Mead Lover's Digest #978 Mon 16 December 2002


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #977, 13 December 2002 (Randy Goldberg MD)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #977, 13 December 2002 ("Kemp, Alson")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #977, 13 December 2002 (Eric Drake)
Re: Montrachet Yeast (Vince)
Which "montrachet"? (Dick Dunn)
RE: Montrachet yeast, boiling honey ("Ken Taborek")
Hippocras (Greg Fischer)
Re: Corks for Bottling Mead (Adam Funk)
RE: 9% ABV mead ("Bill & Ramona Kuhn")
Cranberry mead – Summary and what I've got brewing ("Arthur Torrey (no spa…)
Book Reccomendation ("Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)")
Sorbate/stabilizing ("Randy Goldberg MD")


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #977, 13 December 2002
From: Randy Goldberg MD <>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 12:49:50 -0500

> How do you keep the Alcohol volume to 9%, I see all the time
> references to make it to 12 to 13 %. But have never seen a Mead
> to make at 9%. I know us first timers are hard to have to deal
> with.. But as one of the guys on here said, we are the future
> mead makers.

Most mead/wine yeasts have an alcohol tolerance of anywhere from 11-18%,
depending on the variety of yeast. If you want a lower-alcohol mead, you could:
1. check gravity frequently and stop the mead with potassium sorbate as soon as
it gets to the ABV you want, 2. start with a low-gravity must and let it
ferment to dryness, 3. try beer or ale yeasts, which frequently have lower
alcohol tolerances.

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #977, 13 December 2002
From: "Kemp, Alson" <>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 10:07:34 -0800

>In the other camp, I hear lots of sound
>seeming reasoning why heating and sulphiting
>are good ideas.
When I first started making mead, I boiled AND sulfited.
Boiled to kill critters and clarify mead and sulfited to reduce
oxidation and, thus, improve long-term stability of the wine.
Now I dump honey in water, blend with a drill stirrer,
ferment and sulfite to 50ppm after fermentation. Great meads.
One of SO2's main roles in winemaking is to be a
long-term anti-oxidant. I don't like the oxidized sherry quality
that many meadmakers (intentionally or unintentionall) wind up
with. Sulfites are a safe and easy way to prevent that.
Sulfites are safe, they're natural-ish (for the all-natural
crowd, burn a sulfur candle, like they did in the old days!) and
the wine-making trade is well and truly married to them.
Wee bit of advice: Go buy a $90 0.1g scale and precisely
measure your additions. 1 gram = 150ppm/gallon, so 1 gram =
30ppm/5gallons. Teaspoon schmeaspoon.

>However, no experiences of meads failing
>without these precautions have been posted.
I've heard that it's not uncommon for no-sulfite wines to
fail after 6 months to a year because of oxidative effects.

> Alson also mentioned that two commercial mead
> makers boil their musts not because of fears of
> flora and fauna, but because it makes better mead.
Ooops. Just talked to one of the mead makers last
weekend: he pasteurizes to get rid of critters. The other
definitely boils.

When my boil/no-boil experiment ends, I'll report


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #977, 13 December 2002
From: Eric Drake <>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:14:49 -0500

At 10:18 AM 12/13/2002 -0700, you wrote:

>Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #976, 10 December 2002
>Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 15:57:38 EST



>Greetings to all:
>This is my first reply to the group. I have been researcher
>on the Internet the History of Mead, Making Mead.
>I have purchased from the brewing supply houses
>The various books (all 10 years old or older) on Making Mead.
>I still need to buy all the equipment to start. But one question
>I have of many..but I will start with this one.
>How do you keep the Alcohol volume to 9%, I see all the time
>references to make it to 12 to 13 %. But have never seen a Mead
>to make at 9%. I know us first timers are hard to have to deal
>with.. But as one of the guys on here said, we are the future
>mead makers.
>One more.. has anyone seen a book on the subject that has
>been published int he last few years, If not make this would
>be a good project for MLD to do.. a real do it yourself guy
>with photos of all the steps and equipment to the end result.
>thanks again for any help and replys


I try to keep my alcohol levels down by using ale yeast. Just look at the
yeast charts for attenuation and pick one that ferments to about 9%. But
then you might also want to take into consideration the characters the
yeast imparts to the brew. Personally, I like London Ale III (1318 I
think) from Wyeast for my 7% traditional.

Also there is a book coming out soon (Jan-March time-frame) that I hear
will be the compleat mead makers guide. I am sure other respondents will
have more accurate information than I.


Subject: Montrachet Yeast
From: <>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:42:38 -0500 (EST)

I'd like to clear Montrachet's bad name:
I made 12 batches of mead so far, 2 with montrachet (raisin melomel in
summer–basement around 72 degrees, and braggot in the fall–fermented
around 60 degrees). All my batches are still young (2-6 months) and I only
did preliminary tasting (racking and hydrometer leftovers) but I have to
say that my best so far seem to be the 2 I made with Montrachet. I didn't
have any listerine off-flavor. I tried braggot still cloudy and after
clarification (in my fridge) and the braggot tasted better cloudy, like a
white beer with accents of spice and banana, reminding me of Belgian abbey
beer like Leffe (it may be hard to believe, but I swear I'm not making it
up). Maybe I was just lucky, but it worked for me and I'll try this yeast
again. I'll keep you posted on future tastings of the same batches.
Addl. yeast comments: Champagne-type yeasts are fermenting too high for me,
giving lots of alcohol and a lot of dryness. I'm going to avoid these and
try lower fermenting yeasts (ICDV 47, montrachet etc…) to end up where I
want without too much adjusting at the end. Still trying to identify the
taste each yeast imparts to the batch. Looks like it's as important as the
honey (yet people don't comment very much on this except for bad tastes)

Question: I really would like to bottle this braggot with some carbonation
to make an "abbey mead" close to my favorite beers. I'm afraid that if I
wait until it's stable and use corn sugar the yeast will be drowned in
alcohol and it won't carbonate. On the other hand, if I bottle as is (while
still fermenting in secondary) I could overcarbonate and (literally) blow
it. I assume you can calcualte from the gravity how much is left to ferment
but I don't know the optimal "bottling point". More concretely, assuming
that my yeast ferments to 14% alcohol, how much % alcohol should I have at
bottling time to have the right amount of sugar left and obtain the right
carbonation? (i.e., 13% would ferment for another 1% alcohol, is this
sufficient to generate enough/not too much CO2?)
Any other ideas to obtain the right carbonation?

About heating honey: I understand boiling is probably not a good solution
(I would assume the same for grapes) but it's not necessary. About
pasteurizing vs. cold brewing (here is an idea for future
advertising: "brewed cold"!), and at the same time about "raw" vs. filtered
honey, I'd like to share the comment I got from a beekeeper (while
insisting on the lack of processing). He told me "when it's 100 degrees out
there in the summer, how hot do you think it is in the hive?". I think he
had a point. I don't think the temperatures used for filtration are that
high so is there a big difference between raw and processed honey? By the
same token, is a little hotter (150-160 degrees) for a short time (20 min)
removing all subtleness of the taste? I'm no expert but from here it
doesn't sound that bad. I think the debate can go on forever and it's kind
of a preference after all.

While I'm on a roll, I'd like to add one comment on the titration: from
what I read before, trying to titrate honey or mead is like trying to
titrate a buffer solution. The precise purpose of a buffer solution is to
stay at the same pH when you add acids or bases. In a sense, it's good. It
makes one's batch more stable while fermenting. On the other hand, it makes
checking acidity useful only when the pH is really off (enough imbalance to
overwhelm the buffering capacity), and either way measuring pH with a
simple method like pH paper more relevant than titrating.

Well, there are my thoughts anyway. Please shed some light if you think
otherwise. Also , thanks in advance to anyone answering my carbonation

Vince Galet

Subject:  Which "montrachet"?
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:34:18 -0700 (MST)

Aside from differing expectations and differing amounts of patience with
aging a mead, the discussion of Montrachet so far omits an important point:
WHOSE "montrachet" are you using? Yeast mutate over time and reculturing,
so after a while montrachet will be different from one vendor to another.
Maybe the folks who have had good or bad luck could chime in again with
the particular vendor of the yeast they were talking about?

I've noted the "Listerine" factor (call it "Lf") in varying amounts in
meads over the years, and although I've not done careful experiments I've
got enough data points to have drawn a couple of conclusions:

* Different brands of what is supposedly the same "name" of yeast produce
Lf in very different amounts.
* The same yeast at different temperatures produces Lf to differing


I think that with the right yeast and fermentation temperature kept below
75F, Lf just isn't a problem.

I tend to get preachy about one point: Your mead should be drinkable at
the time it's ready to bottle, and if it isn't, you've got a problem in
your meadmaking. Oh, it may have some "rough edges" when it's young, and
there might be a little Lf, but there shouldn't be much. This business of
saying that a mead has to age for a year or more before it will be drink-
able…I think we've used it as an excuse to avoid hunting down some of the
problems we've had over the years.

Plus, if you've got serious Lf in your mead when it's young, yes, it will
age out but it will always be there. Your mead will never be quite as good
as it could have been early on.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: RE: Montrachet yeast, boiling honey
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 20:16:17 -0500

> From: "phil" <>
> Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2002 17:35:46 -0800

> I did not even ask about montrachet yeast and an interesting
> conversation has begun. It seems that people who like it do so because
> it is dependable, and others don't like the flavor profile.

> People with experience and opinions with montrachet yeast-lets further
> the depth of this discussion.

I like montrachet yeast because it is dependable, and I have never detected
the alleged "Listerine" flavor in a mead or a wine made with montrachet, at
any stage of the process. (My use of the term alleged is not meant to
refute that others have experienced this, but simply that I have no first
hand evidence that this flavor occurs in meads fermented with montrachet

Some young meads do exhibit a wintergreen nose, and that might be what some
are calling Listerine, since that product does come in various mint flavors,
but I have detected this wintergreen nose in meads made with many different
kinds of yeast, and so it is not a characteristic that can be assigned to
montrachet yeast alone.

[regarding using sulphites]
> However, no experiences of meads failing without these precautions have
> been posted. Thus, the risk may be only theoretical, having no value
> but to make the mead maker feel safer.

Sulphites have a value above that of protecting the must/mead from unwanted
organisms. Sulphites protect against oxidation, against color loss, and can
extend the shelf life.

> Ken said he switched from
> boiling to sulphating and has noticed no differences in aromatics.

One slight correction, I said that I've switched from heat pasteurizing to
sulphiting. I've never made a mead using the boil method of sterilizing the
must, but I suspect that you can make a fine mead using that process. I
would still sulphite that mead when racking and bottling it. 🙂



Subject: Hippocras
From: Greg Fischer <>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 21:23:23 -0600

>From The Encyclopedia Of Gastronomy 1946 here is an interesting tid


Hippocras – of the most popular forms of aromatized and spiced wine
during the Middle Ages and even long after, There is every reason to
believe that the basis of Hippocras was sour or pricked wine, of which
there must have been an embarrassingly large quantity at the time when
wine was kept on ullage, in casks, or in ill stoppered bottles, before
the use of cork stoppers. Such wine being heavily sweetened with honey
and flavored with herbs and spices was then filtered through a woollen
bag, known as Hippocrates sleeve, hense the name Hippocras, often
written Ipoctas or Ypocras.

Always Ask For Mead

Greg Fischer
Wild Blossom Meadery – Chicago

Subject: Re: Corks for Bottling Mead
From: Adam Funk <>
Date: Sat, 14 Dec 2002 10:32:07 +0000

> From: "Maurice St. aude" <>
> Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 13:58:13 -0500

> So what choice do I make? Do I stick to natural cork with a failure
> rate of aprrox. 5% per batch, or do I take my chances with one of the
> modern corks or cork alternatives? Any help or thought on this matter
> would be appreciated.

I've had problems with the outside end of the corks getting mouldy in my
damp cellar (I don't think it's affected the contents yet, but it might) and
I find preparing and inserting corks a nuisance. So I've switched to beer
bottles and crown caps for everything — beer, mead and even wine. They're
easy to seal (get a good double-lever capper), I don't have to worry about
cork problems and I have a variety of sizes (from 250 to 650 ml).

As for the aesthetics of wine and still mead, I serve it from a carafe (a
good idea anyway, since I usually have some sediment).


  • — Adam


Subject: RE: 9% ABV mead
From: "Bill & Ramona Kuhn" <>
Date: Sat, 14 Dec 2002 10:36:07 -0700

In digest #977, bob asked…
> How do you keep the Alcohol volume to 9%, I see all the time
> references to make it to 12 to 13 %. But have never seen a Mead
> to make at 9%.
Just use about 9 lbs. of honey for a 5 gallon batch and check your
gravity. You want to be at 1.070. Depending on the sweetness of the
honey, this should get you close to 9%. If you are using fruit, you need
to take the sugar content of the fruit into account. You can search the
MLD archives for a good post on how to do that, or you can just guess. 2
lbs./gal of a fairly sweet fruit like peaches will raise the potential
alcohol about 1%. Most yeasts will quickly ferment this mead to dead
dry, if you want it sweet, wait until it stops working, then add
potassium sorbate (sorbistax) and a little more honey. 1 lb in 5 gallons
will raise the gravity to about 1.010, which is lightly sweet.

> I know us first timers are hard to have to deal with.. But as
> one of the guys on here said, we are the future mead makers.
> One more.. has anyone seen a book on the subject that has
> been published int he last few years, If not make this would
> be a good project for MLD to do.. a real do it yourself guy
> with photos of all the steps and equipment to the end result.
> thanks again for any help and replys
We've all been there, stressing over that first batch. But really, you
don't need a book, and it's easier than you think. Just get your
equipment, either from your local homebrew shop or from one of the
online places. There are many debates over heat, but it might be a good
idea to pasteurize your first batch (I don't at all anymore, I just use
1/4 t of sodium bisulfite per 5 gallons). A starter will make it happen
faster, but I don't do that anymore either. I have made more than 20
meads since I started 2 years ago, and they all have been at least good.
I started out being so careful, now I just sanitize the equipment, dump
in the ingredients (I put the fruit in a fine mesh nylon sparging bag so
there is no mess when racking, and I always use yeast nutrient),
sprinkle the yeast on top, stir it in a little later, and rack after a
couple of weeks. If I don't like it when it is 6 months old, I just mess
with it until I do…Add acid to make it more tart, stabilize and
sweeten if I think it's too dry. And keep good records so you can
replicate what you like! If you have a specific question, feel free to
e-mail me off-list and I will do what I can to answer. But you will
never know anything about making mead until you start making it!

Good brewing, and cheers, I think I'll crack a blueberry/strawberry mel
and make some mead…

Subject: Cranberry mead - Summary and what I've got brewing
From: "Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)" <>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 21:49:30 -0500

First I would like to thank all of the folks that responded to my

request for recipes for Whole Berry based Cranberry Mead. I ended up with
about 8 different recipes, all of which sounded pretty good. However
there was a great deal of divergence of opinion about just what should go
into the brew pot (not all that suprising).


Cranberry ammounts for a 5 gallon batch ranged from 1.75 lbs to 12 lbs,

and I got a whole bunch of different additional ingredients, including
(from different recipes) Lipton tea, apple cider, oranges, spices, etc.


Given the wide range of ideas, I ended up creating my own recipe using

the responses as a base and trying to do a bit of an average. The
following is what I just got through putting in the primary…


1/4 tsp. Sodium Metabisulfate
2.5 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 Tbl. Pollen
1 Tbl. Freeze Dried Royal Jelly
1 Tbl. Propolis
1/4 tsp. Pectic Enzyme
10 12 oz. Bags (7.5 lbs) Whole Cranberries
~15 lbs. Wildflower honey (fairly dark fall 2001 honey from my own

The cranberries were frozen and chopped, which I found took some

experimenting to find a good way to do. Putting them in the blender was a
mixed bag, some got chopped really fine, but mostly I ended up with a wall
of frozen cranberry slush around the edge of the jar and a bunch of partly
skinned cranberry marbles rattling around in the middle. I then tried the
chopper blade in a food processor, which mostly just pushed the frozen
berries around, without doing much chopping on them. Finally I tried
using the slicer disk in the food processor, and found this worked pretty
well. I would fill the feed tube with frozen berries, and use the pusher
to slowly push them through. This made fairly coarse chips and slices
with a minimal effort and fairly fast, although it sounded terrible (about
like a garbage disposal eating a rock…)


I haven't pitched yeast yet since I'm waiting for the sulfites to go

away, but I'm planning to use White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast (WLP720)


You may also notice the Pollen, Royal Jelly, and Propolis – I put this

in all the meads that I brew, as I think it gets back to the more ancient
mead making methods where one used an entire hive (angry bees and all)
without wasting the bees. This is something I got as a suggestion from
the book "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers; the secrets of ancient
fermentation" by Stephen Harrod Buhner (ISBN 0-937381-66-7) (Published by
Sirus Books / Brewers Publications) Despite the title, this book contains
several good traditional and herbal mead recipes. If you want to do
herbal brewing, I highly reccomend this book.




Subject: Book Reccomendation
From: "Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)" <>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 22:13:31 -0500

Bob <> was asking about book reccomendations.


One that I picked up a few months ago which I find very useful is "The

Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible" by Leon W. Kania, ISBN 0-9674524-0-6.


This is a book that covers a lot of territory, including meads, wines,

beers and some other oddities you might or might not feel inclined to
drink… It doesn't take itself to seriously, and tends to focus more on
the practical than on the ultimate theoretical perfect approach.


The author's opinion is that while knowing all the modern yeast

chemistry and other such things is good, NOT knowing it didn't keep our
ancestors from making some pretty good brews. His book focuses on
practical 'poor boy' methods that might make a modern scientific brewer
cringe, but which work…


It has a fair bit of information on making your own equipment, including

(for educational purposes only, the book emphasizes often that it is a
'how to, not a must do book) plans for several stills (It claims to have
gotten some of the plans from middle eastern oil feed moonshiners, where
you really can loose your head over booze…) more practical and legal
instructions cover plans for cappers, fermenters and locks, making your
own malts, etc.


You might or might not want to make the recipes, but they do provide a

good starting point for making your own.


If all else fails, this book will leave you rolling on the floor in

places with its tales of some of the (mis)adventures and colorful
characters the author has encountered in his many years of brewing.


Subject: Sorbate/stabilizing
From: "Randy Goldberg MD" <>
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 19:39:33 -0500

Do you add potassium sorbate to stabilize and resweeten when you rack into
secondary, or just before bottling?



Randall Cook of Northpass (soon to be "of Sudentur")

(formerly Avraham haRofeh)
(mka Randy Goldberg MD)

RandomTag: There are no answers; at best a few possibly good guesses.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #978