Mead Lover's Digest #0883 Sat 17 November 2001


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



a plea on spelling (Dick Dunn)
Re: Tropical mead question ("Joshua Laff")
Re:Lime Mead and Oak Flavors (
Re:Dry Mead Complexity and Stainless Steel (
Opening a commercial meadery (Jay Swartzfeger)
Re: Maple mead, Lime mead (Marc Shapiro)
Ginger Barkshack variant (Sid Washer)
maple wine and hot pokers in must (Russ Riley)
Re: Oak in Mead ("Tommy Thompson")
Fermenting help (
High Alcohol Sweet Meads… ("Stan")
Re: complex traditional meads (Steven Sanders)


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Subject: a plea on spelling
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 21:05:22 -0700 (MST)

I know it's bad form to complain about people's spelling, but this is just
for one word and it's an important one.

Could we please use "mead" as the spelling for what we're doing? In par-
ticular, could we please *avoid* "meade"? I've got a particular reason for
this request: "mead" is the regular English word for what we make. But
"Meade" (note that caps) is a trademark-name used by Bunratty for a
mixture of white wine and herbs, sweetened with honey to ameliorate the
wine. ("Ameliorate" is an interesting word, worth studying a dictionary
for a couple minutes.) But the honey is a minor ingredient and is not

Or, bluntly, "meade" is not "mead", and I hope we can keep that distinc-
tion clear. I would hope that we, as mead-makers, could help people who
are not tuned in to the details understand this unfortunate muddling.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: Re: Tropical mead question
From: "Joshua Laff" <>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 20:18:13 -0800

"Joshua Johnson" <> asks:

>Question on another topic: The food service store by me has bags of
>frozen "tropical fruit" which is a mix of pinapple, mango, and papaya
>chunks for just a bit over a buck a pound. I was thinking about using
>about 15 lbs in a 5 gallon batch. Has anyone used similar fruits? Was it
>worth it or should I make a batch of blueberry?

I made a Pineapple-Mango batch a couple of years ago. It turned out somewhat
dry, and was one of the more questionable tasting batches I've made. I've
used mango again, and I've used pineapple again, but I will not use the two
together again. I think the problem was the pineapple needing something
stronger to balance it's flavor. When I used it again, it was with
raspberries and golden raisins – pretty good final flavor. I don't think the
mango was enough to balance the pineapple flavor, though. As for papaya,
maybe it would be, but I've never used it, so I don't know.

On the converse side, I've never been anything less than ecstacic about my
meads made with berries. 🙂


  • – Joshua


Subject: Re:Lime Mead and Oak Flavors
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 23:27:39 EST

While I normally encourage people to support their local homebrew store, I
realize that there are many folks that require mail order sources. I hope
the list doesn't mind me endorsing the good folks operating The Beverage
People in Santa Rosa. The proprietor, Byron Burch has won the AHA National
Meadmaker of the year award twice and sells some unique mead making products.
He has a mead yeast nutrient that is based upon the formula devised by the
bee expert Roger Morse.
He has a lime oil extract that can be used extremely effectively to add
citrus flavor to a mead at bottling time.
He has a product called OakBoy (TM) that can be used for adding complex oak
flavors. In fact, his current catalog has an article about dealing with oak.
The phone number is 707-544-2540
Give them a call for further advice and descriptions of these products.

Bob Grossman

Subject: Re:Dry Mead Complexity and Stainless Steel
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 23:46:06 EST

I have always found that my dry meads lack the complexity of my semi and
sweet meads. Somehow, the dry finish and alcohol mask the honey flavor.
Without some residual sweetness, the honey is apparent only in aroma and not
taste. Perhaps this is why I find dry meads lacking in complexity and I have
developed a personal preference for a semi or sweet mead. However, I always
find guests that prefer tasting a dry mead, so I keep some of that style on
hand too.
You could try using different varieties of honey, adding oak, acid blends and
experimenting with various yeasts. Each of these things will contribute
flavors and effects. I did an experiment with 3 different honeys- Tupelo,
Basswood, and Goldenrod. They were all made the same way. OG of 90 and
Epernay Yeast, but each finished with a different gravity point. Goldenrod
@0.098, Basswood @1.000, Tupelo @1.002. Each was a dry mead. The Tupelo
honey was more complex then the Goldenrod and the Basswood was right in the
middle. Keep brewing and experimenting with various ingredients. Keep good
notes to remember what you've done.
I've avoided fermenting straight honey mead in SS because of the Leon Havill
New Zealand article. I've been able to ferment melomels and braggots in SS
without any problems.
Bob Grossman

> Does any one have any ideas on how to increase the complexity (depth of
> flavor) in dry to semi dry traditional meads. I start my meads at
> 1.095 and ferment to 1.000 to 1.010.


