Mead Lover's Digest #0769 Thu 25 November 1999


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



Re: Stove-top mead? (Dan McFeeley)
Different newbie, more questions… (
re: hops in Lithuanian mead (Gregg Stearns)
Re: lune de miel honey (
Stopping a fermentation, (Dave Burley)
A reason to core apples. ("Stevenson, Randall")
St. Louis Brews 1999 Happy Holidays Homebrew Competition ("John or Barb Su…)
elderberries (
history ("Ron Raike")
beer yeast in cyser? (Steven Sanders)
Rose Hip Mead ("Frank J. Russo")


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Subject: Re: Stove-top mead?
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 11:25:43 -0600

On Thu, 14 Oct 1999, in MLD 763, John Baker wrote:

>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?

Absolutely! This is a mixed crowd on MLD — some of us are looking
for nothing more than how to make a good mead consistently and in the
simplest way possible, while others are interested in looking into every
miscellaneous factoid that may or may not help in learning something new
about meadmaking.

Good meads can be made with a variety of methods, from shake and wait type
recipes, to careful tasting and monitoring of the fermentation by checking
things like specific gravity, pH and acid levels, and so on. These things
re the same in winemaking and beer brewing. You can make good wines and
beers using very simple recipes, with not much more than the use of a
hydrometer, careful measurement, and following standard methods in
winemaking and beer brewing such as good sanitation and careful choice of
yeasts. Other vintners and brewers are very technical in their approach,
looking for new ideas and methods to push the envelope of making good
wines and beers, as are many meadmakers.

Old mead recipes from colonial times in this country or from earlier
Europian medieval times are simple recipes with little more than careful
measurements and the skilled meadmaker's knowledge of how to ferment
honey. Traditional recipes passed on from generation to generation
were made by using local ingredients that worked well and using the
same ways of preparing the must and starting the fermentation. Honey,
like everything else used in making fermented beverages, is a natural
product that varies considerably from region to region or season to
season. Choice of honey for one regional recipe might not work as well
in another region simply because the honeys are different, made from
different floral sources and possibly acting in different ways when
fermented into mead.

French winemakers are also divided over traditional methods developed
over the centuries versus the role of science and oenology. Central to
the argument of the traditionalists is the concept of terroir, a word
difficult to carry over from French into English or other languages.
Terroir is the coming together of the myriad qualities of a vineyard
that stamps an indelible and unique personality on the grape. Everything
is important, from soil quality, seasonal variations, rain and climate,
and so on in creating the terroir of the vineyard. It's a holistic
concept, where the value of the whole is always greater than the sum of
the elements. Terroir isn't something you try to analyze, it's something
you step back and look at. In a sense, the wine already exists in nascent
form as a product of the terroir that produced the grape. Terroir is what
makes the wines of France uniquely French, and not just a wine that was
made in France. For the French vintner, a glass of Grands Crus Bourdeaux
wine is a celebration of France, its national heritage and pride in all
things French.

Terroir is also foundational to the feeling of many French winemakers
that the best thing to do in making wine is to stand out of the way
and let the natural process of fermentation take its own course.
They act to bring together everything recognized as important in
the making of wines and will take advantage of modern oenology if
something goes wrong, but inherent in everything they do in making
a great wine is an innate faith in their subjective and intuitive
ability to choose an area suited for growing excellant wine grapes,
choice of vineyard management techniques, and methods of fermentation
best suited for that particular wine grape.

On the other hand, there is the famous (or infamous, depending on the
perspective 🙂 Emile Peynaud of Bordeaux, professor of oenology
and seen as the embodiment of cold hard rationalism in French
winemaking. His book _Knowing and Making Wine_ (available in English
translation) is an excellant summation of the science involved in the
making of good wines. There is an apocryphal story going around about
the wine critic who was given an unknown wine to taste and commented "I
can't tell you what the wine is or where it came from, but I can tell you
it was made by professor Peynaud." Johnson and Halliday in their book
_The Vintner's Art_ note that if this is true, the major family resemblance
in wines made under the professor's influence is probably that they are
devoid of technical flaws.

