Mead Lover's Digest #0806 Thu 18 May 2000


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



Some basic mead questions ("Daryl")
strawberry flavour ("Micah Millspaw")
yeast growth rates ("Alan Meeker")
Alcohol and Asepsis (Dan McFeeley)
Re: Strawberry mead and other fruit meads (Dave Polaschek)
Mead at Pennsic (Paul Hudert)
Re:Strawberry melomels ("Matt Maples")
airlock vacuum/sucking infections (
Yeast Volume ("Matt Maples")
Cooking Meads (Shawn Houser)
RE: Trace Elements & Yeast Growth (
[FWD] Dr. Roger Morse (Dan McFeeley)
Re: "Mead Making For Dummies" (like me) (
First Mead – Low Gravity (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #805, 11 May 2000 ("Daniel S. McConnell")
Preserving yeast (Jerry Harder)
Mead Questions ("Glen Hendry")
(no subject) (
Leatherwood Honey ("Fozzie Bear")


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Subject: Some basic mead questions
From: "Daryl" <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 08:48:17 -0500 (CDT)

Hi! I've been doing the newbie mead thing, and have enjoyed it a lot.
But, I've got a couple of basic questions that would really help me
improve what I'm doing. First of all, I prefer sweet meads over dry meads.
What I was wondering, though, is what yeast do people recommend?
I've been using Wyeast sweet, but from what I've heard and seen on here,
it's not very well respected. I was also wondering how people recommend
getting the fermentation to stop once it gets to the proper hydrometer reading.
Do you just keep adding more honey until it finally quits, or do you use
something to stop the yeast, or should the bottling put enough pressure on
to shut the yeast down? I admit at the moment I'm still at the
"follow the recipe and hope for the best" stage.


Subject: strawberry flavour
From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 08:03:20 -0500

>From: Paul Hudert <>
>Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 15:48:48 -0400

>I have a batch of Strawberry mead (actually my first batch ever)
> used sweet mead yeast, and bottled it with extra dextros to make
>it sparkling.
>The question is: Will the strawberry flavor come out more as it ages?
>Thanks for any info

This should help with future strawberry meads. Add a tbsp of vanilla
extract, the real stuff, per gallon of mead. The vanilla will be make the
strawberry taste more strawberryish. Also, I have found that using an ale
yeast instead of a wine yeast will produce more complimentary fruit

Micah Millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: yeast growth rates
From: "Alan Meeker" <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 10:04:44 -0400

>>At what rate
>>does yeast typically "double," assuming optimum conditions? Am I like
>>the guy buying the grass seed, and only saving one day by using the
>>whole pack for my five gallon batches instead of just half the pack,
>>or even less?
>>- –Rog Flanders

Under ideal conditions here in the laboratory I have seen brewing yeast
divide every 2 1/2 hours. This was in rich media during the fastest growth
phase (after the lag phase). It was also at room temp which here is about 25
degC. I imagine if you wanted to grow at the temp optimum (around 30 degC)
you could get even faster division rates, maybe about every two hours.

How does this translate to mead? Mead musts tend to be pretty Spartan
environments for yeast. Plenty of sugar (too much in fact!) but low in many
other nutrients, notably nitrogenous compounds. Therefore, a lot will
depend on whether or not you've supplemented the must, how high the gravity
is and how much dissolved oxygen is present. If I had to /guess/ I'd say
that the generation time in a mead must might be on the order of 4 hours or
so. If I get time I'll check it out here and get back to you…

But yes, if you split the pack in half then all you are losing is one
doubling time. Not to frighten you too much but many bacteria can divide
every 20 /minutes/ or so under good growth conditions so a lot can happen in
that extra 4 hours!

  • -Alan

Subject: Alcohol and Asepsis
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 09:09:34 -0500

More on the "dread thread." 🙂

As important as sanitation is in the making of beers, wines and meads,
sterility is an unrealistic goal. Rinsing, washing and sanitizing reduce
the number of microorganisms to a level sufficient to reduce the probability
of infection to managable levels, but do not eliminate it altogether. The
goal of adequate sanitation is disinfection, i.e., the reduction and control
of contaminating microorganisms in the prevention of infection. Sterility,
on the other hand, means the total elimination of microoganisms and their

The standard disinfectant against which all others are measured is phenol,
or carbolic acid, first introduced by Joseph Lister in 1867. The phenol
coefficient is the ratio of the dilution of the agent being compared with
phenol to the dilution of phenol that will kill all organisms within ten
minutes but not five minutes.

