Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1106, 10 June 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1106 Thu 10 June 2004


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



Re: Residual Sweetnes with bottle carbonation? ("Ken Taborek")
subject : blueberries, blueberries, chris herrington ("Diane Gagnon")
'Fresh' Honey ("Schuler, Joseph (EAS)")
Blueberry Melomel ("Schuler, Joseph (EAS)")
BJCP and mead ("Vince Galet")
RE: Mead in BJCP competitions ("Brian Lundeen")
Obscure Mead Reference ("Dan McFeeley")
RE: Mead in BJCP competitions (Bill Wible)
spring honey ("Aaron Ardle")
let's bee a little more humble (
Re: Blueberries Blueberries (Dick Dunn)
blueberries (


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Subject: Re: Residual Sweetnes with bottle carbonation?
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 07:55:59 -0400

> I would like to produce a lower alcohol (say 6-10% or so) mead and have it
> bottle carbonate with maximum residual sweetness. Is this possible? What
> yeast might accomplish this?
> I made a kiwi/strawberry mel last year with ec-1118 bottle
> carbonated, it is
> too dry for my liking.
> Regards,
> Chris


There is one way to do this safely. Use the champagne method, and sweeten
when you add the dosage. It's not a trivial task, and there is still a risk
that you may have renewed fermentation. Adding alcohol and sorbate with the
dosage will reduce that risk, but not eliminate it.

If you remove the limitation of bottle carbonation, you may force carbonate
your sweet mead.

But other than these two methods, I'm unaware of any safe means to produce a
bottle conditioned sweet mead. You'd have to have absolute confidence in
your yeast to halt fermetation after producing enough CO2 to carbonate, but
before producing enough to be dangerous. There is too much risk for injury
to make a guess like this.



Subject: subject : blueberries, blueberries, chris herrington
From: "Diane Gagnon" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 08:38:27 -0400

My experience with blueberries extraction is with a centrifugal type,
extractor, which gave a fair amount of juice.With the remaining pulp I
made a "piquette" type melomel adding enough honey and water to raise
gravity to 10% ABV. Results were quite satisfactory, piquette was more
tannic, but the "blueberry wine" added to mead gave an excellent
melomel, as a matter of fact the best one I ever made according to my "
tasters" .Denis Quebec Canada

Subject: 'Fresh' Honey
From: "Schuler, Joseph (EAS)" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 10:07:46 -0400

>>I'm trying to buy very fresh honey this year. this year the varieties
>>that I have found that are very fresh are cranberry, black locust, and
>>palmetto. I would like to hear opinions from anyone that has
>>experience with these varieties of honey.


>What do you mean by "fresh"? I'm a beekeeper and I've never used this term
>to describe honey.



I don't think this bit of trivia has any relevance to the discussion on
freshness, but to put it in perspective here's a little FYI: I read that
Honey has (unofficially) been named the only edible substance that will last
'forever'. Apparently, King Tut was buried with jars of honey among his many
afterworld possessions. When the archaeologists were studying everything,
they tasted the honey and deemed it still edible. That is what…seven
thousand years? Unfortunately, that is all I remember of the article,
and it didn't mention whether or not the honey was crystallized or liquid
(liquid? Maybe it was tupelo honey 😉


Subject: Blueberry Melomel
From: "Schuler, Joseph (EAS)" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 10:21:11 -0400


Has anyone made the 'Blue Heaven' Blueberry Melomel whose recipe is at

I started a batch of this stuff last November, and the dang pretty purple
stuff is still bubbling! They are just tiny little bubbles rising into
the neck of the carboy, not enough to make the airlock give off any bubbles
that I can see, but…

Have any of you made it, and how long did you have to wait until the
bubbling stopped? I'm assuming that these tiny bubbles are a part of the
malolactic fermentation. Is that probably correct? I have to wait until
the bubbling stops completely before I bottle, don't I?


Princeton, NJ

Subject: BJCP and mead
From: "Vince Galet" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 11:18:26 -0400 (EDT)

Dick, let me clarify my points made earlier. I think we agree on most, if
not all of them, but we have a different approach to the thing as far as
considering solutions.

BJCP is clearly deficient on the mead side: no requirements for mead
judges, most judges not familiar enough with mead, imperfect guidelines
(to say the least) etc? I admit, sometimes even when I win I'm frustrated
that it was from judges who can't make the difference between mead and
sprite (takes the glory out of winning). On the other hand, a) without
BJCP mead would be lost in oblivion b) if BJCP is willing to make
revisions to beef up mead and cider (and it looks like they are so
inclined lately) this could be fixable. Why not educate BJCP and its
judges about mead? They are the most likely population to be receptive to
such education, maybe more so than the general public. Could be a good
start. Now, if people chose to dismiss it instead of trying to fix it,
this may be more likely to be detrimental to mead (and cider).

