Mead Lover's Digest #0840 Wed 28 February 2001


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



sparkling mead, unclear mead, sweetening mead (Chuck)
Re: Well, that didn't go as planned. (Marc Shapiro)
RE: Cloudy Pear Meade ("Frank J. Russo")
Re MLD #839 ("Lane O. Locke")
Honey storage (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #839, 21 February 2001 (
Re: clarification (Jack A Stafford)
cloudy meads ("Stephen J. Van der Hoven")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #839, 21 February 2001 (Nancy McAndrew)
Commercial Meads (Russ Riley)
Pear Melomel Experience ("David Wagner")
Great honey info from Virginia….. ("Paul Scott")
Re: Yeasts and Mead (Joyce Hersh)


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Subject: sparkling mead, unclear mead, sweetening mead
From: Chuck <>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 14:01:58 -0600 (CST)

Peter Matra <> answered Michael
Kaiser's question about bottling a sparkling mead.

> Nope, ya dont need a floor corker, or cork press, if
> you use plastic corks.
> Wiring is advisable. Buy the foils too, they look great.
*American* champagne bottles can also be crown capped,
if you don't want to mess with plastic corks. And those
banquet houses that host wedding receptions are great
sources of free champagne bottles.

"Michael Yacht" <> cracked me up with his question:
> It wasn't clarifying, which I heard was common, so I tried
> sparkalloid.
> The stuff worked great. Overnight the stuff was almost totally clear.
> Except …
> There is this snot-like mass in the middle of the carboy.
> I figure this is bacteria .. can someone tell me?
> I'm totally bummed, I was looking forward to bottling
> it this month.
It is definitely NOT bacteria. I've had this happen. I
don't *know*, but I think it's caused by not thoroughly
mixing the sparkolloid in when you pour it (hot) into
the mead. Keep in mind, sparkolloid (and bennonite too)
work best when they have something to "grab onto". IOW,
it's better to *not* rack off that yeast cake before
adding fining agents. In MLD #749 I wrote to explain what
I had found out about this.

> I didn't use campden tablets at all, because I heard they take a while
Good. Not generally necessary IMHO.

> So, I guess I have two questions:
> 1) Is that snot-like white mass in the middle of my glass carboy
> bacteria? If so, is there anything I can do to salvage the mead or
> should I just dump it down the sink?
It's just floating sparkolloid that hasn't settled out
yet. It is *not* bacteria, but if you look closely I'll
bet you see some CO2 bubbles which are caught up in the

> 2) Will campden tablets save this from happening again?
> How long do they take to age out?
No, campden tablets have nothing to do with this and
aren't necessary.

Here's what *I* did to get rid of those sparkolloid
"clouds". I very carefully racked the mead, "clouds"
and all, but being very careful to *not* rack the
fluffy sparkolloid layer on the bottom of the carboy.
Then I waited 2-3 weeks for the remaining sparkolloid
(including the now busted-up clouds) to fall out. Then
I racked again. Your mead will be fine. Be patient. :?>)

"Jeffrey Zajac" <> asked about
sweetening meads at bottling time.

> I have a lime mead that has ended up too dry, and is basically ready to
> bottle at this point. My plan is to sweeten it at bottling time and to add
> potassium sorbate as a stabilizer. My questions are these: (1) what is the
> best way to sweeten the mead? Should I add a concentrated honey/water
> solution or is another sweetener superior for this purpose? (2) If I add a
> solution with honey at bottling time, will this affect the clarity of the
> mead? Any comments would be greatly appreciated? Thank you.

I know of no better way for you to generate a sparkling
mead than to add sugar/honey to a dry mead at bottling.
Potassium sorbate (PS) will prevent fermentation restarts,
but there are some gotchas to that. PS is supposed to be
used in conjunction with sulfites, and it is not guaranteed
to stop restarting of fermentations without the use of
sulfites. It also has the potential of causing unpleasant
geranium odors if you use too much or use it in something
that has undergone an MLF fermentation.

Now some will say that they have used PS and sweetened and
didn't get a fermenattion restart, and I'm sure it's true.
But they may also have had an alcohol level high enough to
prevent fermentation without the use of PS.

In the end analysis, the only way to be *sure* is to (1) ferment to
finish, adding honey until fermentation is finished and the mead is
sweet, 2) sweeten and then sterile filter then bottle, or 3) use
sulfites and PS.



Subject: Re: Well, that didn't go as planned.
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 17:06:19 -0500

Michael Yacht wrote of a possible infected mead:

> Everything seemed to be going as planned.


> Except …
> There is this snot-like mass in the middle of the carboy.
> I figure this is bacteria .. can someone tell me? I'm totally bummed, I
> was looking forward to bottling it this month.


