Mead Lover's Digest #0815 Wed 9 August 2000


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



Hefe-braggot? ("Brian Lundeen")
Forever Fermenting? (Angela Byrnes)
[fwd] hist-brewing: Champagne Yeast (Dan McFeeley)
Why not White Labs ("Matt Maples")
Suggestions for Using Dry Fruit in a Mel ("Mark Nelson")
Re: Elderberries (
Re: more Yeast info (
Re: Scientific Articles (Dan McFeeley)
Sorbate usage? ("Paul Kensler")
Fig Mead ("Frank J. Russo")
RE: Banana Spice Mead ("Matt Maples")
Sorbate usage summary ("Paul Kensler")
Beet Wine / Plum Melomel (Nathan Kanous)
TEJ (Aaron Perry)
degassing mead ("Micah Millspaw")
heather and such (Jim Johnston)
Last update on the Weizen Mead ("Matt Maples")
aging (
Caramelizing Honey ("Matt Maples")
Need suggestions… (Stan Marshall)
freeze concentration (
Cyser Clearing (Craig Agnor)


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Subject: Hefe-braggot?
From: "Brian Lundeen" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 14:52:01 -0500

> Subject: MLD
> From: "Matt Maples" <>
> Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 10:37:04 -0700

> I am currently playing with different beer yeasts in mead. I
> have a batch of
> plain mead with a wyeat whenstephaner yeast. It dropped down
> to 0.998 is
> rather tart but didn't get any of the banana/clove spiciness
> I was hoping
> for.

You might want to try that in a braggot with some malted wheat extract. The
wheat should help bring out those flavours. Also, the effect is temperature
dependent with about 68F considered optimal. Warmer fermentation temps will
increase the banana, cooler temps more cloviness.


Subject: Forever Fermenting?
From: Angela Byrnes <byrnesa@leland.Stanford.EDU>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 13:22:31 -0700

Er…. I have a 5 gallon batch of mead that I started on 2/18. It's STILL
going, and while it does appear to be getting clearer, I can still see
bubbles rising in the carboy like it was a sparkling wine! I used 12lbs of
honey, fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya), water to make 5 gallons and
Nottingham ale yeast. Do I just keep waiting, or is something wrong?? At
last racking (2wks ago) it tasted quite nice – lightly sparkling and a
little on the sweet side (un like my first batch which was like drinking
gasoline – blllleech)


Subject: [fwd] hist-brewing: Champagne Yeast
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 10:10:49 -0500

This post appeared on the hist-brewing list, and is cross-posted
here with Bob's permission.

  • — Dan McFeeley
  • —————[snip!]———————————————

From: Bob Grossman
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 17:13:08 EDT
Subject: hist-brewing: Champagne Yeast Re: hist-brewing-digest V1 #649

There are several strains of "Champagne Yeast" just as there are many wine
and beer strains. They are all related from the old days, but have evolved
into separate strains with individual fermentation and flavor characteristics
as they were used by individual breweries. Each brewery develops a house
characteristic and so the various strains reflect these different tastes.
Red Star is probably the most commonly available yeast, but there are several
other manufactories available from suppliers. Look for Lalvin, Lallemand,
Gist-brocades, Wyeast, and White Labs. My apologies for others that I may
have left out since this is being written off the top of my head and not
meant to be a definitive list. There are other sources for a more
comprehensive list of yeasts and characteristics.

Red Star Pasteur Champagne I have found to have a very high alcohol
tolerance and makes a very neutral flavor and aroma. It can make the mead
seem dry and austere without much honey flavor.

Red Star Premier Cuvee-formerly known as Prise de Mousse I have found to be
fairly alcohol tolerant, but not as high as Pasteur. It is more fruity and
sometimes will leave a citrus like aroma, particularly if you add acid blend.
It will allow the honey variatal aroma to come thru as well.

Red Star Cote des Blancs-formerly known as Epernay II I have found to be the
least alcohol tolerant. It is very slow fermenting and can quit when still
very sweet and in the 20 to 40 range. It imparts a very fruity, sweet aroma
while leaving unfermented residual honey sweetness.

Look at some commercial Champagnes and see where they are made. Quite often
the area and region in France will be shown. I've had some Champagne from
Epernay that was unmistakable in its yeast signature. Many Champagnes taste
very dry. Is this what you want in your mead? Otherwise, experiment with
other wine yeast strains.

Try brewing a large batch and splitting it between several fermentors.
Pitch each of the yeast strains and see what happens. You'll be amazed at
the differences between the "same" mead being fermented by each strain.

Bob Grossman

Subject: Why not White Labs
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 12:14:13 -0700

Spencer Thomas asked my "Why not White Labs?" in reference to my post in the
last MLD about using ale yeast for meads. Now let me start off by saying
that this is only my personal experience. I have no statistically
significant set of data, I have not studied the samples under a microscope,
and I have not done any cell counts. All I know is that I have gotten burned
three times now and I will not use them again. Now I know people who use it
and have absolutely no problem. In fact I have asked around our brew club if
anyone else has been having these problems only one of the six people I
asked said that he had any problems with it at all.

The first time I used it was in a beer. I followed the instructions and
ended up with a 2 day lag time. I did notice that the sample was a little
old so I thought I would be more careful next time and only buy fresh. The
next time I used it in a mead and I did a starter and it worked fine. The
next time I did a starter and it (the starter) did not take off after 24hr
so I dumped it and used something else. I think I used it once or twice
after that with descent results then the last time I used it I made a
starter, it didn't seem real active but I pitched it anyway. It lagged for
about 36 hrs fermented about 20 points and died.

Now I have been brewing beer and making mead for about 8 years now. I have
used many brands of yeast. I regularly use Wyeast, Red Star, and I just now
started using Lalvin and I have NEVER had the bad luck that I have had with
White Labs. In fact the only other brand that I have had this kind of
problem with was Verieka (sp?) and that was some years ago.

Now I am by no means telling anyone not to try White Labs. Try it and act on
your own results. Many people use it and like it a lot. Now I do buy it from
only one shop and maybe they are not caring for it properly or maybe it is
some other factor that is particular to my situation. All I am saying is
that I put a lot of heart and soul (and money) into my meads so based on my
experience why would I want to take the chance (and extra expense) on White

I would love to hear from anyone who has an opinion on White Labs. I would
love to hear that it is just me and that no one else is having problems, and
that I am just one unlucky S.O.B.. I would also love to hear that I am not

Matt Maples

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

Subject: Suggestions for Using Dry Fruit in a Mel
From: "Mark Nelson" <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 15:42:27 -0400

What are others' experiences in using dried fruit in a melomel?

I have a two pound pack of dried cherries from that I'd
like to use to make a cherry mel. I know that the dried fruit is 1/8th the
weight of the fresh, so I should be able to figure out how much to use.
Should I rehydrate and/or sanitize the cherries before use? If so, how?
Besides adding the rehydrating water to the mix, are there other downsides?

Any thoughts would be appreciated? Thanks.

Mark Nelson
Atlanta, GA

Subject: GI BILL
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 00:00:25 EDT

Sounds like a bit of a yeast intolerance. I once had a terrible yeast
infection and rash that made for a few very uncomfortable weeks till I
figured out what was happening. I used to make and eat my own homemade
yogurt. My problems started when I stopped eating the yogurt that
continually fed my gut goodies to help balance all the natural yeast I
consume from beer. Try going to a local health food store and getting a good
Acidophilus supplement. I take one every day and no longer have problems.
The acidophilus is part of the good intestinal flora and body defenses that
helps in preventing harmful microorganisms from infiltrating the body.
You're probably just a bit out of balance. I'm not a doctor so I only offer
this advice from my practical experience and do not wish to be caught
prescribing anything that could cause a problem. In other words, this is a
disclaimer from any liability. Please seek the advice of your local Dr. in
case your symptoms are an indication of something more serious.
Also, try racking your beer/mead a bit more carefully so that you get less
yeast in your bottles. I never filter, but occasionally find something that
seems to be hopelessly cloudy with yeast. Usually a bit of aging will drop
things bright and clear
so that I'm not consuming too much yeast.

