Mead Lover's Digest #0845 Tue 10 April 2001


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



Pumkin honey, BS really? (
Mytheglyn still working SG .998 and mad with bubbles (
Pseudo-cask conditioning question (John Baxter Biggins)
Agave troubles ("Richard Weiss")
Would pear juice work? ("brother william")
bottle corker to borrow (Mark Ottenberg)
Re:Berry Melomel Recipe and CO2 headspace (David Sherfey)
Re: Cherry Pits (Terence L Bradshaw)
Sour cherries and my first mead (hopefully) ("Beitzel, Rhoda L")
Buying honey in bulk (Phil)
Re: Cherry Pits and Old Lace (
Re: REcipe advice (Myron Sothcott)
CO2 blankets ("Alan Meeker")
marbles ("Paul Hudert")
not sure ("Theresa")
2001 Buzz Off Homebrew Competition ("David Houseman")
Basic Melomel Process ("David Wagner")
Hochdorf Tomb ("Paul Gatza")
Recipe and Soul (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: Pumkin honey, BS really?
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 20:00:33 EST


"""""""""""" this ain't a flame your right, sort


The Apiary who has it, invites you out to help him pull the supers of honey
off the hives.

Now it is true that normally you cannot get much from pumpkin but when you

put ten hives in the midst of hundreds of acres of pumpkin vines as they
bloom you get some and when you add that there is a fair amount of hay
(mostly clover for you city guys) fields about. The apiary gets a lot of
clover with a smatering of pumkin from the blooms. Most honey is mostly some
variation on clover with whatever. because clover is still by far the best
source of nectare on the ole blue ball. Why do the bee's visit the pumkin
blossoms? Because it is an excellent source of pollen which provides protein
for the bee's. The girls will stop and pick up a little nectare while they
are visiting. The fellow with the pumkin patch got almost twice the yield he
expected with the weather because the girls did such a good job of
pollination. And Frank (the apiary) got a very nice check for the girls hard
work. AND I might add this mostly clover with enough pumkin nectare to give
it a very dstinctive flavor. The guy with the pumkin patch wants twice as
many hives this year.

So yes you are right from a bookish perpective.But at the same time….

from that perspective you should call all honeys clover with a bit of
For me that would be boring as well as leaving all those wonderfull subtle
flavors to waste 😉 I have to admit I wonder what cucumber honey would taste
like? but I must admit That pumkin honey is very tasty and very distintive.

So you want to come out and hump some hives Frank might even let you

taste some of this stuff, even if you don't belive.
"""""""""""" I say again this ain't a flame your right, sort
Beware absolutes, they always bite me in inconvienant places

Subject: Mytheglyn still working SG .998 and mad with bubbles
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 20:15:36 EST

Hi all,
I have a mytheglyn a nutmeg,clove 3lbs clover/ gallon, K1V, some acid blend
and yeast nutirent. I started it at the start of the year( 1/1/1 scary ain't
it). its clear enough for it to glow golden, you can easilly read a newspaper
through it but its still got a gazzillion( I counted ) lines of tiny bubbles
comming up from the trub but it doesn't seem to do much bubbleing at the lock
the Specific gravity is .998 and doen't seem to be dropping anymore. The
Ginger/ clove I started at the same time and same recipe except for the spice
has been bottled for two weeks but this is still doing some thing? I'll move
it off the trub and wait some more.
Madison, WI

Subject: Pseudo-cask conditioning question
From: John Baxter Biggins <>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 21:32:58 -0500

Has anyone tried a make a fake-cask conditioned beer or mead by
trying to replicate the cask flavor by adding…say, bourbon or
sherry to the boil (evaporating the alcohol, but leaving the
"cask-iness" of the liquor behind in the wort/must) I suppose this
is similar to adding liquid smoke & other adjuncts to duplicate other
styles. Just curious.

