Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1130, 21 September 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1130 Wed 21 September 2004


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



sparkeling mead (
Re: Ukranian Mead ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: MLD #1129, 16/9/04 Bucket comments… ("Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)")
Strange Bubbles (Kevin May)
good cyser recipes ("e.broemmer")
Isolated Australian (Mark Evered)
Re: Rethinking The Impact of Sorbates On Yeast (MLD #1129, 2004-09-16) (Ro…)
Re: Fermentation bucket blues (MLD #1128, 2004-09-12) (Ross McKay)
Re: Fermentation bucket blues (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: sparkeling mead 
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 11:25:53 EDT

hi all IM thinking of making a sparkling mead any thoughts / suggestions i
believe i have the process down i em looking for the corks for the final
stoppers as well as wire hoods ect but i shouldn't need any of that for several
months. also will my Italian floor corker be able to insert the Champaign corks
correctly it has a nut to allow a depth stop. or will i need a special corker

chris anderson

Subject: Re: Ukranian Mead
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 11:42:42 -0500

On Mon, 13 Sep 2004, in MLD1129, Miriam Kresh wrote:

>I plan to create a Ukranian-type mead in memory of my father,
>who passed away last week. He mentioned several times that
>his grandmother would make a mead with hops in it for Passover
>that "tasted like sweet beer", according to my grandmother. I
>had told him I would make one for him and located a recipe.


>Anyway, if anyone has experience with this recipe, or a similar
>one, I would deeply appreciate any feedback or advice.

Hello Miriam —

If this is of any help, I dug up a couple of Lithuanian mead
recipes I'd posted to the digest a few years back. Hope
these are helpful

Subject: Old Lithuanian Mead Recipes
From: Dan McFeeley
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 09:23:48 -0500

One of my co-workers, Casmir "Chuck" Petkunis, recently passed on
two recipes for mead to me which he says have been circulating in the
Lithuanian side of his family for generations. The copies I have came
from a collection of Lithuanian recipes which he says was pubished
around the 1950's, but he's seen the same recipes in an older Lithuanian
book published around the 1930's. The family name is Petkunas, a
common name which Chuck tells me means the same thing in
Lithuanian as Smith. The recipes in the books were gathered from
Lithuanian families in Chicago.

Although there certainly are some redactions to recipes added by more
recent generations, they may be quite old, coming from families in old
Lithuania. Anyone have any ideas, or recognize connections with older

The recipes are below, as they appear in the material Chuck gave me.
(note – "Midus" is the Lithuanian word for mead)


Dan McFeeley



1 handful juniper berries
2 nutmegs
1 handful hops
7 quarts honey
14 quarts water
1 oz yeast
1 tsp sugar


Break and crush berries and nutmeg. Tie with hops in cloth bag.
Place in honey and water, boll about 1/2 hour, skimming off foam.
Cool to lukewarm (about 100 degrees F.) Pour into a 5 gallon bottle.
Do not overfill, allow about 4 inches space from surface to top of
bottle. Cream yeast with sugar and 1/2 cup of honey-water liquid,
set in warm spot for 10 – 15 minutes until it begins to bubble.
Slowly pour into liquid in bottle. Stopper bottle with cork into
which a glass tube (thistle tube or medicene dropper with bulb
removed) has been set (to allow fermentation gases to escape).
Allow to ferment at temperatures of 60 degrees no less than 6
months. At end of that period, filter off with rubber pipette
or siphon, pour into botles, cork. Ready to drink a month after

N.B. — aging improves mead. It is at its best 2 – 3 years after

Ancient Recipe


2 quarts honey
5 gallons water
1/2 lb. hops
1 slice bread


Measure and pour exactly half of the honey and water into a large
kettle. Using a stick, mark on the stick the distance from the top
of the kettle to the surface of the contents. Pour in remaining
honey and water. Bring to boil. Tie hops in clean cloth, place in
kettle. Boil until one-half of the liquid remains (ascertain by
using the marked measuring stick). Cool. Strain through several
thicknesses of cloth into a barrel or crock. Spread enough yeast
on bread to cover thickly. Place bread in liquid. Mead will begin
to ferment in 3 days. Strain again, pour into bottles, set in cool
spot. Mead can also be stored and aged in barrels (oaken preferably).

Subject: Re: MLD #1129, 16/9/04 Bucket comments...
From: "Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 14:39:57 -0400

I would second the comments that one should NOT use buckets that held toxic
things (like lye) for brewing or any other food related purpose.

I would suggest as a source for food grade buckets, check with LARGE
restaurants or other institutional kitchens (schools, college cafeterias,
etc.) They will often get food or condiments in this type of bucket, and often
are delighted to get rid of them.

A minor caution however is that I have found that bucket lids are NOT 100%
interchangeable! There are several different manufacturers of buckets / lids,
and there are very slight differences in each company's bucket design. The
maker of the bucket usually molds the name into the lid and the bottom of the
bucket. Buckets and lids from the same company will interchange fine, but if
you try mixing them from different companies I have often found the fit to be
only fair to marginal… It is best to get matching lids and buckets, but if
you can't you will probably need to do some experimenting to find what
combinations work acceptably.



> Subject: Re: Fermentation bucket blues
> From: "Ken Taborek" <>
> Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 14:56:26 -0400


> > Subject: Fermentation bucket blues
> > From: hillsofg <>
> > Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 20:42:14 +0300

> [snipped]


> > It occurs to me that I do
> > have some large buckets, old lye containers. Their lids are very tight.
> > But how does one hack a hole to fit a bung and airlock into a sturdy
> > plastic lid?


> Miriam,


> I have made fermenters out of 5 gallon buckets which I received with honey
> shipments. The buckets are almost exactly like the plastic fermentation
> buckets sold by home brewing shops, save that they are exactly 5 gallons in
> volume rather than 7 gallons. The lids are interchangeable, but came
> undrilled. I was able to fit these for an airlock by carefully cutting a
> circle for an airlock grommet using an exacto knife. Cut conservatively, as
> you can always widen the opening. Use good cutting practice, cutting away
> from you always and using a sharp blade.


> This should give you the airlock opening you'll need, but please be certain
> that your lye buckets are made of a food grade plastic and do not have a lye
> residue.


> Cheers,
> Ken

Subject: Strange Bubbles
From: Kevin May <>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 13:50:16 -0700 (PDT)

I made a sweet mead with a special blend of herbal
teas in April. It fermented well and I did the
initial racking in the beginning of July. At that
point I added more tea to strengthen the flavors, but
no more honey as it was still very sweet. It remained
still with little to no activity in the airlock (after
20 minutes I gave up, but it still moved sometimes).

About a week ago I saw that it had started bubbling
again, which was no big deal, but the bubbles looked
more like soap bubbles. They are slightly white and
stay on the surface. The fermenting bubbles are still
very small, they just join up at the top. I can take
a picture if anyone needs a visual.

Has anyone experienced this before? It still tastes
sweet, just a little young still.

Another note, I am using plastic Culligan water
?carboys? for it. The kind that go on water coolers
that you can get from Home Depot. After they are
drained I wash them and sanitize them as I would
plastic bucket. Could this be a problem?


Subject: good cyser recipes
From: "e.broemmer" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 21:33:22 -0500

I have enjoyed reading the MLD for many years and have never asked a
question. I would like to make a nice cyser this fall and would like a
good tried and true recipe. Anyone made the Fall's Bounty Cyser from the
Compleat Meadmaker? Thanks very much for the help.

Ed Broemmer

Subject: Isolated Australian
From: Mark Evered <>
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 14:33:47 +1000 (EST)

Hello all,

I live in regional Australia (Armidale, NSW to be precise) and have
been making mead for about two years. I am still experimenting with
small batches to find out what I like. My first question is directed to
my fellow Australian mead makers: what yeasts do you use and where
do you get them from?

I have been ordering mainly Lalvin EC1118 and V1116 from online
suppliers but these suppliers are very much beer-oriented and even
V1116 has now become difficult to find. I prefer dry yeast because
of the small batches I make and the irregularity of when I find time to
do it. Any help would be much appreciated.

On another (but also Australian) topic: what do you know about the
presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Salvation Jane / Paterson's Curse


Dr. Mark Evered Tel.: +61 2 6773 2307
Chair of the Board of Studies Fax.: +61 2 6773 3312
in Computer Science
School of Mathematics, Statistics
and Computer Science
University of New England
Armidale, 2351, NSW
Australia Email:

Subject: Re: Rethinking The Impact of Sorbates On Yeast (MLD #1129, 2004-09-16)
From: Ross McKay <>
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 10:26:51 +1000

Matt Gerbrandt wrote:

>So I'm starting to think that sorbates are only an issue if you've got
>one of the two following conditions:
>1) Low yeast count
>2) Few nutrients (as in a mead that's already fermented out)


>Any thoughts here?

I have used a bottled fruit syrup with sorbates to great effect in a
cherry melomel. I just made sure, like you, that there were plenty of
active yeast cells and nutrients. My method was to pitch the yeast into
a well aerated must of honey and two jars of sour cherries, and then
after a day (i.e. once the fermentation had taken off), I added the
bottle of sour cherry syrup. The fermentation continued apace 🙂


"The lawn could stand another mowing; funny, I don't even care"

  • – Elvis Costello


Subject: Re: Fermentation bucket blues (MLD #1128, 2004-09-12)
From: Ross McKay <>
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 10:44:57 +1000

Miriam wrote:

>Thank you for the suggestions, Ross. I haven't seen water barrels as you
>describe here, but then maybe I haven't haunted the right hardware
>stores. There's a Home Depot not too far from here where I may find the
>needful (light bulb switches on over my head – why haven't I thought of
>that?!). And there is the flea market in Tel Aviv, where I'm sure I will
>also find awesome glass bottles for gift wine. It occurs to me that I do
>have some large buckets, old lye containers. Their lids are very tight.

Don't know about lye containers. Would they be safe? Maybe if you scrub
well (with a soft, non-scratching cloth), and then soak in clean water
for a day or so and taste the water before you try fermenting anything
in them.

Maybe also try camping stores, if you have no luck with Home Despot.

>But how does one hack a hole to fit a bung and airlock into a sturdy
>plastic lid?

Best with a drill. But a sharp hobby knife should work OK too.

>I have been thinking over the issue of larger fermentation vessels. The
>idea is, at some point I'm going to stop making meads and wine from
>everything I see, and settle down to favorites. Then I will want to make
>larger quantities as the fruits come into season, instead of brewing
>different experimental 1-gallon carboys every few weeks. The idea of a
>large, non-glass secondary appeals because handling a glass carboy of
>more than 10 liter capacity is too much for my hands and arms, weakened
>by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I tend to break those bigger carboys, as they
>slip out of my benumbed hands, and they are both scarce and expensive

I'd personally recommend sticking with glass for any long-term storage
(secondary or bulk aging), but then I also have a plum melomel in a PET
secondary so already breaking my own recommendations 🙂

>How does a stainless-steel water kettle sound? They are tall pots
>holding about 20 liters, with spigot and close-fitting lid with a small
>hole in it. I should think stainless steel would resist invasions of
>bacteria better than plastic.

Well… wineries use stainless steel for fermenters and short-term bulk
aging, so maybe you'd be OK. But there are many grades of stainless
steel, and the wineries are careful to use grades that can withstand the
acid of wines. (Actually, I think they use one grade for the sides, in
contact with the wine, and another for the covers, which get fumes off
the wines)

Quite a few beer brewers use stainless steel kegs to brew their beer in,
and at least one mead maker that I know of uses cornelius (soda) kegs to
bulk age mead in. I'd guess that they use the "right" grade of stainless
steel. I wouldn't know about the water kettles.

>The hole in the lid is too small to
>accommodate an airlock, though. Does anyone actually use cotton wool to
>plug up an opening in the secondary? I wouldn't like to risk ruining the
>drink…and I would hate to miss those satisfactory *gloops* coming up
>through the water. But I'll do it if I get an assurance from an
>experienced person that it's really OK.

Could you fit a bit of tube, to a bit of hose, to accommodate an
airlock? 🙂
Or perhaps look at the bungs that wine makers use, which allow gases out
but not in?


"The lawn could stand another mowing; funny, I don't even care"

  • – Elvis Costello


Subject: Re: Fermentation bucket blues
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 17:22:30 -0600 (MDT)


> …If you have a Home Depot, you have access to 3, 5, or 7
> gallon buckets w/lids…

Note, those are -not- the Homer-orange buckets they often have out front!
Check in the paint department; they've got white buckets there. BUT those
aren't indicated as "food grade", so you're taking a chance you could pull
some plastic smell/taste from them.

On suggestions to use cast-off food buckets…yes, that's a way to know that
the buckets are "food grade". There are various sources for cast-off food
buckets, just ask around at stores. You can often get them free. For
example, commercial bakeries buy ready-made icing, usually in 3.5 gallon

But find out what they've been used for, and think about the effect on
your mead! A used dill-pickle bucket is a BAD choice unless you're
intending to make a garlic-dill metheglin. Seriously, you will never
get the smell out of it. Don't use buckets that have held citrus products
either. Cidermakers have found that out the hard way more than once;
there was a discussion of the problem on the ukcider list not long ago.

I found that with the icing buckets, the plain sugar-glaze were the best.
As soon as they were clean, there was no noticeable odor left. Chocolate
took a while for the odor to dissipate, but it did. I finally gave up on
a maple icing bucket. (Sure, I could have used that for a metheglin with
maple syrup or various tree barks, but the hold-over smell was that of an
imitation flavor I wouldn't have wanted.)

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1130