Mead Lover's Digest #0956 Thu 19 September 2002


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



RE: Mead Lover's Digest #954, 14 September 2002 ("Wout Klingens")
Small Fermentors ("Addison Berry")
Sour mead and clarity (EveningStar)
Barrel aging and oak soakers ()
honey shortage ("Chuck NLN")
Distilled mead (DOUG BAILEY)
Re: Looking for Recipes… (Vicky Rowe)
recipe advice ("Matt E")
Mazers ("Leonard Meuse")
sweetening AND carbonating mead? (Melinda Merkel Iyer)
re: Distillation and clarity ("Kurt Schilling")
Distillation issues (Ben Snyder)
distillation (Aaron Marshall)


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Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #954, 14 September 2002
From: "Wout Klingens" <>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 17:32:48 +0200

Ken Schramm wrote:
> Bruce: I'd add the orange peel to the fermenter (primary or secondary)
> after the fermentation slowed down, and leave it there for a good long
> time. Maybe Wout Klingens can add a note about his pretty darn
> spectacular Gran Marnier-style Orange Mead from a few years ago. It was
> well worth emulating. If someone had told me how to make something like
> that as a beginner, I shudder to think what I could do today.

Hm. I am coaxed into replying 🙂
Well, my 0.02 worth is that Bruce should do a search in the Digest's
archives. I published my recipe and the way to go about including when to
add the juice and such.
I also need to say, that I think that Bruce should use zest rather than
I'd use organically grown oranges.
I also think that orange blossom honey is way too delicate to use orange
zest on. When you use
orange peel, the whole batch "screams" ORANGE!! I used strongly flavored
wildflower and heather honey to get the honey-orange flavor balance I
wanted. It all depends on the amount of zest of course.
On the matter of racking, I am a lazy meadmaker. I also find the loss of
mead during each racking session a total waste, so I rack as little as
possible. With the right yeast there will be no off-flavors. On the
contrary. According to several excellent papers, including Ken's et al, the
lees gives the mead a "toasty" flavor and enhances body.
I agree with Ken, that this orange mead really is a beginners mead, which is
guaranteed to make everyone enthousiastic enough to try again. It just can't
fail as long as you keep in mind the basics, such as working absolutely
clean and use the detergents which are explicitely fit for wine/meadmaking.


Subject: Small Fermentors
From: "Addison Berry" <>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 12:30:02 -0400

Jodie Davis asked in MLD#954 about what to ferment one gallon batches
other than glass jugs.

I have picked up a couple of 1.5 gallon buckets. I got mine from Discount
Brew but you can also get small buckets from They have 1
gal, 2 gal and 3.5 gal. buckets and lids. I just cut a hole in the lid and
put a grommet on it for the airlock and it works great. After I ferment in
those, I transfer to 1 gal glass jugs to age. Hope that helps.


Subject: Sour mead and clarity
From: EveningStar <>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 10:39:38 -0600

> Eric <>

> 2.5 gallons vanilla mead (1 bean and 2 ounces extract)
> The rosehip mead is so clear it is scary and it happened within a week
> of racking. The vanilla looks like it did when I racked cloudy cloudy
> cloudy) In fact nearly all of my yellowish meads are cloudy (the
> exception being a hazelnut mead) and the 2 red meads cleared up quickly
> and easily. What's likely to be happening here?

I don't know the 'why' but I can relate my experience. I made 5 gallons
of vanilla mead in September of 1999 and bottled in April 2000. I used
4 ounces of vanilla extract and it was still hazy when I bottled.
Sometime last year it fell completely clear. Of course, this is with
the gunk in the bottle so a little movement and …


Subject: Barrel aging and oak soakers
From: <>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 12:40:05 -0400 (EDT)

I tried commercial mead aged in oak, and it's nice. I'd love to try aging
mead in an oak barrel, but I just don't have one. On the other hand, my
supply store sells what they call "oak soakers" – round oak marbles to add
in the fermenter to get some of the barrel flavor (if you can't bring the
mead to the barrel, bring some of the barrel to the mead)
I was wondering if anyone used that system or similar (i.e., wood chips)
and would have comments to share, especially on how long to leave them in.
Also, I suspect they may become bacteria redoubts and I was wondering what
would be the best way to maintain them (if they are at all reusable).

