Mead Lover's Digest #972 Mon 25 November 2002


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



RE: Tasteless Mead ("Ken Taborek")
Fast fermented mead (Martin Rochard)
Re:Tasteless Mead (Mead Lover's Digest #971) ("Kevin Morgan")
Honey's effect on specific gravity ("Asher Reed")
Figs and Mead ("chris eidson")
Honey kills antibiotic-resistant bugs (Mark Taratoot)
Re: Tasteless Mead (Vuarra)
Capsimels (Ken Schramm)
Mint Mead ("Randy Goldberg MD")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #971, 22 November 2002 (Jim Johnston)
peppers in capsimels (Ben Snyder)
Botchard (Eric Harding)


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Subject: RE: Tasteless Mead
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 14:00:45 -0500

> Hello all,


> My first try at mead should be nearing completion. I have been
> sampling it at each racking only to find out that it is tasteless. My wife
> also agrees. It feels like a dry mead but it has absolutely no taste, ok
> maybe just a little taste. I used 10 lbs. of clover honey and 7 lbs. of
> peaches for 5 gallons. There is no sediment since the last
> racking and it is
> perfectly clear, so I planned on bottling it soon. Is there
> something I can
> do to give it some sort of flavor? I know this may sound bad to
> traditionalists, but I was thinking about adding a flavor extract at
> bottling. I planned on using the same fruit flavor extracts I
> sometimes use
> in my beers. Any other suggestions?


> Thanks,


> Kevin
> Rice Lake, WI


Peaches have a fairly delicate flavor, and 7 pounds in 5 gallons isn't going
to give a strong peach flavor, especially if the peaches were not at the
peak of ripeness. You might try adding a few more pounds of peaches if you
can find them ripe at this time of year. Depending on your yeast and
percent alcohol, this may or may not restart fermentation.

Also remember that fruit flavors change with fermentation. Wine does not
taste like grapes. You might have peach flavor that you're not identifying
as such. I recall a friends peach mead that was fermented bone dry with a
champagne yeast. He'd used plenty of peaches, and the mead was recognizably
not a traditional mead, but it was strong enough and dry enough that it was
hard to identify it as a peach melomel.

There's nothing wrong with using an extract to give your mead the flavor you
desire. If you can find a peach extract, and would rather not add more
fruit or juice, then I'd say go for it.



Subject: Fast fermented mead
From: Martin Rochard <>
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 21:18:13 +0100

Hi all,

Apologises for what is probably a very basic question, but I have
very limited experience and could not find much about what I would
call "fast mead".

I wish to make a mead which would ferment in a rather fast time (2
weeks 3 at maximum), at the same time as being rather dry and not too
powerfull in taste.

For this, I understand that I should use a limited quantity (About
320/350 g per litre) of a honey with not too strong flavour (All
flowers for instance), and ferment with a Champagne yeast to which I
would ad some nutrients.

Does that seem correct ? Any comments or suggestions ?



Subject: Re:Tasteless Mead  (Mead Lover's Digest #971)
From: "Kevin Morgan" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 17:53:22 -0500

Kevin said

>My first try at mead should be nearing completion. I have been
>sampling it at each racking only to find out that it is tasteless. My wife
>also agrees. It feels like a dry mead but it has absolutely no taste, ok
>maybe just a little taste. I used 10 lbs. of clover honey and 7 lbs. of
>peaches for 5 gallons. There is no sediment since the last racking and it


>perfectly clear, so I planned on bottling it soon. Is there something I can
>do to give it some sort of flavor? I know this may sound bad to
>traditionalists, but I was thinking about adding a flavor extract at
>bottling. I planned on using the same fruit flavor extracts I sometimes use
>in my beers. Any other suggestions?

A question for you Kevin:


  • – When did you add the peaches? A rapid/violent fermentation can remove

alot of the flavor of the peaches >> you lose it thru the airlock. Thats



I almost always add my fruit to the secondary. Also, 7# in not much


for a 5 gal batch, I usually use a minimum of 12# fruit for a 5 Gal batch


Kevin Morgan, Glassboro, NJ


Subject: Honey's effect on specific gravity
From: "Asher Reed" <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 00:26:11 +0000

Now, I have read that adding 1 pound of honey to 1 gallon of water will
result in a specific gravity of 1.032, roughly. But, adding 1 pound of
honey to enough water to make a gallon will result in a slightly higher
gravity reading — maybe 1.035 because you are using the volume of 1 pound
of honey less water. I have done some preliminary calculations on a
spreadsheet and find that adding 2 pounds of honey to enough water to make a
gallon results in a gravity reading of 1.074, roughly, because you're not
only adding twice as much honey you're also using the volume of 2 pounds of
honey less water. Has anyone else done calculations like this before? I
would like to compare notes. Thanks.

