Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1267, 15 June 2006

Mead Lover's Digest #1267 Thu 15 June 2006


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



Yeasts (Robert Lewis)
Unintended Carbonation. ("Bobby Blasey")
Tried and true yeasts ("Peggy & Eric")
More on mead judging (Ken Schramm)
Re: Mead Judging (Steve Fletty)
South Africans (Evan)
Re: Judging (Jim Johnston)


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Subject: Yeasts
From: Robert Lewis <mazerrob@yahoo.comgt;
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 14:44:10 -0700 (PDT)

> I started a second batch again with 17 lbs. of honey, this time
> clover. I pitched with Cote de Blanc right away this time and noticed
> activity in the airlock within 24 hours. Should I give the liquid
> yeast another go? Is it really superior for sweet meads and perhaps I
> had a bad packet? Anything wrong with Cote de Blanc? Will Cote de
> Blanc dry these batches out too much? I'm curious as to what the 'go
> to' yeast is for most folks.

I have successfully used liquid yeasts on meads on several occasions.
Generally when I use liquid yeast, I do a second stage fermentation in
a gallon jug, I fill the jug with about 2 pounds honey, a pinch of yeast
nutrient, a clove or piece of cinnamon, and a sprinkle from a lemon, lime
or orange. Since Liguid yeast provides a fraction of the amount of yeast
that a dry packet does, I like to give it a boost. (I also hydrate dry
yeast in warm water before pitching.) I let the liguid yeast sit in the
airlocked jug until it starts bubbling away, only then do I prepare the
must, and pitch the gallon batch of liguid yeast into the 5 gallon carboy.

I also have just as succesfully used dry yeasts on mead. In my oppinion,

honey is a challenge for yeast. Honey can have up to 50 different kinds of
sugar. In my experience, a yeast collony doesn't like variety. All those
different sugars just confuse the buggers.

Now, I believe you posted something about using a sweet mead yeast. The

best sweet mead I ever made was using Wyeast Dry mead yeast. I think their
sweet mead yeast should be renamed to 'Insipid mead yeast' (provided you
are patient and/or lucky enough for it to start) Their standard liguid
mead yeast produced for me a very successful orange mead (6 oranges and
12 lbs honey in a five gal carboy). The mead had a very pleasant slightly
sweet finish, and made a great desert wine.

For what it's worth, I am still strugling to figure out what a nice

yeast is for a dry mead. I stopped using champagne yeast years ago. Have
played with 1116, and 1118, but never understood what the numbers meant.
I also had nice results with a montrachet mead. so I finish this post with
a question. If I wish to make the mead equivalent of a pinot grigio?
How ought I to start?


Subject: Unintended Carbonation.
From: "Bobby Blasey" <priest428@hotmail.comgt;
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 22:41:02 -0500

Hello Everyone,
I'm a longtime lurker on the Digest, but fairly new to mead making. I'm
hoping to get some insight on a "problem" of mine. I have made four batches
of mead, one batch of raspberry melomel, two sweet meads (each with a
different type of yeast and honey), and a batch of dry mead. My first was
the beginner's recipe out of 'The Compleate Meadmaker'. Second, was the
other sweet batch, then the dry, and lastly, the melomel. I fermented all
in my basement, which is always a constant 65 F year round. After multiple
rackings, and about eight months of bulk aging, I opened the carboys to find
that they were CARBONATED! Undaunted, I decided to bottle them anyways,
transferring them to a sanitized primary and then to the bottles. That was
three months ago, and none have exploded, but every one I open is still
carbonated. Not a "bad" thing, but not exactly what I was wanting. Any
clues, as to what caused this? What can I do to prevent this from happening
again? Also, the batches are just over a year old and still are "new"
tasting, not even close to tasting like some of the commercial batches I've
tasted. Does this tie into the carbonation problem? Any suggestions to
help with getting batches to taste better, faster? I've waited over a year
and maybe getting a little impatient. Not the best mannerisim for a mazer,
I know. Thanks in advance for your help. Sorry for such a long post.


