Mead Lover's Digest #0868 Fri 14 September 2001


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



p.s. on using spice potions ("Alan McKay")
Heartburn (Nathan Kanous)
Aromas from Storage (Nathan Kanous)
Re:Price of Honey, elderberries ("Ken Schramm")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #867, 9 September 2001 (David Chubb)
Honey prices and most recent mead experiment ("Stevenson, Randall")
Sanitation ("Kemp, Alson")
Bees Brothers Winery, Alb. NM USA ("bill smith")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #867, 9 September 2001 (Christopher C Carpenter)
whole hive meads (


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Subject: p.s. on using spice potions
From: "Alan McKay" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2001 18:02:30 -0400 (EDT)

I forgot to mention that the best part about making potions for spicing
is that once the potion is ready, you can fill up a syringe with it and
squirt a very precise amount into a pre-measured amount of your mead.
For example, measure out 125ml (1/2 cup) mead and squirt a half cc/ml of
potion into it at a time. When you get the spicing which is just perfect
for your own taste buds, you can then multiply out the volumes to determine
precisely how much potion you need to put into your mead.


  • -Alan

"Brewers make wort. Yeast makes beer."

  • Dave Miller
What's a Bodensatz?

Subject: Heartburn
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 07:32:03 -0500

You mentioned you like to make metheglin. Do you use ginger? Lots of
ginger? I've got a ginger mel on hiatus that smells wonderful and tastes
pretty good but leaves a monstrous case of heartburn. I think it may be
the ginger. Just a thought. Hope this helps.
nathan in madison, wi

Subject: Aromas from Storage
From: Nathan Kanous <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 07:48:39 -0500

Hi All,
Just curious here. I get my honey from my father-in-law. It's not
varietal specific, but it's good honey and it's minimally processed. I use
Lalvin D-47 almost universally for all of my meads. I've heard it's a good
mead yeast and I've been pretty happy with the results (don't make nearly
as much mead as I do beer). I do have one concern and I'm looking for some

I do notice during primary fermentation a sort of "plastic" aroma to the
mead when it's in early fermentation. I've fermented in plastic, glass,
and stainless and always get this aroma. I was wondering if this might
happen to be a characteristic of the yeast (that was my first impression)
or if it's the result of my father-in-law storing the honey in 5 gallon
plastic buckets.

I NEVER notice the aroma in the raw honey, nor have I heard anyone mention
it. I have smelled it in essentially every mead I've made. I have had
some competition results indicate that there is a plastic aroma in the
finished mead, although I can't detect it.

So has anyone had this experience with Lalvin D-47? Honey stored in
plastic buckets? Before we get too far off the beaten path with
plasticizers and such, every bucket he uses is food grade. He picks them
up a bakeries, sub sandwich shops and the like all the time…..all have
been used for food storage prior to storing honey.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
nathan in madison, wi

Subject: Re:Price of Honey, elderberries
From: "Ken Schramm" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 10:06:32 -0400

While $75 for a 60 lb. pail may seem like a lot for clover or wildflower
honey, I'd jump at real sourwood at that price. I have paid a pretty
penny for sourwood honey in pint and quart jars. Anything under $2.00/lb
beats all the farmer's markets and roadside stands I found in North
Carolina. The veracity of claims of sourwod as the source variety has
come under closer scrutiny of late, but thus far I have had pretty good
luck. Sourwood has a unique tang in the nose and the taste that would be
pretty hard to fake, I feel.=20

As was mentioned by others, the variety makes a big difference in price.
I'm also a big fan of raspberry blossom, and wouldn't chafe at $75 for a
bucket of that, either. When you break it down (spread it across the
number of servings in a bucket of honey's worth of mead), the expense
really pales against the pleasure derived. I also think it is important
that we support the beekeepers who produce products of that quality, so
that they stay in business. We're nowhere without them. An extra buck or
two a gallon is easier to take, too, if I'm giving the money to the
beekeeper and not a middle man. Right now, beekeepers are under immense
market pressure from South American and Asian honey imports, and many of
our locals here in Michigan have had a tough summer with the drought. I'm
not going to put my local beekeepers under more pressure from meadmakers
over five or ten dollars.=20

My two cents.

