Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1145, 8 December 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1145 Wed 8 December 2004


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



2004Re: bulk heather honey (Michael Faul)
Re: How much carbonation should I expect? ("Paul Shouse")
Re: Filtering Mead ("Michael Bennett")
Upper Mississippi Mash-Out Mead competition – Jan 29, 2005 ("Al Boyce")
Re: How much carbonation should I expect? (Talon McCormick)
Fruit storage (David Chubb)
Re: Mead Descriptors ("Dan McFeeley")
Carbonation (Charles Sifers)
re: Chestnut Honey ("Michael Suggs")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1144, 5 December 2004 (Matt Gerbrandt)


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Subject: 2004Re: bulk heather honey
From: Michael Faul <>
Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 11:31:06 -0800

> 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!


> Spike

Well you'll be looking awhile for 'bulk' heather honey as there are few
places in the world where you can get it.

If there was enough interest I would be willing to buy another 55 gallon
drum of the heather honey I am getting.

The cost is about $65.00 per gallon.


Subject: Re:  How much carbonation should I expect?
From: "Paul Shouse" <>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2004 07:50:38 +0900

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


>>………………… 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.


Dennis, the next step in this process is exploding bottles. They can do a
surprising amount of damage the very least of which is the waste of all that
good sparkling mead!
My advice is to not use time as the sole criteria for bottling. Sometimes mead
can ferment for more than a year before bottling. Wait until all yeast
activity has stopped, there are no bubbles coming out of the lock, and the
mead is dead clear; and then wait some more. There may still be some very slow
fermentation in the bottle, or residual dissolved gas that will give a healthy
little pop when opened.

I hope this helps a bit!


  • -Paul Shouse


Subject: Re: Filtering Mead
From: "Michael Bennett" <>
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 18:15:45 -0800 (PST)

"Douglass Smith" said:

> Has anybody used filtering on their mead, active or otherwise?

I don't recommend using activated charcoal filtration, but yes,
filtration works really well in mead brewing. In fact, I know an
award-winning professional meadery that filters the unfermented must
to remove impurities and then sterile filters again at bottling

Setting up a homebrew level filtration system costs about US$45. I
have a set-up that I made from stuff I got at Home Depot. I use a
$25 GE single-stage under-counter water filter that I've rigged to
connect between 2 corny cans. I fill one corny with the beer/mead
I'm filtering and push it through the filter to the other corny via
CO2 pressure. Normally, I just use a spun/wound string filter to
give my stuff a medium polish. For a tighter polish, you can get
paper filters that can be used after the string filter. Replacement
filters are really cheap, ~US$6-7 for 2. The filters can normally
be backflushed, sanitized and reused several times before needing to
be replaced.

Mike Bennett

Subject: Upper Mississippi Mash-Out Mead competition - Jan 29, 2005
From: "Al Boyce" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 06:39:44 -0600

The Upper Mississippi Mash-Out is seeking the world's best amateur Mead

This year's competition features a SEPARATE Best-Of-Show for Mead and
Cider – featuring the Best-Of-Show trophy, the MASH-OUT CHALICE! The
competition will be held Jan 27-29, 2005 in Minneapolis, MN. Last year,
we had entries from 14 states!

Beer Dinner/Awards Ceremony at Summit Brewing in St. Paul on Saturday,

Jan. 29.

For more information, see our website:

Subject: Re: How much carbonation should I expect?
From: Talon McCormick <>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 08:07:21 -0500 (GMT-05:00)


Please clarify, are you bottling 1 to 2 weeks after pitching your yeast or
1 to 2 weeks after you determin that fermentation has stopped? Are you
priming your mead with more honey or are you using sugar of some sort in
the bottle? I'm not quite understanding your explination of your process.

If you're bottling 1 to 2 weeks after, then yes, you're not letting
fermentation finish at all! Fermentation should take anywhere from 3 to
4 weeks to almost 2 months in extreme cases. Some I have even experienced
finishing within a few days.

If you want to know other ways of carbonating your meads, you'll get a whole
slew of answers some claiming to be more efficient or better than others.
It really boils down to personal prefference, style and preferred end
product. My personal way of doing it is using a 1/2 teaspoon of dextrose in
the bottle and I then rack the mead on top of that then cork. Others pour
in a pound of honey, mix it well, then bottle. All of this happening
when fermentation has completed and forcing a secondary fermentation in
the bottle. Some even bottle when fermentation has slowed to an almost
stand still and then bottle. The choice is yours as to when you do it.


Subject: Fruit storage
From: David Chubb <>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 09:50:04 -0500

>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?

Fruit stored such should be fine for at least 6 months or so. Longer if they
are in a deep freezer where they are always below 20'F. Most freezer burn is
caused by sublimation as the very outer edge thaws and refreezes (like in
most upright freezers/fridge-freezer combo's). I have stored blackberries
for use up to 3 years with no discernable effect in my chest freezer (double
bagged or in platic jugs (1 gallon mayonaise jugs thoroughly cleaned)).

I for the fruit recipe (especially with something like sour cherries) just
watch the acidity of the must. I add the mascerated fruit in during primary
and sometimes add a bag of fruit to the secondary (I have a long thin "tube"
bag I made that fits down the neck of my carboy that will fit around 6 cups
of fruit mash.).

Subject: Re: Mead Descriptors
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 12:05:14 -0600

A mead descriptor wheel of individual honeys would be a huge
task — there are so many individual varietal honeys, not to
mention blends, along with regional variations. John W. White
jr. conducted a survey of 490 American honeys in 1961, analyzing
each varietal honey in the survey and publishing the results. No
one else has taken on a task that large. A complete mead flavor
wheel would be just as complex.

There's also the situation with variations in varietal honeys according
to season. Take a look at this URL for a break down of variations
among individual honeys:

Some ways to approach the task — look at the honeys generally
used in meadmaking, both by commercial meadmakers and home
meadmakers. That's not too large a group (I hope!).

There's a good discussion shaping up over on the Cider Digest
on the same topic. The way the subject is being approached
can give some good insights into doing the same for mead. If
you're not subscribed, click on this URL and you can read the
current Cider digests:

Mike Faul wrote:

>If you want to use the same nomenclature for mead as you do wine
>then feel free to do so. Personally I don't think it is appropriate and
>we should have our own. The newly formed IMA will do this in the
>next year or so.

I agree with what Mike is saying here, although there is a lot in wine
nomenclature that can be helpful.

I've long felt that mead is qualitatively different from wine, simply
because honey is "different" stuff as a fermentation medium as
compared to grape must. There are some good parallels with
winemaking that work well with meadmaking, but only so far
as they help in making good mead.

Here's one area where "wine talk" was detrimental to meadmaking,
i.e., acid additions. For a long time, advice to meadmakers
went along with "wine talk" — honey is lacking in sufficient acidity,
hence a mead is likely to taste cloying and too sweet. It needs
acid to balance it properly. In other words, mead is a deficient
wine, of sorts. Meadmakers started to question this advice and
found that mead made without acid additions seems to do quite
well on its own. Acid adjustments can be critical in winemaking
but somehow mead, in spite of the wide variances in acid levels
among different varietal honeys, remains balanced.

One of my favorite books on wine tasting is Emile Peynaud's
"The Taste of Wine." Here's a quick quote: "The paradox of
wine tasting is that it tends to be an objective method using
subjective means." I got a good illustration of this at this
year's Meadfest, at the hospitality party after the regular tasting
sessions closed down for the evening. I was sitting across
from Ken Schramm, both of us trying the same mead. Now,
I do not have a well educated palate, certainly not as good as
Ken's, who has been judging meads for quite a few years now.
Ken remarked out loud about an oxidative note in the mead that
I happened to be trying, but had missed. All of sudden, as soon
as Ken made the observation, I could taste it. It wasn't because
Ken put the idea in my head, the oxidative note was real. It was
the subjectivity of the tasting experience that suddenly keyed
my senses on what was there.

Yet another example — not so long ago during some back channel
conversations with Dick Dunn on cider tasting, I had the opportunity
to taste some well crafted ciders. I sent my impressions to Dick, he
listened and then corrected my tasting experiences. What he said
was dead on target, but my subjective experience was not well
keyed enough to properly evaluate the ciders. His explanations
made sense, and then I could taste the differences.

This is why mead needs its own nomenclature in order to outline
a subjective means to an objective method. If we allow "wine
talk" to play too large a role in the subjectivity that is a part of
the tasting experience, we're likely to miss out on the true taste
of mead.


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Carbonation
From: Charles Sifers <>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 14:11:41 -0600

On Dec 5, 2004, at 1:14 PM, wrote:

> 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

> > ———————-

Greetings Dennis,

I make a lot of naturally carbonated meades, and the situation you
describe is what you should expect from the method you are using.
Naturally, it is unsatisfactory, as you are losing a good quantity of
product, and what's left is not in ideal condition.

Typically there are two methods used to acheive carbonated meade. One,
your method, is to bottle while there is still active primary
fermentation. The second is to allow the meade to ferment until dry,
then pitch more sugars when you bottle. I have used both to good
result, but you'll need to know more than how long the fermentation has
been going.

If you don't have a hydrometer, get one. It is probably the most
useful tool we have in our kit. It tells you how much fermentable
sugar is left in your must, and will let you know when to bottle. I
have had good luck bottling when the gravity is around the 1.02 range.
This should give you good carbonation without the geyser effect.

Good luck,

  • -zz

Subject: re: Chestnut Honey
From: "Michael Suggs" <>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2004 17:17:55 -0500


I experienced Chestnut Honey on a recent trip to Moscow (where I attended
the All-Russia Honey Fair). "Love it or hate it" would describe it; it's
one of those "acquired tastes" that I can't see taking the time to acquire.
I don't recall it having an overly strong aroma. The flavor was not
only strong, but also bitter (overpowering the typical honey sweetness!),
and lasting (it took quite an effort to wash the taste out).

For a good aroma substitute, I'd recommend a nice, strong buckwheat–not only
is it more aromatic, but the drink therefrom is more likely to be drinkable.

Other varietals I got to taste: Russian buckwheat (sweeter and milder
than ours); pumpkin, lime, cranberry, a couple others I can't recall,
and my personal favorite– hawthorn. Sublime…

I don't have any US sources for these, unfortunately…

Any other questions about them, don't hesitate to ask.


  • –Michael Suggs



Subject: Chestnut (or other very aromatic) Honey

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.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1144, 5 December 2004
From: Matt Gerbrandt <>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 08:32:53 -0800 (PST)

>Subject: Filtering Mead
>From: "Douglass Smith"

>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.

Douglass – Carbon filtration is part of the distillation "cleanup" process,
so I'm not too surprised it helped your vodka. If you check out the
bottles of some of the finer vodkas, you'll see claims like "carbon filtered
7 times". That process removes the high alcohols that don't taste good.

>I know filtering beforehand (i.e. using filtered water) is deadly to the
> yeast…

Huh? Where did you hear that? What kind of filter are you referring to?
If you think your mead doesn't taste good, it probably needs to age.
Try forgetting about it for 6 months or so. You'll be amazed at the

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1145