A table showing the phenol coefficients of various disinfectants is as

Staphylococcus Salmonella

Chemical agent aureus typhi

Phenol 1.0 1.0
Chloramine 133.0 100.0
Cresols 2.3 2.3
Ethyl Alcohol 6.3 6.3
Formalin 0.3 0.7
Hydrogen Peroxide —– 0.001
Lysol 5.0 3.2
Mercury chloride 100.0 143.0
Tincture of Iodine 6.3 5.8

Phenol coefficients less than one are less efficient than phenol; greater
than one means the agent is more effective than phenol. Ethyl alcohol ranks
as being more powerful than Lysol, and certainly stronger than commercially
available hydrogen peroxide. It takes ten minutes of exposure, however, in
order to achieve disinfection. Alcohol pads are a standard in the medical
field, but their use is intended in areas where surfaces are already clean.
The power of any disinfectant is hindered or aided by the cleanliness
of the surface.

Alcohols denature protein when mixed with water, and also dissolve lipids
in cell membranes. They can kill vegetative microorganisms on surfaces
but do not kill endospores, resistant cells, and may not be able to
penetrate deeply enough into pores and tiny scratches to affect embedded
cells. A high concentration of alcohol will evaporate too quickly to be
effective. It has been observed that the disinfectant power of alcohols
reaches a peak and then drops off after 70% alcohol, almost twice the proof
of vodka.

A swig and swallow of 40 proof vodka just won't do the job!

What do you know? I found a use for my microbiology class notes after

all! 🙂


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Strawberry mead and other fruit meads
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 09:30:29 -0500

Paul Hudert <> wrote:

>There is a strong strawberry smell, but no strawberry flavor! It doesn't
>taste bad, it just tastes like champaigne!

In my experience this is common with strawberries. I haven't found a good
way of keeping (natural) strawberry flavor in, so I serve my sparkling
strawberry mels in flutes, so at least the aroma is directed at your nose
when you're drinking it.

Another solution people have tried is to add the fruit after the primary
fermentation is complete. This keeps the strawberry flavor from going
into the air during the fermentation, but hasn't helped as much as I'd

Yet another solution is to use a synthetic strawberry flavoring. That
keeps its flavor better, but doesn't taste completely natural. If you
remember Strawberry Crush, that's the kind of taste you'll get.

Mixing with Apple has helped a bit in my meads. Basically substituting
apple juice for water in the recipe is my approach. You'll be able to
taste the apple, but it does help bring out delicate flavors.

Lastly, you can just use a whole LOT of strawberries. I'm not sure how
much it takes, but it seems it takes over 3 lbs/gallon in order to get
strong flavor.

  • -DaveP

Dave Polaschek – Polaschek Computing, Inc. –
PGP key and other spiffy things at <>
"Find bad web sites 8x faster." – Motorola ISDN modem ad

Subject: Mead at Pennsic
From: Paul Hudert <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 11:55:15 -0400

ok, all you SCAdain mead makers, just wanted to say that
I'll be a Pennsic this year. I'm camping in Pandora's Box (the jugglers)
I'll be bringing my Strawberry mead and Orange mead.

We'll have to have a "taste test". Love to meet some of you!
I'm called Saul Garbanzo (my stage name).

email me if you are going to be there (


Subject: Re:Strawberry melomels
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 10:15:33 -0700

>The question is: Will the strawberry flavor come out more as it ages?
>Does this happen to all melomels?
>I'm worried my black berry meadwon't taste like blackberry!

Strawberry is a one of the more difficult fruits to make mead with and here
is the reason why. When you are fermenting the main thing you are doing is
converting the sugars with this in mind eat a strawberry and think what it
would taste like without any sugar in it. What you are left with is very
subtle and rather lacking. The Strawberry mels I have made I have always had
to sweeten back up so that they tasted right (more like strawberries). Try
pouring yourself one and adding a little honey and see what you get. You
used plenty of berries so reduced sugars is they only thing I can think of
that would get in the way.

Blackberry on the other hand have a substantial flavor and I have made ones
that were rather dry and still had a good blackberry flavor to it. The thing
to look out for with blackberries is that you can draw a lot of tannins out
of all of those little seeds so don't ferment on the fruit too long. Also I
have found that my blackberry mels seem to take longer to age than other
mels. I'm not really sure why but that has been my experience.

Hope this helps

Matt Maples
May mead regain its rightful place as the beverage of gods and kings.