Subject: Yeast vs. My Lower GI
From: "Spence" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 18:51:49 -0400

I have a delicate, yet no less serious inquiry to make. I am wondering if
others in our fraternity have experienced "gastrointestinal distress" from
drinking their homemade beers and wines and meads? >>

Subject: Re: Elderberries
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 00:11:54 EDT

E.C. Kraus hombrew store in Missouri sells a book devoted to elderberries
called Winemaking with Elderberries by Edwin Belt. Give them a call at
It has115 different recipes for all sorts of elderberry wines and gives a
good description of the types of Elderberry varieties. The recipes include
heavy and light bodied, dry or sweet, and blends with other fruits.
Substitute honey for the sugar called for in the recipe to make a melomel.
The new fall special issue of Zymurgy that will feature the year 2000
National AHA Contest will include my Elderberry Mead recipe that won first
place gold in the melomel category.
Cheers, Bob Grossman
Subject: Elderberries!
From: Bob Sheck <>
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 19:04:15 -0400

In my little part of Eastern North Carolina, the Elderberries
are ready for picking.

I made an Elderberry wine about 6 yrs ago, and it is just now
getting terrific! At the time, I could only find one or two recipes
so I went with the one that seemed more robust.

Now I want to make an Elderberry mead (Melomel? – dunno if
Elderberry is a fruit or not).


Subject: Re: more Yeast info
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 01:26:36 EDT

I'm not sure if it's OK with everyone to endorse a brewing supply dealer, but
I thought I'd mention these two that I have made purchases from.
I just received a new Summer 2000 catalog from The Beverage People in Santa
Rosa, CA @ 707-544-2540. It has several articles of interest on winemaking,
a ginger braggot recipe, a metheglin recipe, an article and chart on fining
procedures, and a descriptive characteristic chart on a dozen wine yeasts
that they sell. It's quite an educational issue.
I also found the newest Wyeast wine and beer yeast pamphlets that describe
many liquid yeast cultures at my local supplier Home Sweet Homebrew in
Philadelphia, PA @ 215-568-9469. They have many Belgium Brewing supplies of
interest and are always willing to track down and special order anything
Cheers, Bob Grossman

Subject: Re: Scientific Articles
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 12:36:19 -0500

On Thu, 13 Jul 2000, in MLD 814, Michael Beale wrote:

> The article on Morse has peeked my curiosity with scientific articles
> on mead. If anyone knows of any articles on experiments invovling mead,
> commercially or home, I would appreciate a response.

Robert Kime of Cornell University has been doing work in mead research.
Here are two citations:

Kime, R. W.; McClellan, M. R.; Lee, C. Y. "An Improved Method of
Mead Production." _American Bee Journal_, 131 no. 6 (June 1991):
394 – 399.

Kime, R. W.; McClellan, M. R.; Lee, C. Y. "Ultra Filtration of Honey
for Mead Production." _American Bee Journal_, 131 no. 8 (August
1991): 517.

Mead has been called the "forgotten child" among fermented beverages,
with research into beer and wine occupying the bulk of research interests.
That would likely make it difficult to obtain grants to fund mead reasearch.
Morse & Kime seem to have used available resources at Cornell without
needing elaborate set ups.

I don't know if there has been work published in other languages such as
French or German. Morse had a few French citations in his bibliography
but relied on the English publications. I don't think Kime made any
reference to publications outside of English.

