Mead Lover's Digest #0856 Mon 2 July 2001


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #855, 25 June 2001 (David Chubb)
Re: A mead love story? ("Cindy M. Renfrow")
Re: Freeze Distillation <resend> (Dan McFeeley)
Sherry and Oxidation (John DeCarlo)
Apricot Madness gone Amuck ("Stevenson, Randall")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #855, 25 June 2001 (Nancy McAndrew)
Freeze-concentration/distillation ("Stevenson, Randall")
Freeze distillation ("Houseman, David L")
fractional crystallization & fermentation rates ("Pannicke, Glen A.")
Re: Fortifying Mead (Spencer W Thomas)
digest submission ("mmeleen")


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #855, 25 June 2001
From: David Chubb <>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 22:47:38 -0500

At 05:42 PM 6/25/2001, you pounded plastic protuberances to produce:
>Subject: freeze-concentration legality (in US)
>From: (Dick Dunn)
>Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001 23:52:13 -0600 (MDT)
>The matter of whether it is legal to concentrate an alcoholic beverage by
>freezing (thus removing ice and leaving a more concentrated mead), in US law,
>is hopelessly complicated by the fact (illustrated by conflicting postings
>here) that our law quite clearly says one thing but our BATF (government
>agency tasked with enforcing laws on alcohol, tobacco, and firearms–YOU
>figure that out, and if you can, let us know!) has interpreted that law to
>say something quite different. 27 CFR 24 (the wine regulations) go on for
>most of a hundred pages, but if you dig around I believe you'll find that
>concentration beyond fermentation is said to be prohibited. I wish I could
>quote chapter and verse. However, you are allowed to produce wine of up to
>24% alcohol (v/v) by fermentation! But there is this BATF opinion that
>several folks have cited indicating that freeze-concentration is OK.
>I hope the folks debating this will cite their sources so we can compare.

As far as I know you cannot legally create any alcohol containing substance
that contains more than 25% alcohol by volume.

Here are some links:

1. A person may operate a "Brew-on-Premises" (BOP) business without
qualifying as a brewery or paying excise tax on beer produced at the BOP by
adults under the conditions outlined below. No Federal regulations
currently apply to the operation of a BOP business.

2. Adults may produce beer at a BOP for personal or family use. Adults who
use BOP facilities to make beer are governed by existing regulations in 27
CFR &sect;&sect; 25.205 – 25.206, as follows:

*Adults must be 18 years of age (or other age required for the purchase of
beer in the locality).
*Adults may jointly produce beer at a BOP provided other conditions are
met. Adults may produce beer must for personal or family use only.
*Personal and family beer is not subject to Federal excise tax. A home
brewer may produce, without payment of tax, per household, up to 100
gallons per calendar year if there is one adult residing in the household,
or 200 gallons of beer per year if there are two or more adults residing in
the household.
*Home brewers may remove their beer from the BOP for personal or family
use, including use in organized affairs, exhibitions, or competitions (such
as homemaker's contests or tastings).
*Home brewers may not produce beer for sale or offer their beer for sale.

Nothing in any ATF regulations I have read say that they regulate home
distillation as long as the distillation does not leave the premises and is
not sold and does not exceed the total gallonage. This doesn't mean that
there aren't laws against home distillation however I can't find them. One
interesting thing of note: the ATF does not regulate "experimental" batches
as long as they are not sold and do not exceed some unstated number of gallons.

NOTE: Some states may regulate distilled alcohol differently. *cough*SC*cough*

If someone with some legal background wants to pipe up and correct our
errors we'd be much appreciative.

  • –David Chubb

Subject: Re: A mead love story?
From: "Cindy M. Renfrow" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 09:24:27 +0200

>can anyone direct me to an appropriate story or tale of
>lore that I could perhaps share with others at the reception… one
>which connects the beverage with the history it shares with love and
>romance and all that?

Uh, no. " "Coriander" is derived from the Greek 'koris', "bedbug", because
the ancients were of the opinion that both leaves and seeds smelled like
that insect." (Root, "Food", p. 88) And it just gets worse from there.

Root has lots more on coriander, but very little that's poetic. I've
checked Gerard's herbal, Parkinson & Culpeper, and Freeman's "Herbs for the
Medieval Household". Nothing good. is the page from
Mrs. Grieve's herbal. I couldn't get it to load, perhaps you will have
better luck.


Cindy Renfrow
Author & Publisher of "Take a Thousand Eggs or More, A Collection of 15th
Century Recipes" and "A Sip Through Time, A Collection of Old Brewing

Subject: Re: Freeze Distillation <resend>
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 07:42:01 -0500

Chuck Wettergreen wrote:

>This topic has been discussed ad infinitum on the various brewing lists
>on through the ages. The best "proof" I saw that is is legal is from
>Dennis Davison's eisbock article in Zymurgy (winter 1995), where Dennis
>wrote that freezing beer or wine and removing the non-alcoholic ice
>crystals that form is not legally distillation but "fractional
>crystallisation", and is perfectly legal. As I remember it, Dennis
>even provided the BATF agent-name and telephone number that he
>contacted to get his determination.

This is a section from Dennis Davison's article "Eisbock: The Original
Ice Beer" (_Zymurgy_ vol 18 no. 5 Fall 1995) that addresses this issue:

Please note that this isn't legal advice!

Another thought here is that it's probably an important point to
distinguish between regulations for the commercial production of
fermented beverages versus regulations for home brewing, vinting,
et. al. when researching this issue. Commercial regulations,
out of necessity, should be expected to cover every possible
aspect of beverage production while the regulations for home
production may, repeat *may*, be somewhat looser.

Is it Legal?

Are homebrewers "distilling" or "freeze distilling" and
thereby breaking the law, if they make an eisbock in the
traditional manner by freezing beer and removing ice to
increase the alcohol content and enhance the flavors?
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
officials, the process of freezing beer and removing ice
is called concentrating. A brewer may not employ any
process of concentration that separates alcohol spirits
from any fermented beverage, and since *ice* is being
removed from *beer* (author's emphasis), this concentration
process is legal.

By definition, because homebrew is not produced at a bonded
brewery and is not sold, it is exempt from the Federal
Administration Acts of 1935 and 1956 with regard to
relabeling. Homebrewers, therefore, can call their beer
anything they want.

We have chosen to refer to the freezing and ice removal
process (fractional crystallization) as concentration
to avoid any semantic problems with the term distilling.

Dan McFeeley

/ \ .-.
/ \ / \ .-. _

  • -/–Dan McFeeley——-\—–/—\—/-\—,– \ / \_/ `-'
\ / `-'

"You learn something old every day." Mr. McFeeley, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Subject: Sherry and Oxidation
From: John DeCarlo <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 09:03:05 -0400

Dick Dunn writes:
>I'm curious about the sherry and brownish part. This usually shouts out
>"oxidation". Many, perhaps most, meadmakers/drinkers would consider this a
>fault, although a surprising number would not. (But some folks also like
>skunked beer because it tastes "European" to them:-) The fact that sherry
>is somewhat oxidized says that the taste is not all bad, in moderation.

>But does it fit with the taste of the mead? A little bit maybe adds some
>complexity; more than that adds harshness.

This reminds me of judging mead at a homebrew competition a few years
ago. We had a bit of a discussion among the judges on one mead in
particular. It was a still mead, with a sherry flavor. We were all
able to agree that the sherry flavor tasted great and that this mead
tasted better than any of the others. Where we disagreed was whether to
give credit for this flavor or to take off for oxidation. We ended up
taking off for oxidation because the mead maker had not indicated the
sherry was intentional.

However, I still feel bad as that was one of the best meads I have
judged. I was unable to detect any other off or harsh flavors I would
normally associate with oxidation.


John DeCarlo, The MITRE Corporation, My Views Are My Own
voice: 703-883-7116
fax: 703-883-3383

Subject: Apricot Madness gone Amuck
From: "Stevenson, Randall" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 08:43:59 -0500

Micah Millspaw commented on the rapid fermentation of apricot melomel.
I've had the same experience using canned apricot juice to make an
apricot melomel … i.e. rapid fermentation.

Randall Stevenson
"Planning is the substitution of error for chaos."