> 1) Is that snot-like white mass in the middle of my glass carboy
> bacteria? If so, is there anything I can do to salvage the mead or
> should I just dump it down the sink?

There are at least two different bacterial infections that this could
be. Tourne disease will cause a silky cloud in your mead, but this
sounds like it is a thich, slimy mass. Is this correct? In either
case, however, the fix is the same. Use Campden tablets, or
meta-bisulfite powder at a concentration of 100 ppm, stir the mead to
break up the cloud and filter. Then bottle in clean, sterile bottles.

Both of these infections, BTW, are more likely in young, low alcohol
wines and meads. I'd be willing to bet that your mead is probably not
more than about 10% ABV. Getting your fermentation of to a quick,
healthy start and fermenting to at least 12% will help a lot in
preventing these types of infections. Fermenting to dryness, or nearly
so, will also help, since many of these infections like a sweeter
culture. I usually aim for a semi-dry mead in the 13% ABV range.

> 2) Will campden tablets save this from happening again? How long do
> they take to age out?

Sulfites will probably prevent this, but they are no substitute for
sanitation and cleanliness. I avoid using sulfites, myself, whenever
possible, since I have friends that are sensitive to them. It is
possible to make wine and mead safely without sulfites in most cases, it
just takes a little extra effort.

If your only worry about sulfites, however, is that they might be
noticeable in your mead then you can relax. Used in moderation (and
there is no reason to use them in excess) most people (unless they are
sensitive to them) will not notice that they are in there. You want to
age your mead for a little while anyway, don't you. Meads can be
drinkable, and even good, in a short period of time, but they will be
even better with some extra aging. Even if you drink your meads young,
put aside a few bottles for a year, or more. I think that you will find
the difference quite noticeable (but not from the taste, or smell of

Marc Shapiro "If you drink melomel every day, you will live to be 150 years old, unless your wife shoots you."

  • – Dr. Ferenc Androczi, winemaker,

Little Hungary Farm Winery

Subject: RE: Cloudy Pear Meade
From: "Frank J. Russo" <>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 17:41:53 -0500

Subject: cloudy pear mead
From: "Paul Hudert" <>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 16:45:19 -0500

I made a plum wine last spring and one year later it still had not
clarified. I even used pectin enzyme. Bentonite as you stated did not work
either. Then at my last club meeting the owner of the HomeBrew Haus
recommended using unflavored gelatin. Well I did. Mixed a single packet in
3 oz of water heated in the microwave till hot, stirred well then diluted
with a white wine to a volume of 8 oz. Added it to my plum wine (3 gals)
and the next day I noticed the clearing has begun. I would probably use 2
packets for 5 gallons.

Frank Russo
ATF Home Brew Club
New Bern NC
"There is only one aim in life and that is to live it."

Subject: Re MLD #839
From: "Lane O. Locke" <>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 17:23:02 -0600

Re: ..Didn't go as planned.
From: "Michael Yacht" <>
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 11:21:32 -0500

The best planned lays o' mice and men…….

>1) Is that snot-like white mass in the middle of my glass carboy
>bacteria? If so, is there anything I can do to salvage the mead or
>should I just dump it down the sink?

Is it suspended like a jellyfish in the middle of the carboy, with long
tentacles hanging down?
If so, it could be just some protein strings that glued together some of
the Sparkalloid, and will eventually settle to the bottom. Or it could
be cat snot. In any case, I would certainly attempt to rack off the
good part for salvage- what can you lose? And see below…

>2) Will campden tablets save this from happening again? How long do
>they take to age out?

I would definately recommend sulphite for this batch, if there is any
chance that a bacterial infection has occurred. Either potassium
metabisulphite or sodium metabisulphite will kill the bacteria and any
stray yeasties that may have stayed behind. Campden tablets are a
inconvenient form of metabisulphite, as they are resistant to crushing
and take forever to dissolve.
Far better is the crystal form, which is about as fine as sugar, and
dissolves nearly instantly in warm water.
Fear not the mighty 'meta', for it is present in nearly every commercial
bottle of wine or mead.
It does not 'age out' as such: it reacts with proteins- which are what
living things are made of, much to their detriment, and some remains
behind to carry on the good works. It is not new, as winemakers have
been burning sulfur in their oak casks for many hundreds of years for
just this purpose. Consult your local brew shop or a good book on
winemaking, and follow directions on the label of the product.
NEVER pour it out! Just leave it sealed in a corner for a year or two-
miracles happen. If not, get a permit from EPA before dumping a 'not
quite nice' batch into the environment. They have strict laws about
toxic waste……..

Kansas City
(If it hurts- stop.)