On the elderberry subject, how fruity do you want your mead? I have used
one and a half to two pounds of fruit per gallon early on in my meadmaking
past, but have taken of late to using 4 – 5 lbs per gallon. I have yet to
hear somone tell a winemaker that their product had "too much grape
character." If they are avialable cheap or free, you might want to try a
split batch with different fruit amounts and see which you like better.
Or you could make one batch and taste the must as you progressively add
more fruit and blend it, and see when you begin to approach a threshold
that you feel is too fruity. The fruit character will diminish with
fermentation, so you probably won't go over a cliff, as it were.


Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #867, 9 September 2001
From: David Chubb <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 10:22:59 -0400

>Subject: Price of local honey
>From: "Patrick M. Hennessey" <>
>Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 19:33:31 -0400
>I can only speak for myself when I say that the price is good. I am a
>beekeeper and I sell most of my honey in much smaller quantities so I charge
>quiet a bit more. Right now I get about $8.00 for a quart. With four
>quarts to the gallon I will get about $160 for what you are getting for $75.
>The beekeeper is selling you his honey for not that much more than he sells
>it to the honey packers, who then double or triple the price. Go out to the
>local grocery store and find a pound of honey for under $2.50. Five gallons
>of honey is considered to be 60 pounds. If I were you I would buy the

I have been finding Honey locally for $1.08/lb bought at a local Health
Foods store. I have also been finding wildflower honey at Sam's Club for 5lb
jar for $4.95….fairly good quality stuff too. So the prices you are
stating are fairly high. Granted all your going to get at those prices is
either clover or wildflower. The Orange Blossom honey at the health food
store runs $1.60/lb. But the few batches using the orange blossom haven't
tasted significantly different to just adding some orange juice & zest to
the primary to justify the added cost.

FYI – I live on the East Coast up in the mountains of SW VA.

  • –David Chubb

Subject: Honey prices and most recent mead experiment
From: "Stevenson, Randall" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 09:51:47 -0500

Someone asked about the price of $75 for 5 gallons of honey. I recently
purchased some processed honey from the local grocery store and also
from WalMart. The price worked out to about $16 per gallon. So the
price listed is a retail price. When I buy raw honey, which I prefer to
use for meads (it ferments better), from the beekeeper I pay about $7-8
per gallon. (But I am buying dark, raw, tallow honey that he does not
sell to the processors/distributors and bring my own containters.)

Having bombed on a few methyglins and melomels, I've learned to mix a
small sample of the spices, fruit juices and honey in the proportion I
want to try and test the flavor before committing to a full brew. One
way I use is to boil the different spices in water and strain the "teas"
into different bowls. With a medicine dropper, I concoct a few differnt
mixes until I get something I like. (I found that anise and honey do
not mix well, but I would have thought they would. Good thing I did not
make the batch and find out 3 gallons and several months later.) =20

One problem I've had with melomels is the flavor of rotten fruit in the
final product. I've decided to cheat on my current batch of mead.
Instead of actual fruit flavors I used extracted flavors from the spice
section of the grocery store. Instead of a full batch, I tried a one
gallon test using honey, water, lemon extract (about 35 ml/gallon),
almond extract (about 35 ml/gallon) and cinnamon (1 tablespoon/gallon).
The lemonol in the lemon extract apparently killed the yeast (I used
Lalvin D-47), and I had produced a gallon of "must not" that I'll have
to use some other way. For a 3 gallon batch of the product, I've
prepared a 2-gallon batch of ordinary mead, which is fermenting away as
I write. Once the rapid fermenation slows, I will rack (to save the
yeast culture) then add the extracts, spices and the gallon of "must
not" in hopes of stopping the fermentation and producing an
interestingly flavored, sweet mead. If the final product tastes
anything like the sample, I'll have a winner with this batch that should
be drinkable for Christmas, 2002. I'll post the results of this
experiment when I bottle.

