Mead Lover's Digest #0774 Mon 20 December 1999


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



Happy Holidays ("Roger Flanders")
water removal ("Spies, Jay")
another point re fruit in the primary (Dick Dunn)
Freezing Methods ("Mark Nelson")
rose hips ("Foor, Dean")
Re: Killing that sweat mead… (Scott Gemmett)
Orange Mead Question ("Jason K. Dobranic")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #773, 14 December 1999 (
Culturing yeast strains (Steve Drake)
Need email address to American Mead Association (Angie Helm)
Is it legal? (Terence L Bradshaw)
Re: Pre-Fermentation Oxidative Browning (Dan McFeeley)
Blueberry Melomel ("Eric Bonney")
x-country mead (Ken Mason)
Book (Nathan Kanous)
auspicious if you're superstitious (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: Happy Holidays
From: "Roger Flanders" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 12:58:45 -0600

First, thank you to all of you on this list who
have contributed to my reading enjoyment and
edification this year. May you all have a happy
holiday season and an equally effervescent new
We're having great fun this week mailing and/or
hand-delivering our homemade "Christmas Cards" —
recycled green Grolsch bottles of a dry,
cinnamon-spiced cyser, with a simple laserjet
label and a bright red ribbon. It's been
fascinating to discover how little most of our
friends, even those who are accomplished wine
drinkers, know about mead. They had no idea our
bees could do that! If you haven't introduced all
of your friends to mead, we'd suggest now is the

  • –Rog Flanders, Nemaha County, Nebraska

Subject: water removal
From: "Spies, Jay" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 14:07:28 -0500

Ok, I have this friend…


He wants to distill some mead into a liqueur by removing frozen water.
Problem is, in order to get his raspberry mel (1.115 OG – 1.014 FG, ~13%
alc) reduced, he needs some way to get the ice *out*. I've heard the big
boys (Molson, etc…) freeze beer until crystals form, and then filter them
out. That's great, if you've got an unlimited budget and acres of
stainless. However, how is it done on a home scale? My friend was thinking
of putting the mead into a bucket lined with cheesecloth (both sanitized of
course), and then putting the whole mess into the freezer. When ice
crystals form, just lift out the cheesecloth, straining the ice crystals out
wth it… In theory, of course… Anyone have any thoughts on whether
this would work, or any other suggestions that I could, um, relay to…uh,

Jay Spies
Wishful Thinking Basement Brewery
Baltimore, MD

Subject: another point re fruit in the primary
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 14 Dec 99 12:15:30 MST (Tue)

Wayne Kozun reminded me in a private note that another reason for putting
fruit in the primary is that the fruit supplies adequate nutrients for the
yeast to get going. I've always gotten vigorous fermentation (sometimes
alarmingly so) with fruit in the primary and without any sort of nutrient
or energizer added.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

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

Subject: Freezing Methods
From: "Mark Nelson" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 14:15:18 -0500

I've read the recent posts about freezing mead to remove water in the form
on ice, leaving a mead brandy. What is the preferred method and vessel for
doing this? Does the ice separate easily from the rest of the solution? Do
you strain the ice out, or somehow rack the brandy away? What does mead
brandy taste like anyway?

Mark Nelson

Subject: rose hips
From: "Foor, Dean" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 11:51:42 -0800

Concerning the use of rose hips:

I have not used rose hips myself in a mead but I do know that it is
recommend that they freeze before they are consumed. As with other
berry-type fruit (like crow-berries)some of the tart-ness subsides after a
freeze. Native Alaskans have relied on rose hips to sustain themselves
during times food shortages and since such shortages usually occur/occured
in the winter it ends up being a great match. So… I would say that it is
safe and even preferable to use rose hips after they have been frozen.

