Mead Lover's Digest #0838 Tue 13 February 2001


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



Storing mead (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #837, 8 February 2001 (
mazer cup ? ("Micah Millspaw")
Mazor Cup? ("Stephen J. Van der Hoven")
blueberry honey (Chuck)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #837, 8 February 2001 (Peter Matra)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #837, 8 February 2001 (Phil)
Clarifying techniques (Jack A Stafford)
Easy Mead? ("Joey Deckard")
Re: pH and acid (Cassells)
winter meads (
malolactic fermentation on mead? ("Boyce L. Clark")
Re: question (Dan McFeeley)


NOTE: Digest appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests.
Digest archives and FAQ are available at There is
a searchable MLD archive at

Subject: Storing mead
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 09:27:55 -0500

Hi, all. The bottling of my first mead (a rather basic

melomel: 1 gallon batch of pasteurized apple juice with
~1.5 lbs. bulk raw clover honey, OG 1.091) is coming up,
probably in the next month or so. How should I store it,
as far as ambient temperature and such? Will it age well
stored near 70 degrees F. in a dark closet, or should I
refrigerate it? Oh, to have a wine cellar…

Also, should extra care be taken in storing lower gravity

meads? Since a ~5% abv. mead would have neither the higher
alcohol content nor hops to slow it from turning to liquid
evil, would refrigeration be an absolute necessity after
a month or so?

returning to lurking,

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #837, 8 February 2001
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 06:02:47 EST

In a message dated 2/8/2001 8:25:30 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

<< Subject: Blueberry honey
From: "Strange, Mike" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 12:50:26 -0600

Has anyone used Blueberry honey to make mead ? I have 12# and I'm wondering
the best way to use it. Dry or sweet ? Add fruit or not ?
Any help is appreciated.

Mike >>
Its likely to generate a very sweet (almost cloyingly so) mead unless you use
a higly alcohol tolerant yeast to burn up a very high percentage of the
available fermentables. In my second successful batch I had 12# of a swamp
flower honey, 12# of orange blossom honey and a gallon of fresh blueberry
juice. It started out initially as almost too sweet to drink but after
adding a packet of Champagne yeast(I dont have my records right here at this
time of morning) it dropped to a pleasant sweetness that most of my friends
(mostly SCAdians with a few lucky mundanes getting some) were ranting and
raving about. I did it this sweet because my first batch was a VERY dry
strawberry melomel that had a higher than expected alcohol content, so I went
to almost the other extreme to see the differences between them.

Going back to lurker mode now

in Ocala Fl

Subject: mazer cup ?
From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 06:44:02 -0600

Do anyone know if there going to be a =27mazer cup=27 this year ?
And if so, when?

Micah Millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: Mazor Cup?
From: "Stephen J. Van der Hoven" <>
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 07:41:02 -0800

Anyone (Ken Schram?) know anything about a Mazor Cup this year? Seems to
be that time of the year if I recall correctly. I have reached the point
in my mead career that I would like to have my creation compared with the
best. Actually I was ready last year, then no Mazor Cup. Are there any
other mead-only competitions that I'm not aware of?

Stephen J. Van der Hoven
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Geography-Geology
Illinois State University
Campus Box 4400
Normal, IL 67190-4400

Phone: 309/438-3493
Fax: 309/438-5310

Subject: blueberry honey
From: Chuck <>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 07:43:43 -0600 (CST)

Mike Strange asked:
> From: "Strange, Mike" <>
> Has anyone used Blueberry honey to make mead ? I have 12#
> and I'm wondering the best way to use it. Dry or sweet ?
> Add fruit or not ?
> Any help is appreciated.

I got quite a bit of blueberry honey from a farmer's market near
Kalamazoo, MI one Saturday. I thought I'd hit the motherload.
The honey was dark, almost black, with a strong flavor. And it
was pretty cheap; $8 for 5 pounds as I recall.

I decided to make a 100% blueberry honey show mead. Big mistake.
While the honey tastes great, the fermented blueberry tastes like
oxidation. Really! If you have tasted the honey, and then tasted
the mead you know it's not oxidation, it's just the flavor of
fermented blueberry honey. But for someone who hasn't had the
benefit of tasting the honey, like most BJCP judges, to them it's
just oxidized.

My advice to you? Treat it like any very dark honey you might
come across like buckwheat or dark wildflower; blend it with
one or several lighter honeys like clover or orange blossom.


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #837, 8 February 2001
From: Peter Matra <>
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 10:54:45 -0500

>Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #836
>Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 23:00:43 -0500 (EST)
>I don't know if corks are superior because of the gradual oxidation
>they provide, or if they create a more complete seal, of if we
>simply assumed the stuff would taste better. (I have yet to attempt
>a blind taste testing) I am convinced though, and use the grolsh
>bottles for my quick consumption meads, and my corked bottles for

I've never corked anything for carbonation before. Do you need a floor
corker? and wiring like Champagne to hold in the cork? Does this cost a lot
of money?

