Mead Lover's Digest #1334 Wed 1 August 2007
Mead Lover's Digest #1334 Wed 1 August 2007
Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor
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Subject: Re: IMA / BJCP Mead Exam
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 15:53:32 EDT
>> >> Does anyone offer Mead Courses and/or textbooks similar to those
>> >> offered by Siebel Institute for Beer?
> > The International Mead Association and the BJCP are working on a joint
> > project to create a mead judge exam. We are hoping to have something
> > available by the February 8-10, 2008 mead festival along with a study guide.
> > There is a joint committee working on exam questions as we speak. We will
> > announce on MLD when we have specifics.
I sincerely appreciate Julia's contribution. The last target date I was told
was the 2007 AHA Finals. We are seven months away from the next target
date. It would be nice to have a reading list, examples of essay questions
and a list of always asked questions now as opposed to in December or
In a recent private conversation with a high level BJCP officer, I expressed
my concern about the IMA getting this exam out on a timely basis. He said
that the IMA & the BJCP had agreed on a list of honeys for the exam. Has
anyone seen this list? Where is it available?
Richard D. Adams, CPA (retired)
Subject: Re: Water
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 16:17:57 EDT
Dick Dunn <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote
> > Dick Adams wrote:
>> >> We all know a few things about Mead and water:
>> >> 1. Do not to use distilled water and
> > Ummm…I don't think we "know" that! People will tell you not to use
? distilled water, but why? One common explanation is that it doesn't
> > contain any minerals–which isn't a good reason because -any-
> > water source may be deficient in any particular mineral. You can't
> > count on your water source to supply trace minerals.
That makes one of the Mead Commandments: Know thy water.
>> >> 2. Boil your water or just let it sit overnight to remove chlorine.
> > Yes, although if your water supply is treated with chloramines rather
> > than chlorine, it's more difficult to get rid of the chlorine content.
If you call you water supplier, they will tell you what is in your water.
My water is close to Pilsen water with no chloramines and no
Chlorophenols. That???s part of Know Thy Water!
>> >> Can anyone tell me why soft water vs. hard water is not supposed
>> >> to make a difference when making Mead when it makes a world of
>> >> difference in making beer?
> > First off, very hard water can give off-tastes in mead. But as long
> > as it's within reason (presumably Burton-on-Trent's water wouldn't
> > make a great mead) it's OK.
With all due respect for your opinion. what is the evidence that
Burtonized water will ???give off-tastes in mead????
> > Brewing involves a couple matters affected by water character that
> > we don't do with mead. One is hop extraction effectiveness, which
> > figures in overall flavor profile of the beer, but I'd expect few
> > meadmakers to be using hops and even fewer to be using a lot.
> > Another is the effect on pH during the mash (conversion of starch
> > to sugar in the grains), and we don't have a mash step.
In off-line discussions with Bill Pierce, he basically said the same
thing and I'm comfortable with that.
I'd still like an explanation of Burtonized water giving off tastes
Richard D. Adams, CPA (retired)
Subject: sugar vs honey
From: Rick <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2007 01:17:20 -0500
I am a beekeeper, and my wife would like to see what a mead would be
like if I were to substitute sugar for the precious honey that we also
sell. Can someone tell me how many lbs of granulated sugar would be the
equivalent of 12 lbs of most honeys? I am going to make two batches of
Ken Schramm's "Mambo in Your Mouth"; one with honey, one with sugar.
Also, is there any reason not to attempt this?
Subject: RE: Mead and water
From: "Bill Pierce" <BillPierce@aol.com>
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2007 16:19:03 -0400
Dick Adams and I have been engaging in a private e-mail discussion
that began with his post to MLD #1332 regarding the water used in
meadmaking. At his request I am posting it in its entirety to the
digest, from earliest to latest so that it makes logical sense.
I do want to caution that while I have faith in my general
statements, I have not researched this extensively and there is
likely some room for error in the specifics of my claims.
Cellar Door Homebrewery
- ——————-Original Messages——————————–
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 16:56:21 EDT
We all know a few things about Mead and water:
1. Do not to use distilled water and
2. Boil your water or just let it sit overnight to remove chlorine.
Can anyone tell me why soft water vs. hard water is not supposed
to make a difference when making Mead when it makes a world of
difference in making beer?
Dick Adams asks about water in meadmaking. Here are some basics
gained over my years of brewing and meadmaking:
Distilled water lacks trace minerals that are essential to healthy
Chlorine (and more persistent chloramines) added to disinfect water
can have an effect on flavor, but may not be a problem if they
cannot be detected (by odor or taste) in the water. Boiling the
water or filtering with a granulated activated carbon (GAC) filter
does a good job of removing chlorine, but is much less effective
with chloramines. The easiest method of removing chloramines (this
also works with chlorine) is to use one-half campden (potassium or
sodium metabisulfite) tablet per 10 gallons of water. Crush the
tablet, stir it into the water and let it sit for a minute or two.