Subject: Re: Killing that sweat mead...
From: Scott Gemmett <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 11:54:19 -0800

<sweat mead recipe snipped>

Sweat mead??!!! Yuck! Where did you obtain your sweat? Dirty gym socks?
Or did you use fresh sweat right off a sweaty person?
Kind of gives you a new spin on the phrase 'fermenting the must'

Subject: Orange Mead Question
From: "Jason K. Dobranic" <yzjjd@TTACS.TTU.EDU>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 14:31:19 -0500

I forgot who originally mailed out that Orange mead recipe. The one last
month regarding pesticides on the orange peel. I am in the process of
fermenting one of these but can't recall what FG should I be shooting for?
Was it 1.020? For some reason this number keeps popping up in my mind. If
the person who sent the recipe could reply or anyone else who has tried it
I would be thankful,

Jason K. Dobranic
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #773, 14 December 1999
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:16:57 -0500 (EST)

> > 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.

The BATF is probably more than happy to let people believe myths like the
above . . . it makes it much easier to enforce an illogical law if they
don't have to chase around small-timers distilling at home for their own
use. People like to think that our government has our best interests at
heart when they make laws, but the unholy alliance of the liquor companies
and distributors and the BATF has only their interests in mind. Consider
the following:

1) The federal government collects tax on distilled alcohol amounting to

about 3 times the actual value of the product. I.E., they get about
$12 for each $4 gallon of spirits!!! Only products deemed "morally
questionable" (sin tax) get this kind of treatment.

2) Low molecular weight alcohols have physical/chemical properties more

like water than the hydrocarbon chains they derive from. Ethanol
boils at 78.5C and water at 100C. The azeotrope of ethanol and water
boils at 78.3(or 78.1?)C so the still must be operated well below the
boiling temp of water for any separation to occur and "cracking" is
simply not an issue at these temperatures. If it was, Julia Child
would have gone blind years ago from all the decomposed sherry in her
recipes. Having said that, nothing will come out of a still that
wasn't put into it . . . if your mead/wine is free of methanol your
brandy will be too. Most so-called impurities in distilled spirits
are fusal oils. They contribute to both the flavor of the spirit and
its hangover potential. For example, brandy is high in fusal oils
and vodka has little or none. A safe still is constructed out of
materials safe to cook in . . . glass, stainless, copper, teflon . . .
and not out of toxic materials like lead or cadmium. If you wouldn't
cook in it, don't distill in it. 🙂

3) Home distilling IS legal in some countries like New Zealand and in the

few years that this has been so it has become a popular hobby. There
a basic still can be bought for a couple hundred bucks and person with
no experience can take it home and be making great booze in a couple
of weeks. Why not in the U.S.? Simple, because the liquor companies
don't want to give up their monopoly and Uncle Sam doesn't want to
give up the revenue. The BATF is the thug that defends the liquor
companies' turf and the abominable rate of taxation is the protection
money that liquor companies are more than willing to pay to have the
G-men "rub out" any competition.

Check out this site:

Regards and Wassail,

  • -pete

Subject: Culturing yeast strains
From: Steve Drake <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 19:28:33 -0500

With the demise of Edme yeasts, I was wanting to culture my last
packet in the lab and make my own perm stocks for future use. Part
of that would include plating out the yeast and re-streaking it to
ensure there is no contamination. I have heard somewhere that some
of these yeast strains are actually combinations of strains. If so,
then I don't want to do this step.

Does anyone know if Edme yeast is actually a pure strain or a
combination of strains? Was my distant recollection faulty and all
packaged yeasts are pure single strains?

Also, I had planned to culture these like normal lab yeast but have
not actually done any yet. Those of you out there that have, are
there any special tricks to culturing brewing yeast as oppose to
standard lab yeasts. (Other then doing it in 5 gal batches while
using honey as a sugar source ;-)))))

Thanks, Steve

Steve Drake
NIH, NICHD, CBMB Phone 301.402-0358
Building 18T, room 101 Fax 301.402-0078
Bethesda, MD 20892

Subject: Need email address to American Mead Association
From: Angie Helm <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 22:14:05 -0800 (PST)

Hi Folks

I'd like to compete in the Ambrosia Adventure

mead competition can you give me any information about
how I'd go about entering? Also can you give me any
information about how I'd go about entering the
American Mead Association competition? Also I'd
appreciate any information you can give me regarding
entering meadmaking competition.

