Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1147, 20 December 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1147 Mon 20 December 2004


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



RE: Honey & Mead Descriptors…. ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: Methlegins ("Joshua A. Laff, LMP")
sparkling meads ("bill smith")
tannins (Jim Johnston)


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Subject: RE: Honey & Mead Descriptors....
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 11:17:09 -0600

On We, 8 Dec 2004, in MLD 1146, Michael Zahl expressed
some random thoughts thusly: 🙂

>The first thing I asked myself when I saw this thread was:
>What is the end purpose for creating a nomenclature for
>Then, my scientific, anal retentive analytical mind thought…
>Damn, what a HUGE potential undertaking!

You ain't just whistling Dixie. 🙂

I think there's a good number of people that are making
inroads into this. At the Chicago meadfest a few years
ago, Ken Schramm had a number of different honey
samples with him, getting the idea across to the crowd
that the taste of mead begins with the taste of honey.
I'm sure there are other meadmakers who are doing
similar tasting experiments. Commercial meadmakers
are probably following suit here, tasting the honey,
considering what they're going to use, etc. It's a
matter of compiling all that empirical evidence and
then working from there.

On subjectivity and objectivity in the tasting experience:
I've mentioned Emile Peynaud already but dang it, I'm
going to have to resort to his book _The Taste of Wine_
again. Sorry. There are other good books on winetasting
but I've become terribly influenced by Peynaud.

Try this one:

"Say you sharply tap a crystal glass and set it ringing
in an adjacent room. For those alert to the sound, it
is quite clearly the ringing of crystal, pure and pleasing
to the ear. One person, however, says "That's an E."
This person has a trained ear, he can distinguish between
noise and a musical note; he has perfect pitch." p. 22



"The paradox of winetasting is that it tends to be an
objective method using subjective means." p. 9


A trained palate helps the taster gain consistency in his/her
evaluations, although the subjective aspect is never totally
ruled out. Peynaud comments on how difficult it is, even
for the trained taster, to distinguish in blind tastings between
a rose wine and a white wine roughly similar in body and

Mead tasting has much to gain from the nomenclature of
winetasting, but if we follow this too strongly, we can
easily lose the experience of the taste of mead itself.

>Well I guess we'll just have to brew and drink more… DARN!




>Random thoughts…

Good idea, oh yeah, the random thoughts too. 🙂


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Methlegins
From: "Joshua A. Laff, LMP" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 10:07:36 -0800

I regularly use herbs in my mead, sometimes as straight methlegins,
sometimes in combination with fruit. The herbs you mention, cinnamon,
cloves and ginger, are three of the main ingredients in Chai tea. I have a
Chai tea recipe which I modified slightly and used to make a batch of mead.
I was extremely happy with how it came out:

4 t ginger
6 t cardamom
6 t cinnamon
1 t black pepper
5 t black tea
1 t amchur

3 gallon batch, 9 lbs Wildflower honey, White Labs Sweet Mead yeast.

It finished rather quickly – I started it on 6/17/2000, racked it on
8/29/2000 (which is when I removed the herbs), and bottled it on 9/13/2000.
It finished as a sweet mead, as you'd expect, and as is appropriate for
chai. It's completely gone now, and is on my list of "must make again

Looking back at my notes, I'm surprised I didn't put clove in there, though
I wouldn't put in very much if I did, probably no more than 1 teaspoon.
Also, I've since modified my chai recipe (due to some private conversation
with Matt Maples) and added anise, which I'll certainly add to the next
batch of mead, probably 4 teaspoons. Amchur is powdered mango, which I also
threw in the bag-o-herbs (muslin style tea-bag). I'm pretty sure some of
that went right through the bag. I believe it ended up settling with the
yeast, but there was a slight haze to the mead, if I remember correctly (I
didn't take notes on that).

In general, yes, I've found that testing the herbal combination as a tea
will give a good indication as to how it will taste in a mead. It will not
be exact, as some elements of herbs are not extracted by water, but are
extracted by alcohol. However, this usually will not cause extreme
variations in taste. Some herbs you will want to use less of in your mead
than you would in a tea. Clove is one of these. If you steep a few cloves
in a cup tea for a couple of minutes, you get a nice clove taste. If you
steep a few cloves in cup of tea for half an hour, that tea will start to
numb the insides of your mouth when you drink it. This is probably why I
didn't put in clove, as I may have been concerned about the strength of
this effect. So, yes, make a cup of tea with your herbs, but know your
herbs, and either cut back on those that will stand out over others over
time, or remove them sooner than you remove your other herbs. Usually, I
keep in the herbs until the first racking if its a straight methlegin, or
second racking if I've got fruit in there (I always put fruit in the
primary, and rack after two weeks).

As for vanilla, I've used it once, and I used vanilla beans. I was happy
with the result, but I've never used vanilla extract.


  • – Joshua



  • —– Original Message —–

> Subject: Methlegins..
> From: "Michael Zahl" <>
> Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2004 11:30:44 -0500



> I've been debating, researching, polling people, for recipes with
> cinnamon,
> cloves, ginger and the like for my first methlegin.

> …

> It never occurred to me to taste test
> the "tea part' before setting it off into the must….

> …

> I'd like some feed back on
> whether this is a valid method for tweaking methlegins.
> Also, I'd like some thoughts on how long to steep the spices…
> And any comments on the use of vanilla extract…

Subject: sparkling meads
From: "bill smith" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 23:24:07 -0700

I enjoy the conversation on sparkling meads and they are a truly unique
and interesting variant on meadmaking. However some warnings should be
observed. A carbonated or pressurized wine is not meant to reside in a
typical wine bottle sealed with a cork. Neither the bottle or the cork
is designed to hold pressure except in very low pressures. In a wine
bottle with a cork your worst case scenario is a cork shot accross the
room or the bottle cracks and bursts at the very bottom of the bottle.
Wine runs down the shelf and all over and make a real mess for you to
clean up. I have been both shot at or burst and it is not good.

If you choose to use bottles and stoppers made to handle pressure, i.e.
beer bottles and caps or champagne bottles and stoppers, you now are
involved in the "hand grenade" business. With improper resweetening,
you are quite capable of making bottles of sparking mead that can very
forcefully explode at any time. This too I have witnessed and it is
very dangerous to living critters with eyes, soft skin either you or
your kids or pets. Please do not be callous about this particular
variation on mead making, particularly because honey is such a unique
blend of easy, not so easy and unfermentable sugar variations.

Respectfully submitted: Bill Smith Bees Brothers Meadery
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Subject: tannins
From: Jim Johnston <>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 15:10:32 -0600

A quick question for the group. Has anyone used green tea to impart
tannins in mead? I have heard of using black tea, but I wonder about
using green tea instead. I am making a simple wildflower, about 3 lb/
gal, and using an English ale yeast. As a result, I am expecting a
fairly sweet finish and would like to give it a bit more complexity. I
have also used chamomile tea in the past without much notable
difference (2 bags / gal of Celestial Seasonings). In that case I am
looking for a bit of floral aroma as well.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1147