Mead Lover's Digest #973 Sun 1 December 2002


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



RE: Figs and Mead ("Ken Taborek")
RE: Tasteless Mead, MLD #971 (Michael Kaiser)
RE: Fast fermented mead (Michael Kaiser)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #972, 25 November 2002 (Eric Drake)
RE: Figs and Mead ("Alan Duke")
Capsimels! Heat & Flavor ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: Mint Mead ("Maurice St. aude")
Persimmon Mead and Sparkling Mead ("David Craft")
Quick Small Mead ("Grant Knechtel")
My First Mead Brewing Experience! ("FrOg")


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Subject: RE: Figs and Mead
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 00:32:12 -0500

> 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


I make a fig mead each year with the figs from my girlfriend's parents
trees, which they graciously provide. They have both green and black fig
trees, but their green fig trees are by far their best producer. What
details are you looking for? I can give a lot of general information, but I
have yet to make a fig mead that I truly loved, and so the recipe changes
from year to year as I tinker with different yeasts and honeys. About the
only constant is that I use 13-15 lbs of fruit in a 5 gallon batch.



Subject: RE: Tasteless Mead, MLD #971
From: Michael Kaiser <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 05:20:50 -0800 (PST)

>Subject: Tasteless Mead
>From: Kevin Hahn <>
>Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 08:29:02 -0600


> 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


I agree with some of the earlier posts, (Ken Taborek, Kevin Morgan, MLD
#972) in that 7 pounds of peaches would leave a rather subtle peach
character to the mead. I would suggest adding a little more honey to the
batch, as a little sweetness will make the now-subtle flavors "pop-out",
and become more noticable. Obviously, if your original thought was to end
up with a dry mead, this is not an option, unless the amount added was
very small, say 1/2 pound to 5 gallons.

As to the thought of adding flavoring, go for it…there is no shame in
doing so 😉

If it was MY mead, I would probably add more honey (10 pounds of honey to
a 5 gallon batch is on the "light" side for my batches, I usually start
with 12 pounds as a standard, and go up from there) say about 2 pounds,
and look for some peach nectar somewhere, preferably an organic
concentrate, and add it at the same time. If you find a concentrate that
is really sweet, then leave out the extra honey all together.

Peach is notorius for a subtle flavor, even if you use a LOT of fruit. A
friend of mine used about 35 pounds of fresh, ripe Maryland Eastern Shore
peaches in his first melomel, and STILL only got a very subtle flavor.

If you are dead-set on a peach flavor, try the above, if not, go for
something else, like cranberry or orange, or whatever suits you. The
holidays are coming, and showing up at a party with a few liters of
cranberry-orange-spice mead will surely impress your host/ess, and start
endless hours of conversation about your new mead making hobby.


Michael Kaiser

Subject: RE: Fast fermented mead
From: Michael Kaiser <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 05:54:53 -0800 (PST)

>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 ?





I found a few references to a "Fast mead" for you;
MLD #360, 1994, thoughts from Dick Dunn on yeast strains and fermentation
"Fast Mead" recipe from Donald Kackman ( (a recipe
that I consider a Lemon melomel, considering he uses the juice of 10

My suggestion, keep the honey light-colored and don't use much (9-10
pounds for a 5 gallon batch), use champagne yeast, and keep it WARM (put
a heating pad under the carboy or keep it next to a heat source) bottle
it early (wait at least 3 weeks, in 2 weeks you will have yeast-soda-pop)
and keep it COLD (so you don't end up with hand-grenades) and drink it
FAST (I don't really need to say this, do I? ;))


Michael Kaiser

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #972, 25 November 2002
From: Eric Drake <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 09:03:03 -0500

At 08:14 PM 11/25/2002 -0700, Jim Johnston wrote:
>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

> >…

>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,

I too was at Planet Buzz, and think I may have tasted your Braggot. I was
at all three sessions and some things are B/Fuzzy. I enjoyed the event so
much that I made sure to thank Ray Daniels at least three times for his
work in organizing it.

During the connoisseurs session there was a call for a conversation about
forming such an organization. I can think of no better place than here for
that conversation to take place. I have been thinking of ideas for it, but
feel that whatever caused the downfall of the American Mead Association
should be studied so as to avoid such a fate for the infant organization
that would be formed. Should we talk?


Subject: RE: Figs and Mead
From: "Alan Duke" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 12:29:34 -0500

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

>Chris Eidson
>Birmingham, AL

Hi Chris,

I have been on the trail of the elusive fig mead recipe for a number of

years. Last time I made it was in 1999. I would have made again, except
that the town insists on spraying for West Nile Virus…perhaps next year.
Here are my notes for 2 & 1/2 US Gallons :


8 lbs backyard fresh frozen figs
7.5 lbs Clover Honey (store brand)
3 US gallons filtered water
2 teaspoons citric acid
Lalvin EC1118 Champaign yeast


Low simmer boil honey and water for 1 hour. Added citric acid just before

O.G. 1.074

Quartered 8 lbs of fresh frozen figs (Brown Turkey figs from back yard tree)
into 5 gallon plastic fermenter. Added starter mead from above (S.G. of mead
before adding to figs 1.044)


After a vigorous 8 day secondary fermentation, no more bubbles through the
airlock. Racked in to glass carboy. Added 20 drops of pectin enzime.


Racked into 1 gallon jugs. Smooth taste.


Racked again. F.G. 0.990


Bottled. Best recipe with figs yet. Sherry like flavor, honey and fig flavor


Poured a few bottles back into a 1 gallon jug. Mixed in 0.5 teaspoon of
potassium sorbate and chopped 12 dried (from the store) mission figs into a
hop sack. Put it in the freezer for a few days to kill off the yeast (if


Bottled again. Even better. Harsh alcohol flavor that came up when melomel
was served cold is gone now. Sherry like flavor still predominates. Still no
sign of fig flavor.


Results from the 5th Annual B.E.E.R. Brew off…30 out of 50 on AHA Mead
Score Sheet. Boarder line Good/Very Good. Next time more honey, process the
figs by removing the skin from about 3/4 of the harvest, add figs in
secondary when the gravity is closer to 1.000, and use a lower alcohol
tolerance yeast.

Best of Luck,

Subject: Capsimels!  Heat & Flavor
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 14:41:12 -0600

In my last post, I'd done a sort of thought experiment,
asking myself whether a heatless capsimel would taste
exactly the same, just the same flavor but without heat.
After all, for the non-chile-head, why not make a
metheglin with no heat so it can be enjoyed by all?
Blasphemy, I suppose, for chile-heads digest members
who would consider it a cardinal sin against El Grande
but if heat and flavor are two separate things, it should
be possible.

On an intuitive level, however, it doesn't seem to work
for me. A heatless capsimel, especially the ultra hot ones,
just doesn't taste the same without the heat. Chuck's
Smoke 'N Chiles mead (hereafter abbreviated as S'NC,
in spite of the Freudian tone carried in the acronym 🙂
wouldn't taste the same without heat. An S'NC without
heat wouldn't be a heatless S'NC, it would only be a
ginger metheglin with a taste of jalapeno and smoke.
Not the same thing at all! Saying it is one thing, however,
trying to prove it is something else.

A major difficulty is that capsaicin, the principle agent
in chile peppers causing the sensation of heat, is a
flavorless and odorless compound. To make matters
worse, apparently a recent experiment conducted at
the University of California, Davis, showed that chile
pepper heat can suppress the sensation of sweetness,
bitterness, and umami (a fifth flavor sensation),
although doesn't affect saltiness and sourness.

After some delving into research, I was able to come
up with an explanation for my intuitive experience
that somehow the sensation of chile pepper heat
and flavor are incorporated in some way. First,
although capsaicin is the principle agent in the
sensation of heat, there are four other capsinoids
that create heat. They're not as powerful as capsaicin,
but at least one has been noted to have a flavor,
possibly some of the others as well. This flavor
would be more noticeable at higher heat levels.