  • -Robert


Subject: Tried and true yeasts
From: "Peggy & Eric" <zeee1@nebonet.comgt;
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2006 11:03:48 -0600

Hello Janelle

Many people use Lalvin EC-1118 as a go-to yeast in many applications,

especially for restarting stuck fermentations. I have made 2 meads with this
yeast that turned out ok.


I am in the process of acquiring 5 or 6 1 gallon glass jugs that will each
get dosed with a different yeast, from one batch of mead must. I plan on
pasteurizing at about 150 F for about 15 minutes, stirring well to keep
honey suspended as I pour into the different bottles. This will give me an
idea of the yeast I like best for a plain mead.


Deweyville, UT

Subject: More on mead judging
From: Ken Schramm <compleatmeadmaker@wowway.comgt;
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2006 22:46:15 -0400

Mike Faul and Lane asked for the expanded version. I sent this to
Mike already. I can't exactly recreate what I had originally; I
excised stuff from the post as I wrote, but here are some of the main
points, and each could be a paragraph. I've spent many hours
belaboring these issues – sorry if this gets windy. These are IMA
centric, but apply elsewhere:

All major competitions should be judged in appropriate glassware.
_Glass_ glassware.

Judges who have never judged a competition on the 100 point scale
should be counseled first, and paired with an experienced 100 pt.

A unifying, guided calibrator should be judged by all judges, and the
score sheet(s) of a capable, conscientious judge or two shared aloud
with all of the participating judges before further judging commences
(especially where novice judges are being employed).

Judges should be instructed in how to write complete, informative and
descriptive sentences about flavor and aroma. Describe the sweetness
if it is present. Describe the "dryness" (bitter? acidic? tannic?).
Describe the amount of body. So much easy and useful stuff gets left
off sheets (especially at amateur competition levels) because judges
don't have a formula for how to evaluate and describe – permit an
example. For a given characteristic (I'll use sweetness), describe:

  • -degree (subtle, mild, bold, extreme)

  • -pleasantness (offensive, unpleasant, mildly off-putting, pleasant,

delicious, stunning)

  • -nature (table sugar, caramel, malty, toffee)

  • -integration (in balance, out of balance)


If every judge took the time to formulaically think out and write
down those things for each major characteristic, score sheets would
be really valuable to the entrants.

We need a flavor/aroma wheel (I'm working on that).

Judges should be counseled on how to organize/order a flight.

Flights should be 10 meads at most, 2 rounds per day (mini-BOS for a
category when needed).

Spit. Nobody can write a great score sheet after 20 meads.

Categories should be as broad as possible.

The role of a judge is to provide, as best as possible, a
language-based descriptive "picture" (to mix as many possible senses
into this as I can) of an olfactory and taste based organoleptic
sensory experience. Given that as the task, the learning process
which creates linkages between those two disparate areas of the brain
need to be constructed with concerted training and development. Lots
of honey tasting, floral scent memorization, fruit tasting, spice
tasting, and fermentation note identification is needed for good
judges to be grown. It is a chore which takes considerable self
motivation,and some expense, and not enough folk are doing it
seriously enough for the hobby/industry to be building up the judge
complement we need.

OK, that last one is a paragraph, but I think you get the gist.

Again, sorry if I am preachy. To be clear, I know I have been guilty
of not filling in score sheets as completely as possible, and for
that, I offer my sincere apologies to any I have mistreated.


>Can I see what you left out?



Subject: Re: Mead Judging
From: Steve Fletty <fletty@umn.edugt;
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2006 10:18:33 -0500

> A good friend once entered a pyment (that had won Best of Show a month
> before in a Midwest show) in another Midwest show which turned out to
> have 2 of the three judges from the last show judging pyments.
> You guessed it-instead of 47-47-49, it got 35-37-39!! Same mead, same
> judges, same style guidelines.

Just because a mead does well in one competition, why do you think that
should guarantee it will do well in another? Maybe the meads it lost to
in the second were better. There are a lot of factors that could have
come into play.

I make beer and mead. I have medaled around the country with both.

It seems to me that some mead makers don't get out of the house much and
think their mead is "The BEST!" without really ever sharing it with
other mead makers, or brewers, or people in general. Just because you
make mead, like it and drink it, doesn't mean it will win or that it is
even a good mead.

