Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1011, 28 April 2003

Mead Lover's Digest #1011 Mon 28 April 2003


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



Re: too sweet meads (
Re: dry meads (Steven Sanders)
Re: Mead body (was: Sweet mead) ("Ken Taborek")
sweetness in mead (Michael Kiley)
'03 Mazer Cup Winners, the book (Ken Schramm)
mead class ("Micah Millspaw")
Bourbon Braggett? (Rick Dingus)
calculating alcohol content (


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Subject: Re: too sweet meads 
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 14:43:26 -0700


What were the OG's of these batches? You mention that they are close, but not
how close.

Josh Stender

While I agree that many commercial meads are too sweet, there are
several that I have found in the dry range. Usually these are too dry
for my taste. It is most difficult when fermenting mead to arrive at a
nice semi-dry finish. This is something I have struggled with as well
i my own mead-making. I fare a bit better when dealing with my
melomels because the fruits ( usually berries) I use tend to offset
some of the sweetness. I now taylor my recipes more carefully and
choose yeasts more appropriately for the desired result. I never use
champagne yeast at all anymore.

I made three ginger metheglins with essentially identical recipes
except for the yeast. Starting gravities were within .002, finishing
were 1.020, 1.012 and 1.000. Of the three, the finishing at 1.012 gave
the best results. This was a light mead made with one gallon of orange
blossom honey and one ounce of ginger for six gallons, finishing at
around 7% abv. It was kegged and served sparkling, which certainly
lessened the sweetness by virtue of the carbonic acid in solution.
That used the Lalvin 71B-1122. The driest one used a Red Star
champagne yeast and it was just too dry. Surprisingly, the sweetest
used a dry mead yeast ( Yeastlab M62 ) which I feel was probably their
sweet mead yeast that had been mislabeled. It was nice and served
carbonated it was less sweet than the finishing gravity would indicate.


Subject: Re: dry meads
From: Steven Sanders <>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 15:43:06 -0700 (PDT)

> Subject: sweet meads
> From: "Tom & Dana Karnowski" <>
> Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 05:19:11 -0400


> Folks who like dry meads – do you feel like your dry
> mead has a true honey
> character to it? I mean, once it dries out, can you
> tell it was fermented
> with honey?

Absolutely. At least once you learn not to associate
honey flavor with sweetness. Personally, I prefer dry
meads because it seems to release the hidden flavors
in honey that sweetness tends to cover up… It's like
getting down to its essence. I figure if I want to
drink something sweet and alcoholic, I'll mix vodka
and honey. 🙂



Subject: Re: Mead body (was: Sweet mead)
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 22:58:43 -0400

> From: "Kemp, Alson" <>
> Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 11:56:24 -0700


> Subject: Sweet Mead / Pet Peeve
> From: "nlkanous " <>


> > commonly when I mention mead to people around
> >me I get those "oh yuck, that stuff's so sweet"
> >comments and many are unwilling to try my mead.
> >I don't care too much for sweet wines or mead,
> >myself. I like mine dry.
> Fully agree, I like mine dry, thanks for bringing it up,
> etc. Eric Johnson and I just did a presentation to the local
> winemaking association and a lot of our presentation was
> dedicated to dispelling the "sweet" mead myth.
> An aside: from my perspective, saying you're making
> "mead" is roughly as completely non-descriptive as saying you're
> making "wine": the only thing communicated is that (honey and
> water)/(grape) are being fermented.

> > *****

> BUT I do have an open question about mead: is a
> >perfectly< dry mead a good thing? I'm starting to think that a
> >perfectly< dry mead is not a good thing. I've made a couple and
> they seem to have a good aroma with the mouthfeel of a 12%
> alcohol solution.
> White wines definitely have a certain amount of
> mouthfeel. California Chardonnays have an especially strong
> mouthfeel, possibly for a number of reasons:
> 1) batonage encouraging the sloughing of large proteins
> off the cell walls of yeast and thickening up the solution;
> 2) oak perhaps lending some viscosity to the liquid;
> 3) grapes are solid things, perhaps they lend some
> viscosity to the liquid?;
> 4) a lot of white wines have very small amounts (>0 Bris
> <1 Brix) of residual sugar.


