Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1249, 21 February 2006

Mead Lover's Digest #1249 Tue 21 February 2006


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



UF mead ("Spencer W. Thomas")
conical fermenters (MICAH MILLSPAW)
Re: ultra-filtration (Michael Faul)
heat retention in capsimel (Dick Dunn)
AMA, OG, and Ultra-filtration ("Dan McFeeley")
My first batch ("J Schneitman")
Anyone using a "heat pipe" to cool fermenter? How about a peltier (Bill V…)
Melomel question — adding the fruit ("Rob Weir")
Racking ("Scott Brophy")


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Subject: UF mead
From: "Spencer W. Thomas" <>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 08:20:14 -0500

I remember judging a (presumably) ultra-filtered mead in a Mazer Cup
competition some years back. Ken Schramm was my co-judge. The mead in
question was a melomel, I think cherry. It was extremely clean, with
good fruit and honey. Ken's comment was pithy and to the point: "Needs
more dirt and twigs!" It was, in fact, too clean for our tastes. Sort
of like the difference between bottled apple juice and freshly squeezed
apple juice. Something is just missing in the clear, yellow bottled
stuff; the character of the apples that is present in the opaque, brown,
freshly squeezed juice is muted to a generic "apple" flavor in the
bottled stuff. Well, the same happened with the mead.

I can see, however, how this could be a huge success commercially, if
one is able to apply it well. I think that at least some of the Earle
Estates meads are ultra-filtered, and some of their meads are quite
tasty. (Unfortunately, their web site is down, so I can't confirm this

=Spencer in Ann Arbor

Subject: conical fermenters
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 05:58:18 -0800 (PST)

Some time back I made a ferementor from a old keg go
to for
a picture. It was made by removing the 'spear' from
the keg and welding into the hole a 2 inch diameter
bit of stainless with a threaded hole and a o-ring
seat (a valve with a stand pipe goes into this). I
added 3 legs and welded a flange onto the other end of
the keg to allow easy cleaning. I also threw on a
sight glass and thermometer. It holds pressure as
well, which is very usefull.
It has been working nicely for the last 20 years.

Micah Millspaw

Subject: Re: ultra-filtration
From: Michael Faul <>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 09:32:15 -0800

>>> My question is, what filters would you use to do this and where would
>>> you get them. I am already using filtered water. Would the same filter
>>> cartridges (c-1 type AMETEK) work on diluted honey solution? Is anyone
>>> else filtering there honey instead of boiling?…


> The filter is considerably more specialized than any home equipment.
> When it's noted as a "modest investment", that's in commercial terms.
> The one unit I've seen is taller and wider than an average person.


> There doesn't appear to have been wide acceptance of this filtration
> technique. Rocky Mountain Meadery started out using it in 1995. To
> the extent there's been discussion about it, the consensus seems to be
> that it's too successful–it strips too much flavor, and the resulting
> mead is uninteresting.

> – —

> Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

okay, here is my two cents (prob more though) on this subject.
Your not going to be able to do this at home with anything you might
find easily in a store.

Commmercially, I don't see the value in any of this technology
pre-fermentation. Post fermentation sure but the cost is going to be
prohibitive to just about any winery on any commercial scale but for a
few hundred gallons.

Ultra-filtration down to the .1 or lower levels will strip out flavor
and color components but it may, depending on the honey used be
beneficial in producing a 'wine' similar to many white grape wines. This
I believe was the goal of the process.

Now on the otherhand, you don't need to filter to .1 micron to produce a
sterile product. I use a process that filters to .4 micron and I never
add sulfites at bottling time. Even with sweet meads. Any filtration
process at that level requires expensive filters, high pressure and
time. Something not normally conducive to commercial large scale production.


Subject: heat retention in capsimel
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 20:09:55 -0700

Somewhat randomly going through our "library" of old mead, I pulled out a
12-year-old capsimel (pardon if you've not seen the neologism–a melomel
with capsicum peppers, i.e., chiles). It seemed to have approximately the
same amount of heat that it did when first bottled.

I don't recall anyone else commenting on whether the heat would degrade
over time, but I'm happy to provide one datum which indicates that it
lasts as well as one can tell.

Probably time to make another batch of capsimel. It gives a good excuse
to replace some of the plastic in the mead-making process that should be
replaced periodically anyway (such as the racking hose)…one wants -not-
to carry spurious capsaicin into (say) a traditional or a delicate melomel.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: AMA, OG, and Ultra-filtration
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006 10:59:04 -0600

Since these are all quick replies, they're combined
under one subject header. 🙂

The American Mead Association — as already mentioned,
the AMA no longer exists. It was a great grass roots
organization started up about 1986 or so by Pamela Spence
in Ohio, then shifted base to Colorado. The organization
soon fell apart after the tragic death of Suzanne Price, who
was the then co-director of the AMA along with Julian Strekel.