Randall Stevenson

Subject: Sanitation
From: "Kemp, Alson" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 11:27:14 -0700

First off, I don't mean for this to be "a don't bother to

sanitize" e-mail. This is just a note about my recent

Yesterday, Erik (brewing partner) and I crushed

800-1000lbs of zinfandel grapes to make our "Earwig Zinfandel".
We had asked my parents' vineyard manager about whether wineries
wash or sanitize the grapes and whether allow any raisining or
bunchrot/botrytis into the primary. He said that, aside from
SO2, no washing or sanitizing is done on the grapes and that, as
long as the raisining or bunchrot isn't too bad, all bunches go
into the primary. Hmm… Makes our life easier.

So we crush grapes. I made the mistake of looking into

the plastic 32 gallon primary: lots of crushed grapes in what
looked like dirty dish water. And I started thinking about what
all the beer and mead books say: be clean or die. Very difficult
to reconcile staring at a gnarly zinfandel, dust and earwig
cocktail with the need to be sanitary.

I still plan to be very sanitary, wash behind the ears,

etc, but I'm not quite as paranoid about being sanitary with
musts/meads as I was.

  • Alson

From: "sdbburn" <>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 18:40:09 -0400

I have just begun my first batch of mead…
I have read so many articles and books regarding the time you should =
wait before racking initially.
Do I let it finish fermenting before its first racking?


Easton, MA

Subject: Bees Brothers Winery, Alb. NM USA
From: "bill smith" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 22:16:27 -0600

I have been a subscriber to the digest for some time and have enjoyed
the many inquiries and requests for information on mead making. One of
our customers has been kind enough to spread the word that we are a new
meadery in New Mexico and that we are trying to produce great mead. In
order to not upset anyone, I wish to make one correction to his
wonderful words. We hope, that is, WE HOPE, to be shipping shortly. We
are not set up at this time to ship mead. We will be happy to notify
the subscribers when we are fully capable of good, prompt and efficient
service. We have only been licensed 6 months; we have been making mead
for many years. Our current focus is to build a solid and loyal
customer base in Northern New Mexico and expand after that. We are
retailing in the stores he mentioned and that list will continue to
grow. Until we grow large enough, I will continue working my 40 hour a
week job at another location. I love talking to mead makers but am
limited to nights and weekends at this time. Thank you for your

Bees Brothers Winery
Exclusively Mead Makers
Albuquerque, NM

Bill Smith

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #867, 9 September 2001
From: Christopher C Carpenter <>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 10:32:30 -0500

Greetings unto the Meadhall..;O)

Methinks this sounds like a good opportunity for a challenge… Perhaps we
should try both methods: a tea, and a Vodka Tincture. Then as a group we
could taste test a variety of spice and post the results of both for all of
our enrichment….I Volunteer to do Anise. I will probably experiment
extensively with others on Vodka too, but I wouldn't want to deprive
anybody of this fine pleasure…..(hic)

Chris Carpenter


> While alcohol may, indeed, draw more flavorings and aromatics from
> spices than water does, it may not be the ones that you want. What
> alcohol draws out of spices may not be the same as what water draws
> out. Some spices, cloves being one, can impart a bitter flavor to the
> mead if steeped in alcohol, rather than water. This is not necessarily
> a problem with all spices, but it is something to keep in mind when
> thinking about steeping your spices after fermentation. I always steep
> mine prior to fermentation as I responded previously. If you feel the
> need to add spices afterward, it might work to make a *REALLY* strong
> tea from the spices in water and add a small amount of this (a few cups
> to a quart, maybe) to a five gallon batch.

Subject: whole hive meads
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 20:20:19 EDT

does anybody out there have any experience with brewing whole hive meads?
wildflower honey with the bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee parts and
such, like our forebears brewed it? i'm thinking about brewing some up
adding all of the constituants… i've brewed some up with some wildflower
honey with the real comb (not that fake wax crap) in it, and it had a very
strong, very pleasing flavour. it was probably my most pleasing to date.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #868