Mead Lover's Digest #0800 Wed 12 April 2000


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



issue 800: acknowledgments and reflecting a bit (Mead Lover's Digest)
re: Carboy agitation (Dick Dunn)
restarted fermentation, yeast advice ("Spies, Jay")
RE: Subject: A puzzled mead maker ("Parker, Mike")
Boyfriend Spit Solution ("Roger Flanders")
Barkshack Ginger Mead (Ted McIrvine)
Re: Maple Syrup Fermentations (Dave Polaschek)
Lurgashall Winery (Nathan Kanous)
Barkshack Ginger Mead (Terry Estrin)
Re: tea, tupelo (Dan McFeeley)
Suggestions for full carboy transport. (
Snowberry Honey (Angela Byrnes)


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Subject: issue 800: acknowledgments and reflecting a bit
From: (Mead Lover's Digest)
Date: 12 Apr 00 11:58:55 MDT (Wed)

Whenever the odometer or the calendar clicks over to show some zeroes, it
tends to make us pause and reflect. There's nothing magic about issue
number 800, but I've been thinking back on the MLD.

I get plenty of thanks for watching over the digest, and it really isn't
much work…I get more out of it than I put into it. But there are some
other folks who help make it possible and who deserve thanks.

Jon Corbet and eklektix provide the conduit for getting the MLD from here
onto the Internet, and they do it reliably with very little load on my
machine and modem. Basically, the digests are batched about 10:1 so that
the bulk of the transfer (about 20 megabytes for each digest sent) doesn't
appear until the digests are actually being directed to individual recip-
ients. And those of you who are also computer types will recognize
eklektix and Jon, along with Liz Coolbaugh, as the creators of Linux
Weekly News–another service they've been providing to a different
community. Good people there.

Bill Kennedy handles the incoming email for Talisman Farm, as he has for
many years, nowadays with excellent spam-filtering. I know a few of you
have been caught inadvertently by the spam filters, but such events are
very rare, and a few are to be expected in the course of filtering. Were
it not for Bill's wizardry, about 20-25% of our incoming mail would be
spam, and the digests would be a lot more work.

Both Jon and Bill have provided their support with complete reliability.
Everything just works, period.

Another area for thanks, particularly as I reflect on the character of
the digest over so many issues, is to all of the contributors. The MLD
has stayed informative and particularly, friendly. There's been no
rancor, really hardly any spats, and that's not from any effort on my
part. In six and a half years I've sent a few private notes saying "hey,
could you tone it down a bit?" and that's it. It seems that the MLD has a
culture of being easy-going. That makes it pleasant and it also makes it a
lot easier for newbies to get up the nerve to ask that first question.

Also on the subject of contributors, we're fortunate to have some experts
here who gladly share their knowledge and experience–on yeast, honey,
fermentation, history and traditions, sources of ingredients and
information, and so on. I'd name a few names of particularly valuable
contributors, except that I would surely embarrass myself by omitting
someone. If you've followed the MLD for a while, you know who they are;
please thank them when you get a piece of particularly valuable info.

OK, now back to mead…

Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder County, Colorado USA

Subject: re: Carboy agitation
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 5 Apr 00 21:44:08 MDT (Wed) wrote:
> Warren Place <> wrote
> > Have you tried agitation? I find if I rock the carbouy daily (or
> >when I remember) that it finishes nicely. Strangely, racking from
> >the primary and secondary seem to renew fermentation. For this reason I
> >always go through a tertiary racking before bottling…

> I have noticed a similar phenomenon. I thought that a seville orange mead
> had finished fermenting. I took a bit out to check the gravity and returned
> it to the demi-john, and it has now returned to fermentation, albeit
> slowly. What is going on here? Is the addition of a bit of oxygen reviving
> the yeast? Is it putting a bit of yeast back into suspension? Or what?

I believe there are two likely phenomena. The first, as Hiett suggests, is
the addition of a bit of oxygen. The second is a simple stirring-up to
break up layering and failure of inter-mixing in the mead

After watching a lot of meads ferment (no, I'm not really *that* bored…
sounds like "watching grass grow" doesn't it?:-), I have decided that the
problem, occasionally mentioned, of "stratification", is one we need to
study. What I see happening is that fermentation slows so much that there
is no effective transport of fermented/fermentable material vertically
through the fermenter, so it stagnates into rich and depleted layers. THIS
IS A HYPOTHESIS! Help me test it.

Enough people have noted the situation of fermentation coming to a stand-
still, so they rack (worse yet, bottle) and fermentation restarts, that
it's not just a myth. But it's a poorly-explored area of our craft. The
real explanation could be something entirely different.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

…Simpler is better.


