From: mead-request@talisman.com
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To: mead-list@talisman.com
Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1041, 3 September 2003


Mead Lover's Digest #1041 Wed 3 September 2003

 

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

 

Contents:

Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1040, 30 August 2003 (Michael Faul)
aspartame ("Lane Gray, Czar Castic")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1040, 30 August 2003 (Rick Dingus)
Re: Ancient Fermentations ("Dan McFeeley")
Regarding my Slow Agave Fermentation (Myron Sothcott)
Re: Ancient Fermentations (Travis Dahl KE4VYZ)
Re: Ancient Fermentations ("Travis Miller")
Native practices ("Jim Johnston")
Starters, the book (Ken Schramm)
vinegar (Zertwiz@aol.com)
Re: First Melomel, suggestions? (Ken Vale)
Vinegar (Leo Vitt)
Tequila ("Murphy-Marsh, Leigh")

 

NOTE: Digest appears when there is enough material to send one.
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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1040, 30 August 2003
From: Michael Faul <mfaul@rabbitsfootmeadery.com>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 08:30:31 -0700


> Subject: Ancient Fermentations
> From: "Denice Ingalls" <denice@purefoodsinc.com>
> Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 09:38:43 -0700

>

> Dan – There is one point that I believe strengthens the intuitive
> argument for Honey being at least a leading source of our discovery of
> fermentation – and that is the absense of alcohol among the native North
> Americans. There were indigenous grape, grain and tree fruits on this
> continent, but honey bees did not exsist here until the settlers brought
> them. It seems to me that the Native Americans developed technology in
> much the same manner as the Europeans, Asians, Slavs, etc. prior to the
> iron age. It would seem logical then that if europeans discovered
> fermentation from a source available to the Native Americans, then they
> would have had it as well. Although, perhaps I've misspoken. does
> tequila, in the south, predate the arrival of the europeans?

>

> Denice L. Ingalls
> Sky River Mead

Denice,

If I'm not mistaken distillation of alcohol was an invention of the
Moores/Arabs c. 50 BC.

In 1250, Arnaud de Villeneuve was the first to distill wines in France;
he called the product, which resulted from this process, eau-de-vie or
Water Of life. I doubt there was a tequila south of the border prior to
the arrival of the europeans, but who knows.

Mike

http://www.rabbitsfootmeadery.com


Subject: aspartame
From: "Lane Gray, Czar Castic" <CGray2@kc.rr.com>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 11:08:10 -0700

Aspartame is the chemical name for NutraSweet which is a trademark of the
NutraSweet company, formerly (perhaps still?) a division of Searle, who
invented it.

Again, not a very nutritive sweetener, and not pleasant tasting. If one
wanted, for God only knows for what reason, to use a non-caloric sweetener,
I'd argue for Sucralose (Splenda), as it tastes nearly identical to sugar,
even straight.

Might prove useful for sweetening a mead in which one is concerned the
fermentation would re-start if fed calories, though. I don't trust sorbate
to keep the little buggers down, myself

Lane Gray
Yes, I'm a minion of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1040, 30 August 2003
From: Rick Dingus <rick.dingus@ttu.edu>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 11:54:50 -0500


> Subject: Ancient Fermentations
> From: "Denice Ingalls" <denice@purefoodsinc.com>
> Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 09:38:43 -0700

>

> Dan – There is one point that I believe strengthens the intuitive
> argument for Honey being at least a leading source of our discovery of
> fermentation – and that is the absense of alcohol among the native North
> Americans. There were indigenous grape, grain and tree fruits on this
> continent, but honey bees did not exsist here until the settlers brought
> them. It seems to me that the Native Americans developed technology in
> much the same manner as the Europeans, Asians, Slavs, etc. prior to the
> iron age. It would seem logical then that if europeans discovered
> fermentation from a source available to the Native Americans, then they
> would have had it as well. Although, perhaps I've misspoken. does
> tequila, in the south, predate the arrival of the europeans?