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #855, 25 June 2001
From: Nancy McAndrew <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 06:22:01 -0700 (PDT)

re: mead love story
Bill–are you kidding? Have you ever heard of a
honeymoon? I've heard many, many different
explanations for this tradition, all of them involving
mead. Supposedly 1) the bride's family provided food
and drink to the newly wed couple for up to a month.
The primary drink of the time was mead–thus it was
mead for a month, a honey-moon and/or 2) Honey helps
promote fertility. If the newly wed couple drink
copious amouts of mead–they will conceive quickly
(right, it's the honey). there are others but these
two are my favorites. I can't speak to the
authenticity of either explanation but they do
indicate that honeymoon=lots of mead!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Brewing,


Subject: Freeze-concentration/distillation
From: "Stevenson, Randall" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 09:10:58 -0500

Sorry, I cannot quote the reg on this one, but I remember it from ages
past. It states that you can remove the frozen reside up to 1/2 of 1 %.
The reason for this is to allow the removal of yeast in homemade
sparkling wine. The champagne type of bottle is inverted and the wine
partially frozen. The ice in the neck, the part that freezes first,
plugs the bottle and holds the carbonation while the winemaker scoops
out the yeast residue that has settled in the neck of the bottle then
corks the bottle with a mushroom cap and wires it down.

This allowance is not intended to permit fractional distillation through
freezing. The reasons for not permitting distillation (by freezing or
condensing vapors) are based on safety issues. 1) If a car radiator is
used for the condensing coil, lead poisoning can result. 2) There are
diluted toxins produced by fermentation which can be concentrated
through distillation — this is the reason that only the middle of the
run is used by distilleries. (The toxins are primarily in the first and
last parts of the distilled product and freeze-distillation does not
allow the removal of the condensed toxins.) AND 3) Ethanol and fire in
close proximity can result in some explosive results.

An inexperienced distiller can produce "headache in a bottle" or
something worse, like "jake leg in a bottle". ("Jake leg" was the term
used during prohibition for the crippling effects of lead poison
associated with "bad" moonshine.) Although they may not be enforced
very well, I think there is good reason for the regulations that
prohibit unregulated concentration of spirits.

Randall Stevenson

"Planning is still the substitution of error for chaos."

Subject: Freeze distillation
From: "Houseman, David L" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 08:44:24 -0400

As a practical matter, unless one wants to go on 60 Minutes and boast of
their success at freeze distillation (or fractional crystallization), the
likelihood that the BATF or any other government agency will concern
themselves with your home activities in this area are nil. Sell your mead
(or wine or beer) without the proper licenses and taxes paid, with or
without distillation, and it will be an altogether different ball game. If
someone can definitively provide the sections of the U.S. code for or
against the legality of freeze distillation, that would be great, and it may
ease some consciences, but don't expect the BATF at your door unless your
rub their noses in it.

Dave Houseman

Subject: fractional crystallization & fermentation rates
From: "Pannicke, Glen A." <>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 08:16:16 -0400

Dick wrote:

>27 CFR 24 (the wine regulations) go on for
>most of a hundred pages, but if you dig around I believe you'll find that
>concentration beyond fermentation is said to be prohibited. I wish I could
>quote chapter and verse.

I agree with Dick (because I've read the same thing). Fractional
crystallization and distillation, while different, achieve the same means:
concentration of alcohol beyond normal fermentation methods. Fortification
is OK because you've already paid tax on the added alcohol. Now that's for
the homebrewer. Manufacturers have a whole lot more to worry about.

Not that I suggest breaking the law, but I would like to see the BATF agent
who would be such a *&%$ as to waste their time investigating someone who
uses fractional crystallization to make a few gallons of high strength mead
(mead sherry?!?), eisbock or applejack for their own personal consumption.
Just my 2 cents.

While Glen & Joshua discussed fermentation rates & nutrients, David
questioned effects on taste:

> I think the slower fermentation rates create longer amino acid
>chains and therefore have a much more complex taste. IMO I have found most
>straight meades and metheglins have a much more complex taste than
>Melomels. More of the sherry notes & complex aftertastes. So something may
>be said for the long ferment times. Most of my primary fermentations are at

>least 3 months.

I see your point Dave. It's actually the by-products of the yeasts here
which may be AA chains (proteins) as well as many other molecules which
affect your flavor profile. Sorry I don't have any specific examples to
give here but in general yeasts at different metabolic states will surely
produce different by-products which, in-turn, flavor our beloved drink. I'm
relatively new to meads, but not fermentation, so please excuse my immature
mead palate & experience. In beer, a quick fermentation is desired to give
clean, crisp tastes. Prolonged fermentations can result in flavors that are
undesirable to beer. However sake, on the other hand, requires a slow,
steady, cold ferment to get the proper flavor. So sure, it all depends on
what you want out of your fermentation and fermentation rate is a major
factor in determining the flavor profile.

Carpe cerevisiae!

Glen A. Pannicke
75CE 0DED 59E1 55AB 830F 214D 17D7 192D 8384 00DD
"I have made this letter longer than usual,
because I lack the time to make it short." – Blaise Pascal

Subject: Re: Fortifying Mead 
From: Spencer W Thomas <>
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 15:34:04 -0400

>>>>> "Anthony" == Anthony Karian <> writes:

Anthony> Steve, the legalities regarding freeze-concentration have
Anthony> been discussed at length in the past, and based on what
Anthony> was uncovered here (as well as my own personal research)
Anthony> it is not illegal. If you are really interested you can
Anthony> search the archives or contact the BATF (which if I
Anthony> remember correctly was done previously).

That's not my recollection of the conclusion. And, in fact, I found
the posting below from 1998, which quotes a letter from the ATF.


Extracted from file: 0660
Subject: Freezing mead
From: Samuel Mize <>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 14:47:33 -0600 (CST)

Charles Hudak wrote:
> Jeff wrote:
> > Believe it or not, the BATF has no problems with *homebrewers* using
> >the freezing technique to increase the alcohol content of beer or hard cider
> >(or I assume mead and wine). However, it is illegal for *commercial*
> >brewers to do this.

Sorry, I don't believe it.

I just checked the last six months of the Homebrew Digest. On Fri,
1 Aug 1997, "Ian Wilson" posted with the subject "Eisbock – The BATF
Speaks….." discussing a letter he got from the ATF.

Here are the critical bits:

> This letter was sent to me by Mr. Charles N. Bacon, of the Bureau of
> Alchohol, Tabacoo and Fire Arms in reponse to my request for an opinion:
> Because of the uncanny resemblance to a concentrate made from beer, the
> Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has written a formal ruling on
> "ice beer." Essentially, it states that if a brewer superchills beer
> and removes ice or water, the product will be considered to be ordinary
> "beer" if the volume of material removed is not more than 1/2 of 1% of
> the original volume, and if the resultant product resembles "beer."
> This ruling was issued to prevent brewers from producing an "ice beer"
> which is seriously concentrated by the removal of water or ice.

> … ATF's primary interest would be, as usual, to ensure home
> brewers were not selling the beer they make.

He also offered to email the specific ATF ruling in question.

It appears to me that:

  • – – Home brewing of beer, wine and mead are OK.
  • – – Concentration of alcoholic beverages by any means is NOT considered

simply brewing. Concentration requires a commercial license.

  • – – Freezing beer to filter it is not considered concentrating it, but


This is done to filter out proteins and fine particulates, on which ice
crystals form; the ice is then filtered out. This was stated only for
beer, but would probably hold for mead (or wine) also.

  • – – Based on process descriptions, I THINK it's OK to freeze/filter out more

than 1/2 percent IF you replace the removed water, BUT this comes out of
the commercial regulations, so I'm not SURE it applies to us.

  • – – Freezing to concentrate the alcohol without a license is illegal.

Whether or not you care is another question. Moonshiners have been thumbing
their noses at revenoors ever since such laws were enacted. However, this
IS the category in which you are placing yourself; you are breaking the law.

I personally would be disinclined to say I was doing so in a public,
archived forum like MLD.

Sam Mize

  • – —

Samuel Mize — (home email) — Team Ada
Fight Spam – see

Subject: digest submission
From: "mmeleen" <>
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 23:39:47 -0400

Just recently signed up for the digest, have been reading alot of past
issues, it's a great resource.

I have been making mead, melomel and metheglin since about 1994, and

last year also started keeping bees, should harvest some honey this year
Most of the wines I make are made from fruit, flowers or herbs, and all
are made from honey.
Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had a basic formula that they use for
converting a wine recipe for a wine made from sugar to a wine made from
honey, especially in regard to the differing amounts of acid blend
needed. Usually I rely on a sort of intuition method involving adding
less than the recommended amount than the sugar recipe calls for. Any
other opinions on this? I prefer to adjust the acid at the beginning of
the mustmaking process, and though I have a test kit I no longer use it.
Also I have seen alot of differing opinions on the use of yeast
nutrient. I use it, but some say it leaves an off taste if used in
excess. Won't the yeast consume it all in an active ferment?
Just some burning questions…enquiring minds want to know…All
opinions welcome.

Happy meading…


End of Mead Lover's Digest #856