Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1058, 26 November 2003

Mead Lover's Digest #1058 Wed 26 November 2003


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



Re: Bottle Labeling? ("Joshua A. Laff, LMP")
Scum layer ("Larry R. Sieting")
Re: Stuck Fermenting, Or Worse? ("Ken Taborek")
Re: Bottling Labels ("Joseph Mattioli")
Babylonian Honeymoon ("Dan McFeeley")
Bottle Labeling (
Looking for source of 500ml cork finish bottles ("Mark Hardt")
Labels + lack of flavor ("Vince Galet")


NOTE: Digest appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use for [un]subscribe/admin requests.
Digest archives and FAQ are available at There is
a searchable MLD archive at

Subject: Re: Bottle Labeling?
From: "Joshua A. Laff, LMP" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 11:16:45 -0800

I use Microsoft Publisher to print to Avery-style labels, though I doubt
the average Mead Maker would have that program installed. There are several
programs that will allow you to print to labels, however. Personally, I
recommend using the Removable Diskette Labels (Avery # 8096). Some might
consider them a bit small for bottles (they are sized to be 15 per 8 1/2 x
11 sheet). The biggest plus I've found is that they peel off the bottles
easily (but not on their own) . Since I regularly reuse my bottles, this
makes it much easier when removing labels from the previous batch, i.e., no
scouring label residue. Also, depending on who I'm drinking with and how
much we've had, it makes it much easier to put labels on people's


  • – Joshua


Subject: Scum layer
From: "Larry R. Sieting" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 14:07:22 -0500

I have a pear mead (perry? melomoel?) that has finished primary
fermentation in a 7 gal bucket. The air lock has been kept full during the
ferment. I opened the bucket to rack it over to an aging carboy and
noticed a white scum across the top. Is this a bad thing? Is the mead
salvageable? I can tell if there are any tendrils hanging down inside.


Larry R. Sieting

Subject: Re: Stuck Fermenting, Or Worse?
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 22:07:33 -0500


My comments are inline below.

> Subject: Stuck Fermenting, Or Worse?
> From: "Randy Wallis" <>
> Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 10:44:25 -0500


> recipe, for 5-gal, 8 pounds honey,
> two cans of fruit puree in the secondary and two packs of yeast


> This weekend I tasted it and it is very good water, hardly
> any taste what so ever and very, very little alcohol. I did do a
> hydrometer reading. It read ready to bottle, I suspected this was
> incorrect so I checked it out and my tap water was also ready to
> bottle and the Pale Ale I was drinking was 3%, guess I will be replacing
> that soon.

I'm not sure what kind of hydrometer you have, Randy, but the kind you'll be
better served by doesn't use text descriptors like "ready to bottle", it
will list the specific gravity of the fluid. Most come with other useful
scales as well, but at least you want to be able to read the specific
gravity (SG).

With 8 lbs of honey in a 5 gallon batch, you should have about an 8% alcohol
level, if you've fermented to dryness (the SG will read 1.000 or less).
This is excluding any possible fermentables added by your fruit puree, but
you didn't mention the volume of the cans so that is hard to guess on. In
any event, an 8% mead, with or without the puree, shouldn't taste like
water. And if it hasn't fermented to dryness, it should taste sweet from
the remaining sugars in solution.
I've had a good many young meads taste thin and bland, but nothing that I'd
compare to water. But maybe this is what you're experiencing.

> I now
> have very murky sick looking mead with a lot of nasty foam on it that
> is not going away, and keeps raising up in my air lock so I need to keep
> cleaning it. and fermenting does not to appear to restart.

If you've got foam being generated, and it's pushing up into your airlock,
then you've got fermentation going again.
You've now got 10 lbs of honey in about 5 gallons of fluid, and this should
give you just under a wine strength mead. Again ignoring the puree, which
will add some amount of fermentables depending on the size of the cans you
I'd say you've got a good mead recipe going on. I'd let it ferment to
dryness again, as measured by a specific gravity scale on a hydrometer, and
then I'd rack it to a carboy for secondary fermentation and aging.

Good luck!



Subject: Re: Bottling Labels
From: "Joseph Mattioli" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 22:54:04 -0500

Hello Everyone,
I use a program for labels called Microsoft Publisher. It can be used
for a myriad of purposes but includes all sorts of labels. You can use
ready made labels from within the program, modify them or you can
insert your own pictures, graphics, text, etc. Its very easy to use
and you can print them on plain paper. I cut them out and use a glue
stick like the kids use in school. It attaches well and is not hard to
remove when the bottle is empty. You can make a very impressive and
professional looking label with this program. Hope this helps.


Subject: Babylonian Honeymoon
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 02:11:14 -0600

I've seen reports on the 'Net on an ancient Babylonian custom
of a honeymoon — according to the reports, it seems to have
been a duty of the father-in-law to provide a month's supply
of mead for the newlywed couple, hence, the origin of the
word "honeymoon." It's a departure from earlier stories of
the origin of the "honeymoon" — according to these sources,
a month of meading for newlywed couples originated with
the Germanic peoples.

This has been discussed on MLD in the past and found to be
lacking. Most telling was the information provided in the OED,
Oxford English Dictionary. According to the OED, the earliest
derivations of the English word "honeymoon" point to the idea
that romantic love is as sweet as honey but waxes and wanes
like the phases of the moon. There is no mention of mead at all.

A Babylonian custom of a honeymoon "meading" seems to be fairly
new. Although it's easy to find on the 'Net, none of the familiar books
on beekeeping lore and mead mention it. Edith Crane is a world
authority on beekeeping history. None of her books on beekeeping
and honey mention a Babylonian custom of a month of "meading"
for newlywed couples. Hilda Ransome, who gives attention to the
ancient near east in _The Sacred Bee_ says nothing about this.

More recently I had a chance to pose the question to scholars whose
field of study is the ancient Near East. This was at a three weekend
seminar at the Oriental Institute in Chicago, affiliated with the University
of Chicago. The seminar was on ancient brewing in the Near East.
The presenters were a husband & wife team — Kathleen Mineck, a
philologist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago's dept.
of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Steve Mineck, a
homebrewer who became interested in the ancient beers of the Near
East. Along with working on her doctoral dissertation, Kathleen is
also involved in a research project at the Oriental Institute of putting
together a concordance of the Hittite language — i.e., a dictionary of
the Hittite language with references to usages in in the known Hittite

The seminar was great. First day was a lecture on the importance of
brewing to the ancient Near East, second day we made up our own
brews, following 5,000 year old recipes, third day we got to sample
our efforts. Kathleen and Steve put together an excellent seminar.

There were a few meadmakers in the crowd, and we all asked Kathleen
about any possible references to meadmaking in the Ancient Near
East. She gave a very qualified reply — not likely, but it would take
an exhaustive search of all the known literature on the ancient Near
East to verify this with certainty. Apparently there is no word for
"mead" in the Hittite language. Kathleen should know. Honey was
well known, and there is speculation on the origins of beekeeping in
Hittite society. Mead? Apparently not. Other sources? Kathleen
can read a number of languages in the ancient Near East, even
stopped during a tour of the museum to pick out references to
honey on the cast of the famous steele recording the law code of
Hammurabi. Nothing on mead.

Later on I asked her specifically about possible references to
a Babylonian honeymoon. Her initial reaction was "huh?!"
This makes sense. "Beer," or what would technically be
called a beer, was a diet staple in the ancient Near East. Bread
has been called "the staff of life" but brewing and baking were
intertwined together in the ancient Near East mindset. These
"beers" were low alcohol, maybe about 1% ETOH. They
didn't keep well and were meant to be consumed immediately.
Freshly baked bread and freshly brewed beer went together.
Research has shown that brewing actually improved the
nutritional content of cereal grains used in these ancient beers.
They really were a diet staple. If anything, a couple would
have appreciated a month of beer — beer was the cultural
staple and norm in these ancient societies, not mead. All
of the archaeological artifacts indicate that honey was used
as an adjunct in ancient Near East fermented beverages.
Mead as we know it was hardly known, it at all.

To be sure, Katheen consulted with Christopher Wood, the
resident professor of Sumerology at the University of Chicago.
He agreed — the story about a Babylonian honeymoon custom
is likely only that, a story. There doesn't seem to be anything
in the literature to indicate that there ever was such a custom
in ancient Babylon.

This tends to go without saying in academic circles — unless
a specific citation showing where the idea originated is given,
don't trust the report. None of the sources on the Internet
telling about a Babylonian custom of a month of meading
give a specific citation, or indication where, in the extant
literature of ancient Babylon, a reference to a month of
meading can be found.


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Bottle Labeling
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 06:47:30 EST

Ya i agree with Cameron Adams on using an Adobe program to make labels,,,id
recomend Adobe Photodelux for a beginner,,,its a scaled down version of Adobe
Photoshop,,,and ive seen it come along free with the purchase of new
hardware,,mainly scanners..
I just use a cool font and good clipart that go well with each other,, i keep
it all in greyscale..
As far as sticking the label to the bottle,,,, all i do is soak the label in
milk for about 15 seconds, slap it on the clean, (filled and corked) bottle,
postion it by sliding it around, and let it dry over night,,,,, So far this
milk thing has worked very well,,, Ive been using this method for about a year
now,,, and so far all of them are still on.,and none of them smell like milk,,,
one thing ive discovered,,, dont try to rinse or wipe any milk off,,, just
let it dry,,
I bottle and label so much stuff i went with the black printer ink , and
regular paper to cut costs.. With a little time and some cleverness a
person can
get nice looking labels in greyscale… anyway…. hope this helps,,,,,
Scott Adams

Subject: Looking for source of 500ml cork finish bottles
From: "Mark Hardt" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 09:03:05 -0500

Hello all,

I have been looking for a source of 500 ml bottles preferably Bordeaux
style I have found some square style but they get expensive. I am finding
the 750ml to much and the 375 not enough at times and want to put some of my
mead in the 500ml but they are not to be found I have found some ports in
the 500ml bottles and have enjoyed getting the bottles that way but would
rather have a supplier of just the bottles.

Thanks, Please let me and the list know if you know of any source of these

Subject: Labels + lack of flavor
From: "Vince Galet" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 08:54:12 -0500 (EST)

Labels: I use Microsoft Publisher. It imports pictures like jpeg and has
templates for Avery labels (stickers).#5164 (mailing – 6/page) are good
for front labels. #5196 (diskette)are good for back labels (if you make
any). You can even use #5267 for "vintage" labels. Easy to use, easy to
print: you design 1 label, the program prints the whole board (Avery
sheet), and in the printing options you can fine tune the sheet margins to
make sure it works well with your printer.

To Joe: I found out (the hard way) that it is better to put any
fruit/flavoring in the secondary otherwise the flavors get "scrubbed-out"
during primary fermentation. Good nes, though, these flavors do come back
a litle when aging (wait at least 6 months)

Happy Thanksgiving to all

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1058