Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1012, 4 May 2003

Mead Lover's Digest #1012 Sun 4 May 2003


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



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1011, 28 April 2003 (Re: Mead body (was: Sweet ("…)
Re: Bourbon Braggett? (Jeff Renner)
Bottom haze ("BAILEY.O")
Re: calculating alcohol content ("Randy Goldberg MD")
mouth-feel and sweetness ("Micah Millspaw")
NYCHG Third Annual Mead Meeting (Phil)


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1011, 28 April 2003 (Re: Mead body (was: Sweet
From: "Sergi Santacana" <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 17:52:13 +0200

Ken Taborek wrote:



>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.

> >- —



I must Agree, i usually brew dry meads and, most of them, taste
undrinkable at first when fermention is over. But, and also answering to
Alson, all my meads are aged in oak barrels and doing battonage for 2
years before bottling. Definetively i like much more my actaully dry
meads than the sweteer ones i brew some years ago: battongae, oak
barrels aging and a high graduation (of course, dry meads with an alchol
of 10% are hard to "go on", and are too much soft) increase wanted
off-tastes: subtile/hidden flavours and build a stronger mouthfeel. Try


Anyway, most of people seem to prefer sweet meads… tha'ts maybe
because these steps are too longer or hard for some meadmakers, or maybe
they think it doesn't compense but i've tried and i must strongly
suggest to brew dry aged meads.

Subject: Re: Bourbon Braggett?
From: Jeff Renner <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 13:25:55 -0400

Rick Dingus <> writes:

>Although I don't care much for corn as a flavor in american lager

Heresy! Have you tasted a properly made Classic American Pilsner
(pre-pro lager)? I'll have a 1/4 bbl at the National Homebrew
Conference in Chicago in June.

>I do like
>its flavor as the main grain in bourbon.

Interesting, because I think it makes a very light flavor
contribution to bourbon. If you have a chance to taste straight corn
whiskey, you will see this even more.

>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.)

Bourbon is aged in new *charred* oak barrels, so I would suggest that
charred oak chips would be more appropriate than toasted. The
charred oak really contributes the biggest component of the flavor of
bourbon. I think I'd put them right into the secondary for a long
steep. Bourbon is required to age in the barrels at least two years,
and any decent brand will have at least three years, preferably four
or more. Of course, there is not so much surface are in a 55 gallon
bourbon barrel as with oak chips, so you shouldn't need that long.

>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.

That is correct. Most bourbons are "ryed" bourbons, and that is my
preference. Actually, I prefer even more straight rye whiskeys,
which must be >51% rye. Jim Beam Straight Rye (with the bright
yellow label) is one of the world's great whiskeys, and it's
inexpensive to boot. Other than the grain bill, rye is made the same
as bourbon.

In bourbons, rye ranges from a low of 6% (Bernheim) to 20% (Bowman),
with 10-12% about typical. Wheat ranges 16% (Maker's mark) to 20%
(Bernheim). These figures are from Regan & Regan's "The Bourbon
Companion". Beam did not divulge details. Its Old Grandad reputedly
has quite a high percentage of rye. Old Grandad Bottled in Bond (100
proof) is a great, old-fashioned bourbon.

A minority of bourbons are wheated, Maker's Mark being perhaps the
most notable, but the old Stitzel-Weller brands, now made by Bernheim
(Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, Van Winkle) are also wheated.
Bourbons made with rye are generally firmer and fruitier than wheated

>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.

So far as I know, based on Jim Murray's book "Classic Bourbon,
Tennessee and Rye Whiskey," only the Viking Distillery in Albany,
Georgia, uses enzymes. Their mash bill is 85% corn and 15% rye, with
added "alpha enzymes … extracted from malted barley." (This
bourbon is used only in blends).

Distiller's six-row malt is apparently capable of converting an
amazing amount of starch, as some mash bills are as little as 5% malt
(Bernheim's wheated whiskies). 10-12% is more typical, with Bowman's
Virginia Gentleman Bourbon topping out with 15%.