More tellingly, there is the role of physiology itself
in the experience of flavor and taste (There's no
redundancy here; I'm making a distinction between
these two words for a reason).

A short paper by H. T. Lawless on the role of the
trigeminal nerve in the perception of taste offers a
good explanation for the reason why heat can be
incorporated in a flavor profile. The paper was
part of _Cognitive Ecology (Academic Press,
1996) pp. 325-380 and can also be found at

A little background first — the trigeminal nerve is
one of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves, nerves which
originate from the brain itself rather than the spinal
cord. The cranial nerves are responsible for sensory
and motor functions associated with the head and
face, also parasympathetic functions. The vagus
nerve, in this instance, controls parasympathetic
response in the thoracic and abdominal viscera.

The trigeminal nerve divides into three branches and
enervates the scalp, forehead, nose, palate, upper
and lower jaw, also controls muscles involving
mastication. Although the facial and glossopharyngeal
nerves, cranial nerves 7 and 9, account for the sense
of taste across the tongue, the trigeminal nerve seems
to be involved as well. Sensations of general chemical
irritability are handled by the relevant branches of the
trigeminal nerve, such as the tingle of CO2 in soda,
the burn from chile pepper, black pepper, or the nasal
pungency of mustard and horseradish. It also mediates
tactile, thermal and pain sensations, however, at times
the distinctions between these sensations can become
blurred. A good example here is in the sensation of
astringency. Tannins produce a chemical stimulus yet
the experienced sensation is tactile, i.e., a drawing or
puckering sensation.

Lawless points out that information from all physiological
subsystems involved in the perception of flavor tend to
be synthesized into one unitary experience. Odor and
taste are mediated by separate organs, for example, yet
are blended in the experience of taste. Chronic smokers
find that they cannot taste as well as non smokers. The
nose and mouth, in fact, act as gatekeepers to the
alimentary tract, he states, speedily and with little cognitive
involvement. This appears to function as a survival tactic,
as there are some things that upon taste bring on instant

This synthesis of taste perceptions appears to involve the
trigeminal nerve as well. Trigeminal nerve branches form
a "chalice like structure" around taste buds, offering a
possible explanation as to why wine tasters consider
astringency, a chemical stimulus carried by the trigeminal
nerve, a part of the flavor of the wine. The CO2 in soda
is also an irritant detected by the trigeminal nerve. There
is a strong suggestion of cross over of irritant and flavor
perception as carried by the trigeminal nerve and nerves
detecting specific flavors, particularly if the experience
of the irritant is pleasurable, as it is among confirmed
chile heads. Soda may be a more familiar example.
Compare soda without the fizz. Flat, uninteresting,
too sweet, definitely not the same thing without the
CO2 which technically is an irritant. Combine the
two and the irritant becomes part of the flavor profile.

So there it is, the reason why you can't make a good
capsimel without good heat!


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Mint Mead
From: "Maurice St. aude" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 00:39:40 -0500

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

> 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?

What day was this? K1V usually takes a couple hours to really get going.
Airlocks also work under a slight pressure and the mead generally has to
become saturated with CO2 before it starts the vent it, (that's been my
exerience atleast).

> 2. When should I plan to rack to secondary?

That is a somewhat complicated question and it depends on a few factors, the
short answer is when the initial ferment begings to slow down. I usually
rack from my primary bucket at 1.020, but if I start in a carboy I rack at


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

It is my experience that K1V will go to atleast .998 from that OG but more
likely .990. According to Lavin K1V will go to 14%, but I have had it
routinly go to between 14.9 & 15% without syrop feeding. By syrop feeding it
is consevably to go even higher than that.


Subject: Persimmon Mead and Sparkling Mead
From: "David Craft" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 17:42:25 -0500


Persimmon Mead, yum. Sounds great! I have never made it but I would use a
darker honey and spice it a little. Persimmons do not have a strong flavor
and can be very bitter if not fully ripe. Look at Persimmon Pudding recipes
for how to spice it, a little ginger, cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg, or some
or all of the above.