>

> Denice L. Ingalls
> Sky River Mead
There was not an absence of alcohol based drinks in the Americas before the
Europeans arrived, but quite an array of corn, cactus, plant, and fruit
based beers and wines (even if they often had a lower alcohol content than
the wine strength drinks Europeans were used to.) There were also
indigenous bees, and large beekeeping "yards with thousands of hives…Honey
was one of the principal products of the country" (in Cozumel.) The Maya
used honey in alcoholic beverages like posolli, atolli, and the "exceedingly
important alcoholic ritual beverage, balche…the fact that a good part of
one of the four surviving Maya books, the Madrid Codex, is concerned with
bees and beekeeping underscores their importance."–from American's First
Cuisines by Sophie D. Coe (U TX Press, 1994, p. 126)

I suspect alcoholic fermentation was discovered spontaneously,
independently, in many different times and places, with a vast array of
different naturally available ingredients. Honey may well have been one of
the earliest discovered versions, but even if if it was, the making of a
honey based drink didn't necessarily inform the entire evolving practice of
intentional fermentation.


Subject: Re: Ancient Fermentations 
From: "Dan McFeeley" <mcfeeley@keynet.net>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 12:00:14 -0500

On Tue, 26, Aug 2003, in MLD 1040, Denice Ingalls wrote:

>Dan – There is one point that I believe strengthens the intuitive
>argument for Honey being at least a leading source of our discovery of
>fermentation – and that is the absense of alcohol among the native North
>Americans. There were indigenous grape, grain and tree fruits on this
>continent, but honey bees did not exsist here until the settlers brought
>them. It seems to me that the Native Americans developed technology in
>much the same manner as the Europeans, Asians, Slavs, etc. prior to the
>iron age. It would seem logical then that if europeans discovered
>fermentation from a source available to the Native Americans, then they
>would have had it as well. Although, perhaps I've misspoken. does
>tequila, in the south, predate the arrival of the europeans?

Tequila is a distilled product, but it is made from the fermented nectar
of the agave plant, a Mexican drink that long predated the arrival of
the Europeans. The honey bee was not native to North America until
brought here by European settlers, and of course, they brought their
mead recipes with them. Honey was available in South America, and
there are examples of mead there.

It's been speculated that alcoholic beverages were discovered by
serendipity, i.e., a "happy accident" by which someone stumbled on
something important. Ancient peoples were no less intelligent than
ourselves, in spite of being assigned the label of "primitive." They
were very keen observers of nature, much more so than we are.
Discovering alcoholic fermentation was likely as easy as watching
birds becoming intoxicated on fermented berries, or any other
example of sweet stuff fermenting into something alcoholic. This
would have happened long long before the Neolithic era, using
whatever materials were easily at hand. Doubtless, honey would
have been a common material. Rock wall paintings tens of
thousands of years old show honey hunters in action, gathering
honey from natural hives.

Below is a hist-brewing post by Sean Richens, which I cross
posted to MLD with his permission during a discussion on
Ethiopian Tej. It's a good example of what ancient fermented
beverages, I mean *really* ancient beverages, might have been
like.

<><><><><><><><><><>
<><><><><><><><>

Dan McFeeley

 

  • ———————–[snip!]—————————————— – –

 

From: "Sean Richens"

To: <hist-brewing@pbm.com>

Subject: Mead Recipe for T'ej - now beer recipe, too!
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 10:17:19 -0500

 

If you do manage to get Gesho, you might want to do some seriously
historical brewing which will make you realize that Mesopotamian beer
recipes are pretty modern compared to what humans were drinking for
20,000-odd years.

This recipe is pretty sophisticated in that it has all modern techniques
except for heating the mash and boiling the brew. Actual Suwa or Tella
recipes vary greatly according to the altitude where the brewer lives.

I made mine using barley malt as the enzyme source, and millet as my
unmalted grain. Other options are malted sorghum/unmalted Teff,
barley/sorghum, sorghum/millet, etc. I'll give you the recipe the way I
made it, and you can figure out the substitutions. The unmalted grain is,
of course, cooked.

For about 8 -10 L:

1) Make Mattaka – unleavened flat bread

1 lb millet flour
water to make thin batter – like crepe batter

Fry with the least possible oil – none if your pan permits. Make about
20 thin breads 8" diameter. Cool and tear up. In its countries of
origin you can buy these dried and ready to use.

 

2) Starter

Crush 1 lb. barley malt
Mix with
1 cup powdered Gesho leaves
8 L water
Allow to ferment 3 days (THAT'S RIGHT – NO YEAST ADDED)

 

3) Brew

Add the mattaka
1 lb. dried dates, chopped

 

Allow to ferment 2-3 more days depending on temperature. Strain out

solids. The beer is drunk while still fermenting. Traditionally, the first
day it's suitable for kids as a vitamin supplement. The second day it's
suitable for respectable women, and by the fourth day you invite the men
of the village to finish it off and enjoy a good drunk. 😉

 

An optional addition is 1/2 cup of golden-roasted unmalted barley. I used
a small amount of crystal malt for flavour.

I freeze what I can't finish off fresh. Unfortunately, it turns green when
frozen.

The smell of the starter is vile. However, it does mellow somewhat in the
brewing phase. You really want someone who knows how it's supposed
to taste around when you make this. And DON'T look at it under the
microscope. #8-o

It's an interesting project in that it's spontaneous fermentation controlled
by the bioselective action of the Gesho, and the mashing is all conducted
at fermentation temperatures, kind of like sake. It really gets you
thinking
about how brewing got started, and what defines "beer" as opposed to all
beverages not "beer" enough for the purists.

Cheers to the brave (and undaunted in their search for Gesho).

Sean



Subject: Regarding my Slow Agave Fermentation
From: Myron Sothcott <myron7@cox.net>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 13:37:26 -0400

>Jim Barnhart wrote:

>

>Regarding my Slow Agave Fermentation:

>

>Thank you for all the great suggestions and help.

>

>One of the suggestions I was given was to dilute my agave to get it down to
>about OG of 1.072 (Unfortunately I can not remember who suggested this, so
>sorry, but I am really grateful for the suggestion)

>

>I think I want to try this.

>

>This batch is 6.5 gallons with 24 pounds of Agave and an OG of 1.100

>

>I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of how much Water I might need to
>dilute this down to about 1.072-75

>

>Jim Barnhart

> >

Jim, The solution is to determine how much water (X gallons) at SG 1.0
must you add to 6.5
gallons of water at SG 1.10 to get 65.+X gallons at SG 1.072. The
computation gives us
about .229 gallons or about 30 ounces.

Myron


Subject: Re: Ancient Fermentations
From: Travis Dahl KE4VYZ <dahlt@umich.edu>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 15:27:20 -0400 (EDT)

Denice Ingalls asks about thre presence of alcoholic beverages in the
Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans.

The obvious example that I can think of is chicha, the corn "beer" they
make in South America. I've also seen references to fermented beverages
of the Mayas, and I seem to recall that these were different from tequila.

Of course, there's a lot to be said for multiple, independent discoveries
of things like alcohol. If it hasn't been suggested before, a
well-written and readable book that discusses, among other things, the
independent inventions of writing, agriculture, etc. is _Guns, Germs, and
Steel_ by Jared Diamond.

 

  • -Travis

 

A2, MI


Subject: Re: Ancient Fermentations
From: "Travis Miller" <travismiller@comcast.net>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 22:10:58 -0600

Denice L. Ingalls wrote:

>It would seem logical then that if europeans discovered
>fermentation from a source available to the Native Americans, then they
>would have had it as well. Although, perhaps I've misspoken. does
>tequila, in the south, predate the arrival of the europeans?

No it does not. Tequila is a distilled spirit. This is a technological
developement brought from Europe. I don't know who first utilized
distilling but I know it was not done by the indiginous people of the
American continents.

There was and still are various indiginous beers consumed mostly in the
Central and South American countries. Because malting procedures are not
practiced or known to these people their method of converting starches to
sugar is by chewing the substance to be fermented and spitting it into the
fermentation vessel. Enzymes in the saliva convert the starches into
fermentable sugars. There are several beers made from the liquid inside of
some southwestern cactus though this is uncommon today. These liquids are
already fermentable and do not require any further processing. I do know at
least in some parts of the Americas beer is made from maize. I am unaware
of how widespread the consumption of this beer was. I would hypothesise
that part of the reason alcohol does not seem to have been consumed widely
by the indigenous people of North America could perhaps be that the wild
yeast strains don't produce a drinkable wine or beer. Belgian Lambic is an
example of a European beer that some people simply find offensive. Some of
the pure Belgian yeast strains that are used with modern brewing practices
create some bizarre aromas and flavors. One of note would be the "horse
blanket" aroma that some of the Belgian ales have. If you have not drank a
Belgian ale before it can be a very enlitening experience about what kinds
of effect a yeast can have on the flavor profile.

I think the most important thing to remember is that anthropologically what
we would term primitive cultures consider their alcoholic beverages to be
sacred. Most of these beverages are utilized primarily if not exclusively
for the religious expression of their culture.