Subject: restarted fermentation, yeast advice 
From: "Spies, Jay" <>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 09:45:24 -0400

All –

In MLD #799 Peter Hiett wonders why a mead restarted fermentation just after
he sampled gravity and returned the sample to the demi-john. Well, there
are a few possibilities, let's hope the first of these is *not* the

Normally when I sample for gravity, I drink the sample. Putting it back
into the fermenter is really never a good idea. You can be introducing
bacteria and other bugs into the must that can eat things that our normal
stable of yeasties cannot. Hence a restarted fermentation. You really
didn't say what the gravity was when you checked it, nor how big the batch
is. I'm assuming that because it's in a demi, it's probably a big batch.
If so, I doubt that the few ounce sample that you pulled would be large
enough to introduce any significant O2 or rouse the yeast (unless you shot
the sample back into the demi with a pressure washer) 🙂

It's the *slow* rate of renewed ferm that worries me. Most nasties eat a
lot of sugars and throw off flavors, but they normally do so at a slow,
insidious rate. Did you taste the sample you pulled? If it was dry, then
there's a good chance you're safe, with the probable low pH /high alcohol.
If it was sweeter, then you may want to taste it again to see if any oddball
flavors are developing.

If you agitated the fermenter when you put back the sample, or stirred up
the must, then you may have indeed roused some yeasties awake, and this
could be the cause of your renewed fermentaion. After fermentation,
additional O2 is not going to do anything but produce some staling flavors,
so I doubt that would be a factor… Let us know some more details about
the batch.

Part deux: Here in MD, pick your own raspberry season comes in late May, so
I'm planning on a raspberry mel. Ideally, I'd like it to be my usual 5
gallon batch with 1 gallon honey and about 10 or more lbs of fruit. This
usually puts me well over 1.1~~. What I have yet to figure out is an
appropriate yeast strain. I like a semi-sweet mead, usually between 1.007
and 1.012 FG. I have yet to attain this. My meads either turn out as dry
as an African savannah or sweeter than a southern belle. I also wouldn't
mind some yeast contribution for flavor, but nothing that would really clash
with the mel. I'm usually a 97% or more beer brewer, so meads for me are a
welcome diversion. However, I'm tired of the gravity turning out other than
where I want it.

Any and all suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated.


Jay Spies
Wishful Thinking Basement Brewery
Baltimore, MD

Subject: RE: Subject: A puzzled mead maker
From: "Parker, Mike" <>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 08:41:34 -0500

>One question, has anyone used regular wine corks to bottle carbonated mead.
>If so, does the cork hold the CO2, or does it slowly escape through the

Never bottled a sparkling mead with corks, but I've used long corks to
bottle my Dubbels in old Chimay bottles. I go ahead and wire a hood on
top in case the cork gets pushed out. It looks wierd, but I find that
the 1214 funkiness ages out much more quickly when it's in a big, corked
bottle. At any rate, most (90%) of the corks will hold by themselves,
some will push out a bit before sticking, and a very few will need the
hood to keep them in. For obvious reasons, longer corks are better.

In all cases the cork has held CO2 pressure just fine, although none
of the bottles has lasted more than 8 months 🙂 Just keep the bottles
on their sides so the corks don't dry out.

Subject: Boyfriend Spit Solution
From: "Roger Flanders" <>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 10:20:59 -0500

>Vamp wrote 4/2/00 about only losing one batch of mead so far "…if
you don't count that other one I lost to my boyfriend's accidental
spit while syphoning."
Dear Vamp: Leaving aside for now all the possible factors which may
be causing your boyfriend to drool, let me offer a means of treating
the symptom. An experienced mentor instructed me during my very first
attempt at homebrewing to always pre-chill a bottle of vodka in the
freezer before brewing. Then, just before sucking on the siphon, take
a swig of the cold vodka, swish it around in my mouth "to kill all the
germs," swallow, then suck on the siphon. I often double or even
triple the process — just for added insurance, of course.
Rog Flanders

Subject: Barkshack Ginger Mead
From: Ted McIrvine <>
Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2000 12:01:35 -0700

I can't remember whether I saw this in Zymurgy or in the Home-Brewer's
Companion, but somewhere Charlie P changed his mind (a good idea — I
wish that he would retract and revise many of his beer recipes) and now
advocates using a lot more honey than the 7-8 lbs. in his first
Barkshack Ginger Mead recipe. My first mead was a Barkshack Cranberry
Ginger Mead, and almost everyone found it disappointingly thin in the
honey taste.

Ted in NY

Terry Estrin <> wrote:


> My wife and I made a batch of Barkshack Ginger Mead for my sister's wedding,
> and honestly, after three years, it still sucks. We followed the recipe
> exactly, and frankly, I think the problem is that the proportions need
> tweaking. Blueberry aroma is terrific, but the honey ratio needs to be
> increased to remedy its thin character. Just my two bits (sorry for the
> irritated tone…).

Subject: Re: Maple Syrup Fermentations
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 14:33:16 -0500

Bob Grossman wrote:

>My feeling is that a high gravity Maple Syrup Blend doesn't like to ferment
>very dry. This seems to happen if the OG gets above 1.120

My experience is that few yeasts that produce good tasting results
ferment well if the OG is much above 1.120. If I want more sugar than
that in a batch of brew, I feed it the sugar over time.

Above 1.120, you run the risk of choking the yeast with sugar.

The reason honey doesn't spontaneously ferment is because the sugar
concentrations are too high. Straight honey is MUCH higher than 1.120
(it's closer to 1.5), but it's the same principle.

I could go on about osmotic pressure, but I prefer an analogy:

Even if you REALLY like chocolate, you probably wouldn't want to be

forced to eat a 5 lb Hershey bar in one sitting.


See <> or
<> for more discussion of

ads/Threads/thread.915935287.html#8> (paragraph 4), or
ads/Threads/thread.916406593.html#10> for discussion of rehydrating yeast
(which also applies).


  • -DaveP


Dave Polaschek – Polaschek Computing, Inc. –
PGP key and other spiffy things at <>
"This is a one line proof… if we start sufficiently far to the
left." – Cambridge University math professor

Subject: Lurgashall Winery
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2000 19:23:34 -0400

Hi All,
Stopped into the beer store tonight and bumped into something I haven't
seen in the past. They sell both a perry and a mead made by the Lurgashall
winery in England. Anybody ever heard of them? Any reviews? At $10.99
for a 350mL bottle, I thought I'd check here first. TIA.
nathan in madison, wi
Nathan L. Kanous II, Pharm.D., BCPS
Clinical Assistant Professor
School of Pharmacy
University of Wisconsin – Madison
425 North Charter Street
Madison, WI 53706-1515
Phone (608) 263-1779
Pager (608) 265-7000 #2246 (digital)

Subject: Barkshack Ginger Mead
From: Terry Estrin <>
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 14:28:15 -0700

Hi all,

A couple of MLD's ago I mentioned that I thought Papazian's

Barkshack Ginger Mead recipe needed modifying because when I made it, it
turned out thin and dry. Since then, Nathan Kanous got back to me and
suggested that maybe the problem was that I used champagne yeast (which I
did), and that I might get a better result using Lalvin D-47. I think
Nathan is right (I might even give it a try).


Thanks to Nathan and apologies to Charlie Papazian if you're out there…


Terry Estrin
Vancouver, British Columbia

Subject: Re: tea, tupelo
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 21:10:39 -0500

On Fri, 31 Mar 2000, in MLD 799, Chuck Wettergreen wrote:

>Well, Joe I've made two batches of my Smoke'N Chiles
>mead using Lapsong Sochong (smoked chinese green tea),
>honey and jalapeno peppers. I've also made several
>different batches using various flavors of Celestial
>Seasonings brand teas. All have been well received.

Well, almost all were well received. My wife tried version two of Chuck's
Smoke 'N Chiles mead, gasped and said "This is lethal!" I suppose I should
have warned her that Chuck's taste for hot foods is enough to make strong
men wither and die. 🙂

I've tried both versions and thought they were very good. The combination
of smoke flavor from the Lapsong Sochong tea along with the chile pepper is
enough to make every chilehead's heart quicken. The tea sounds exotic but
it wasn't hard to find. I live in Kankakee Illinois, a little city recently
lampooned on the Dave Letterman show after having been dubbed as one of the
worst cities in both the U.S. and Canada to live. If a Kankakean can find
Lapsong Sochong tea (I did a web search and ordered it from the Strand
tea company), anyone can!


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Suggestions for full carboy transport.
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 10:02:42 EDT

I'm going to be moving across the country in a week, and I have a 6.8 gallon
and two 3 gallon carboys that are relatively full. I'm looking for
suggestions from anyone that has had to do something similar, to make sure
I'm not overlooking anything. Right now, the plan is to put the carboys in my
car, which will be on an auto-trailer (all four wheels off the ground, so the
car won't be tilted). I figure between the trailer and the car, most bumps
will be absorbed a great deal to minimize splashing. I may be able to put the
carboys in boxes with bubble wrap or packing peanuts in them to also take up
some impact jostling. It's a 31 hour drive, so I figure blankets aren't going
to do a whole lot of good, but I'm not too worried about temperature shifts
over only a couple of days (or should I be?). I'm certainly not going to
leave the carboys in the back of the moving truck, but perhaps I'm looking at
enough of a situation that I should try and get the carboys in the front of
the truck with me? Anyone with experience on this?


  • Joshua


Subject: Snowberry Honey
From: Angela Byrnes <byrnesa@leland.Stanford.EDU>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 09:08:46 -0700

Hi all! I ordered several samples of honey from Castlemark. While I see
many possibilities for yummy mead with all of them the Snowberry is, by
far, my favorite. I'm wondering if anyone has used it in mead and if so,
how it came out. It seems to be such a delicately flavored honey that I'm
afraid much of its appeal to my taste buds would get lost in the process of
turning it into alcohol. Thoughts??


End of Mead Lover's Digest #800