My 2 cents on barrel fermenting: I suppose that the longer you leave your
mead in contact, the more barrel taste it acquires. So if you are careful
with timing (if you don't have pointers, sample frequently to check) you
should be able to take it out of the barrel before you get Jack Daniel's
syrup. In any case, have fun with your monster batch!

Also looking forward to the "the compleat meadmaker"
Thanks Ken for your raisin mead recipes. I tried the dark one
I love my digest! (looks like you guys do too, we are getting more of them

Vince Galet

Subject: honey shortage
From: "Chuck NLN" <>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 14:59:42 -0500

To distill down what I said in MLD 953, which some obviously didn't

While there may be a honey shortage at some places in the USA, in SOME
areas of the US, beekeepers are producing record crops, me included.

China used to export millions of pounds of honey to the US and Europe. They
using prohibited antibiotics which entered their honey and all imports by
just about everybody stopped. (Reducing supplies of honey.)

Argentina used to export millions of pounds of honey to the US and Europe.
They were found to be dumping it in the US and a hefty tarrif was slapped on
by the US on imports to the US. (Reducing supplies of honey.)

In spite of the bumper crops some are having, honey supplies are in short
supply and prices are at record highs.

Geneva, IL

Subject: Distilled mead
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 09:28:29 +1200

To add a slight twist to the distillation discussion, a nearby meadery
here sells a very identifiable Ambrosia which is a mead brandy. The
Meader tells me that he fortifies his mead with 12 year old brandy and
re-sweetens the finished product. The final process is to add gold leaf
flakes which hang suspended in the liquour and, as I say, make it very

This little baby, at 37%, is a bit too strong for me (I also don't
particularly like brandy) and I feel is too honeyed. My brother-in-law,
who does enjoy brandy, is delighted with the Ambrosia but only sips it
in small quantities because he, too, feels that the honey is overdone.

Doug Bailey – /
348 Heretaunga Street West
Hastings, New Zealand.
Phone: 64 – 6 – 876 8787

Subject: Re: Looking for Recipes...
From: Vicky Rowe <>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 17:03:12 -0400

>Good day all! I'm currently looking for recipes that involve pre-1600 CE
>ingredients that tastes good. I've searched the web, but there seems to be
>little that anyone has made that quite fits the bill. Does anyone have any
>personal data on making period meads? I am looking at Nordic/Scandinavian
>receipes if possible, if not, then any period European.


>Thanks In Advance,

>Hos >

>BTW, the first batch is merrily fermenting away in the secondary 🙂 and
>still tastes good, so there may be hope for this novice mead maker!

Hi Hos,

Here's what I've found on the web:

Abyssinian Tej
from: Totemism and Exogamy, Volume II, p. 411 by Sir James Frazer

"1 part of honey is mixed with 5 parts water and a handful of a herb called
Geisha is
added. The whole well mixed and put into an unglazed earthenware jar and
to the sun – the opening is covered – for 5 days by which time it is fully
The result is a wholesome and refreshing beverage if not taken too
"The Geisha leaves give the liquor a slightly bitter taste, not unpleasant,
and they
accelerate fermentation."
"I have travelled a good deal throughout Abyssinia and can testify to the
of the product when made under hygenic conditions though I fear this is not
the case when found in the 'bush'."

A mead recipe from Le Menagier de Paris, c. 1393
from: Cindy Renfrow's 'A Sip Through Time'

"BEVERAGES FOR THE SICK – BOCHET To make six sesters of bochet take six
of very soft honey and set it in a cauldron on
the fire, and boil it and stir it for as long as it goes on rising and as
long as you see it
throwing up liquid in little bubbles which burst
and in bursting give off a little blackish steam; and then move it, and put
in seven sesters of
water and boil them until it is reduced to
six sesters, always stirring. And then put it in a tub to cool until it be
just warm, and then
run it through a sieve, and afterwards put it
in a cask and add half a pint of leaven of beer, for it is this which makes
it piquant (and if
you put in leaven of bread, it is as good for
the taste, but the colour will be duller), and cover it warmly and well
when you prepare it.
And if you would make it very good, add
thereto an ounce of ginger, long pepper, grain of Paradise and cloves, as
much of the
one as of the other, save that there shall be less
of the cloves, and put them in a linen bag and cast it therein. And when
it hath been therein
for two or three days, and the brochet
tastes enough of the spices and is sufficiently piquant, take out the bag
and squeeze it and
put it in the other barrel that you are
making. And thus this powder will serve you well two or three times over."