Thank you


Subject: Is it legal?
From: Terence L Bradshaw <>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 08:11:42 -0500

>> 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 🙂
Maybe I'm wrong, but I am under the impression that fractionally distilled
spirits (i.e. applejack or meadjack(?)) are actually more dangerous to
one's health than heat distilled concentrates. This of course assumes that
in the heat distillation temperatures are carefully monitored so that the
heads and tails are removed. These materials which have either higher or
lower boiling points than alcohol (which boils around 170F) often contain
various ketones and aldehydes which, in commercial distilleries, are
collected for use in nail polish removers and the like. If you are ever
around a distillation, take a whiff out of the collection pipe when the pot
temperature gets to around 145-150F. This stuff could literally peel the
paint off the walls. In distilling this material, these dangerous
compounds are removed. In the original material (cider, mead, etc) they
are not present in high enough concentrations to cause more than a wretched
hangover. When concentrated through fractional (freeze) crystallization,
only water is removed, and therefore these compounds are concentrated along
with the alcohol.
I had a friend once give me a mason jar of some 'apple-likker' he'd made
off a still. I can't attest to the cleanliness of the stuff as it was too
damn strong for me and I only used it for flambes. He swore by the stuff
mixed with lemonade, however. On the other hand, I have made 'jack on a
couple of occasions, and while it tastes wonderful, I will personally
attest to the head-pounding it gives you. Any other experiences?
Oh yeah- that 'jack was made with a 100% MacIntosh cider which was pretty
insipid, acidic, and overly aromatic. The 'jacking made it a MUCH better
Terence Bradshaw
Pomona Tree Fruit Service University of Vermont Apple Team
PO Box 258, Chelsea, VT 05038 122 Hills Building
(802)685-3412 Burlington, VT 05402 (802)656-0490

Subject: Re: Pre-Fermentation Oxidative Browning
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 11:38:10 -0600

On Thu, 25 Nov 1999 in MLD 770, Brian Lundeen replying to Dave Burley, wrote:

>> I cannot recommend aeration of a fermentation as
>> you will likely produce oxidative browning before
>> the yeast begin to ferment.

[….] Burley's stuff deleted for brevity's sake

>Absolutely, you will get oxidative browning. However, whereas you regard
>this as a problem, I belong to a growing number of winemakers who believe
>that pre-fermentation oxidative browning, or PFOB, is a good thing.

[….] and yet more stuff deleted from Brian's reply

>I have used PFOB on premium grape musts that I know did not have sulfites
>added to them, and have not experienced any oxidative properties in the
>finished products. I vividly recall one of the first wines I used this
>technique on was a Muscat Canelli, which is a fairly dark juice as whites
>go. Before fermentation, it looked like 5 gallons of cafe au lait, with not
>a whole lotta lait. 5 years later, the wine is still drinking beautifully.
>Now maybe I'm incorrect in assuming that a honey must will behave the same
>as a grape must. However, I'm willing to take that risk. I am starting
>another mead soon, and plan to PFOB it with my air stone. I will let the
>MLD know how it turns out.

Risk taking is a good thing! Even failures are a success, because they
show where true limits lie rather than being left to accepting the dictates
of conventional wisdom.

I can't offer much on PFOB and how it is used in winemaking, but this is
what I've found. It was developed in California, but has also been used
in Australian winemaking practices. Simi Winery in California was one of
the first pioneers in this technique in 1981, using it in the production
of their Chardonnays. It can produce wines that are fuller and more
complex, but they age more slowly and there is loss of fruit flavors due
to the precipitation of the oxidized phenols, some of which are flavoring
phenols. Color is lighter and takes longer to deepen, again because of
the lower phenol content. The method is reported to work well with
high-flavored grapes but less so with grapes having a more delicate flavor.
Another factor in the use of PFOB in winemaking is the practice of pressing
the whole grape bunch, giving a higher phenol content in the juice from the
tannins in stems and seeds.

Andrew Lea on the Cider Digest has also offered some helpful information
on PFOB. He says that PFOB has become popular in Spain, Southern Italy
and Australia. It is used to help minimize post-fermentation browning,
a problem with white wines in these areas. He also points out that
it is done with the freshly pressed juice so that the enzyme responsible
for browning, polyphenoloxidase (PPO), is present. He quotes Andrew Ewart
in _Fermented Beverage Production_: "the loss of fresh fruit characters from
this treatment may not be detrimental to full-bodied full-flavoured wines
but does detract from the floral fruity style wines."