John B. Biggins
Cornell University Medical College
Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences
Student — Program in Pharmacology

Subject: Agave troubles
From: "Richard Weiss" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 07:37:23 -0500

Hi Frank,

I'm wondering what your original gravity was….when you measured the

alcohol and said you came out with 0%, was that the reading on your
hydrometer??…What you need to do is record your original reading (for
example 1.050) and your final reading (1.000)…now if you check your
hydrometer, the potential alcohol scale is right next to the Specific
gravity scale, potential alcohol at 1.050 is 6.5%…if your final reading
was 0% you merely need to subtract 0% from 6.5% and have your alcohol
level….if it was fermenting it was making alcohol…

Have a nice day…

Subject: Mead Newbie Agave troubles
From: Frank Familiari <>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 08:05:21 -0800 (PST)

I did some research and thought Agave Nectar would be a good substitute
for honey. On my first trial run ever with Mead, I mixed 4 lbs Agave
Nectar with 3 Gallons of water & two juiced limes. Had what appeared
to me to be active fermentation (bubbles through the airlock every 1/2
second) then racked to a 2.8 gal carboy, and observed bubbles similar
to a carbonated beverage. total time 3 months. Measured alcohol
content, came out to 0% !!! what did I do wrong? If it wasn't making
alcohol, what was it making? Is this stuff poisonous?
Thanks in advance.

Subject: Would pear juice work?
From: "brother william" <>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 23:13:24 -0600

I have two bartlet pear trees that produce prolifically. I have a juicer
that seperates pith from juice. I should be able to get several gallons of
juice. Would this work in place of honey or do I need to use it for an
additive to honey?

I am just thinking of getting started in this.

Accipe Spiritum Sanctum

Riley Grotts
A.K.A. brother william (at faire)

Subject: bottle corker to borrow
From: Mark Ottenberg <>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 23:47:43 -0700

Hi Folks:

My neighbor and I are making some mead and want to use corks in these
bottles (instead of the plastic I usually use). I'm very aware of the
value of a real and substantial corking machine, but don't want to go and
purchase one when I can borrow one. Besides, I would want to try out
several different kinds before I / we purchase one.

Does anyone in the Colorado, Denver or north (I live in Fort Collins) or
Cheyenne or South area have one I can borrow, evaluate and play with?

Besides, making mead is most fun when you do it with others. And, of
course, there is always a bit of mead testing to be done when we get
together ….. 🙂

Let me know:

Subject: Re:Berry Melomel Recipe and CO2 headspace
From: David Sherfey <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 05:24:00 -0500

Berry Melomel Recipe:

The recipe below seems to be getting a lot of airplay lately. This is
right in line with the 4 lbs of fruit per gallon that many prize-winning
fruit wines use, but I would queston the use of 20 lbs of honey for one
reason. When this thing finishes it is gonna be thick. Even if you use
the juice, sparge and squeeze method mentioned by Mark Shapiro later in
MLD844, there will still be a lot of fluff in the bottom of the carboy when
it finishes, The resulting high gravity will make it difficult for that
stuff to drop all the way to the bottom even with sparkalloyd and bentonite

BUT, if you can stand some loss, and like a sweet mead, this one would be
really intense! If I were making it tho, I would reduce the honey to 16 or
17 lbs. and expect about a 4.5 gallon yield.

> > Below is a recipe that I am planning to make.
> > 20 lbs Clover Honey
> > 5 lbs strawberries (frozen)
> > 5 lbs blueberries (frozen)
> > 5 lbs blackberries (frozen)
> > 5 lbs raspberries (frozen)
> > Two packets Champagne Yeast
> > Acid Blend (optional)
> > Water to make 5 gals
>Water to make 5 gallons? You might be able to add
>about half a gallon if you're lucky.
>I strongly recommend you cut back on everything, even
>eliminate some of the fruit. This recipe is simply
>too big and the combination of fruit will probably end
>up tasting like a sweet fruit punch.

CO2 Headspace Filler:

Dave Burley questions the use of CO2 as a headspace filler, so I have
feedback and questions. I have used this method for years with what I
think is great success. When I do this, nothing grows on the surface and
when I have forgotten to in the past the result was scum on the surface
(you can rack out from under this). I check the carboy every two months or
so by refilling and using my nose as a guide as to when to stop. There
always seems to be plenty of CO2 left in the carboy, but I pour more in
because I'm there and it is inexpensive insurance. I use a water bottle
snap cap to close the carboy. The temperature in my basement varies over
the year from about 50 to 80 degrees. When I lived in CA, in the place
where I stored my carboys the temperature swing was 50 – 95. Same results
both places.

If this is not a good method, why does it work?

