Mead Lover's Digest #0911 Sat 9 March 2002


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



question for the pros ("William Boutwell")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002 (Belinda Messenger)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002 (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002 (
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002 New Brew Questions!! ("Stephen …)
Absinthe and thujone (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002 (
Re: What else are people brewing out there ()
Olive Oil colored mead (LJ Vitt)
Re: Thujone & Sage ("Joshua Laff")
Re: cream of tartar and also Re: fruits (Mathieu Bouville)
Re: Thujone (
storage quandry (Mark Taratoot)
pH (Mathieu Bouville)
Has anyone on the list actually TRIED a commercial absynthe? ("Joseph S. G…)
Prickley Pear Cactus Mead and Mazer Cup entries ("David Craft")


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Subject: question for the pros
From: "William Boutwell" <>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 15:15:48 -0800

I recently did my first mead batch. 10# clover and 3# desert mesquite,
nutrient, ginger, lemongrass tea, a little hops and topped at 5gal. I used
Lalvin 71B-1122 started up. Since I made the huge mistake of not taking a
gravity reading, should I give it a week in the primary before racking onto
some fruit and citrus peels? Anyone with some experience with this yeast and
its behavior that you care to share with me? Thanks

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002
From: Belinda Messenger <>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 15:08:28 -0800 (PST)

What's in MY cellar?

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that the
Mango-Passionfruit mel is still patiently awaiting
As is the latest batch of Cherry Vanilla.
I still have a bit of traditional mead from 1995
(hoarding that stuff…mine, mine, precioussss) and
some from 1997 and 1999.
The first batch of Cherry Vanilla is still
around…kinda like a really good pink champagne.
As to the rest, thirsty mead-lovers have drunk up all
of my apple cinnamon melomel and the traditional made
with blackberry honey.

happy brewing…

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 19:52:11 EST

In a message dated 3/6/2002 5:26:36 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

> Subject: RE: Dutch Gold Honey
> From: Joe Kaufman <>
> Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 15:23:23 -0800 (PST)


> JazzboBob wrote:


> >I looked at the Dutch Gold honey web site that was recently mentioned on
> >the digest and asked them a question. I thought their response was quite
> >interesting. Perhaps it explains why "non boilers" of honey can brew
> >without infections. If other honey packers and suppliers use similar
> >techniques, it appears that the honey would be quite free of wild things
> >since it has been pasteurized at 185 degrees F. to liquidfy it for
> >packaging and a stable shelf life. This is their response. I hope they
> >don't mind me submitting to the digest.


> <most of Dutch Gold letter snipped>
> >I would estimate that 90% of our mead making customers are purchasing the
> >processed honey.


> I would be in the 10% of folks that buy their UNprocessed clover honey…
> now that I know how much they process the processed stuff I will probably
> stick with the unprocessed.


> I have made 4 or 5 batches using the unprocessed honey, with no heating
> whatsoever. I am beyond a "non-boiler"…I am at the "non-heat" stage —
> just dump all ingredients into a plastic bucket for primary fermentation.
> I have had no trouble with this at all…no infections or off-flavors thus
> far.


> I think his 90% figure is a bit high. Sure, if you want flavored honeys,
> Tupelo, etc. you will have to get the processed stuff, but I think a lot of
> folks who buy bulk would start out with the unprocessed clover as a base.
> Anyone who has been making mead for a while tends to notice the
> least-processed honeys first, no?


> JoeK


hell, yes, joe. i never use processed honey (unless somebody gives it too
me). i hooked up with a local beekeeper and get full on castings when he
robs in may. otherwise, i use some unprocessed that a local grocer carries,
and i buy the ones in back that have solidified. i have never boiled since
1993 and have never had any "off flavors" or anything. i have never just
dumped the honey into cool water, but sometimes i just dissolve it in regular
hot water, as hot as my water heater will allow. i think those people who
have off flavors are either not sterilizing the containers properly or are
just out and out hallucinating. i notice a difference with unprocessed. i
don't care what anybody else thinks. maybe i'm hallucinating too, but i'm
open to that plausibility. feed them yeasties. brenton

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 20:08:40 EST

I have a mango Melomel in the end stage of 2nd fermentation. I would like to
use Polyclar SB 100 clarified aka Divergan F. for the purpose of
preventing browning and clearing the mead.
At what stage do I put this in the mix?
Dr. Jim

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002 New Brew Questions!!
From: "Stephen Murphrey" <>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 21:09:05 -0500

I have two 5 gallon carboys going of my first Meads.
One is a Cyser: Apple cider, 15lbs honey up to 5 gallons
The other is a Strawberry Mel, 15lbs honey, H20. 5 lbs Strawberries up
to 5 gallons

Cyser OG 1.132 @ 84 degrees FG 1.04 @ 72 degrees
Mel OG 1.11 @ 82 degrees FG 1.02 @ 72 degrees

With my SG readings, are these about right? I'm having difficulty
calculating these into alcohol contents: any pointers?