>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.

Old fashioned corn whiskey was made from sprouted corn, but modern
bourbons are not. Typically, a small amount of the ground malt is
added to the ground corn as a "pre-malt" and mashed in with cold
water and some "back set" – the sour remnants of the previous
distillation, to lower the pH, then brought up to boiling to
gelatinize the corn starch. Then the temperature is allowed to fall
to 160 or so, the rye or wheat is added with more water and back set,
then the malt and more water and back set. Since rather highly
alkaline limestone water is used with little malt, the pH would
normally be too high for proper conversion without the back set.
This is what is known as sour mash.

The whole mash is allowed to cool and the yeast is pitched into the
entire mash. This ferments for several days, then the mash is
distilled, chunky parts and all, in a column still (except for Labrot
and Gram, which uses a pot still).

>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

Certainly flaked corn and rye would make it easier for you, and I
think I would use six row brewers malt for additional enzymes over
two-row, and at least 15%. Since you are not going to distill your
resulting beer, you'll probably want to do a typical run off or
lauter and ferment the wort, not the entire mash. Once it starts to
ferment, it becomes essentially unlauterable. A real stuck mash. I
suspect rice hulls would be necessary for proper lautering, and
lactic acid necessary for proper mash pH (5.2-5.4).

The two books I mentioned will give some good background on the
making of bourbon.

Good luck.


Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA,
"One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943

Subject: Bottom haze
From: "BAILEY.O" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 08:33:01 +1200

Hi All

I know we've dealt with hazes "ad nauseum", but I have a wee problem
that I can't fix at present …

After fining a townflower mead (using kieselsol and gelatine) I was left
with a perfectly brilliant mead BUT with a haze in the bottom 10cm of
the carboy. I have had this twice before in the past and both times
figured that the haze was protein based and a bit more kieselsol would
do the trick. It did, but not this time.

I added pectic acid to the must, and guess that the haze will drop with
time, but I am wary of leaving the mead on the lees that formed after
fining and, well, I've got things to do and places to be – know how it


Any ideas?

Doug Bailey
348 Heretaunga Street West
Hastings, New Zealand.
Ph: 0064-6-876 8787

Subject: Re: calculating alcohol content 
From: "Randy Goldberg MD" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 07:12:55 -0400

> 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 ?

Yes, exactly right. There will be some limitation of accuracy, but you
should get a good approximation that way.


Randy Goldberg MD
Be a rapturist – the opposite of a terrorist – commit random acts of
senseless kindness

Subject: mouth-feel and sweetness
From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 09:40:23 -0500

I have some observations on sweetness and mouth-feel.

I believe that the perceptions of the two are often confused.
A mead (or beer) with and ph higher than 3.5 will
have an excessively heavy mouth-feel. Heavy mouth-feel is
often perceived as high finish gravity and sweetness without
actually having the residual sugar. On the other end of it, ph
below 2.3 is totally lacking in mouth-feel and will taste thin and
dry, even with a high finish gravity.

With this in mind I often make adjustments (ph) to finished
meads in order to get the mouth-feel and balance I want.

Micah Millspaw – brewer at large

Subject: NYCHG Third Annual Mead Meeting
From: Phil <>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 07:08:08 -0700 (PDT)

On Tuesday, May 20th, the New York City Homebrewers
Guild will be holding it's third annual mead-themed
meeting. Our guest speaker will be Araya Selassie of
Saba Tej Company, makers of Ethiopian-styled meads.
He will discuss meadmaking and will be bringing
samples of his own mead.

This meeting (as all NYCHG meetings) will be open to
all interested parties. Bring mead if you got it!
Many guild members are accomplished meadmakers and
will be bringing bottles of theirs.

The meeting will take place at Brewsky's, located at
41 East 7th Street (btwn 2nd and 3rd avenues) in New
York City. The meeting will begin at 7:30.

Hope to see you there.


visit the New York City Homebrewers Guild website:

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1012