> Another question is I read in an old issue of zymurgy that a commercial
> New Zealand mead maker had problems with meads fermenting in stainless
> steel tanks. He mentioned that he had to dump all his meads and had to
> convert to plastic water tanks.
> Should I buy plastic tanks or would stainless steel be better for
> commercial production?

Subject: Opening a commercial meadery
From: Jay Swartzfeger <>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 21:55:13 -0700

On Wednesday, November 14, 2001, at 08:43 PM, mead- wrote:

> I am interested in taking my mead making to a commercial level. Where
> can I get information on setting up an efficient production system.


The first step is to check the local, state and federal laws where
you reside. Licensing can be extremely prohibitive, in both cost
and effort. I had one friend actually apply; the application was
denied over 6 months later because of a simple dotted i or crossed
t. Re-applied again, only to be rejected yet again 6 months later
for another error.

If you have the cash and the fortitude to go through the
government's approval process, you may want to tour a
winery/meadery, befriend the vintner/brewer and pick their brain
about their setup 🙂

Costs probably won't be cheap. I'm sure it can be done much more
affordably, but I think I remember reading somewhere (maybe here on
the list) that it runs around $250,000 to open a small winery.
Still, a 24 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter


only runs $615 (no affiliation), and even with the solid state

chiller and all the bells and whistles thrown in it can be had for
under $2000.


Anyone here go from a home mead maker to a full blown commercial

Jay Swartzfeger
Scottsdale, AZ

Subject: Re: Maple mead, Lime mead
From: Marc Shapiro <>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 00:42:21 -0500


I have made numerous citrus wines and melomels. For something like
orange juice I use 1 qt of juice per gallon of must. When I make my
calomondin melomel (which is VERY tart) I use only 1 pint of juice per
gallon of must. I would expect limes to fall somewhere in between these
two, which means that for a five gallon batch I would use about a gallon
of juice, not just the juice of five limes.

I also make a weak tea (about 20 total bags for the entire batch) in
place of the water when making citrus wines. I usually use a
combination of black tea, herbal tea with citrus (like orange spice tea)
and a few teabags of chamomile tea.



> Russ Hobaugh asked:


> Any advice on getting a good lime flavor in mead? Someone in our
> homebrew club brewed an excellent lime mead with a nice lime taste
> and aroma. I have one going now that I just racked. I juiced 5 limes, and
> grated a lot of their zest and added to the primary. The mead tastes
> very balanced(18 lbs of honey so far), but I taste lime very faintly.
> Should I put more zest in the secondary? I would think more juice
> might make it too acidic

Marc Shapiro "If you drink melomel every day, you will live to be 150 years old,
Please visit "The Meadery" at: unless your wife shoots you." — Dr. Ferenc Androczi, winemaker,

Little Hungary Farm Winery


Subject: Ginger Barkshack variant
From: Sid Washer <>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 08:00:58 -0500

Hi: On Oct 7th, I put up about 18 lb of orange blossom honey along
with a healthy dose of ginger, lemon grass, coriander and the ususal
acid blend and yeast nutrients. I pitched 2 packets of champagne yeast
after starting them overnight and plopped an airlock onto the 6 gal.
carboy. Fermentation had started nicely by the next morning ad continued
merrily for about 2 1/2 weeks before starting to slow down.

On Nov. 3rd, I racked the brew into a sanitized plastic pail on

top of 6 lb. blueberries, frozen, then thawed (or was it shaken, not
stirred?) and there has been no second fermentation yet.

Should I pitch more champagne yeast/nutrient blend to get it going

again? TIA, sid.


Subject: maple wine and hot pokers in must
From: Russ Riley <>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 05:12:19 -0800 (PST)

In the last issue, Russ Hobaugh mentioned how
delicious maple wines (as opposed to maple meads) are.
I've been thinking of trying one, but I must first
ask: how long, in your experience, does it take to
mature in taste? Due to the cost involved, I don't
really want to sink the money in for 5 gallons of
maple wine ($$!!), but I'd hate to wait a year or more
(like many meads) for just one gallon. So how long do
you see this stuff needing to sit before drinking?

