Mead Lover's Digest #1526 Fri 17 June 2011

Mead Discussion Forum


honey is cheap! (Dick Dunn)
Wow… so much mead ("M. Graham Clark")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1525, 13 June 2011 ("Melissa D. Jordan")
What I've started with the Carrot Blossom honey (Jeff Rothrock)
Honey prices, listserv (Martin Pare)
Sour (lambic) mead and honey prices (
Shut down? Shut up! 😉 (Paul Shouse)

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Digest Janitor: Dick Dunn

Subject: honey is cheap!
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 2011 22:30:28 -0600

Looking at the comments on why people might not be making mead because of
the economy and honey prices…I find it hard to believe.

First against it, there's the side note that in a down economy people
tend to make more food (and drink) at home – quite true, and this
counter-cyclical behavior has been observed in the past by homebrew
shops, as noted.

BUT mainly, I see people talking about how honey costs have risen.
Although that is true, they've gone up a lot, it's time to get some
perspective. Domestic honey producers have had a horrible uphill battle,
so the price increases are due to (1) producers dropping out because it
is just too hard (so supply/demand effect) and (2) existing producers
having to work harder, offset more losses due to varroa/tracheal mites
and CCD. Folks, they are not greedy, but they should not be expected to
work for a loss! When AgriBiz sprays their colonies out of existence,
their outputs drop but the costs don't.

Perspective! OK, I have a shy gallon of honey here from a local producer,
11 US lb, for which I paid $30 US, and which with a buck or so of yeast
will produce a regular 5-gallon batch. That's a good price; some folks on
the last digest were talking for example up to $45-50 US total to produce
a typical 5 US gallon batch. But hold: 2 cases of wine bottles is about
4.75 gallons, so with racking losses a 5-gallon batch will give you two
full cases.

Let me pick a convenient number of $48 for ingredients (mainly honey but
some good yeast and maybe incidentals) – that's near the higher end of
current cost estimates. That's for two cases!!…24 wine bottles.

Would somebody who is complaining about honey costs PLEASE tell me where
I can buy good wine for $2 US per bottle?!?

As to homebrew and wine as comparison: Wine "kits" are generally far more
expensive than comparable supplies for mead. If you have a source of wine
grapes/juice, of course your numbers will be much better.

When you start comparing beer with mead on cost, keep in mind that there's
about a 2:1 quantity ratio to apply–that is, you need about twice as much
beer per "serving" as mead. For 10 gallons of good beer, an extract brewer
would probably pay over $30 for malt extract, at least $5 for hops, and $2
for dry yeast or a lot more for liquid. A whole-grain brewer would do much
better, but then the comparison starts to fail…you need to compare the
whole-grain brewer to the meadmaker who has a close source of honey.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

Subject: Wow... so much mead
From: "M. Graham Clark" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 10:56:21 -0300

Wow, this was a great article. Likely prompted by the threat of losing this
great resource, but still great none-the-less. I too am not in favor of
cutting the forum. I make my meads twice a year, so my posts follow that
pattern, but am still fairly new myself. Since I still feel like a newbie I
love to read the digest as it comes, no matter at what interval. Its true
we can always google an answer, or go to a mead forums, etc, but this is a
great community with lots of knowladge. I don't think anyone minds reading
an obvious question posted by a newbies, and the satisfaction you get when
you are just starting out and seeing all the replys is wonderful. It really
shows the depth of the craft. If our janitor is indifferent I would love to
see the digest stay open. If not, perhaps someone else might want to take
up the cause.

RE: Stephen

My costs are about 2$ CND a #. (The Canadian dollar is about on par with US
right now). I buy direct from a local producer I like who has hives in an
area that gives me the tastes I like. I generally have to buy at least 15#
at a time, though I find I prefer to fill up my 30# bucket all at once and
use the extra honey in place of sugar in my kitchen.

RE: Jesse

You should post any ideas you might have for flavors or recipes. There is
bound to be people out there looking for the same flavors and might be able
to push you in a direction.

On that note, I was thinking of doing a modified JAOM. One with better
yeast, zesting the oranges and harvesting the juice to avoid the pith. A
non-bread yeast will likely dry it out (I was thinking D 47), which is ok
with me. However I was also thinking of adding a vanilla pod or few. Does
anyone have any suggestions using vanilla pods? If I just want a slight
hint should I only use one, or will it be too little in 5 gallons? Should I
mash it up, slice it, harvest the seeds/resin in the middle, or just toss it
in whole? Anyone with experience like to share their thoughts?

Thanks in advance,
M. Graham Clark

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #1525, 13 June 2011
From: "Melissa D. Jordan" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 08:13:22 -0700

I wanted to share with you that I have read and printed off every single
digest from the day I got on your list with the intention of making mead as
soon as I retire. Soon… very soon!!! Thank you for sharing so much
information with someone who has enjoyed DRINKING mead for years. You're
giving me the courage to get out there and try it.

Melissa Jordan
Esparto, CA

Subject: What I've started with the Carrot Blossom honey
From: Jeff Rothrock <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 13:01:53 -0700

Just an update since I posted my original question. I started a 2 gallon batch with one of the half gallon jugs that the honey arrived in.

Spicy Mayan Chocolate Metheglyn:

  • 6lbs of Carrot Blossom honey from Flying Bee Ranch
  • 3 6" vanilla beans, split and segmented into 1" lengths
  • 1.5 oz freshly stone-ground cacao nibs
  • 0.25 oz unground cacao nibs
  • 1 medium habanero, blanched in boiling water for ~3 seconds, segmented and de-seeded
  • 3 Med. Toast French oak cubes in primary (1"x1.5"x1/2" dimension…more like dominoes)
  • 1.5 gallons of spring water, enough to bring OG to 1.116
  • 2g D21, rehydrated and built into small starter culture
  • 3.5g Go-Ferm, used to rehydrate yeast
  • 12g Fermaid K and 4g DAP, spread out over three additions before 1/3 sugar break

    It just got it's second dose of nutrients (3g Fermaid K and 1g of DAP left) and is smelling quite good.

    As per the carrot cake idea, I will let everyone know what that recipe ends up being. Thanks for the idea! 🙂

    Any other ideas? I'm looking at experimental 1 gallons at this point.

  • Jeff Rothrock

Subject: Honey prices, listserv
From: Martin Pare <>
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:19:13 -0700 (PDT)


for the hobbyist meading 10-20 L now and then, retail price seems fairly
stable in Quebec, Canada, 17-22 $ CND per 3 kg, 8 to 9 $ in 1 kg jars for
4-5 years now.

As for the listserv and participation, not clear to me if it is a forum
just to ask question/troubleshoot or also report informations. Am still
in the learning curve ( I am at batch #6 or 7 since 2009). We also have
a fair choice of meaderies in QC but I find the activity enjoyable, so
drink both commercial products and my own.


Subject: Sour (lambic) mead and honey prices
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:34:44 -0400 (EDT)

What to Add to Make a Sour Mead?
Several years ago, my son in Australia made some mead from three different
Eucalyptus honeys. I ultimately was able to get a sample of my cultivar of
WL720 to him (reused for 100 batches over 10 years). The most interesting
mead he made was from Stringy Bark honey, and it had a sweet/sour lambic
taste. I was visiting him in Australia 1 1/2 years ago, and he gifted me 30
kg of Stringy Bark honey, that I successfully brought home through customs.
I thought the lambic flavor came from a) something inherent in the honey, b)
something biological in the honey, or c) his lucky contamination of only
that batch either from the honey or from his processing – so I started
a trial. Half the honey was put in boiling water (boiled to eliminate
chlorine and with a partial potassium metabisulfite tablet to avoid
residual chloramines), and boiled about 10 minutes. I added the other
half of the honey to similar water that had been cooled to room temperature
(both to 17.2 percent potential alcohol). To both cool solutions, I added
an actively fermenting starter of my cultivar of WL720 (sweet mead yeast)
from a Tupelo honey batch, a couple of drops of olive oil, and ignored them
both for a bit over a year. Results: Boiled = clear and 2.0% P.A. (15.2%
alcohol & 2% residual sugars). Not Boiled = cloudy/hazy and 3.9% P.A. (13.3%
alcohol and 3.9% residual sugars). Both had similar flavor and aroma –
and neither are sour. The sour mead had a lot more character than the
plain mead and without the sour character, I don't think many people will
like the Stringy Bark mead as it is. I see that White Labs has about a
half dozen different sour yeast/bacteria combinations. Does anyone have
experience with these or other souring products for meads?
{PS – I tried boiling vs adding honey to hot water with two batches
of clover honey. Similar results, but they both cleared. Some minor
differences in flavor and aroma, but tasters were about split 50/50 on
which they liked best.}

Prices of Honey
I started out with Sam's Club honey, migrated to a local bee keeper (until
he lost all his bees to colony collapse syndrome), and have bought from
several national honey sources. I hate to give a plug to just one of
them, but check out Dutch Gold Honey ( to compare
the prices to other sources you have found. Their Orange Blossom, Wild
Flower, and Clover honeys are about $115 per 60 lb pail. It is a pain to
pay about $65/pail for USP shipping, but even with shipping – the honey
is about $3.00/lb, delivered. When my local bee keeper gets his hives
going again, I might switch back to support local industry.
Carl McMillin
Brecksville, OH

Subject: Shut down? Shut up! ;)
From: Paul Shouse <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 20:31:12 +0900

Mead, more than beer or wine, takes time. The long primary and even
longer secondary fermentation required, coupled with the slow aging
process makes patience more a necessity than a virtue. Fortunately,
more often than not that patience is rewarded. We create and enjoy a
drink that some have called sacred, a few call dangerous and most call
for more of. So, please have patience with us poor struggling
meadmakers and don't consider closing down the MDF.

Perhaps all of us, experienced or novice, can spend a little more of
our free time preparing reports on our experiments so our fellows can
share in our triumphs and be warned by our failures. After all, the
more information we have can only draw us closer together so that we
will become more of a community. I'll do my part by posting more often
if YOU will.

  • -Paul

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1526