There have been efforts to bring back another American Mead
Association but all of them faltered for various reasons. There
is a new mead organization, however, the International Mead
Association. This one is much broader in scope than the old
AMA, and grew out of the annual International Mead Festival,
which just concluded this month. The IMA is working to
combine both commercial and amateur interests, along with
bringing a stronger international perspective as compared to
the old AMA.

URL for the mead festival is:

URL for the IMA is

The IMA has a first newsletter out, with hopes that it will
develop to a full fledged journal/magazine. Go to the IMA
site and click on the appropriate box. It's available as a
free .pdf file.

Ultra-filtration — Robert Kime developed this for commercial
production of mead. It's simply too big and too expensive
for home meadmaking efforts. Units can go anywhere from
$20,000 up to $100,000 and more. Robert Kime was especially
generous with this — he never patented the method, simply
put out the results for commercial meadmakers. He would go
out of his way to help starting meadmakers, finding them
low cost UF dairy units that were more affordable. He passed
away a few years back, not long after Roger Morse.

OG — using the average SG of honey, I mathematically worked
out 35 gravity points per pound of honey, diluted to a gallon
of honey must. That's a gallon of honey must, not a pound
of honey added to a gallon of water.

The problem is that this figure is an abstraction, since it is
purely mathematically derived. It seems to work well for me,
but other meadmakers have found varying figures from personal
observation. I think 35 points per pound is a reliable figure, but
because honeys vary according to floral source, you can get
some variations. So long as the honey producers keep the water
content at a consistent level, you should be alright with this.


Dan McFeeley

"Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
(The people's spirit is raised through culture)

Subject: My first batch
From: "J Schneitman" <>
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 02:15:28 -0800

I am trying patiently to wait for my first batch of a strawberry melomel
to finish it's fermentation cycle. My question is when I rack the first
time I understand that I want to fill my carboy up really close to the
top. With what I leave behind I'm going to have less to put in the
second carboy. Don't I need to add water or something to take up a lot
of that air space? Water or honey or both? If so how much of each?
Ratio? Also can I take what is left behind to start another batch. I'm
fermenting on the whole berry. I've been told I can take about a cup
and start another batch?

Subject: Anyone using a "heat pipe" to cool fermenter?  How about a peltier
From: Bill Velek <>
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 17:15:43 -0600

I've been kicking an idea around for awhile and did a google-search but
couldn't find anything directly on point. A recent post about peltier
devices made me think about this again. What about coupling a peltier
with a heatpipe?

For those who don't know, a 'heat pipe' is a very simple device with no
moving parts and requiring no power, but which helps transfer heat from
one place to another. In its simplest form, it would be a length of
straight copper pipe sealed at both ends, partially filled with alcohol
or freon or some other liquid to act as a refrigerant. To cool a
carboy, it would be inserted into the neck of the carboy and extend from
the bottom and protrude through the neck for some distance — perhaps a
foot (30cm) or a bit more. The liquid refrigerant (alcohol, freon, or
whatever) pools at the bottom of the pipe, picks up heat from the
fermenting wort which causes some of the refrigerant to evaporate and
rise to the top (into the part of pipe extending outside the carboy)
where it condenses, releasing heat to the upper part of the pipe where
it is dissipated into the air, and the condensed refrigerant runs back
down the pipe into the lower portion within the carboy to repeat. The
cycle is continuous so long as there is a temperature differential,
helping move heat from the inside to the outside of the carboy. The
thinnest gauge copper would be used to improve conductivity, and even
convoluted pipe could be used to increase surface area and efficiency.

By itself, I'm not sure a heatpipe would help very much because it can't
cool below ambient temperature, and I can do better than that with a fan
and evaporative cooling. But heatpipe performance should be improved
immensely by adding a peltier device to the top portion of the pipe, and
I think it would probably lower temps more than evaporative cooling,
based on my readings. For those who don't know, a peltier device uses
solid state electronics and a flow of direct current to move heat from
one side to the other; an example is those ice chests which can be
plugged into a car's cigarette lighter socket. Coupling a peltier to a
heatpipe would also solve a couple of problems for people who want to
use a peltier with a carboy: first, it solves the problem of how to
connect to the carboy; second, it reaches to the center of the wort
which is hardest to cool; third, because it runs up the center,
convective currents should be uniformly distributed within the fermenter
for greater efficiency and uniformity of temperature. The pipe would be
easy to sanitize and since it isn't permanently mounted, the whole thing
could easily be moved to other fermenters such as a bucket or a conical,
if they have a sufficient opening in their lids. A thermostatic
coupling for the peltier could run along the side of the pipe, thereby
measuring temp at the center of the fermenter to regulate the peltier.