Subject: Figs and Mead
From: "chris eidson" <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 02:09:34 +0000

While fig season has already passed where I live, I am thinking of next year
and wondering . . . has anyone made a fig mead? Any details would be
appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Chris Eidson
Birmingham, AL

Subject: Honey kills antibiotic-resistant bugs
From: Mark Taratoot <>
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 18:14:20 -0800 (PST)

While not specifically about mead per se, I find this
particularly interesting. We've been touting the anti-microbial
properties of honey for some time. Here's some new research that
takes it a step farther:

Honey kills antibiotic-resistant bugs
Nature Science Update
November 19, 2002

Mark Taratoot

Subject: Re:  Tasteless Mead
From: Vuarra <>
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 20:17:19 -0800 (PST)

I, too, have had an experience like that, where the
mead seems to have little to no taste. This can be
from many different sources, but I'd think of two, and
one is more likely than the other

1) You boiled the must when you were pasturizing it.
That could drive off any aromatics, which are
necessary for taste. Obviously, if you didn't boil
the honey, this won't apply to you 🙂

2) You are not used to tasting subtle things. This is
what happened to me the first time I tried a straight,
very dry mead. All I could taste was the alcohol, but
when a friend (with a more discriminating palate)
tried it, he thought it was the best thing since
domesticating bees. I had to let the flavour hit my
taste buds, rather than deliberately look for it –
that's the only way I can describe it. I've also
noticed that I can tell differences between big name
brewed beers (ie Molson's, Labatt's, Sleeman's, etc.
etc. ad nauseum) whereas before, it didn't matter what
kind there was in the fridge, I'd just drink it 🙂

There's my two cents, I'm quite sure that someone else
will think up another reason that works for you.


"Some scientists claim that Hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the
basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more
stupidity than Hydrogen, and THAT is the basic building block of the


  • -Frank Zappa


Subject: Capsimels
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 09:49:21 -0500

I liked Dan' comments about the heat in pepper meads becoming more
integral than components. I really liked the combination/play of the
spicy heat from ginger and the fiery heat from the jalapenos in Chuck's.


I am interested in exploring the pairing of hot meads with foods other
than those normally associated with hot food cultures. One I am very
keen to try is a capsimel with creamy, cheesy Italian dishes like
fumigato with a creamy tomato sauce or fettucine alfredo, especially
with chicken or shrimp. Maybe a bruscetta with tomatoes, onion and
cheese – wait, that would almost be… pizza! It seems to me like the
spice in the mead would both compliment and be tamed somewhat by the fat
in those dishes. Maybe a mild but hearty dish like Shepherd's pie. I
like the idea of mixing a food and a mead with widely disparate elements
to "fill the canvas" with a spectrum of flavors that are both vastly
different but complimentary. Here's an idea to market to pizza places:
a medium or dry capsimel with the food, and a very sweet dessert mead
with a dish of ice cream to quell the heat afterwards. Sounds delicious
to me.

I agree, too that "hot" is subjective. I like a lot of heat. Neither
Dan's nor Chuck's mead proved uncomfortable to me. Assertive statements
about heat, yes, but not painful in any sense. On the other hand, I
once ordered my usual "medium" heat at dinner in a new Thai restaurant
and it was so hot could not finish my entree. How to quantify heat in
commercial capsimels will be an interesting challenge.

Randy Goldberg's question on sweetness is also very subjective. Most of
the references I seen put dry under 1.007 to 1.010, medium under 1.015
to 1.020, and anything above that as sweet. Very sweet 1.05 and above.
All of that fails to acknowledge the act that differing levels of
attenuation will leave the percentage of residual sugar running a pretty
wide gamut. Let your own taste be the ultimate judge.

Using unfermented residual sugar to create carbonation requires that you
have a working knowledge of the alcohol tolerance of your yeast. The
French make Champagne that way, but if you set off to accomplish this
without first knowing precisely when your yeast will poop out, you can
make grenades. The French (and others who bottle carbonate) also remove
the yeast through riddling and disgorgement, and add a dosage of sugar
to create some sweetness. You can generally get enough activity to
sparkle a mead that had gone dry by priming with 3/8 to 1/2 cup honey or
3/4 cup corn sugar.


Rick Horne: I am curious about oxygenation. Did you do any? I'm also
an opponent of adding any acid prior to the ferment. You certainly
should have another 50 points of attenuation left there. If I were
being casual about it, I'd mix up the must and rouse the yeast with a
racking cane (or rack it once, yeast and all) and toss in a teaspoon of
calcium carbonate. If that didn't work, I'd go to ten grams of Lalvin
EC-1118 (re-hydrate and pitch per package instructions), adjust your
expectations about the mead, and look to sweeten later if you want more
body and sweetness. Drop a line if you need details.

