Mead Lover's Digest #0802 Tue 25 April 2000


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #801, 19 April 2000 (
Re: dread thread (re: Boyfriend Spit Solution) (Dan McFeeley)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #801, 19 April 2000 ("Brian Lundeen")
fermentation restarts (Chuck)
RE: siphon starting and moving ("Dennis Lewis")
Moving carboys, back seat vs. front seat ("Thaddaeus A. Vick")
Siphon starting, the easy way ("Thaddaeus A. Vick")
Mead Lover's Digest #801, 19 April 2000 (Dave Burley)
RE: Oh no! It's the dreaded "siphon sucking" thread (LaBorde, Ronald)
Aging (Leonard A Meuse)
Results: Re: full carboy transport (
Makes Me Look Pretty Good! ("Roger Flanders")
Suggestions for Huajillo Honey (
Apple Cider Mead ("Frank J. Russo")
re: Lion's Tooth, Scottish or Celtic (


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #801, 19 April 2000
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 14:15:30 EDT

Siphon sucking
just a thought-bacteria need Oxygen to survive, just like people, Mead and
especially beer are pretty full of co2, which would suffocate us and bacteria.
Personally I don't know of any infections firsthand due to mouth siphoning.
Not to say I would want to backwash in to the batch, but that probably
wouldn't hurt either.

Subject: Re: dread thread (re: Boyfriend Spit Solution)
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 13:37:24 -0500

On 18 Apr 00, in MLD 801, Dick Dunn repied to Roger Flanders as such:

>Oh no! It's the dreaded "siphon sucking" thread…:-)


>"Roger Flanders" <> wrote:
>> …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.


>Not to discourage you from having a swig or two of vodka when the occasion
>suits, but that doesn't really clean out the bacteria. If it works for
>siphoning, it's because the bacteria from your mouth don't get a hold in
>the mead.

Let me second that. The bacteria that you're trying to kill with vodka
also reside in the salivary glands. A swig or two gives too brief a
contact with the alcohol to kill much bacteria, and once you've swished
and swallowed the salivary glands pump away and undo everything.

Best to save the chilled vodka for Russian appetizers. 🙂


Dan McFeeley

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #801, 19 April 2000
From: "Brian Lundeen" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 15:10:25 -0500


> a sense of
> "once it's been in my mouth it's not fit to go in other
> people's mouths"
> (regardless of what other folks do and/or what's safe).


I would have to disagree with such a blanket statement, Dick. My tongue has
been in the mouths of other people and they have suffered no ill effects
(other than the panic attack induced in some poor woman at a shopping mall
whom I mistook for someone else, bit I digress). Many of them have actually
regarded it as a positive experience. Admittedly, my research results do
suffer from involving only one gender, and likely do not involve a
statistically valid sampling group size. 😉

This bit of silliness aside, I don't think anyone has ever demonstrated that
sucking on a syphon has ruined a batch of mead or wine or beer. And there is
no way anyone is going to get sick from a transfer of bacteria through such
a medium. You expose yourself to more organisms (some potentially dangerous)
simply by going out in public. Walking into the miasma of someone's sneeze
still floating in the air, rubbing your eye after handling a doorknob or the
pen at a teller's counter. Ever eaten at a buffet? Can you vouch for the
hygiene (is that really the name of your town, Dick?) of every person who
has passed through it before you?

The simple truth is, if we couldn't tolerate what was in other people's
mouths, we would have died out as a species long before this. I can agree
that there is a cultural argument against such practice, even though I think
it is one of many cultural "taboos" that are based on outdated beliefs and
simply will not stand up to close scrutiny, but I don't agree that this is a
hygiene issue.


Subject: fermentation restarts
From: Chuck <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 15:41:31 -0500 (CDT)

Dick and several others have offered their
opinions as to why meads sometimes restart
after racking. This will sometimes happen
even after the mead has been "silent" (not
fermenting) for some time. And yes, it has
happened to me.

My theory is this. Meads/beers/wines that
are activly fermenting are all saturated
with CO2 at a level of one atmosphere.
Now CO2 in solution produces a small amount
of carbolic acid, thus lowering the pH by
some unknown amount. My contention is that
racking drives off some of the CO2, raising
the pH just enough to take it up above the
level that had previously stopped the
fermentation. This would also explain why
you can sometimes restart fermentations by
swirling the carboy. This method usually
explains away the fermentation restart as
due to "got the yeast back into suspension".

Geneva, IL

Subject: RE: siphon starting and moving
From: "Dennis Lewis" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 17:06:42 -0400

> Here's an easy way to start a siphon without sucking: Put the racking cane
> (the rigid tube) in the carboy/fermenter. Hold the racking hose ends-up in

I know this is a bit obvious, but here's is my "sanitary technique" (sometimes,
just like baseball, you have to go back to the basics). I assume that all of us
sanitize the siphon somehow–like running solution thru it. I put the siphon in
the receiving carboy that is full of sanitizer. I siphon a little off, clamp it
while it's full, and stick the end back into the sanitizer. Then I take the
siphon out *without* touching anything that will touch mead/beer. I stick the
siphon (full of sanitizer) right into the mead, then drain out the solution into
a jar until the mead is running. You don't lose much, maybe a few ounces, and
you don't have your dirty hands, mouth, etc contaminating your efforts.

