Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1268, 20 June 2006

Mead Lover's Digest #1268 Tue 20 June 2006


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



Judging ("Spencer W. Thomas")
Re: Judging (Steve Fletty)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1267, 15 June 2006 ("Dennis Key")
Mead judging at the AHA ("OCurrans")
Re: Tried and true yeasts (Dick Adams)
Yeast Experiment: 2006 Update ("Daryl Fox")
Rhodomel (Dick Adams)
Re: Unintended Carbonation. (Mail Box)


NOTE: Digest appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use mead-request@talisman.comfor [un]subscribe/admin requests.
Digest archives and FAQ are available at
A searchable archive is available at

Subject: Judging
From: "Spencer W. Thomas" <hbd@spencerwthomas.comgt;
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 11:59:54 -0400

> 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.

It's not the same mead. It's a different bottle of the same mead. It was
a different judging environment. The mead came at a different point in the
flight (most likely) in the two competitions. It was probably judged at
a different time of day. Maybe the first time it was served at just the
right temperature, and the second time it was too cold. Maybe the judges
didn't get enough sleep the night before, or maybe there was a smoker
sitting at the next table. Or, maybe the judges are just inconsistent.

As a sometime mead and beer judge, I would hope to be more consistent in
my judging than to be 10 points apart on two samples of the same mead.
But it can happen. It can happen because of differences in the judge or
judging environment, or can happen because of differences in the mead. This
is especially true when you're up in the top 40s — everything's got to
be just right to get there. One minor flaw (a little oxidation, say,
in the 2nd bottle, maybe resulting from heat damage during shipping)
can drop the score significantly.

I'm not trying to make excuses, just pointing out that there could be
legitimate reasons for the difference in scores.

=Spencer in Ann Arbor

Subject: Re: Judging
From: Steve Fletty <fletty@umn.edugt;
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 11:09:56 -0500

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

> Beer judges are a stingy lot with praise and points.

We were talking about judge stinginess after our contest here in the
Twin Cities, the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out which gets around 550+
entires (and includes a separate BOS for mead and cider).

Out of the 561 entries this last winter, I think about 20 odd scored in
the 40s.

One of our local guys theorized that the stinginess is really in some
cases timidity, i.e. judges afraid to go out on a limb and declare a
mead or beer as excellent when they're going to have to defend that call.

Just last month I was judging down in first round AHA Nationals. I
socred a beer 44. The other judge had it in the 30s. It took 20 minutes
and the intercession of two other high-ranked judges to convince my
fellow judge the beer deserved the high score.

That process can be tiring.

The timidity to score a beer or mead in the 40s I think stems from a
lack of familiarity to some extent with styles and also a lack of
experience in judging.

There's only one way to learn and that's to get involved and practice.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1267, 15 June 2006
From: "Dennis Key" <dione13@msn.comgt;
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 13:55:58 -0600

Subject: Yeasts
From: Robert Lewis <mazerrob@yahoo.comlt;>>
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?


In my personal experience a dry, semisweet or sweet mead depends on

the amount of residual sugar at the end of fermentation. You can start
a five gallon batch with a gallon of honey and keep feeding it more
honey every month or so until the alcohol level reaches the yeast's
tolerance at which point fermentation stops. It will either have
enough residual sugar to suit your taste or you can carefully add more
honey to taste.


If you use a Champaign or cuvee yeast, it will stop around 18-20%

alcohol which is fine for a cocktail or aperitif mead but a bit strong
to have with a meal or just to drink a few glasses. Some ale yeasts
will stop around 8-10% which makes them more suitable for a "drinking
mead." If you are looking for a dry mead, any yeast will do the job if
it can ferment to completion without reaching the yeast's tolerance. I
all depends on what character you might be looking for or what end
product you want. So if the Cote de Blanc dries the mead out too much,
add more honey until you get what you want or use a yeast with a lower
tolerance if you want to keep the alcohol percent lower.

Dione Greywolfe AKA Dennis Key
Dragonweyr, New Mexico


Subject: Mead judging at the AHA
From: "OCurrans" <OCurrans@cfl.rr.comgt;
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 20:13:47 -0400

In an effort to try and go forward with this discussion, I have forwarded
each message on this subject to Mac Monroe. He will be a speaker at the
upcoming AHA National Homebrewers Convention in Orlando, FL, next week. His
subject is: "Judging Meads: Are they more like beer or wine? How do you give
the meadmaker the best possible judging experience and feedback?" This is a
very timely and I hope all from this forum that are attending the Convention
will be there.

I have also sent the discussion to Ron Bach. He is the president of the BJCP
and the organizer for Meadllennium for the last 7-8 years.

Unfortunately, the BJCP and the AHA are focused mainly on beer, (as they
probably should be) but, lately, mead is becoming a more important
after-thought. As mentioned in a previous message, they are going to have a
Mead Judge Certification Process, BUT there will be no points or ranking for
the new mead judges. Another example of our status with them is the fact
that all attendees of the different speakers, at the AHA Convention, will
gain Continuing Education Points, from the BJCP – with the exception of
Mac's lecture on mead judging.