John, Your cyser is about 17+% alcohol by volume; your melomel, about 14+%.
I think it's better to use less honey for a cyser, to get an OG around 1.1.
I hope you pitched your yeast at lower temperatures than your OG
measurements; if not, that could account for some of your harshness.

Can I continue to age these in the carboys?

John, I see no reason why you could not age in the carboys, as long as you
keep the fermentation locks topped off. It might be a good idea to rack
them, to get them off the yeast cake, if you haven't done that already.

I desire to carbonate in the bottle and was
going to add bottling sugar, but with my FG still showing above 1. I was
wondering if I would get any carbonation.
Are my yeast lively enough to carbonate in the bottle, now, or even if I

John, I suggest that bottle carbonation will be difficult (perhaps
impossible) at this point.

Subject: Absinthe and thujone
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 21:54:53 -0500 (EST)

Bob and Winnie <> wrote:
> P.S. I wouldn't have thought that sage oil was 50% thujone. Are you sure
> about the figure?

I'm no sage sage, but googling around for "sage thujone essential oil"
finds some pages that say 40-50% for the essential oil of /Salvia
officinalis/, which is supposed to be the standard culinary sage. But
commerce in herbs and spices seems to operate on the "whatever smells
vaguely similar" standard (look at bay, oregano, cinnamon), so I would
not be shocked to find sage in the grocery store being other Salvia
species, some of which apparently have little or no thujone.

Eli Brandt | |


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #910, 6 March 2002
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 00:06:39 EST

Greetings Kinsman,
In rereading my last note I find that its a heck of a lot gruffer than I ment
it, sorry I was just catching a cold, not much of an excuss but all I've
got. It is a bit of a pain after a while.
in Madison,WI

Subject: Re: What else are people brewing out there
From: <>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 05:22:58 -0800 (PST)

Nathan Kanous asks, what's in the cellar?

Well seeing as I don't have a house, but rather a 2nd storey
apartment.. I'll tell you what's in the closet. 🙂

5 gal. of dry mead aging since January when I racked it to secondary.
It seems to be slowly clearing.. though still a little cloudy. The
strange "olive note" to its taste seems to have gone away. 🙂

5 gal. of red raspberry mead set up this past saturday (March 2nd).
Added all the ingredients cold:

3 lbs. red raspberry puree
12 lbs. of Bob's Buzzy bees honey
Wyeast Sweet mead yeast

This time I didn't put any yeast nutrient in. I don't really trust
"Food grade Urea". Where the heck does that stuff come from anyway?
I figured with the fruit, the little yeastie-beasties would have enough
fun, and indeed they have. A really nice thick foam has appeared on
top, and the carbon lock is bubbling away about once per 5-6 seconds
now. I can see the honey has settled to the bottom. I think the yeast
will have fun eating their way from top to bottom. I can't wait to see
how this one will turn out!


Subject: Olive Oil colored mead
From: LJ Vitt <>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 09:16:51 -0800 (PST)

Mathieu Bouville <> wrote in MLD 909
about his olive oil colored mead, and Dick Dunn asked some questions
about ingredients.

I have 8 gallons of a mead that I would say is the same color.
However, I think I know why mine is that color. It is also
still very hazy. I suspect the color will lighten as it clears.
So, far it is 8 months old – one of the youngest meads I have in

I used a honey I got from a local small scale honey dealer. He flavored
this particular honey with mint. I made a traditional mead from the
flavored honey. I need to ask him how he flavored it.

This may have nothing to do with Mathieu's situation.


  • – Leo Vitt

Rochester MN


Subject: Re: Thujone & Sage
From: "Joshua Laff" <>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 12:23:14 -0800

According to the book, "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils"
(Julia Lawless, cpyrt Element Books, 1995), common sage (Salvia officinalis)
contains about 42% thujone.


  • – Joshua


Subject: Re: cream of tartar and also Re: fruits
From: Mathieu Bouville <>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 16:07:35 -0500 (EST)

About the cream of tartar, it could help the nucleation of tartarate
crystals, this applies only if you added tartaric acid and this would just
make the precipitation happen quicker, it would have happen anyway.
Just a detail, then what is the point of adding tartaric acid and then
removing it? In the case of wine the acid is naturally in the grape, but
there is none in honey, so adding less acid may be a better idea.

Concerning the fruits, here are my two eurocents:
If the fruit is added at the beginning, what one gets is not mead+fruit
but mead+fruit wine. As we all know wine does not taste like grape, mead
is not like honey… so it will be a flavor different from the one of the
On the other hand, if it is added when the fermentation gets lazzy, the
yeasts will do little to the fruit, so the fruit flavor will remain.
If say yeasts metabolise 90 % of the sugar and there is 90 % honey and 10
% fruit:

  • – in the 1st case, 9% of honey and 1% of fruit are left

  • – in the other case, it is 0% of honey and 10% of fruit.

