Mead Lover's Digest #1384 Thu 14 August 2008
Mead Lover's Digest #1384 Thu 14 August 2008
Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1383, 9 August 2008 (AFDoty@aol.com)
RE: A pH question ("Bill Pierce")
Aeration overkill (Bradley Hunter)
"It works for me" ("Spencer W. Thomas")
RE: Aeration overkill & newbie melomel ("Vicky Rowe")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1383, 9 August 2008 (Oskaar)
VALHALLA 'The Meading of Life' Mead-Only Competition ("David Houseman")
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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1383, 9 August 2008
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2008 07:34:15 EDT
<<<< Here's the problem: the pH of the must was quite high: something over
Shoot for a ph of around 3.4. Your batch is way to alkaline. Use the acid
blend and check. Add about a Table Spoon, stir and check the PH until you get
the PH down.
Subject: RE: A pH question
From: "Bill Pierce" <BillPierce@aol.com>
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2008 11:59:50 -0400
Alan Zuckerman asks about the pH of his mead. Indeed it seems
strange to me that the pH of his must measured above 6.0. More
typically, the pH of the must for a simple mead is in the area of
4.6 – 5.0, depending on the honey and the local water. Honey is
somewhat acidic, and I note that he lives in eastern Maryland, where
the water is usually quite soft, with a pH around 7.0 or slightly
lower. Alan, is it possible you are using water from a local well
that is very hard (high in alkalinity)?
Whatever the cause of his high pH (assuming his meter is properly
calibrated and accurate), I wouldn't worry too much about it. Most
of the yeast strains used for mead are rather pH tolerant within a
range of a little below 4.0 to somewhat above 6.0, so it's likely
not to be a problem. If you feel it is necessary to lower the pH of
the must, there are a couple of options. One is to add calcium
chloride; calcium is beneficial to yeast reproduction as long as the
water is not overly high in calcium (above about 250 mg/L). Or you
can make direct acid additions to the must. The acid blend used in
winemaking and to balance the cloying sweetness of finished mead
would work well; you could also use food grade phosphoric acid.
Cellar door Homebrewery
Subject: Aeration overkill
From: Bradley Hunter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 09:03:38 -0400
For some further thoughts on the aeration debate , I suggest you visit
the latest podcast at www.basicbrewing.com. It is the archived episode
from Aug. 7 titled Aeration: shaking vs pumping.
I came away from it with the opinion that just my initial splashing as
I siphon into my primary, along with a bit of rocking to fold in some
oxygen is probably plenty to get most fermentations up and running to
I already own an aquarium pump with an in line filter and aeration
stone so I won't be retiring those but I'll certainly obsess less about
how long I'll have to run them.
And then there's the damn olive oil……………..
Subject: "It works for me"
From: "Spencer W. Thomas" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 09:30:24 -0400
I often read posts that say something like "I don't know why you're
going into all this esoteric detail about [a topic]. I don't worry
about it and my mead turns out fine." I am sure that the people who
write these do like their mead (or beer or wine or whatever), and have
no need to change the way they do things. That's perfectly fine.
But, there are some of us who want to (a) understand what effects
different procedures *might* have, or (b) want to go beyond "fine" in
our brewing. I have to say that I have been in the "good enough" camp
for a while. But attending the AHA homebrew conference this year has
caused me to rethink that position. Several of the talks that I
attended made the point quite clearly that attention to detail can raise
the end product from "very good" to "excellent." The one that really
opened my eyes was on the seemingly esoteric and boring topic of
"residual alkalinity." The takeaway message was that by adjusting the
RA, one could take ones beer from "lackluster" to "exciting," with no
change in the rest of the recipe or procedure. Whoa! The beer made
with the "bad" water was good and perfectly drinkable, but the beer made
with the "good" water was more alive and interesting.
We all have to make trade-offs. What is the purpose of our brewing? Is
it to make something that we will enjoy with a meal or sitting around
with friends? Is it to win competitions? Or is it to explore a
creative space? Or…? And how much time and energy are we willing to
or interested in putting in to the process? Is "good enough" good
enough? For most of us, most of the time, the answer is "yes". And if
the answer is "no," we can come here to find out how to go beyond "good
=Spencer in Ann Arbor, MI
Subject: RE: Aeration overkill & newbie melomel
From: "Vicky Rowe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 11:49:33 -0400
> Frankly, I think all of this complicated aeration talk is unnecessary.
> I've made plenty of good mead without ever worrying about any of this. A
> good frothing up of the must for a couple of minutes just before adding
> well hydrated and conditioned yeast is all I ever needed to ensure a
> vigorous fermentation and a wonderful result. I think some of us over
> complicate things.
There are many ways to skin a cat, as they say. All I'm saying is that in 15
years of making mead, and trying many methods of making it, the 2-3 times
per day aeration in the first 1/3 of the ferment gives me consistently
better meads (and many of my meads using the old method were pretty darn good).
Also, a note: The info I put up before was from notes that Oskaar had.
Personally, I use a cordless drill and a lees stirrer to aerate my meads.
<and Ken says….>
> I make my meads by a method pretty close to that which Vicky outlines,
> but lower tech and lower 'touch', and I get what appears to be the same
> results she describes: Fast, clean ferments and short(er) aging
> periods. I use no oxygen bottle, instead I use the kitchen hand held
> blender with a standard whisk. Since I primary in plastic there is no
> issue with the neck of the carboy. I'll run the blender for a few (3?
