Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1112, 1 July 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1112 Fri 1 July 2004


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



mead is a 4-letter word (Dick Dunn)
RE: Heating. ("Murphy-Marsh, Leigh")
heating (Jim Johnston)
heat etc (Mike Faul)
Question ("Jeff Tollefson")
FYI: Pasteurizing .. in Milk (Mark Ottenberg)
To heat or not to heat ("Paul Shouse")
Must treatment (Ken Schramm)
spoilage? (MICAH MILLSPAW)


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Subject: mead is a 4-letter word
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 10:33:53 -0600 (MDT)

in the last digest…
>…I make more than 400 gallons of meade a year…
>…All my meades…
>…meade still took silver…

Please, it's "mead", not "meade".

Yeah, I know…fussy fussy fussy…
"Meade" is a trademarked name for a (mediocre) white wine containing
a little bit of un-fermented honey. That's not what we're talking about
here. We want mead.


Subject: RE: Heating.
From: "Murphy-Marsh, Leigh" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 01:10:01 +0800

The to "heat or not to heat" thread is dying thank goodness. But a
couple of things. Gentle heating will start to kill the yeast at around
40 degrees celcius which is a fact unless there are some seriously
hardcore wildcat yeasts out there somewhere no one knows about. So if
you took it up to 50 or 60 degrees all the yeast should be well and
truly dead by that point. Other bacterium can of course be tougher but
the wild yeast is gauranteed to be dead by then.=20
I have a second hobby that involves distilling and I was wondering
whether anyone has tried to boil their honey with a condensor on the top
of a boiler of some sort to recondense anything that is normally lost to
atmosphere. My still regularly collects aromatics and I was wondering
whether it could make the boiling and True heat sterization of honey a
no loss event. Also has anyone tried to heat honey for a long period at
high heat without stirring, which would be impossible in a sealed
boiler? I've never tried it and don't want to if it's going to burn.

Subject: heating
From: Jim Johnston <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 13:15:40 -0500

I agree that no pasteurizing is perfect, just as any sterilization
process outside of very tightly controlled laboratory conditions. I
also agree with Micah that I heat my meads to make them easier to stir
and mix and to separate the unwanted components out. I haven't boiled
my meads for a number of years now, and I feel that gentle heating does
not affect aroma enough to notice. I just find it easier to mix the
honey into a pot of hot water. Also, I don't use sulfites, mostly due
to allergies of family members and some friends, so I feel that even
some reduction in natural bacterial and wild yeast is beneficial.


Subject: heat etc 
From: Mike Faul <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 15:09:13 -0700 wrote:

> pasteurization ("Vince Galet")
> Pasteurization ()
> Heating Mead (
> Pasteurizing ("phil")
> No heat must (Leo Vitt)
> pasteurization (
> Re: Tulip poplar mead ("Ken Taborek")

Guys and Gals

heating in my book is a no no except for heating to blend. I have made a
few batches of mead in my day and more in recent days. I was in the boil
camp many years ago but after making many tests determined that the only
reason to do so was to make blending easier.

Now all I do is heat the water long enough to make the honey dissolve
quickly and blend for 30 minutes as the honey is being pumped in.
Coincidentillay the temperature is at about 160 Deg F. during this process.

In response to the one mesage regarding the 'Two methods for
sterilization" there are actually three as I have stated in the past.
The third one is filtration. While most amatuers do not have the
technology do do the filtration correctly it is possible. Some people
call it ultra-filtration, others (myself included) call it sterile
filtration. All you need to do is be able to sterile wash your bottles
and equipment, and filter your mead to 0.1 micron.

Not much will damage your mead at that level., especially not yeast. So
no bottle bombs and no chemicals.


Subject: Question
From: "Jeff Tollefson" <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 16:26:27 -0700

I constantly see people boasting that their mead clears in a few weeks and
that it is ready to drink in a matter of 2 months or so. How are these
people able to do this? What is the secret? My hypothesis is that higher
temperature is the key to fast fermentation. But in any case, I would sure
like to know how this is done.

I myself have taken the necessary steps that I am aware of, such as adding
yeast nutrient/energiser and rehydrating the yeast.

Subject: FYI: Pasteurizing .. in Milk
From: Mark Ottenberg <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 10:41:31 -0600

At 10:29 AM 6/28/2004 -0600, Vince Galet wrote:
>For instance, if your milk was not pasteurized it
>would spoil pretty fast.

