Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1251, 2 March 2006

Mead Lover's Digest #1251 Thu 2 March 2006


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



Re: UF mead ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: heat retention in capsimel ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1250, 26 February 2006 ()
Re: UF Mead (Cam Graham)
Re: UF mead ("Spencer W. Thomas")
Re: heat retention in capsimel (Dick Dunn)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1250, 26 February 2006 ("Dennis Key")
Re: Benzene and sodium benzoate (


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Subject: Re: UF mead
From: "Dan McFeeley" <mcfeeley@keynet.netgt;
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 11:41:48 -0600

On Fri, 17 Feb 2006, in MLD 1249, Spencer W. Thomas wrote:

>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.

For those who were wondering, the UF cherry melomel was made
by none other than Robert Kime himself. It placed first in the
melomel competition.

That explains how an entry for home meadmakers was made with
such an expensive array of equipment. 🙂 Doubtless Kime was
testing out the quality of the process, looking for good feedback
from well qualified mead judges. The only place to get that,
especially at the time, was the Mazer Cup competition.

Here's the winning recipe, posted in the August 1994 MLD, #341:


Robert Kime

25 gal:
7 gal Orange Blossom honey
3 gal Meteor cherry juice
300 gr citric acid
300 gr tartaric acid

OG= 26 Bx
Treatment= Ultrafiltered

Prisse de Mousse, Scott Labs-dry
Primary= 3 weeks @ 65F


Dan McFeeley

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

Subject: Re: heat retention in capsimel
From: "Dan McFeeley" <mcfeeley@keynet.netgt;
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 11:55:42 -0600

On Fri, 17 Feb 2006, in MLD 1249, Dick Dunn wrote:

>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.

A twelve year old capsimel — that's impressive. I'm sure it was
enjoyable. Maybe a small quibble, can "capsimel" still be called
a neologism? 🙂 The term seems to have become a part of the
working vocabulary in the mead community. I'm fairly sure it
was first introduced on the MLD.

Maybe not a legitimate style recognized in completion (I've
heard mixed response from Yikes! to Great! 🙂 ), but
recognizable. 🙂

Capsaicin (the active ingredient in chile peppers causing the
sensation of heat) is soluble in alcohol, so it makes sense that
the heat would last and last. For more information than you
might want to know about capsaicin, take a look here: 🙂


Dan McFeeley

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

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1250, 26 February 2006
From: <rodney@rodkraftstudio.comgt;
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 10:06:47 -0800 (PST)

I made a capsimel last spring and just bottled it last month. There
was a little "heat" but the flavor was exquisite! I used 2 pounds of
diced jalapenos (de-seeded and de-veined). I placed the peppers in the
freezer fro a month to break down the cell walls, then added the peppers
(in a nylon paint strainer bag) to the primary over the weekend. Then
I squeezed out as much juice as I could and removed the jalapenos from
the bucket. Then I racked into a 3-gallon carboy, pitched the yeast, and
after 6 months and three more rackings, it was done. Although, with this
concoction I did have one bottle blow its cork at a friend's house and he
had mead everywhere. I am trying to figure out what went wrong with this
one bottle. all the others seem alright.

Rorik, aka, Rodney KindlundRodKraft Studio (Leather-Art)
"You can't create peace by kicking the shit outta yer neighbors and
friends."Rorik Gr??skeggi (me)

Subject: Re: UF Mead
From: Cam Graham <meadmaker@middlemountainmead.comgt;
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 10:19:30 -0800 (PST)

Hi, All –

I've been making mead commercially since late 2004 with a UF system
built by John Tarr – he's the fellow that built them for Cornell's
meadmaking research. I decided to get one because the Cornell research
said that the reason mead hadn't really caught on was an objectionable
phenol taste that developed during fermentation unless honey proteins were
removed before fermentation. (I think that might be in the pre-amble of
the Steinkraus patent?) Apparently (?)phenols do age out in 2-3 years,
but if they could be avoided up-front, that's better. Especially when
considering a new commercial venture – I wouldn't have enjoyed the waiting!