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #837, 8 February 2001
From: Phil <>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 08:53:11 -0800 (PST)

> >I am best man at a friend's wedding in August, and
> since I just found out
> >two days ago I am wondering if I have time to pull
> off a quick mead to be
> >given at the wedding… or maybe I'll drag a whole
> case to Boston!

Keep in mind that most restaurants/catering halls
won't allow you to serve this mead on the premesis.
It's a legal matter as well as a liability problem.
Should someone get sick of your mead, they can sue the

If you want to bottle it and give it away as favors,
that's usually okay.


visit the New York City Homebrewers Guild website:

Subject: Clarifying techniques
From: Jack A Stafford <>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 09:33:25 -0800 (PST)

My pear mead (perry) that was made with unfiltered pear juice.
After nearly two years it is still very cloudy. Last fall I
added bentonite, which did not work.
I own two cats, and was pretty reluctant to pour the bentonite
(sanitized cat litter) into my mead, but I did it anyway. 🙂

The other cloudy mead I am working with is a black plum
melomel. It was made by adding hot must to busted-up frozen
plums in a plastic fermenter. (I fear that the must temp
was too high and set the fruit pectin.) It's been in the
secondary for 6+ months and still cloudy. Three weeks ago
Sparkalloid was added, which had very little clarifying action.

I've been shining a flashlight into the carboy's shoulder
area to see if it's starting to clear up. Nope, not clearing.

Some of the options that I have not tried yet are polyclar,
isinglass, cold refrigeration and/or filtration. Or one final
option, smile and drink cloudy mead.

Do you have any suggestions?


Costa Mesa, California

Subject: Easy Mead?
From: "Joey Deckard" <>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 13:14:13 -0500

I have only had Mead one time, a few years back at a Christmas party,
and I loved it. I recently found what I thought was a good deal on some
local honey ($5.00/qt.) and bought 12 quarts of a late summer honey and
5 quarts of a early spring honey that is much lighter in color. I would
like to make a batch of the easiest possible Mead and would like to know
EXACTLY what I will need, as I have never attempted anything like this.
If there is anyone out there who would like to help me get startred, I
would appreciate it. Feel free to contact me off-list if you would


Subject: Re: pH and acid
From: Cassells <>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 13:01:40 -0400

Ouch! Good start Marc, you're right a high pH is, in fact a low acid solution.

PH is a logarithmic function of the concentration of Hydronium ions
(H30) in the solution. With 7 the standard neutral, the higher from
7 you go, the stronger the alkaline, and the lower from 7 you go, the
stronger the acid.

Honey comes in a variety of pH's with an average of around 4 to 5.
This is why you might need to add Calcium Carbonate. As the
fermentation process continues, the CO2 bubbling up through the water
lowers the pH even more, and by adding chalk, you can bring it back
toward 5, and keep your yeasts happy.

Honey is a terrible buffer. In fact, it has almost no buffering to it.

Grains and fruits have LOTS of buffering.

What is buffering? And what does that have to do with adding acid? (Nothing)

Buffering is simply the ability to slow down a reaction. Honey and
water is almost purely sugar and water. With malts or fruits or
other additives in the solution, there is a whole range of compounds
available to react with the decreasing pH and thereby slow down the
rate of decrease. And you're right again Marc, once the ability to
buffer is consumed, things will change rapidly.

With your acid test kit, you are measuring the acidity of the must as
if all the acids present in the must were tartaric acid. This is an
entirely different measurement from pH. We are now asking what color
the yardstick is, not how long it measured. Basically we are
measuring the percentage of acids to the whole solution. Some acids
are stronger that others, some quite weak but we are measuring them
all as tartaric acid. This is why to have high or low acidity and
not have that reflected in the pH.

Since the pH of any honey varies from crop to crop, even from field
to field, I strongly recommend that you not add acid, or acid blend
to you must until it has finished fermenting and you have measured it
and found that it need some.


Mark Cassells

M. Gordon Cassells

Toll free (888) 335-6464

Subject: winter meads
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 17:45:05 -0800

I've brewed two meads this winter and thought I might share the
results and recipes. Much thanks to chuck wettergreen for
guidance. The first mead started off with 3 gallons of water that was
boiled for 10 minutes to drive off the overpowering smell of chlorine
in our water. This water was allowed to cool to 80F and then 8lbs of
wildflower honey was stirred in. I pitched two packets of Lalvin K1
yeast and let this ferment for 2 weeks. I then added 3 lbs of
crushed frozen sweet cherries and let this ferment until finished at
1.002 on my hydrometer. This mead fell sparkling clear at about 3
weeks and was racked to another glass carboy for a week and was
then bottled. This one has an excellent cherry nose and flavor and
is pretty clean after only 2 months of conditioning. It fermented at
an average temp. of about 60F in my garage.