I agree with you that the association of mead and beer is more like a
piggy-back than true blending, and yes BJCP is primarily about beer, but
they are trying to accommodate other less common beverages like mead or
cider, and even though they are not doing a great job (yet) they deserve
some credit. I think that with increased volume (on the mead side) there
is a natural evolution toward partition. By the same token, if hobby
winemakers were in very small numbers, I could see them included in BJCP
by necessity but wine is big enough to be a whole world on its own and
association with anything else is not necessary. Hopefully, we can have
the "MJCP" one day, along with a whole world full of mead, but as a strong
mead advocate, I'm the first one to say mead needs a (serious) boost. In
the meantime BJCP may be one of the the best things we have.

Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful and ignore what is there: people
organizing mead-only competitions and events (meadfest, meadlenium,
mazer's cup etc?) sould be commanded, along with mead web site owners not
to mention you, our revered digest Janitor (as mentioned in my previous
post – without the digest, mead makers would hardly be a community). All
this is just wonderful but still too scarce to give mead a real existence
in the world.

My main point is about a compromise, trying to find the lesser evil, and a
positive way to boost mead.
BJCP seems to make an effort to better integrate its foster children. We
are facing to choices. Which one is best?
A) work with BJCP and develop mead (and cider) to reach a real position
within the organization (including good guidelines and knowledgeable
judges – we could even suggest a mead judge certification).
B) Consider BJCP is not good enough for mead and never will be, and
basically "boycott" it (let's say lose interest, to be polite). Develop a
mead-only community with its own judges, guidelines etc…
The first choice is a compromise but seems easier – The second choice is
more puristic but it's the hard way (and long term solution).
Knowing the BJCP commitment to non-beer beverages would be interesting.

Now, you argued "what if I'm not competitive?". Well, If you don't need to
have your mead evaluated for recognition or just feedback, then you don't
need mead competitions or knowledgeable mead judges either, no BJCP or
MJCP even if it existed.

Maybe we could associate hobbies of bread, cheese, beer, mead, wine and
cooking, judge one of each (within their own category) and have a nice

Subject: RE: Mead in BJCP competitions
From: "Brian Lundeen" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 10:44:56 -0500

> Subject: Re: Mead in BJCP competitions
> From: (Dick Dunn)
> Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 00:23:24 -0600 (MDT)


> BUT…what do you have to know
> about mead (and cider) to be qualified as a BJCP judge?


> Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nichts. Get it? You can climb
> to the top of BJCP judging without ever having so much as
> tasted a mead or a cider, let alone knowing about them or
> being able to tell the difference between a sweet
> lavender-woodruff metheglin and a dry Somerset cider!


> BJCP is about beer.

Dick is absolutely, 100% correct. The BJCP is about beer, and it is high
time that they realized the torment that they are inflicting upon the…
Ooh, I'll guess hundreds, perhaps dozens of competitive mead and cider
makers across the US and Canada by allowing these entries into their
competitions. That sweet lavender-woodruff metheglin deserves to be
evaluated by someone who understands and appreciates these beverages,
and who can comment knowledgeably on its qualities, not quaffed down by
some beer-swilling hack who is just as likely to write down a comment
such as "Blessed Mother of J*sus, I think I've been poisoned"!

The BJCP Board of Directors should immediately move to remove mead and
cider categories from BJCP sanctioned competitions. They must understand
that nothing they do, or ever will do, will ever possibly make the mead
and cider people happy, and their time would be better spent on pursuits
with a reasonable chance of success.

To take any other course is to perpetuate this veil of trickery that
fools these crafters of artisanal beverages into thinking their entries
will get a fair evaluation. With BJCP competitions out of the picture,
they can then be assured that any competitions for meads and ciders will
only be run by people with knowledge and experience in their chosen


Subject: Obscure Mead Reference
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 11:52:48 -0500

Quick aside to Mike Faul — thanks for the reply to my last
post. It added an extra perspective from that of large scale
mead production.

I came across an interesting historical reference to mead in,
of all things, an article in the Journal of the American Medical
Association titled "The Art of Pimping" (JAMA 262(1):89,
July 7, 1989). Before I cite the reference, however, I need to
explain what the author means by "pimping."

"Pimping" is a word in medical school jargon for the grilling
medical students endure by hospital attending physicians.
It's an ongoing oral quiz, on any point of medical treatment
and diagnosis, at any time. It's a pedagogical technique
intended to sharpen the student's clinical knowledge but
can be overdone at times. Hence the term. 🙂

An example from a review text on Neurology:

#64. When your attending pimps you on rounds, why
do you get sweaty palms but not sweaty armpits?


Anxiety and emotional stress primarily aggravate the
hyperhidrosis of the palms and soles, but not of the
axilla. The eccrine sweat glands of the palms and
soles, as well as those of the forehead, respond to
emotional, mental, or sensory stimuli, whereas the
axillary glands respond primarily to thermal stimuli.