Water is more critical to brewing beer because of the complex
chemistry involving pH and the conversion of starches to sugars by
malt enzymes during mashing. In mead, of course, the sugars are
already present and concentrated, due to the good work of the bees.
- — Bill Pierce
From: MeadGuild@aol.com [mailto:MeadGuild@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 3:18 PM
Thank you. You covered the part I understood. Fortunately the chlorine
in my water supply is very low and chloramines are nonexistent.
Are you saying that Pilsenized water (soft water) and Burtonized water
(hard water) make no difference with Mead because off the lack of
chemical complexity of Meads?
In general, I think the water in both Burton-on-Trent and Pilsen
would make good meads. There may be some limits regarding fruit
melomels where the Pilsen water might benefit from some addition of
carbonates in order to raise the pH and not inhibit the yeast, but
that would not affect a straight mead.
- — Bill
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 11:29 PM
> > In general, I think the water in both Burton-on-Trent and Pilsen would
> > make good meads.
Your opinion is what is commonly accepted. Your explanation of lack of
chemical complexity comes off as common sense.
> > There may be some limits regarding fruit melomels where the Pilsen
> > water might benefit from some addition of carbonates in order to
> > raise the pH and not inhibit the yeast, but that would not affect a
> > straight mead.
An excellent observation! The pH of my water is ~7.5. Having never
taken a pH on a must, I have no idea of must pH. What is your
opinion on an appropriate pH for a Melomel? Would this pH issue be
applicable to Metheglins?
If you want supporting data for what I'm going to say, I'd have to
do some research, but here is what I know in a general sense about
yeast and pH.
Beer yeast will tolerate a pH as low as about 4.0 without being
inhibited. Wine (and mead) strains are somewhat more tolerant of
acidic environments, but they, too, have problems below about 3.7.
Honey itself has acids, and a "standard" mead must in distilled
water has a pH of about 5.0. Fermentation lowers the pH due to
various by-products, including dissolved carbonic acid from the CO2.
It's been a long time since I measured the pH of a finished straight
still mead, but I recall it was about 4.4.
Water is poorly buffered, so its ability to resist the acidity of
the honey is quite limited. Pilsen water has a pH of about 6.9
(there is a small amount of carbonic acid from the CO2 in the
atmosphere), while in Burton it would be about 8.5. Once the honey
is added, I would guess the pH of the must with Pilsen water would
be about 5.0, while with the Burton water it might be 5.2-5.3. Both
are perfectly acceptable in terms of the yeast's tolerance.
Now some fruits are quite acidic, which affects melomels. There is
published data about fruit acidity, although I have never seen a
formula that x pounds of fruit added to y gallons of distilled water
would result in a pH of z (I suspect one could be derived). At any
rate, I doubt any of this is a problem for the yeast (except for
something as acidic as rhubarb or lemon) until later in the
fermentation process when the pH has dropped, or as is more typical
for melomels, when the fruit is added to the secondary fermenter.
At this point, some people take a pH reading (or intuit that the pH
may be too low) and add calcium carbonate to raise the pH.
I've never had a problem with the melomels I've made, but I can
imagine cases where low pH might be an issue, such as with soft
water and highly acidic fruits. I can relate an incident with a
raspberry lambic beer I brewed. I let it ferment in secondary with
the Wyeast lambic blend for nearly two years. Lactobacillus, one of
the components of this yeast, is a very slow worker, and gradually
the lactic acid (and sourness) begins to predominate over time. At
this point I added three large cans of raspberry puree and pitched
an additional (dry) neutral ale yeast. After a week there was
absolutely no activity. I decided to measure the pH, and sure
enough, it was 3.8, just too low for a beer strain. So I added
enough calcium chloride (it took 6 teaspoons, if I remember
correctly) to raise the pH to 4.1, and fermentation took off within
I doubt any of this is of much consequence with metheglins, where
(at least to my thinking) acidity is not an issue as it can be with
fruit. However, it is a reason not to add acid blend to mead until
fermentation has completed (and only then if necessary to balance
I was taught to brew by someone with a scientific bent, so pH was
one of the issues I leaned early on. I also invested in a pH meter
(high quality plastic-coated pH strips also work and require less
maintenance) soon after starting all-grain brewing. It seemed
natural to me to extend the knowledge and tools to meadmaking.
So there you have my thoughts on mead, water, pH and fruit. You or
someone else can consider this data and my musings and form your own
opinions and conclusions.
- — Bill
End of Mead Lover's Digest #1334