Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1115, 15 July 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1115 Fri 15 July 2004


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



More Dick… ()
Sulfites ()
Re: Recipe help (Randy Goldberg MD)
RE: Sorbate (Don Van Valkenburg)
Re: Recipe help (Steven Sanders)
Balm ("Ethel R. Silva")
Primary for melomel ("Ethel R. Silva")
Re:Looking to move up ("Travis Miller")
Re: Adding yogurt (was: unfermentable sugars). ("Sergi Santaca")
Re: Non-burning question ("John P. Looney")
Not sure what I got…… (Patrick Devaney)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1114, 11 July 2004 (
Black currant mel (Tim Bray)
fermenting question ("Jen Breese")
Possible Convert (
Re:non-burning question (
New Heating Thread (Zachary "Gandalf" Hilgers)
Re: sorbate/benzoate in fruit juices ("Lane Gray, Czar Castic")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1114, 11 July 2004 ("")


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Subject: More Dick...
From: <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 13:32:04 -0500

on 7/11/04 12:37 PM, at

> <> replied in the last digest:
>> I've had this conversation a time or two, and I'll spell it how I wish,
>> thank you.


> And I'll complain if I like, thank you. I don't want to belabor it, and
> I realize that "spelling flames" are declasse. But it bothers me that
> you're promoting a commercial product that is -not- mead and that gives
> mead a bad name. Words change over the centuries.


>> The addition of the "e" is in agreement with the Olde English,…


> "Olde English"?!? WHEEEE!!! You sure you didn't mean "ye Olde Englyshe"?
> To explain, "olde" is a bogus spelling, an affectation, which came into
> use in the 20th century, to deride mock-antiquity spellings. It's not an
> old form of "old". See the OED.


> Actually, going again to the OED, "meade" -was- a spelling used during some
> part of the 16th century. It was apparently a minor variant because the
> OED notes the use but gives no example illustrating it. There are some 16
> (!) spellings for mead listed. No particular spelling could be regarded as
> "in agreement with (Old) English" if we're going back to, say, the 17th
> century or before, because that predates spelling orthography in English.
> But if you really wanted to use an older form, you could choose one of the
> dominant forms (mede, meath,…), unless you -want- to promote Bunratty's
> product.


> Still, I grant that "meade" was used at some point in the past. But
> perhaps your argument is just as you state it, and I've failed to take
> "Olde English" as intended? Did you mean it -just-so-, that your spelling
> "meade" is consistent with the style of affecting antiquity in spelling?


>> …If you don't like it, don't drink it. It's your loss.


> Don't drink which? Are you talking about "mead" or "Meade"(TM)? I'll keep
> drinking mead, but I'll give a miss to Meade, and that's no loss, believe

> me. > – —

> Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

> > ——————————

Wow Dick! Yer so smart!

How cood I hav bin so stoopit?!

Im a gunna haf ta jus change bekos yew say I shud.

Get off it dude.

I'm not impressed.

  • -zz

Subject: Sulfites
From: <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 13:44:12 -0500

on 7/11/04 12:37 PM, at


> Subject: Sulfites
> From: Scott Slezak <>
> Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2004 09:44:45 -0700 (PDT)


> The heat vs no heat debate has sparked a question in
> my mind, something I've been mulling over for awhile.
> That question is: is sulfiting really necessary to
> protect mead during long aging? I'm not really
> interested in theory, I want to hear from people who
> have had 5 year old unsulfited mead, for example. How
> did it stand up to the test of time? How is it
> bottled? I've had several commercial meads that have
> been basically ruined by overuse of sulfites, in my
> opinion. I'm trying to determine if meads are
> generally sulfited because it is truly necessary, or
> simply because grape wineries do it so we should too.


> Scott

I am from the pasteurization camp, and I have cyser, other melomels, and
metheglins older than 5 yrs., and it just keeps getting better.