(Translation found in Eileen Power's The Goodman of Paris, 1928, pp. 293-4)

From Pichon's edition of 1846 (with his notes):
"BOCHET. Pour faire six sextiers de bochet, prenez six pintes de miel bien
et le mettez en une chaudiere sur le feu et le faites boulir, et remuez si
que il laisse a soy croistre, et que vous veez qu'il gette bouillon
comme petites
orines* qui se creveront, et au crever getteront un petit de fumee aussi
come noire:
et lors faites-le mouvoir, et lors mettez sept sextiers d'eaue et les
faites tant boulir qu'ils
revienguent a six sextiers, et tousjours mouvoir. Et lors le mettez en un
cuvier pour
refroidier jusques a tant qu'il soit ainsi comme tiede; et lors le
en un sas, et
apres** le mettez en un tonnel et y mettez une choppine de levecon*** de
car c'est ce qui le fait piquant, (et qui y mettroit levain de pain, autant
vauldroit pour
saveur, mais la couleur en seroit plus fade,) et couvrez bien et chaudement
pour parer.
Et se vous le voulez faire tres bon, si y mettez une once de gingembre, de
long, graine de paradis et cloux de giroffle autant de l'un que de l'autre,
excepte des
cloux de giroffle dont il y aura le moins, et les mettez en un sachet de
toile et gettez dedans.
Et quant il y aura este deux ou trois jours et le bochet sentira assez les
espices et il
piquera assez, si ostez le sachet et l'espraignez et le mettez en l'autre
baril que vous ferez.
Et ainsi vous servira bien celle pouldre
jusques a trois ou quatre fois."

*Ordinairement origine (interdum urina): mais ici, sans doute globules.

**A et B repetent lors.

***Sans doute levure de biere.

The original French 'sextier' is explained by Jerome Pichon, in his notes
as "Sans doute
le setier de huit pintes plutot que celui d'une demi-pinte (ou chopine)."
["Without doubt the
sester of eight pints rather than that of one half-pint (or chopine)."*]

Using this definition of sextier to determine the proportion of honey to
water, we get:

6 pints honey to (7 sesters x 8 pints/sester = 56 pints water), or 1 part
honey to 9 1/3 parts
water to begin with. (This is boiled and reduced to 48 pints (6 sesters)
total volume.)

Digby's "Weak Honey Drink" has the proportion 1 part honey to 9 parts
water. Digby (1669)
also has a recipe for "Hydromel as I made it weak for the Queen Mother"
that calls for 1 part
honey to 18 parts water, so Le Menagier's Bochet is not an unreasonably
weak hydromel recipe.

c. 700BC – King Midas' tomb: (from the archeological dig)
King Midas Golden Elixer

ingredients: yellow muscat grapes, lightly toasted 2-row barley malt,
tyme honey, saffron. Fermented on a dry mead yeast to 7.5% alcohol
by volume. It has a brilliant golden hue, with reddish highlights, as if
touched by Midas himself!

I don't have any old Norse recipes yet, but two great sources for 'period'


A Sip Through Time – A Collection of Old Brewing Recipes – An Illustrated
Containing Hundreds of Old Recipes for Ale, Beer, Mead, Metheglin, Cider,
Brandy, Liqueurs, Distilled Waters, Hypocras, Wines, Etc., dating from 1800

B.C. to

Modern Times. A Sip Through Time contains over 400 recipes drawn from
Ancient Egypt,
Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, and 17th, 18th, and 19th century
America and
Europe. – Cindy Renfrow

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt. Opened 1669 –
Whereby is
Discovered Several ways for making of Metheglin, Sider, Cherry-Wine, &c.
together with
Excellent Directions for Cookery: As also for Preserving, Conserving,
Candying, &c.

Happy meading!