I could easily be wrong, but Morse and Kime may be the main players among
the very few who have seriously looked into meadmaking from the perspective
of food science and technology. There are articles available on a general
interest level, _Zymurgy_, for instance, has published a good number of
articles on mead in the past. The May/June issue had three articles on
mead — "Mastering Mead Formulation: The Art and Science of the Sacred
Honey Brew" by MLD members Ken Schramm and Dan McConnell. Others in the
issue were "Making Sense of Making Mead" by Byron Burch and "From Glorious
Obscurity to Modern Production: The Buzz about Mead" by Alen Moen.

Meadmaking and production is a wide open field right now, compared to the
level of research in winemaking. Oenology has done much in ferreting out
every nuance connected in some way with winemaking, but this kind of
data pool is sorely lacking among meadmakers. There is a great deal of
knowledge out there, but much of it seems to be on an anecdotal level,
or shared here and there by individuals or groups of meadmakers.

Discussion groups like this forum are important. Posters have commented
on how the discussion level has gotten better over the years since MLD
was started, and this is true. Good articles on mead in publications
popular among homebrewers can help get new ideas out to meadmakers, many
of whom are homebrewers (are you listening Paul? 🙂

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Sorbate usage?
From: "Paul Kensler" <>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 12:30:08 -0400

I have a question and need some help regarding the use of potassium sorbate
for preventing fermentation. I have a product labeled "sorbistat K", the
label said usage is 1 tsp. / 5 gallons. It is a white substance, sort of
rod-shaped pieces which float when put in liquid and dissolve rather

The problem is that I recently used it to prevent fermentation on a mead and
a cider after they were sweetened, and it didn't work. In both the mead and
the cider, fermentation was complete and they were clear when I added the
additional sugars and the sorbistat K. The mead was intended to be still
(now its quite bubbly) and the cider, which was force-carbonated, is
insanely overcarbonated.

How do you use it? Boil it? Never boil it?
Does 1 tsp. / 5 gallons sound right?
Does this stuff "go bad"?
Any other tips on using it, or on preventing fermentation when I want to
sweeten a mead or cider?

Paul Kensler
Lansing, MI

Subject: Fig Mead
From: "Frank J. Russo" <>
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 12:07:06 -0400

Has anyone used figs? I suspect someone out there has. I was given 15-20#
of fresh figs so I thought I might make a fig mead.

Frank Russo
Havelock, NC

Subject: RE: Banana Spice  Mead
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 08:58:48 -0700

I don't remember who requested this but here it is. I have a few different
version but I thing this one was the best. If you do try it let me know what
you think and how to improve it as I am always up for suggestions.

Banana Spice mead

9 lb banana
24 oz Johansiberg Resling Grape concentrate
3 oz ginger
.25 oz clove
water to 3 gallons
6 lb honey
.25 tsp tannin
1 tsp yeast energizer
Cot de Blanch Yeast

Slice banana skins and all, place in a nylon press bag and tie.
In 1gallon boiling water simmer bananas and spice for 30 min. Remove pulp.
Put honey into fermentor and pour hot liquor over it. Add remaining
water (cool). Pitch when cool enough. Age at least 1 year.

Matt Maples

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

Subject: Sorbate usage summary
From: "Paul Kensler" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000 10:37:20 -0400

For anyone else that is interested, here is the summary of advice I received
on sorbate usage. Thanks to everyone who replied!

1. Make sure fermentation is stopped before sorbating. Once fermentation
has stopped, sorbate can prevent new fermentation, but it can't stop
2. Remove as much yeast as possible via natural settling and racking, or
3. Use 1/2 tsp per gallon. Don't boil the sorbate. Stir the sorbate into
some sanitized water or a small portion of the beverage to dissolve it
before adding it to the whole batch.
4. Use sorbate in conjunction with sulfites.