From: Joe O'Meara <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 10:43:38 -0700 (PDT)

Roger Flanders wrote:
>I was thinking about this puzzler yesterday as I
>divided a 5-gram
>packet of Lalvin EC-1118 yeast in half to start two,
>experimental batches of cyser. Experience has shown
>one of these
>packets is more than enough yeast to start my
>five-gallon batches; an
>elderberry cyser last month was roaring after 24
>hours. At what rate
>does yeast typically "double," assuming optimum
>conditions? Am I like
>the guy buying the grass seed, and only saving one
day >by using the
>whole pack for my five gallon batches instead of just
>half the pack,
>or even less?
> –Rog Flanders

Well, Roger, after some careful calculations (math was
one of my stronger subjects back in high school), and
some quick reference checking, I would have stepped
the half packets up myself at least once. Healthy
yeast cells reproduce roughly every 24 hours, for as
many as 5 times. Lets say you started with one yeast
cell, for the sake of the argument. On day one, you
pitch that one yeast cell into your mead (or beer or
wine or cider for that matter). 1 day later it
reproduces, so now you have 2 cells. Next day, the
same thing happens, and you now have 4 cells. Let's
say the next day the first cell doesn't reproduce. So
on the fourth day, you'd have 7 cells instead of
eight. Then 13, then 25, then 49, so on and so on
granted each cell only reproduces 3 times. But they
reproduce on average 3 to 5 times, sometimes a little
more, sometimes a little less. That's the chaos at
work, but I'm not going to go there. Now, multiply
these numbers by the amount of yeast cells in half a
pack (a number that I do not know, so we shall call it
x) and you get the idea.

In the end, you wind up roughly with a 1500% increase
in cellcount, depending on several factors
(temperature, OG, mutant strains, etc etc etc). One
more thought to ponder: At peak fermentation, there's
roughly 40 to 50 million yeast cells in ever
millimeter of your must (or wort).

In closing, I shall stress stepping up yeast counts.
I say increase your cell count before you pitch,
therefore decreasing your lag time. But then, that's
just me.

There isn't one right way to brew, nor is there one
wrong way. If it works, stick to it. If it doesn't,
then try something else next time. And don't get too
serious, this is a hobby for most of us after all.
(Although I'd like to make it a profession)

I would like to give thanks to the book "Homebrewing
for Dummies" for some of this information. No
affiliations, yada yada, I just happen to own this

Class dismissed.

Joe O'Meara
Mad Dwarf Brewery (AKA my kitchen and coat closet)
ICQ # 60722006

Subject: airlock vacuum/sucking infections
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 14:24:08 EDT

Warren says:

<< I realized that the fault lies with
my airlock. I have the standard 3-piece airlock (dancing hat) and fill it
with sanitizer. The sanitizer dissapates in a few days leaveing plain
water (I guess). Well, when the temperature drops in my house, a vaccuum
is created and the liquid in the airlock is sucked into the carbouy. >>

I'm not sure you've found the culprit. Those of us on the other side of I-80
have no such problems. I "think" the vacuum is only a serious problem if the
dancing hat airlock is filled while the must is still substantially warmer
(from the stove) than the environment, and then cools after the airlock is
attached; fluctuations in room temperature after that point shouldn't cause
much carboy volume change, especially if there's little head space. And the
sideways-S airlocks shouldn't suffer the same effect as the dancing hat. So
I suggest that you can continue to age in bulk with standard airlocks. And
if you're paranoid, like me, you can use vodka in the airlock for these long
aging periods (a little bit getting in your mead won't hurt anything anyway),
although I hesitate to mention this for fear of re-starting THAT old thread.
. .

Subject: Yeast Volume
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 13:09:47 -0700

>elderberry cyser last month was roaring after 24 hours. At what rate
>does yeast typically "double," assuming optimum conditions? Am I like
>the guy buying the grass seed, and only saving one day by using the
>whole pack for my five gallon batches instead of just half the pack,
>or even less?
>- –Rog Flanders

Well Rog in fact it does not take a whole lot of yeast to actually ferment 5
gallons of mead. You could use half a packet of yeast but the real question
is what do you gain by saving that "one day". One of the ideas behind using
a large yeast volume is to shorten the time it takes the yeast to reach full
population and therefore crowding out any undesirable yeast and or bacteria.
If you really want to save money on yeast I would suggest making a starter
and splitting the starter between two or more batches. I am sure there are
other reasons to pitch large yeast volumes and one of the microbiologists on
the list can fill you in but when honey is as expensive as it is I am not
going to take any chance on getting an infection if I can help it.

Matt Maples

Subject: Cooking Meads
From: (Shawn Houser)
Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 00:49:03 -0400 (EDT)

I am a Chef at a local country Inn that serves just about anything

you could imagine. I recently discovered some hidden pleasures of Mead.

