Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1109, 18 June 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1109 Fri 18 June 2004


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



Why Freeze the Blueberries? (Adam Funk)
Re: Tulip poplar mead (Steven Sanders)
Re: Subject: Tulip Poplar Honey ("Matt Maples")
For Adam in VT – re: unfermentable sugars ()
Artificial sweeteners and freezing blueberries (Randy Goldberg MD)
Re: Mead in Zymurgy ("Dan McFeeley")
sake/mead hybrid ("Paul Shouse")
Re: Taste of Mead ("Ken Taborek")
Re Taste of Mead (Michael Faul)
Advice for pyment (Talon McCormick)
Blueberry Mead (
Epernay and cotes des blancs ("phil")
pasteurizing ("phil")


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Subject: Why Freeze the Blueberries?
From: Adam Funk <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 16:16:56 +0100

> Every online recipe I've seen that calls for adding blueberries to mead
> says to freeze them first. Why? Could you just buy frozen blueberries

The water inside fruit expands as it freezes and ruptures the cell walls,
so that the juice runs out more freely when the fruit is thawed back out.
(This can also turns the fruit, especially strawberries for example, into
mush.) So this is generally a good idea when you want the juice but
don't care about the texture.

I can't see why good berries sold frozen should be any different from
home-frozen berries.

Subject: Re: Tulip poplar mead
From: Steven Sanders <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 08:45:56 -0700 (PDT)

> Subject: Tulip Poplar Honey
> From: chris herrington <>
> Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 12:25:00 -0700 (PDT)


> I just obtained a couple of gallons of tulip poplar
> honey from Virginia. I wanted a dark honey. It has a
> biting odor. It is very dark and has a very
> distinctive taste. It has a good, lingering
> aftertaste. I like this honey. Has anyone made a
> straight varietal with this honey?

A long time ago, I made a off dry tulip poplar mead
with one gallon of tulip poplar honey, and used cote
des blanc yeast. It was really really good, and when I
get more money, I'm buying a 5 gallon bucket of the


Subject: Re: Subject: Tulip Poplar Honey
From: "Matt Maples" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 09:23:15 -0700

I have. I too got it from VA and had it shipped all the way to Washington
state. It was well worth it. The varietal I made with it did take some
aging. The aroma starts off with a light molasses character but that fades
and the flavor settles into more of a molasses/malt tone.

My mead making has taken a back seat to my business (see tag below) so I
have not gotten around to doing that Braggot I had plan to do with it but I
had that EXACT same thought after tasting that honey. I think a touch of
chocolate malt and some Belgian B would be superb. I was thinking of using a
Scottish Ale yeast and try to eek a little diacetyl out of it; I think a
little (very little) would complement it nicely.

I think you are on the right track.

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: Tulip Poplar Honey
> From: chris herrington <>
> Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 12:25:00 -0700 (PDT)


> I just obtained a couple of gallons of tulip poplar
> honey from Virginia. I wanted a dark honey. It has a
> biting odor. It is very dark and has a very
> distinctive taste. It has a good, lingering
> aftertaste. I like this honey. Has anyone made a
> straight varietal with this honey? My guess it would
> be better semi-sweet. I'm also considering a braggot
> with dark grain additions like Special B and chocolate
> malt. Any suggestions?
> Chris

Subject: For Adam in VT - re: unfermentable sugars
From: <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 16:06:51 +0000

Hi all,

First time poster, frequent lurker, and my first mead (a "Ginger Snap"
mel) is in secondary for about another month – hope to have it "ready"
for a first tasting in time for my brother's wedding in September.

Adam, you mentioned adding unfermentable sugars when bottling to dial in
the desired sweetness; I have seen mention of this recently but (clearly)
haven't absorbed the salient details… What are examples of unfermentables
that I might use to sweeten this mead? I added about another 5# of clover
honey, same as I'd been using (bringing the total to a whopping 25#), so I'm
not convinced it'll be necessary to sweeten further (I'll know next month),
but what might I consider to sweeten without imparting additional flavors?

Thanks all, this digest is a great resource and an entertaining read,
as I build my mead vocabulary.

Matt in IL
Lake County BABBLE [Homebrew] Club

Subject: Artificial sweeteners and freezing blueberries
From: Randy Goldberg MD <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 13:59:23 -0400

> Coincidentally, I was reading up on artificial sweeteners in
> rec.arts.winemaking the other day. It seems that given time, and especially
> in an acidic medium, some of them break down into more basic sugars
> that would serve as yeast food. Potential bottle bomb?