After reading the Cornell research, I visited a couple of meaderies that
used UF, tasted their meads and thought if I could succeed in making one as
good I'd be happy. I visited Dave Jilbert in Ohio, and he kindly showed
me how to run the unit (it's complicated), and I visited Sky River Mead
in Washington. Their meads all tasted good, and no phenols.

So we decided to get a UF unit: The filter is a 100K dalton molecular weight
cutoff, which nominally translates to 0.02 microns. (I probably should
have gone with 500K). For comparison, sterile filters are 0.45 microns.
John Tarr's unit (pump, stainless steel tubing etc) cost $8K, plus about
$5K for the filter itself. All told, a major investment. It's our single
most expensive piece of equipment.

We've been using UF pre-fermentation and also to stop fermentation. Some
meads just stop by themselves from a combination of pH and alcohol levels.

We've been making mead for a little over a year now and our meads are
pretty good. There's never a trace of phenol. For comparison, I was at the
MeadFest in 2004 and I noticed more than a few commercial meads being offered
that do have phenol. It'd be interesting to see the judges' tasting notes.

With respect to honey character being better preserved in non-UF meads,
I'll make a few non-UF meads for comparison purposes and post the results.
Maybe I should bring a few to MeadFest 2010!

There are many holes in my knowledge. For instance, I'd be interested
to know if phenols really do age out – anybody have knowledge of that?
If so, I guess that would explain a lot of the "meads improve with age".

I know Mike Faul makes excellent mead without UF: Mike – could you tell
us if your meads have phenol when young and they age to perfection, or is
this "need to UF to remove proteins otherwise phenol taste" lacking some
factual underpinning?

Cam Graham
Middle Mountain Mead
Hornby Island, BC

Subject: Re: UF mead
From: "Spencer W. Thomas" <hbd@spencerwthomas.comgt;
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 18:50:44 -0500


> From: Adams)



> I didn't taste that mead and I would not be so presumptuous as
> to question Ken Schramm's tastes. But it seems to me the issue
> of 'Who made this mead?' has to be considered. Very few, if
> any, homebrewers can afford ultra filtration equipment.


As I recall, the mead in question was submitted by Kime himself
(although we didn't know that until afterwards.) This competition was
in the late 90s, not very recently. I don't think UF equipment was
available to any "home meaders" at the time. Unless they swiped it from
the "lab."

Ken's comments may not have been written, but just expressed orally; I'm
not sure. But even if they were written (in the "Overall impression"
section), I think it IS legitimate to express one's opinion that the
flavor is "too clean" and lacking complexity of flavor. In my book, one
of the things that distinguishes a merely "very good" mead from an
"excellent" mead is complexity of flavor and aroma. If it's too simple,
it just can't be great.


Subject: Re: heat retention in capsimel
From: Dick Dunn <rcd@talisman.comgt;
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 00:12:54 -0700

One reply to a couple of postings in the last digest…
"Robert Farrell" <bfarrell100@hotmail.comgt; wrote:
> Sounds like a great idea. How are the chiles prepared? Do you roast them?
> Slice, dice, deseed?

My notes are reprehensibly sketchy (but hey, it WAS 12 years ago!). They
say just "green chiles", which in context of my experience/usage I would
take to mean "Anaheim" (not as precise as you might like to hope!). I
roasted and peeled them; however I roast chiles with a hot torch so that
the roasting doesn't go very deep. Then I seed and de-vein them. The
idea there is to get rid of as much as possible of what contributes more
heat than flavor…I want the flesh of the fruit. They were then coarsely
chopped. The chiles went into the primary, as is my habit. I racked away
from them after a week, after a rather aggressive fermentation (notes show
1014 at racking).

Next, comments from Adams):
> I grow Red Savina Habeneros [RSH] ( They
> are dried, ground, and then vacuum sealed…
[multiple years]
>…This stuff is so hot that I measure it with the beveled end
> of a chop stick. It is part of my daily diet and a slight
> aging effect has been noticed. So 12 years seems. to me, to
> be an excessive length of time not to have noticed an aging
> effect upon the heat of the peppers – UNLESS there was too
> much heat in the beginning.

No, the heat then is about the same as it was now, as far as I can tell.
Granted, that's reaching, to extend one's taste perception over more than
a decade! But, living in the southwest for a long time, I have a long-
scale calibration on my taste; moreover, if anything you'd expect my tastes
to be flagging by now so you might expect that I'd report a -loss- in taste
over the years even if there hadn't been any.