>Shaggyman contends that CO2 is good for excluding oxygen. CO2 is soluble
>in water and would quickly dissolve in any mead when it is used as a cover
>over mead or other beverage. Oxygen would then be drawn in unless you had
>an hermetic seal which will maintain a vacuum ( dangerous with glass

David Sherfey
Warwick, NY


Subject: Re: Cherry Pits
From: Terence L Bradshaw <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 08:48:40 -0500

I just bottled a cherry wine this week. Sorry, I didn't have any honey on
hand, so I used sugar. The process involved freezing 35 pounds of fresh
Montmorency (pie) cherries to rupture their cells and thereby extract as
much juice as possible. These went into a cheesecloth bag into the
fermenter over which I poured ~180 F water (didn't want to set the
pectin). 15 pounds of sugar on top of that, champagne yeast, and primary
for ten days. I then removed the fruit bag, gave it a gentle squeeze, and
racked it into a 6 gallon carboy. The pits were never crushed.
Secondary went on for about four months, after which I added bentonite to
clear it and racked again into a 5-gallon fermenter. The extra wine went
into my working cider barrel.
So how is it? DELICIOUS! Strong cherry aroma, not too tart, and simply
beautiful. My significant other and I each had a full wine glass while
bottling, and I must say it is powerful stuff, I estimate around 14%. I
considered bottling it in splits for that reason, but as I have ~500 wine
bottles (750 ml) on hand, they were used. This is definitely a special
occasion drink.
To get back on the topic, I am not worried about the cyanide for the reason
already mentioned, i.e. I feel little was extracted from the seeds in the
first place, and any cyanide in solution was grabbed by the excess acid (pH
2.8) in the must.
Next time I will have to use honey, however…..

Subject: Sour cherries and my first mead (hopefully)
From: "Beitzel, Rhoda L" <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 10:28:13 -0500

My friend has a sour cherry tree in his yard. He does not spray it so I'm
safe against any pesticides.

My question is, I'm hoping to use them to make my first mead. I've been
lurking on the digest for 2 years and have become thoroughly confused. Where
do I start? Any suggestions for a recipe? When should I add them?


Subject: Buying honey in bulk
From: Phil <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 07:31:03 -0800 (PST)

>You should really look into local apiaries. You can
>always order honey, but
>try to find a local place that can provide you with
>local honeys. A green
>market close by or anything. It all depends on where
>you live. I live in
>the middle of NYC and I find tons of different types
>of honeys. Mead
>makers tend to also buy honey in large quantities.
>like 40 lbs pails……

Keep in mind that most apiarists (if that's a word)
who sell at farmers' markets, usually don't bring the
buckets with them regularly, but will if you ask them


visit the New York City Homebrewers Guild website:

Subject: Re:  Cherry Pits and Old Lace
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 14:12:14 EST

From: Spencer W Thomas <>

<<Not arsenic. Cyanide. >>

I agree that cyanide is the chief concern here, but arsenic *can* be

present in apple seeds, when they are grown on old apple orchard land where
lead arsenate was used as the chief insecticide for a generation. When I was
younger, a lot of the old fruit growers suffered chronic poisoning from the
pesticide. I doubt there would be enough in seeds to hurt you, unless you
consumed a LOT, and the effect of both these heavy metals is cumulative. The
pesticide is still present in significant quantities in the soil, a couple
generations later.

Dave Green SC USA
The Pollination Home Page:

Subject: Re: REcipe advice
From: Myron Sothcott <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 20:52:12 -0500

> > Below is a recipe that I am planning to make.
> > 20 lbs Clover Honey
> > 5 lbs strawberries (frozen)
> > 5 lbs blueberries (frozen)
> > 5 lbs blackberries (frozen)
> > 5 lbs raspberries (frozen)
> > Two packets Champagne Yeast
> > Acid Blend (optional)
> > Water to make 5 gals
> Water to make 5 gallons? You might be able to add
> about half a gallon if you're lucky.
> I strongly recommend you cut back on everything, even
> eliminate some of the fruit. This recipe is simply
> too big and the combination of fruit will probably end
> up tasting like a sweet fruit punch.
> I also recommend a blow off tube.
> Phil

I have to agree with Phil. I would cut the honey to 15 pounds
to start, check the specific gravity when fermentation slows,
and feed more honey to get a final gravity for the level of
sweetness desired. I usually shoot for 1.012 to 1.016 depending
on the fruit used. For my taste, a fruit mead below 1.010 is a
little dry, and 1.016 is on the sweet side.

Next, I would probably cut the total fruit back to about 10 pounds.
I frequently use Oregon Fruit purees, especially during winter
months, and one 3 lb can provides generally good flavor.

