite is Lalvin
K1-V1116, a fast starter that you can dump directly in, no starter
needed in my experience. As Ted McIrvine pointed out in the latest MLD,
don't expect a vigorous fermentation like you get with beer. The most
vigorous mead fermentation that I have seen is comparable to the slowest
beer fermentation. Also, check the temp and I suggest you maintain the
temp at a minimum of 65 degrees.


Subject: honeysuckle flavor
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 11:21:17 -0400 (EDT)

Jake Hester asked about the potency of honeysuckles in mead…

>>The only thing that has me concerned is that the must smells much more
>>strongly of honeysuckle than I had anticipated, so I'm afraid the
>>honeysuckle flavor will be overpowering… does anyone have any experience

Being that honeysuckle aroma is one of my favorite scents I made two
honeysuckle meads last season using two HUGE additions late in the secondary.
Unfortunately, I had just the opposite experience – virtually no honeysuckle
character came through in the final mead, dissapointing especially given the
labor involved in getting so many blossoms. One thing I did notice is that the
blossoms bloom initially white then turn golden and it is the golden ones that
have most of the aroma – for what it's worth. So I did learn something, I had
always assumed that there were just two colors of flower that bloomed

  • -Alan Meeker

Subject: Definition of Melomel
From: "matt_maples"
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 12:29:26 -0400

>For purposes of discussion:
>If I start a batch and add fruit to the must in the primary I'm making a
>if I add fruit to a mead that has already completed fermentation and is
>several months old, let it sit for a month or so, then bottle it, is it a
>melomel or should it be called a fruit flavored mead??

IMHO, if the fruit ferments then it is a mel, if it doesn't it is something
else (??fruit flavored??)

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #741, 18 May 1999
From: "Belinda Messenger Ph.D." <>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 22:40:08 -0700

>Subject: more blueberry stuff
>From: "Chuck Wettergreen" <>
>Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 07:42:42 -0500
>Someone else mentioned that their mead had been in the carboy
>for five months and was still fermenting. They also mentioned that
>they had already racked twice. Every time you rack you remove a
>large percentage of your yeast population. If your mead isn't
>finished and you rack, you either wind up with a sweet mead, or
>you continue to ferment for a much longer period than you would
>have, had you left it on the yeast.

But what if you do want a sweet mead? Can you keep racking away the yeast
until fermentation stops?
I currently have a mango melomel that has been foaming away (we're talking
major fermentation) for over 6 months, that I've racked twice. At last
racking , it tasted great, so I'd like it to stop fermenting already. I
used an ale yeast to retain sweetness. I'm seriously considering campden
tablets, but I've never used them and it seems like cheating.

Belinda Messenger, Ph.D
AgraQuest, Inc.
1530 Drew Ave
Davis, CA 95616
530-750-0150 extension 21
530-750-0153 (fax)

Subject: Re: uses for botched mead?
From: Scott Murman <>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 12:51:52 -0700 (PDT)

Now we're in an area where I have some real experience; getting rid of
the evidence. I've made more bad batches of beer and mead than I'd
like to admit. Add in yeast starter batches and that's a lot of
disposable drink. In no particular order…

do not water the plants with it. plants don't like alcohol.

vinegar. this takes a long time, but will usually make a very tasty
end product. I use a mother of cider vinegar, but doubt it makes much
difference. turn vinegar into salad dressing. impress your loved
ones and save money ($4 for oil and vinegar dressing??!! yikes).

cooking. those strong flavors you don't like to drink can sometimes
stand up to the high heats of cooking. i've had the best luck using
meads for desserts.
see for some ideas
(there's at least one mead recipe there).

freezing to concentrate. this is simple and can make a really big
difference. it's possible to turn a crappy mead into a nice sipping
brandy. I put it in a quart mason jar, stick it in the freezer
until it's solid, then warm it slowly in the fridge until there's a
nice chunk of pure ice water remaining. repeat until you've got
something you like.

give it to your already drunk or naturally gullible friends and tell
them it's an imported delicacy from South America. this is usually
only good for a few sips until they find your beer supply.

  • -SM-

Subject: Beginner
From: "Johannes Ehinger" <>
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 08:16:45 PDT

Im thinking about start brewing mead and I need some advice. Of course I
have read the Mead-lovers digest FAQ but that doesnt really cover it all.
Last year I had a cup of a mead that I was told was a sweat mead made from
only honey, yeast, water and som acid balance stuff. I would like to make a
try with that since the taste of the stuff was really great. Can anyone give
me some advice about the process, what I should think of and, most
important, a recipy. For example, how much honey should I take and how long
should i lett it ferment. I know the basics of brewing and i got the brewing
stuffs but I still need some recigy advice.
Thanks in advance!

End of Mead Lover's Digest #742