Vicky Rowe
Makin' mead? Drinkin' mead? Find articles, recipes, advice and hundreds of
links to anything you want to know about mead at

Subject: recipe advice
From: "Matt E" <>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 14:12:51 -0500

Howdy all,
I've been reading the digest for about a year now and would like to
thank everyone involved in supporting such a great resource.

I'm a novice when it comes to mead making with only one batch under my
belt, a blackberry melomel, which turned out great and was a hit at a
friends wedding. Unfortunately, as we all encounter as wine
makers…'s gone!! Now what?

I recently received 15lbs. of local honey (wildflower, clover), which is
the lightest colored honey I've ever encountered. The taste is
exceptional, akin to good clover honey. I would like to do a
"traditional mead" retaining as much of the honey flavor as possible. Do
I use a recipe that calls for clover honey or is there recipes out there
that I would use for a "lighter honey".

Any recipes or advice is welcome.

Wassail while you work!
Matt Emberton
Ottumwa, IA.

Subject: Mazers
From: "Leonard Meuse" <>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 16:45:05 -0700


Ive been scouring the net looking for a nice mazer, maybe im going about
it all wrong, i suppose. but would anyone just happen to know of a place
where i could get one…im looking for a fairly simple maple bowl with
silver highlights or something along those lines. i really NEED a proper
vessel, ok, another one (I got my drinking horn) for my meads.
Leonard Meuse or

Subject: sweetening AND carbonating mead?
From: Melinda Merkel Iyer <>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 18:39:37 -0700

Hi all,

I have a rather dry metheglin (spiced with ginger root, cardamom,
lemon peel and a bit of black pepper) sitting in secondary. Flavor is
good, but a bit too strong. I thought the best way to balance the
spice would be to add more sweet. My homebrew-store guy recommended
adding honey to taste, then using Campden tablets to prevent any
further fermentation, but I want to carbonate this stuff too. Anyone
have any advice?

BTW, I started this batch several months ago, and it has fallen
completely clear. It still is on the lees, though.


Melinda Merkel Iyer

Subject: re: Distillation and clarity
From: "Kurt Schilling" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 08:38:44 -0500

In MLD #955 a couple of things caught my eye, so after serveral years,
I'm de-lurking.

Adam Funk queried:
> There is virtually no way for a homebrewer to get a license for
> distillation from the ATF. They say so right on their website.

>Is anyone lobbying for this to be changed? It's no-one's business what
>people produce for personal consumption and some home-fermenting
>organizations ought to demand the right to distill too.

The probability of any lobbying to allow home distillation licensing
ever being successful is extremely low. Have you ever heard of any
taxation laws being repealed? The taxation of the production of potable
spirits is high and that (taxation) is the basis for the penalites WRT
illegal distillation (ie the 'revenoors' busting moonshiners).

Enforcement of the US code as well as the State codes that pertain to
illegal distillation on a personal level is low. However, be advised
that the penalties IF you are busted can be quite severe depending of
the prosecutor and the agency that catches the moonshiner.

Eric asked about the differences in the speed of achieving clarity
between batches of meads. I would bet that the key to this is in the
amount of tannins present in the meads. Red meads as with red wines tend
to have higher levels of tannin, which contributes to the preciptation
of suspended particles in the mead. Clear or white meads frequently have
little to no tannin, hence the need for a clarifier such as bentonite or
other finning agents.


"Struggling with an Analog mind in the Digital Age."

Subject: Distillation issues
From: Ben Snyder <>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 11:49:30 -0400

Just a thought, I've heard of potential problems when distilling
home-brewed items, not the least of which is inadvertantly concentrating

Specifically, I have heard that methanol levels in standard home brew
wines and meads are safe for consumption, but distilling the wine or
mead would produce a toxic product.

Any thoughts on this?

  • -ben

Subject: distillation
From: Aaron Marshall <>
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 14:17:19 +1200

Down here in New Zealand distillation seems to be regarded the same way as
home brewing is… In that if you only make it for your own consumption,
then its perfectly legal. In fact, my local brewing shop has as much, if
not more distilling equipment than brewing.
I might have to give it a try, but not until I get my meads to a higher
standard than they are now.

P.S. I opened another bottle of maple mead the other day, and it just keeps
on getting better with age.

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

End of Mead Lover's Digest #956