Mead Lover's Digest #1066 Wed 31 December 2003
Mead Lover's Digest #1066 Wed 31 December 2003
Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor
Mini kegs ("Dan Bowkley")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1065, crystallized honey (Ken Vale)
racking mead question (Sue Bentley)
Re: Crystallized Honey (email@example.com)
Subscribe ("CT White")
Temperature of fermentation ("John Reeves")
RE: Newbie here ("Alson Kemp")
Honey crystallizing (Ken Schramm)
Re: MLD #1065, Xtal honey; Strange flavor; Milk mead; ("Arthur Torrey (no …)
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Subject: Mini kegs
From: "Dan Bowkley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 23:37:18 -0800
Hey there everyone,
I was wondering if anyone has used those cute little overgrown 5-liter beer
cans for mead? I haven't been able to find much info about them on the net,
save one guy who thinks they leak. They seem like a great idea to me, minus
the ability to force-carbonate that you get with Cornies…
Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1065, crystallized honey
From: Ken Vale <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 09:27:20 -0500
>Subject: Re: crystallized honey
>From: Sam Corpuz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 10:16:56 -0800 (PST)
>Hi! I can use some help about crystallized hoey.
>This is a slight issue in my city here in the Philippines. Last April I
>bought a bottle of honey from a tribal girl with the intention of consuming
>it with our meals. It was normal for a couple of weeks. But gradually
>it began to freeze and granulate. At first we thought it was because I
>put it in the fridge, so I kept it on the dining room table from then on,
>but it still hardened. that's when I realized that it wasn't freezing but
>losing water. Dad concluded the honey I bought was fake, just brown sugar
>dissolved in some water.
>My pastor told a similar story too, in one of his sermons. He even mentioned
>how he was talking to his wife about it– how the honey still smelled like
>honey even thought it wasn't fluid anymore. But he was convinced it was fake.
>I've been a subscriber to this digest years before I bought the honey,
>so I'm aware of honey crystallizing, but I never thought of making sure
>that what I'm buying is genuine honey, the real deal. My questions are:
>can honey be "faked?" Can you make a syrup and pass it off as honey? How
>can you tell if what you bought is real honey or syrup?How often does fresh,
>unprocessed honey crystallize? What does crystallized honey look like? How
>do you keep honey from crystallizing?
Hi Sam. It maybe possible to fake honey, however the cost to do such
is not viable at this time (whoever would want to fake it would have to
come up with some means of duplicating the floral smells and tastes, and
given current world wide honey prices it just isn't worth the cost). I
have heard of people diluting honey with a sugar or corn syrup, but in
such cases the honey flavour will seem weak or off (and the result maybe
a bit to runy and it will often not crystalize easily). So that said I'm
sure what you have is real honey.
The majority of unprocessed honey will crystalize within a month or
two, there are some kinds of honey that do not crystalize at all
(tulpo). Processed Honey has been through two processes, heat
pasturization and filtering. Pasturization is when honey is heated up to
kill off any bacteria that could cause the honey to spoil or cause
disease in people (though it is really, really rare for honey to have a
disease that could hurt you), the down side is that pasturization may
remove some of the floral smells and tastes of honey, further when you
heat honey the crystal structure of the honey sugar breaks down which
causes honey to be more liquid (and often will prevent the honey from
crystalizing for a year or more). Most processed honey has also been
filtered to remove any particles (dust, pollen, wax, bee bits, etc) from
the honey. Honey crystals find it easier to form around particles, thus
filtered honey will stay liquid longer (again a year or more). Processed
Honey that has been filter and pasturized, this is often the kind found
in grocery stores, will stay liquid for a long time (two plus years)
and this is why most people think honey is a liquid.
Crystalized honey will look very much like coloured sugar (dark
honeys will look rather like brown sugar, amber honeys will look like
golden sugar, and light honeys will look like tinted sugar), there are
two ways of telling crystalized honey from sugar first, if it smells and
tastes like honey it is, second crystalized honey will have a sticky
constency to it (most sugars will be "dry").
If you would like your honey to be liquid again simplely place the
jar in some hot water and stir, the hotter the water the faster it will
be come liquid (don't burn yourself).
Subject: racking mead question
From: Sue Bentley <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 09:07:59 -0800
I racked my 5 gallon mead batch a couple of weeks ago, and there is an air
space of a few inches (maybe 4-5") in the top of the carboy. Do I need to
"top-up" the batch? and if I do, what do I top it up with?
thanks in advance
Subject: Re: Crystallized Honey
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 12:08:51 -0500
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On 30 Dec 2003 at 23:46, Sam Corpuz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> This is a slight issue in my city here in the Philippines. Last April I
> bought a bottle of honey from a tribal girl with the intention of
> consuming it with our meals. It was normal for a couple of weeks. But
> gradually it began to freeze and granulate. At first we thought it was
> because I put it in the fridge, so I kept it on the dining room table from
> then on, but it still hardened. that's when I realized that it wasn't
> freezing but losing water. Dad concluded the honey I bought was fake, just
> brown sugar dissolved in some water.
Raw, unprocessed honey is very prone to crystallization. In
unfiltered, raw honey, there is a lot of pollen, dust, bee bits, etc.
These provide nucleation sites, which trigger the crystallization
process. Filtered honey has less of these things, and so tends to
be more stable.
I buy my honey from a local beekeeper, and it keeps quite well. He
recently gave us a small bottle of raw goldenrod honey, freshly
harvested. It crystallized in a matter of weeks, probably less than
one month. So, I don't think what you got was fake honey, you
actually got raw, unprocessed honey. If you want to restore it, just
sit the jar in hot water. It will melt and reliquify.
As far as fake honey, it exists, but typically on large commercial
scales. KFC's honey is fake. My beekeeper friend says some less
scrupulous beekeepers dilute the honey with corn syrup. If it's not
labeled as 100% pure, I don't think it's considered illegal. Not sure
if there is a limit on what % must be honey.
(35 gallons of mead in the cellar)
Subject: Temperature of fermentation
From: "John Reeves" <Vectorjohn@hotmail.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 09:34:49 -0800
I was reading Russ' question about mead temperatures in the last digest,
and it got me wondering. I read quite a few web sites about brewing
mead, and I seem to remember that a few of them said that fermenting the
mead at room temperature (~72 degrees F) was ok and possibly even sped
the process along. However I also remember seeing wine making articles
that suggested fermenting at a much lower temperature more like what
Russ said (60 – 68 degrees). If mead is brewed at room temperature,
could that cause incredibly negative effects on the flavor and methanol
content of the mead? If so, I think that could explain the taste of my
mead at the time, which seems like an odd flavor to me. I guess it
might be time for me to start up a new batch! But thats no big deal, at
least I don't make 20 gallon batches.
Subject: RE: Newbie here
From: "Alson Kemp" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 13:27:11 -0500
I'll try to address some of your questions.
>3. Do you clarify comp meads? What an exercise is=20
>patience! How much oak aging is going on?
Shouldn't really matter what you do. If you need to
clarify or fine a wine, you should clarify or fine…
I oak age my meads using oak barrels. If you want
to try an oaked mead, get some oak chips from the brew store
and make a strong vodka+oak chip solution. Then add a drop
or two to a mead to see what you think of mead + oak.
>4. What variety of roses are best for=20
I've used Double Delight before. Any rose that
smell nice and rosey should work.
Now you have to figure out: boil or no boil. IMO,
this is purely a flavor consideration. Winemakers don't
boil the red wine skins they use to color and flavor the red
wine, so you don't need to boil the rose petals you use to
color and flavor the mead. Boiling might degrade/improve
the flavor and smell. Try with a little bit first.
One note: my last rhodomel tasted a bit plastic-y,
but the smell aged out after about 6 months.
>6. Any suggestion on good varietal honey sources? =20
>I have some (mostly) cotton honey to trade or barter.
I generally get the majority of the honey from a
local beekeeper. I use Orange Blossom almost exclusively
since it has a nice floral nose (can be a bit overpowering,
>7. What is battonage?
"Battonage" is the term used for stirring up the
lees of a wine. I age my meads "sur lies" (with the
flocculated yeast) and stir up the yeast (battonage) every
two weeks or so at the beginning. After the yeast
flocculate, they begin to slowly degrade, releasing large
proteins and other gunk, which are supposed to increase the
complexity and body of the wine.
While the yeast are degrading, they form a reductive
environment. If left too long, this reductive environment
can cause some off characteristics in the wine. But
stirring the wine/mead will distribute the reducing power of
the lees into solution and remove excess oxygen, thereby
preventing some oxidation.=20
Lees also have some ability to remove hydrogen
sulfide. They also do a nice job of natural clarification.
Check out "Volume 1, The Handbook of Enology:
Microbiology of Wine" by Pascal Ribereau-Gayon (Editor) for
more technical information about battonage and sur lies
Subject: Honey crystallizing
From: Ken Schramm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 13:59:11 -0500
Sam Corpuz makes some inquiries about his rapidly crystallized honey. I
wouldn't be too quick to accuse your supplier of having concocted "fake"
honey. Honeys that have a high ratio of dextrose to water will
crystallize very quickly, often with little or no long term affect on
flavor or meadmaking quality. This can happen _very_ quickly with
certain varieties. If the honey has a distinctly floral aroma and a
honey flavor, this is probably the case with your sample. The hardening
would continue in real honey just as you described.
Marginally, honey can be "faked" I guess, but it is extremely difficult
if not impossible to reproduce the aroma and flavor of honey. The
artificial flavoring folks have been frustrated with that fact for
decades. In most cases of honey cheating, the honey is doctored or
stretched through the addition or admixture of high fructose corn syrup.
This is an even greater temptation these days with the US market being
closed to the larger importers, and US prices being quite high by
historical standards, but does not appear to be something one would
worry about much in the Philippines. There are tests done in the US to
determine if HFCS has been added (the ratios and relative percentages of
the constituent sugars get way beyond what bees can produce), but the
smell and taste test is a very effective means for the consumer.
Honey crystallizes most rapidly around 50 F. If you are not going to
use your honey immediately, the USDA says storage in the freezer is the
best means to maintain its quality and stability. Heating in the
105-115F range will re-liquify your honey with minimal loss of character.
I am curious if you know whether or not European bees were used to
collect the honey you have? Other Asian bee species have different
foraging characteristics, and I am very interested in the affects that
has on the honey, especially from a meadmaker's perspective.
John Reeves: you may just be tasting some of the sulfuric or other
fermentation compounds that result from fermentation. Relax and let it
age for 6 months to a year, and even then don't get too impatient. Mead
is a more like a wine than a beer WRT the activities – and compounds
released by – the yeast. Time is on your side.
I'm with Mike on John Looney's problems, but I'm curious to know what
yeast strain was used.
Just a friendly note to those seeking advice: if you present as much
info as possible – yeast strain, method and quantity used, Gravity
readings, fermentation temps, and everything about the recipe you can,
especially nutrients – you will give the troubleshooting wizards out
there (like Micah and Dick and many other very qualified zen masters)
the tools they need to solve your problem as early in as they can.
Joe Miller: You know, there's a book out there on Amazon for about $15
that will answer most all of your questions and then some…
Sorry for the commercial there.
I hope everybody is having a great holiday season. I'm making a cherry
mel and a raspberry mel today, and may even keg a massively gingered
metheglin. Per Dick's historical advice I did one with 3 plus lbs of
ginger in 5 gallons, and it tasted _great_ at racking out of the
Here's hoping 2004 turns out to be a great vintage for everybody.
Subject: Re: MLD #1065, Xtal honey; Strange flavor; Milk mead;
From: "Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 17:36:45 -0500
> Subject: Re: crystallized honey
> From: Sam Corpuz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 10:16:56 -0800 (PST)
> Hi! I can use some help about crystallized hoey.
> This is a slight issue in my city here in the Philippines. Last April I
> bought a bottle of honey from a tribal girl with the intention of consuming
> it with our meals. It was normal for a couple of weeks. But gradually
> it began to freeze and granulate. At first we thought it was because I
> put it in the fridge, so I kept it on the dining room table from then on,
> but it still hardened. that's when I realized that it wasn't freezing but
> losing water. Dad concluded the honey I bought was fake, just brown sugar
> dissolved in some water.
> My pastor told a similar story too, in one of his sermons. He even mentioned
> how he was talking to his wife about it– how the honey still smelled like
> honey even thought it wasn't fluid anymore. But he was convinced it was fake.
> I've been a subscriber to this digest years before I bought the honey,
> so I'm aware of honey crystallizing, but I never thought of making sure
> that what I'm buying is genuine honey, the real deal. My questions are:
> can honey be "faked?" Can you make a syrup and pass it off as honey? How
> can you tell if what you bought is real honey or syrup?How often does fresh,
> unprocessed honey crystallize? What does crystallized honey look like? How
> do you keep honey from crystallizing?
I'm sure anything can be faked, but I'd be surprised if your honey was, at
least if it wasn't something you got for a suspiciously bargain price.
Nearly all honey that hasn't been processed to death (more of a problem than
fake stuff IMHO) will crystalize, how soon depends on what sort of honey it
is, how it's been treated, the temperature it's stored at, etc. Generally
speaking, unprocessed honey will crystalize sooner than processed honey, all
else being equal.
Honey is after all, a supersaturated sugar solution, and like any super
saturated solution, if given a chance it will crystalize. One of the reasons
unprocessed honey will crystalize faster is that it generally contains small
amounts of pollen and other natural (and harmless) debris that will serve as
'seeds' for crystals to form around.
I have seen honey crystalize in many different ways, ranging from an extremely
fine crystal that is almost like cake frosting, to a coarse crystal like rock
salt. The crystals may or may not clump together, but from what I've seen
crystalization seems to start at the bottom of the container and work up.
AFAIK the only two ways to keep honey from crystalizing are to either store it
at ~100*F (near the temperature in a beehive) or to consume it. ;-} Once it
has crystalized, the best way to deal with it is to heat it gently to around
110*F to 120*F until it reliquifies. (Minor note, be careful doing this, many
of the retail sized plastic containers (i.e. bears) that honey is sold in will
start melting at temperatures not much hotter than this!)
Not a great deal of help I'm afraid, but that's about how it goes.
> Subject: Worried about the mead
> From: "John Reeves" <Vectorjohn@hotmail.com>
> Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 12:21:44 -0800
> My first batch of mead is nearing time to be bottled. Recently when
> I racked it into the secondary fermenter, i kept a little bit out in a
> wine bottle for tasting. When I tasted it later that day it had a
> strange taste to it. It was sort of a musty taste, hard to describe.
> I let the bottle sit (closed) in a refrigerator so that it wouldnt
> continue to ferment and so it would clear, and tased it this christmas
> eve. The strange taste was still there and I'm very worried that it
> affected the whole batch. Does anyone have any idea as to what this
> taste could be caused by? Thanks!
This seems to come from some strains of yeast more than others, and will
(eventually) go away. It seems especially present in meads that are still not
completely fermented, I suspect it is a yeast byproduct.
However I've learned that meads that are still fermenting tend to taste funky,
and not worry to much about it. I just keep bulk aging, and rack every few
months, until it tastes good.
> Subject: Looking for a recipe
> From: "J. Russ" <email@example.com>
> Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 09:23:27 -0500
> I have searched the web and found nothing but the quick mention of Milk =
> Mead. I haven't found any recipes.
> Anyone have one?
There are a couple of recipe's (sort of) in the book "The Alaskan Bootlegger's
Bible" by Leon W. Kania, ISBN 0-9674524-0-6. This isn't a great book for it's
mead sections, but it has lots of interesting and humourous stuff about
brewing (including a section included for informational purposes only about
building stills…) including how to to do a lot of things on a budget with
low cost / improvised equipment. I reccomend it highly.
The recipe I tried was from this book, he lists a couple of others
(accompanied by the tale of "Father Emmet Engel, the Wine Making Priest") and
was fairly simple…
2 Qt. Commercial 'Lactose Free' milk
2 lb. Cane Sugar, Corn Syrup or Honey (guess what I used)
2 Qt. Water
1 Pkt. Champagne Yeast
Dissolve sugars in boiling water, allow to cool to room temperature
(Important, you don't want to scald the milk and change it's chemistry) add
milk, pitch yeast. Ferment at ~70*F, with a fermentation lock. After about a
week, the wine will seperate into three distinct layers – A curd or 'cottage
cheese' layer on top, a whey layer in the middle, and a fine yogurt like layer
on the bottom.
Rack by straining the whey through a filter to seperate out the solids, put in
secondary with a fermentation lock, and proceed as with other meads.
You will also get approx 1 Qt. / Gallon of curds (cottage cheese solids) which
are wholesome and good for you, but 'will hammer you into the ground like a
tent peg' due to high alcohol content. If you don't want to go on a cheese
bender, rinse and strain through cheesecloth to remove the kick.
Unfortuneately, I was not impressed with the way it came out. When young the
mead was drinkable, and had an odd flavour, but wasn't outstanding. It got
vinegary with age. YMMV.
End of Mead Lover's Digest #1066