Here's the mead reference, quoted from the article:

Pimping occurs whenever an attending poses a series of
very difficult questions to an intern or student. The earliest
reference to pimping is attributed to Harvey in London in
1628. He laments his student's lack of enthusiasm for
learning the circulation of the blood: "They know nothing
of Natural Philosophy, these pin-heads. Drunkards, sloths,
their bellies are filled with Mead and Ale. O that I might
see them pimped!"


The online version of the article can be found at:



Dan McFeeley

Subject: RE: Mead in BJCP competitions
From: Bill Wible <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 12:54:59 -0400

>You folks are saying "we do this because the brewers are
>really interested in these other beverages so they need
>a place to enter them." Then you say "we have to collapse
>the categories because we can't get enough entries–there
>isn't enough interest." Pick one! You can't have it
>both ways.

Actually, depending on the particular competition, it
does go both ways. Chris was specifically talking
about the BUZZ OFF competition. That particular
competition, in this particular area, held at that
particular time of the year drew that number of mead
and cider entries. Chris was saying that as the
organizer, he did the best job he could of putting
them where he thought they belong, according to the
other entries received and what he had to work with.

I can't talk about other competitions held in other
areas, or even others in this area held at different
times of the year – but I do know there are some that
regularly draw enough mead and cider entries for each
to be set up in its own category. It all depends on
what people are interested in brewing at any particular
point in time!

Again, you don't automatically get a first and second
place if you have the only 2 meads entered in a
competition, and that applies to any other style as

Now, as far as that goes, we see the same thing with
different styles of beers, too. I think very few
competitions have more than one or two Berliner Weisse
beers entered. This also applies to Biere De Garde,
Schwarzbier, Lambics, and probably at least 3 or 4 other
categories or subcategories of beer.

American Lager is a pretty standard beer that is widely
brewed. Yet at a local competition this year where I
entered one, it was one of only two entered in that
particular competition, and there so few light lagers
in general that they couldn't even get a category out
of combining American and European Light lagers.
They combined all the lagers with English Bitters –
and the bitters won all the awards that day.

So just because a particular style or substyle is poorly
represented in one area's competition one year doesn't
mean it isn't a valid style, or that it should be pulled
from the style guidelines and not accepted in competitions
anymore. Styles are brewed in cycles, they ebb and flow,
they come and go at different times. And as Chris said,
the organizer's challenge is to do the best he or she can
given what they have to work with. It sounds to me like
Chris gave good thought to the BUZZ OFF entries, and did
his best.

And I agree that if someone or some organization were
to start a meads only competition and be self sufficient
enough to get enough entries and run it every year, the
BJCP should let go of mead. But as the other guy posted,
there seems to be very little interest, when a meadery
won't even donate a free POSTER as a contest prize to
try to drum up some interest in mead.


Subject: spring honey
From: "Aaron Ardle" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 15:02:29 -0400

"What do you mean by "fresh"? I'm a beekeeper and I've never used this term
to describe honey."


by fresh I mean honey that has come from the hive to me in a very short
time. freshness was not the point of my message, I guess I should have
done some editing. I'm interested in people's experiences with palmetto
and black locust honey because these are the kinds of honey I'm thinking
of buying this year.

Subject: let's bee a little more humble
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 15:37:40 -0400


  • -snip-



<<<<I've just started my first batch of mead since joining this list.
First, let
<<<<me tell you a little about my brewing philosophy.

someone who just started there first batch of mead has a "brewing
sorry, "brewing" is for beer makers or witches.


  • -snip-

<<<<<I consider anything else as cheating, or evidence of serious
<<<<<flaws in brewing procedure.


well…dont WE sound haughty? i have a similar "brewing philosophy" as you
do, but wouldnt go so far as calling a fellow mazer a cheater because
he/she chooses to sulfite or use sparkaloid. geeez…


  • -snip-

<<<<< but those are the ones I have and have been successful with so far.
<<<<<This new one is a departure from my usual meads, and largely inspired



<<<<<information I've found here.

thou dost contradict thyself. i thought this was you first batch of mead.
it sounds as if you already know everything there is to know about
"brewing" mead, but thanks for at least throwing us mazers a bone by
writing how much we inspired you.