As far as my particular beverages in question go, I have put the keg of
cider into my beer fridge. The cold temperatures seem to have put a stop to
the fermentation and I am able to dispense it just fine (using just its own
pressure to push it out – I don't have it hooked up to any CO2). The mead?
Well, I really wanted a still mead so I will let it ferment out (again),
resweeten as needed, and resorbate properly.

Thanks again,
Paul Kensler
Lansing, MI

Subject: Beet Wine / Plum Melomel
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2000 10:51:52 -0500

Hi All,
It's summer. I have a friend who's garden is producing in overwhelming
proportions and he mentioned that he had beets. I recall seeing occasional
references to wine made with beets and other vegetables and became
curious. Anybody ever made wine from beets? Was it any good? Any
recipes? I'd prefer a dry wine as opposed to sweet.

On the same note, how about a plum melomel? Again, I'd prefer dry. My
father-in-law has 8 or 10 plum trees with fruit coming in by the
bushel. He's got some traditional "table" red plums as well as yellow and
the ever popular prune plum. TIA.
nathan in madison, wi

Subject: TEJ
From: Aaron Perry <>
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2000 14:51:51 -0400


Any one out there ever made Tej? I've been looking around but haven't turned
up much info about it. So far all I know is it's an Ethiopian mead. Dose it
differ from other meads? If so how? I'd like to make some as my next
batch…..but then I have a freezer full of prickly pears too…… many


Subject: degassing mead
From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2000 07:46:56 -0500

>Anyone here de-gas their meads prior to bottling?=20
>Anyone think that a slight=22sparkle=22 in their meads=20
>will lose them points in a contest (when they=20
>entered their mead as still)? (I do.) I would like=20
>to see some pro/con discussion of de-gassing meads=20

I always age mead in corny kegs so there is a tendency
for them to become sparkling as the kegs holds pressure.
This is what I do to ensure a still mead.
First, I rack from the aging keg to a empty clean keg that
is N2 purged. The racking is driven by N2 with almost no
counter pressure. After the keg is filled, I force N2 into the=20
discharge side of the keg. This puts N2 bubbles into the=20
mead from the bottom of the keg. This will agitate the
daylights out of the mead without exposing it the oxygen
ation. I let the N2 bubble away thru the mead up to 1 bar=20
and them vent the gas and repeat the bububling and=20
venting. This will drive off the CO2 in the mead.
I would then counter pressure bottle the mead with N2 and=20
no closing gas pressure.
So far this has worked well and is not harmfull to the mead.=20

Micah Millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: heather and such
From: Jim Johnston <>
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 00 21:11:58 -0500

Thank you to Michael Bennett for the heather ale piece. This is one of
my favorite styles to brew, although I have yet to experience the
hallucinogenic effect from the dried heather flowers that we find here.

On a related note, does anyone know of a source of heather honey? I need
to find enough to do a medium heavy mead and a braggot.

Jim Johnston

"A King is but a foolish labouror
Who wastes his blood to be another's dream"

  • –Jim

Subject: Last update on the Weizen Mead
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000 09:44:09 -0700

Well I bottled the Weizen mead last weekend so I thought I would give

you one last update. The next time you hear about it will be over a glass at
some future meeting. In case you haven't been following I am experimenting
with different ale yeast for making mead. The first one is a 3068
Weihenstephan Weizen yeast.

It turned out great. Although I didn't get any of the spiciness I was

hoping for and very little if any banana (I say that because it had a little
banana when it was fermenting but I had a hard time finding any at
bottling), it does have a definite weizen yeastines to it. Its flavor
profile is going to be mentally stored and I could see using it in a future
batch of meth. I can see using it in conjunction with sweeter spices like
cinnamon, fennel, anise, and the like or maybe even nutmeg, or all spice.

The mead is rather light which isn't too suppressing as it fermented to

0.998. Some people thought that if an ale yeast fermented that low it must
be infected. Well I can assure it is not. I don't think that the attenuation
scores set for beer apply for mead for obvious reasons. The flavor is very
clean, it could have used a little more acidity but after some debate I did
not add any. My thought was that the purpose of this experiment was to
become familiar with what the yeast brings to the mead so anything that
would hide, mask, cover up, or complicate that (even though it might improve
it a bit) should not be added.