Even with those short-comings, I have told Ron Bach that I want to be first
on the list to attend the mead judging classes, and become one of the first
certified mead judges.
Maybe, in the future, I will be able to influence the well-known beer judge
from Texas that detracted from my meads at the AHA regional because one had
"a slight wine note", or another had "hints of wine", and one had a "winey
note". By the way, one of these meads was a BOS honorable mention at the
2003 Meadllennium, another was the BOS at the Hogtown Brew-Off (Mark
Tumarkin's home club), and finally, one was BOS at this years Meadllennium.

Hope to see many of you at the Homebrewers Convention. I will be attending
the Mead judging lecture and the club night festivities.

Howard H. Curran
Oviedo, FL 32765

Subject: Re: Tried and true yeasts
From: Adams)
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2006 00:18:35 -0400 (EDT)

Eric wrote:

> 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.

I tried this with 4-liter jugs with a 1-gallon marker so I would
have head room. The results were not indictative of anything.
You are generally adding more yeast per gallon than you would
with a larger batch so you have much more lees than expected
and I question the yeast colony ability to prosper given the
high competition for sugar molecules. Is there such a thing
as too much yeast.

IMO, a 3-gallon batch is the smallest batch from which you can
get a realistic test of the effect of yeast upon flavor. But
I could be wrong.

Also I am a Traditional Mead amd Other Mead guy (primarily
a Maple Syrup Mead). My honey comes from a Honey Packer so
it does not get heated. If it came from a beekeeper, I would
pasteurize it.

So I made a 15-gallon batch with 36 lbs of Orange Blossom honey.
My yeasts were EC-1118, K1V-1116, and Cote des Blancs. Every
thing was done the same from aerating to yeast nutrient
increments. IMO, EC-1118 was the hands down winner.

I plan a 20-gallon batch this Fall using Orange Blossom honey.
The yeasts will be EC-1118, DV10, ICV-D47, and Lalvin 43 (if I
can find some). Other people prefer K1V-1116. My taste buds
don't particularly care for it. I have used 71B-1122 and feel
that has to be a better mead yeast. I would try WLP715, but
it's optimal fermentation range is 70-75F (21-24C) and my
basement is below 70F from late-November to late-May.


Subject: Yeast Experiment: 2006 Update
From: "Daryl Fox" <flyingfox@sbcglobal.netgt;
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 22:47:41 -0700

A little while ago, we started a 12 gallon/12 yeast mead experiment. Every
six months or so a group of us get together to see how our experiment is
progressing. You can see the latest results at:

After a few rude surprises this time, the meads are doing quite well. The
next time we try something like this, I will defiantly make a sweeter mead.
Anyway, if anyone is in the SF Bay Area sometime in October, drop me a line
if you want to sit in on the next test batch. We have enough mead for
another two or three tastings.


  • -Daryl


Subject: Rhodomel
From: Adams)
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2006 23:10:17 -0400 (EDT)

I have made other Metheglins with spearmint and peppermint.
The mint was overpowering. The spearmint was a one-time thing.
But I made four batches of peppermint and chocolate Mead before
I got the peppermint under control. I would really like to get
this Rose Petal Mead correct on the first try. So anyone with
experience with Rose Petal Mead, please help.

It will be a six gallon batch using 15 lbs of Orange Blossom,
EC-1118 (2 packets), and 3 tsps of Fermax yeast nutrient on
a schedule of 1.5 tsp at pitching, 3/4 tsp three hours later,
and 3/4 tsp after the SG has dropped 1/3 from the OG. The
batch will be fermented at 65F +/- 4 degrees.

My expected OG is 1.098. My target SG at racking is between
1.010 to 1.015. Expected ABV is 11 to 12%

Frozen rose petals will be placed in the secondary prior to
racking. Should they be loose or in a weighted hop sock or
grain bag? Does anyone have an estimate on how much rose
petals per gallon of Mead? Left to my drouthers, the Mead
will be in the secondary for 4 weeks and then racked for
for long-term storage. Does anyone think that's too long or
too short.

I would really appreciate input from someone who has made
Rose Petal Mead.


Subject: Re: Unintended Carbonation.
From: Mail Box <mail-box@adelphia.netgt;
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2006 08:23:08 -0400

 > Subject: Unintended Carbonation.
> From: "Bobby Blasey" <priest428@hotmail.comgt;


> 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?


Unless your carboys were capped rather than air locked, any carbonation
would have been the natural saturation resulting from fermentation,
which gives a slight fizz to the mead/wine. The way to eliminate this
is to take specific gravity readings over time using a hydrometer, and
rack again after the gravity no longer falls. This last racking should
purge the CO2, and you can then stabilize. No more fermentation should
occur after this point, and this will prevent renewed CO2 saturation.



End of Mead Lover's Digest #1268