Also, Dick Dunn said that Grade B lends a better taste
to a maple wine than Grade A: Is it simply more
concentrated, or is there a qualitative difference?
>From what you said, it sounds like using more Grade A
would make up the difference. Thanks!


Also, last issue Geoffrey asked how sticking a hot
poker into the must might effect the taste of the
final mead. My guess is that it caramelizes the sugars
it comes in contact with — this happens in some beer
styles, and tends to add a toffee-like taste. In case
you're wondering what caramelizing is, it's what
happens when you toast bread. The sugars get burnt and
produce yummy complex sugars that don't get fermented.
Tastes good on a small scale and awful on a large
scale (like if you burn too much of the must).


Subject: Re: Oak in Mead
From: "Tommy Thompson" <>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 09:01:57 -0600


I've used the medium toast French oak chips in a mead with pretty good results.
There are two things I would strongly suggest..

1) Don't use too much!!!. Mead can't support as much oak flavor as wine. I
have used as much as 3/4 oz in 5 US gal of mead with good results. For your
first batch I would suggest 1/4 to 1/2 oz just to see if you like the effect.

2) Add the oak at the beginning of fermentation. This seems to soften the
effects of the oak. You don't get as much of the "pencil shavings" flavor that
has to age out.


Subject: Fermenting help
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 10:12:20 EST

Okay, this is my first attempt at making mead, and I need a little help.
It's just a recipe I found online somewhere. 2lbs of honey, 2 quarts of
maple syrup, acid to taste, and enough water to make it stirrable. So, I
boiled all that, like the directions said, and let it cool overnight. The
next morning (yesterday) I added the yeast, and put it in a fermenting
container. My question is this, should I be able to notice anything while it
ferments? Bubbles? Foam? Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, does
anyone have a tasty, really simple, easy to make mead recipe? Thanks a lot!


Subject: High Alcohol Sweet Meads...
From: "Stan" <>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 08:57:56 -0800

Hi all,

I'm a relatively new mead maker, with about 10 batches either bottled or =
bulk aging in carboys. The batches we've tried so far have ranged from =
(in 1 case) a resounding failure to not half bad (might even be pretty =
good in a year or two). But now my friends are making special requests =
and I need some advice.

My friends are requesting a mead or mel with a high alcohol content, but =
still being on the relatively sweet side. Now I'm assuming in order to =
get the alcohol content I'm going to need to use Champagne yeast. I'm =
also assuming that I'll need to start with an extremely high gravity =
must in order for it to finish sweet. I want to refrain from using =
chemicals, since one of my friends finds them REALLY disagreeable, to =
stop fermentation I'd like it to go until the alcohol itself is =
inhibiting the yeast's growth. I'm just getting used to using a =
hydrometer to track my meads (yes I was guessing before). What would be =
a good starting gravity, to get a champagne yeast to finish still, and =
still be mildly sweet?? Are there any drawbacks to doing this?? Any =
tricks or pitfalls I should be aware of?? Do you have any recipes that =
were particularly good that you might be willing to share??=20

I really appreciate the help.

Subject: Re: complex traditional meads
From: Steven Sanders <>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 12:48:19 -0800 (PST)

> Subject: Complex Meads
> From: greg <>
> Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 23:06:18 -0600


> Mead Makers


> Does any one have any ideas on how to increase the
> complexity (depth of
> flavor) in dry to semi dry traditional meads. I
> start my meads at
> 1.095 and ferment to 1.000 to 1.010.

Ive had good results with varietal honeys. Tulip
Poplar, Cotton, and Basswood were used to good effect
for dry semi-dry meads. Very complex meads, and I
found them very pleasing. (Although people used to
sweeter clover meads oftentimes didnt. More for me. 🙂
) I bought the honey from castlemark honey

Their site is currently down, however. I dont have a
phone number for them, but if someone here does, could
you please post it? I need some more tulip poplar
honey.. 🙂 It will run you around 25-30 dollars a
gallon, though.


My moon based death ray
panics the people of earth.
Mock my theories now!

End of Mead Lover's Digest #883