Of course I can be completely wrong, which has been shown to be a
statistically significant possibility.



Subject: Re: Thujone
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 22:26:10 EST

These comments come from a friend that has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and
does medicinal research for a pharmaceutical company. JazzboBob


There has been no modern thorough research on thujone. However, alkaloids
are known to be extremely potent in their CNS effects, and when in a complex
mixture may effect the brain more strongly as an interactive substance with
other components, especially alcohol. The kicker here is that Vincent
stopped using absinthe when he was treated for mental illness, but indulged
an obsessive craving for eating his yellow paint pigment. A major component
of that pigment is thujone. I would not like to be the case subject which
proved a fatal link to the thujone in absinthe, especially by autopsy.


Subject: storage quandry
From: Mark Taratoot <>
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 08:17:34 -0800 (PST)

When I lived in Utah, I had an unheated but insulated space on
the shady side of the house I rented. It stayed just above
freezing in the winter and remained cool in the summer. I also
had an interior closet that remained fairly cool but at a fairly
constant temperature which was good for storing bottles of
finished product.

I am lucky enough that the house I have been renting here in
Oregon for the last seven or eight years has a basement. This is
somewhat rare here in Corvallis, what with the water table
getting close to the surface in the winter. However, it's great
for storing mead, and the ten-year-old pyment I sampled last week
was quite good.

Now I find myself looking to buy a house. Most of the houses I
see don't have a basement, even though my agent is looking. It's
a seller's market here as well, so houses often get sold within a
day or two of being listed. As such, I am realizing that I may
not find that elusive affordable home with character AND a
basement. It's a mild climate here, so most folks don't have air
conditioning. We do get a few days close to 100 most years, but
for the most part, it's 80s and 90s in the summer.

What do other folks do to store their mead for extended times
without a basement? It would be nice to have ideas in mind as I
keep looking around. One idea might be to fit a window air
conditioner in a well-insulated space on an exterior wall. I
would prefer not to go this route as I like to use as little
electricity as possible.


Mark Taratoot

Subject: pH
From: Mathieu Bouville <>
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 16:41:19 -0500 (EST)

How does the pH evolve during the fermentation? I tried to measure it but
the pH-meter was old and I think it was not very reliable. Depending on
the source of information, it increases or decreases. Did somebody monitor
the pH and can say what is really going on in there?


Subject: Has anyone on the list actually TRIED a commercial absynthe?
From: "Joseph S. Gaglio" <>
Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2002 04:21:02 -0500

> Has anyone on the list actually TRIED a commercial absynthe?


I drank quite a bit when I was in Japan but that was over 30 years ago.
When mixed with water it became a milky, sweet, anise tasting drink. As
I recall I got quite smashed on a few occasions. There has been no
measurable deterioration of my brain function, in fact my standardized
testing results went up, SAT scores 1250 combined before, to GRE scores
1300 after.
I've been in the drug education field since shortly after that and can
assure you that most of what passes for "fact" is histrionic nonsense.
That's not to say that I would suggest that anyone drink a pint of
absinthe a day but the danger of a one night trial probably rates a lot
lower than taking a ride on the interstate.


Yours in truth,
Joseph S. Gaglio MHS

"They counted on being able to punish them into being better, on being
able to inspire them into being better, on being able to educate them
into being better. And after ten thousand years of trying to improve
people —
without a trace of success — they wouldn't dream of turning their
attention elsewhere."

Subject: Prickley Pear Cactus Mead and Mazer Cup entries
From: "David Craft" <>
Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2002 13:48:58 -0500


I have a batch of Prickly Pear Cactus Mead that over one year old and
probably ready to drink and enter in contests.

Charlie Papazian is personally responsible for the surge in sales of this
PP puree. I doubt I would have ever made it without his glowing
recommendation in his books.

First, has anyone that has made this mead, been really bowled over by it.
I haven't been all that impressed with it, so far. Sort of a funny
medicinal taste………..Although it seems to get better over time. It
just isn't as good as the book ………..

Second, if entering in a competition, would it be a Melomel? PP is
certainly a fruit. It seems more in line with a spiced mead in terms of
taste. Any judges out there.

Did anyone look at the entries for the Mazer Cup? If you wanted to win a
Mazer Cup award, the combination fruited and spiced category or even the
traditional mead would be the ones. So few entries. Melomel was absolutely
full of entries. So full you think they should break it down into fruit
categories, Berries, Plums, ect with a catch all for the odd
fruits………..Any thoughts here. Most contests would not get as many
entries for Melomel and could combine the categories if need be.


David Craft
Greensboro, NC

End of Mead Lover's Digest #911