> I'm trying (1) and (2). (3) is obviously impossible with
> mead (although there may be a slight variation across honeys,
> honey is basically sugar and not-much-else (compared to a
> grape)).
> I think that (4) is the key. I prefer my wines/meads
> dry, but sugar right below the threshold of perception (0.5 Brix)
> might not perceivably sweeten the mead while providing a better
> mouthfeel (non-watery character).


> -Alson


I'd have to agree with you on several points, and offer one addition.
First, I'd agree that an off-dry or semi-sweet mead is preferable, in
general, than a dry mead. I personally like dry wines and meads, but my
meads that get the best compliments have almost all been off dry or semi
sweet. And your points 1-3 seem to be valid to me as well.
I offer up the following additional suggestion for mead body. I find that
my meads gain body over time. This is most apparent when reviewing my
tasting notes of the young meads, a great many of them describe the
fledgling meads as watery or thin. Within just a few months, however, my
tasting notes indicate that the body has increased from the first tastes.
And it seems to continue to increase, even if only slightly perhaps, for
about a year.

Without wanting to paint with too broad a brush, I gather that a great many
mead makers rarely have bottles that make it past the year anniversary.
Thus, it's possible that this contributes to the perception of mead as being
a thinner or less bodied drink.

I'm not offering this up as hard and fast factual information. This is all
very unscientific, based on very general observations. It's possible that
most of my friends simply prefer off dry or sweeter meads, even though they,
for the most part, prefer dry red wines. And it's possible that my
conception of home meadmakers mead aging habits is misinformed.



Subject: sweetness in mead
From: Michael Kiley <>
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 07:54:56 -0400

Sweet meads

I do prefer my mead dry but not dessicated. One of the ways to balance any
remaining sweetness in mead is sparkling, as mentioned in the last digest.
Another is bittering, either with hops or other fusel oil bearing annual
herbs. My introduction to mead was in the first Great Homebrew Scare of the
eighties and my attempts were made from an ale model which counts on hops
rather than grape tannins for the dryness that refreshes and keeps one going
back for more.

Those simple, ale like meads, dry hopped with lots of Cascade, about 7 or 8%
ABV and served carbonated about eight weeks old were big hits at my parties
and led to more research and my current straits as a beekeeper. I haven't
seen much attention to this model of mead making on the digest but it is fun
and delicious. The key to success in using ale yeast is a very large
pitching rate including lots of the yeast sediment for nutrition and good
aeration of the must at pitching. I used beer kegs as fermenters and would
make a yeast starter in a five gallon carboy three to five days ahead and
divide it into two fifteen gallon kegs of must.

The nearly universal yuck that one gets when mentioning mead is a marketing
problem. People hear 'honey' and they think cloying sweet, even if it is as
an adjunct in beer. In fact because of the near perfect yeast environment
of barley wort honey is a great adjunct for beer, fermenting out very dry
and crisp and adding no off flavours. I've always thought it part of my
role as a mead maker to proselytize and educate against this preconception
that mead equals sweet. In practice this means no more than handing a glass
of sparkling, semi-dry, flowery mead to some one, the mead does the talking
(soon followed by the partaker doing the talking).

Michael Kiley

Gourmet honey direct from the beekeeper.
< >

What's so funny about bees, love and understanding?

Subject: '03 Mazer Cup Winners, the book
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 08:48:03 -0400

Here are the names of the prize winners in the '03 Mazer Cup. I will
ply through the information from the entries to extract the name and
details about mead names and ingredients and post a synopsis of that
later, but here's the skinny on the winners. Interestingly, Bill
Pfeiffer took second place in Cyser this year with one of his meads
entered posthumously by his brother, Ted.

One other point worth noting: this year, the commercial round was of
very high quality, and based on the past two years and the Meadfest in
Chicago, the overall caliber of the commercial meads in this country
seems to be climbing at a rapid rate. At the risk of breaking a
confidence, Redstone's First Place Black Raspberry scored a 46, one of
the best scores I have ever seen in the competition.

I am still awaiting the Mazers, but score sheets and prizes should be on
there way shortly. Congrats to all who placed, an many thanks to all
who entered. Save for the Red Wings losing in the first round, it was a
blast, as usual. There are some new names and some very familiar ones
here. It is good to know that there are many up and coming mead makers
out there.

1st Joe Formanek
2nd Eric Drake
3rd Preston Hoover

1st Peter Bennell
2nd Josh Stender
3rd Terry Fallat

1st Jason Henning
2nd Howard Curran
3rd Preston Hoover

1st Al Hazan
2nd Ted (Bill) Pfeiffer
3rd Nicole Faquet

1st Jeff Swearengin
2nd Joshua Johnson
3rd Tyler Barber

1st Joshua Johnson
2nd John Rathmell
3rd Chuck Wettergreen

1st Micah Millspaw
2nd Howard Curran
3rd Richard Anthony Simmons

1st Redstone Meadery (David Myers) Black Raspberry
2nd Redstone Meadery (David Myers)
3rd Bees Brothers Winery (Bill Smith)

Best of Show: Micah Millspaw: Pecan Smoked Chipotle Metheglin

Finally, the book is still on schedule for a release at he end of May or
in Early June at the latest. I will be making a presentation on Mead on
Thursday, June 19 at 1:30 at the AHA Conference in Chicago. There is
also a book signing Saturday the 21st, time TBD. Details on the
Conference are at:

Info on the book:

2003 is shaping up as a good year for meadmaking. I will be posting the
details of my plans for Mead Day – August 2, 2003. Sounds like a good
chance to get some MLD'ers together and make some mead.

Ken Schramm
Troy, MI
Where the plums blossoms are just starting to open, and the orchard
looks set to have an excellent year.

Subject: mead class
From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 07:48:51 -0500

I have to do a demonstration / class on mead making for a local women's
group in a few weeks. Does anyone have or know of an outline or basic
intro to mead that I could use as a handout? I am going to make a simple
traditional mead for the demo, so I will have a recipe handout, but I'd
like to have something more. Any thoughts or actual text would be


Micah millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: Bourbon Braggett?
From: Rick Dingus <>
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2003 10:42:19 -0500

I've made partial extract and all grain ales, grape and country wines, and
different kinds of mead (traditional, spiced, and fruit flavored.) the
magic of homebrew for me is as much about experimenting as it is about
duplicating past favorites, and a new idea occurred to me recently.
Although I don't care much for corn as a flavor in american lager, I do like
its flavor as the main grain in bourbon. I thought it would be interesting
to mash a similar grain bill as that used for bourbon, add honey, and make a
"Bourbon Braggett" with toasted oak chip extract added at the end. (Even if
the final product doesn't taste much like bourbon, it might be good.)

I've read that the grain bill for bourbon is often 60-75% corn, with the
remainder being made up of malted barley and either wheat or rye. I know
that 2 row malted barley can provide extra enzymes for the conversion of
other boiled grains like corn and rice when making lagers, but as large a
ratio of corn as this would seem to require extra enzymes. I suspect that
in commercial operations the enzymes are added directly to the mash, or that
a proportions of the corn itself is malted beforehand to promote the
conversion of starch to fermentable sugar.

Any suggestions for options or references? Are enzymes available that would
allow me to use corn grits or milled or flaked corn instead of malting the
corn myself? What kind of corn would give the best flavor? Would it be
better to ferment awhile on the grains or to sparge and lauter before

Thanks for the information anyone out there might provide.

Subject: calculating alcohol content 
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2003 22:40:17 EDT

ok guys iv got my mind around how to calculat alcoholl with the hydrometer .
what if your doing hunny feading would you have to take severl readings
and add the rusults frome each run of fermentation ?

chris anderson

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1011