Mead Lover's Digest #1338 Sun 19 August 2007


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



Re: Varietal Honey/Temperatures (Dick Dunn)
RE:too much yeast? ("Mike Faul")
specific gravity convention (Dick Dunn)
submission to Too Much Yeast? ("")
Undistilled Whiskey (Robert Lewis)
Re: sugar vs honey (Dick Dunn)
Subject: Re: Varietal Honey/Temperatures ("John Mealey")


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

Subject: Re: Varietal Honey/Temperatures
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 11:01:36 -0600

jared miller <> wrote:
[re my question of what he meant by a varietal mead]
> > Dick – I was speaking about a honey from a single source (ie tupelo,
> > buckwheat, blackberry, etc.) is varietal not the correct term?

Yes, that's a correct term, but I was enough puzzled by the idea that I
had to ask because you didn't mention a particular honey source. That is,
if you want a varietal mead, wouldn't it be for the purpose of getting a
particular character?

Without naming a type of honey, it sorta sounds like "I want to make a
varietal wine" without saying whether you want a Zin, a Merlot, or a

More to the point, the choice of honey will affect how long it takes the
mead to mature and mellow into drinkability. You might find that buckwheat
takes twice as long as orange blossom. Since you were interested in having
the mead available quickly, that's a real consideration.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: RE:too much yeast?
From: "Mike Faul" <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 10:05:59 -0700


You could add ten packets of yeast and still not have too much. The initial
inoculation or pitching of yeast simply provides the yeast with a rapid
start for fermentation and potentially a faster fermentation time.

The keys to fermentation and elimination of the yeasty smell are as follows;

1. Selection of the correct yeast. The yeast is perhaps the biggest factor
in influencing (or not) the aroma. It is estimated that up to 60% of the
character of a mead is from flavor compounds created by the yeast.
2. The honey selection. Enough said about that.
3. other factors.

Note I didn't mention water as it has been my experience that this is less
of an influence on mead than either of #1 or #2 above.

If you have a yeasty smell/taste in your mead you might simply wait for it
to dissipate, filter it at .45micron or less or blend it with another mead.

You mention that you racked several times. How long was it between rackings?

Rabbit's Foot Meadery

Subject: too much yeast?
From: Rick <>
Date: Thu, 09 Aug 2007 14:02:13 -0500

I have made three 5 gallon batches of mead. In 2 of them, I started with 12
to 15 gallons of honey and two 5g packets of yeast, per Ken Schramm's
"Compleat Meadmaker" instructions. After 4 or 5 rackings they smell like
yeast, and they taste bad like there's too much yeast, I think. They're not
putrid. If I add 1:1 sprite, it's not bad. A wine-tasting friend of mine
said it tastes like I put too much yeast in it. I would like to know if I
could only start with 1 packet of yeast, as I always add nutrient,
energizer, and I always aerate very well. I don't believe that
sterilization is the concern, as I am very strict about that. It just
tastes very "yeasty". I am also trying to stay away from sulphiting. I
can't remember how many packets that I put in the one batch that turned out
awesome, but I'm thinking it may have only been one pouch.

Subject: specific gravity convention
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 11:29:46 -0600

For the sake of simplicity and general understanding, as well as trying
to avoid typos, would folks please use the convention of giving specific
gravities to 3 digits past the decimal point?

No, this doesn't run counter to my note two digests ago about not over-
stating precision. Hydrometers are generally accurate to about 0.002 if
you're careful with measurement temperature. Moreover, it's a long-
standing convention to use representation for SG, and that's how
hydrometers are marked.

(Sometimes the decimal point is elided. But DON'T do this unless you give
all four digits. Reason: Some folks will drop the point -and- the leading
1. So we wouldn't know if 112 meant 1.112 or 1.120!)

A few examples, and no I'm not picking on these guys, just borrowing for

> >…OG: 1.16…

> > …musts were started at 1.12-1.14…
> > …most are 1 or below a month later, a couple are still at 1.04…
> > …fermented to 0.99 or less…

The first line is more than enough to raise an eyebrow: 1.16 (1.160?) is
37 Brix or 21% potential alcohol, and likely awfully hard to start a
fermentation; if it didn't outright kill the yeast it would certainly
massively stress it. The non-conventional notation leaves one wondering
"did he really mean 1.116?"

The second looks just right enough to be believable, yet just slightly odd
enough to wonder a bit. Starting gravities 1.120-1.140 are potential alcohol
of 16% to almost 19%, which ranges from easily-believable to "are you -sure-?"
kinda-high. The latter (about 17 lb honey in 5 gal) although not as high
as the first-line example, is still rather high for a starting gravity as
opposed to the cumulative effect in a progressively fed fermentation. It
creates a tiny bit of doubt.

The difference between some fermenting out in a month to 1.000 or below vs
others still being at 1.040 (10% residual sugar) leaves me wondering why
there wasn't more to say: yeast gave up, stuck fermentation, or what?
But then there's the nagging little doubt that it might have been 1.004,
which is 1% RS and implies a pleasant slight sweetness.

A final gravity of "0.99 or less"? Not impossible, but quite unusual. Is
that what he really meant, or did he mean "0.999 or less"? Usual finish
for a strong, dry mead is 0.992-0.995.

I'm not saying any of these numbers were wrong. But there's some reason to
wonder about them. What I AM saying that we'd be more sure, less likely to
wonder, if they were stated in conventional form.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: submission to Too Much Yeast?
From: "" <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 19:34:39 GMT

Too much yeast?
I haven't seen much of an issue with the amount of yeast added. Yeast builds
up to a certain level in any brew. It does not exactly over colonize. YOu
can add a little and that makes for a hard start but yeast grows. If you add
a bunch, it just brings you to that optimum level a little quicker. What
I have found is that if you leave your mead on your leese too long, it
will gain new characteristics from the dead yeast. This makes for a not so
pleasant taste. It is important to rack your mead, and certainly early in
the primary. Something else, is that you need to de-gas your mead. You can
either do this buy getting a big spoon and stirring and sloshing your mead
as much as possible. Till it quits giving off gas bubbles. Or you can buy
a product called a whip. This attaches to a drill and allows much faster
de-gassing. I don't remember the science behind getting the gas out but
it will take that yeasty flavor right with it. If you aren't going to use
a sulfite, make sure you have plenty of time to allow the mead to settle
out and finish up on it's own. Airlocks really help in that you can shake
them up, re-seat them, and watch for any additional fermentation easily.

Subject: Undistilled Whiskey
From: Robert Lewis <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 13:29:56 -0700 (PDT)

>> >> The only reason I can think of to ferment sugar is so you can
>> >> know the foul fusel aroma/taste of undistilled whiskey.

this statement has found it's way into each of the
last three digests, and i can't take it any more.

Whiskey is distilled from fermented Barley. Rum comes
from fermented sugar cane, and brandy comes from
fermented wine. Tequilla from fermented cactus
nectar… I enjoy my whiskey too much to let this

Subject: Re: sugar vs honey
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 18:34:50 -0600

Once more into the fray:
[I was disputing that honey could limit production of fusels; Dick Adams

> > If you're point is that fermented honey and fermented sugar at
> > the same ABV have similar fusel aroma/taste, you are most
> > likely correct if they have been fermented to 0.99 or less and
> > the honey characteristics have been overwhelmed by the
> > fusel characteristics.

You're not encouraging us to believe that you know what "fusel
characteristics" are…or else you've had a lot of -really- bad
mead! (Granted, I've had it; I've even made my share! If you taste
a mead and think "Listerine!" you know what I mean.)

But even when fermented completely dry, the honey characteristics of a
mead should never be overwhelmed by fusels. You should be able to make
such a mead from a varietal honey and have the particular honey character
be obvious and up-front.

> > But, fermented sugar is whiskey mash…

No, good grief no! Are you trolling, or making this up, or what?

First and most importantly, whiskey is made from fermented grains then
distilled, not from sugar at any point. (Think of whiskey as distilled,
unhopped beer.) The starting point for whiskey is -much- farther from
sugar-water than a mead must is.

Moreover you've got your terms bollixed up: the mash comes -before- the
fermentation stage, and you can't mash sugar. (For the non-brewers:
"mashing" is a step in brewing where prepared grain is steeped, so that
enzymes can convert starches into fermentable sugars.)

> >…On the two occasions,
> > I have done this, I found the fusel aroma to be more pungent
> > and the fusel taste to be more foul than I noticed from a sack
> > Mead (both OG: 1.16). Of course, your mileage may vary.

If you started at 1.160, it's a minor miracle that the yeast survived
at all; it certainly would have been badly stressed. That encourages
fusel production. If the sugar batch was more lacking in nutrient
than the honey batch, that would encourage fusel production even more.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: Subject: Re: Varietal Honey/Temperatures
From: "John Mealey" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 10:13:06 -0700

Admittedly, I'm no expert, however, in my experiences with meads and wines,
fermenting below 60 degrees F has been when I've had the most problems with
stuck fermentations. In winter I keep my house pretty cool for economic
reasons and spot heat areas we are using most. I've found that I have to
keep my must warm, as well. When on the other side of the temp range, if
your mead tastes like lighter fluid when it first finishes, just put it
away for – 4 months to a year (in your cool storage area).
You won't believe the difference in taste.

I've taken brewing beer in winter and mead and wine in the warmer months.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1338