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  1. #1
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    May 2004
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    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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    Default Sterilizin' the must

    It seems to me that most, if not "all", of the mead recipes I've come across do not sulfite the must---as do most all of the other regular wine recipes of tried. Last Sunday I started my first batch o' mead using a recipe from Gary Reuter of U. of Minnesota's instructional poster #158. He calls for the water to be boiled first, then the honey with a portion of the water is heated to 160 degrees, then allowed to cool.
    Is this typically sufficient for sterilization in mead-making endeavors? Is there some problem with sulfiting mead must with Campden tablets that is not an issue with fruit or grape wines?
    Off the subject...I met Gary this past fall at a queen rearing seminar in Ohio...very interesting and informative! I can't wait to see how his mead recipe turns out!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Newberg, OR USA
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    Default boiling

    Let me lay this out, Bring your mead making to a new level.

    What happens to honey when you heat it up, really hot. It kills the flavour along with everything else in it.

    Don't fall into the old boil method. Simple is a great thing with mead.
    I don't boil the water, I warm the honey up to about 90-100 degrees, (only because it will mix into the water better). That way you bring all the lovely flavours and smells from the honey into your mead.

    Is there a chance of something nasty getting a head start in the mead, YES. BUT for 5 years running I have NEVER boiled and have never lost a batch of mead because I didn't boil.

    There are 2 camps on this issue, to boil or not to boil. I say NOT TO BOIL.

    You hear this all the time let a mead age. IT IS SO TRUE, have one that REALLY came into itself after 4 years. Hopefully the others will do the same.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2004
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    Default

    This pasteurization technique is widely used. So is sulfiting with campden which is little different than with wine must, and so is doing nothing beyond good sanitation and healthy yeast pitch. Heating isn't great for honey, which is why pasteurization at modest temps for X period of time is often used as a compromise rather than boiling.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks for the feedback. It seems that my best course might be to try several more batches using different techniques and then draw my conclusions. I tend to gravitate towards more simple recipes, so if I can get a good finished product using simple methods, then all the better. In any case, this is all very interesting. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long for the finished product!
    Speaking of that...does anyone have a recipe for a mead that would be pleasant to drink "without" aging 1,2,3...years?

  5. #5
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    Default

    Generally speaking, meads with lower alcohol require less extensive aging. Here's a thread with my recipe to answer this question but there are many out there.

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214150

    On sanitization, the simplest is the strict sanitization regimen (which should be done anyway), which when combined with good healthy yeast pitch should allow the yeast to outcompete the bad guys. See the thread stickied to the meadmaking board "intro to meadmaking" for more on sanitization and yeast management.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6

    Default

    NO SULFITES. Trying to go natural here. Tons of kit wine packets around the house, don't need it for them. I have sulfited my grapes prior to fermenting after some bad batches, but never after that.

    I do not boil the water. Someday I will filter it but not yet.

    I have only heated one batch of mead first as it was a mixture of crystallized honeys. It went well but has not been consumed much, I think it is only 3 years old.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2005
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    Newberg, OR USA
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    Default helper bob

    I would like to help you out consuming that batch of 3 year mead.

    Hey, I do what I can for the better of all.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Default

    I'm with Andy here. Now I have only been making mead since ought 4, but I have never heated my honey. I do use hot tap water (90 degrees) add honey, usually granulated, but it melts quickly. Then I pitch in the yeast after activating it in a separate warm water container.

    Although I am careful in sanitizing my equipment, I still have to reflect on the techniques of medieval mead makers. They did not have the chemicals and other crap that is recommended in the books. They just had honey, water, and yeast, seemed to work for them, and it works for me.

    I keep about eight carboys going all the time, but haven't yet figured out how to keep any longer than a couple of months after they stop bubbling.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  9. #9
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    Jul 2005
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    Lee Center, NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BULLSEYE BILL View Post
    Although I am careful in sanitizing my equipment, I still have to reflect on the techniques of medieval mead makers. They did not have the chemicals and other crap that is recommended in the books. They just had honey, water, and yeast, seemed to work for them, and it works for me.
    Same here. I have made mead off and on for years and never used anything but honey, water, and yeast. I also go to Wally World and buy cranberry juice to replace the water in some batches. I guess I should say I never use anything but honey, yeast, and water or juices. The only sanitizing I have ever done is to use a hose to rinse the carboys between batches. I have yet to have a batch go bad on me. Some take a little longer to mellow out but they are all good to me. Now on the other hand I have a friend who makes a great mead and he is like a scientist, everything has to be made just so. Can't say that his stuff is any better than mine though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Hookstown PA USA
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    Default

    I have a number of batches of mead and only pasturized one of them. My vote is to be lazy and not boil or sulfite the must at all. But that's just me.

  11. #11
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    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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    Default

    I've always been under the impression that honey is somewhat antiseptic. Could this attribute lessen the need for sanitization with meads?

  12. #12
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    Default

    Not really. The peroxide output that gives honey that property is a pH-driven process on interaction with skin and doesn't happen in mead. Otherwise honey's osmotic properties are the other piece, but osmophilic yeasts are usually present in honeys. The main thing is that healthy yeast that YOU introduce will outcompete the other critters much of the time if proper sanitation practices are in place.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  13. #13
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    Default

    Thanks Mr Brewcat. Learning all these technical aspects of meadmakin' makes me feel like a mad scientist! Perhaps making up a small batch on a regular basis will keep me entertained until tasting time in a year or two.

  14. #14
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Tolson View Post
    Thanks Mr Brewcat. Learning all these technical aspects of meadmakin' makes me feel like a mad scientist! Perhaps making up a small batch on a regular basis will keep me entertained until tasting time in a year or two.
    It doesn't have to take that long unless you have to have it crystal clear, but then I have had a batch or two clear up in six months. I'm just too impatient to wait that long.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  15. #15
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    Default

    I have tried it all and see nothing bad about a rolling boil/skim, a 150 F pasteurization for 20 minutes or sulfiting. Doing nothing is my least favorite technique, pastuerization my favorite. All seem to produce remarkably similar results except the do-nothing method which often makes a sour mead and the boiling which has sparkling clarity.

  16. #16
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    Dec 2005
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    Newberg, OR USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspera View Post
    I have tried it all and see nothing bad about a rolling boil/skim, a 150 F pasteurization for 20 minutes or sulfiting. Doing nothing is my least favorite technique, pastuerization my favorite. All seem to produce remarkably similar results except the do-nothing method which often makes a sour mead and the boiling which has sparkling clarity.

    SOUR ,what the hell truck did you fall off of?
    Don't buy it, haven't seen it. But hey it's your brew do what YOU like.
    Maybe try two batchs at the same time, boil one and see if the non-boiled tastes "SOUR"

  17. #17
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    Default

    Well, maybe it was just the hand crushed raw honey that I used, I calls em as i tastes em. Note that I didn't regard the sourness as unpleasent, just present.

  18. #18
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    May 2004
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    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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    Default

    Just put another batch into primary fermentation a few mnutes ago. This one was sulfited. Last one was heated to 160 degrees. Next one will go together au natural'. Not sure I can really compare them, though. I got fancy with this recipe and added some chocolate and other fancy-schmancy things. It's all fun!

  19. #19
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    Oct 2004
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    Default

    You know on the sour thing I've always wanted to try a deliberately sour mead a la flanders red or berliner weisse. I just haven't had the chutzpa to stake a batch on it (too much of a go-big-or-go-home gene ). I suppose a gallon could be pulled out and cultured... it'd take a pretty sweet mead to bring some lactic sourness into balance but who doesn't like a sour Kriek or a tart-cherry mead?

    Sour can be absolutely delicious on purpose, and not always so great if unintended .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  20. #20
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    Default

    Yes, I've also thought about adding some soured malt to a high alcohol mead to give a similar flavor.

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