As for Sparkling Mead, I would let it ferment out, add fresh yeast and 5-7
oz of sugar per 5 gallons. Trying to determine what the terminal gravity
is and bottling just before is a little risky, bottle bombs or
uncarbonated! Why take the chance.


David Craft
Greensboro, NC

Subject: Quick Small Mead
From: "Grant Knechtel" <>
Date: Fri, 29 Nov 2002 05:51:08 -0800

Martin asks about fast fermented mead in MLD 972:

>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 ?


Have had some success making quick small mead using fruit juice or
"cocktail" as liquid, honey to small beer OG 1.035-1.040 and adding nutrient
in the form of a spoonful of boiled bread yeast. Yeast can be most any good
healthy yeast, i've used a large healthy starter of Wyeast 1056, a pretty
clean ale yeast but Lalvin 71b wouldn't be a bad choice either. My personal
opinion is champagne yeast works well but needs mellowing time to be

Be sure you follow good yeast pitching practice, rehydrating dry yeast if
used, and aerating or oxygenating thoroughly after pitching. If you make a
plain honey but low gravity mead, you may want to watch pH and add chalk to
adjust pH back into the middle or upper 3s when and if pH crashes during
ferment. This will depend to some degree on chemistry of your water. Good
Luck, and Wassail!


  • -LabRat


Subject: My First Mead Brewing Experience!
From: "FrOg" <>
Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2002 11:45:24 -0700

Ever since I was young, I have had a fascination with MEAD…
the drink of the Gods….books I've read had talked about the
"raiders" drinking this stuff after conquering some poor
village saps…but I never had the chance to try any.
So now that I am older and wiser, I thought I would
try my hand at the art of brewing mead.

After several months of kicking the idea around,
I decided to take the jump! I got the girlfriend to take
me down to Brewers Connection (
in Tempe, Arizona where I purchased a Wine Equipment
box kit ($80 US). It came with:

1 Primary 7.5 gal (looks like a plastic bucket to me)
1 Glass Carboy 6.5 gal (hey I get water in these things)

and a bunch of other "neat" stuff:

Bottle Corker w/corks (looks like I'll need several neighbors to
help me use this thing and the corks look real crappy compared
to the ones in the wine I buy commercially)

Hydrometer (duh…huh…what the heck am I supposed to do with this,
"hopefully" it doesn't involve me dropping my pants!!????)

A bunch of plastic tubes and hoses (God only knows what this
stuff is for, looks like stuff we used in High School to get gas
for the Nova!!!)

Rubber Stoppers w/Holes in them….??? (what are these for?
oh I see, one fits in this hole in the top of this plastic lid, and the
oh, in the top of the glass water jug)

Now I need some YEAST…I got some WLP715 Champagne Yeast (White Labs)
according to the pamphlet…rocket fuel baby!!!!)

On to the ingredients…off to CostCo Bulk Wholesaler…
at this point I'm on a roll and the girlfriend is looking at me crazy….
"what has he got into now?"

Let's see, trying to think of the recipe I read at
Mead HQ ( ):

15 lbs. Mrs. Crockett's Hill Country Honey
"Sonoran Desert Wild Flower" ($1.50/lb US)
6 liters. Mt. Dew ($.99/2 liter on sale!)
4 lbs. Strawberries (frozen/organic)
2.5 gal. Bottled Spring Water
1 orange (gonna zest this baby)

How the heck am I gonna "cook" this stuff…I only have a small 6 qt pot…
that ain't gonna work…Hey they have a Turkey Deep Fat Fryer…
ooooo 30 qt. pot and a big propane burner to boot…
($80 US) with a bunch of extra stuff I'll use for cooking my Seafood

ok, Sunday night at around 7:30 pm on 11.18.02 I get this wild hair…
I think this is gonna take a few minutes and were off and

I hook up the propane tank to the burner kit in the front yard…
good thing most of my neighborhood is in the SCA…so I don't look too
after all one of the neighbors makes armor and he bangs
and clangs at ALL hours of the night and day in his front yard…

Start "sterilizing" everything w/bleach and water..
(cause I read this is what your supposed to, I hate doing dishes!).

8:00 pm – Place the 30 qt. pot on and dump 6 liters of Mountain Dew into
the pot and start boiling…meanwhile…I read somewhere I'm
supposed to place the honey jugs in HOT water for EZ pouring.

8:15 pm – Remove pot and bring in the dining room and start pouring
honey in the pot, spilling on carpet and the tile. 6 lbs. and stir and stir
and stir…
6 more lbs. and stir and stir and stir…3 more lbs. and stir and stir and
added the FROZEN strawberries. Added the zest of 1 orange
(that zesting tool is pretty cool, just watch your fingers,
I sure hope the skin from my knuckles won't hurt the "must"!)

I'm supposed to cool this stuff down…fill the sink with cold
now place 30 qt. pot in sink FULL of cold water…
I don't have to tell you what happened as I placed the hot and heavy 30 qt.
pot into the FULL sink….

10:00 pm….10:30 pm…..11:00 pm….waiting for the temperature to go down
so I can toss this yucky looking muddy water called liquid "yeast"
into the bucket with the "must"….

By 11:30 pm I'm getting very impatient with this stuff…
it just doesn't want to cool down….I have to go to work in the morning…
so I add the bottled water and "must" to the bucket
spilling some of course…and checked the temperature again…
85*F…good enough….

I shake the daylights outta the yucky looking liquid mud (yeast) and
pour it into the bucket. Then stirred the "concoction" until it felt like


arm was gonna fall off…have to make sure there is plenty of "air" in the


I read that somewhere…

How do I get this FULL bucket outta this sink? very carefully!
Didn't spill any this time…good thing cause I think I can't walk the
to the pantry, my feet are stuck to the floor of my kitchen…

note to self…plan ahead next batch…buy a plastic drop cloth!

Placed the cover on the bucket and placed one of those neat tubes into it
and then found an old bottle of "CHEAP" vodka (you know the ones, they
come in the plastic bottles and have a GENERIC label with the word VODKA and


nothing else except federal gov stuff on it.) my brother left it here 3+
years ago…
and cut the plastic pourer out to fit the other end of the tubing into the
handy little blow-off bottle now…

Ahhhh…time for bed…until I looked at the kitchen and dining room…
OMG what happened in here? My kids don't even leave it looking this bad!
and why are the hairs on my arms matted down? and why is my forehead
all sicky?

OOOPPPSSS…forgot to check the gravity…read the directions for the
horse thermometer and got the following reading SG 1.112…hope that's

Reattach the hose and lid…major mess to clean up and I'm tired….

11.19.02 6:30 am
no bubbles…:( ..tossed in 1/2 cup of raisins thinking this may help,
read that too somewhere)

11.19.02 6:30 pm
after worrying ALL day about killing the yeast with my knuckle skin or
the must was too hot…I decide to order a BUNCH of stuff online
for my brew from Leener's Brew Works ( )
(thanks Eileen)…nutrient/energizer/more mud (yeast)…man, $100 US
worth of stuff…. wait patiently for UPS person to come down the street
so I can mug them and get this rolling…

11.20.02 6:30 am
still no bubbles…man that UPS person better hurry their butt here…

11.20.02 6:00 pm
WHOA…fermentation finally started…man look at that thing go…
stare in utter amazement at bubbles coming outta the blow-off tube for
nearly 30 minutes…so much for all the stuff I just ordered…too late
to cancel..order already shipped…oh well..use it for the next batch…

note to self…make a starter solution next time…

11.21.02 6:30 am
this stuff has got the lid puffed up and is bubbling profusely…
man is it "going-to-town"

11.25.02 6:45 pm
fermentation slowed…possible cause…weather/temperature change…
so I shook the bucket "vigorously"…all is well.

11.28.02 1:02 pm
steady bubbles…still no UPS guy…man is he gonna get it when I see him…
where's my stuff?

I want to start another batch…


End of Mead Lover's Digest #973