Subject: Honey storage
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 18:48:26 EST

Greetings All,
The Question of how long honey keeps has had a far amount of interesting
information. I've gotten an opportunity to work with an apiary (beekeeper)
this spring and have been reading up and hunting the net. On beekeeping and
The one thing on storage that they all agree on is. That the one way to keep
honey long term with no deterioration of flavor or quality is to keep it at
32 degrees F or cooler. The next best was 65 to 75 for a year or so. In
between encourages crystalisation ( I am not shure that that would be bad for
mead making as long as you don't overheat it when you use it) and over 80
degrees F is guaranted to cause it to become expensive sugar syrup in short
order (weeks).
By the way if you make lots of mead or just like making very high quality or
both! Hunt up and make friends with your local beekeeper. An afternoon's help
last fall made me a friend a chance to learn beekeeping, and a lot of high
quality low priced honey. I'm hopeing to have a chance this spring at some
pumpkin blossom honey, almost water white and a very nice aroma.
Dave Carpender
Madison, WI

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #839, 21 February 2001
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 21:11:10 EST

Re: pear mead. we have 30 gallons of pear mead in carboys
right now ready to be bottled this weekend. It is crystal clear. we use
pectic enzyme in all of our melomels. we made the mead last fall it's been
racked twice and we will run it thru a wine filter
before we bottle it. as i write this letter I have 26 gallons of orange
blossom mead in primary fermentation… mmmmmm

Bob Venezia aja The Aimless One

Subject: Re: clarification
From: Jack A Stafford <>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 08:51:47 -0800 (PST)

"Alan Meeker" <> wrote:
>Jack asks about a cloudy pear mead he has:
>> 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.
>Another possibility for the cloudiness is pectin. You can buy the enzyme
>pectinase commercially to degrade it which /I think/ should help clarify it.
>Not sure if starch haze is a reasonable possibility or not for pears but you
>could also try some amylase.

I've used alpha-amylase in my barley mash (homebrewed beer).
Is this the stuff you suggest that I add?

On the topic of my black plum mead that was very cloudy:
I racked it into a 5 gallon keg yesterday. The sparkalloid
that was added 4 weeks ago created alot of fuzzy looking
stuff. The stuff was clinging to the sides of the carboy,
but the majority of it had sunk to the bottom. The mead was
CLEAR as it passed throught the racking cane and hose. I think
it looked cloudy because there was so much of it in one big
container. The same way that 5 gallons of pale ale will
appear to be a brown ale in the carboy. But in a glass it
is the lighter pale ale color. Sparkalloid did the trick.
Thanks and Cheers!

  • -Jack

Costa Mesa, CA

Subject: cloudy meads
From: "Stephen J. Van der Hoven" <>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 11:27:08 -0800

My two cents worth on the cloudy mead issue (with respect to fruit meads)
is use pectin enzyme, as has been suggested by numerous others on the
list. I had some cloudiness problems early on in my mead career until I
started using pectin enzyme and have had nothing but naturally crystal
clear meads since. I use pectin enzyme from the start, not after
fermentation is done and the mead is still cloudy. I have a peary in the
final stages of fermentation that was started from juice pressed from fresh
fruit. I added pectin enzyme along with yeast at the start and although
it's still slowly fermenting, you can read a newspaper through the
carboy. I haven't needed to use a clarifying agent in years and have since
tossed those that I had because they were old.

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: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #839, 21 February 2001
From: Nancy McAndrew <>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 16:47:34 -0800 (PST)

Jeff Zajac had a problem with a too dry lime mead. I
often end up with very dry meads; mainly because I
like them. I have found that when it becomes too dry,
adding a little crystalized sugar (belgium sugar–NOT
corn sugar obviously) it sweetens it right up and does
not turn my bottles into time bombs. Just pitch it
and let it dissolve, usually takes 16 hours or so, and
bottle away.
Good luck! Happy Fermenting!!

~Nancy McAndrew
Lynchburg, VA

Subject: Commercial Meads
From: Russ Riley <>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 06:50:20 -0800 (PST)

I'm curious what some of your favorite commercial
meads are. There aren't really many out there, and
from what I've read, some brewers don't particularly
like most of them. All I've had were Chaucer's (which
I don't remember) and White Winter, a Wisconsin
meadmaker (they've got some very good ones!). Any
other's you'd recommend I try? If so, can they be
ordered over the Internet (all I've seen around
Chicagoland are the above; apparently Havill's Mazer
Mead from New Zealand is excellent, but I can't find
any). Thanks, and feel free to e-mail me directly.


