Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1024, 2 July 2003

Mead Lover's Digest #1024 Wed 2 July 2003


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



Re: Mahlab was cherry mead (Vicky Rowe)
Mead / Hangover / Sulfites / "Sulfur" drugs (
mahlab ("JJ H.")
Re: astringency problem (Robert Sandefer)
astrengency (
Re: Pectinase and hangovers…? (Ross McKay)
Mahlab ("Anthony J. Skura")
Chokecherry melomel ("Shawn&Dera Wichman")
Blueberry Melomel (john doerter)
Re:Hangovers ("Lane Gray, Czar Castic")
Is this a good deal on a boiling pot? (Devon Miller)
FW: Mead Lover's Digest #1023, 27 June 2003 ("Ken Taborek")


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Subject: Re: Mahlab was cherry mead
From: Vicky Rowe <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 11:31:44 -0400

At 08:56 AM 6/27/2003 -0600, you wrote:
>Hi Vicky.


>I have never used (nor heard of til now) mahlab. I understand that it is
>crushed dark cherry pits. You wrote that your mead had very little cherry
>flavour until you added the spice. I am wondering if you have tried only
>using the mahlab for cherry flavour and skipping the cherries all together?
>Skipping the cherries would save a lot of headaches in regards to freezing
>racking etc.


>Also, where do you find/purchase mahlab?






Hi Eric!

I hadn't tried the mahlab alone, no. I had all these packages of pie cherries,
already frozen and pitted from my favorite fruit packer near my parents'
home in MI. Making a cherry mead seemed somehow to be only right since
my working life started as a cherry picker in the fields from the age of 10-12.
Nothing like 12 hour days, 6 days a week for a measly $.50/lug of cherries
to get your work ethic going!

The flavor in my cherry mead faded due to the fact that I'd added the cherries
in the primary. I no longer do that with fruit, preferring to add into the
but in many, if not most, cases, the primary ferment will eat up much of the
flavor of fruit. Since I had so little left, I felt adding the mahlab might
at least
add some complexity to the mead. Imagine my suprise when it enhanced
the cherry flavor, and added a smoky/nutty quality that gave it the impression
of cherry pie in a bottle!

I purchased my mahlab at Penzey's Spices. Their website is . As an aside, I highly recommend them for any
spices you might use in a mead, they're always fresh and very aromatic,
and their prices are good.

I used their double strength vanilla extract in a vanilla mead, and it was the
best vanilla mead I've ever made.


Vicky Rowe
Makin' mead? Drinkin' mead? Find articles, recipes, advice and hundreds of
links to anything you want to know about mead at

Subject: Mead / Hangover / Sulfites / "Sulfur" drugs
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 12:41:45 -0400


Just a minor correction. It was posted in the previous MLD by Tina Munro
that when her friends complain of headaches when they drink wine that she
asks if they're allergic to "sulfur" drugs and looks for sulfites in the

A couple of things. First of all, there are no such things as "sulfur"
drugs. There are sulfonamide drugs that are commonly referred to as
"sulfa" drugs, but not "sulfur" drugs. This is a common misconception.

Secondly, the allergic reaction that occurs to sulfonamides is directly
related to the chemical structure of one of the metabolites of the
sulfonamide in question. It's all related to the chemical structure and
there is no similarity between the structure of sulfonamide drugs, to
sulfites used in sanitation, nor to the sulfate moiety of many common
inorganic salts.

There is no connection between people reporting an allergy to sulfonamide
drugs and the use of sulfites in wine.

I don't intend for this to be offensive in any way, just informative.

nathan in madison, wi

PS I also believe the two most common causes for the mead hangover are
overindulgence and fusel alcohols…I can get a headache while sitting
in a bar after drinking certain belgian ales that have high levels of
fusel alcohols

Subject: mahlab
From: "JJ H." <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 14:18:11 -0400

I've ordered mahlab from Penzeys Spices ( along with
a good many other non-mead related spices and been quite satisfied; all
standard disclaimers apply no commercial affiliation.

I have made just a mahlab mead; it's still aging but seems to produce a
warmly spicy mead without any of the bitter overtones I detect from cinnamon
or allspice. (Or at least my spiced meads came out bitter. I'm sure other
wiser mead makers have had better luck.) I couldn't really detect any
specific cherry flavor, but rather a nice fruitiness.


>I have never used (nor heard of til now) mahlab. I understand that it is
>crushed dark cherry pits. You wrote that your mead had very little cherry
>flavour until you added the spice. I am wondering if you have tried only
>using the mahlab for cherry flavour and skipping the cherries all together?
>Skipping the cherries would save a lot of headaches in regards to freezing
>racking etc.


> Also, where do you find/purchase mahlab?

Subject: Re: astringency problem
From: Robert Sandefer <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 16:22:18 -0400

Belinda Messenger mentions problems with cherry melomels.

First, we have to decide what the problem is. Belinda, in your post you
mention "tart/astringent" as the problem. From what I have read and
studied, "tart" is "sour" (from acidic compounds in the drink) and
"astringent" is "tannic" which is "bitter" (from tannin mostly–a major
compound class with alkaline functional groups–which taste bitter).