The alcohol contents range from 14% to 16%. The only bottles that have
suffered are those I bottled with plastic champagne corks, and are a little
oxidized, yet still quite drinkable. I use crown caps or bail tops, and
have for the last 5 yrs, and no oxidation for those.

IMO sulfites are not only unnecessary, but are dangerous and should never be
allowed in something as wholesome and healthy as meade.

  • -zz

Subject: Re: Recipe help
From: Randy Goldberg MD <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 15:54:45 -0400

> A fellow brewer thought I ought to give the MLD a shot at this question;
> it would be good to hear from someone who's actually more knowledgable.
> Here goes, a friend gave me a recipe but I'm having a hard time
> understanding it. The paper is really old and this is how it reads:
> White mead wine, seventeen gallons of cold soft water, six quarts
> currants, ferment
> mix thirty pounds honey, three ounces white tartar in fine powder add
> balm and sweetbriar two handful each, one gallon brandy This will make 18
> gallons MacKenzie's 5,000 recipes 1829
> What is a balm? The only sweetbriar I know of is an old fashion rose
> also called an eglantine. I did try to correct some of the spelling.
> What do you think? Who puts brandy in mead? (that wasn't to criticize)
> and it doesn't say anything about yeast. Thanks for any and all help.

Balm is an herb, aka sweet balm or lemon balm (Latin: Melissa officinalis)
and sweet briar (Latin: Rosa rubiginosa) is, as you say, a rose which was
sometimes used as a medicine.

The brandy was probably used to arrest the fermentation by poisoning the
yeast, and yeast isn't mentioned because it was probably fermented by
allowing wild yeasts to colonize.


Randy Goldberg MD
Random Tag: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's tagline

Subject: RE: Sorbate
From: Don Van Valkenburg <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 13:01:13 -0700

charles w jarvis III asks if "sorbate is
going to hurt/hinder my Mead?"
Sorbet WILL inhibit fermentation. It is used as a preservative in many
foods. I use it in meads and wines to stop or otherwise stabilize (stop
and prevent renewed) fermentation.


Subject: Re: Recipe help
From: Steven Sanders <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 17:14:02 -0700 (PDT)


> Subject: Recipe help
> From:
> Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 22:30:54 EDT


> >

> Hi all!
> A fellow brewer thought I ought to give the MLD a
> shot at this question; it
> would be good to hear from someone who's actually
> more knowledgable.

If you dont get any satisfactory answers here, try the
historical brewing list


I'm Steven M. Sanders, and I approved this email.

Subject: Balm
From: "Ethel R. Silva" <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 21:00:07 -0400

I did some research and came up with this: balm [ b=E4m ]n. a. A chiefly
Mediterranean perennial herb (Melissa officinalis) in the mint family, grown
for its lemon-scented foliage, which is used as a seasoning or for tea. Also
called lemon balm. b. Any of several related plants in the mint family, such
as the bee balm and the horse balm.

1. Any of various aromatic resins exuded from several trees and shrubs,
especially the balm of Gilead (Commiphora) and related plants.

2. An aromatic salve or oil.

3. A pleasing aromatic fragrance.

4. A soothing, healing, or comforting agent or quality.

[Middle English baume, balsam, from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum
So, I my guess would be that it is some kind of mint. That is one BIG
batch of mead 🙂 !


Subject: Primary for melomel
From: "Ethel R. Silva" <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 21:11:05 -0400

Ok, I want to make a primary batch of mead to turn into several small
batches of melomels. I have blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and tart
cherries. I purchased 'cute' little 1.5 gallon fermenters with sealing lids
drilled and ready for air locks. My questions:

How long should I let the primary batch 'perk' before I rack it into the
small fermenters?

How long should I leave the fruit in the secondary fermentation? I have it
all frozen and ready to go.

Should I 'sink' the fruit in mesh bags or just 'float' it? I have glass
marbles to put in the mesh bags if needed.

Has anyone used GSE (grapefruit seed extract) to clean fruit before putting
it into a melomel? I have used this product for years to 'wash' fruit and
veggies before I give them to my parrots. It comes highly recommended in
the parrot world, but I'm not sure what it will do to mead.


Subject: Re:Looking to move up
From: "Travis Miller" <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 22:19:45 -0600


  • —– Original Message —–

> I'm currently working strictly on a homebrew scale. I'm looking to
> get some larger equipment together so that i can work towards going small
> scale commercial. Anyone know where I can get the equipment?


Your question is rather vague and would depend on a number of factors, money
being a big one.

Some small craft beer brewers have adapted food service vessels, vessels
used on dairy farms and processing facilities. If you have a bunch of money
burning a hole in your pocket there several companies that specialize in
beverage equipment of various sorts. I'm sure you would be able to get 15
barrel stainless steel fermenters for a reasonable $10K- (installed of
course, buy enough and they might throw in the glycol system)


Subject: Re: Adding yogurt (was: unfermentable sugars). 
From: "Sergi Santaca" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 09:14:07 +0200

I think that by adding yogurt to mead, you are simply doing a malolactic
fermentation which is often used in winemaking and the result is that carbon
dioxide is given off, and the malic acid is converted into lactic acid
But if i were you, I wouldn't add yogurt directly, i think it can give
troubles (sometimes) with acidity, contamination (of "non-interesting"
bacterium) and it will definetively leave a solid sediment that is, for
sure, not useful to mead.
Malolactic fermentation is done with special bacteria and sometimes it's
done spontaneusly, but the best way is to add a special yeast culture.
I don't want to waste space of the digest so i suggest you two web adress: About what is malolactic
fermentation if u
want to buy yeast culture

Subject: Re: Non-burning question
From: "John P. Looney" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 09:21:59 +0100

On Sun, Jul 11, 2004 at 11:37:59AM -0600, mentioned:

> Subject: Non-Burning Question
> From: "Paul Shouse" <>
> Date: Sun, 04 Jul 2004 21:07:33 +0900



> Has anybody besides me experienced a mead that tasted far less alcoholic than
> it really was? I have made meads in the 4-6 % range that tasted like fruit
> juice with no hint of alcohol, yet packed quite a wallop. If so, can anybody
> suggest a mechanism that would cause such an effect?

There are many reasons this could be. It's all about fooling your taste
buds. If you can give them lots of things to taste, they can't zoom in on
one thing.

I made some apple cyser that went down exceptionally well with some
friends, though some others thought it was a little sour. I added a tiny
amount of elderflower cordial (elderflower, lemon and honey) just before I
served it, and despite the fact that it was 13% ABV, people couldn't tell
there was any alcohol in it.

This batch went down so well, that I've ordered a pair of oak casks from
a brandy distillery, and I'll be filling them with mead for this time next
year – and everyone that tasted some has offered assistance!


Subject: Not sure what I got......
From: Patrick Devaney <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 05:38:02 -0700 (PDT)

So I was enjoying some excellent Apricot nectar the

other day (Russian deli by my house has so many
juices!), and of course it got me to thinking…. so
now I have a small carboy of the stuff going, just
yeast, the nectar, and some water.


My question is, exactly what is it that I'm making?

There's no honey in it, so it's not a mead. Anyone
out there know what I'm saupposed to be calling this stuff??


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1114, 11 July 2004
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 09:46:20 -0400

"I just noticed that the apple cider and cherry ciders I used have either
potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate in them for "freshness". Is this
going to hurt/hinder my Mead?"

Both potassius sorbate and sodium benzoate are preservatives to avoid the
start of refermentation. I have read that if potassium sorbate is used
to try to stop an ongoing fermentation, it gives a rotten germanium smell
to the product that doesn't go away.
Sodium benzoate converts to benzoic acid that stops energy production in
bacteria, but only converts at at acidic pH below 3.6 – so is only effective
when used in products that are acidic (e.g. carbonated/citric soda pops).
It is supposed to have very little taste.
Carl McMillin, PhD
Synthetic Body Parts

Subject: Black currant mel
From: Tim Bray <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 07:53:34 -0700

Anybody here tried a Black Current Melomel? How much fruit would you use?

My currants are just now ripening and I have probably 3 pounds of fresh
fruit, plus another pound or two in the freezer from last year. These are
really strongly flavored, and quite bitter; apparently lots of
tannin. (Maybe I should save some for cider?)

If nobody has a better recommendation I'll probably try about a pound per
gallon, figuring I can always blend it back with straight mead if it comes
out too strong.



Albion Works
Furniture and Accessories
For the Medievalist!

Subject: fermenting question
From: "Jen Breese" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 08:03:51 -0700 (PDT)

Hi all,
In the receipe I used for my 2nd 5 gal batch, it says that I should rack,
taste and/or bottle on the 3 month mark.
( My question is that it
is still bubbling. Do I need to wait till it stops bubbling before
bottling? I did make a 1 gal of this previously, and at 3 months it was so
tasty, I bottled and refrigerated it. I'm probably overly worried about
bottle bombs.


Subject: Possible Convert
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 13:49:03 -0400


  • -snip-

>>>In about six steps: All steps assume cleaned equipment.
>>>Weigh or otherwise measure honey into an empty six gallon fermenting bucket
>>>In a five or six gallon bucket, run about two gallons of hot water (130 to
>>>140 F)and aerate the hot water with a squirrel-cage paint mixer and an
>>>drill at high speed for at least one full minute.
>>>Add the hot water to the honey and mix with the drill on low speed (So as
>>>not to create a great deal of foaming) until thoroughly dissolved.
>>>Add two or three gallons cold water to the bucket used for the hot water and
>>>aerate as before. Add the cold water to the warm must until desired
starting >>>gravity is reached, mixing at low speed after each addition of
cold water.
>>>Check temperature (It will most likely be just about right, but follow the
>>>guidelines for the strain of yeast you are using) and pitch yeast starter.
>>>Easy, effective, and no stovetop to clean up after your inattention resulted
>>>in a boilover, thus incurring the wrath of She Who Must Be Obeyed.
>>>Lane O Got Mead?

  • -end snip-


i think you guys have finally wore me down on this no heat controversy. i
may become a future convert in the no heat debate. im gonna try it. see
what happens. since so many of you have spoken about good results and no
one has come forward with a bad result, this is a logical step. i really
like lane o's method and thanks for posting it. i really got a chuckle with
the "she who must be obeyed" expression. i never heard that outside my
family in which we use the expression to describe my sister in law, connie,
who portrays herself as the big, bad matriarch of the family. lol!

well, thanks guys(& gals)! im about as stubborn as they come, but you have
inspired me to try it out. congratulations! lol!



Subject: Re:non-burning question
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 14:24:42 -0400


  • -snip-

>>>Has anybody besides me experienced a mead that tasted far less alcoholic than
>>>it really was? I have made meads in the 4-6 % range that tasted like fruit
>>>juice with no hint of alcohol, yet packed quite a wallop. If so, can anybody
>>>suggest a mechanism that would cause such an effect?


phenols are the answer. the chemicals most associated with the "alcohol
bite" or harshness. some strains of wine yeast produce more phenols than
others and these phenols can be quite harsh. for instance, this is one
reason i stopped using red star montrachet. i prefer (if using red star as
an example) premier curvee which is more neutral. with enough aging, the
"alcohol bite" can be minimized.



Subject: New Heating Thread
From: Zachary "Gandalf" Hilgers <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 18:54:02 -0700

I've been a lurker for years now, and finally I've decided to post
something. My background is mead maker for 10+ years. I'm partners in a
homebrew supply store in the Phoenix, AZ area. I have a customer that
is about 30 years old, who has been making mead for 10+ years himself,
and is using recipes handed down from his grandfather. His method of
sanitizing the mead must is by heating, very slowly and gently without
scorching, the honey itself, without any addition of water! Has anyone
heard of this? He slowly heats to about 165 F to sanitize, then adds
water, nutrients, teas, lemons, and fruit to produce mostly some of the
best melomels I've ever had. He is starting a mead only meadery in
Scottsdale. Any input from the conoscenti, including Dick Dunn, Mr.
McConnell, or Ken Schramm would be appreciated. More details on the
process are available. His grandfather is of Irish descent and his
brewing practices have a Celtic origin, from what I've been told. I
have asked for and received permission from him to consult this august
group of meadmakers regarding this subject. He himself is not internet
savvy. Thanks!

Zachary "Gandalf" Hilgers

Subject: Re: sorbate/benzoate in fruit juices
From: "Lane Gray, Czar Castic" <>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 08:34:20 -0500

On Sun, 11 Jul 2004 11:37:59 -0600 (MDT), Charles Jarvis III wrote:


> Hi folks. just a quick question for the experts here. Im experimenting
> with a Cyser with cherry cider in it using D47 yeast. two questions
> really:
> one: I just noticed that the apple cider and cherry ciders I used have
> either potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate in them for "freshness". Is
> this going to hurt/hinder my Mead?

Yep. My first cyser ended up getting heavily modified from original
intent by using cider with those ingredients. Their very purpose is to
kill yeasts, so that you buy juice and not wine at the grocery store. You
can still use the juices, but you'll have to dilute the bejeebers out of
it. My first cyser was supposed to be a 5 gallon batch, made with four
gallons apple cider and one gallon of honey. In order to get it to
ferment, I'd had to double the size by diluting with water, then I added
honey back in later to get the alcohol and sugars back up (I think I also
added proper unpreserved cider, but that was five years ago).

> two: what are the characteristics of D47? my brother told me it is a
> slow staring yeast…well, its been three days now….no bubbles? (id
> say that was slow starting)

It's a non-starter, thanks to the sorbate/benzoate. Don't throw it out,
split it in half, dilute and see if it'll take. If not, add some more
water. Get the preservatives dilute enough and the yeast will survive.


> P.S.. my second try mead/cyser has been racked and sitting in secondary
> for two weeks now….any ideas before its drinkable? primary took 3
> months. (only 3 gallons: 3/4 gal honey,1 gallon cider, and water to
> make 3 gallons..used a generic red wine yeast on that)
> thanks again!


Mine was largely rocketfuel for about a year or two. Then it came around
and all the bottles have gone on to other purposes, as it turned out
pretty tasty, and it's all gone. Funny how that happens. I really need
to get some more honey and make some more meads, I miss the coffee mead,
and I've got some tamarinds, as well as some unpreserved tamarind juice
drink. I wanna try a tamarind mead.

Lane Gray
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Gen


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1114, 11 July 2004
From: "" <>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 01:22:03 GMT

In response to Scott Slezak in MLD 1114
Q:is sulfiting really necessary to protect mead during long aging?
I want to hear from people who have had 5 year old unsulfited mead,
for example. How did it stand up to the test of time?

A:Not me, but a friend refuses to sulfite. She has lost a few bottles,
but just accepts it. Her oldest mead is about 5 years old. So spoilage
does happen in her case (pun intended).

Q:How is it bottled?
A:750 ml glass w/ cork (1 3/4" I think). No capsules.

Q:I'm trying to determine if meads are generally sulfited because it is
truly necessary, or simply because grape wineries do it so we should too.

A:High alcohol and airspace attracts Aerobacter. Meads share the same
(10-14%) ABV that wines do. Beer at 5% doesn't have as great as a
problem. Beer also has hops. I have several cases of 10 year old meads. To
date I have never lost a bottle. Although the 10 year old stuff was
over sulfited. I followed the guidelines of 1 Campden tablet per gallon
per racking which is far too much. Winemaker magazine a year or so back
ran an excellent article on determining proper free sulfite levels in
wine. If you are interested, I can go dig it out and paraphrase it for
this esteemed group.

  • -=Frank M.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1115