Emile Peynaud himself makes the point that understanding and analyzing
wine first begins with tasting. He speaks of the details of wine
composition provided by the laboratory as making up the detail and
structure of wine, but not disclosing the essential personality of the
wine. "A routine analysis can make no distinction between an exceptional
wine and an ordinary wine, every enology laboratory is well aware of
this," he says. Here, Peynaud finds common ground with the traditionalists
in French winemaking. He understands terroir, but wants to strengthen the
art of winemaking by making its science and technology more readily
available as a means of solving problems and improving wine production.

Dan McConnell and Ken Schramm underscore this same topic in meadmaking
very nicely in their _Zymurgy_ article titled "Mead Success: Ingredients,
Processes and Techniques" (vol 18, no. 1, Spring 1995):

We love mead. It is the granddaddy of all fermented beverages,
perhaps as old as the first dip of a hand into the fermented
honey and rainwater in the crook of a tree. Yet here we are in
the 1990's, going to tremendous lengths to buy the finest Belgian
malts, the freshest imported hops and the most obscure yeast
strains for brewing beer, but brew our meads with supermarket
honey of undetermined origin and unspecified, probably unspeakable

The time has come to push meadmaking into the same analytical and
scientific realm that beer brewers have applied to their craft for
quite some time. We believe that by understanding honey, water and
yeast in the same way we understand yeast, malt, water and hops, we
can elevate mead to the same level of quality and public acceptance
that high-quality beers enjoy.

There's room for everyone here. You can compare meadmaking with bread
baking — with just basic ingredients and a simple recipe, you can make
a loaf that will beat out anything obtainable in the supermarket. You can
also take the needed time and effort necessary to make a French loaf the
equal of anything coming out of the finest of bakeries. Either way,
your efforts are rewarded because it was something put out by your own
creative efforts. The quality of personal value is not the same thing
as judging by point scores.

Mead in a bottle? Sure, it can be done but personally, I wouldn't advise
it. I've made the mistake of using 4.5 liter wine jugs for experimental
recipes thinking that if the batch was spoiled, not much would be wasted.
Big mistake! Not only did those meads turn out well, some of them won
awards. They were great meads but now I don't have any left to pass
around for friends and family. Lesson learned, make large batches
and lay plenty away for the future!

Happy meadmaking!

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Different newbie, more questions...
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 16:00:47 EST

Is it possible to make mead in plastic, 5 gallon buckets? I've got 4 brand
new buckets with air tight lids that I can fit with a fermentation lock in
the bung.


Subject: re: hops in Lithuanian mead
From: Gregg Stearns <>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 23:47:38 -0600

I'd have to agree with Brian on the hops in the lithuanian mead.

Hops are a good natural preservative, and I'd bet they added em at the end
of the boil, for maybe 5 mins, then strained them out. This way the mead would
probably last longer, especially if it's a low alcohol content mead, and be less
susceptable to bacteria and such during aging

Gregg Stearns | 237 South 70th | tel: +1.402.441.3292
Editor Vnews Insider | Suite 220 | fax: +1.402.483.5418 | Lincoln, NE 68510 | URL:

Subject: Re: lune de miel honey
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 11:44:45 EST

In a message dated 99-11-17 13:40:31 EST, "Gary Gutowski" <>
wrote of three European honeys:

<< Forest Honey – Liquid but dense. A deep, slightly russet brown.
Highly scented, it has a characteristically woody fragrance.
A full-bodied honey with strongly malted and resinous flavors.
Long-lasting taste. Comes from resinous and coniferous forests. Is
appreciated for its richly and woody characteristic flavor. >>

This is honeydew, when bees gather the sweet secretions of trees and

aphids. Strictly speaking it isn't really honey, as it is not made from the
nectar of flowers. It is not so highly valued in the US, as it is in Europe,
and you could have purchased it very cheaply in the northeast a couple years
ago, when there was a big honeydew crop, and beekeepers were very frustrated,
as bees winter survival depends on getting that honeydew out of the hives,
and getting a light honey, or high fructose corn syrup into it. Honeydew has
a lot of indigestible material in it, and bees which cannot fly (too cold) to
relieve themselves will get dysentary, killing the hives.

