Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1059, 3 December 2003

Mead Lover's Digest #1059 Wed 3 December 2003


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



White Scum ("Matt Maples")
Bubbler Speeds ("W. Andrews")
Update: Patrick McGovern Research ("Dan McFeeley")
Re:kieselsol (Rick Dingus)
Mead Featured on National Public Radio and International Mead Festival (J…)


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Subject: White Scum
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003 11:34:22 -0800

Most likely what you have is "Bloom" if forget the scientific name for
it. As long as it is a white scum on the top and not hairy (mold) you'll
be alright. Bloom does not produce big off flavors so if you get it
early and get it under control your mead should be fine. Bloom is an
aerobic (needs oxygen) bacterium so if you cut off its oxygen supply it
will die. What I do when this happens to me (and it has happened once or
twice) is to carefully rack and leave the scum layer behind and bottle
as soon as possible. I like to bulk age so it bothers me to have to rush
to bottle but better to do that then have a crappy mead.

You could try to sulfite the crap out of it to try and get it under
control but I do not like adding sulfites after primary fermentation.
You will get a little "ring around the collar" inside the bottles but
bacteria will not continue to grow.

Bloom is a sanitation issue, if your primary bucket is old think about
getting a new one. Make sure and heavily sanitize all your equipment to
keep it from reoccurring. The fruit was probably the culprit, proper
sulfiteing or pasteurization is key.

It happens to the best of us.

Matt Maples

Liquid Solutions
12162 SW Scholls Ferry Rd
Tigard, OR 97223
503-579-6493 (fax)

Over 450 beers and 25 meads online, shipping available.
May mead regain its place as the beverage of gods and kings.

Subject: Bubbler Speeds
From: "W. Andrews" <>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003 14:55:05 -0500

A question for anyone with more experience than myself (which is any amount
greather than 0):

Assuming no prior brewing experience, how do I quantify a fast bubbler?

I started two batches, and have no idea how to eyeball their progress without
taking a sample.

The first is a 5 gallon batch (15 pounds honey) with a one point starter
of Wyeast Sweet Mead (liquid) yeast. The must was aereated the old
fashioned-way — lots of stirring.

As fermentation started, it reached a rate of 1 bubble every 4 seconds.
Two weeks after pitch, it's down to 1 bubble every 9 or 10 seconds.

The second batch was started only 5 days ago (Lalvin 1118) with 12 pounds
of honey instead of 15 pounds, in a 5-gallon carboy. It's bubbling better than
every second. The must was aerated with a bubbling stone for about an hour
while it was cooling.

What is a good rate of bubbling for primary fermentation?
What is a slow enough rate to indicate that it is time to rack to secondary?

Any insight greatly appreciated. We've got the resources to start a third
batch on standby, but we'd like to learn from our mistakes first.

W. B. Andrews

Subject: Update: Patrick McGovern Research
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 15:21:36 -0600

Last summer I put out a post to MLD reporting on a review
of research recently conducted by Patrick McGovern on
ancient winemaking practices and reported in the August 15th
issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. McGovern
had analyzed approx. 9,000 year old pottery samples from Jiahu,
an archaeological site in China's Henan province. According to
the article, "The pottery contains the oldest-documented evidence
of an alcoholic drink, one made most likely by fermenting grapes
with rice and honey. In other words, the earliest known experiments
with wine."

This would also be the earliest artifact showing the use of honey
in the making of fermented beverages. Dr. McGovern's forth
coming book, _Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of
Viticulture_, to be published in the Fall, was to give a more
complete account. When I received my copy, however, there
was no mention of honey. The analysis of the pottery shards
showed that the Neolithic wine had been infused with tree resin
or herb, rice had been a main ingredient but the presence of
tartaric acid strongly suggested grape was also used. No
mention, however, of honey.

I e-mailed Dr. McGovern and asked him about the differences
between the report in the Chronicle of Higher Education and
the text. Dr. McGovern is a busy academic, but is gracious
in replying to inquiries about his work. He said there was no
need for me to retract the report I had earlier given to MLD.
Dr. McGovern explained the discrepancy between the two
reports as due to not being able to positively identify the
origin of the hydrocarbon series found in the Jiahu samples.
Beeswax is a likely candidate, but he said it could also be
an epicuticular plant wax of some kind. That is certainly
understandable. It takes a lot of detective work to look at
a specific compound found in an ancient organic remnant,
and then work toward identifying the complex biological
substance it originally came from.

As fascinating as this latest research is, the only reports so far
are brief accounts in the Chronicle of Higher Education and
_Ancient Wine_. Perhaps further analysis will be conducted
by the time Dr. McGovern is able to submit his findings to
a research journal. At this point it can still be said that it is
likely, but not certain, that honey was used as an adjunct
ingredient in an ancient Neolithic wine made in China, with
rice positively identified as a main ingredient, along with
indications of wild grape as well.


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re:kieselsol
From: Rick Dingus <>
Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2003 14:28:15 -0600

I've used gelatin as a fining agent before, which works well for beer and
wines that have tannin. I've noticed mead makers here recommending
kieselsol. Made up of 2 parts, it apparently removes both negative and
positive charged materials from suspension.

I bought some Super-Kleer KC to try, but the instructions are a bit vague.
After stirring part 1 (kieselsol) into suspension, should I wait awhile
before adding part 2 (chitosan)? If so, how long? Does it really matter
which is added first and, if so, why? I'm assuming that chitosan is like
gelatin. What is kieselsol and how does it work?

Thanks for helping to clarify my mind as well as my mead.


Subject: Mead Featured on National Public Radio and International Mead Festival 
From: Julia Herz <>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 12:13:37 -0700

Hello all in Mead Digest Land! I wanted to update everyone on how the 2003
International Mead Festival went. The festival is the main competition and
public tasting session for commercial meads. The event was hosted by Redstone
Meadery and co-organized by

Trust us when we say this event is just getting started and we are appreciative
for all who will be involved each year while we collectively help it grow. (A
special thanks to goes to Ray Daniels.)

2003 official totals are:


  • -Held in Boulder, Colorado

  • -Over 500 attendees

  • -61 commercial meads judged from 7 different countries from 23 different

meaderies (The largest selection of meads ever assembled)

  • -Over 30 volunteers

  • -12 meaderies attended to pour their own meads

  • -10 judges

  • -3 Supporting Sponsors – Thank you Association of Brewers, National Honey

Board and White Labs! (Also thank you to Boelter for the great sample glasses.)

  • -2 Meadery Sponsors -Thank you Mountain Meadows and Sky River!

  • -2 Vendors – Thank you What's Brewin and Andy LaMorte


As for next year we'll keep you posted but we will again hold the festival in
Colorado. The new dates are still under consideration but we are looking at
moving it to either the first or second weekend in November, 2004. If you're a
mead fan then consider attending as no where else will one get to taste this
many meads in one sitting! To check this years entries and a winners list go to

Also…Splendid Table on NPR just aired an interview segment on mead with David
Myers of Redstone Meadery. If you want to give it a listen go to: then scroll down to the
November 22 Thanksgiving Show. Click on listen to download the show. The
interview is about 48 minutes into the program which you should be able to fast
forward to. What a great day to have a nationally recognized food/wine expert
actually in a discussion about mead being the first fermented beverage!

Cheers everyone.

Julia Herz
Redstone Meadery – Vice President Marketing & Promotions


Owner –

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1059