Mead Lover's Digest #0835 Sun 21 January 2001


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



Re: Reusing Yeast (
Open Bottles ("Andrew Schlein")
Re: question (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #834, 10 January 2001 (
re: Question ("David P. Chubb")
Freaky color change ("Spies, Jay")
RE: split batch (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #832, 16 December 2000 (Jerry Harder)
Re Sweet mead to Dry mead ("James R M Gilson")
question (Jim Bona)
spontaneous ferment mead (Chuck)
Letting mead "breathe" (John Metzner)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #834, 10 January 2001 (Peter Matra)
Montrachet (Peter Matra)


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Subject: Re: Reusing Yeast
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 23:36:36 EST

In MLD #834 Russ Riley asks about the best time to harvest yeast for reuse.
The article he has read about the "second wave" of yeast being the healthiest
has some merit but applies primarily to cylindro-conical fermenters such as
are used in commercial breweries. In such a fermenter it is possible to draw
off yeast at virtually any time. Homebrewers and meadmakers don't normally
have such a luxury.

When I was a student at the Siebel Institute I asked a similar question. The
faculty were adamant that the yeast from the primary fermenter was the yeast
of choice to harvest. It has just finished vigorous, healthy fermentation
and its characteristics are most like that of the original yeast.

It is true there are some dead yeast cells and other "trub" mixed in with the
harvested yeast. If you are truly obsessive it is possible to "wash" the
yeast with sterile distilled water. Wyeast has excellent instructions about
yeast washing for homebrewers on their Web site. As for myself, I don't find
it necessary to go to such lengths. I may pour off and replace the distilled
water that covers the yeast sediment during storage, but I don't consider it


  • — Bill Pierce

Cellar Door Homebrewery
Recently relocated to Salt Lake City

Subject: Open Bottles
From: "Andrew Schlein" <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 23:52:19 -0500

Hi Friends:
I just bottled my first two meads after watching them in carboys for
nearly a year. Both are fine (IMHO).
I want to give bottles as gifts and I've been asked how long an open
bottle of mead will last – recorked and in the fridge? And, what
happens after "too long?" Certainly, it doesn't become vinegar like
Any help would be appreciated.
PS – If it matters, they are both metheglins (one ginger, the other star
anise). Both still, sweet.

Subject: Re: question
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 22:07:15 -0700

Charles Nelson <> wrote:
: I am wondering if anyone out there has any experience with cane sugar
: syrup, or molasses (which I assume is the same thing)? What does it do in
: a mead? Any experience or ideas?

Did a bunch of one gallon experimental batches a few years ago.
By itself, molasses ferments out to a very strong-tasting beverage
that people either love or hate – there seems to be no middle ground.
The aftertaste I got from it was salty, but several others couldn't
perceive that. Molasses without the sweetness is definitely…

It wasn't nearly as popular as any of our meads or the maple syrup
experiment (which ages out *very* nicely, I might add). I'm not sure
how the molasses has aged; haven't tried the remaining bottle yet.
Come to think of it, I'm not quite sure where it is, other than
probably somewhere in the basement….

Overall, I'd say it would probably make an interesting flavouring
agent in judicious quantities, but should very much not be the primary


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #834, 10 January 2001
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 07:01:15 EST

Greetings all,
I started a project a short while ago where I started a batch of mead with
just over 4 lbs of clover (organic) (it had been 5 lbs but my Lady got to it
first) with 2 cups of organic maple syrup (a lucky find at $20 a gallon)with
a heaping tablespoon of yeast nutrient. My usual start with just enough water
to make the batch 2 gallons just enough heat to disolve things nicely then 2
campden tablets when it had cooled then 24 hours later pitched sweet mead
3184 yeast from vitners choice. I split it into 2 batchs and put one in the
cold north corner of the basement the other on the counter where the corner
one sits at 55 degrees, the counter at 65 degrees. Per a stick on temp strip
on each. They started at 1.110 SG.
I'm looking to see what the differants are between the batchs in sweetnes
flavor ect. I've heard so much in my medival reinactment group about the
monks in the old days affecting the sweet or dry of a wine by putting them
deep in the caves or putting them in a box with a lit candles to keep them
slightly warmer. I may write this up as a research project.