I've met many brewers and mead makers over the years. Some of whom made
incredible crap and didn't know it was crap but proudly served it to
others and drank it themselves. Most of those were brewers who didn't
share or weren't open to constructive comments like "This is infected.
Improve you sanitation."

It seems to me, however, that mead makers have a bigger chip on their
collective shoulders in terms of thinking "MY MEAD IS THE NECTAR OF THE
GODS" than the average brewer does. At least that's the impression I
get from all the whining I see about mead judging.

Not to say that there are not poor mead judges. I've certainly gotten
crappy mead score sheets.

If you want to see things get better, get involved.

Steve Fletty

Subject: South Africans
From: Evan <evan@dembskey.orggt;
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 21:43:52 +0200


Any on this list?


Subject: Re:  Judging
From: Jim Johnston <jim@tervolk.comgt;
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 09:19:07 -0500

Thank you, Ken, for saying the things many of are thinking.

> First, you get what you pay for, and all of the judges and those
> working on style guidelines and education are volunteers. If you
> don't like what you see, and think you can do better, it is incumbent
> on you to go out and do it.

Absolutely. Unfortunately, it is easier to sit quietly on the
sidelines and grouse. It is harder to take the chance and risk
public scrutiny. We must applaud the judges for taking the time and
effort required to simply be there.

> Second, the nature of judging is subjective, and even in the highly
> structured and supposedly competent world of professional wine
> critics, there is considerable controversy. Robert Parker, Michael
> Broadbent and James Suckling themselves are the targets of serious
> lambasting. You gets up on the platform and spouts, and you takes
> your shots. So be it.

All judging is subjective. It is the nature of the game in anything
where humans and the opinions they espouse are involved. The more a
judge says, the more they are opening themselves to scrutiny.

> Experience is an issue. How many folks knew and loved mead for 5-10
> years before they became a judge? Few, I am confident.

I think that many people delay becoming judges because they want to
make the perfect mead before they judge others. Some believe they
are not worthy of judging the work of others without a BOS or at
least a BOC. People don't realize that the most valuable input any
judge can give is in how to recognize and fix problems, thoughts that
can only come from personal experience.

> Chief among them to me are the inclinations among beer judges to:


> 1) Find as many faults as possible, without addressing the positive
> points or flavor/aroma nuance perceptions about a beer, &:
> 2) Reverse engineer the brewing process, to tell the brewer how to
> fix those faults.

I think this is prevalent in both the beer and wine communities,
maybe we can set a better tone in the mead community. I have been an
amateur beer judge and was told by the lead at our table "don't give
too many points, you don't want these people to think these are
better beers than they are". On a 50 point scale, I saw 22-24 points
being given for perfectly palatable beers. In my opinion, when you
are judging, grading scales in school should be more the guide. A 35
would be a "C", drinkable, pleasant but does not wow the judges with
superb qualities. Lower than a 30 would be an undrinkable example.
I think beer judges all take about 10 points more than they should off.

I like some feedback on perceived faults. It gives me input not only
into my own process, but also into the mindset of the judge. I have
had homebrew judges make comments about "strongly phenolic" in a beer
that was not in the least bit phenolic, or "hot, too high alcohol" in
a 10% mead made with a touch of smoked chile peppers (reading the
entry description would have helped). I had a homebrew judge once
tell me that I did not use enough spruce in a spruce beer that
required over a year to taste like something other than pine-sol (he
recommended a pound, I used an ounce). I take valid criticism well,
invalid criticism tells me the judge knows not of what he speaks.

> I have often conjectured that beer judges think that
> they can get into heaven with their un-awarded beer judging points.
> Note to judges: St. Peter doesn't take un-awarded beer judge points.


Beer judges are a stingy lot with praise and points. Wine judges
give a higher set of points, but can still be stingy with praise,
especially at the commercial level. While beer judges will not make
it into heaven on their un-awarded beer judge points, wine judges
will not make it into heaven because they are going to wait to see if
next year is a better vintage.

Just my ranting.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1267