Also, figure that I wouldn't have been judging that mead until it had been
in the bottle for a while, by which time any initial oxidation etc. would
have been done with. The matter of interest then is degradation over time,
not from external O2, nor light, etc. We're not comparing the newly bottled
mead; we're comparing it after a few months against after 12 years.

Dick continues…
> My experience is that there is a threshold point where the
> taste of the pepper is overwhelmed by the heat of the pepper.

That's why I was using relatively mild chiles! I understand what Dick is
doing, and I wish I could manage it because I would -love- to get that
special habanero flavor in a mead, but I want to work with the fresh fruit.

>…My target is right below that threshold. If I were making a
> 55 gallon recipe, my recipe would call for 1 gram of ground
> Red Savina habanero to be racked upon in the secondary.

By (extreme) contrast, I used roughly a -pound- of fresh chiles per gallon
of capsimel.

> The problem I have had with capsimels and capsicum metheglins
> is that they focus more on the heat than upon the taste.

Agreed, if the meadmaker gets carried away. I think the practical approach
is to use chiles which have as much flavor as possible. Don't worry about
the heat; you'll get plenty. I'm pretty sure alcohol extracts capsaicin.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1250, 26 February 2006
From: "Dennis Key" <dione13@msn.comgt;
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 09:09:46 -0700

> Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1249, 21 February 2006
> From: "Robert Farrell" <bfarrell100@hotmail.comgt;
> Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 09:48:15 -0800


> >Subject: heat retention in capsimel
> >From: Dick Dunn <rcd@talisman.comgt;
> >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


> Dick


> Sounds like a great idea. How are the chiles prepared? Do you roast
> them?
> Slice, dice, deseed?


> Bob Farrell
> Portland, OR


Re: Capsimel. I made a green chile mead several years ago (1996, or so).
For a three gallon batch, I put about a pound of roasted, peeled and seeded
(split them and rake the seeds out with your fingers) New Mexico Hatch green
chiles in the primary. After a couple of weeks, I racked off the primary
and proceeded to completion in the usual way. I still have a few splits
left and it has never lost the rather "rasty" taste. It is off dry and has
a nice, back of the throat burn even after ten years. It just doesn't taste
very good. I use it for cooking.

If I ever do this again, I'll use raw chiles, slice them longways and remove
the seeds. I'll run them through a food processor (lightly chopped, not
pureed) and put them in the diluted honey during the pasteurizing phase.
I'll strain them out when pouring into the primary. (If you don't
pasteurize, put the chopped chiles in the primary and leave them behind at
the first racking.) I suspect the bad taste is because I used roasted

I had very good success making an habanera mead. I used three peppers for
three gallons and followed the technique in the second paragraph above. I
used a small paring knife and my fingers to remove the seeds before
your hands several times with a brush won't get all the capsicum off.
Everything sensitive that you touch for the next day will BURN! That means
eyes, nose and I think you can imagine a couple of other "sensitive"
places!) Anyway, I added the zest of one lime and about a cup of lime juice.
I used a cuvee Champaign yeast and three quarts of honey. I added a cup of
honey whenever fermentation slowed down to a couple of blurps per minute
until fermentation stopped at the yeast's tolerance level. It gave me a
semi-sweet citrus flavored mead with a nice bite. My lips would start to
tingle and I'd get a medium chile burn in the back of my throat after a
couple of glasses. As it was around 20% alcohol, that's plenty to drink at
one time anyway.


Dione Greywolfe (AKA Dennis Key)
Dragonweyr, NM

Subject: Re: Benzene and sodium benzoate
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 11:47:18 EST

Thanks for the links. Just remember to keep it in perspective that three
parts per billion of benzene in mead would be almost totally insignificant
compared to the high level and long term dose of benzene that causes cancer and
is quite small compared to the higher daily living exposure we get from car
exhaust, gasoline fumes, secondary tobacco smoke (or 10 ng/cigarette of benzene
if you smoke), drinking water and even other food we eat.
Carl McMillin, PhD
Brecksville, OH

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1251