Just bottled my peach/ purple loose strife honey melomel its acid balance

was badly off and had to add almost 2 cups of lemon juice to get it right.
This has so far not cleared but needed the carboy so I bottled it with a 1/2
cup of honey hopeing this will carbonate it lightly.
I just started a high gravity batch with 5 lbs of rasins a pound of dried
cranberries five pounds of honey . and plan on using the same 3184 sweet mead
yeast i had bought 2 envelopes of this expensive yeast before I had
researched it and read all the bad press. Mighty expensive stuff if no one
has much kind to say about it?
Cheers ALL,
D."Dutch" Carpender

Subject: re: Question
From: "David P. Chubb" <>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 09:01:13 -0500

Subject: question
From: Charles Nelson <>
>Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2001 21:52:01 -0600
>Greetings fellow mazers,
>I am wondering if anyone out there has any experience with cane sugar
>syrup, or molasses (which I assume is the same thing)? What does it do in
>a mead? Any experience or ideas?

I regularly use Candy or Turbinado (Sugar-in-the-raw) in meade

recipes to boost the sugar content to get a sweeter result. Couple of
points I'd like to make:

1) Do NOT use white sugar. It has anti-clumping agents which make

your meade VERY cloudy (even the use of sparkaloid doesn't help) and also
adds a faintly soapy aftertaste.

2) Good sugars to use: Turbinado (bought in bulk from local food

coop), Candy sugar (like the kind you make rock candy out of….local
brewer's store carries it), Molassas (note: it WILL change the taste a
LOT!….not that this is a bad thing).

Addition of extra sugar seems to add a Rum taste to meade that mellows out
as the meade ages in the bottle. If you use extra sugar, let your bottle
sit at least a year before drinking them. Also, I have been able to get a
meade as high as 19.1% alcohol content using extra sugar (I prime with a
first set of White's Liquid Sweet meade yeast, then when I rack to
secondary I re-prime with champagne yeast & more yeast nutrient). This was
done as an experiment and the aftertaste wasn't very good…but mellowed
somewhat with age (ending up like a mix of BarenYager & Rum….lots of bite).

I have also heard of using other types of sugar that the yeasts

cannot metabolize and will help you get a VERY sweet meade. (Fructose,
Lactose or such….not sure of the name).

  • -David Chubb

Computer Technician/Network Liason

| David P. Chubb
| VMRCVM Computer Tech
| Phase II Duckpond Dr.
| Virginia Tech
| Blacksburg, VA 24061
| Phone:(540) 231-7969
| E-mail:
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| Fax: (540) 231-7367

Subject: Freaky color change
From: "Spies, Jay" <>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 09:46:48 -0500

All –

I made a peach mel about 4 months ago that fininshed primary fermentation
about 1 month ago. It used 1 gallon wildflower honey and 12 lbs of mashed
up canned unpreserved peaches (juice and all) in 5 gallons. OG as best as I
could see it (peachy chunks) was about 1.118; FG went to 1.002 using Lalvin
D-47 (surprising since this yeast is supposed to leave the meads with a
touch of residual sugar). It's now in a secondary carboy.

However, the mead has turned from a nice golden yellow to what I can only
describe as a washed-out yellow with a grayish overtone. It almost borders
on vaguely purplish. Very wierd. The mead tastes listerine-y and very hot,
as expected, but the color baffles me. Last night I added 2 lbs of honey in
2 qts of boiled water to the must to try to feed it a bit more and maybe
sweeten it up in the long run (but that's not the main issue here).

Can anyone explain this weird color thing? My failing with this batch was
that I lost a ton of mead to racking with the peaches, and the carboy has
way too much headspace. Can oxidation turn the color like this? Frankly,
the mead's so hot that I can't pick up much oxidative character yet, so if
it did, it'll probably come out later. I'm also hoping that the renewed
ferm will spark some changes, but I'll have to wait on that one. Thoughts?


Jay Spies
Wishful Thinking Basement Brewery
Baltimore, MD

Subject: RE: split batch
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 15:10:09 EST

David Russell says:

<< I would have preferred a split batch, a
dry and sweet batch. Am I able to split this batch at this time, and add a
dry/Champagne yeast to 3 gallons of this currently fermenting yeast.

My thoughts were to split the 5 gallons to 2 carboys, secondary the sweet

(2.5 gallons), and 2.5 gallons pitching some Champagne yeast. Any thoughts?