  • -snip-

<<<<I like to mix honey with cold brewing water, and
<<<<<don't see any practical need to boil or even pasteurize honey since a
<<<<<pitch of yeast will overwhelm any other flora present.


i agree…dont boil…but pasteurize…its a must(pun intended). you may

be getting your honey from a pure honey source, but you still cant be sure
what else is in it. bacteria has a uncanny knack for being invisible and
odorless. not to mention bee parts, pollen, wax ect. you may get away with
it for a while but that practice could eventually lead you to dumping 5 gal
of hard work down the drain. remember it takes approx 2 million trips from
flower to hive for a bee to make a pound of honey. having to dump a batch
down the drain is, therefore, bad karma and if that happens, id stay clear
of any future bee hives. you may be in trouble. lol!

heating the honey also helps to release proteins that rise to the surface

as foam. skimming the foam helps to clear the mead more quickly thus
reducing the need to clarify using "unnatural" agents.

a "pitch of yeast" may or may not overwhelm any other bacteria present.

and stubborn strains may even be able to coexist with the yeast. you never
know. quite possibly, a stray bug may even have alcohol tolerance. there
are thousands of different types of bacteria and hundreds of strains of
each, having slight differences and hardiness.

most meadmakers i know, pasteurize. even those who try to keep as natural

a process as possible. including myself. 160f for 30, 170 for 20, or 180f
for 15. thats my rule of thumb, which is subject to debate, but keep it
below 180f. you may be losing a little bit of character, but weigh the good
with the bad. pasteurize or not. the risk is yours. further, unless you are
buying directly from a beekeeper, chances are the honey has already been
pasteurized. bulk honey producers wouldnt normally put raw honey on the
shelf and risk spoiling under long term storage.



  • -snip-

<<<< I pitched the
<<<<rehydrated yeast in a starter, but after seeing how strong it is, I
think that
<<<<will be unnecessary in the future.


a starter is always a good idea. liquid or dry yeast. it doesnt matter.
keeps you from unknowingly pitching a dead yeast into the must. it can only
help you, and doesnt hurt so might as well do it. it also insures you have
a strong ferment and high yeast cell count when you pitch, as the yeasts
are multiplying at this stage of the game. so, if your philosophy is
crowding out "other flora," a starter is a very good idea.

regardless, i am glad you started meadmaking and you are passionate about

it. our numbers are small as opposed to homebrewers and homevinters. just
dont forget that this is a hobby that is suppose to be fun and rewarding.
its not rocket science and you will find there are 100+ ways to reach the
same goal. try not to get to wrapped up in the technical. there are no
"cheaters" in this field. practices you see as "flaws" may be what works
for that particular individual. we dont live in the napa valley or any wine
region in france.(most of us anyway) we dont have a large commercial
meadery or a small exclusive operation that charges $50 a bottle to the
public and sit around sipping away with our pinkies in the air talking
about art. just maize, drink and be happy.


just my 2 cents, take it or leave it.



Subject: Re: Blueberries Blueberries
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 16:28:01 -0600 (MDT)

chris herrington <> wrote about processing blueberries:
> …I had
> purchased a grape press in preparation for this with
> the expectation I could press the blueberries but when
> I placed the first load in a mesh bag and began to
> press them, I couldn't extract the juice in a manner I
> would call efficient. If anyone is efficient with a
> table grape press, please tell me where my application
> went wrong. I ended up stuffing the berries into a
> blender and pureed them, all 15 lbs. and dropped them,
> pulp and all, straight into a waiting 13.5% mead; no
> boil, no heat and threw in a pre-started Lalvin D47.
> Fermentation was apparant within 3 or 4 hours…

Another approach with blueberries, different in various ways but it works:
First freeze them. The freezing breaks cell walls and releases the juice
somewhat. Then, add to the primary at the start of fermentation. The
early fermentation, being pretty active, will work on the fruit and break
it down more (you actually get yeast working inside the fruit) – winemakers
would say "carbonic maceration". The fruit gradually (over a few days)
loses color and the mead picks it up. When the fruit is pretty pale you've
done most of the good you're going to do, and at that point you can skim
out and press what's left. One advantage of doing this is that the fruit
remains more intact than if you turn it to pulp, so that first racking
isn't such a bear.

I haven't tried this with adding to a nearly-finished mead, but it seems
like it might work about the same, since you pitched a new culture.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: blueberries
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 16:41:12 -0400


  • -snip-

<<<<Subject: Blueberries Blueberries
<<<<From: chris herrington <>
<<<<Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2004 19:06:32 -0700 (PDT)

<<<<How long should the pulp remain in the ferment?



i too have had problems with blueberries. they dont seem to render much
juice. i had a similar solution. i puree'd em in the blender and poured it
into a brewer's bag so it was easier to seperate after 2 weeks in the
primary. every other day i would (with sanitized hands) remove the bag and
squeeze the juice back into the must. after the 2 weeks i removed the bag
from the must. i usually dont like to sulfite, but i did in this case
because of the risk of opening and closing the fermenter and using my hands
so much. it turned out ok. not as good as i thought it would be, but still
worth trying again. still have a bottle or two that i hope to let sit for
about another year. could be better then.




  • -outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend…inside of a dog, its too

dark to read. -groucho marx


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1106