Mead Lover's Digest #0751 Tue 27 July 1999


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



Wyeast liquid Mead Yeast (ernest baker)
Right Yeast for the Job (Clogar)
Re: Mead Judging – ("Mark W. Wilson")
Too high temps for mead? (ALAN KEITH MEEKER)
Re: Wyeast Liquid Mead Yeast? (Dan McLaughlin & Christine Griffith)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #750, 21 July 1999 (ALAN KEITH MEEKER)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #750, 21 July 1999 ("Belinda Messenger Ph.D.")
Cork preparation (
Re: Hot Fermentations (Kevin Mc Lean)
AHA Club Only Competition (Dan McLaughlin & Christine Griffith)
First time's not a charm (Leo Horishny)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #750, 21 July 1999 ("Wout Klingens")


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Subject: Wyeast liquid Mead Yeast
From: (ernest baker)
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 13:14:51 -0700 (PDT)

In MLD #750, Carl Wilson asks for a report from anyone using Wyeast
liquid yeast. I started a smack pack of Wyeast 3632 Dry Mead Yeast 12
days ago, it was dated March 13th, (4 months old), this pack grew to
almost 2 inches in less than 24 hours, I made a starter, pitched the
yeast into the starter, the next day I made the mead must and pitched
the starter and this baby was producing bubbles in FOUR hours, here we
are 10 days later and I have a bubble every other second, so far I'm
happy, in a couple months I'll give another report. This is my first
mead and I will do my second using Wyeast Sweet yeast… Good
Brewing..Ernie Baker.(:+)

Subject: Right Yeast for the Job
From: Clogar <>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 16:16:21 -0400

I was reading up on yeast on Forrest Cook's The Mead Maker's Page ( ) and became curious as
to what others have found to be the best yeasts for the various
mead types (dry, sweet, sack). I've been using Lalvin K1-V1116
Montpellier mostly, but was thinking of refining my recipes a bit
now that I've got a decent number of batches under my belt.

  • -= Clogar

Subject: Re: Mead Judging - 
From: "Mark W. Wilson" <>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 13:19:05 -0700


I think (or at least hope) you're overgeneralizing. Perhaps a bad
experience from some non-mead-knowledgeable judges judging mead? At least
in my experience judging meads I have always judged with someone who has at
least made a batch or two. Also, I've always felt that the comments on meads I
have entered in competition have been in the ballbark. (nice honey
character but too hot, etc.)

The main thing I look for in mead is balance. A dry mead must not be too
alcholic and hot. A sweet mead should not be over-cloying. Overall the
mead should be pleasant; and to be a good mead, I need to perceive honey
character- that is, honey/floral flavors and aromas. If it's not there,
it's just fermented sugar. I've tasted dry meads with much more honey
charater than the sweet meads next to them. Melomels and metheglins you're
looking for the fruit/spice too, but it should still be well-balanced and
you should still get honey character.

Entries should be designated sweet, medium, or dry and judged according to
these guidlines.

> My personal feeling is that homebrewers judge meads like
> brewers (small wonder) and look for aggressive mead
> character like alcoholic strength and sweetness. In doing

If brewers are judging beers like this they are judging them poorly. Again,
the main things are adhrence to style (not-so-strict for mead) and balance.
I think judges are realizing this and starting to crack down on IPAs entered
as pale ales, imperial stouts as foreign stouts, etc. Even judging the
biggest beers such as barley wine, you are still looking for balance not
just brawn.

Of course there are still lots of mediocre to poor judges out there. Here,
education is more difficult than with beer due to the low availability of
commercial meads, especially non-sweet meads. There are no mead questions
on the BJCP exam to boot. So if there aren't a lot of mead makers (or
they're entered in the competition and can't judge) there's not much you can
do except try and educate the uninitiated, perhaps by bringing some of your
meads to your club's next meeting?

  • -Mark

Subject: Too high temps for mead?
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 10:49:24 -0400 (EDT)

Gail asked about warm/hot weather and mead:

> It's too hot to brew at my house (80 degF garage), but is it too hot to
> make mead? How warm can mead be when it's fermenting? How might a
> high-temperature fermentation affect the flavor?

I've only been making meads for two years now but, from first principles, I'd
say fermenting a mead at this high a temperature could be a risky venture,
mainly because of the effect higher temps are likely to have on the yeast.
Mead musts (especially those unsupplemented with added nutrients or fruit)
tend to be nutritionally challanging for the yeasts we use. Combine this
with the fact that the must is often also of high specific gravity (ie – lots
of sugar therefore high tonicity) which, in turn, leads to high ethanol
concentrations upon fermentation. All this means that the yeast is going to be
highly stressed in several ways – low nutrient availability, low osmolarity,
and (eventual) high alcohol. These are the normal problems faced by our little
fungal friends when we ask them to make mead for us – part of the territory.
Trouble is that growing your yeast at higher temperature will tend to decrease
the yeasts' resistance to such stresses. What this may result in is
increased yeast death (yeast "autolysis") which will slow or even stop the
ferment and "contaminate" the mead with byproducts of the yeasts' destruction,
many of which are definitely NOT tasty! Not only can the decreased yeast
health lead to slow or stuck ferments (mead ferments are often slow enough on
their own!) or yeast cell death, but higher temperatures will change the
performance of the yeast during the fermentation. Specifically, it will alter
the yeasts' metabolism resulting in changes in both the types and amounts of
chemicals that the yeast releases during the fermentation and this will alter
the resulting taste profile of the mead, unfortunately probably not for the
better. On top of all this, increased temps can help encourage the growth of
(usually undesireable) bacteria and "wild" yeasts which themselves often spit
out all manner of nasty-tasting metabolic byproducts. Oxidative processes
which can lead to staling will also be accelerated at higher temperatures and
can produce especially horrible flavored compounds from fatty acids if these
have been released into the must when yeast autloyze.

Have I scared you sufficiently? well, remember, this is all from "first
principles" and theory does indeed often break down in practice. Also, I'd be
more easilly swayed by experience which may tell otherwise. Unfortunately, I
haven't had too much experience with high temp meads myself. I did have a
batch of raspberry melomel last summer get exposed to several 90 degree days
(no AC in my house yet!) and this didn't seem to hurt it, judging from the
final product. However, the heat wave came long after the primary fermentation
had finished, in fact, it was already in a secondary or tertiary carboy. I
tend to think there would have been BIG differences if it had actually been
/fermented/ at this high temperature but I really can't say, just that for
this single nearly finished mead a brief heat exposure didn't see to ruin it.

The strain of yeast you use may be a big factor too. Different strains have
different optimal temperatures, temperature and ethanol tollerances, etc.
Perhaps some of the mead yeasts fare well at high temperatures, you'd have to
check the specs. In the beer universe, many Belgian ales are brewed at
relatively high temperatures, but these use strains tailored to this purpose
and the resulting beers often have very complex phenolic/estery flavor
profiles which may not be desireable in a mead.

It would certainly be interesting to try making some warm temp meads to see
how they come out. I'd try smallish batches like a gallon or so and try not to
leave it on the lees too long. Perhaps re-pitching new yeast would be a good
idea during transfer. Also, I'd try to lower non-temp stresses by adding
a yeast nutrient and "energizer" or make a fruit mead. Keep the gravity down
so they won't be so stressed by high sugar concentrations, this will also keep
final ethanol down. To discourage growth of undesireables pasteurization may
be a good idea.

Alternatively, you could try cooling during the ferment. The old wet T-shirt
and fan trick can work wonders, especially if you're making a smaller batch.
Or keep the container partially submerged in cool water. I've done this with
some ales and it has worked well, can get the temp down 10 degrees or so. This
is especially important in the first (hopefully vigorous) stages of
fermentation – remember, the yeast like us actually generate a fair amount of
heat from their metabolic activities and this should be dissipated in some

Arrrrrrrrrrg, I've rambled too long. Back to work.

Good luck, let us know what you find out and how things go!

  • -Alan Meeker

Baltimore, MD

Subject: Re: Wyeast Liquid Mead Yeast?
From: Dan McLaughlin & Christine Griffith <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 11:55:04 -0400


My only experience with the Wyeast liquid was with the Sweet Mead strain.

Though I had negative comments about it I tried it anyway. It
finished VERY sweet but not cloying. I had used it in a cyser OG
1.100 and FG 1.040.

Personally I would have wanted it to ferment out more for a drier
taste but upon tasting for the upcoming AHA COC for meads, club
members raved about how good it was.

For dry I'll stick with the Lavlin D-47.

Cheers, Dan

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #750, 21 July 1999
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 12:01:32 -0400 (EDT)

Anne Trowbridge wrote:

> My personal feeling is that homebrewers judge meads like
> brewers (small wonder) and look for aggressive mead
> character like alcoholic strength and sweetness. In doing
> so, they miss some of the more delicate aspects that mead
> can impart.

Hmmmmmm I have to disagree with this. It's been my experience that homebrewers
(and I'm including myself in this category) look at a wide spectrum of
characteristics, well beyond simply alcohol content and sweetness. Most people
I know carefully weigh many aspects including appearance, aroma, mouthfeel,
flavor profiles (early, middle, and late), etc. Certainly there are some
characteristics more restricted to beer, such as head quality/head retention
but there are a lot of characteristics we look for in beers that are also
present in meads such as estery-ness, phenolics, tartness, CO2 prickle, etc..
I think judging a mead is more akin to judging one of the milder beer styles,
some of the wheat styles for example.

> Most equate "honey flavor & character" with sweetness –
> basically, UNFERMENTED honey flavor and aroma.

How can "honey flavor" be anything other than the flavor of honey??

I dissociate the flavor of honey from the sweetness of honey. Sweetness is
merely one of the four basic tastes detected by the tounge. The complexity of
honey flavor is due to myriad chemical compounds in the honey that we detect
in our nasal passages when we taste honey. I think it's safe to say that
/this/ is what people refer to when they talk about the taste of honey.

> I've found
> most homebrewers don't understand the change in character
> that fermented honey has, even though they can readily
> recognize the effects of fermentation in a malt-based
> beverage. I'm interested in your perceptions of fermented
> honey character vs. unfermented honey character. I'd also
> appreciate feedback on the effect of yeast character or
> other flavor elements (fruit, spices, malt) on the fermented

In my meads I definitely do appreciate and (usually) enjoy the changes that
occur to the honey flavor profile upon fermentation. That being said, I still
do strive to retain at least a hint of that "unfermented honey" flavor and/or
aroma that went into the mead to begin with. I have always fallen short of
attaining this goal. Perhaps this is because I have only made very dry meads
so far and I imagine most of the delicate honey flavor/aroma compounds (which
are likely to be volatile compounds present in small amounts) are "scrubbed
out" during the fermentation or perhaps metabolized by the yeasts themselves.
Do sweeter meads have more honey character than dry?

Let us know what you find out…

  • -Alan Meeker

Baltimore MD

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #750, 21 July 1999
From: "Belinda Messenger Ph.D." <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 11:18:08 -0700

>Subject: Fermentation temp?
>From: Gail Elber <>
>Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 10:26:24 -0700
I have had a bit of (inadvertant) experience with warm fermentation of
mead…lived in the stinking desert of Riverside for a while. What I
noticed is that the heat (80-85F) speeds up the fermentation and produces
rocket fuel…really strong mead with little residual sweetness.

>Subject: Mead Judging –
>From: Anne Trowbridge <>
>Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 20:05:37 -0600
I've just been through an AHA style judging and I agree with what you say.
The judges seem to be tasting for the unfermented honey flavor and aroma. I
had a traditional mead, made with wildflower honey and one of the judges
complained that I had put in too much spice…there was no spice added, it
was the flavor of the honey after it fermented. They also were unfavorable
to the dryness of the mead.

Also, regarding your question about perception of the honey character, I
made a small batch of mead made with blackberry honey and it was very sweet
and had a strong flavor and aroma of blackberries…I don't know if I would
have noticed the blackberry if it was dry.

Subject: Cork preparation
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 15:56:29 -0500 (CDT)

What I do is soak them overnight in a weak (1 tab / 2 gal H2O) sulfite
solution. I would be wary of using bleach, as it may give the product a
strong chlorine scent, or even worse, taste.
For bottles, a bottle washer which attaches to your faucet is nearly
indispensable. I just did about 150 bottles in three hours, including
soaking time. They're available at any brewshop.
You hate messing with the siphoning? Try filling your racking cane, line,
and bottle filler completely with water. Wioth thumbs sealing the ends,
move it over to the carboy and carefully drop the cane in. Grab a jar to
collect the water in, start the flow going, and when mead comes out (after
the water, of course) you've got a good, air bubble-free siphon. I
personally like starting by mouth sometimes, as I get to taste to product!
(Don't plan on driving anywhere for awhile after a serious bottling session
using this method – those gulps can add up quickly)
Terry B
>I'm finally getting to bottle my carboy. I forgot what I was told to do to
>soften the corks.
>Aside from soaking them overnight, aren't I supposed to boil them for a
>certain period of time first?
>I've got the bottles soaking in a mild bleach solution in the tub (I've
>had them sitting for too long to just rinse and use) then I'm going to
>rinse them and scrub them with sanitizer.
>I was inspired to get on with this after tasting some other samples of
>meads at a local homebrewing group here in town the other day. Mine can't
>be any worse than some of the experiments I tried ;-), so it's time to do
>the deed. I hate messing with the siphoning….
>Leo Horishny
>Cincinnati, OH
Terence Bradshaw
Pomona Tree Fruit Service Butternut Acres Farm
PO Box 258, Chelsea, VT 05038 169 Bradshaw Crossroad
(802)685-3412 Chelsea, VT, 05038 (802)685-4601

Subject: Re: Hot Fermentations
From: (Kevin Mc Lean)
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 08:06:37 +1000 (EST)

Gail Elber wrote:
>It's too hot to brew at my house (80 degF garage), but is it too hot to
>make mead? How warm can mead be when it's fermenting? How might a
>high-temperature fermentation affect the flavor?

