Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1144, 5 December 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1144 Sun 5 December 2004


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



Re: Mead Descriptors (Talon McCormick)
Chestnut (or other very aromatic) Honey (Erroll Ozgencil)
Filtering Mead ("Douglass Smith")
How much carbonation should I expect? (Dennis Myhand)
Wanting to start first batch ("Steve Smith")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1143, 2 December 2004 ("Vicky Rowe")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1143, 2 December 2004 ("Greg Osenbach")
Re: sweet mead yeast (Dave Polaschek)


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Subject: Re: Mead Descriptors
From: Talon McCormick <>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 11:05:25 -0800 (PST)

After reading Ken Schramm's information about descriptors, I've a few
thoughts to add to his for a little more discussion and debate.

First, I agree that honey varies yearly even from the same hive.
I also agree that yeast does add something to the mead in the way of flavor.
How can it not? It is the major participant in this game other than the
honey variety. I further agree that it will be an absolute monster to try
to acount for flavors introduced by honey to be an all inclusive list.

Myfirst suggestion would be to perhaps break up this descriptor list into

Okay, here's my example and hopefully I don't confuse everyone as I try
to keep this straight in my own mind… Here in Florida we have tupelo,
palmetto and orangeblossom honeys as some of our mainstays. What would come
from that list would be a regional set of descriptors. In the midwest,
there are the apple blossom, honeysuckle and lilac honeys. Those would
have their own regional set of descriptors. What this would require us
to do is disclose the region in which we purchased our honey so that any
judges tasting it would be able to reference that particular flavor wheel
(if there is such a thing for honey and floral scents) to better be able to
detect floral scents, etc, in the honey itself while crossferencing the yeast
chart that describes what aromatics the yeasts impart into the beverage.

Granted, suggesting that would take a whole lot longer to get put together,
but it would also be an advantage and give us mead makers a "vintage"
kind of bottling date/region system similar to the wineries but still
unique to mead making.

Ultimately, however the descriptor sets are made, it is going to be a
major growing pain and a huge undertaking for mead makers just as it was
for wine makers. I don't even expect this list to become a compleated
reality within my lifetime and I expect to live another 50+ years….


Subject: Chestnut (or other very aromatic) Honey
From: Erroll Ozgencil <>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 12:06:45 -0800

I'm looking for the most aromatic honey I can find, and, from what
I've read, chestnut honey might fit the bill. I understand that it's
one of those "love it or hate it" honeys, but I'm not looking for the
most pleasant aroma, just the strongest.

Other than Mani Niall's comment that it's one of the most aromatic
honeys, I haven't been able to find out much about it. The Honey
Locator lists exactly one source, an importer that sells by the CLJ
(cute little jar). So I'm wondering if anyone has made mead from
chestnut honey and/or knows of a good source to buy it in bulk. I'm
also curious if anyone who is familiar with this and other aromatic
varietals can suggest a more readily available substitute

I want to compare different mead making practices to see for myself
how heat affects the finished mead. I thought a 15 minute boil (Morse
and Papazian), a 1-minute boil (Brother Adam), a pasteurized, and a
no-heat (Schramm) batch would give me a good selection of different
methods. One criticism of boiling is that it drives off the delicate
aromatics in mead, and I think this would be easiest to detect in a
mead made from a very aromatic honey. I'm also interested in the
cooked flavor that boiling may impart and clarity. I'll be looking for
those in my trial as well, but they might show up better in mead made
from a lighter (color and flavor) honey. That's another trial for
another time, though. Has anyone else done head to head comparisons
like this?


Subject: Filtering Mead
From: "Douglass Smith" <>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 17:09:03 -0500

Hi group,

My roommate just ran some ultra-cheap vodka through a Brita filter and
it did wonders for the taste (or at least the aftertaste). He suggests I
filter my mead in the same way, but it sounds like a really bad idea to
me. Brita filters (active carbon filtering) are really good at removing
stuff from liquids, but it seems like the filter would take all the
flavor out of the mead, especially since it's a metheglin. I know
filtering beforehand (i.e. using filtered water) is deadly to the yeast,
but what about afterwards? Has anybody used filtering on their mead,
active or otherwise?


  • – Douglass Smith –

Georgia Institute of Technology
Aerospace Engineering/Physics Undergrad
(404) 538-0223
gtg089b @


Subject: How much carbonation should I expect?
From: Dennis Myhand <>
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 2004 18:47:34 -0600

I have been reading the list for about 6 months now and have been making
mead for about 9 months. I am using a one litre flip-lock bottle and I
have been wondering how much carbonation other mead makers have when
they bottle. My mead opens with a very loud pop, and it has enough
pressure to flip the locking lever over 180 degrees, with mead spewing
up in a one foot high geyser. Is this normal or am I not waiting long
enough for the fermentation to finish. I wait at least one week,
sometimes two, from the time I pitch the yeast until I bottle. I like
to wait until the mead clears before I bottle it. Thanks, and this is a
great list for a great hobby. Dennis Myhand

Subject: Wanting to start first batch
From: "Steve Smith" <>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 18:33:43 -0700

I have been lurking on the list for some time, waiting and learning. Now
I'd like to make my first batch of mead. I do have experience making beer
and fruit wine, and have all the equipment, and general knowledge I need.
My local organic foods store has some good bulk honey (mixed flower), and I
have 12 lbs. of frozen ripe choke cherries that I picked this past August.
I have two questions. First, will the berries, which are sorted, washed,
drained, de-stemmed and frozen in large ziplock bags (about 4 lbs. per bag),
be OK to use or does fruit tend to freezer burn to the point of negatively
affecting mead flavor if stored this way for three months or longer? I
assume they'll be fine… Second, does anybody have a great recipe for dry
or semi-sweet choke cherry mead that they would be willing to share?

Steve S.

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1143, 2 December 2004
From: "Vicky Rowe" <>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 21:36:31 -0500

Ken, I would be equally delighted to post your list on Gotmead. Shoot it
over to me! I saw a copy of it at the Meadfest judging this year, and
was just wondering who had done it so I could get one. Shoulda known it
was you……..


Vicky Rowe
The Gotmead Webwench


>I'm all for moving the mead descriptor lexicon forward. I put
>together a descriptor list a few years back for the Mazer Cup
>judges and as a guide for folks in the BJCP. I will be happy
>to share it with anyone that wants it, and would also be
>delighted if it were posted on or,
>and reviewed, improved and updated by anyone who would like to
>contribute. It includes flavor and aroma descriptors, as well
>as the kinds of adjectives which can be used to articulate
>one's impression of a mead. The lingo may sound a little
>froofy to some folks, but read the Wine Enthusiast or the Wine
>Advocate for a few editions, and you'll see how valuable those
>descriptors are in drumming up interest in a given beverage.
>We didn't invent this game, but the commercial folks do need
>to play in it.


>I think that educating palates is a complex process, and not
>one that comes to most folks as second nature. I don't feel
>that many wine drinkers begin their appreciation of red wines
>thinking, "Hmm, this offers aromas of red currant, ripe
>blackberry and tobacco, with a strong note of new oak." They
>like or don't like it, and only get around to sorting out the
>flavor and aroma components after they really begin to
>consider the complexity of the wine later (if they ever do).
>The same can be said for mead, and there have been few role
>models of folks who can sort out and vocalize their
>impressions in a way which makes the components clearer and
>more "available" or recognizable to the consumer.

> >

>I also think that the basics of mead floral aromatics _can_ be
>described in a basic sense using a few descriptors that most
>folks are familiar with. Smell is the most deeply imprinted
>sense memory. If you close your eyes and think of a few basic
>floral scents, I am quite sure you will come up with a
>platonic smell memory that is quite distinct and easily
>recalled. A few examples: Rose. Carnation. Tulip.
>Honeysuckle. Iris. Apple blossom. Lilac. The challenge comes
>in sorting them out from the total bouquet/aromatic profile
>"picture" that presents itself when you stick your nose in a
>glass, and then getting that down on paper.


>I do agree that the complete list of possible floral
>signatures is huge, and familiarity with the whole range is
>beyond the limitations of any one person, let alone a whole
>complement of judges or mead critics. The list I gave is
>limited by my midwestern regional upbringing. But that
>doesn't mean we shouldn't start somewhere, and try to build as
>much knowledge, both personally and institutionally (as an
>industry and as a set of judges), as we can. Even Robert
>Parker says there is something about the Pinotage grape that
>he can't put into words.


>I also think that many of the yeast-produced aromatics that we
>find in mead are the same ones produced in wines made with the
>same yeast strains. D-47 pushes the same pear and citrus
>notes from meads that it does from chardonnay grapes. We need
>to work to build that knowledge base, too, to include a much
>larger set of strains which may be used to make mead.


>The science of taste and aroma perception is complex and
>inexact. The work that Meilgaard and others have done
>illustrates that different people have different thresholds
>for recognition (I do or don't taste/smell _something_) and
>identification (it's _this_), and the range of those
>thresholds is large. By and large, however, the concept of
>principal peaks for flavor and aroma delineation (the
>isoamyl-acetate-as-banana example that Vince makes) holds
>across a whole range of identifiable chemical compounds. The
>beer and wine industries have made huge strides in isolating
>positive and negative compounds and how they come to exist in
>their products, and consequently, how to suppress or increase
>their production to optimal levels. That work is non-existent
>in mead. We can use their work as a jumping-off point.
>Getting some basic analysis done is the first step toward
>having that set of bottles of mead aromatic components
>available. We are a long way from that, but having the goal
>and incrementalizing the steps to complete to get there is a
>great start.


>Ken Schramm
>The (OK, not yet quite) Compleat Meadmaker
>Troy, Michigan

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1143, 2 December 2004
From: "Greg Osenbach" <>
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2004 13:10:45 -0800

Does anyone know of a good source for bulk heather honey?
Somewhere within the US would be preferable.

Thanks in advance!


Subject: Re: sweet mead yeast
From: Dave Polaschek <>
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2004 15:45:07 -0600

> >> To make a sweet mead what has worked
> >> for me is to use a good starter of Wyeast#1056 American. Thats right BEER
> >> yeast. It's crip and clean and does the trick, provided you pitch a little
> >> nutrient and aerate the hell out of it!

> >

> > That will certainly work, but you'll only get 6 to 9% alcohol – that's why
> > it's sweet, because the yeast dies from alcohol poisoning before eating up
> > all the sugar.


> I had a braggot go to 11% on this before going dormant. But then, this
> might be due to the other nutrients in the malt that are lacking in
> just honey. This one started at 1.124 and ended at 1.024 on champagne
> yeast (sort of reminded me of the Holy Grail-"the first castle sunk
> into the mud…"), the 5th yeast added.

Some strains of ale yeast will go stronger than that. I've had braggots
made with Edme Ale Yeast (sadly no longer available, or at least not the
same) that I moved from 1.080 of malt to about 1.010 before adding honey
to bring it back to about 1.080, then slowly fed it honey every time it
dropped below 1.010 again. By my (admittedly somewhat sloppy) calculations,
it was at least 13% alcohol, and possibly as high as 16%. I had champagne
yeast on hand, just in case, but never needed it.

I started with plenty of nutrients, and never overwhelmed the yeast by
clobbering it with too much sugar at once.

I don't add synthetic yeast nutrient anymore. I'll use apple juice or malt
extract as a starter sometimes, and will pitch a healthy dose of yeast
(7g dry yeast/5 gallons), but when someone tells me that a yeast won't
get past 6% alcohol, I generally don't believe it.

I think it's been 8 years since I used a "mead yeast" for making mead. I
have such good luck with ale yeasts and wine yeasts that I don't see the
point, especially since my earlier experience with mead yeast was that it
was slow to ferment and generally didn't produce the character I wanted.

But maybe I've just got a grey (beige?) thumb. I'm pretty good at making
bread, too.


  • -DaveP


Dave Polaschek –
"The only excuse for God is that he doesn't exist." – Stendhal

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1144