Subject: Pear Melomel Experience
From: "David Wagner" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 10:02:03 -0600

Jack A Stafford lamented.
>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 did a bit of informal research on perry and just bottled a wonderful
pear melomel. Two things relevant I noted from the research are:
pears have a great deal of tannin and fermented pears often
spontaneously undergo a malolactic fermentation well after regular
fermentation has ceased. I noted both of these had a great deal to do
with how a batch of pear melomel behaved.

The abbreviated 6 gallon recipe was: 12lb honey, 22lb frozen Bartlett
pears (quartered and cored, skins left on), nutrients, spices, 1T
pectase (overkill), Assmannhausen yeast; no boiling, heating, nor
sulfites. OG: 1.083 (approximate) on 9/7/00.

This melomel made great gobs of gelatinous foam in the primary, and
threw a full gallon of gelatinous sediment (yielding only five gallons
of mead). The reading I did about perry suggests this was tannin
since pears are rather low in pectin. Since I left the skins on the
pears, I suppose there was so much tannin in solution it coagulated,
foamed up, and settled out.

On racking to secondary (9/17/00, SG: 0.998 @ 90F) the melomel tasted
tart and very peary. From 9/30/00 (SG: 0.992 @ 75F) through 10/24/00
the melomel went from cloudy and bubbling to still and clear at least
three times, only somewhat in line with the ambient temperature. It
still tasted quite tart and alcoholic, the pear flavor gradually
subsided, and the honey almost disappeared. I wasn't sure how to
bottle it (still or sparkling), so it sat in clear glass; the color
went from brilliant yellow (in a test glass) to pale yellow.

On 1/27/01 (SG: 0.996 @ 65F; it went up?), after sitting crystal clear
for three months, I needed the container. I tasted the mead. After a
blast of pear aroma, this melomel is incredibly akin to a dry white
wine. It is no longer tart nor listriney, but dry, vinous, and
mellow; far too mature for its age. I was stunned. I can only
conclude malolactic fermentation (MLF) happened. I bottled it, and
plan to serve some blindly to a few wine snobs to see if they can pick
the honey out at all.

My conclusion: ferment pears on the skins. If there is enough tannin
in solution, it precipitates out as a gelatinous mass when regular
fermentation is complete. Cooling to 50F may help. For this batch,
the first complete clearing occurred in three weeks, and subsequent
cloudiness and bubbling was likely MLF; what kind of yeast can be
happy at 0.992 and 11% alcohol?

I'll try something slightly different later this year in an attempt to
keep the flavors intact.


Subject: Great honey info from Virginia.....
From: "Paul Scott" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 23:47:36 -0500

Found a local honey maker site that has great descriptions about many
types of honey. Hope this helps someone select the proper honey.
Check it out at Also, has
anyone had success or can offer tips on using the huge variety of canned
nectars out there (organic, no preservatives, such as bananna, cherry,
apricot, pear, peach, etc??) What would be a proper ratio of nectar to
honey (oz:lbs). Thanks! Paul Scott

Subject: Re: Yeasts and Mead
From: Joyce Hersh <>
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2001 17:57:18 -0500

>I see that lots of people use different yeasts from champagne yeast to ale
>yeast while making mead. Other than effecting the amount of alcohol in the
>mead. what about the phenolic character of it? Would a wheat beer yeast
>effect the character of the mead?
>I thought about using ale yeast first and then moving to champagne yeast. I
>also have a batch of weizen finishing and thought about harvesting the
>yeast and using it in a mead? Anyone try the Wyest Belgian Wheat yeast in a
>mead and then finish it off with montrachet or champagne?

I have made mead with beer yeast, with excellent results. The plus side is
that you can drink a glass of it without getting slammed. The down side is
that it only lasts about a year before the quality goes downhill in a
serious way, due to the reduced preservative effects due to the reduced
alcohol level. If using beer yeasts, you should do two things:

(1) Choose a yeast that is a relatively clean (flavor-wise) fermenter, that
doesn't produce a lot of flavors that would be off-flavors in a wine, such
as diacetyl, clove, or extreme fruity flavors (although some of those could
work, depending on what else you may be putting in there). In general, I
recommend ale yeasts.

(2) Make a yeast starter, and use honey as the fermentable in the starter,
so as to acclimate the yeast. If you use a beer-type starter, and dump it
in the honey must, the shock of the new type of sugar can slow the yeast
down suddenly.

I have also done experiments with Belgian yeasts. These were largely
miserable, with these yeasts producing really horrendous off-flavors. Most
of the Belgian yeasts just produced overpowering phenolics and nasty
solvent flavors and aromas. My personal theory is that the mead
environment is relatively nutrient-poor compared to a beer wort, and the
stress caused the yeasts to produce vastly elevated amounts of their normal
"side" flavors and aromas.

  • — Joyce Hersh

End of Mead Lover's Digest #840