In particular, NutraSweet can be metabolized. It is made from two amino acids,
which are the building blocks of proteins, but can be processed into the
carbohydrate metabolic cycle that produces ethanol and CO2 in yeast. Splenda
cannot be metabolized by yeast, as it carries a chlorine atom which the enzymes
simply cannot process. Saccharin is completely artificial and not metabolized.
Some of the "non-nutritive" sweeteners used in diabetic products (i.e. sorbitol
and the like) can be digested by yeast as well.

> Every online recipe I've seen that calls for adding blueberries to mead
> says to freeze them first. Why? Could you just buy frozen blueberries
> instead? I'm planning on making a recipe called Blue Heaven that I found on
> the Got Mead site. Looks like it's gonna be tasty. But once again it calls
> for fresh blueberries to be purchased and then frozen. Is there a
> difference between buying fresh and freezing and buying frozen? I mean as
> long as you make sure they're not packed in sugar,syrup, or preservatives
> before being frozen.

It's a good idea to freeze and defrost any fruit you're going to use for
brewing. The formation of ice crystals helps burst cell walls and allow the
juices to be released. You certainly could use store-bought frozen fruit, as
long as it's unsweetened, but you should allow it to defrost before adding to
your must. Fresh fruits should be frozen 'til solid, then allowed to thaw.

In particular with blueberries, I recommend frozen WILD blueberries – they're
smaller and have a much more intense flavor than the usual cultivated fresh


Randy Goldberg MD

Subject: Re: Mead in Zymurgy
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 11:23:30 -0500

On Mon, 14 Jun 2004, in MLD 1108, Mike Bennett wrote:

>> It's good that the AHA promotes an annual meadmaking day,
>> but it would be even better if publications like Zymurgy
>> would put out articles from time to time to help inform
>> the brewer who also enjoys making and consuming meads and
>> ciders.


>Zymurgy does do this. About every 2-3 years they focus an issue
>on mead. I think they have a policy of trying to focus an issue on
>all the major beer styles on a rotating basis. As such, they seem to
>do a pretty good job in coming back to mead every few years. A
>lot of the info in these issues tho' is on basic meadmaking for all
>the newer members.

Thanks for the reply — I definitely wrote my post too hastily and
wasn't clear about what I meant, especially when it came to my
comments on brewing publications and their attention to mead.
What I intended to say was that they do give attention to mead,
Zymurgy in particular, but the focus is on very basic introductions
to meadmaking or, especially in Zymurgy, general feature articles
on mead. Notable exceptions are the pieces authored by Ken
Schramm and Dan McConnell, very informative with a lot of
good detail.

What I'd like to see is maybe a little more attention given to mead
and cider, and something beyond articles that introduce people
to the basics of meadmaking, or to what a really good artisan
cider is all about. I hang out on the Cider Digest, and it doesn't
take long to find out that there is a lot more to traditional cider
than the stuff you find in the grocery store sitting next to the
alco-pop drinks. Mead — there is so much more information
and a lot more ideas about meadmaking in circulation, but not
much by way of setting it all down in printed form.

Zymurgy, Brew Your Own, et. al., are brewing magazines and
should remain brewing magazines. The point I was trying to
make, and hopefully will do better this time, is that, working
from the purpose of including mead and cider in brewing
competitions is because their long association with homebrews,
it would be good if brewing publications in turn would give
more focused attention to the making of meads and ciders
than has been given in the past. By more focused, I mean
the covering the kind of topics usually discussed on these
Internet forums but rarely covered in depth in brewing
publications. Questions that more advanced advanced
meadmakers are asking such, say, questions about honey
fermentation, yeast strains, types of varietal honeys, the
pros and cons of various techniques, and so on.

The long term benefits would be to create a greater familiarity
with meads and ciders, and a more in-depth data base for
when discussions such as the recent BJCP thread come up.
In other words, keep the articles on an occasonal basis, but
bring the knowledge base up to same level as the brewing
articles. The homebrewers who are also experienced mead
and cider makers would enjoy them.

>But, they've also done some pretty technical articles in the past. I
>have one issue (it's not handy right now or else I'd give you the
>number/date) in which they tested about 8 different mead yeasts by
>splitting a batch of must and fermenting each one with a different
>yeast. They were then tested both quantitatively (%alcohol, degree of
>attenuation, etc…) and sensorial (degree of honey expression, fusel
>alcohols, fruitiness, etc…). This article made me re-look at my
>technique and my choice of yeast strains.

That would be Susanne Price's article titled "Stimulate Your Senses
with Mead," in the Fall 1992 issue of Zymurgy. Wow! This is an
old article now, but very much worth reading.

>In closing, let me say that I think the AHA does a good job of
covering something that's not even their main focus. To do more
>would take the focus further away from their main goals. Maybe
>we should be looking more towards the AMA (American Mead
>Association) for information. What ever happened to them?
>Are they still around?

No, unfortunately the organization went bottom up some years ago.
It was a combination of bad business practices and, well, let's just
say the organization self destructed after the tragic death of Susanne
Price. There was an effort to bring it back, however, the legal
problems were too serious. Plus, the people involved with the
effort to re-start the AMA had full time jobs and had no idea how
much work was involved in running a non-profit organization.

Keep your ears open — the AMA may be gone, but other people
have been interested in starting another mead organization. There
may be some renewed efforts, hopefully in the near future.

>If not, we should be looking inward to ourselves to accomplish this.
>If there are enough contributors and enough interest, I might try my
>hand at publishing a quarterly Meadmaking 'Zine. I already know
>how to do it, I'd just need to see enough interest.

If you're polling the collective, I'm interested!


Dan McFeeley

Subject: sake/mead hybrid
From: "Paul Shouse" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 09:16:07 +0900

>>all this talk about ume japanese plums has sparked my interest in
>>making some sort of sake/mead hybrid. hmmmmmmmm. any thoughts on that? has
>>anyone out there every tried this? i have a few sake recipes but ive never
>>made sake and never heard of anyone combining the two.


That's a very interesting thought, and not one I've had before.

The problem is going to be cracking the rice starch into something
fermentable. Adding a handful of brown rice to a stout for that extra bite is
a standard homebrewer's trick, of course, and the rice is converted to sugar
by the malt enzymes. My knowledge of sake brewing (and they do call it
brewing) is sketchy, but the Japanese use specially grown and polished sake
rice and a bacterial culture called koji (which incidentally is good eating,
much like tempeh) to produce fermentable sugars. I've heard that koji does a
very complete conversion, there are few if any complex sugars left so that
almost all of the rice extract is metabolized by the yeast. Most of the flavor
profile of sake comes from the very special yeast cultures and
fermentation/aging used by the various producers.

I can see three possible routes to follow. Either (1) do lots of research and
experimentation into the uses of koji, (2) use a small amount of pale malt to
mash the rice, or (3) obtain some seed rice and try to malt it. I have never
heard of anyone malting rice before, but it sounds like fun.

Then again, there are commercially available rice syrups, that might be the
easiest way to start out.


  • -Paul


Subject: Re: Taste of Mead
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 23:25:43 -0400

> Greetings,


> My wife doesn't like my mead, any of it.


> She says that it reminds her of Creomulsion Cough Syrup. Granted cough
> syrup flavor in a young mead is not unusual. But these are well aged
> examples that many people love.


> I don't remember what Creomulsion tasted like, but many meads
> have a flavor
> similar to Teaberry Gum? Any one on the same page with me, my wife?


> Just transferring a yummy Orange Blossom Mead, that has that wonderful
> Teaberry flavor……………. and brewing a Rye Beer and Barleywine, if
> the rain will hold off.


> David B. Craft


My wife doesn't care for many of my meads, either. She detects (I do also,
but she finds it more objectionable than I) a subtle 'wintergreen' flavor in
them that I believe, after a great many batches using different methods,
yeasts, ingredients, etc, to be a characteristic of honey that would be hard
or impossible to separate from a mead. In other words, what she's smelling
is the unique scent of fermented honey, and that's not possible or desirable
to separate from a mead. Your wife and your description of Creomulsion or
Teaberry Gum (neither of which I am familiar with) may be along the same
lines as our labeling the faint taste as 'wintergreen'.



Subject: Re Taste of Mead
From: Michael Faul <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 23:08:49 -0700

> Subject: Taste of Mead
> From: "David Craft" <>
> Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 18:04:01 -0400


> Greetings,


> My wife doesn't like my mead, any of it.


> She says that it reminds her of Creomulsion Cough Syrup. Granted cough
> syrup flavor in a young mead is not unusual. But these are well aged
> examples that many people love.

If your mead tastes like this then there IS something worng with it.
You likely fermented too warm and for too long on the lees.