> 5? Until I get bored with it) minutes each day for the first 3 or so
> days of fermentation. My fermentations take about 10 days to go to
> dryness from an OG of 1.8 to 1.95 or so (wine strength, and then
> typically I'll sulfite and sorbate and back sweeten half of the batch
> during bottling and after bulk aging or a week or so later if I'm going
> to split it into smaller carboys). The blender takes care of both the
> stirring and the aerating chores in one simple step, and I don't bother
> to take intermediate gravity readings, instead I just watch the
I hear ya. Oskaar is the one with all the fancy equipment. I use a cordless
drill and a Lees stirrer myself, it works fabulously.
> Since you already have your high powered stirrer and the aquarium pump
> there's no harm in breaking them out and using them. I just wanted to
> offer a different perspective on stirring and oxygenating which has
> given me wonderful results over a good many years and without the need
> for a lot of expensive, bulky, and fussy gear to complicate what can be
> a very simple hobby. (er, leaving me able to buy more expensive and
> bulky carboys for greater production capacity ;)) That's not to say
> that Vicky's/Oskaar's method is in any way 'wrong', my motto for
> brewing is:
> There are many ways to do it right.
Hey, my money goes into honey and ingredients (and these days, larger
fermenting Pails and such). Oskaar has been doing this for 30+ years (and
comes from a family Of wine makers), so he's had time to accumulate cool
toys. I'm a simple girl with a Hydrometer, lees stirrer and a website ;>…
Owner, Webmistress & meadmaker
Gotmead.com – all mead, all the time
Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1383, 9 August 2008
From: Oskaar <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 18:19:33 -0700
As mentioned in my post, I?m not advocating that my way is better,
just different. I like the challenge of trying new and improved ways
of making mead, and I keep the things that work and toss the stuff
I used to pitch and hope for the best like so many others
do. Now I don?t because I know better. My mead is better for it as a
result. I don?t think your way is any worse or better than anyone
else?s because you keep things simple. I also don?t think your mead
is inferior because your process is not complex, and you don?t manage
your fermentation as closely as I do.
To each their own,
>Subject: Aeration overkill
>Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2008 11:50:00 -0400
>Frankly, I think all of this complicated aeration talk is unnecessary.
>I've made plenty of good mead without ever worrying about any of this. A
>good frothing up of the must for a couple of minutes just before adding
>well hydrated and conditioned yeast is all I ever needed to ensure a
>vigorous fermentation and a wonderful result. I think some of us over
I have to disagree about your ?complicate? and ?bulky? comments. To me,
the science behind meadmaking is the complicated part and folks aren?t
obliged to learn that. I dive into that sort of thing to bring some sorely
lacking science to meadmaking, and to learn what is really happening so I
can flay away a lot of the mis-information out there about meadmaking and
mead in general. Stirring and nutrient dosing during the ferment amounts
to about ten minutes a day as you know from your own experience. But,
there are many reasons out there to become more involved in managing the
Certain yeasts require more intervention and if one spends
the time to learn about the different strains, life cycles and nutritional
requirements, then the need for additional ?touch? becomes apparent.
Certain meads (especially fruit heavy melomels) inherently require more
management and hands on during the primary, especially in the area of
cap management if you want the best flavor, color and character extraction
from the fruit.
I guess I don?t see how a small O2 setup and a lees stirrer amount to
bulky equipment I have both the O2 setup and the lees stirrer. Most of the
time I just use a lees stirrer since it works wonderfully to aerate and bust
up the fruit cap. BTW, the cost of my aeration setup was about $30 total and
the lees stirrer was $12, which amounts to less than fifty bucks total. I don?t
consider that expensive. And like you, I don?t consider my way to be wrong,
yours either for that matter. BTW, I like your motto!
>Subject: RE: Newbie Melomel
>From: Mail Box <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Date: Sun, 03 Aug 2008 11:12:00 -0400
>Since you already have your high powered stirrer and the aquarium pump
>there's no harm in breaking them out and using them. I just wanted to
>offer a different perspective on stirring and oxygenating which has
>given me wonderful results over a good many years and without the need
>for a lot of expensive, bulky, and fussy gear to complicate what can be
>a very simple hobby. (er, leaving me able to buy more expensive and
>bulky carboys for greater production capacity ;)) That's not to say
>that Vicky's/Oskaar's method is in any way 'wrong', my motto for brewing is:
>There are many ways to do it right.
Subject: VALHALLA 'The Meading of Life' Mead-Only Competition
From: "David Houseman" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 23:41:45 -0400
Please enter your precious meads in the 4th Annual VALHALLA 'The Meading of
Life' an AHA/BJCP sanctioned mead only competition. This year's competition
will be held Saturday, October 25, 2008 at our gracious host, Iron Hill
Brewery, West Chester, PA. Entries must be received by October 17, 2008,
$7 fee per entry (Checks made out to Suzanne McMurphy). Entries must be
in a 12 ounce bottle, 2 six ounce bottles or a 750 ml bottle. We suggest
(but do not require) sending 2 bottles per entry for sparkling meads so
a fresh bottle can be opened for BOS.
Mail entries to:
Home Sweet Homebrew
(Clearly mark all entries as Valhalla)
2008 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
If you are interested in judging or stewarding at Valhalla please email
Dave Housemen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please arrive at Iron Hill West Chester by 9:00 am on Saturday October 25th,
Winners in Valhalla qualify for entry into the International Mead Festival.
End of Mead Lover's Digest #1384