Mead Lover's Digest #0773 Tue 14 December 1999


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



rose hip pickin' (
Sage mead (Scott Gemmett)
Re: Rosemary (Tidmarsh Major)
Re: Newbie Questions (
when/how to add fruits, herbs/spices (Dick Dunn)
Killing that sweat mead… (William Macher)
Apple sauce ("")
Using rosemary in meads ("Stevenson, Randall")
Re: Ginger in Mead (Peter Miller)
Is it Legal? (Ken Mason)
Mead in the Olden Days ("DAVID J. GIBB")


NOTE: Digest only appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests. When

subscribing, please include name and email address in body of message.

Digest archives and FAQ are available for anonymous ftp at

in pub/clubs/homebrew/mead.


Subject: rose hip pickin'
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 09:13:57 +1100

"Frank J. Russo" <>

<what is the best time to pick Rose Hips?

<Are Rose Hips usable after being bitten by frost?

I usually pick them in autumn when they are fully ripe

Don't know what the effect of frost bite would be. I suspect if they are not
actually damaged then they may be ok, although frozen and then thawed (and again
and again) might present problems, especially if they have been warmed to a
decent daytime temperature after. I presume it would depend on % water content.


Subject: Sage mead
From: Scott Gemmett <>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 14:04:46 -0800

I made a Sage mead last night, anyone else ever tried this?

> 8# Sage Honey
> 1 t yeast nutrient
> 7 fresh sage leaves
> Water to ~2.75 gal.
> Lalvin D47 w/ starter
OG 1.104

I got a hold of some sage honey and wanted to make a traditional type mead
out of it. I tasted the honey and it had just a hint of sage flavor so I added
the extra sage to try and end up with a mild hint of sage in the final product.

I roughly chopped the sage leaves, and dropped then into almost boiling
water for 10 min. to sanitize. Added the honey sage/water mixture and nutrient
to the fermentation vessel and pitched the yeast. I took a sample of the must
and tasted it – eeeewww! Very sweet sage flavored honey water did not hit me
quite right. Maybe I used a bit too much….
I guess the fermentation will scrub some of the sage flavor but
I got thinking later, has anyone ever put sage in mead? I don't remember ever
seeing a recipe that did. Is it even an appropriate flavor to have in there?
The sage honey was pretty tasty so it seems like it should be OK but I
was curious if anyone else had experimented with sage.

San Jose CA

Subject: Re: Rosemary
From: Tidmarsh Major <>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 16:47:02 -0600

nathan in madison asks about using rosemary in meads.

I haven't used rosemary in mead, but I have made a rosemary pale ale.
I I don't have the recipe anymore, but I used 2 oz of fresh rosemary
leaves for the last minute and steep while immersion chiiling in a
5-gal batch of IPA instead of flavor or aroma hops. The flavor and
aroma were noticeable and distinctive, but not overpowering.


Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 17:59:14 EST

Chris Barown <> writes in MLD #772 about his first cyser.
In general, his recipe and methods seem sound. I would make several comments:

Heating the cider to the boiling point will set pectins that very likely will
cause permanent haze, pectic enzyme notwithstanding. It's better to heat the
cider only to about 160 F for 30 minutes to pasteurize it. However, the haze
is not fatal. Adding Sparkolloid 24-48 hours prior to bottling will render
it very clear.

A finishing gravity of 1.000 is quite typical for dry cyser. Let it age in
secondary for several months before bottling. Yes, it can be primed with
honey, but I find corn sugar is less expensive and equally convenient and
effective. I use 1 cup corn sugar for priming 5 gallons; I'd use 1 1/4 cup

Adding honey and potassium sorbate may have mixed results. The sorbate may
inhibit further fermentation but not entirely prevent it. The traditional
method is to add small amounts of honey progressively until fermentation
ceases and the gravity rises to the desired sweetness, then stabilize with
potassium sorbate.

As Chris correctly implies, it's almost impossible to naturally carbonate
sweet cyser. Unless you have access to CO2 and forced carbonation, it's far
better to leave it still.

Bill Pierce
Cellar Door Homebrewery
Des Moines, IA

Subject: when/how to add fruits, herbs/spices
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 9 Dec 99 18:17:38 MST (Thu)

Leo Vitt <> wrote:
> >The spices were boiled separately two or three times in one quart of water
> >and the water strained onto the honey. Then the spices were added to the
> >honey and the honey was pasteurized at 180 F for about 30 minutes. After
> >the must cooled, I added an ale yeast. OG 1.103
> I sounds like Randall has put the spiced water into the primary fermenter.
> I frequenlty hear comments about putting fruit into the secondary fermenter
> to retain more aroma – the active fermentation will drive aroma out of
> the airlock.
> I have been putting fruit into secondary or even later fermenters.
> My suggestion is to put the spices (or water you boiled spices in) into
> a secondary fermenter.

Although I've heard (time and again) the argument that Leo cites for not
adding fruit or spices to the primary, that's what I've always done and I
feel that I've always gotten satisfactory results. (I've written about
this in the past.)

I think if I were to make one particular suggestion to Randall, it would be
not to boil the spices so much. You can sanitize them just by tossing them
into the hot must, and that will also start the extraction of flavors,
without boiling off more delicate volatiles or (depending on the spice)
extracting bitter/astringent compounds.

Digressing on when to add fruit or spices: If you put fruit in the pri-
mary, it's in a more vigorous fermentation so you get more maceration–or
at least it's more noticeable–and it's at lower alcohol so you're likely
extracting slightly differently. I like that I can leave berries in for
only a few days and get all of the flavor and not too much tannin. (I find
that I do want *some* tannin…I made a raspberry melomel with just juice
pressed from berries that had been frozen/thawed, and the character was a
bit "soft".) Also, with fruit in the primary you can use a wide-top
plastic pail with cover, which I wouldn't use for secondary because of
the problem of oxidation. After you've had the fruit in long enough you
can skim most of the fruit, rack away from the rest of it, be done with
the mess, and be on the way to clarifying the mead in secondary.

Metheglin is different because you're not dealing with the volume of fruit/
pulp that you have with a melomel. I'm guessing on whether the extraction
is quicker or slower and whether you'll get more/less of the flavors you
want/don't-want, but I can say I've had good luck with herbs/spices in the
primary. Actually, as I think about it, it probably requires testing a
number of spices…intuitively it would seem that some would do better in
primary and some in secondary. What a project that would be!

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Y2K: not the end of the world; not even the end of the millennium!

Subject: Killing that sweat mead...
From: William Macher <>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 21:00:18 -0500

Hi Everyone,

A while back I posted a note about my moment of panic when I checked a mead
that started at 1.120 nearly a year earlier, and found it to be fermented
by a Belgian ale yeast down to only 1.050. In shock, I grabbed two packs of
1118 yeast [sorry, exact info not handy] and one pack of pasture champagne
yeast, and just ripped them open and dumped them in on top of the must,
which at that point was in the secondary I had just racked the must into.

At that time the primary, which had been sitting for about 11 months, was
somewhat clear, but not crystal clear, which I thought was due to this
batch being made from a dark, local honey.

A couple months has passed since that moment of panic, and a few days ago I
racked the mead again to another carboy, and on top of three pounds of red
raspberry puree from a can. Oregon brand. Seedless.

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, the amazing this for me is that the
SG at racking onto the raspberry was 1.005 and the mead had a nice,
slightly sweet, taste to it! Being a beer brewer, I fear doing anything
with a hydrometer sample other than drinking it. This taste was slightly
sweet and probably what I had wished for in the first place!

So, I suppose I did not kill my sweat mead after all.

This mead is amazingly clear in the carboy. I am certain that I could read
a newspaper through the carboy easily. Well, I only mean that this amazes
me because the honey that I started with was very dark. The mead itself is
dark red in color, or about that.

Now to my question. How long should I leave this mead on the raspberry
puree? I was thinking several weeks. I have noticed that the puree made a
layer about 1.5 inches thick on the bottom of the carboy. The top 25
percent or so has turned white. The lower part still has a purple color to
it. Should I wait until the color changes in the lower portion of the puree
layer on the bottom of the carboy, or do something in a couple weeks

This is my first attempt to make any kind of fruit flavored drink, so I
really do not have a clue.

Oh, as a side note…I have sort of went on a binge lately and now have
four additional carboys of mead in the works, two being worked on by a
Belgian abbey yeast and two under the care of a Belgian Trappist
yeast…bubbling away nicely at the moment.

Any advice would be appreciated

Have fun!

Bill Macher Pittsburgh, PA USA

Subject: Apple sauce
From: "" <>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 22:11:35 GMT

Hi, I was wondering if anyone has tried simmering their mead with some
applesauce added, and then straining? I was just curious as to whether or
not this produces anything drinkable. Thanks!


Subject: Using rosemary in meads
From: "Stevenson, Randall" <rstevenson@LDI.STATE.LA.US>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 11:12:20 -0600

I recently posted my recipe for Merry Methiglin, which included rosemary. A
recent disappointing sampling of the mead and two postings in the immediate
past MLD (Nathan in Madison and Leo Vitt) have prompted this post.

When the rosemary stems are added to the primary, rosemary flavor
intensifies as the must ferments. I have used rosemary as an additive in
two batches of meads. Both became overpowered with the rosemary flavor
during the fermentation. (I have started another batch for future blending
to reduce the rosemary flavor to an acceptable level.) I am speculating,
but apparently some of the oils in rosemary are not water soluble but are
alcohol soluble. The result is sufficient rosemary to lend a deceptively
balanced rosemary flavor in the initial must can lead to a turpentine flavor
in the final mead. (Rosemary sap tastes a bit like pine sap, which the
source of turpentine.)

In order to prevent this, four possible solutions have been proposed:

  • Blend the final mead to reduce the strong rosemary flavor

  • Reduce the amount of rosemary used in the must

  • Add only rosemary tea and not the rosemary stem to the primary

  • Toast the rosemary to remove some of the volatile oils

Any other suggestions or experiences would be welcomed. I'll probably be
using all four methods to different degrees in an attempt to correct the
problems I'm having with my experimental concoctions.

Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions,

Randall Stevenson

Subject: Re: Ginger in Mead
From: Peter Miller <>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 99 09:03:26 +1100

>From: Nathan Kanous <>
>Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 09:00:07 -0600
>Hi Everyone,
>I'm heading back to Michigan in a couple of weeks and I'll be picking up
>some honey from my father-in-law. I've also picked up some crystalized
>ginger (ginger preserved with sugar). What experiences have people had
>with using crystalized ginger? It smells better than ground / powdered
>ginger and seems easier to use than whole. Should I even make a tea with
>it, or just throw it into the fermenter? Primary vs. secondary? How much
>should I use? I've used fresh ginger in a couple meads. How well does
>ginger work in dry meads? Any help / experience would be appreciated.
>nathan in madison, wi

I've used ginger in wines without any trouble so I guess it would
translate OK to meads. Crystallised ginger should just be sugar and
ginger so I doubt you'd have any trouble, although it would obviously
sweeten the brew somewhat (check that there's no sulphur or other
preservatives in it). My advice is just crush it and add to the must –
couldn't hurt. In my ginger wine I've used about 100g of ginger root to a
gallon, fermenting it on the must (with apple & sultanas) and then
removing it before secondary fermentation, which seems to work pretty

Give it a shot. Post the results and let us know howit turns out!


Subject: Is it Legal?
From: Ken Mason <>
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 22:12:58 -0800 (PST)

> Home-distilled moonshine can be of poor quality
> and high in toxins which can include a multitude
> of chemicals

However, no inherit dangers exist with
recrystallization, (except frost bite). In heat
distillation, a sloppy job can result in the ethanol
being cracked into methanol (wood alcohol) and
other nasties. But as for mentioned, it requires
heat. To my knowledge, this is why distilation is
illegal. In recrystallization, one is simply removing
water ice as it crystallizes in the freezer. No
chemical reactions take place no matter how
sloppy you are.

If I take 5 gallons of 8% mead and through
recrystallization, remove the water to create
3 quarts of 48% mead-brandy, no new toxins
will be present in the resulting product.
Just mead concentrate 🙂

> The BATF was quite concerned about enforcing
> this with commercial breweries {recrystallization
> in ice beer}.

I think they've already lost the battle. Brewers
I know gain at least 1 to 2% in ABV after
recrystallization. I imagine it must be the
same with many brewaries

On one hand the Feds say it's OK to
remove water to fortify a brew, but it's not OK
to remove the alcohol from the brew. Then suddenly,
the BATF comes along and says "You can only remove
1 half of 1% of the water, or it's considered a spirit
and it's illegal." (never thought of Ice House as a

Very annoying. Makes me wonder if the BATF branched
off from the DMV.

Subject: Mead in the Olden Days
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 10:55:34 -0400 (EDT)

In regards to the post in #772, asking about mead being used in times BC,
I must answer wholeheartedly, yes! Most of the information you produced
in your post was using Norse history (ie, the son being born, being
doused). In times long, long ago, between the Tigris and Eurphrates,
this group of people, known as the Babylonians, had a very similar ritual.
On the wedding night, the couple would retire to their room after the
festivities, and would proceed to drink mead. For a month. Just like you
had mentioned. The only difference is that the custom was started long
before the Norse.
In addition, mead is mentioned in Beowulf, and in many
Irish stories. In one Irish incident, royalty stopped in unexpectedly to
one Irish person's house. They had no drink, so the lady of the house
went and turned water into mead, much like Jesus with water into wine. I
believe a sainthood was given for that, even though she kept the recipe
from us.
There are many other mentions of mead in the world, as it is the worlds
oldest fermented drink. Honey was used as a natural sweetener long before
sugar, and water and other natural beasties were introduced before hops.
When the elusive grape showed up, however, mead's heyday came to a slow
end. I think we are slowly bringing mead back to the forefrint. I hope

David Gibb
Grey Wolf Meadery (as soon as I make a batch…)
Ypsilanti, MI

End of Mead Lover's Digest #773