Not actually. Seems that raw milk is pretty stable and has several
mechanisms that help it successfully deal with foreign bacteria. Keep it
appropriately cold in the refrigerator, and it will last for weeks, or
more! (I've kept some over a month.) Unfortunately, pasteurization also
damages these beneficial preservation mechanisms.


  • – Mark


Subject: To heat or not to heat
From: "Paul Shouse" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 09:52:03 +0900

>>Subject: pasteurization
>>Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 14:01:39 -0400


>>this topic is becoming a dead horse. im going to say my last on the
>>subject. if pasteurizing is a waste of time, then why should we spend any
>>time on sterilization at all? if a good, active ferment will crowd out
>>anything else, why sanitize at all? im being a bit facetious, but….

Here is my last word on the subject, and please no one get upset, I am smiling
when I say all this……..

No one will argue that sanitation is unimportant, or an unnecessary component
of the brewing, vinting or mead making (anybody have a good participle to use
here???) process. So, what is the minimum level of sanitation necessary to
produce mead without taste or aroma damage from contamination?

Most people starting out to make beer or wine study sanitation and read horror
stories about the bottled radioactive toxic waste made by people who weren't
careful enough. They also read about the strict sterilization techniques
needed to culture yeast and come to believe that home brewing can't be done
without cleanrooms, autoclaves and high pressure steam. I know I did. We
scrub, vacuum and bleach, throw out wooden spoons, invest in glass and
stainless steel and pour anhydrous alcohol into laboratory fermentation
locks. I did all that and more right up to the moment I found out that most
breweries cool wort in open tanks, and many ferment beer in open tanks as
well. Sterile conditions are critical at times, but not all the time and in
all things.

The question we are trying to answer is: Is pasteurization or sterilization of
mead must necessary and/or desirable? My answer is no: Sanitation is least
important (and the process most tolerant of mistakes) at the start of
fermentation when the yeast is able to overwhelm any other organism, but
critical when racking to a new carboy and when bottling when the yeast is
weaker or even inactive. Everything that comes in contact with must at those
times must be as sterile as practicable. If you use treated (and reasonably
sterile) brewing water, sterile carboys and tools, clean honey and use a
strong massive pitch of yeast immediately after mixing you should have no
contamination problems. Everyone with me so far?

Now, the honey itself should be clean, if it is obviously moldy or
contaminated then you shouldn't use it because it will never taste good. Honey
does naturally contain wild yeasts, but they can only live in undiluted honey
and die when the honey is mixed with water. Honey is magical, it is a complex
organic living substance. THAT is why I started making mead, NOT because it
makes people fall off chairs. It is high in fermentable sugars, but its flavor
and aroma comes from the biological interactions between the flavors and
aromas of living flowers and the insides of living bees. All those subtle and
volatile floral perfumes and animal musks should be in my mead, not boiled or
steamed off into the air. The scent of every wildflower that every bee in
every hive ever sipped should ride a bubble straight up my nose. If it does
not the I feel I have failed to make the best mead possible, and that is why I
will only mix honey with cold water. I can't help thinking that if you don't
like the way honey tastes and smells, you should make wine or beer instead.

Subject: Must treatment
From: Ken Schramm <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 23:19:59 -0400

OK, so this will be the last I will say on this for a while, as it seems
some of the digest members have heard enough. But I know they haven't
heard this.

I had some must analysis done with the Cornell University/New York State
wine lab. I made up four mead musts using four different and commonly
used mead making honeys – tupelo, clover, orange blossom, and buckwheat.
I had one of them sterility checked/microscopically analyzed for
bacteria and yeast populations. The analyses were performed by Dr. Ben
Gavitt and his staff. Dr. Gavitt related to me that he had contact
and/or tutelage with all three of my Cornell role models; Drs. Kime,
Morse and Steinkraus.

In the most sanitary conditions I could muster, I diluted 100 ml of
honey with distilled H2O to a volume of 400 ml. Average gravity was
1.110. That's a pretty common OG for many mead makers.

The must sample that I had scoped came back with a healthy yeast
population, greater than 1 x 10 to the sixth/ 100 ml, and Dr, Gavitt said
their shape and size was consistent with Saccharomyces strains. I am
curious, and may send back another sample for consultation and analysis
to determine if the yeast can be identified as S. mellis, a common
strain in honey. If I can scrape together the dough.

The bacterial count was 0. I found this a reasonable endorsement of my
sanitation practices.

That's a good sign for folks using the no-heat method for traditional
meads and trying to get a big head start on the existing microbe
populations by pitching big and going for a rapid fermentation.

I also had the musts analyzed for FAN. None of then came back even
remotely acceptable – the highest was buckwheat at 21 ppm., well short
of the 130-200 ppm considered a minimum for healthy yeast growth and
reproduction, all leading to a clean, strong fermentation. The others
ranged from 5 – 14 ppm. Bordering on negligible. I don't know what
form of FAN analysis was performed, and Dan McFeely let me know that if
the wrong analytical process were used, the numbers may be a bit skewed,
but Dr. Gavitt was pretty firm that he felt these were very good
representations of what one should expect from a mead must.

I also had a microscopic analysis run on a bottled raspberry melomel
that received no heat, sulfite or potassium sorbate treatment. Mixed
the ingredients, fermented, racked, bottled when clear. OG unknown, FG
1.002. ETOH ws 14.1 %, with the residual sugar at 3.6%. The yeast cell
population was 5/ 100 ml, but the bacterial count was above 1 x 10 sixth,
with Dr G's guess at the suspect being some sort of lacto.

The interesting question is which lacto. There are a number that
conduct a malo-lactic fermentation, and are not known to "spoil" wines.
There are also some that can wonk a beer into un-drinkability. This
melomel, however, was well received at both mead presentations I spoke
at over the weekend before last. I, for one, like it, but not as much
as my ginger metheglin, free-run plum, or cherry. But all of them were
done the same way.

Good news: traditional meads can likely be created by the no-heat
method with a good chance of avoiding bacterial infection.

Bad (?) news: adding unsanitized fruit can introduce bacterial
populations. The question of whether or not they will spoil your
product is up for discussion. And the prospects for really dandy
fermentations without nutrient or some other form of adjunct seem (to
me) really grim.

I will readily admit to making some flat out nasty meads in my day, but
thus far, none from the no-heat method.

I hope I haven't bored anybody.


Subject: spoilage?
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 11:43:24 -0700 (PDT)

>Several postings have been mixing the notions of
>pasteurization and sterilization lately. It is not
>the goal of pasteurization to kill all living
>organisms, it is the goal of sterilization.
>Sterilizing involves more drastic measures

I agree with this statement, however..

>instance, if your milk was not pasteurized it would
>spoil pretty fast.

this is not accurate, milk is Pasteurized to controll
specific pathogens (primarily mycobacterium
tuberculosis and coxiella burnetti)these are not
spoilage vectors for milk. By law milk Pasteurization
must be done at 62.8C (145F)for 30 min. or at
71.7C(161F) for 15 min.
As you can see it is either higher temps or more time
to achieve an effective kill rate (<90%)

the (unpasteurized) milk would not likely spoil any
sooner it could possibly make you sick spoiled or not.


> My 2 points are:
>A) I disagree with the statement that saying that
>pasteurizing is useless because it doesn't kill
>everything is erroneous.

I am basing my "gently heating does not prevent
spoliage" statement on the point in common mead making
practice the time and temperature are just not there.
Most vegetative yeasts are killed by moist temps of
60C (140) for 10 min. However many wild yeasts and
other spoilage organisms (yeast and bacteria) are able
to sporelate. Temperature increases to 70-80C
(158-176) are required to achieve the same kill rate.

>B) you will have unwanted organisms no matter what
>you do, but less germs in will decrease your chances
>to have germs out.

That is correct, but the 150F for 10 min. is not doing

>Now, my guess on the historical origin of boiling:
>back in the day, the water was not always very pure
>(hence it was safer to drink mead and beer) so
>boiling at least the water was much more necessary
>than nowadays.

Is this true? I do not know that mead musts have
traditionally been heated. Perhaps one of the mead
historians could answer this.

I would like to add that alcohol is one of the best
preservatives in mead, the higher percentage the
better. (I recall) The ASBC published a article on
pseudomonas in occuring in N/A beer at a rate 10 times
greater that in 5 perecent alcohol beer.

Micah Millspaw

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1112