Check out US News and World Report this week. Vicki Hallett did a nice
article on mead. Maybe I'm being a little self serving here – I did get
cited way down in the article, but national press for the industry is
always a good thing. As they say, any ink is good ink.

Ken Schramm
Troy, MI

Subject: Mint Mead
From: "Randy Goldberg MD" <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 10:39:18 -0500

Well, I started my first mead this morning. I steeped three bunches of fresh
mint and 8 mint herbal tea bags in a gallon of hot water for 15-20 minutes.
I added 13 1/2 cups of dark clover honey (from Draper's Bees) and
pasteurized at 160-165F for 15 minutes. In the meanwhile, I added 2 tbsp
sugar, 1/4 tsp acid blend and a pinch of yeast nutrient to 2 cups hot water.
I added a packet of Lalvin K1-V1116 and let it hydrate while the honey was
pasteurizing. I strained the wort into my fermenter and added a gallon of
water cold from the fridge and about 3 lbs of store-bought ice, which
brought the temp right down to 82F. I added 2 tablets of yeast nutrient,
crushed, and another 1/2 tsp of acid blend. OG was 1.104 before I pitched
the yeast. The color is a deep muddy brown. The taste is VERY sweet and very
mildly minty. I may brew some more mint tea – VERY strong – and add it to

A few questions:

1. When I sealed it up, the airlock was bubbling merrily for the first 10 or
so minutes, then more-or-less stopped altogether. If I agitate the pail, it
bubbles for a minute or so and subsides again. Is this normal?

2. When should I plan to rack to secondary?

3. What's the alcohol tolerance of K1-V1116? Should I expect this to go to
dryness from this OG?



RandomTag: Always remember you're unique – just like everyone else.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #971, 22 November 2002
From: Jim Johnston <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 10:09:11 -0600

My first time posting in a long time as I just got caught up on reading
8 months worth of MLD back issues.

I went to Planet Buzz and would like to thank all of the organizers for
a wonderful event. There was too much to do and see in the single
session I was able to attend, but it definitely got me excited about
making and buying mead again. Usually I am kind of quiet about
promoting mead as a beverage, but now I am more vocal ( JUST SHUT UP

I made a capsicumel a couple of years ago with mesquite honey and
mesquite smoked garden salsa peppers from my garden ( a mid-size green
pepper similar to Anaheim but with a little more heat). I used 1
pepper per gallon of these. The result was pretty subtle and
surprising. Up front, the aroma was honey with subtle smoke and heat
from both the peppers and the alcohol, yet the flavor was more complex
and the heat from the peppers was a light afterbite, a few seconds
after you swallowed a sip. Homebrew club folks really liked this one.

I tried making a rhodomel once, used frozen rose petals from my own
shrub roses, and laid them on top of the must while it was
pasteurizing. I left the mead on the rose petals throughout the
primary (about 1 week), but I think next time I won't leave them in
contact with the mead this long. The aroma is pretty intense, and I
found this was a love-it or hate-it sort of thing.

I also have a hopped braggot I brought to the Planet Buzz amateur room,
I think people there liked it as well as my homebrew club (I was told
this could be a show winner!) After 4 1/2 years of aging, the flavors
are finally coming together. This was a big brew, OG 1.124, FG 1.024,
very barley-wine like but with a very distinct honey edge. I should
have put it up in smaller bottles, 500 ml at a time could be lethal.

My 2 cents worth about a mead organization; wouldn't it be cool, since
we are a small community, to have an organization involving both the
amateur and the professional? Most if not all of the professionals
started as amateurs, some of the amateurs aspire to be professionals,
and a united front to promote mead would be in the best interest of all.

Jim Johnston,

Just trying to make sense of the deeds of men one glass at a time…

Subject: peppers in capsimels
From: Ben Snyder <>
Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2002 15:44:11 -0500

Hi All

I've just embarked on a quest to create a decent capscimel, and was
wondering how others would sanitize their peppers (if at all)

What I did – I still boil my must, when I get some more experience and
do larger batches I intend on sulfiting (maybe) So, after boiling I
added some dried smoked habaneros to it and covered tightly.
I did not boil the peppers for fear that the fumes will launch my wife
into an asthma attack (hence the reason I no longer make my own pepper

What I would like to know – How do other people do this? Sulfite?
Boil? Drop into the must and hope for the best?

I'm thinking of adding some more pepper to the mix at racking as
the heat level isn't quite right yet.


  • -ben

Subject: Botchard
From: Eric Harding <>
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 10:19:36 -0800 (PST)

Does anyone know the etymology of \"botchard?\"

I recently made the recipe from a CJJ Berry book and was curious. It strikes
me as a strange, somewhat bastardized word. Any connection, perhaps, with the
name \"Bouchard\"?

Thanks to all.

Eric Harding
Keats Island, BC

End of Mead Lover's Digest #972