BTW, when I moved from TX to OH, I shipped (on the moving truck) a keg full of
mead. I just racked it beforehand, then pressurized it to keep it from leaking.
It arrived with no problems, even after a week long trip in July. The movers got
a big kick out of it, so that made me nervous, wondering if it might "fall off"


Subject: Moving carboys, back seat vs. front seat
From: "Thaddaeus A. Vick" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 20:44:25 -0700 (PDT)

> Keeping them on the front seat would, I think, be a very bad idea. Since
> it sounds like you're doing a U-haul/rental vehicle, you're more likely
> to get pulled over anyway. You're also driving across state lines it
> sounds (I dont know a state other than Alaska that would take more than
> 30 hours to cross – although crossing Kansas seems damn close
> sometimes). That whole thing of 'Son, what have you got in there? Would
> you step out of the vehicle' is jsut plain scary. Better to leave em on
> the trailer in the back seat with clothes pile on em, that way they're
> less likely to raise ANYONE's suspicion. SEveral large bottle with
> ferment locks on em might look more like something explosive to the
> non-brewing public than something drinkable.

And if the cop does recognize them your situation could be even

worse. Can you say "open container", boys and girls? I knew you could!


Thaddaeus A. Vick, Linguist to the Masses Email:
URL: ICQ: 21574495

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one

persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress
depends on the unreasonable man."

  • ><- George Bernard Shaw -><-


Subject: Siphon starting, the easy way
From: "Thaddaeus A. Vick" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 20:47:50 -0700 (PDT)

I used the rinse-and-suck method the first couple of times, and also

the method described previously (filling the hose with water), but the
easiest way I've found is to just feed the entire hose down into the
carboy, going slow to make sure it fills up, then put your thumb over
the end, pull it out, and let it go in its new home. Fast, efficient,
and sanitary.


Thaddaeus A. Vick, Linguist to the Masses Email:
URL: ICQ: 21574495

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one

persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress
depends on the unreasonable man."

  • ><- George Bernard Shaw -><-


Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #801, 19 April 2000
From: Dave Burley <>
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 09:06:34 -0400

Hmmmm. I have never heard of S. cerevisiae metabolising alcohol in a
>0.1% sugar solution, except in Alan Meeker's recent epistle. Any reference
to support that?

I suspect what most people think of as a stop in fermentation is just the
reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide temporarily after racking. This
is normal as it takes time for the CO2 to build back up to this
supersaturation level after agitation. Don't worry, racking will not stop a
fermentation. If you really want to check this try Clinitest to watch the
sugar content changes. This is the only real measure of fermentation
progression, not CO2 emission.

Dave Burley

Subject: RE: Oh no!  It's the dreaded "siphon sucking" thread
From: (LaBorde, Ronald)
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 10:17:44 -0500

>From: (Dick Dunn)

>I've thought about why it bothers me so much to suck on a siphon to start
>it. I've decided it's a combination of hygiene and culture–the latter
>being, for example, that I won't double-dip a potato chip. Or, when I'm
>cooking for anyone but myself, if I use a spoon to take a taste I don't put
>the spoon back in the pot without washing it off first. It's a sense of
>"once it's been in my mouth it's not fit to go in other people's mouths"
>(regardless of what other folks do and/or what's safe).

>- —

>Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Yes, I agree with your thinking.

Once I was at my local homebrew shop when a beginning class was being
taught, and the old siphon sucking made a very unfavorable impression on a
girl who was there. I think she was with a new homebrewer, just tagging
along like a good SO. Anyhow, she confided in me quietly that she was
grossed out. I would be willing to guess that the homebrewing career lasted
a very short lifetime for that newbee.

OOPs, Colorado, Dick …. oh man what are you going to do when they start
recycling toilet water. Heard the news lately????


Ronald La Borde – Metairie, Louisiana –

Subject: Aging
From: Leonard A Meuse <>
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 17:01:30 -0700 (PDT)

hypothetically, if I were able to obtain some mead brandy, freshly
distilled, what would be a good way to age this? I think Oak would impart
too much flavor for something like this. any ideas?
Leonard Meuse

Subject: Results: Re: full carboy transport
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 10:24:23 EDT

I had enough people reply to my inquiry (via the list and personal e-mail)
about transporting full carboys that, having arrived, I thought I'd share for
the archives what I did and the tentative results. I say tentative, as I have
no idea what effect 31 hours of vibration and shaking will have on the final
quality of the mead.