Subject: Native practices
From: "Jim Johnston" <jim@tervolk.com>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 00:20:34 -0500


Denice,

I agree that there is not much evidence of native American brewing, other
than Central and South American Chicha (corn beer). Much of this may have
been more culturally influenced. While drugs such as marijuana and peyote
were prevalent, they were reserved for religious purposes. It may become
evident that some form of fermented honey did exist, but was produced only
in small quantities and used under ceremonial circumstances. Since so much
cultural data of the ancients was erased by time, we may never know.

Jim

 

  • —– Original Message —–


> Subject: Ancient Fermentations
> From: "Denice Ingalls" <denice@purefoodsinc.com>
> Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 09:38:43 -0700

 

>

> Dan – There is one point that I believe strengthens the intuitive
> argument for Honey being at least a leading source of our discovery of
> fermentation – and that is the absense of alcohol among the native North
> Americans. There were indigenous grape, grain and tree fruits on this
> continent, but honey bees did not exsist here until the settlers brought
> them. It seems to me that the Native Americans developed technology in
> much the same manner as the Europeans, Asians, Slavs, etc. prior to the
> iron age. It would seem logical then that if europeans discovered
> fermentation from a source available to the Native Americans, then they
> would have had it as well. Although, perhaps I've misspoken. does
> tequila, in the south, predate the arrival of the europeans?

>

> Denice L. Ingalls
> Sky River Mead



Subject: Starters, the book
From: Ken Schramm <schramk@mail.resa.net>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 09:23:42 -0400

Raj points out that pollen-comb is making up for the nitrogen deficiency
of honey, and that would be a way to address that issue. I can't say I
have any concrete information on the composition and the quantities of
nutrients it adds, but if it's working for raj, they must be there.

I do need to do some more research on the glucose issue raj brought up.
If the Crabtree effect is based on the availability of glucose early in
the yeast's exposure to a new medium, then some calculations are in
order to determine if a really low gravity starter medium (as raj
suggested) might be the best possible means of achieving maximum
reproduction. I'm going to put the question to a few more
scientifically well versed of my contacts, and see what I can come up
with. Before anyone else nails me down on it, I also have to say that
the starter nutrient additions are based on personal experience – and on
queries to some yeast authorities, and not on the calculation of what
would be optimal given the experimentally confirmed understanding of how
much nitrogen and other micronutrients team up with X amount of oxygen
to build the greatest possible amount of healthy yeast membrane mass.
That's what we're shooting for here, and I need to get on that and
ferret out some definitive info. OTOH, optimal formulations may require
owning a triple beam balance, and that may be perceived as obsessive to
some hobbyists.

I also want to voice one philosophy I have toward the book. My hope is
that, like all "knowledge" that gets put forth, it gets argued about,
beat up, and in the long run, what's right gets confirmed, and what's
wrong gets, hopefully, corrected. If that is the end result of having a
new, slightly more complete (compleat?) book on mead in the mix, then
excellent. In my mind, I was almost certainly _not_ the most qualified
person on the planet to write every chapter the book. I may have an
interesting blend of knowledge and experience regarding the various
components of meadmaking, but I am not a fermentation scientist. But I
was offered the opportunity to write the book, and my take was that my
best shot at collecting the information I had would be an improvement on
the then currently available literature. Only the readership can truly
determine if that was the case. I will be totally willing to
acknowledge errors and try to get them corrected in future editions of
the book (if I am so luck as to get the chance), so that whatever
reference text is available is as accurate as possible. None of the
errors were intentional. Let the debate begin. Only good can come of
it. If someone else decides that they can write an even better, more
accurate and scientifically based book, outstanding. It furthers the
cause I set out to advance, and I'll be happy when it happens.

Jim Barnhart asks about the use of vodka to extract flavor and aroma
from spices. I do mention the vodka elixir method in the book, but I
personally use a small muslin bag suspended in the secondary fermenter
or even in the corny, for kegged meads. It removes a step, there's
plenty of alcohol in the mead to promote the extraction, and gives IMHO
a better chance of capturing the true nature of the spice in the mead.

But for heaven's sake, don't let that stop you from buying the book, and
don't capitalize the "him." There's absolutely nothing divine about me.
Just ask my teenage daughters.

Ken


Subject: vinegar
From: Zertwiz@aol.com
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 09:43:30 EDT

i make vinegar what ya shuld do is look for a good culture that you can bye
i get mine frome the wiery that i work for goes gor about 8 bucks i think .
the best thing to use is a sun tee jar and cover the top with several layers of
cheas cloteh the vinegar will colect nere the botem and the tap makes it
very easy to get out . if your yousing stoor bought wine it contains (sulfer
dioxide) a good way of removing it is to air ate the wine . sterring ect . you
shuld thin the wine down a little with water to hight of a ack content wount let
the vinegar get going it just cant handle a very hight alc level so put like
a 1/3 of your volume in agan as watter once you ahve vineger you can just keep
adding wine sence there will be no alc. in it any more

chris anderson


Subject: Re: First Melomel, suggestions?
From: Ken Vale <kenvale@rogers.com>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 22:12:27 -0400

mead-request@talisman.com wrote:

>Subject: First Melomel, suggestions?
>From: beerbuddy@comcast.net
>Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 16:52:41 +0000

>

>Hi everyone. This is my first post to the Mead digest, just joined ealier this
>week. A brief brewing background – I live in North Bend Washington, a small
>town about 30 miles east of Seattle. I've been brewing mostly beer for a few
>years now, probably a few dozen batches total. Some of you from the HBD will
>recognize my name. I've made one batch of wine, a few ciders and a couple of
>cysers (one of which is happily bubbling along in the carboy as I type). I
>wanted to make something a little more meadlike and thought y'all could help
>with suggestions or a little guidance. My plan is to start with a little one
>gallon batch (only one carboy as yet, don't want to tie that up for several
>months). My recipe is:

>

>5 lbs clover honey
>.75 lbs blueberries
>1 packet dry champagne yeast (forget which brand I have right now)

>

>I thought I would start with about a 1/2 gallon of tap water (ours is pretty
>well balanced), boil it, then let it cool to about 170, add roughly 2/3 of the
>honey, stabilize at 160, then add blueberries. Bring it back to 160, then let
>it stay there for about 15 minutes. After rapid cooling put the whole mess in
>the fermenter, and pitch yeast. After a week or so, when it slows down a bit,
>I planned on dissolving the remaining honey in a couple of cups of hot water,
>adding it to a new gallon jug and racking the remainder on top of it.

>

>Good plan? Will it work or is it simply too much honey? I'm hoping for a
>reasonably, if not totally, dry finish with a fairly significant blueberry
>character.

>

Ok looking at your recipe I think you are going to be using to much

honey and not enough fruit. My general recipe is 3 lbs honey, 2 lbs
fruit plus water to one gallon, which should give you something in the
14+% range (after several rackings and adding more water, also I use a
different yeast). Champagne yeast is a good choice. For a stronger
blueberry taste you definitly need more blueberries. It will help to use
some other additives like: yeast nutrient and/or yeast energizer (honey
doesn't have much in the way of vital nutrients so it would help to add
some, though the fruit will help offset this), Pectic Enzyme (all fruit
contains pectin which makes jam/jelly solid, you probably don't want
lumpy mead), tannin (helps with aging and clearing and other things),
and campden tablets (kills wild yeast and othe bacteria, helps prevent
oxidation). Use these as directed by the label, if you feel they are
needed, some people use them others don't. Overheating the must may
damage the honey so be careful (15 minutes should be fine, though 5
should be all that you need). Do what feels right to you.

 

Ken


Subject: Vinegar
From: Leo Vitt <leo_vitt@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2003 15:15:22 -0700 (PDT)

Bob Garrett asked some vinegar making questions.

I have intentionally made vinegar once and acidently once.
The accident was a lambic which had the accetobacter go out of control.

The successful time was a apple cider vinegar.

I followed the steps outlined in a small book – Making Vinegar at home.
The authors – Frank Romanowski, mark Larrow, Gail Canon, William Canon.

I used a plastic bucket with a lid. The lid, I drilled tiny holes into
it – hundreds of them. That was to let air come and go, but keep
insects out. Ok there might be some tiny ones that could get through.
I sanitized the best I could. Combined the vinegar mother with 5
gallons of hard cider. I let it set about a year.

I don't know what it looked like over the coarse of a year. I did not
open it until I was ready to bottle it.

I racked with a bottling cane and tube I planned to replace.

I can't comment on your green fungus (or mold?) since I didn't watch

it.


Leo Vitt
Sidney, NE


Subject: Tequila
From: "Murphy-Marsh, Leigh" <Leigh.Murphy-Marsh@wmc.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2003 10:18:46 +0800


FYI,

The Aztecs used to drink Pulque which was like a wine from the mezcal
plant about a thousand years before the spaniards arrived but the
spaniards introduced distilation in the early part of the sixteenth
century. Tequila was made from distilled pulque.
Cheers,
Leigh.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1041