Should work fine. For best results, get the Champagne yeast going in a
starter culture nice & strong, then add that to the batch you wish to become
drier. No hurry on this. Also be aware that sometimes Wyeast Sweet Mead
yeast kicks into gear again when racked or otherwise agitated; this won't be
a problem for the batch with the Champagne yeast, but be careful not to
bottle the sweet mead with this yeast too early. Also, if the gravity of
this mead was not very high to begin with, there is the possibility that the
Champagne yeast batch could finish quite dry & lacking in honey character.
You could find yourself adding more honey back into it. For more advice from
the pros on the board about this, just provide more information about
starting & current gravity.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #832, 16 December 2000
From: Jerry Harder <>
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 21:13:16 -0600


I tried pasteurizing carbonated beer bottles in a water bath once. At about
145 deg which you need to pasteurize, the bottles began to explode under
water, sometimes breaking other bottles in the process. I ended up with most
of the beverage intact and a few ended up flat. One of the bottles blew its
cap of and the liquid scalded my wrist as the bottle emptied itself on my
ceiling. Thankfully, the lid blue of instead of the bottle exploding in my
hand. Alcohol is much more volatile than just water and the combination of
PRESSURIZED ALCOHOL WITH HEAT has proved itself quite dangerous to me. You
can pasteurize uncarbonated alcoholic beverages in a water bath but I would
think very carefully before doing it with CARBONATED ones. I am a hard man
to thwart, especally when it comes to brewing, but I will never try that

> Subject: bottle grenades
> From: Russ Riley <>
> Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 11:14:51 -0800 (PST)
> I think I may have potential bottle grenades on my
> hands. I bottled a fairly sweet still mead a few
> months ago (OG=1.110, FG=1.024) which, as recent as
> two weeks ago, was still non-carbonated. Last night, I
> opened a bottle and SURPRISE — carbonated! It still
> has a ways to go before it gets to the point of beer
> or even champagne, but because of the rather high
> final gravity (lots of sugar left) I want to try to
> stop the carbonation from building high enough to blow
> up my bottles.
> The only solution I can think of is to pasteurise the
> bottles, killing the yeast. Does anyone have any other
> ideas? Has anyone here ever pasteurised bottles
> before, and if so, how did you do it (oven, hot
> water)? Any chance of the heat forcing too much CO2
> out of solution and blowing the bottles up while I
> pasteurise them? Lastly, I'm afraid of how this might
> affect the taste of the mead (not as afraid as I am of
> glass shrapnel traveling at high speeds, however!).
> Any thoughts? Thanks.
> Russ Riley

Subject: Re Sweet mead to Dry mead
From: "James R M Gilson" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 10:58:52 -0500

I have on several occasians done just what you are proposing to do. The
champagne yeast will pick up and finish out the fermentables nicely. Tupelo
ferments out very cleanly anyway. You did not mention the amount of honey
you started with, if not that much you ay be looking at a very dry, clean
flavoured mead. If it is too dry try adding a small amount of honey that has
been addded to water and is sterilised with low heat,180degree's is what I
prefer, for 5-10 minutes. It should work, spliting the batch. I routinely
start with a montrachet dry yeast and split the batch add the champagne, or
premier cuvee yeast. Have fun, Jim

Subject: question
From: Jim Bona <>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 13:18:43 -0500

coming out of lurk to use a life line and poll the audience:

how long will honey hold for?….i have a bucket-full that is a couple
of years old and i am wondering if it will still be okay to use to
make a batch of mead

any tell tale signs that can tip me off?

i would guess that it would be okay but i will rely on your
experience – which is alot more than mine

thanks in advance

jim bona

Subject: spontaneous ferment mead
From: Chuck <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 13:12:39 -0600 (CST)

MLDers- I previously posted this on the hist-brewing listserv, but
thought you all might also find it of interest.

Well, I'm not a member of the SCA, but I have been making mead
for a few years. For the last two or three I've decided that
I don't want to put anything in my meads except honey,
water, and yeast. plus, of course fruit or spices, depending
on what I'm making. IOW, I do not use any yeast
nutrients/energizers. I do occasionally use natural enzymes
like pectic enzymes with apple juice to achieve clarity. I
also do not heat my honey musts. I buy my honey only from
beekeepers/companies who minimially handle their honey so
that the natural enzymes and other goodies remain intact.
Through all this I have never had an infected mead, or one
of those "mead takes two years before it tastes good"
fermentations. Most of my meads are finished fermenting
in three weeks, and are bottled and ready to drink soon
after that. And they've won the occasional ribbon or two.

But, historically speaking, I have wondered just how did
they do it back there in the mists of time? Where did they
get their yeast? Did their mead spontaneously ferment, like
a lambic? so I did a couple of experiments.

First, I have read all the 'net tales of "you've gotta heat,
or boil your honey must and skim off the scum that rises to
the top." Baloney! That "scum" that is being skimmed off
is also the nutrients needed for an active and healthy
fermentation. Why do they say it is necessary to heat the
honey must? The answer is always, "to kill the wild yeasts
and bacteria that are in the honey."

So, I made up a OG 1.100 must, my usual original gravity, and
then I oxygenated the hell out of it. When I used to brew,
my oxygen bottle was my best friend because it enabled me to
easily grow huge starters and have rapid, infection-free
fermentations. I figured that by oxygenating the must, all
those wild yeasts that everyone is so worried about would
take hold, grow like crazy, and ferment out my mead.

After a week, all I had growing was mold and/or bacteria.
There was no airlock activity whatsoever. Down the drain went
that experiment. So, back to the drawing board.

Summer had come and gone, it was Fall, and the local cider mill
was cranking out the juice and I was cranking out the cider and
cyser. I ferment cider on the yeast in the juice following
Andrew Lea's excellent instructions, so I wondered, how to get
the yeast, without using the juice?

I took 8 pounds of dry pressed apple pommace from the cider
mill. To it, in a 7.5 gallon poly fermenter, I added about 12
pounds of a blend of honeys, and about 5 1/2 gallons of hard
water. I stirred it up, sealed it, and checked on it daily.

On the fourth day there was evidence of very active
fermentation. After a week I racked out from under the
pommace to a carboy and then squeezed the pommace in a nylon
mesh bag. It fermented just like a normal mead fermentation.
I had not added any pectic enzyme, so it was pretty cloudy.
Eventially I had to sparkolloid it to get it to clear.

If memory serves me correctly, it finished about 1.015, and
I'd guess that the OG was probably 1.1100. How did it taste?
Even though there was no apple juice, it initially tasted like
a cyser, but with an acetic tang. It's not strong in vinegar,
but there is enough of the taste to be distracting. After
aging a year or so, the apple flavor declined.

I took the yeast dregs from the secondary and repitched in a
new show mead. That one did not exhibit any cloudiness or
apple flavor, but still had a little of the vinegar flavor
when it was young. That one finished at 1.005. Now about a
year and a half later, it tastes almost exactly like dry white
vermouth. Go figure.

BTW, I named the first mead, Take A Chance.

Chuck Wettergreen
Geneva, IL

Subject: Letting mead "breathe"
From: John Metzner <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 17:07:46 -0900

I've had a couple of meads lately, a hazelnut and a cyser, which

display two very different flavor profiles when tasted immediately after
pouring versus letting it sit in the glass for 5 minutes or so. There seems
to be a certain astringency or harshness overlaying the other flavors when
sampled right after pouring. After it rests in the glass for a bit, this
harshness goes away (evaporates?), the mead seems to mellow and the apple,
hazelnut and honey flavors come through. In the case of the hazelnut, it
almost takes on a creamy texture on your tongue….yum. The harshness isn't
strong, not the jet fuel, listerine, paint stripping type of taste, just a
bit of a 'bite'. These meads are both aged, 2-3 years old, neither have
changed flavors significantly in a long time, so I don't think it's an
aging issue.

So, any thoughts on what causes this need to let the mead "breathe"?

Higher alcohols? Something related to the yeast strain? Is it common?
Anything to be concerned about?

John Metzner
Fairbanks, Alaska

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #834, 10 January 2001
From: Peter Matra <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 03:30:59 -0500

Being able to get at the middle section of the yeast in a carboy is simple
of you brew inverted. I don't but I'm sure there is a way to let the bottom
trub drain slowly out. grab the middle, and then drain the rest of the
trub….how the beer people do it. elimating the need for a secondary?! right?

Peter Matra

Subject: Montrachet
From: Peter Matra <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 03:32:56 -0500

I was wondering how people felt about Montrachet yeast? I've heard many
mixed feelings and want to put out some feelers on what yeast I should use
on my next batch of mead?1 I've used Montrachet fine in the past, but have
recently discovered Wyeasts strains…..


End of Mead Lover's Digest #835