I have been searching for new tastes, as one in my profession often

does. Trying this and that, not really finding exactly what I set out
for. Just by coincidence, began making my own Mead, after re-reading an
old friend "The History Of Food". Knowing that Honey itself was one of
the very first traced foods, and with help from natures little twists
and turns you can extract this lovely necture, I set out and began a new
twist to the foods I present. Though some of the Mead mixtures I make ,
and prepare are somewhat stronger with flavor for cooking purposes, have
remarkably exceeded my expectations.

I have devised an 11 day system producing 12-20oz bottles, testing

and tasting every 2-3 days. I use these types of batches to match work
production based on projection. I have found that this system
compliments just about any food with the fermentation still in progress,
or on the downside with lower PH.

I have made (saffron, tarrogon, rosemary, thyme, garlic, shallot,

Just about every herb mixture, fruit and berry mixture,
lemon-lime-orange zest, and even processed tree bark mixtures) To suite
a paticular dish.

If any of your readers would like a recipe or could give me ideas

for new mixtures please let me know. I enjoy searching the altimate
passions of food.
Thanks, Chef Houser

Subject: RE: Trace Elements & Yeast Growth
Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 11:13:01 +0200 (METDST)

Hi All
The trace element requirements for yeast for growth can be very small, but
sufficient amounts allows for faster growth. But of most importance is the
amount of oxygen disolved in the wort. This should be as high as possible,
becouse it promotes growth, but will quickly be uses up. This may have
been the problem when using RO-water. Aireation is important in the start
of fermentation.

The growth rate vary from type of yeast, both Genus and strain,
temperature and what sort of wort is used. So from 4 to 24 hours.
Beer-yeast growth better at lower temperatures than Bakers-yeast.

I'll try and look into the amounts of "standard" honey to use to reach
sufficiant amounts of trace elements.

Morten Due, Denmark

Dragon Code:
DC.E f– s+ df++ h+ CF a $+ m- d+ Fr— L2m8c e++
If you're happy and fed
What's there to worry about
# — MJD — #
# #

Subject: [FWD] Dr. Roger Morse
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000 00:52:50 -0500

This came across on Bee-L today:

>Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 11:36:14 -0400
>From: "Kim Flottum, Editor Bee Culture"
>Subject: Dr. Roger Morse
>Dr. Roger Morse, Professor and Extension Specialist in Apiculture at Cornell
>University in Ithaca, New York, and the world, passed away in his sleep this
>morning. At his request there will be no public services. Roger was a
>friend, a mentor and an inspiration. I will miss him.
>Kim Flottum
>Editor, Bee Culture Magazine
>1-800-289-7668 x3214
>623 W. Liberty St. Medina OH 44256

Roger Morse was also known for his contributions to mead and meadmaking.
His book _Making Mead_, published by Wicwas Press has been widely
recommended as a good text for beginning meadmakers. Morse's research
into mead began with his master's thesis for Cornell University and
continued afterwards, making some of the first major steps in showing
ways of controling fermentation to eliminate the balky and slow
fermentations that mead had been known for. He made important contributions
in the understanding of the differences between mead and winemaking, showing
the importance of pH control, use of nutrients, and other factors that
helped improve fermentation time in meadmaking.

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: "Mead Making For Dummies" (like me)
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000 09:00:36 EDT writes:
> #1: Do not, as they say, try this at home without a hydrometer.
> That's the only way I know to tell whether fermentation has dropped
> from the "O.S.G." (original specific gravity) to the point where your
> mead is safe to bottle. I think hydrometers now sell for $7 to $9.

A hydrometer is not necessary. I've made 7 batches now without one, and they
have all turned out wonderfully (well, two of them will be wonderful when
they've aged longer :). I have only recently gotten one, that was for my
vanilla batch that I had some problems with, and all the hydrometer did was
tell me what I already knew – it wasn't fermenting.

I don't think calculations or numbers can tell you when it is safe to bottle
better than the eye. The glass carboys are rather clear. I've found that when
you can read through a 5-gallon carboy, there is no more sediment after
racking and waiting, and the airlock level seems to be more indicative of a
barometer, it's safe to bottle. 🙂

(It's not the $ I object to, it's the record-keeping, and the unavoidable
drive to calculate the alcohol % afterwards 🙂

> #2: It's impossible to keep your brewing stuff too clean. Invest a

I've heard/read a lot about this, too, but I don't think it's as bad as
people have said. To clean out the 5-gallon brewing pot, I wash it like any
dish, then let bleach water sit in it for several minutes, then dump it out.
Carboys, again, I was and scrub with a bottle brush. I run hot water through
my syphoning tube, and then syphon the hot soapy water out of the carboy.
Rinse tube and carboy, fill carboy with bleach water, let sit (with tube in
place), syphon out bleach water. Again, never had a problem. Doesn't seem
like a lot of work to me… and I use a wooden spoon *and* I suck on the end
of the tube! 🙂 (Actually, I form most of the seal with my hand/thumb,
using my thumb as a stop-cock).

  • Joshua

Subject: First Mead - Low Gravity
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 08:19:51 -0400

This is my first post so be gentle……I'm a veteran beer brewer but first
time mead maker. First mead was made 2 weeks ago and is bubbling
away nicely in the brewery. The recipe was for a Vanilla Mead :

10.5 lbs honey (1 gallon from homebrew store, don't know the variety)
4 ozs. pure vanilla extract – added to cooled must
4+ gallons water – boiled, honey added after cooling to 180 degrees
3.5 tsps yeast nutrient – added to cooled must
acid blend
1 package wine yeast (made starter 24 hrs in advance with 1 cup of
the total honey, 6.66 cups water, tsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp yeast

Mead was then brought to a 5 minute boil, fully understanding this is a
debateable practice. The 1.080 orignal gravity was lower than expected
I expected to start around 1.100. I wanted about 4 gallons mead at finish
and realize there was too much water. The 5 gallon carboy is up to the
start of the neck. I'm (not worried but) concerned the finished mead will
be thin at the point in the future when it's ready to consume. Should I do
anything if I'm looking for a sweeter mead vs dry.

Options are :
1. Do nothing and let it complete fermenting and aging
2. Add more honey – I've read adding more honey after fermenting has
started has various effects. Is this recommended and if so what is the
basic procedure ? Should the honey be boiled to avoid potential bugs ?
3. Do any of the experts have any other recommendations ?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Jeff Woods
Camp Hill, PA

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #805, 11 May 2000
From: "Daniel S. McConnell" <>
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 13:24:54 -0500

Warren Place writes:

>I've brewed about a dozen batches, but recently two have become infected.
>Between these two infected batches I brewed a one gallon batch that didn't
>become infected.

Warren, I would be very interested in hearing about your "infection". I
have rarely encountered infected mead other than those that have turned to
vinegar. Are you sure that it is infected or may it simply be young? What
does it taste like?

Roger Flanders comments,

>Mead is the nicest thing a bee can do for you, unless you're a flower.

I love this. What a great bumper sticker…


Daniel S. McConnell/1400c

Subject: Preserving yeast
From: Jerry Harder <>
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 21:14:58 -0500

A while back someone said they had a method of preserving yeast by
adding glicerin and freezing. I think it may have been a kit. Where
can I find out how to do this?

Master Goodwine.

Subject: Mead Questions
From: "Glen Hendry" <>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 18:15:09 +1000

Hi All,

I have been snooping and I have learned a lot.
Please bear with these last few questions.

before I get my next mead going, I think I oxidized my first batch.
Its 8 months old and still horrid.

1. Will oxidation bad tastes age out ? Ever ? Maybe 5 yrs ?

2. Obviously we need to keep oxygen away from the must as much as possible.
Doesnt racking expose the mead to air a lot. I try to do it gently, but still
oxygen must get into the mead during racking.

3. How long do I keep my strawberries and lemons in the mead while it is
fermenting. Im adding fruit firstly for yeast nutrient and secondly for some
fruit flavours. Do I remove the (scary looking) fruit after a certain time
in the fermenter ?

4. Can I use an acid blend with the fruit or are they mutually exclusive ?

5. Will the chlorinated water from my tap kill the yeast ? Can I
de-chlorinate the water with fish-tank de-chlorinator or is this a bad idea ?
What is the alternative apart from filtering ?

Thanks very much. Keep up the great job.
Glen Hendry

Subject: (no subject)
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 13:31:55 EDT

I would like to thank everyone who wrote to me. I believe that I will be
trying my first batch after this summer. It will be a busy summer, but
hopefully in the fall I will be ready. Thank you :))

Subject: Leatherwood Honey
From: "Fozzie Bear" <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 06:57:27 JST

This is my first post to the list, but not for lack of trying. For some
reason, email from my normal account is always refused as SPAM. So now I'm
forced to use hotmail…

I just returned from a trip to Australia, where I picked up 4kg of Tasmanian
Leatherwood honey. It's darker than clover, but still rather light, and has
an almost fruity flavor. I thought it would make a great mead; however, the
person who sold it to me said her beekeeper/brewer friends had mixed
reports. Some said it was very difficult to make a "good mead" with
Leatherwood, and some said it was "great." After lugging this tin around
half of Australia and over the Equator, I'd hate to end up using it just on
my toast. . .
Does anyone have any experience or successful recipies using Leatherwood


Todd Owens

End of Mead Lover's Digest #806