Therefore, is your problem excessive sourness (think lemon juice) or an
excessive bitterness/dryness?

Given that chalk treatment has proven inefffective and given the pH of 4.0,
I think your problem is tannin-related. I have noticed in my cherry wines
that there can be a fair amount of tannin in cherries.

The solutions to excessive tannin are:
1. Use less fruit per gallon in the next batch — which will reduce the
amount of tannin.
2. Remove the fruit from the mead earlier (i.e., cut exposure time) —
which should let less tannin make it into the must.
3. Experiment with various cherry varieties in hopes of finding one low in
4. Age your cherry melomels longer allowing tannin polymerization to cut
down the harshness of the tannin that has made it into the drink.

Hope this helps.
Robert Sandefer

Subject: astrengency 
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 18:02:33 EDT

at the winery that i work at they use stuff called isenglass (aka
pulverised fish guts its pricy thow but goes far 10 pounds to 350,000 gallens

chris anderson

Subject: Re: Pectinase and hangovers...?
From: Ross McKay <>
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 11:03:54 +1000

In MLD#1022, I asked:
>It seems that methanol is one of the undesirables that can be produced
>during fermentation when pectin is present, and can lead to nasty
>headaches (and worse).


>Maybe I'm taking a leap here, but could the use of pectinase be part of
>the hangover problem here?

Well, I guess I got my answer! I don't know whether I touched a nerve or
not, but the following all responded within 24 hours:

>"Dan McFeeley" <>
> (Dick Dunn)
>"Micah Millspaw" <>
>"Munro, Tina HI0" <>
>"Vince Galet" <>

In summary, I guess that the whole methanol in mead thing can be
ignored. And as I have no intention to boil my fruit and thus set the
pectin, it sounds like I don't have to bother with pectinase either,
unless I actually observe a pectin haze.

Vince advises:
>Relax, don't worry keep making mead.

I think that is the best advice I will take away from all of this.
Thanks to all who responded.


Ross McKay, WebAware Pty Ltd
"Science changes one funeral at a time" – Harvey Weiss

Subject: Mahlab
From: "Anthony J. Skura" <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2003 10:00:01 -0400

You can find Mahlab at I learned about this item from
MLD. If you go back in the archives I think there is more info on its
use.This is the first time posting after reading for 3 years.I would
like to THANK all for some of the good info I have received over the


Subject: Chokecherry melomel
From: "Shawn&Dera Wichman" <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2003 16:22:06 -0600

I have couple questions before I attempt to make A batch of chokecherry m=
elomel later this summer. I have been told that this Mead would age earl=
y and should be drank young. Any Suggestions on how I could make this in=
to a melomel with long term potential? I have been told that adding rais=
ins would help. Since I am intending to make a 15 gallon batch at about =
3.5lbs of chokecherries to a gallon, I don'twant to make such a large bat=
ch if it is not going to have any staying power. I am also curious if Lav=
lin RC-212 might be the ticket besides my standard Lavlin EC – 1118. Th=
anks for any help

Shawn Wichman

Subject: Blueberry Melomel
From: john doerter <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2003 23:22:01 -0500

Blueberries just came in, I'm looking at a blueberry Maeomel as a
possibility. I have a recipe for Blue Blazes which uses Ginger as well.
Before I go Picking next week, I wanted to get more recipe's and advice.

This will be my first real fruit Mel. I plan to freeze the berries first.


Subject: Re:Hangovers
From: "Lane Gray, Czar Castic" <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 21:47:47 -0700

I had thought that the main cause of a hangover was a dehydrated brain
brought on by the drying effect (and isn't there a diuretic effect, too?) of
alcohol, and the best way to prevent one was to consume quantities of water
nearly equal in volume to the mead you're drinking. Since I read that over
at rcb (or perhaps it was here or at rcmm), I've not had a hangover, and I
just got back from Ragnarok (the national battle/gathering of Dagorhir)
where massive quantities of mead was consumed, a fair amount of it by me (if
there are other Dagorhirim on the list, I'm Stylgar), and not a single
hangover incurred by myself or my wife, nor from those who followed my
advice. Not that anecdotal evidence constitutes proof, but it sure seems to
work for me.

Lane Gray

Subject: Is this a good deal on a boiling pot?
From: Devon Miller <>
Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 00:00:54 -0400

I've found what looks like a very sweet deal on a 30qt stainless pot,
complete with tap and 170K btu burner.
Priced at $109.99 it seems almost too good. Has anyone used this?

Here's where I found the good price:

Here's the manufacturer's site:

Devon Miller

Subject: FW: Mead Lover's Digest #1023, 27 June 2003
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 08:17:36 -0400

> Subject: Pectinase and hangovers...?
> From: "Micah Millspaw" <>
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 07:21:27 -0500


> And, if you don't heat the fruit that is being used then there is no
> need for the pectinase.


> Micah Millspaw – brewer at large


I've found that adding pectic enzyme to all my melomels, heated or no,
greatly aids in their clearing.

Sometimes the aid to clarification is remarkable, producing a clear mead
from a cloudy one in mere days, after months of little to no clearing has



End of Mead Lover's Digest #1024