A good mead should taste like a good clean flavoured honey wine… I
mean wine..

The reason (at least what I know) you get those terpentine medicinal
tastes is becasue you fermented too warm and you have creaetd too much
aldehydes, phenols and meth.


Subject: Advice for pyment
From: Talon McCormick <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 11:42:41 -0700 (PDT)

Hello all,
In previous MLD articles, particulary #'s 1087 and 1088 Alexanders wine
concentrates are mentioned, particularly the Cabernet, and I've been
thinking of using a full 46 oz tin.

What I'm looking for is basically making a red pyment from a red wine
concentrate, but I want to make it semi-sweet and with a wonderful flavor.
One I'm looking into is the Cabernet Sauvignon for it's very fruity and
almost black currant flavor. Others suggested to me were a Zinfandel or
a Merlot concentrate from red wine drinkers.

Of course yeast selection plays heavilly on my final product and I fully
understand and appreciate this. I've got some Red Star in the green packet.
I think it's the Cote des Blancs. This should yield ~14% ABV wine according
to my documentation as long as I get it within the right SG. This is the
yeast I'm considering using, but am open for suggestions.

Ultimately, my question is this; What wine concentrate would you recommend
for a good, full bodied mead that will end up semi-sweet? Also, if
you have recommended recipes, they would also be greatly appreciated.
(I've already copied the one from MLD#1088 from Robert Sandefer.)


Subject: Blueberry Mead
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 10:18:17 -0400

Ah, blueberries. I used blueberry juice concentrate. I hope to bottle
the mead in the next week or so. I've got another bottle of concentrate
that I'm trying to decide…..mead……..blueberry braggot?!

Decisions, decisions.
nathan in madison, wi

Subject: Epernay and cotes des blancs
From: "phil" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 07:55:17 -0700

Hi all,

Last week, I started 2, 5-gal. Batches of orange blossom mead. I put
pectic enzyme in one of them because I have some frozen apriums to put
into it later. I put 2.5 tsp. super food in each. Both have Red Star
Cotes des blancs yeast in them.

Interesting thing is that the one with the enzyme started going strong
18 hrs. Sooner than the other, and it is still going much stronger than
the other – 5 days into this. I have several questions:

First, I am trying to make a complex, varietal mead. I was planning it
to be the one with just yeast and food in it. Should I reconsider
because of the healthy performance of the other batch? Obviously, I
would put pectic enzyme into the former if I decided to put fruit into
it. What I am asking is whether the calm steady one or the vigorous one
will give the most complex, varietal, character at the end of the day.

I know that stress on the vines imparts more complex flavor to grapes.
How about yeast! does varietal flavor go out the airlock with vigorous
fermentation – or does a slow steady primary fermentation save or
accentuate the characteristics of the honey?

Second, after I pitched the yeast, I read in Ken Schramm's book that
cotes des blancs requires more nutrients than other yeasts. Do I need
to add more super food to the "traditional" mead?

Third, do any of you have an opinion of the flavor profiles of cotes des
blancs yeast vs. epernay yeast? My initial plan was to use epernay
yeast, butt the store told my wife that epernay yeast was renamed cotes
des blancs yeast. The reason I wanted epernay yeast was that I recently
had a tupelo honey mead made with epernay yeast and thought it was the
most complex mead I had ever tasted. Is Red Star's Cotes des blancs
capable of bringing out of the orange blossom honey what the epernay
yeast brought out of the tupelo honey? I have some tupelo honey being
shipped to me and I had bought enough cotes des blancs yeast to put into
it. Should I use it for something else and get the real epernay?

Phil W.

Pasadena CA.

Subject: pasteurizing
From: "phil" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 08:13:53 -0700

Steve wrot a reply…
<<<<I like to mix honey with cold brewing water, and
<<<<<don't see any practical need to boil or even pasteurize honey since
a strong <<<<<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

This leads me to ask…

Could the reason people pasteurize is that they went from making beer
to making mead and old habits die hard? Winemakers don't boil their
musts and they are not creating bad grape carma.

If the need to pasteurize is more than folklore, than can someone tell
me about a healthy, quick starting fermentation that went bad because
beasties overwhelmed the yeast? I have posed this question on prior
occasions and have yet to get a response. So, I say to Steve, (with a
friendly smiling nudge) Go ahead and add extra work to your meadmaking
because of old-wives-tales.

Phil W.

Pasadena CA.

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1109