The second batch was done identically except 4 pounds of

crushed bluberries were added. This is now starting to clear after
about 4 weeks and smells great. I'm anxious to try this one! Please
note that the honey in both of these never was heated beyond 80F.
The first mead I did in the fall with the same honey was boiled for 10
minutes and is now just starting to clear in the bottles! I had given
up on clearing this and bottled and it has started to clear now after 6-
7 months. This first batch, where the honey was boiled, took about
4.5 months to completely ferment. I am definitely much happier with
both the quick ferment and the finished product in the batches
where the honey was not heated. I will post the results of the
second batch of blueberry after I taste it. Thanks again to chuck for
suggestions along the way.

Larry Cazes

Subject: malolactic fermentation on mead?
From: "Boyce L. Clark" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 00:39:41 -0600

Hi, does anyone have experience with inducing a malolactic fermentation
(MLF) on a mead? I have 30 gallons of mayhaw (like a crab apple) mead going
(3 months in and still bubbling) and its a bit tart. As a winemaker, I
would induce a MLF to reduce the acidity and add some complexity to the
flavor profile. Is this technique appropriate for mead as well? Thanks in
advance for any advice.

boyce clark
baton rouge, LA

Subject: Re: question
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 11:33:31 -0600

On Wed, 24 Jan 2001, in MLD 836, Dave P. wrote in response to Jim Bona:

>Jim Bona <> wrote:
>>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
>Honey will keep for longer than humans will. There are examples of honey
>that are hundreds of years old, if not thousands.
>Your honey is still good. Don't worry. Brew happy.

Sorry Dave, gotta quibble just a little with your statement of honeys
lasting for hundreds or even thousand of years.

Although honey keeps quite well, it does deteriorate over time, darkening
and losing the fine flavor nuances that fresh honey straight out of the
comb is prized for. One of the principle causes of honey darkening is the
accumulation of HMF, hydroxymethylfurfural. The rate of HMF accumulation
increases with temperature, at a rate of 4 1/2 times for every 18 degree F
increase in temperature. An increase of 100 days at 86 degrees F will
only take 20 days at 104 degrees F, 4 days at 122 degrees F, and day at
140 degrees F, and just a few hours at 158 degrees F. Honey stored over
the centuries will continue darkening and eventually turn black.

Edith Crane, noted English writer on honey and the beekeeping archaeololgy,
points out that although the commercial shelf life of honey is given as
about 2 1/2 years, it doesn't actually spoil and is still useable after
decades of storage. She has observed that honeys stored for 20 – 25
years show no signs of spoilage but will lose the flavor and aroma that
distinguishes honey, having only a nondescript sweetness to them. She
notes that the oldest honey she has seen was at the Agricultural museum
at Dokki in Egypt. Two honey pots from New Kingdom tombs, dated 1400 BC,
still had honey in them, although she does not describe the condition of
the honey itself. I imagine something blackened and crystalized, maybe
terribly viscous and completely unusable, if that. A caldron found at
a Celtic Bronze age site, in contrast, had once contained honey meant
for making mead but only traces were left of its contents.

I think the stories of honey lasting over the centuries with little change
may have originated with a story told by the emminent (or infamous, depending
on who you talk to 🙂 Egyptologist E.A.T. Wallis Budge. He relates this
story in _The Mummy_ (New York: Collier Books 1972):

Once when he and several others were occupied in exploring the
graves and seeking for treasure near the Pyramids, they came
across a sealed jar, and having opened it and found that it
contained honey, they began to eat it. Someone in the party
remarked that a hair in the honey turned round one of the fingers
of the man who was dipping his bread in it, and as they drew
it out the body of a small child appeared with all its limbs
complete and in a good state of preservation; it was well
dressed and had upon it numerous ornaments.

Wallis Budge, in his time, was a prolific writer whose volume obscured
his scholarship. His name is mud in Egyptology these days — a movie the
title of which I can't recall had this throw-away line; "Who said that,
Budge?!" Budge himself was not a member of this group partaking in the
ancient repast, he only said the story was passed on to him by "an Egyptian
worthy of belief." Makes you wonder if that worthy Egyptian might have been
talking to Budge about buying a deed or two for the Great Brooklyn Pyramid.

The horrific side of the story seems to have functioned as a "gapers block"
of sorts in shutting down critical thought and examination of the story.
It seems to have become one of those stories passed around until the
origins and details are forgotten, just the idea that honey lasts and lasts,
even for centuries.

Dan McFeeley

End of Mead Lover's Digest #838