Mead Lover's Digest #1443 Thu 1 October 2009

Mead Discussion Forum


Subject: Cyser (Luke Kostu)
Re: Cyser (mail-box)
Re: Newbie confounded by yeast choices (mail-box)
Re: Nathan Boettcher – sucking wind during racking ("Louis LeBlanc")
RE: Cyser (Sep 19, 2009) (Vuarra)
Homebrew Competition with separate BOS Mead/Cider ("Susan Ruud")
Mead and Yeast (Justin Fortney)
basic plan (

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Subject: Subject:  Cyser
From: Luke Kostu <>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 10:24:27 -0700 (PDT)

Corey; When you say "recently" made cyser, what is the time frame?
At 14% you are bound to feel that rocket fuel burn. Best thing to do
is rack it into a corny and float some CO2 over it and forget about it.
If you're not set up for kegs, bulk age in the carboy and top off with
some straight mead to minimize headspace. Topping with cider may start
the yeast up again which may effect clarity and delay aging. Time will
solve your problem. I'm sure this cyser will be wonderful in 9 months to
a year from the brew date. -Luke from NJ

Subject: Re: Cyser
From: mail-box <>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 16:05:01 -0400

> > Subject: Cyser
> > From: "" <>
> > Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2009 13:08:57 GMT
> >
> > Hello all. I recently made some cyser and it has fermented to completion
> > and is pretty hot. A lot hotter than I would expect for 14% alch/vol. I
> > have considered cutting it with additional cider but to be honest I don't
> > like the idea. I don't want to present so much cider that I lose any honey
> > flavor but then again my batch seems pretty much done. Does anyone have any
> > suggestions on how to improve my current situation? It's only a 5 gal batch.
> >
> > Corey Clemmons
> >

Age heals many mead ills. If you are not interested in diluting your
mead, then bulk age it for a year and retry it then. Odds are it will
have calmed down a bit. If you're not so keen on waiting a year, then
I'd suggest adding some body to soften the heat. Chop up 2 pounds of
golden raisins and add them to the mead. The sulfites on the raisins
may prevent further fermentation, or depending on your yeast you may
experience a renewed fermentation which should be brief. In any event,
the raisins will add tannins and a lot of body which should balance the
alcohol nicely.

Ken Taborek

Subject: Re: Newbie confounded by yeast choices
From: mail-box <>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 16:21:56 -0400

> > Subject: Newbie confounded by yeast choices
> > From: "R. Lee Jarvis" <>
> > Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 21:12:54 -0400
> >
> > I'm about to brew up my first batch of mead. I'm trying to research,
> > learn, and understand the process and I think I've got it except for a
> > choice of yeast. I'm using a recipe for a sack mead from Pattie Vargas'
> > & Rich Gulling's book, Wild Wines & Meads, which calls for Montrachet
> > yeast. But several sources advise against Montrachet:
> >
> > – – From Gordon Olson (, Montrachet
> > yielded a mead that he noted with "sour, sulfur nose, sour off taste, yuck"
> >
> > – – And a comment from Dick Dunn, "Some yeasts (such as Montrachet wine
> > yeast) can produce noticeable levels of phenols (the throat-burning part
> > of cough medicine), which age out eventually in bottle conditioning but are
> > an unnecessary complication since there are yeasts that don't produce them.
> >
> > – – And also from Dick Dunn (, "Red
> > Star Montrachet I've only used twice, and each time I've gotten an extreme
> > medicinal character that takes forever to go away. This is the basis for
> > my earlier statement that I'd never use a "Montrachet" named yeast again. "
> >
> > OK, I can take a hint. Maybe Montrachet isn't the best choice for my first
> > batch of mead. I also have some Red Star Pasteur Champagne. Might that
> > be a better choice? Do I need to make another trip to the shop (an hour's
> > drive each way) to find something else?
> >
> > Thanks for the help, Lee


As a counterpoint to the bad press Montrachet has gotten from the
sources you've cited, I'll volunteer that it is my yeast of choice, and
Red Star is the company I've found it sold by in my local shops.
Montrachet is a very predictable yeast, fermenting fully and without any
need for fussy coaxing methods. It does require nutrients to avoid
stress and the production of what my spouse refers to as a "perm" aroma
during fermentation (the aroma in a woman's hair parlor, and it is a
strong sulfur aroma). Once I learned that I've had no further issues,
and the aroma didn't make the resulting mead bad in any event. The
right tool for the right job. I would not use Montrachet for a high
gravity mead, but I don't make those in any event. Many mead makers
seem to prefer the "heroic" or "viking" type meads which they coax every
last bit of alcohol strength out of, but I prefer something I can enjoy
a few glasses of without either falling over or causing dental cavities
due to the need to balance the alcohol level with a lot of residual
honey. But if you want a wine strength mead that is dry or off-dry then
Montrachet will suit that need just fine.

