Mead Lover's Digest #0929 Mon 13 May 2002


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #928, 10 May 2002 (=?iso-8859-1?B?ROZn?=)
Oxygen and brewing ("Kemp, Alson")
Re: a few questions ("Matt Maples")
Redstone Meadery on NPR ("Dan McFeeley")
Maple Mead and Methanol (Aaron)
Pasteurizing (=?iso-8859-1?Q?Hrafnkell_Eir=EDksson?=)
Hydration, mead, skeps. (Ken Schramm)
Re: Northern Tipplers (dehydration) ("Dan McFeeley")
Corks (Intres Richard)
dandelion mead ("Micah Millspaw")


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #928, 10 May 2002
From: =?iso-8859-1?B?ROZn?= <>
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 10:29:56 -0500

> I loved the idea of using a towel to remove a stopper that's gone
> right through. Excellent. It's almost worth pushing a stopper
> through just to give it a go!

You can do the same procedure with a cork stuck in a wine bottle, using a
dinner napkin to pull out the cork. I've done this a number of times to win
bar-bets. Practice at home first until you can do it in a smooth and easy

Someone also asked about the flavor impact of leaving a rubber cork in with
fermenting must. I dropped the plug into a batch at the onset of
fermentation, and just left it in until the first racking. I did not notice
any off flavors in the final product.. or at least not any rubbery taste.


Subject: Oxygen and brewing
From: "Kemp, Alson" <>
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 09:16:58 -0700

Just got my copy of Pascal Ribereau-Gayon's Handbook of
Enology I: Microbiology of Wine. Fascinating and enormously
dense reading. If you want to understand fermentation at a
biochemistry level, this is a good starting point. The book also
covers white- and red-winemaking in some detail (what chemicals
do different kinds of oaks impart to wine, what quantifiable
chemical changes does carbonic macerating cause).

The book also talks about nutrients and their effect on
fermentation and makes a point to say that OXYGEN is a CRITICAL
nutrient. The book quantifies exactly what happens when oxygen
is added to the must at different times. The "common knowledge"
about saturating the must with O2 at yeast pitch is not entirely
correct. The book has a table showing different oxygenation
times and amounts and their effects on fermentation rates and
strengths, but the upshot is: add O2/air on the second day of
fermentation. Since little oxygen is needed, adequate aeration
can be had by plugging a carboy with cotton instead of with a

The book also talks about the common misconception that
oxygen added after fermentation commences will oxidize or harm
the must. Since the yeast are chomping away at the wine, they'll
nearly instantly absorb any oxygen that they can get their "hands



Subject: Re: a few questions
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 14:44:23 -0700


>1) I read somewhere that methanol is formed by the fermentation of wood
>by wild yeast. Would this form from throwing oak chips into the primary
>in an unsterilized batch? Purely experimentally, of course.

Sorry I don't know

>2) So many here say adding acid at the beginning of fermentation will
>crash it.

There are so many variables involved here there is no easy answer. Yes
you can cause a Ph crash but it depends on the Yeast you use, the honey,
how much honey, and the buffering salts in your water. As a rule I do
not add acid to the primary because I like very dry meads and it is easy
to get too much acidity (flavor wise) if I add at primary as opposed to
at bottling.

.>Yet many books I have read say that medicinal flavors are
>formed during fermentation in a mead low in acid.

I have not found this to be the case. The only time I get medicinal is
when I ferment too hot during the summer months.

>I should also mention that I usually add it at the beginning and have
always had vigorous
>ferments. Luck or because I do use nutrient?

Most likely it has to do with the water you use. I would guess that it
has enough buffering capacity to keep you Ph from dropping to far. If it
works for you keep doing it, like I said I do not add to primary because
I have gotten harsh acidic flavors in my dry (brute) meads so I switched
to "at bottling".

> Also isn't the acid needed for its preservative qualities?

Maybe for lower alcohol meads but at 12% I don't think you would have a
preservation problem. I know people who do not add any acid at all. They
like their meads to have a heavier body and smoother texture. I just
tried one from Lars H. (Hi Lars 🙂 ) that had outstanding flavor
although low in total acidity (none added).

>3) If adding acid afterward, is it purely by taste


>Do you just rack onto it or stir it in?

I stir it in because I add a little, stir, taste, add, stir taste until
it is just the way I want it.

> Any chance of contamination from the acid itself?

Not that I know of.

>4) Regarding amounts of acid for straight mead, I have seen posts that
>claim 4 teaspoons per 5 gallons is too much and yet many recipes I've
>seen call for 2 or even 3 teaspoons per gallon. Why oh why is there so
>much discrepancy? Is it simply a matter of flavor preference? I realize
>that sweet requires more than dry.

So far in mead making we have kept things rather simple. Telling someone
to add X tsp of acid blend is like telling a beer maker to add X ounces
of cascade hops to the beer. You can do it that way but you are going to
get a lot of variability. If we really wanted to be more precise then we
would say something like add acid blend to reach .75 tartic much the
way beer makers use IBUs but that would require people to do a titration
tests which most people don't really want to do.
So to answer your question there is that much discrepancy because people
want to keep it simple (myself included) and it is a matter of taste.

>5) Likewise regarding nutrient and tannin, there is a lot of variation


>opinion. What amounts do you all use?

My rule of thumb is that if you are doing a plain mead add some nutrient
=3D<.5 tsp / gallon, If you are doing a meth, or mel don't bother as the
yeast will get what it needs from the fruit or spice.

As for tannin, that is totally a taste thing, add it or don't. I rarely
use grape tannins anymore. If I want a mead with that tannic feel to it
I will add black tea but there again I don't even do that much anymore.
Some of the books out there are obviously written by wine people and the
acid levels and tannin additions seems to give mead more of a wine
character. If you like it like that great, otherwise don't let anyone
tell you have to add any of that stuff.

> As I have heard it said, "theres no bad wine, somes better n others"

Oh man to I disagree with this statement. Do some judging sometime and
see if you still think that 🙂

Matt Maples

Liquid Solutions
12162 SW Scholls Ferry Rd
Tigard, OR 97223
503-524-9722 (web site) (mailing list)

Subject: Redstone Meadery on NPR
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 08:11:35 -0500

Well, sort of. NPR did an hour show on National Homebrew
Day featuring Paul Gatza, director Institute for Brewing Studies
and Rich Doyle, co-founder & CEO, Harpoon Brewery. Also
appearing on the show, however, was Julia Herz, vice president
of Sales & Marketing, Redstone Meadery in Colorado, talking
about mead and the mead industry for about a ten minute spot.

You can listen to the show at this link:


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Maple Mead and Methanol
From: Aaron <>
Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 09:37:21 +1200

I just opened a bottle of Maple Mead last night, and was very pleased with
the result. the recipe was very basic, 1 qt of Maple Syrup, 1 lb of clover
honey, yeast nutrient, and water to o.g of around 1.100.
It has definite Port notes on the nose (never a bad thing) and has a
definite maple after-taste, but I feel that after being in the bottle for 3
months, it is still maturing, and hopefully it will get better with age.
I'm not sure what the final S.G. was but I think it was around 1.000, for a
medium finish.
I'm already making plans for another batch, as it seems that Maple Syrup is
cheaper down here in New Zealand, and I have been given 2 more quarts.

Re: Pectinase producing methanol. My partner and I have made numerous fruit
wines, and have used Pectin enzyme for a number of these. We have never had
any problems with methanol production that we know of. (Then again, who has
ever tested their mead/wine for methanol?)
I would think that it would most probably result in un-explained headaches
from a little mead, rather than your usual hang-over. I'll have to get some
of our wine tested for methanol production, and let the digest know. Has
anyone done this, to quash speculation?


Either lead, follow or get the hell out of the way!

Subject: Pasteurizing
From: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Hrafnkell_Eir=EDksson?= <>
Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 23:36:40 +0000


What does it take to pasteurize liquid (e.g. mead)?

The hot water from my tap is HOT, about 80-90 degrees C
(175-195 F). If I let a bottle of mead stand in it
for a while, will it pasteurize it?

I'm wondering if I could use this method to make sure
fermentation will not start again, possibly using this
method to create a sweet, low alcohol mead.




Subject: Hydration, mead, skeps.
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 23:20:20 -0400

>>I'm not really talking about the 'proper' 8 glasses of water per day,
I'm talking about ANY water. If a person drinks beer, wine or mead to
quench his thirst instead of water, because his water supply is
contaminated, he's not getting any water at all! All he's getting is a
drink with enough alcohol (at least by today's standards) to dehydrate
him further. Which is at the heart of what I was asking: Did alcoholic
drinks in antiquity have less alcohol, so they did not dehydrate the
body as much? I realize they might have only partially substituted their
water intake with beer/mead/wine, but that doesn't really get them
around the water being contaminated. And drinking from safe wells or
cisterns doesn't really make a difference either; I'm talking about
people with contaminated water an no alternative water supply, hence
their drinking alcohol! Russ<<

I think you may be selling short the importance of underground water
sources. The ability to find a well that perked has been documented as
the determinant factor in locating a development since the beginning of
recorded history. Even today a staggering percentage of the world's
population lives by gathering water on an daily basis at a communal well
or artesian water source. The settling of North America was in large
part based on the finding of reliable water sources. It makes a good
case for the protection of our groundwaters now, which are being
compromised at a stunning pace, but that is another digest, perhaps. At
any rate, I'll bet that many folks on this digest use well water for
their mead, and this is little changed over many hundreds and thousands
of years. The Romans went to extraordinary lengths to move fresh water
from springs or mountain sources of snow melt runoff into cities.
Springs were also common sources in rural areas, which have only more
recently become unreliable due to ghiardia and other sources of
contamination largely related to human population and domesticated
animal waste.

When it comes to no-source-of-water-other-than-contaminated, I think the
folks at risk you speak of were people working in the fields, away from
home, travelers, sailors, marauders… I wonder how long the phrase
"don't drink the water" has been in common usage among travelers. I
also think (as is the case in central america today) indigenous
populations build up something of an immunity to bacterial populations
that otherwise level non-resistant visitors (Montezuma's revenge). When
in doubt, drink something boiled or alcoholic (again, the more things
change…). Tea, coffee, beer, mead, broth, grog, whatever.

I wonder if there is a physician or physiologist on the digest who can
shed some light on this question: How diuretic are diuretics? By that
I mean, do they remove from the body a greater or lesser amount of
hydration than they contribute? I know that will be dependent on the
diuretic compound's concentration, but let's use beer and coffee as the
reference points. I would assert that there are people in the world
today whose liquid intake consists primarily of diuretics, and that
while their health may be adversely affected, their lives go on. Look
at how many people still live their lives this way: Coffee with
breakfast and lunch, or perhaps an iced tea, a beer at dinner, all
interspersed with "safe" bottled water from… a spring! Sound
familiar? Perrier anyone? Poland Springs? In general, I think we need
to give ourselves a little less credit and those from antiquity a bit more.

Dick Dunn: Skeps have been in use since 200 AD at the latest, and
possibly as early as the time of Christ. But they apparently emptied
them out over a container and _everything_ went into the mix, especially
when gleaning the last of the yield for mead making, which may have
actually provided a more robust base of those needed nitrogen/protein compounds.

Mildly dehydrated in metro Detroit,

Ken Schramm

Subject: Re: Northern Tipplers (dehydration)
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 03:34:55 -0500

On Thu, 2 May 2002, in MLD 926, Russ Riley wrote:

>Alcohol dehydrates the body, which is why you always
>want to drink a fair amount of water while drinking
>alcoholic beverages. How is it that past peoples drank
>beer, wine and mead instead of water when the water
>source was tainted? I would imagine they would wander
>around on the verge of death all the time from lack of
>water. Were their drinks of very low alcohol content,
>so there was enough water present to more than
>compensate for the effects of the alcohol?

I think it was generally true that much of what Viking,
Anglo-Saxon and Celtic folk were drinking was low
alcohol, especially if they were ales, although I'm
certainly no expert on this. The folk over on
hist-brewing might know more about it.

Alcohol dehydrates the body by acting as a diuretic.
More specifically, it inhibits the production of
vasopressin from the posterior pituitary gland,
otherwise known as antidiuretic hormone or
ADH. An important area of water balance regulation
takes place in the kidneys, which respond to the
action of ADH by retaining water from the urine.
When blood alcohol levels are high, ADH cannot
perform its function of water regulation as easily.

One figure I've seen indicates that approx. 1
milliliter of alcohol will inhibit ADH enough to
cause the loss of 10 milliliters of water. That's
likely only a rough guesstimate, given the complex
variations in body regulation of water going on
at any given moment. There are some fermented
beverages, it is suggested, where there is enough
water to balance off the loss through dehydration,
but it's still best to go on keeping a water glass next
to the beer stein or wine glass.

Time to insert a standard disclaimer — none of this
post is medical advice in any form.

In the emergency room where I spend my working
life, we see alcoholics coming in from time to time.
These can be the serious ones — a case of beer
daily, every day, or a bottle of vodka and more
every day. They're often very dehydrated, and
one of the first things we do before admission to
a medical floor for detoxification is hook them up
with IV fluids. Still, they've been drinking like
this for some time, even years, and although
they're dehydrated it's not enough to kill them,
at least not all at once. The body wears down
after a while, of course, and you can predict an
early death from alcohol related causes. And
again, in general, societies such as the Celts and
Norskies did not approve of alcohol abuse.

Drinking water was at times tainted and unsafe, but that
doesn't mean Northern peoples or Celts avoided
water altogether. This wasn't an either/or question,
either drink ale and mead and live, or drink water and
die from disease. They drank both, knew what water
sources were tainted and which weren't. Certainly they
couldn't have carried out farming if the water given to
their livestock was seriously tainted.


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Corks
From: Intres Richard <>
Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 09:12:33 -0400

Stefan asked about corks.

Like most things in brewing there are mostly strong opinions about corks.
Fortunately there has been an attempt to inject some science into the debate
(I'm a lab scientist). Our dear friends, The Australian Wine Research
Institute have released their original results comparing 14 closures
(Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research). The results are to
voluminous to summarize here other than to say it depends on the nature of
the wine and its proposed storage time.

To our great aesthetic surprise the lowly screw cap may be the best closure
for some wines. A difficult choice may have to be made between what we think
is "traditional and desirable" verses what is actually best for the wine.
Please read the article at

Personally I will be using synthetic molded corks (NuKorc) for my mead &

Pittsfield, MA

Subject: dandelion mead
From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 09:29:16 -0500

>Subject: dandelion mead clarity
>From: "mmeleen" <>
>Date: Thu, 9 May 2002 22:06:17 -0400

> Has anyone here who has made dandelion mead noticed that it is
>extremely slow to clear? The batch I made one year ago is still not as
>crystal clear as most of my other batches, some much younger. It is
>however very slowly improving.
> I think maybe it is because I used ALOT of dandelions. (26 cups of
>petals only
>for 5 gal, yes it took me about six hours to process them myself) So
>maybe the high pollen content has something to do with it?
> Also I used an apitherapy honey that was labeled as containing
>"extra pollen and wax"…hmmm pollen overkill??
> Has anyone elses dandelion cleared slowly? Think it will ever achive
>clarity, or should I just bottle it? I do not want to use fining agents.
> I just made another batch, this one with less dandelion and with my
>own bees wildflower honey. So I guess by next year I may know more.

It has been my experience that the dandelions are not likely to be the

clarity problem. Honey with wax and any brood or bee parts
could be. The pollen was a good thing, should help as a natural
yeast nutrient. Was the must heated and the albumin skimmed off?
This will go a long ways toward getting clear meads. The proteins
in the bee parts
can throw a haze in the finished mead. Another possiblity is the water
that the must was made with. A high iron content in the water will
throw a haze that can't be filtered out. This can happen easily to
meads made in the spring time when normal water supplies are
being effected by spring runnoffs.

Micah Millspaw

End of Mead Lover's Digest #929