When you said resinous, you said a mouthful, as this is likely the

predominate flavor…..not my favorite, as you can see. Europeans either
have stronger tastes, or more likely are considering it medicine, and
medicine isn't supposed to taste good, right?

<<Acacia flower honey – Always liquid, a lovely luminous, transparent color.
A subtle, slightly flowery scent that does not last. Smooth and elegant in
the mouth. A mild, silky honey.>>

Very fine honey, which you can get much more cheaply here in the US as

black locust, or American acacia. Actually it is not a true acacia, though
it is related. But the French imported our black locust trees from
Appalachia, and planted them in large groves. Now their "acacia" honey has
worldwide fame.

<<Mountain Honey – A creamy, caramel colored set honey.
Strongly scented with complex woodland aromas.
Powerfully flavored with a touch of wood and a hint of liquorice
Lasting flavor. This high altitude honey, gathered by bees from the rarest
wild flower blossoms, is a genuine gift of nature. Equally suited for
baking, confectioneries or sweetening. >>

Most likely wild thyme, anise hyssop, or other mint family herbs. Any

honey from any of the mint family will be very fine, with distinct flavors.
Wild thyme grows in the Catskill mountains, the Berkeshire mountains, and
some other locales in the US. It is a famous honey source on the hills of
Greece and some areas of northern Italy, Yugoslavia, etc. Anise hyssop was
widely planted in the southeastern US for the licorice flavor, now that
synthetic flavors predominate, the plant is no longer a crop, but it is
naturalized in many areas, including right here in coastal SC. We get a
little bit of anise hyssop most years. Peppermint can be had from the
pacific northwest, and it is a very fine honey.

Dave Green SC USA
The Pollination Home Page
The Pollination Scene

Jan's Sweetness and Light Shop on the Internet (honey & beeswax candles)</PRE></HTML>

Subject: Stopping a fermentation,
From: Dave Burley <>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:57:14 -0500

Mazer Cup Aspirants ( How's That, Dick?):

That's why I shortened it to "Mazers", thinking
most would understand. Guess Dick didn't.
I also think I saw this use earlier here without
correction. Oh, well.

I don't know if we are brewers or vintners or
"meaders" ( sounds like a gas reading device),
so I chose something with high aspirations as
an address. What say the collective?

On the subject of cooking/food processing
utensil definitions, both Dick and Spencer
"corrected" me on the name of the instrument
used to separate peels and pulp. Spencer
did say "also called a Chinois". In my
house, my mother called both the bowl
shaped perforated, smaller-holed device
which had a detachable crank handle
attached to scraping blades ( a food mill?) and
the cone shaped device a "collander". A
device used to separate the spaghetti
noodles was a "strainer". And the device
which has a fine screen used to remove
bits and pieces from a sauce or stock is a
"sieve". I suspect just as parts of a horse
harness have different names in various
parts of this country, so do food utensils.
My mother also had a cream and green potato
ricer which I never saw her use, but she called it
a "potato ricer" as it was perhaps a more modern

I don't know if Spencer uses a strainer or a
sieve to manually separate his pulp and peel,
but like him I have used a sieve and a spoon
or a spatula for small batches of apples I find
on sale to make fresh apple sauce. Cooking
it with the peels adds to the flavor, IMHO, so I
wouldn't use a peeler for this. I have
also used a steamer ( one of those which
opens to accomodate various size pots) for
the larger holes it provides. It works, but the
movable nature is a PITA. Neither of these are
great, but do minimize the cleanup as Spencer
noted. I will have to go to a food utensil store,
I guess.

Until now, I always thought a "chinois" was
a small orange from a Louis XIV era "orangerie"
in France. This may hint at the origin of this conical
device being also from China originally.

Kent and Judy Peetz want to know how to
stop a fermentation which still has sugar in
it and is still fermenting.