There are some downsides, but nothing significant in my mind. First,
you won't be able to use a Burton Union on your carboy, but I don't know
anyone who does anyway, even though they are available. Second, you
won't be able to use a blow off tube or a conventional airlock. How bad
is that? Well, if properly designed, the heatpipe should act as an
airlock itself. If the pipe has a flange or is widened at the point
where it enters the fermenter so that the weight of the pipe rests on a
sanitized rubber gasket between it and the lid or carboy neck, I think
it will provide a sufficient seal. Pressure inside the fermenter would
merely lift the entire pipe and peltier device just enough to release
CO2, and whenever it vents in that way, the positive pressure inside the
fermenter should prevent oxygen and contaminants from entering.

Would that create too much pressure inside the fermenter, risking an
explosion of the carboy? Most of the weight of the portion of the pipe
which is submerged in wort would be offset by buoyancy; in fact,
depending upon the gauge of the pipe and how much it is filled with
refrigerant, that portion of the pipe might even have a positive
buoyancy. That leaves the portion of pipe extending above the level of
wort, plus the weight of the peltier, heat sink (if any), and fan. I've
tried to find some weight specifications to use as examples, but
unfortunately haven't found any yet. But some of these devices that are
available are mounted on CPUs inside computers, and don't look like they
could weigh much more than a pound — but let's use 3 pounds (1.36kg) as
an example and as an upper limit of total negative buoyancy, i.e., the
weight on the gasket at the carboy neck or lid. The inside diameter of
the neck on my carboys is about one and an eighth inches (2.86cm), for a
surface area of .994 square inches (6.41 square cm) — "close enough for
government work" to call one square inch. Assuming three pounds of
weight on that one square inch, it would require 3 psi to break the
seal, causing a pressure of 3psi throughout the carboy. I tried to
research whether that was too much or not, and couldn't find an answer;
I did find this thread — — which was
inconclusive. But assuming that 3psi is not too much, the pipe and
peltier should cause a good seal. Now, another bad downside with not
being able to use a blow off tube is that, with a really vigorous
fermentation, each time the seal is momentarily broken to vent pressure,
we're likely to have some kraeusen squirt out; this can at least be
deflected downward by adding to the heatpipe a small sleeve which
overhangs the neck of the carboy, but then we would still have a mess
with kraeusen running down the sides of the carboy — although it could
be set inside a small pan or tub to minimize the mess. However, if the
heatpipe and peltier are successful in holding the temp of the wort down
to a nice low temp of, let's say, 64F/18C, will fermentations really be
that vigorous? I don't know because I've never been able to ferment
that low; I've had some pretty violent fermentations, but I've seldom
been able to keep my temp down below 70F/21C. With lower temps,
fermentations will be slower, but I don't know how slow.

This is just some thinking on my part; I've never attempted any of this
and don't know if it would work or not. Seems to me like it would, and
I'd love for some of the more knowledgeable engineering types here to
comment on this. If anyone thinks they can make this work and market
it, you have my permission; just send me a 'beta' unit to try out. 😉
Also, if anyone tries this, please let me know how it works out. I
might give it a try myself, but I'll need to find out a lot more about
how to make the heat pipe — how much liquid to put in it, etc. But
there's no sense in even trying if calculations say it won't work.

I'm posting this to a lot of forums to try to get as many responses as
possible. Also, I'm sorry this is so long; I hope you folks don't mind.


Cheers, Bill Velek
Join "HomeBrewers" international grid-computing team and help mankind by
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Subject: Melomel question -- adding the fruit
From: "Rob Weir" <>
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 20:24:21 -0500

I'm new to mead, though I have brewed ales before. I'm making a raspberry
melomel and the primary ferment has just completed. The instructions I'm
following say for the seconday, I should first add the fruit (in this case a
puree) to the carboy and then to rack in the mead must. Should I take this
literally, i.e, not the mix the two together? Or should I stir well?


  • -Rob

Subject: Racking
From: "Scott Brophy" <>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 09:51:25 +0000

Hello there, i just need to clarify a few things about racking.
i want a still sweet mead, so if i follow the advice on the FAQ i use lots
of honey, however how do i know what the alcohol tollerence level of my
yeast is if it does not say on the packet?
also the idea of racking seems complicated to me, but thats probably becuase
its me :).
it seems i will need another vessel of the same size as the original to
transfer it in to but when i do this, i am aiming to remove as much sediment
as possible right? but if i do this before it has finnished, won't it fail
to finnish as i have extracted the yeast?
if you can shed any light on this, it would be very much appreciated.

kind regards,
Scott Brophy

Ps. Hail Wodan!

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1249