All in all and am happy with the way it came out. So on to the next

batch!! I am planning to use 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast. Unfortunately I
can't get it started until I get the number of carboys in the kitchen down
to one or two (as opposed to the 5 I have now 🙂 ).

Matt Maples

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

Subject: aging
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000 15:13:24 EDT

I have three different batches of mead made 1-29-99 (plain), 10-27-99
(ginger, peach) All three tasted listeriney for lack of a better description
when I bottled them and they haven't improved much if any since. Will they
lose that diluted listerine taste with more aging or should I throw them out
and start over? I used recipes that were posted in the digest at one time or
another. Dan

Subject: Caramelizing Honey
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000 12:28:00 -0700

I know this borders on heresy but I just got the weirdest idea in my

head. Has anyone tried to caramelize honey? One of my favorite beers (albeit
way too expensive) is Traquair Hose Ale. It is a Scottish beer that is
soooooo rich and malty and yummy. I have read that they boil the wort some
ridiculous amount of time like 16 hours. This is done to caramelize some of
the malt sugars. Not only does this give it a deep rich flavor but
caramelized sugars are unfermentable. Now the caramelizing process is common
in beer brewing in the form of longer boiling, and crystal malts so why not
in mead.

Now I know long boils are not in the mead makers repertoire but I think

I could make it work. Say, start with 3 gallons of water and about 4.5 lbs.
of honey. Put this on a long boil for 5 hours or so, adding more water if
needed so as not to scorch. Then cool it down some, add in another 8 lab of
honey or so and enough water to reach 5 gallons. That way you are not
obliterating all of your honey aromas and have some yummy unfermentable

Of course you would need to develop a flavor profile that would fit with

the richer tastes that the caramel would provide. I'm thinking of a low
acidity Metheglin with cinnamon and a little nutmeg. And maybe adjust to OG
and use an ale yeast that can go 10%+.

Am I mad?

Does this sound interesting to anyone else in the world besides me? Am I

too wrapped up in experimentation to realize that this is just a bad idea
that would taste awful? Please drop me a line and let me know what you
think. Thanks.

Matt (MAD, MAD I tell you!) Maples

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

Subject: Need suggestions...
From: Stan Marshall <>
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2000 18:45:06 -0700

Hi all,

I want to make a vanilla mead using vanilla beans. Unfortunately all
the vanilla recipes call for vanilla extract… does anyone have
vanilla bean recipes or a rough idea what conversion might work (i.e. 1
bean = 1 oz. ??)

I'm also considering making a watermelon mead since they are cheap to
get right now, any interesting ideas???

Thanks in advance for the help,


Subject: freeze concentration
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000 19:12:57 EDT

How efficient is freeze concentrating mead? If this batch is spoiled I want
to get something out of it. Dan

Subject: Cyser Clearing
From: Craig Agnor <Craig.Agnor@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2000 00:10:53 -0600 (MDT)

Hi folks,

I began a batch of cyser last November that despite being long since
finished fermenting, is not clear. Any suggestions on how to clarify it
would be greatly appreciated.

Here are the specs on the recipe.

8 lbs. Orange Blossom Honey
5 gal. Organic Apple Juice

2 pkgs. Lalvin D47 wine yeast

The must was heated to 170F and held there for 20 minutes, chilled aerated
and pitched with rehydrated yeast. The cyser has been racked 3 times.

I suspect that the haze remaining in the beer is at least in part due to
the haziness of the apple juice.

A recent Zymurgy article by Byron Burch about making mead suggests using
sparkolloid to clarify cloudy meads. What is the procedure for clarifying
mead/wine with sparkolloid? How much should be used per gallon?

Craig Agnor

End of Mead Lover's Digest #815