I respect your research. Just be aware that almost any yeast will do
the job, and that you can help it along by making a vigorous starter and
pitching into a nutrient and oxygen rich must.

Ken Taborek

Subject: Re: Nathan Boettcher - sucking wind during racking
From: "Louis LeBlanc" <>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 19:51:46 -0400 (EDT)

> > Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1441, 8 September 2009
> > From: Nathan Boettcher <>
> > Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2009 21:36:09 -0700
> >
> > Hello All,
> >
> > So I've been on the list for a while but finally got to bottle my
> > first batch of mead tonight. It's a basic mead using clover honey. I
> > have a question, but I'll fill you in on the process before I do.

Congratulations! Don't do like I did and just sit on that for a year. Start
another batch as soon as you can – especially if you think you could do
better. And you might want to try something other than a traditional mead.
Traditional mead is harder to get perfect. Fruit and (especially) herbs and
seasoning will completely stomp out any minor defects. I learned this from
David Myers of Redstone Meadery in the Basic Brewing Radio podcast
( 2/1/06 episode).

> > I started off the batch normally and got it going just fine. About
> > 2-3 weeks into it, the yeast slowed down quite a bit so I decided to
> > rack it per my books instructions and other things I had read.

So far so good. You'll hear some folks say you can leave it in the primary
forever and bottle right from there, but I'm a little paranoid for that.

> > I racked it into a fresh sanitized carboy, but during the racking my
> > racking cane started pulling a ton of air. (it's a simple push start
> > racking cane if anyone has seen them, just pull up on the cane to get
> > the wine in the tube and push down to start the flow…real easy) I
> > tried to get it to stop but every time I got it to stop it started
> > again. This happened for about the last 3rd of the batch. I was
> > worried I had ruined it since I know aeration isn't good for the mead.
> > I put the stopper back on and a little later the yeast was pushing
> > air out again. So I laid my worries to rest.

This never happened to me with mead, but it did happen with my first batch of
beer. I was freaked too, but I just took Charlie's advice – "Relax, don't
worry, have a home brew!". Of course, I only had mead on hand, but still …

> > Nothing eventful happened after that. I got down to a month later and
> > decided to bottle it. The bubbles were going about once every minute
> > and half. After bottling, I checked the specific gravity and tasted
> > the batch. The sg was down to 1.00 from 1.096…about 12.5% by
> > volume. At the initial racking it was 1.006 so not much difference.
> > Not sure why the yeast kept going so well.

This is why I use potassium sorbate now. I made a blackberry peach mead that
was the same way when I bottled. It was really tart (and I mean tart – sour
patch kids ain't in it). I gave a bunch away, of course, and drank a fair bit
myself. I actually liked it. But it was a bit carbonated. Just so you know,
carbonated beverages and cork bottles don't work. I had 2 blow their corks in
my basement, 1 each in 2 of my sisters' kitchens, one in a friends place, and
one in my brother-in-law's dining room. That makes a mess, too. My advice,
if you didn't bottle with crown caps or champagne cages, keep 'em cold. Not
basement cold, fridge cold.

> > So here comes the question. I tasted at the initial racking and it
> > tasted great! The mead had a 12% by volume which was good…higher
> > than I had expected. It wasn't very clear. After the bottling, I
> > tasted it and it had a vinegry taste to it. It was clearer and was
> > 12.5% by volume.
> >
> > Question: Why did it end up with such a vinegry taste??

Did you use oak? I know everyone waxes religious when it comes to oak, but
I've found it adds this harsh tang to the mead, though I never placed it as
vinegar until just now. I'm still not sure, so don't anybody freak on me …

I do find that it eases up with time though. Lots of time. I'm saving my oak
for high gravity beers now. And this is the best reason to run another batch
right now. The more you have in store, the easier it is to let the less
perfect ones age out – and some of the good ones too.

You'll have other folks describe a "sherry" flavor because of the oxidation,
but I'm really not familiar with sherry. My first batch of beer was
undeniably oxidized, which in beer creates a "wet cardboard" flavor. It's not
so bad as to be undrinkable (in fact I still think it's better than some of
those mega-swill beers out there), still, it's not really pleasant, and it
does get worse as it warms.

> > Please let me know. I'm so bummed at this point, but I will try again
> > soon. Just means I might have a wasted batch. Anything I can do at
> > this point to help cut the vinegry taste?

Nah, don't worry. If it still sucks to drink in 8 or 9 months, I'll bet you a
bottle it's still great to cook with. My first batch of beer is primarily
used for hot dogs and chicken wings. I still have 7 bottles. I've found mead
is *great* to cook fish with, as well as any number of fruit desserts. Oh,
and if you just drop a sprig of fresh rosemary (or your favorite herb) into a
bottle and recork it for a couple months. You'll be amazed and awed at what
it does to chicken (use it in the can for beer-can chicken and rub the bird
down with it before you sprinkle the seasoning on). It's pretty darn good in
ratatouille too. And if you make it with half honey, half agave syrup, then
add the meat and zest of a couple limes in the secondary, it's great with (or
in) Mexican food. 🙂

Oh, and go get a smaller diameter racking hose before you do anything else.
That's what my problem was, and even though I had a hose clamp on, it sucked
wind like an industrial hoover. Better to have a real tight fit you have to
fight. I use StarSan to clean the cane and hose – it's a no-rinse detergent
sanitizer originally developed for the dairy industry, and it makes the tight
fitting much easier to get on, but won't let it leak. When pulling apart,
push together first to loosen the connection, and it will pull right off.

Cooking with mead is good, but that's not *really* why we make it, right? 🙂


Subject: RE:  Cyser (Sep 19, 2009)
From: Vuarra <>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 17:40:21 -0700 (PDT)

Having made a whole bunch of beer and a few meads, I've noticed
something… aging is very, very good at forgiving rocket fuel tastes.
I'd leave it for a few months (three, for sake of arguement), and try
it again. Your "hotness" taste should abate. Also… I'd age it on
sur lees – on the yeast. Unless you've been fermenting for a year, you
(generally) should be okay.


Don't be an asshole. Let people do what they want to do, as long as they
don't hurt anyone else. Eat what you want to eat. Drink what you want to
drink. F*** who you want to f***. Make sure to eat plenty, drink plenty,
and f*** plenty. Let others be free to do the same.

Subject: Homebrew Competition with separate BOS Mead/Cider
From: "Susan Ruud" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 14:21:21 -0500

The Prairie Homebrewing Companions proudly announce the dates for the
12th annual Hoppy Halloween Challenge

Entries for this homebrewing competition will be accepted between October
3rd and October 16th. All categories currently recognized by the BJCP
are eligible. Please provide 2 bottles for each entry. Bottles entered in
these categories must be 10 to 16 oz. glass or plastic of ANY style and
clean and free of any labels (inked, paper, or otherwise). Entrants are
encouraged to use brown, long-neck bottles for maximum protection from
light and breakage. The fee is $7.00 per entry. All judging will be done
using glass tasters, not plastic cups. Every flight will have at least
one BJCP Recognized or higher level judge.

Complete details and entry information for Hoppy Halloween
Challenge 2009 can be found on the competition website:

Do you have a beer, mead or cider exuding "Halloweeness"? Perhaps it's
just TOO spooky to serve up to your friends let alone drink yourself? What
about that forgotten six-pack collecting cobwebs in the corner of the
basement? Well, we might just have the place for you to bury it! The
crypt is open! The competition's theme beer category will be judged to
BJCP style guidelines of the base beer, mead or cider according to the
standard 50 point system PLUS the entry's adherence to the spirit of the
holiday will be assessed based upon an additional 25 point "spook scale"
(Name – 5, Appearance – 5, Aroma/Flavor – – 5, Overall Impression – 10)
so you should note that the name of the entry and any packaging, bottle
and/or label embellishments will be factored into the final score. In short,
the "classic" Halloween Theme Beer should be GOOD and SCARY!

Those interested in judging can sign up online at:
Direct any questions regarding judging to or

Subject: Mead and Yeast
From: Justin Fortney <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 20:24:32 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Mead Lover's Digest,

I have a question about reusing mead yeast. For years I have often reused
the yeast from one batch to the next while making beer but I have never
done this with Mead. I always thought that with Mead the yeast left over
after fermentation would contain too many dead yeast cells because of the
high alcohol content of some meads. Is this correct or can I reuse the
yeast just as I have done with beer.



Subject: basic plan
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 2009 15:55:19 -0400

I'm going to make my first mead in many years next week, although quite
proficient at brewing beer. Does this sound like a reasonable plan: 1
gallon honey, approx 12 lbs 4 gallons RO water-(my local water is good
for dark beers but does poorly on lighter delicate beers, high carbonate,
high sodium, high PH, chloramine) yeast energizer and yeast nutrient
(not sure what i need of these but have a well stocked and knowledgeable
LHBS.) Lalvin 71B-1122 dry yeast, 2 packs rehydrated to 100 degrees for
10 minutes with water gently heat to around 160 degrees for 10 minutes,
cool with wort chiller to around 60, ferment for around a month at 60's,
rack to secondary and add 3 lbs frozen black raspberries, rack again after
a month or so and leave alone for a year. ?thanks guys

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1443