Rather than trying to stop it chemically, chill it
to refrigerator temperatures or lower to knock
out the yeast, add a flocculant to clarify, rack
and add your stabilizer. However, there are
problems with this, as you have a potential
bottle bomb if you store it warm.

Best way is to not stop it, but let it finish fermenting,
clarify it and then stabilize it with various methods,
Sorbate included if you are worried about sulfites

The reason this is the best method is that you
maximize the chance that you have depleted the
mead of other resources besides sugar that will
allow yeast and bacteria to grow and
re-ferment this sweetened mead in the bottle, with
messy and potentially dangerous results. BTW
minimal to no yeast energizers and the like should
be added if you choose this procedure.

Another way to end up with a sweet mead is to keep
feeding the fermentation pasteurized honey in small
amounts whenever the SG drops to around 1 or so. Add
enough honey to raise the points about 0.005 SG units.
Repeat this and eventually, whatever yeast you
use will come to the end of its alcohol tolerance or
deplete other nutrients, so that the mead will be stable.
Selecting an S. cerevisiae and not an S. bayanus
yeast will allow you to make a mead which is lower in
alcohol using this method.

18% alcohol is typically the minimum number quoted
which will produce a stable sweet wine without additives.
Record total amount of sugar ( table or honey) added
along with the OG and FG to help you determine the
actual alcohol content. Or deterimne the alcohol content
by analytical means.

Don't forget one stabilizer which will also work is
vodka and is perhaps less frightening to some than
other "chemicals". Add enough to bring the alcohol
content to 18% after you add your pasteurized sugar
or honey sweetening solution. The Pearson Square
detailed in Acton and Duncan will help you if you have
problems with fractions. The disadvantage is that
these will be on the alcoholic side, which may not be
the case with other stabilizers.

Tony Gallodi ask how likely it is that pitching a yeast
directly into a high OG solution will damage the yeast.
George Fix didn't invent this idea. Lallemand (yeast
producers) always recommends the procedure of
adding dried yeast to water first ( max 15 minutes
rehydration) and then to the fermentation vessel.
Apparently the rupturing of the cell wall ( or
mitochondrial membrane, I would think?)
forms "petite bodies" which are incapable of
complete attenuation and the fermentation will not
finish properly.

OTOH, for many years I pitched directly without
a problem that I recall. Maybe I was lucky. But
why take a chance? Dispersing the yeast in a
small sample of cool (100-110F) boiled water
prevents yeast from balling up and allows a
potentially faster fermentation start. I do this
rehydration for both reasons by sprinkling the
dried yeast on the surface in a single layer, without
stirring, and allow the yeast to sink. Then I stir
and pitch.

Joel asks about why corks are soaked in metabisulfite
before bottling. So do I, as it is useless unless the meta
solution is below a pH of 3.3. If you are going to do this
add some tartaric or citric acid to the meta just before
you use it. You do risk adding acid and meta to your
product this way.

The purpose of treating these corks is to prevent
a "corked" taste in the product and why we go through
the ritual of smelling the cork before we taste the wine.
This prevents contamination of our taster by a corked,
musty wine. Corking is still under study, but a mold is often
quoted as the source of this flavor as is treating corks
with chlorine. About 1% or so of wine is corked at
today's rate of bottling and despite all the attention
it gets. Probably was much higher in the past.

I steam my corks and not soak them for about
five to ten minutes. I then wet them with near boiling
water as I insert them in the corker to make insertion
into the bottle easier.

I cannot recommend aeration of a fermentation as
you will likely produce oxidative browning before
the yeast begin to ferment. If you want to do this it is
better to aerate the yeast in a starter containing yeast
energizer and the like, chill the yeast and discard
the starter fluid by pouring it off before pitching.
You may even wish to wash it in cold, sterile water.
This will give you a strong yeast without the risk
of spoiling the fruit or honey taste by aeration.
I recommend a minimum of 30 ppm sulfite as an
antioxidant to prevent this potential spoilage before
fermentation. This is all consumed or scrubbed
during the fermentation.

For many brewers, this aeration is not a need even
in beer brewing, since we start with a dried yeast which
has been produced in just such an aerated
environment. Just pitch enough. In brewing,
if you are going to use a smack pack or reuse your
yeast repeatedly then aeration of the yeast via a
starter or cold aeration may be necessary to =

produce a constant attenuation and flavor from
batch to batch. Store this washed yeast under
sterile water in a capped beer bottle in your fridge
between fermentations. Bring it up to speed by
pitching to a starter before using it in a fermentation.

Dave Burley =

Subject: A reason to core apples.
From: "Stevenson, Randall" <rstevenson@LDI.STATE.LA.US>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 16:15:07 -0600

In the past two MLDs there has been some discussion on whether or not to
core apples. Coring apples is boring, and many do it to keep the
undesirable tough pithy center from reducing the quality of the rest of the
product. However, the main advantage of coring apples (especially those
that are going to be reducsed to a ground mush) is that apple seed contain
cyanide. The hull usually protects someone who eats them from ill effects
(i.e. the seeds pass with most of the cyanide still in them). I have read
of one case in which someone died from eating a cupfull of apple seeds.
"Boys Life" magazine many years ago reportedly stated that there is enough
cyanide in 24 apple seeds to kill 50% of the people and I have heard of
someone getting really ill (they thought he had the plague) from a hamburger
with 18 finely ground apple seeds included. This is not the gospell, but
what I have heard and read, so please take it as a word of caution. I may
be a bit paranoid, but would rather err on the side of caution than allow
someone to get hurt becasue of my silence and fear of showing my ignorance.

Subject: St. Louis Brews 1999 Happy Holidays Homebrew Competition
From: "John or Barb Sullivan" <>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 05:53:02 -0600

Falling leaves, football and the smell of malt and hops in the air.
That can only mean that it is time again for the St. Louis Brews Happy
Holidays Homebrew Competition.

The competition is Dec. 10 and 11, and we hope that you will be
available to enter a beer or two. As always meads will be judged as well.

Registration is at:

Please pass the word on to your fellow club members.

Also, if you are interested in judging or stewarding, please sign up on
the web site as well.


Brian Dreckshage
Competition Organizer

Subject: elderberries
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 09:25:46 EST

I read a comment on elderberry mead in the digest 765. I just discovered
my neighbors have an elderberry tree that is loaded with berries. They are
about 1/4" in diameter and the juice, what there is, is sweet. My question
is they seem to be 95% skin and seed. How do you process them to extract the
juice. Should I macerate the skin and seeds or just crush and squeeze out
the juice. Appreciate any infor.

Subject:  history
From: "Ron Raike" <>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 11:41:38 -0500

I friend was recently married and i was going to give them a few bottles
of some old stuff as a gift and wanted to include some historical
expainations of why mead is/was used for weddings/honeymoons … does
anyone have record of such info or a pointer to a web site (yes, i tried

thanks –

Subject: beer yeast in cyser?
From: Steven Sanders <>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 10:33:08 -0800 (PST)

Hello… Im looking to make a batch of cyser real soon
here, and I was wondering if I could get away with
using a beer yeast for it. I was thinking of using
beer yeast because I had heard it would give less off
flavors and result in less aging time. I was looking
to make a fairly sweet product.. My planned recipe so
far is:

4 gallons unpasturized cider
1 gallon raw wildflower honey

Would a beer yeast work for this? If so, what would be
a good kind? (Id like to go with a yeast labs liquid
type) Or would i be better off with a sweet wine /mead
yeast and make sure it has a good strong fermentation

My Moon-based Death Ray
Panics the people of Earth.
Mock my theories now!


  • -Andrew G. McCann


Subject: Rose Hip Mead
From: "Frank J. Russo" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 08:36:05 -0500

I was reading in the Home Brew Digest someone made a Rose Hip Mead. Okay,
so, who out there can tell me about it or give me a recipe? How do you
process the rose hips?

Frank Russo
"There is only one aim in life and that is to live it."

End of Mead Lover's Digest #769