I placed a layer of packing peanuts on the bottom of each of three boxes that
were just about the size of the carboys. I then placed the carboys in the
boxes, stuffed some bubble wrap between the glass and the box in some
portions, and filled the rest of the space with more packing peanuts. The
tops of the boxes were closed around the carboy necks and taped together. The
7-gallon was placed in the front seat of my car, the two 3-gallons on the
back seat. I put seatbelts around all three boxes, and then stuffed the car
full with things, mostly soft, that didn't go in the truck. Again, the car
was on an auto-carrier being pulled by the truck. Everything arrived in one
piece. However, in packing my car full, I knocked the airlock off of one of
the three gallon carboys. I didn't notice this until later in my trip, and
even after the trip's end, only a couple of drops had splashed out of the
carboy. The carboys are back to bubbling at their normal rate, perhaps a bit
slower (temperatures got very cold, but I don't think they reached freezing).
So, all in all, I think the transport was something not needing too much

And yes, Charles is correct that I-70 through Missouri is terrible. However,
my nerves were racked far more driving a truck and auto-carrier down a 6%
grade for several miles near Chattanooga in pouring rain. (Actually, Charles,
my route likely included yours in its entirety – Boulder to Hilton Head
Island, SC. :).


  • Joshua


Subject: Makes Me Look Pretty Good!
From: "Roger Flanders" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 07:33:10 -0500

Digest Janitor Dick Dunn recently took me to task, and rightfully so,
for my "dreaded siphon-sucking" technique. (But what else could we
expect emanating from a town named "Hygiene.") I wish I could see
Dick's face when he reads this excerpt from a 4/21/00 post to the
Irish Beekeeping List:
"The answer is to make better mead in the first place and one useful
tip is to use soft water collected off the roof, strained and boiled,
of course. I once got third prize in our branch show by using water
from a roof frequented by pigeons. I lie not." (signed) Rex Boys
This, BTW, was one of the rare references to mead on the IBL, and came
in response to a letter inquiring about methods to distill mead.
Those curious about the list can find it at:

  • –Rog Flanders, a grateful reader of Dick Dunn's efforts here.


Subject: Suggestions for Huajillo Honey
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 11:45:44 -0500

I have gotten my hands on ~16 lbs of Huajillo honey. This stuff has a
very complex flavor and produces a light sting across the tongue (I'm
thinking high acid content).

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how I should handle
this stuff. I'm already thinking this is the first batch I'll try
sulfiting and not pasteurizing, boiling, or even heating a whole lot.


Any recipes to compare would also be appreciated.

W. W. McCormack
Reply to

Subject: Apple Cider Mead
From: "Frank J. Russo" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 12:26:04 -0400

I racked my apple cider mead the other day, it appeared to be clearing very
nicely! Boy was I surprised to find my FG at .992 Yes that is correct. I
am going to let it stand another 90 days before bottling to finish clearing.
I want my FG around 1.010-12. just slightly sweet. What I have already has
sufficient alcohol in it I am quite sure. I am planning to sweeten it up by
adding additional cider. Now for my question, will it be save to bottle or
will it ferment down again to .992? If it does continue to ferment do I
need to worry about bottle bombs?

Frank Russo
Havelock, NC
Member of the ATF HomeBrew Club of New Bern
"There is only one aim in life and that is to live it."

Subject: re: Lion's Tooth, Scottish or Celtic 
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 14:25:07 -0400

I've seen recipes for Dandelion wine that go
somethihng like this:
(1 gallon)

  • — 4 pints dandelion flowers (no stem if poss.)

  • — 1-2# raisins or dates, chopped

  • — 1-2# corn sugar

  • — 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

  • — Yeast (white wine poss?)


I imagine you could easily substitute honey (I'd
recommend a lightly flavored one) for the corn
sugar. BTW, I have NO idea how well this would turn
out – just an eample of the types of recipes for
DW I've seen.

I've seen small mead recipes with heather honey
that we're essentially 2-3# honey/per gallon and
the appropriate yeast to type (sweet/dry). But
heather honey takes a bit longer to age as I
understand it.

As far as scottish/celtic recipes are concerned,
I don't know much from "celtic" mead v. others. I
do know that scottish ales are, as a rule, less
hopped and stronger than typical ales (5-8%).
Barleywines ("wee heavys") are also brewed in
Scotland (8%+!). Try a Newcastle or McEwans for good
samples of scottish ale that's fairly easy to find
(in the US, at any rate). You might also consider
a braggot for a more traditional style recipe
since barley is fairly common in Scotland (i.e.
Scotch Whisky!). Some brew-shops offer peat-smoked
barley as a specialty grain and a couple of pounds
of that would add an interesting flavor steeped
in a strong-flavored honey must. Barley also has
lots of good nutrients for the yeast that honey
lacks so you usually don't have to sweat adding the
Y.N. (they ferment faster, too). Braggots are
usually in the 60-40 range of honey to malt extract
(don't know about full mash), but you can
experiment with what looks and sounds good to you. Sorry
this reply is so long! Hope it helps.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #802