Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1216, 21 September 2005

Mead Lover's Digest #1216 Wed 21 September 2005


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



cranberry ("Doug Honey Love Ranch")
Re: Sulfite/sorbate (Ken Taborek)
Question ("jamesbrown")
Valhalla, Mead-only competition ("David Houseman")


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Subject: cranberry
From: "Doug Honey Love Ranch" <>
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 10:21:32 -0700

cranberry honey versus cranberry juice. I live in cranberry country here
in Orgeon. It is a well known fact that the bees brought in to pollinate
cranberries can starve if they do not have a good supply of honey
already. There is not much nectar in a cranberry bog; the bees are
needed to pollinate, but to do so successfully the growers have to have
a lot of bees per acre brought in. The chances of a full time grower who
keeps his own bees having "cranberry honey" to sell or give away is
iffy. The beekeepers who bring bees into Bandon, usually have less honey
in the hive when they leave than when they get here. The chances are
that most of the honey in any beehive around a cranberry bog is from
other sources that produce better nectar.
On the other hand, I have talked to people who do say they have tasted
the cranberry in so called cranberry honey and say it is very good. I
just have not had any, since most of our honey around here is from the
blackberry flow.
When I tried using cranberry juice in my musts, I found that is was very
acidic and I ended up having to use Calcium Carbonate to bring the acid
level down to something the yeast could work with. At this time if I
want to have a bottle that can be labeled Cranberry, I add it just for
taste and color after fermentation has completed. It does not take much
100% cranberry juice to give good color or taste. Keep in mind
everything you get from a store is probably diluted to 10% or less
cranberry. Straight cranberry juice will pucker your lips. It took me a
while to be able to drink it straight.
Every harvest, I get a lot of cranberries from my neighbors and juice
it. I then keep the juice stored separately. I will then mix my glass of
mead with straight juice, sometimes in up to a 50/50 ratio but more
often just a finger or two in a glass.

Subject: Re: Sulfite/sorbate
From: Ken Taborek <>
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 20:54:43 -0400


I'll reply to a few of the responses to my post, and then I'll let the
subject live or die without my further input. I've described my
rationale for using sulfite and sorbate and will let my previous post
speak for itself.

To Charles Sifers, who said:

"> I wouldn't presume to tell you how to proceed about your hobby, but
> suggesting "be adventurous" and add sulfite to mead is akin to
> suggesting someone "be adventurous" and take up smoking, since less
> than 10% of smokers ever develop cancer."

My statement "You should be adventurous and try sulfiting!" was an
(obviously failed) attempt at a tongue-in-cheek response to Robert Keith
Moor, who had suggested that I "be adventurous" and try meadmaking
without the use of sulfites. If you had read the post to which I was
replying carefully you might have understood that. But regardless of my
failed attempt at humor, your comparison of the hazards of smoking to
the use of sulfites in wine or mead is not at all a fair analogy. If
you could provide sources backing such a statement, I'd be very
interested in researching this further. I notice that you back away
from your own claim in your next paragraph, stating "I'm not saying that
sulfites and tobacco use are equally dangerous, […]" I agree with you
completely, and can only wonder why you made the comparison in the first
place given that you don't even agree with it yourself.

And lastly, to your statement "Finally to suggest that you never "notice
the sulfites" must mean that you intentionally ignore the reason that
your mead tastes as it does." I must protest your attempt to describe
my motives. You do not know me, and to make a statement purporting to
speak for my motivations is not a kindness, and you should refrain from
such misbehavior I was again attempting a bit of fun with Mr. Moore,
who said "When I sit down and drink one of my 5 year old meads, I never
missed the sulfites.." Please don't misinterpret or mischaracterize my
inability to notice the sulfites in my meads with a deliberate avoidance
of any purely hypothetical negative flavor impact caused by the use of
sulfites. I said I don't notice the sulfites because sulfites add no
flavor component to my meads, and thus they are undetectable. All I'm
tasting is a lovely mead, and I'm quite happy with the wine and mead
that I produce .

To Karen Heim,
Please note that I never suggested that you must use sulfite to make a
good mead. Quite the contrary, I said "Can you make good wine or mead
without the use of sulfite and/or sorbate? Sure.". If making sulfite
free mead makes you happy for whatever reasons hold meaning for you,
please don't feel that I'm exerting one iota of pressure upon you to
change that practice. As I used to tell people new to meadmaking who
were overly anxious about following a recipe exactly "There are many
ways to do it right". If you're happy with your produce and see no
reason to use sulfites, don't think that I would have you change that

I merely offered up my own reasons for using sulfites, and sorbate as
needed for any non-dry mead. Reasons that are equally as valid for me
as your reasons for not using sulfites might be for you. Please don't
be offended that I use sulfites. 🙂



Subject: Question
From: "jamesbrown" <>
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 22:12:21 -0600

When I racked my last batch from secondary, I found it was too dry for my
taste and wanted to add some more honey to it.
I was told to put the honey in the carboy and rack onto it, the swirling of
the racking would dissolve the honey …..
According to my gravity readings, about 3 pounds dissolved, leaving the
other six at the bottom of the carboy.
My question is how to get the rest of the honey to dissolve

Subject: Valhalla, Mead-only competition
From: "David Houseman" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005 23:11:50 -0400

This is reminder and call for judges for this mead-only competition. If
you've already contacted me to judge, there's no need to respond again.
But if you haven't and can judge meads, please contact me at my email

If you've got mead, prepare to enter the 1st annual Valhalla – The
Meading of Life Mead-Only Competition to be held Saturday, October 15 at
the Mt.
Pleasant Cafe, 311 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19119
( This competition will judge meads in
BJCP categories 24–traditional meads, 25–melomel and 26–other mead.
One entry per subcategory per entrant, with a $5 per entry fee. The
equivalent of at least 3 12-ounce bottles is required for judging,
although bottle size and shape are not restricted. No identifying
markings however can appear on the bottles. Any standard competition
entry form may be used. It is the responsibility of the entrant to
properly identify the category and sub-category based on the 2004 BJCP
Style Guidelines.

Meads may be mailed or dropped off at Home Sweet Homebrew, 2008 Sansom
Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 by Friday, October 7th. Additional local
drop off locations include Keystone Homebrew locations and Iron Hill
Brewery and Restaurant in West Chester, PA.

The competition would like to encourage knowledgeable mead judges to
commit to judging this event. Judges will receive breakfast and lunch.
Judges should contact David Houseman to secure a judging seat.

The judging will take place from 9am to 1pm. Awards will be given out
beginning at 1:30. There will also be a tasting with numerous commercial
meads as well as the remainder of the meads from the competition
following the judging. Following the competition there will be 2
seatings for a "Mead-ieval" dinner at 4 and 6:30 pm, reservations
required; call the restaurant at 215-242-1500 to make your reservations.

Suzanne McMurphy, Competition Organizer (
David Houseman, Judge Coordinator (
Vince Galet, Asst. Competition Organizer

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1216