Mead Lover's Digest #1407 Thu 29 January 2009

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


Yeast/Clearing ("David Houseman")
Question regarding mead bottling ("Michael Falk")
Re: sulfiting ("Dan McFeeley")
RE: Boiling water for mead (
Re: Use of acids to adjust flavor and other uses ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1406, 25 January 2009 (mail-box)
Re: Sorbate and Sulfite && Aeration after the start of fermentation (mail-box)
MLD Statistics from 1992 to 2008 (James P)

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Subject: Yeast/Clearing
From: "David Houseman" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 08:11:11 -0500

I started four meads last October; same must — lower gravity, semi-sweet.
I used four different yeasts, Narbone, Cote de Blanc, Monpelier and
Montrachet. All but the Cote de Blanc cleared bright. Even after
racking, the Cote de Blanc mead is hazy. Almost like a pectin haze from
fruit. All kept side-by-side at about 68oF. All taste very good and
litte acid will be needed. Is this yeast known for not clearing? I
suppose I'll just fine it, but wondered if this is usual for this yeast
since it's the only variable in this experiment.

Dave Houseman

Subject: Question regarding mead bottling
From: "Michael Falk" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 08:22:38 -0500

To whom it may concern,

I will shortly be bottling 5 gallons of mead that I've had fermenting since
Thanksgiving. I have read a few different articles regarding additives
right before bottling, including yours which recommends Potassium sorbate.
I understand that the Potassium sorbate keeps dormant yeast from restarting,
but should Potassium metabisulfite be added to keep the mead from turning
(as with wine)? Does mead even "turn" if not bottled properly? I want the
best tasting mead that I can produce without adding unnecessary chemicals,
but I don't want to lose 5 gallons of mead that I've worked so hard on.
What do you recommend? Thanks for your help.


Michael C. Falk, FCHP, Account Manager
Martex Services Landscape Management

1417 Avery Road, Suite 200
Amelia Island, FL 32034
904-261-5364 Office
904-262-0821 Fax

Subject: Re: sulfiting
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 10:16:25 -0600

On Wed, 21 Jan 2009, MLD 1406, Dick Dunn pointed out:

> >That would be potassium metabisulfite. Anyway…
> >
> >1/4 tsp per 5 gal is a modest dose, about equiv 3
> >Campden tablets for 5 gal. But how does the
> >effect work out, anyway? IIRC, it's the pH of a
mead-must that is so ephemeral…and the
> >effectiveness of sulfiting is strongly dependent
> >on pH.

More information on use of sulfite, how it is
effected by pH, etc., can be found in several
good articles on the Vancouver Amateur
Winemaker's Association web site. Go

and scroll down to the section on Sulfur Dioxide.

Lots of other good stuff there as well!

Dan McFeeley

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

Subject: RE: Boiling water for mead
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 11:54:04 -0500

> > Boiling tap water will remove chlorine, and aerating it
> > thoroughly during boiling will decompose bicarbonates and
> > precipitate calcium and magnesium carbonate.

I have never boiled anything as I am on well water.
As is normal around here, it is hard and slightly
acidic. Anyone else on well water? (Despite the
aquifer being dominated by granite, there is no
evidence of radon, in case that is on your mind.)
Our well is 320' so there is no surface interaction.
Piping is PVC. One would think that if there was
anything biologically active that our yeast friends
would sequester it in any case. Chlorine in urban
tap water comes out of solution in a day or two if
you just let it sit, or so I was told back when.

  • –dan

Subject: Re: Use of acids to adjust flavor and other uses
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 11:13:45 -0600

On Sun, 25 Jan 2009, in MLD 1406, Steve
Scoville asked:

> >I have been making meads for about a year
> >and a half, and have yet to use any acids or
> >acid blend for anythiing.
> >
> >I am producing fairly clean meads on a consistent
> >basis but they tend to be cloying sweet and out
> >of balance.
> >
> >Can anyone give me direction on how to use acids
> >based on the final gravity of the meads, and the
> >final ranges generally accepted for dry, medium,
> >and sweet meads?
> >
> >The use of different types of acids for different
> >flavor characters is also a subject I do not understand.
> >
> >Also, should a mead maker use acids for management
> >of PH if their musts have no signs of fermentation
> >issues? If so, what is the guidance on this.
> >
> >If there is a body of info in print, please direct me to it.

I've published research I've conducted on this subject
in Bee Culture magazine and Zymurgy. You can find
my Bee Culture article online at this address:

scroll down to page four and you'll find it.

Ken Schramm was also kind enough to include
the material in his book Compleat Meadmaker.

The Zymurgy article is in the September/October
2006 issue and covers a lot of the areas you are
asking about in your post. It's not online so I
can only suggest that you look for a back issue.

Although, technically, mead is a wine made from
honey, it's a mistake to think of meadmaking in
the same terms and principles that work for
winemaking. Especially when it comes to acid,
harmony and balance.

The principle acid in honey and mead is gluconic
acid, and functions somewhat differently in the
balance and flavor profile of mead as compared
to the organic acids found in the wine grape.

I embarked on my research into gluconic acid
and its properties because I wanted to know
why it was that in winemaking acid can be critical
for balance and harmony, yet, in meadmaking
acid additives act differently, not quite as
essential for balance and seeming to act more
like a flavoring agent in a melomel or metheglin.
Many meadmakers had observed this, taking
in the old information that mead needed acid
to overcome cloying sweetness and imbalance,
questioning this (it's old information from the
1960's and beforehand) and finding that mead
does quite well on its own.

Briefly, in meadmaking it's better to work with
blending of varietal honeys to achieve balance
and harmony with acid and sweetness, than
it is to consider acid additives. This essentially
hinges on the flavor properties of gluconic acid,
and the wide variety of flavors in varietal honeys.

My suggestion, if you are finding that your
meads are overly sweet and imbalanced, is
to work more with the gravity of the must
and the yeast strain. A mead that is cloyingly
sweet is probably a high gravity mead, more
of a desert wine style. They're supposed to
be sweet, and need a goodly amount of
alcohol to balance out.

Hope this is helpful!

Dan McFeeley

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

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1406, 25 January 2009
From: mail-box <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 20:51:43 -0500

Dick Dunn wrote:

> > and also, Arthur Torrey <> wrote:
> > …[much snip]…
> >
>> >> The other possibility is that you may be suffering from a "Pectin Haze" –
>> >> which the above treatment doesn't do as much with. Try adding some extra
>> >> pectic enzyme to clear that up.
>> >>
> >
> > The effect of pectic enzyme (pectinase) is -strongly- inhibited by alcohol.
> > So if you think you could face a problem with a pectin haze–particularly
> > if you're working with fruit, or juice of a fruit, which can be high in
> > pectin–add the enzyme at the very start. Don't wait until you have a
> > persistent haze problem when you're at 10% abv or so! This is one of those
> > "an ounce of prevention…" situations.
> >

I'll agree that adding the pectinase early would be best, but although
I've often read about the inhibiting effect of alcohol I have not
observed this in practice. I make almost exclusively melomels, and on
the occasion where I have haze lasting over a few months I'll add
(possibly more) pectinase. Very often, in actually every case I can
recall at this time, the mead has began to drop clear over the course of
2-4 days. This could be pure coincidence, but the odds would be
staggering. In fact several years ago I used to just go down the row of
aging meads and add 10 drops each, even if one in the group happened to
be a straight mead. It made for easy accounting, and I've never used
the entire contents of a eyedropper sized pectinase bottle before
discarding it due to age. 10 drops per carboy goes a very long way.

Ken Taborek

Subject: Re: Sorbate and Sulfite && Aeration after the start of fermentation
From: mail-box <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 21:01:22 -0500

Scoville Steve wrote:

> > Subject: Sorbate and Sulfite
> > From: Scoville Steve <>
> > Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2009 23:24:28 -0600
> >
> > In some recent reading, I noticed the recommendation to "sorbate and
> > sulfite" before back sweetening.
> >
> > I understand that sorbate, if properly used, will prevent the restart
> > of fermentation, but what is the sulfite for?
> >
> > PLease advise.
> >
> > The Earl of Sorta
> >
> > Steve Scoville
> >

The sulfite is to prevent the growth of wild yeasts and bacterial
organisms. But in conjunction with sorbate it has an additional
function. Fermentation in the presence of sorbate will ruin your mead,
giving it a strong off-flavor of geranium. By racking your mead,
sulfiting, waiting a few weeks, and then sorbating you prevent renewed
fermentation. A week or so later is an ideal time to back sweeten.

> > ——————————
> >
> > Subject: Aeration after the start of fermentation
> > From: Scoville Steve <>
> > Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2009 23:28:04 -0600
> >
> > Recent posts, writings, and mead making instructions seem to indicate
> > that in addition to multiple additions of nutrients to the must,
> > multiple infusions of oxygen are also advisable to maintain the health
> > of the cell wall.
> >
> > I come from the beer making background and it is counterintuitive to
> > add O2 due to the concern about oxidation of the newly produced
> > alcohols.
> >
> > Can anyone comment on this concern?
> >
> > If there is no real concern, is it OK to use pure O2?
> >
> > Thanks for the comments.
> >
> > The Earl of Sorta
> >
> > Steve Scoville

I don't use pure O2, it's too fussy for me, and frankly unnecessary. So
I can't comment on that. But I do open the fermentation jug and give it
a few minutes with a hand held blender a couple of times over the first
few days. So far I've had no issues. At this stage the fermentation
isn't so far advanced that O2 is an issue, and in fact the yeast make
good use of it. Any remaining that is not used will be scrubbed out
during the more rapid fermentation. Beer fermentations are more rapid,
I would not use this technique with beer brewing.

Ken Taborek

Subject: MLD Statistics from 1992 to 2008
From: James P <>
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 11:31:49 +1000

Many thanks to all those Mead Lovers out there, and especially Dick who
provides this service.

Here is a bit of a graphical representation of digests and the number of
posts on a per year basis.
I thought this may interest some of you.

(Best viewed in a fixed font like Courier)

Year Digests Posts Digests_Bar Posts_Bar


1992 63 210    |||          |
1993 188 518 |||||||||| ||||
1994 125 580 |||||| |||||
1995 72 596 ||| |||||
1996 71 650 ||| ||||||
1997 107 1076 ||||| ||||||||||
1998 88 957 |||| ||||||||
1999 61 646 ||| ||||||
2000 56 844 || |||||||
2001 61 667 ||| ||||||
2002 88 922 |||| ||||||||
2003 84 775 |||| |||||||
2004 83 661 |||| ||||||
2005 88 561 |||| |||||
2006 58 348 ||| |||
2007 63 353 ||| |||
2008 48 266 || ||


End of Mead Lover's Digest #1407