I've brewed light mead (3%) using general purpose wine yeast at around 34
degC (not sure what that converts to) and it turned out fine. However, I've
now shifted to more amenable brewing facilities. Most stories I've heard
aren't so much about the fermentation problems of heat, but alcohol going
off in storage in hot conditions. However, my brother in law did have a
beer fermentation 'stick' because conditions were too hot and the
fermentation continued in the bottles later and there were hideous
problems. I think the problem is that micro organisms can survive freezing,
but really high heat is a pretty reliable kill.

I'd tend to try a small batch and see how it goes. If that doesn't work –
look at 'hot' wine yeasts like madeira, be very fussy about where you
stored the stuff, and contemplate buying a used refridgerator and adjusting
the temperature and fermenting in that.


Kevin Mc Lean.
STEPS Co-ordinator/
CLC Tutor.
Mackay Campus.
07 49407416.

Subject: AHA Club Only Competition
From: Dan McLaughlin & Christine Griffith <>
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 11:09:26 -0400

Does anyone know where to send entries for the AHA Club Only
Competition, It's a Mead Mead Mead … World?

The competition is mentioned on the AHA website and in Zyurmgy
magazine but no mention of a judging site.

Thanks, Dan

Subject: First time's not a charm
From: (Leo Horishny)
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 22:11:29 -0400 (EDT)

First off, thank you for all the responses to my query about corks. All for
naught as it turns out…

I hate how this stuff can look so enticing and end up tasting so not
enticing. It's not quite vinegar, but it's definitely not like wine.
Hopefully it'll clear out the nooks and crannies of my plumbing.

I did learn a lot through this:

Racking canes are more trouble than they're worth.

Buy that nifty siphoning gizmo you figured you could do without

Buy the primo bottle corker (anyone tell me the trick to getting corks OUT
of those plastic wine corkers?)

Don't let it sit in the carboy too long (as I dumped it out, the yeast
looked bad underneath its surface)

Especially if you've added a second starter's worth of yeast

Get more bottles than you think you need (Guess I'm lucky it didn't turn
out to be a good batch)

I am so glad I didn't have the urge to brew beer as much trouble as this was
at times. I think while I'm brewing a second batch, I'll start reading up
on terrarium plants. Just in case….

Leo Horishny
Cincinnati, OH

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #750, 21 July 1999
From: "Wout Klingens" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 11:35:27 +0200

Gail Elber <> asked:

>It's too hot to brew at my house (80 degF garage), but is it too hot to
>make mead? How warm can mead be when it's fermenting? How might a
>high-temperature fermentation affect the flavor?

Yes, too high. Too much fusel oils. Which is an off-flavor. On the other
hand you'd probably get more glycerine, which is nice in mouthfeel, and adds
body and sweetness.
Chuck ( and me just came back from a mead- and cider-tasting
tour through Brittany in France where we met a most amazing professional
meadmaker (Mr. Joel Mercier) who makes a mead – which would astound the most
experienced judges in the US – in his attic at much higher temperatures
than that. In fact, he doesn't have any temperature control at all. So, I'd
say: just give it a try and see what happens….. No use of being frustrated
because the experts say you can't make a good mead. Most probably you'll
like it.
(Please be patient, we have so much to tell, that it might take a while
before the MLD gets a full report of our trip).

Carl Wilson <> asks:

>Just wondering if anyone out there had had any luck using Wyeast liquid
>mead yeast strains. I've heard that they tend to be slow starters.
>I've used Lalvin D-47 and K1V so far with success, but thought I'd like
>to try a liquid strain.

I was priviliged to talk to the owner of the Wyeast company, Mr. Logston,
and bought some Wyeast sweet mead- and dry mead- yeast. Only available in
Europe at that time, I can't get it now.
Now Chuck advised me, that the amount of yeast in those smack packs might be
not enough to get a good strong fermentation going, so I made a good starter
first. Looking at the starter I think Chuck is right.
This batch is now strongly bubbling away, with an OG of 1.100. No problems.
Though you might not get the vigorousness like you have with the Lalvin.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #751