Mead Lover's Digest #0807 Wed 31 May 2000


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



the dread thread (Joe O'Meara)
That strawberry mead (Nathan Kanous)
Re: Oxidized Mead (John DeCarlo)
Thanks to all. And Good Luck, Joshua ("Roger Flanders")
Roger, Bill, Stopping Fermentation, Strawberries ("Ken Schramm")
Re:Some basic mead questions ("Matt Maples")
oxidizing (
Re: First Mead – Low Gravity (
Other questions (
Looking for feedback on Tej (Vicky Rowe)
distilation ("Roel Toussaint")
Newbie Question ("Ryan Zwahr")
Pear Melomel? ("Eric Bonney")
My strawberry melomel just stopped? (


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Subject: the dread thread
From: Joe O'Meara <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 01:39:10 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: Alcohol and Asepsis
Dan McFeeley <> writes:


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


Well, then, may I suggest everclear?


on second thought, back to the old drawing board…

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

Subject: That strawberry mead
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 07:34:19 -0500

Hi All. We've had some traffic on strawberry mead with a variety of
suggestions. I only wish to point out one posting from Micah Millspaw. It
seems that Micah entered a strawberry mel into the Big and Huge competition
this year. It was a difficult afternoon, trying to decide whether his mel
or the IPA was best of show. In the end, the IPA won (we've also decided
to develop a cider / mead competition separate from the Big and Huge to
avoid this).

Anyhow, I picked Micah's brain a little bit and his recipe seemed a little
unorthodox when compared to the other suggestions posted regarding this
style of mead. Two suggestions he's made are 1) use ale yeast and 2) use 1
Tbs vanilla per gallon. I'm not saying the others don't know what they are
saying, but this was a FABULOUS mead and you should consider his
suggestions along with all of the others. I must say that I've had some
success this spring following his suggestions……hope this helps.
nathan in madison, wi

Subject: Re: Oxidized Mead
From: John DeCarlo <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 09:06:47 -0400

>From: "Glen Hendry" <>
>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 ?

I am also interested in the expert's opinions, but I have a question of my own.

What flavors or "bad tastes" do you have in your mead that you associate with

Figuring out what some flavors mean can be a tricky process.

One of the best meads I ever tasted had a very strong sherry flavor, which I
typically associate with oxidation. I asked the brewer after judging was
done and he said the airlock had dried out on him and he didn't notice.

I wonder if early oxidized compounds can contribute to a sherry flavor or
whether that only happens when oxidation occurs slowly on already fermented

John DeCarlo, The MITRE Corporation, My Views Are My Own
voice: 703-883-7116
fax: 703-883-3383

Subject: Thanks to all.  And Good Luck, Joshua
From: "Roger Flanders" <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 09:56:42 -0500

Thank you Alan, Joe, Matt and anyone else I may have missed for all
your interesting responses to my question about the rate of yeast
growth. I look forward to every issue of MLD because sharp people
like you folks take the time to help the rest of us. And to DanMcC,
if you do make a bumper sticker using of that phrase, the only royalty
I'll demand will be two for myself!

On another subject: In MLD#806, Joshua writes: "A hydrometer is not
necessary.<snip> I don't think calculations or numbers can tell you
when it is safe to bottle better than the eye. <snip> 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. 🙂

Joshua, if it works for you, Go For It! My comment about the
necessity of a hydrometer was based on an experience last summer when
a 4-liter jug of mead exploded with a sound like a 10-gauge shotgun in
our basement utility room next to my office. One of the things I
learned was that a final specific gravity of 0.997 wasn't quite as
"final" as I had assumed. The other thing I learned was that an
exploding 4-liter jug results in an incredible number of very tiny,
extremely sharp, glass shards. That batch, by the way, had clarified
beautifully before "jugging" — why, being the old bald guy I am, I
could have read my large-type Readers Digest right through it. I'm
just glad I wasn't reading when it blew!

  • –Rog Flanders

Subject: Roger,  Bill, Stopping Fermentation, Strawberries
From: "Ken Schramm" <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 11:54:44 -0400

In one month, we lost Roger Morse and Bill Pfeiffer. That's a bad month.

Roger's book was a pioneering effort, but just as importantly, his
research with Steinkraus provided the world with the information on honey
fermentations which has proven so valuable to us all. Just about
everything we know about honey fermentation owes to him. I never met
Roger, but he has a significant following in my other hobby: fruit.
Robert Kime once told me that on the first day of one of Roger's courses
in pomology he would have everyone in the class eat an apple: the whole
apple – stem, seeds and all. Sounds like a pretty passionate guy. I
never met him, but I am saddened by his loss.

For those of you who don't know Bill, he was a former AHA Meadmaker of the
Year, and won Mazers on several occasions in the Mazer Cup, including two
firsts and a second last year. He crafted the AHA Conference Commemorative=
Mead this past Labor Day, and unfortunately passed away before it could
be served. He will be missed a great deal. If you are of a mind, come to
the conference and taste that mead.

Bill taught me this: you can stop mead fermentations at a desired gravity
by adding food grade potassium sorbate at the rate of one half teaspoon
per gallon. You can also use this treatment at the end of fermentation
and adjust to desired sweetness thereafter.

One point I'd make on the strawberries is that most commercially available
grocery store strawberries won't pack much of a punch on the flavor or the
front. They are grown for appearance and shelf life, not flavor. If you
want to keep the flavor there in the finished product, you should start
with a variety that has a huge "mouthfeel" to begin with, like Ogallala,
Honeoye or Ozark beauty. The first time you taste one of those right off
the plant, you'll wish you could have them all the time. You would do
well to try a pick-your-own farm, local fruit stands or your local
farmer's market, and shop around for the biggest flavor you can find. Go
with 2 to 3 pounds per gallon, and post-fermentation isn't a bad way to

Is it just me, or is this digest getting bigger and better? I love seeing
new names and the great posts by Meeker and McFeeley and others. Bravo.

Ken Schramm
Troy, MI

Subject: Re:Some basic mead questions
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 09:44:15 -0700

>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

I suggest starting with the amount of honey that will give you the amount of
alcohol you are shooting for, ferment it dry, stabilize it with potassium
sorbate, then sweeten it back up to the exact level of sweetness you want.
This gives you very precise control over your meads and gives you a wider
rang of yeast to choose from. You could even use a pasture champagne yeast
to do a 10% sweet mead if you wanted.

If you don't want to use the potassium sorbate try using an ale yeast. You
can get about 10% out of them and they tend to leave a VERY soft finish and
good residual sweetness, and I have also found that they have a rather short
aging time.

I am currently branching out and tiring some different ale yeast with my
meads. The one I have going right now is a Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen
yeast which has been fermenting like gang busters for the last two weeks.
Although I wont get any of the phenol spiciness out of it like you would a
beer, it should still be very interesting. My next ale endeavor after that
will be a Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast for more alcohol and that
great Belgian fruitiness. Oh so much to do and only so many carboys my wife
will let me keep in the kitchen:-)

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

Subject: oxidizing
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 15:02:37 EDT

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

Oxygen is good in the beginning, when you pitch the yeast, because the yeast
will use the oxygen to reproduce and store energy for the upcoming anaerobic
fermentation. It is "bad" later in the process, especially after
fermentation has stopped. Don't be anal about it — you can't keep all the
oxygen out during racking & bottling; just do your best. A small amount of
oxygen may actually help mellow the mead's flavor. Eight months is not an old
mead, many fine meads tasted horrid at this age.
Did you really "oxidize" your first batch? Does it taste like "wet
cardboard" or sherry (which is deliberately oxidized)? If it has other off
flavors, they may indeed age out. These other off-flavors are often more
prominent in dry meads than sweet ones. I don't think a genuine oxidized
mead will get better. But, be patient — don't throw it out. When in doubt,
let it age and check a bottle every few months. Welcome to meadmaking.

Subject: Re: First Mead - Low Gravity
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 14:45:51 EDT

In a message dated 5/19/00 12:12:46 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

> 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 ?

I would hardly consider myself an expert, but I think I've done enough
batches now that I can begin to answer this one. Both options — leaving as
is and adding honey later — will work.

How sweet vs. dry your end product depends mostly upon the amount of honey
(and/or sugars) and the type of yeast you use. It's been my experience that
2# honey/gal meads tend to be rather light — not bad, it just depends on
your tastes. I prefer at least 3#/gal, though a lot of it also depends upon
what other flavoring ingredients (fermentable and otherwise) I may have

Yeasts with lower alcohol tolerances are, as a generality, better for sweet
meads. However, attempting to predict how much residual sugar you'll have
left based upon a yeast's alcohol tolerance vs. the potential measured using
a hydrometer is, in my opinion, pretty much an exercise in futility.
Sometimes it'll ferment past the predicted tolerance, sometimes short.

Another option you might want to consider is to ferment the batch completely
dry, sorbate the batch to stop fermentation and prevent restart, then add
boiled or sulfited honey syrup to taste prior to bottling.

As to adding honey, I currently have two 1-gal batches of 4#/gal plain mead
brewing. One gallon has been boiled, the other sulfited — my attempt to
answer for myself the "Great Debate" regarding boiling vs. not. Both batches
started out as 2#/gal. After three rackings, I bottled half (with a taster
… mmmmmm), and added another 2# of honey (same type and prepared the same
way), bringing the total honey content to 3#/gal. Fermentation restarted
within 24 hours and, again, I racked three times, bottled half, and added
2.5# honey to bring it to its current 4#/gal. I plan on doing this one last
time at 5#/gal (adding 3#). For what it's worth, I haven't had even the
slightest problem with any of them <knocking on wood>.

Warm Regards,

Subject: Other questions 
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 15:23:15 EDT

Some brief comments on other questions from Glenn Hendry; if he gets better
answers elsewhere, terrific. But I didn't want anything to go unanswered:
"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 ?"
How about 7-10 days with the fruit, unless a recipe or better expert tells
you otherwise. Some prefer to add fruit after primary fermentation, in the
belief more fruit aroma will be retained. When done with the fruit, rack the
mead off it.
"4. Can I use an acid blend with the fruit or are they mutually exclusive?"
Depending on the fruit & quantity, you're already acid when you add fruit.
So you'd want to reduce or eliminate any additional acid. Too much acid will
inhibit fermentation, so some prefer to adjust acid to taste just before
bottling instead of adding it before fermentation. Some prefer mead without
any acid source.
"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 ?"
You can either boil the water to drive off chlorine or let it sit in an open
pot or pail a day or so. It will volatilize well enough.

Subject: Looking for feedback on Tej
From: Vicky Rowe <>
Date: Sun, 21 May 2000 16:16:41 -0400

I was digging through my mead books, looking for references to use
in developing an interactive street theatre character for the
renaissance faire I work for, and came across one in 'Mad About Mead'
for an article from the MeadMakers Journal. Its called 'Te'j in America',
by Virginia Davis, in 1988.

Does anyone have a copy of this they could either scan to me, or mail
me a copy if I send a SASE to them with copy costs? I'm interested in
learning more about this, and thought I might find some good info there.

What I wouldn't give for copies of that mag. I wasn't making mead when it
was still being published, and have found a number of references to it
in various places.

Vicky Rowe
NCRF Technical Stage Coordinator
March 31-April 1, 2001.
Come see us online at
NCRF Ambassador and seeker of fine performers and vendors

Want to make mead? Or just want to find meaderies? Check out my
'all about mead' pages at .

Subject: distilation
From: "Roel Toussaint" <>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 14:33:30 CEST

Hi there,

I was curious if anybody of you, ever distilated any of your batches of
mead? If so would you like to tell me about it please???

Subject: Newbie Question
From: "Ryan Zwahr" <>
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 08:58:41 -0400

Hi all,
I am interested in trying some home-brewing (mead in particular) and had
a question. Where do most people ferment their mead, wine, etc. I live
in North Carolina, and we have pretty warm weather here. I don't have a
basement, but I do have a crawlspace. It stay's fairly cool under
there, although it does get chilly at night sometimes and it does need
to be treated occasionally for termites. Our house is usually 78
degrees or so, and I thought that might be too warm. I'd prefer to do
it outside if possible, but I just can't think of a cool enough spot.
Can anyone give me tips as to what they've done to ferment their
home-brews? I am sure there are some creative solutions out there.

Ryan Zwahr

Subject: Pear Melomel?
From: "Eric Bonney" <>
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 22:19:11 -0400

Has anyone made a pear melomel? I was considering doing one, but didn't
know how much fruit to use or how to prepare the fruit. I am going to make
a 5 gallon batch. Should I peel the pears, then puree them, or just cut
them up and put them into the fermenter? Any ideas on types of honey that
might go good with pears?

Thanks for the help,

  • -Eric

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

Subject: My strawberry melomel just stopped?
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 04:00:14 -0500

Greetings to the list!

4 lbs Strawberries
3 lbs Honey
2 tsp. citric acid
1/2 tsp yeast energizer
1 package Cote Des Blancs Wine yeast
water to make one gallon

I chopped the strawberries into smallish pieces and froze them, then I pressed
them to get as much juice as possible out of them.

My O.G. was 1.020. I feremented in the primary for about two weeks on the pulp.
(I know, too long, but I got distracted by less important <non-mead> things 😉

The Problem: After I transferred the must to the carboy, about two weeks ago,
I've noticed it isn't fermenting as quickly as I would expect. The airlock
shows there is pressure in the carboy, but it's taking so long to bubble that I
can't say how long it is between bubbles.

Also, there is a little less than an inch of sediment in the bottom of the 1
gallon carboy and the rest of the must is a very rich strawberry red color, but
not completely clear.

I have added a small amount of yeast energizer, and a couple of days ago,
another package of yeast.

Should I leave this alone and stop worrying about it? This is my first shot at
making a mead quite like this, and I have almost no experience with this yeast.

Any advice?

W. W. McCormack
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End of Mead Lover's Digest #807