You are correct in questioning whether a honey must will act in the same
ways as the grape musts that have responded favorably to PFOB. Phenolic
content of honey is contributed from its floral source and consequently
varies widely according to the honey type. It might work for one honey
type, but give no results or even poor results with other honeys. Another
point to consider is that honey has antioxidant properties, which tend to
increase as the color darkens. Research by Kime and Lee at the Geneva
Agricultural station, Cornell university in New York, comparing wines made
with honey to wines made using conventional sulfiting methods suggests
that honey can play a similar role in protecting against oxidation.

This does sound like a great experiment — have you started a mead made
with the same honey, but without PFOB in order to taste compare the
finished meads?

Looking foward to hearing the results!

Subject: Blueberry Melomel
From: "Eric Bonney" <>
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 19:27:19 -0500

I just finished bottling my 1st ever attempt at a mead. The F.G. reading
was about 1.029 down from an O.G. of 1.126. It tastes a little tart right
now from the blueberries I think, but I feel this will most likely mellow
over time. After talking to a few people I choose 1 ltr. E-Z cap bottles to
store the mead in. Does anyone have any experience in using these bottles
for long term storage? Will I have any problems with the mead going bad due
to oxygenation? I used WYeast Sweet Mead yeast and the mead seems a bit
sweet to me. I was first worried that it would not be sweet enough but that
is not the case. What types of yeast would anyone recommend for something a
little bit dryer, but not real dry?

I did learn one lesson from this trail batch. Next time I will do at

least a 5 gallon batch if not a 10 gallon batch. Was a lot of work for only
8 litters of mead and it will be gone way to fast! 🙂

Thanks again, can't wait to see how this stuff have aged and tastes after
tax season. Will be a very nice treat on April 15th!

  • -Eric Bonney

Prejudism is a learned trait, what are YOU teaching your children?!?!

Subject: x-country mead
From: Ken Mason <>
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 17:12:23 -0800 (PST)

What is the best/cheapest method for sending your
mead? Currently I use foam bottle shippers. Has
anyone dared to send their mead x-country cushioned
with just packing peanuts or bubble wrap?

I think I've got a pretty good source. The drawback
is you must purchase in bulk with 5 being the minimum
purchase amount.

1 bottle shippers are 3.95 ea
2 bottle shippers are 4.95 ea
12 bottle shippers are 13.50 ea

and prices go down as you order more

The company is Uline (

a photo shot of their wine shipping merchandise is @ Adobe
acrobat required.

Is this a good deal?


(should have gotten this subject going before the
holidays. . .O well)

Subject: Book
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1999 14:58:48 -0600

Hi Everybody. Just stopped at the local brew store and found a book that
looks interesting, if not promising. Making Wild Wines & Meads : 125
Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More by Pattie Vargas, Rich
Gulling. Anybody with experience looked at this book? How do the recipe's
look to an experienced mead maker? Any info would be appreciated.
nathan in madison, wi

Subject: auspicious if you're superstitious
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 20 Dec 99 17:57:12 MST (Mon)

As various stories (of varying accuracy) floating around the 'net have
noted, December 22 is the solstice, a full moon, and moon perigee. Seems
like an auspicious time to make a mead. (Burley had suggested in the HBD
that it would be a good date to brew a beer, but I think mead is married
more to magic, the moon, and mysticality.)

The three events don't land right on top of one another, of course, but
they're all within ten hours. The non-mystical significance is that a full
moon is higher in the sky and hence brighter, in winter. (Apologies to
folks in the Other Hemisphere where the moon will be low.) Lunar perigee
also makes the moon substantially brighter. Earth is near enough to peri-
helion to add a little more effect. If you have a clear night it ought to
be a very bright moon.

If you want to plan your ritual, the times are (all UTC) solstice 07:44,
perigee 10:44, full moon 17:31, give or take a couple minutes. This
actually puts solstice on the US left coast just before midnight on the

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

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

End of Mead Lover's Digest #774