It is all a matter of taste, I am sure, but I would rcommmend
that initially you check out the flavor imparted by each fruit
alone before mixing. I have found no fruit that I have felt
would improve upon my raspberry mead, but I have found that
a 2 to 1 mix of blueberry and strawberry is more pleasing
than either alone. Again, that is personal preference and
may not suit your taste at all.

I always aerate the must before pitching the yeast by shaking
the carboy vigorsly. This helps to get the yeast going,
although dry yeasts don't require this to the same extent
as would a smack pack.

I check the PH when fermentation slows an if it is below
4.0 I'll add a teaspoon of calcium carbonate (dissolve
in a cup of boiling water and cool) every couple of days
until the PH gets back above 4.0. I've never had a stuck
fermentation (using either champagne yeast of Lalvin D47).
Also, since fermentation now ends (for a sweet mead) when
the yeasts alcohol tolerence level is reached, I have never
had a bottle bomb, and only seldom have found natural
carbonation of a sweet mead.

I never use acid blend.

I have never needed a blowoff tube with 5 gallons of mead
in a 6.5 gallon carboy. I have required blowoff tubes
in 6.5 gallons carboys when brewing wheat beers, but
that is a whole different story.


Subject: CO2 blankets
From: "Alan Meeker" <>
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2001 11:44:12 -0500

A CO2 blanket can be an effective trick. Sure, as Dave noted, CO2 is fairly
soluble but remember, what you are typically covering with the this CO2
headspace is a solution (your fermented mead) that is /already/ fairly well
saturated with CO2 so very little of the added CO2 will be able to dissolve.

I bought a small CO2 cylinder and regulator which I use for the purpose of
excluding oxygen and have been very pleased with the results, never have
seen any "suck back" through the airlocks. It is also nice for starting
siphons during transfers – sanitary and oxygen free!

Happy brewing

  • -Alan Meeker

Subject: marbles
From: "Paul Hudert" <>
Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2001 16:46:50 -0400

on the subject of marbles, I put them inside a must bag with the fruit when
I'm making a melomel to keep the bag from floating and thereby blocking the
air lock during the initial fermentation (which tends to be furious). i've
found them pretty cheap at Ikea (a whole bag full for a buck… and
sometimes you can find them at the dollar store.


Subject: not sure
From: "Theresa" <>
Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2001 20:56:02 -0400

I have a question that I would like to throw out there and am not sure
if this is the right place to send it! If not, just write back and tell
me please! Anyway, my question is: was yeast used in the Middle Ages
to make mead? I wantt o try to make the acual stuff that they drank
then and can't find this vital information. If they didn't use yeast,
than what did they use? Thanks for any information that you can give me
on this subject!

Subject: 2001 Buzz Off Homebrew Competition
From: "David Houseman" <>
Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2001 21:56:29 -0400

This is the announcement of the 2001 Homebrew competition. Check out the
details of the beer, cider and mead competition at: to be held June 9th at
the General Lafayette Inn and Brewery in Lafayette Hills, PA, just outside
of Philadelphia. The BUZZ homebrew club is seeking BJCP judges in addition
entries in all style categories. The Buzz Off is an MCAB Qualifying Event
for all beer categories.

David Houseman

Subject: Basic Melomel Process
From: "David Wagner" <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 09:48:50 -0500

Kevin asked questions about melomel.

>Does any one know of a good "basic" Melomel process? I
>have been making methaglins but have only been at this
>for a few months (Been making 1 gallon, and my first 5
>gallon batch is still brewing) I was curious if there
>is any set method for leaving the fruit/spices in the
>carboy for any length of time.. or is it a just "when
>you think its best" type of thing?

I think you shall find in meadmaking the only, "set method," is from
the definition of the end product: ferment honey into a beverage.
There are many ways to get there, and half the fun for me is in
finding the simplest manner to get the best beverage. With that said,
here are my two cents on melomel.

I prefer to start a melomel without the fruit, leaving enough unused
volume to add it in when fermentation begins to slow, after a week or
two. Sometimes I rack the mead onto the fruit (for a slightly slower
ferment), and sometimes just toss the fruit into the brew. I believe
this practice helps retain fruit flavor and aroma, and because of the
acidity from carbon dioxide in solution, the color is preserved
beautifully. Also, since I prefer not to use disinfectants or even
heat, the overwhelming yeast population prevents spoilage organisms
from having a chance to get going. As for how long to leave the
fruit, I think your patience will be the limiting factor.

On a final note, I use only organic fruit for making beverages. Not
only am I concerned about my own health and what kind of land will be
left to grow food in fifty years, but to fruit growers, yeast is a
spoilage pest to be killed! Even if they do not harm humans,
anti-fungal agents, preservatives, or other pesticides in or on fruit
may interfere with fermentation. In addition, mead often contains
parts of fruits not normally eaten and generally not regulated (such
as seeds and citrus and banana skins), and a long alcohol soak is a
great way to extract harmful chemicals from them. It is also my
humble opinion that organic fruits usually have more intense fruit
flavors, making for a more flavorful beverage.

Welcome to a most fascinating and enjoyable hobby!

  • -David

Subject: Hochdorf Tomb
From: "Paul Gatza" <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 09:21:10 -0600

I stumbled into a page on the 1978 dig of the Hochdorf Tomb in a book called
"The Celts, Conquerors of Ancient Europe" by Christiae Eluere as part of the
Discoveries series published by Harry N. Abrams Inc. The piece is short with
excellent pictures and illustration.

The piece describes a bronze 125-gallon cauldron ornamented with Greek-style
decorative lions set atop a wooden tripod. Nine drinking horns were found in
the tomb, the largest nearly 4 feet long, holding 5 quarts. Pollen analysis
of the cauldron showed that the base was honey and included "local plants
such as thyme, mountain jasmine, plantain, knapweed and meadowsweet."

The site appears to be part of the "symposium" ritual, a banquet at which
the dead man's companions assembled for the last time. Other symposium sites
have been found at Halstatt. Prince Hochdorf was buried between 540 and 520

Paul Gatza
Director-American Homebrewers Association
Association of Brewers
736 Pearl St. (303) 447-0816 ext. 122
Boulder, CO 80302 (303) 447-2825 fax
Join the AHA at

Subject: Recipe and Soul
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 12:02:58 -0500

Doing things by rote, following a recipe to the letter, always seemed to me
to be a boring way to go about meadmaking. I've never quite been able to
do it — always had to tinker a little here and there to make it come out
better. Nancy Vineyard had some comforting words for folk like me in the
latest _Beverage People_ newsletter. She writes:

For Christmas, my daughter gave me _The French Laundry Cookbook_
by chef Thomas Keller, and I will quote from his preface:

. . . for me, the idea of cooking and the idea of writing
a cookbook are in conflict . . . an evolving soul, the
chef, has a soul, the recipe, written by the cookbook
author, has no soul. You . . . must bring soul to the

So how do you get soul into your brewing? Think about becoming a
connoisseur, work at your hobby, not to make it your job, but to
make it your joy.

I passed this on to Chuck Wettergreen and he commented that he would
substitute passion for joy. Interesting statement! To add to Chuck's
insights, drive in passion can border on obsession but there is a dividing
line between the two. Obsession is what you're left with when passion is
emptied of joy, spontaneity, and creativity.

Soul in cooking, brewing, vinting, and of course, meadmaking, comes to life
through creativity and play. I heard this arresting statement on creativity
from a speaker at a workshop: "Creativity is directed activity but not
necessarily with a goal in mind." This is a different take on creativity,
the lefthanded route of spontaneity and intuition versus the righthanded way
of logic and rationality. It's serendipity at work, not aimless action, the
kind of thing that comes about when folk try a little of this, a litle of
that, and the result is unexpectedly ambrosia.

Spontaneity is also a dynamic in play and playfulness. My all time favorite
quote on play is in Erik Erikson's _Toys and Reasons_:

Of all the formulations of play, the briefest and the best is
to be found in Plato's _Laws_. He sees the model of true
playfulness in the need of all young creatures, animal and
human, to leap. To truly leap, you must learn how to use the
ground as a springboard, and how to land resiliently and safely.
It means to test the leeway allowed by given limits; to outdo
and yet not escape gravity. Thus, wherever playfulness prevails,
there is always a surprising element, surpassing mere repetition
or habituation, and at its best suggesting some virgin chance
conquered, some divine leeway shared. Where this 'happens,' it
is easily perceived and acknowledged.

In other words, 'all work and no play makes for dull and uninspiring meads.'

Happy meadmaking!

Dan McFeeley

End of Mead Lover's Digest #845