Mead Lover's Digest #1369 Sun 9 March 2008


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



RE: Judging stuff and the IMA/MMI ("Vicky Rowe")
Re: ABV calculation (
Re: Low Gravity Meads (
Re: 2008 National Homebrew Competition (
Small bottle size for mead competitions? (
Notice for AHA 1st Round Northeast-Region National Homebrew ("David Houseman")
re: milk mead (circle mouse)
Cider recipe (
Re: Titratable Acidity: Useful after all? ("Dan McFeeley")
Aceromel? (stencil)
Too much tannin? (


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Subject: RE: Judging stuff and the IMA/MMI
From: "Vicky Rowe" <>
Date: Fri, 29 Feb 2008 21:52:31 -0500

> >In the last digest, Dan Geer asked:
>> >> [2] Do judged scores tend to reflect a preference for bottle aging
>> >> versus carboy aging? All of my entries were bottled just prior to
>> >> shipment and it occurs to me that this is a variable that can be
>> >> adjusted/managed. I said as much at entry, but one judge's comments
>> >> asked if it was young in the bottle.

And Dick answered:

> >

> >This may be two separate questions: one about total aging time
> >since the nominal end of fermentation, the other about time in bottle.

> >

> >There is a much-discussed phenomenon in wine-making called
> >"bottle shock", referring to the effect of a wine seeming
> >"off", or more likely "dumb"
> >(lack of bouquet and character) for some time ranging from
> >weeks to even months after bottling. The phenomenon is
> >much-discussed because it is little-understood! There are
> >some obvious reasons: bottling will release dissolved CO2 and
> >aromatics; then the wine will have to come back to some sort
> >of new equilibrium. But that doesn't explain it all.

> >

> >Anyway, bottle shock applies to mead as well. If I were to
> >enter meads in a competition, I'd have them in bottle at least
> >a couple months before the competition.

::spoken in general, not to any particular person::

Also, keep in mind that when you ship your bottles, they go through
temperature changes, jostling and other things. A mead that was
bottled still and tasted great when it left your house might be
sparkling and skunky by the time it reaches its destination if
improperly bottled, packaged and/or shipped. Spend the few bucks
to properly package your mead for shipping. You can get a 3-bottle
shipper for less than $10 from U-Haul that will cushion your babies
all the way to the competition.

There are a few meads I've judged over the years at the International
Home Meadmakers Competition in Colorado that were entered as still,
and they fountain out of the bottle when opened (2 this year that gave
the poor guy opening them a bath). Make sure your mead is *done*
and the yeast has been removed, by filtering if necessary, before bottling.
Likewise, like Dick says, having it in the bottle for a while will let it
and age a bit. It will also give you an indicator of whether it will try to
sparkle in the bottle. If it does, then you can rebottle or cold-break the
mead if necessary to stop the yeast and de-sparkle.

I personally prefer to age in bulk when possible (though more often
my meads get bottle aged for sheer lack of carboys), but judges as a
group (this may differ from judge to judge) do not prefer one or the
other, nor, do I believe, do most competitions ask.

What a judge wants to see is a well balanced, complex mead that
accurately reflects the style it is entered into and what it is composed of.

So, your strawberry still mel needs to be *still* and express the strawberry

character in balance with the honey and whatever other ingredients
have been added. When you enter a competition, what you're really
competing against is yourself. Your mead needs to be the best
representative of its style.

What Vuarra says is true, if you like, it, then its good for you. If you
enter a competition, though, you're asking how well does it represent the
type of mead it is to *others*. Me, I generally prefer med-sweet meads, and
so don't make dry tradtional meads for myself. But I've had some excellent
ones that expressed their style *very* well. When I'm *judging* dry meads,
I set aside my personal preferences, and do my best to determine if *this*
dry traditional better represents its style than *that* dry tradtional. I
try to give as much information as I can to the brewer, in hopes that the
insights of myself and the other judges will be helpful to the meadmaker.

I well remember the metheglin I entered in the Mazer Cup that got back
'interesting use of spices, I'd like to see it in a year when it has
some age' type comments back. Sure enough, just under a year later,
that mead turned from sharp and pungent into a mellow and rich mead that
unfortunately didn't then last long enough to get re-entered. We drank
it all. But those notes stayed with me, and that and the other judging
notes I got back caused me to change some of my meadmaking procedures,
and resulted in my making overall better mead.

I've sadly had to judge several meads that were incorrectly entered in
the wrong category, or were listed as 'still' that sparkled in the bottle
during shipment. A couple of those meads were *very* good meads, and would
have won medals had they been correctly entered and/or allowed to bottle
settle so they didn't sparkle. It is hard to do that to a otherwise truly
excellent mead.

In short, make sure you
a) ensure your mead is *done* before you bottle, and bottle several months
(if possible) before the competition you intend to enter
b) know the style guidelines and consider whether your mead evokes these
qualities (see for standard style guidelines) and
c) ****follow the entry and bottling rules*****. Doing these three things
will often
eliminate many of the factors that can jump up and bite you during judging
of your mead.

That last one (c) is *important*. A significant number of bottles come
in that violate the bottling requirements for a competition. Your mead
can't be impartially judged if you bottle in 750ml clear bottles or
grolsh bottles when the entry rules state 12oz brown beer bottles with
plain crown caps (no stripes, no markings). They all have to look the
same, or it isn't fair, and depending on the competition, you *might*
get disqualified. At best you're making more work for already overworked
competition staff. Likewise, if the entry requirements call for 12oz bottles,
don't send in 6oz bottles. You limit the judges' ability to judge your mead,
and if you go on to a medal round in a multi-round competition, there might
not be enough to judge and you'll lose out by not having enough there!!!

> >Three methods of calculating ABV — which is favored for
> >contest entry? In increasing order of complexity, we have:

> > > >(1) 1.29*(OG-FG)
> >

> >(2) Brew by the Numbers: Add Up What's in Your Beer
> > (Zymurgy, Summer 1995, vol. 18, no. 2).

> >

> > 76.08*(OG-FG)*FG
> > —————-
> > (1.775-OG)*0.794

> >

> >(3)
> > or, if you prefer reading Javascript, see page source for
> >

> >

> >For my entries, and for my own records, I have been
> >calculating all three and averaging the result.

> >

Which of these is favored is competition-driven. The entry forms for the
competition will be your best indicator of what that event is looking for.

On another track, Dick suggested that I explain what the 'MMI' is. The
International Mead Association (IMA) was the name of the trade association
for home and commercial meadmakers from 2002 to 2008. This year at the
International Mead Competitions in Boulder, we decided to rename the
association Meadmakers International (MMI), to more accurately represent
its goal to expand the world market for mead and for home meadmakers.
This name was voted for in February 2008 by the core group of commercial
and home meadmakers that created and supported the IMA from the beginning.
Currently, the Bylaws are being updated to reflect this change, and the MMI
will be electing a new Board of Directors for 2008-2009. This group will be
managing the International Mead Festival in 2009, as well as the
Commercial Mead Competition and the International Home Meadmakers
Competition. Keep an eye on for new
developments, I'll put up new info as it is given to me by the Board.


Vicky Rowe
Founder & Owner,

Subject: Re: ABV calculation
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2008 01:02:43 EST

_dan@geer.org_ ( wrote:

> > Three methods of calculating ABV — which is favored
> > for contest entry?

The ABV information you are required to submit to
a BJCP sanctioned competition is simply indicating
in which of the following categories your entry belongs:

Hydromel 3.5% to 7.5%
Standard 7.5% to 14%
Sack 14% to 18%

per _
There is clearly an overlap at the breaks between categories.
While I do not recall having judged a hydromel, the only times
I recall ABV being discussed is when it is when it is obvious.


> > In increasing order of complexity, we have:

> > > > (1) 1.29*(OG-FG)
> > …

I have seen that formula using a constant from 1.27 to 1.36.
Regardless of what constant you use, it is still an estimate/

> > For my entries, and for my own records, I have been
> > calculating all three and averaging the result.

It is as good as any other method of which I am aware

Which leads me to ask if any of you are submitting
samples to White Labs for official assays?

What is the procedure and cost for a White Labs assay?
Possibly a local winery or brewery may provide a similar
service. A laboratory measurement should give you a
reasonably accurate ABV. OTOH formulae are nothing
more than a micrometer with a broomstick on the end 🙂
But at 14% ABV they should be good at ± 1%.


Richard D. Adams, CPA (retired)
Moderator: misc.taxes.moderated

Subject: Re: Low Gravity Meads
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2008 01:23:38 EST

Luke Kostu <> wrote:

> > Last night I made my first in a series of experiments in low gravity
> > meads. BJCP guidelines say a hydromel's gravity may be as low
> > as 1030. Using just one pound of honey in five quarts of water, I
> > hope not to exceed a ABV of 4%. I am looking to produce an easy
> > drinking mead in a short amount of time. Has anyone out there
> > produced a similar product?


> > Will it be lacking in honey profile
That will be a function of the yeast. Think beer yeast. Beyond
that I do not know except for the last paragraph below..
> > what time frame may one expect to maturity?

Read for fast fermentation Meads.
> > If the results of this test batch are agreeable I will certainly invest
> > in a five gallon batch of "lawnmower" mead for summer indulgence.

While the association of ??lawnmower?? with Mead hurts to the quick,
I suggest you think Metheglin as in herbs and spices that please you.
After all it??s your Mead and it was made just for you.


Richard D. Adams, CPA (retired)
Moderator: misc.taxes.moderated

Subject: Re: 2008 National Homebrew Competition
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2008 01:54:51 EST

If you are submitting to an AHA Regional, it is in your best interests
to read _

At the 2007 Northeast Regional in Philadelphia, the average
disqualified Meads scored higher than the average Mead that
was accepted for judging. Since judges were not involved in
the disqualification decisions, I can only speculate that many
(I think all) were due to the entries being sent to the incorrect

For example, Kentucky Ohio, and West Virginia are in the East
Regional with Maryland and D.C. which is judged in Ohio.

The value of reading directions has always been understated
and undervalued.


Richard D. Adams, CPA (retired)
Moderator: misc.taxes.moderated

Subject: Small bottle size for mead competitions?
Date: Sat, 01 Mar 2008 11:30:03 -0500

Question:? Does anyone have good reasons why a single 6 or 7 oz bottle of
mead could not be acceptable in mead competitions??
I know that for beer, one wants to pour enough to see the
head.? With?carbonated beverages (including sparkling mead) a best of
show is best done with a fresh bottle of beer.? For still mead, however,
I think that 2 (or sometimes 3) 12 oz bottles is quite excessive, and both
1st round and best of show could easily be judged with a single 6 or 7 oz
bottle.? I hate to part with excessive quantities of?high quality mead that
may have aged for 4 to 5 years.?? PS.? I love the new mead judging sheets.
Carl McMillin
Brecksville, OH

Subject: Notice for AHA 1st Round Northeast-Region National Homebrew
From: "David Houseman" <>
Date: Sat, 01 Mar 2008 11:56:08 -0500


We are preparing to send EMAIL to judges in the region and found many
without valid EMAIL addresses. You are still invited to contact me to
judge. Do update the BJCP with a current, valid EMAIL address.
The Northeast Regional judging for the 1st Round of the National Homebrew
Competition will be held the weekend of April 25-27 at the Yards Brewery
( in Philadelphia. Yards is located at 901 N.
Delaware Avenue in Philly. Check out Mapquest or Yahoo! Maps for location
and directions.

For those of you have judged this competition before expect the same great
time with excellent judges and friends from the region. Perhaps the new
location to be a big improvement over last year. For those of you who
haven't this is a great opportunity to judge in the largest home brew
competition in the world. We expect to be judging on Saturday and Sunday,
although the number of flights and time needed to judge will depend on the
number of entries we receive and the number of judges who commit to judging.
We may do some judging on Friday night for anyone who is available. While
the details haven't been fully worked out expect to start judging on
Saturday AM at 9am, on Sunday at 12:00 and if we judge on Friday night it
will be about 7:30pm. Details will be provided closer to the competition.

This year we will be judging Cider in addition to the Mead and Beer
categories. This will be a chance to try some of the best ciders made in
the US. We are planning a review of Cider judging preceding those flights,
likely Sunday AM, again depending on the final schedule.

Just reply to me to be put on the list to judge. Let me know which day(s)
you will be available, what categories you want to judge, do not want to
judge and can't judge because you plan to enter those categories. We will
make an attempt to honor your requests if at all possible but someone has to
judge the least favorable categories and not everyone can judge the most
popular ones.

So reserve the weekend of April 25-27 and plan to judge in Philadelphia.
Let me know that you can judge. If you know someone who'd like to steward,
let me know as well; we can use several. There is no need to respond if
you cannot judge.

Site Director: Nancy Rigberg

Judge Coordinator: David Houseman

Subject: re: milk mead
From: circle mouse <>
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2008 16:29:56 -0800 (PST)

I made a three gallon batch with half a gallon of raw Toggenburg milk from
a dairy down the road. curdled pretty quickly and after about a week I
separated the curd and hung it for a day in cheese cloth to drain and firm
up. tasted like mild cream cheese, but sweeter and with a little fizz left.
I spread it on bagels over the next week to good effect. can't find my
notes on the mead, but it's all gone, so somebody must have liked it.
I remember it being a little sour and liking it. I'm sure the curdling
made my initial gravity reading worthless and I didn't think to check it
again after I pulled out the curds. anyhow, it didn't knock my socks off,
but I did like it. oh, and against everyone's recommendation, I didn't use
any lactase. just water, blackberry honey, milk, and yeast. I didn't heat
anything, either. and I don't remember which yeast. how's that for vague?


Subject: Cider recipe
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 05:47:24 EST

I would like to make a 3 or 5 batch of cider for my light lager drinking
friends using pasteurized apple juice. The target is 8 to 12% ABV
with an FG between 1.025 and 1.050. The apple juice will be either
Juicy Juice or Motts. Does anyone have a recipe they have used?

What is the expected weight of a gallon of apple juice?
Which herbs and spices will enhance its flavor?
How long should it age?

Best regards,


Richard D. Adams, CPA (retired)
Moderator: misc.taxes.moderated

Subject: Re: Titratable Acidity: Useful after all?
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 08:06:44 -0600

Hello Erroll — if you don't mind, since this is a lengthy
response, I'll have to cut and splice my reply. Here goes …

On Wed, 13 Feb 2008, in MLD 1367, Erroll Ozgencil wrote:

> >The problem with titrating mead to find its acidity is well
> >known: the base used to neutralize the acid also neutralizes the
> >gluconolactone so your final result indicates how much acid
> >*and* how much lactone is in your mead. For some time I
> >followed, and gave, the "taste, don't test" advice, but I was
> >never happy with it.

That's sort of close. The acidic properties of honey and mead are quite
complex, stemming from the process by which bees change flower nectar
into honey. The final result, gluconic acid and glucono lactone in honey,
co-exist in a pH dependent relationship. Adding a base to a honey solution
during the process of titrating for total acidity alters the pH and once this
occurs, a portion of the glucono lactone in the honey changes to gluconic
acid, thus lowering the pH again. This is why the standard winemaking acid
titration kits don't work for mead. The very process of measuring for total
acidity in mead actually increases the amount of total acidity in the mead.

Here's a simplified outline of the process — the sugars in flower nectar
are largely sucrose. Enzymes secreted in the hypopharyngeal glands of the
bees go to work on the nectar. These are invertase and glucose oxidase.
Invertase "inverts" sucrose, changing it to glucose and fructose sugars.
Glucose oxidase then works on the glucose sugars, partially oxidizing
it to glucono lactone and hydrogen peroxide. A portion of the glucono
lactone then hydrolyses to gluconic acid.

Here's the chemical equation, again, greatly simplified:

Glucose oxidase


C6 H12 O6 + O2 —–> C6 H10 O6 + H2O2
Glucose + Oxygen Gluconolactone + Hydrogen Peroxide



C6 H10 O6 + H2O ———–> C6 H12 O7
Gluconolactone + Water Gluconic acid

You can find a little more detail here:


> >So I began titrating mead and using the result as an upper limit. If
> >I was trying to adjust the acidity of my mead to a certain range, then
> >I would aim for the high end of that range, knowing it was really less
> >than that but not knowing how much less. This gave me a starting
> >point, to adjust to taste, and I think it was an improvement.

> >

> >Lately I've been thinking about trying to correct a measured TA
> >value with a rule of thumb based on the typical ratio of lactone to
> >acid found in honey. Jonathan White provided this data in USDA
> >tech bulletin 1261: average ratio lactone/acid =3D 0.335, standard
> >deviation =3D 0.135. After a bit of algebra, I came up with two
> >numbers to adjust a measured TA value. Divide the TA by 1.470
> >and 1.200 to get a one standard deviation range of "free acid"
> >values. One standard deviation covers almost 70% of all cases.
> >Ok, not perfect, but I think it's another improvement.

John W. White jr had also worked out a method of measuring acidity in honey
that gets around the lactone reaction. I posted it in the 967 MLD, which
you can find here:

What might you're proposing might give you a ballpark figure, but you're
going to hit difficulties with the variance found in honeys.

Here's a partial chart of the components found in honey with the coefficient
of variation (equal to the standard deviation/average value x 100),
derived by John W. White jr from his study of 490 American honeys:

Fructose 5.4
Glucose 9.2
Total acidity 35
Higher Sugars 69
Sucrose 66
Maltose 29

Monosaccharides 5.9
delta 12C 3.86

and so on.

Only fructose, glucose, monochords and delta 12C are in single digit figures.
As you can see, there is a fairly wide probability distribution for total
acidity, as indicated by the coefficient of variation.

In other words, you'll get a ball park figure of some kind, but it's going
to be shaky because of the wide variances in varietal honeys.

The reason why using taste as a means of adjusting acidity isn't meant to
be a way to get around the difficulties in measuring total acidity in mead,
it has to do with the differing flavor properties of the acids in honey
as compared to that of wine.

"Balance" in wine is thought of as a harmony between sweet and acidic tastes,
acting as a "support structure," as Emile Peynaud put it. The problem
here is that it is easy to fall into the idea that achieving balance
is something like a mathematical equation — work out a harmony between
positive and negative and all is well.

Sweet tastes and acidic tastes have flavor components, so the "balance"
between the two isn't quite that simple. The flavor contribution of the
sweet and acidic components also contribute to the harmony of the support
structure of the wine.

The organic acids in wines are sharply sour, and as a result, "balance"
in a wine is a means of harmonizing the sourness of tartaric and malic acids.

The primary acid in honey, however, is gluconic acid, which is mild in
both chemical properties and flavor contribution. It has a "refreshing
sour" taste, although the perception of sourness is among the lowest of
the organic acids.

If we continue to think of mead in terms of wine, then it would seem
to follow that due to the mildness of the acids in honey, mead will be
insufficient by itself, needing the zip and zing of a proper acid additive.

Mead, however, is not a wine. A well made mead finds its own balance of
flavors, in a way different from the basic support structure of acidity
and sweetness found in wines. Adding acids to a mead doesn't aid or
support the balance structure of the mead, since wine is not the same
thing as a mead. The acid additives used in winemaking are suited for
the support structure of wine, and the acidic flavors in wine, but are
something different compared to gluconic acid and its flavor properties.

That's a big part of the reasons why acids seem to act more as a flavor
additive, and why it can be best to taste the mead first, before considering
adding an acid additive.

Hope this is helpful, or at least, a little clarifying. I can pass on
more references if you like.


Dan McFeeley

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

Subject: Aceromel?
From: stencil <>
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2008 17:39:49 -0500

Or maybe dendrochymomel?

Sap's up, and I'm moved to make a simple mead with just
unboiled maple sap and honey. I would think that the
cloying character of maple would require a very dry finish,
and not too much alcohol – say, around 8-10%. I think it
also would want a fairly tannic palate, gained by sitting on
chips for a few weeks..

Obviously boiling-down is needed to produce syrup, but is
there anything in the heating process that is necessary to
bring out the full flavor of the maple? The sap as it comes
from the tree is pretty insipid but it seems dippy to burn a
lot of pricey fuel in the boil and then turn around and thin
it out.

Any recommendations or wave-offs regarding yeast selection
or my notions about the flavor profile?

gds, stencil

Subject: Too much tannin?
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008 10:30:19 -0800 (PST)

I started a half-batch of cyser (Fall's Bounty Cyser from The Compleat
Meadmaker) about two weeks ago, with some minor changes (replace sugar with
honey, use Lavin 71B-1122 instead of D-47, add amylase and pectin enzyme). I
had run the dates and raisins through a blender with some cider, but only
until "diced". The initial SG was 1.122. It was down to 1.027 last night
(approaching end of fermentation), so I tried a little taste.


Other than that, the flavor was OK, but a bit light in the honey. As bitter
as it was, it was hard for me to determine if the sweetness was right (I was
aiming at slightly sweet). Of course, since the fermentation wasn't quite
done, the sweetness will be changing anyway.

I'm guessing that the bitterness was due to the tannin from the fruit skins.
I racked this into another 3 gallon carboy, filtering out the fruit (I used a
fine mesh bag – it worked great), to finish the fermentation.

Short of aging this for multiple years, is there anything that can make this
more drinkable? I have considered starting up another half-batch, without
fruits, and blending them. I've also considered adding more honey, and having
it end up at medium-sweet.

Am I heading down the right path? Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thank you.

Peter Ashford

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1369