Mead Lover's Digest #0763 Mon 18 October 1999


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #762, 7 October 1999 (Tim Bray)
slow fermentation, etc. (Dick Dunn)
Bee pollen as a yeast nutrient (Ken Mason)
Looking for Good Cyser Recipe ("Carl Wilson")
too much yeast extract? (Warren Place)
yeast nutrient, energizer, autolysis ("Chuck Wettergreen")
Stove-top mead? ("John Baker")
burley? clinitest! lol!/Apple Butter Cyser (jonathan edwards)


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #762, 7 October 1999
From: Tim Bray <>
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 19:10:56 -0700

Hey Jeremiah, this may sound like heresy but all may not be lost. Skim off
the gnats, let it finish fermenting, bottle and hope. Cyser has a lot of
alcohol and acidity, right? You may not have a ruined batch after all.
One of the best batches of metheglin we ever made was invaded by earwigs
during fermentation, but whatever went in with them apparently stayed in
the frothy scum at the top, because we skimmed it off and bottled as usual
and it turned out great.

Hey, everything in life is a little risky, right?

Tim Bray
Albion, CA

>Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #761, 26 September 1999
>Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 03:01:16 EDT
> Well A depressing segment of my mead makng life has just occured.
<snip> gnats in the cyser>

Subject: slow fermentation, etc.
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 7 Oct 99 22:28:18 MDT (Thu)

Dave Burley <> wrote in the last digest…
> Frankly, a pure mead must, consisting of only honey dissolved in water, is
> almost like a pure sugar solution and is about as healthful to the yeast as
> if you ate only pure sugar. The long fermentations, apparently loved by
> some, is simply because the yeast is unhealthy and can't ferment very
> quickly…

Dave – I doubt many people love the long fermentations! I think a lot of
people are resigned to them because they don't know what else to do.
Perhaps some folks have tried simple hacks to shorten fermentation–like
increasing the fermentation temperature or dumping in a bunch of nutri-
ents–and have gotten bad results (like weird esters or metallic tastes)…
so they've gone back to the slower but more reliable fermentation. That
doesn't mean they like it that way, but that if given only a choice
between "good" and "fast" they choose "good".

>…A healthy fermentation should be mostly completed in two or three
> weeks…

That might be a bit quick but I think it's in the right ballpark. Note
that melomels can be astonishingly quick, doing 90% of the SG change within
a week. But melomels have all the goodies in the fruit to work with; there
is no question of malnourished yeast, so set that aside. I was digressing
just to separate them out. Certainly we ought to be thinking of fermenta-
tion times in weeks rather than months. (Folks, note that this is the fer-
mentation time, not the total pitch-to-serve time.)

>…Sitting on dead yeast and the resulting autolysis can give your
> mead a meaty or rubbery taste, which perhaps in small amounts some enjoy…

But autolysis isn't really a big issue, because what you've got is a lot of
sluggish, nearly-dormant yeast. It's not autolyzing much; it's not doing
much at all. Moreover, it's probably not a large amount of yeast if it's
working so slowly.

[ammonium and yeast-hull additives]
> …Like many people, I do not like to add these to the mead for fear
> of off tastes from the additives…

My impression from talking to a LOT of meadmakers over the years is that
most meadmakers DO add them…like maybe 9 out of 10. OK, some fair
fraction of those folks don't particularly like adding them, but they do
anyway (even though they worry about it).

>…You would like to add just enough so that
> teh nutrients all reside in teh yeast and none in the mead when the
> fermentation is finished. How much is enough? I don't know nor does anyone
> else since it depends on the OG, yeast and honey type and on and on.

This characterizes the problem fairly, but the solution isn't that hard:
You add less nutrient than you know you will need, with the understanding
that it will all get used up and the yeast will be healthy enough to coast
to the finish line. It's not an exacting matter, especially if you're
using good yeast cultures to start with.

In other words, too much nutrient can be a problem, but you can use sub-
stantially too little (i.e., a lot less than the yeast would like to do a
rip-roaring fermentation) and you'll get good mead without the off-tastes
from excess nutrient.

> What is the solution to this problem? Make up a large starter ( like a
> gallon – done sequentually for 5 gallons of must) in which these nutrient
> ingredients are added to produce a healthy and large amount of yeast…

You're creating an enormous yeast population which, once it has fermented
out all the sugar, is going to shift to autolysis quickly. In effect,
you're trading a slower progression with the chance of gradual autolysis
over time, against a rapid change where autolysis can probably be avoided
more completely, but only with considerably more care and observation…is
that a fair comparison?

> …The lightest in color and taste <pure> malt extract ( OG of
> starter = 1.040) makes a good source of protein and carbohydrates for the
> yeast growth…

I'm pretty skeptical of this, having ended up with malt in my mead through
a couple of other approaches and having discovered that the taste of malt
comes through even if it's used in rather small amounts. Perhaps other
folks don't notice, or may even like, the addition of the malt taste. I
like braggot, but if I'm making a traditional mead I don't want the malt.
I skipped over where you let the starter separate, skim liquid and use the
slurry, but I don't know how much malt character carries into each part.
I'd rather skate the thin line with the nutrient than try to work with

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

…Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools.

Subject: Bee pollen as a yeast nutrient
From: Ken Mason <>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 22:46:12 -0700 (PDT)

What if I added pollen to the must instead of a yeast
nutrient? Years ago when researching mead making, I
seem to remember coming across ancient testimonials
(Old Norse, I believe) about adding a spoonfull of bee
pollen to mead to fortify it.

However, I'm spotty on the details as to if it was
something added to the mead while it was brewing or
just before drinking.

I know Pollen is a concentrated source of
micro-nutrients, but it is also a concentrated source
of protein and amino acids, (at least 35% by volume. .
.about twice that of meat) If pollen were to be used
as the nutrient, would the excess aminos and protein
be utilized by the yeast? Would they remain inert?
Or might they become something unpleasent?

And one more thing, What are the organic components of
bees wax? Fatty acids? A carbohydrate of some sort?
I've always wanted to know.

Subject: Looking for Good Cyser Recipe
From: "Carl Wilson" <>
Date: Sat, 09 Oct 1999 22:20:51 -0500

I'm looking for a good Cyser recipe. Something that will turn out only
slightly sweet. The only mead that I ever tried that didn't turn out
good was a Cyser. I don't want a repeat of that!

Subject: too much yeast extract?
From: Warren Place <>
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 09:24:54 -0700 (PDT)

How much yeast extract is too much? I was just wondering which side I
should error on if I am adding yeast extract and what a little excess YE
would do to the flavor?

Warren Place

Subject: yeast nutrient, energizer, autolysis
From: "Chuck Wettergreen" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 08:48:46 -0500

There has been some discussion about the necessity
for yeast nutrients and/or yeast energizer as a
requirement for a healthy fermentation. I won't debate
that question, merely offer my own experience.

About two years ago I began a quest to reduce the amount
of chemicals added to my meads. I have not used yeast
nutrient or energizer since that time. In that period I have
made, I don't know, maybe 30 meads, about half of
which were show meads (honey, water, yeast only). I
initially also oxygenated when pitching, but have found
that this produces uniformly too-dry meads, so I have
also eliminated that process. All of these meads
fermented out in about 4 weeks or less, with melomels
fermenting much faster.

Most meads that I make have an original gravity close to
1.100. All are fermented in my basement which generally
has a temperature around 65F (18C). Since starting this
I have never had a stuck fermentation. I do not have
Listerine, rubber, or other off flavors, as confirmed by many
BJCP judges in contests I have entered.

Contrary to what others might think, honey and water mixed
together is not the same as sugar and water mixed together.
Honey is a wondrous stew of simple and complex sugars,
minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, acids and vitamins. The
composition of honey is available at the National Honey

I do not make a large starter. I generally use one 5 gr.
package of dry yeast, rehydrated according to package
directions. If I screw up and mix up a batch that has too
high an original gravity (say 1.300), I'll pitch two packs of dry
yeast, rehydrated. For the most part I have used Lalvin
K1V-1116, about which the manufacturer says, "The
K1V-1116 strain is a rapid starter with a constant and
complete fermentation between 15=B0 and 30=B0C (59=B0 and 86=B0F),
capable of surviving a number of difficult conditions, such as
low nutrient musts and high levels of SO2 or sugar. " I have
tried other beer and wine yeasts and experienced the same
results (except, of course, Verika-UUUUUGH).

How can I ferment out in four weeks, without nutrients, when
most recipes I have read intimate that a period of months or
years is required? I believe it is because most recipes
recommend the addition of various acids (citric, malic, tartaric,
or acid blend) in the preparation. By it's nature, yeast drops
pH with the onset of fermentation, *and* honey is naturally
acidic. I believe that addition of acid slows fermentation by
making conditions inhospitable for the yeast.

I also do not boil or even heat my must. K1V-1116 is a "killer
yeast", naturally competitive against other yeasts, plus the
amount I am pitching is so much greater than any yeasts in
the honey that they have never been a problem.

I have never tasted yeast autolysis in my meads, nor has it
has ever been mentioned in any of my judging sheets, I
believe that it is an overblown problem. In our trip to France
(MLD 752) Wout Klingens and I found French commercial
mead makers who aged their meads sur lie for 1 to 6 *years*
without autolysis flavors or aromas. Their meads were
wonderful, and not a hint of "rubber".

Geneva, IL

Subject: Stove-top mead?
From: "John Baker" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 09:56:41 -0600

I was wondering if there were recipes for mead that didn't require the use
of a laboratory! (LOL) Can one make mead using what they already have and
make a "bottle" at a time?

Denver Colorado

Subject: burley? clinitest! lol!/Apple Butter Cyser
From: jonathan edwards <>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1999 22:46:38 -0400

hey now,

serious lurker here…just read 6 months of mead digests that were in my
mailbox. is this dave burley the same character that preached the use of
clinitest on the hbd digest a year or two until they made him stop?
wow…got admire his stubborness! 😮

anyways, haven't made a mead in over year but i just bought 50lbs of honey
and am considering doing an Apple Butter Cyser. Got the recipe from a
Brewrat on the brewery bbd. comments on the recipe? anyone made this before?

10lbs honey
5 gallons upastuerize apple juice
2lbs dark DME
5lbs muscovado sugar
6-12 cloves added to primary
12-20 pieces of Cassia bark or cinnamon sticks
1-2lbs apple butter (with no preseravites)
2lbs white raisons
1/2 teaspon nutmeg
wyeast #3347 (Water of Life Yeast!)

basically you combine honey and spices to 1 gallon of apple juice and heat
to pateurize. pitch with rest of apple juice. this yeast will ferment up to
20% alcohol. rack onto raisons in secondary after two months. let age for
months and months. prime with lyles golden syrup. add 5 additional raisons
and piece of cassia bark to bottle. yeast on raisons will referment
carbonation the cyser. condition a long lone time.

I hear it's fantastic. whatcha think?


End of Mead Lover's Digest #763