View Full Version : Just nervous-moral support please

01-28-2006, 12:51 PM
Good morning everyone. I have been brewing beer for about 5 years now and have good results. I decided to branch off into mead...well really Metheglin for the A&S Competitons in the SCA. (I saw a couple of people are also doing this, too. Hi to you!)

I guess I just need some moral support this morning. I think its time to rack the Whole Hive Heather/Rose Hip Metheglin over to the secondary. I combined a couple of recipes (one being the Heather Metheglin from gotmead.com) and the methods from the other recipes to get the following...
_________________________________________________I nfused 1 gal H20 with 6c. dried Heather and 2T. Crushed Rose hips. Steeped this overnight
Added 3 Gal H20 raised to boiling
At 120 Degrees added 1 oz Bee Pollen (2 T), 1 oz Royal Jelly, 1 oz. Raw Propolis (ask my why if you really want to know..)
At 185 degrees added the 12 lbs Clover Honey
Cooled to 85 degrees
Added another 2 c dried heather and 1 T rose hips in mesh bag to must
Pitched 5g Redstar Premier Cuvee Yeast at about 85 degrees
It started fermenting nicely within about 8 hours. At about 72-74 degrees
3 Days later, I removed the mesh bag

Its been fermenting nicely for 27 days. I noticed yesterday it seemed to be slowing... and this morningit done be stopped...of course as I type that it bubbled...but its only bubling every minute or more...

And dangit - of course I forgot to take a starting gravity. booger. I am getting sloppy with my note taking the more I brew, bad bad.

So I guess it all comes down to what should I do next?
Do I rack it to a 6.5 or 5 gal carboy (have both...so which?)
Should I do anything else? or think about doing anything else?
I think I might try to preserve the lees (right term? for alll the gunk) after racking it...

As I said, this is my first mead/metheglin, so moral support is wonderful! And I have really enjoyed perusing the postings here!


The Honey Farmer
01-28-2006, 01:06 PM
Good day Holiday, I'm a newbee also. O.K. I really want to know, why the pollen, royale jelly, and why oh why the propolis?

Have a good day, The Honey Farmer

01-28-2006, 07:03 PM
Go ahead and rack. Don't bother saving the lees, a fresh pitch is best, especially when you don't use nutrients or oxygenation for the original batch.


01-28-2006, 09:31 PM
Good day Holiday, I'm a newbee also. O.K. I really want to know, why the pollen, royale jelly, and why oh why the propolis?

Have a good day, The Honey Farmer

Well...as I said, I combined several recipes. I found a book called Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, the Secrets of Ancient Fermentation. The first chapter is actually pretty much all about Mead. It goes into the history (very cool retelling of several of the myths) and then into the belief that mead was medicinal. In going into that it cites a bunch of the medical/clinical studies that have been done on the various bee derivative products - Royal Jelly, Propolis, Pollen even Bee Venom. The theory the auther puts forth is that YES ancient mead was probably medicinal as they would end up using most of the actual hive (skep- need to do more research on this term/process) in their mead making. And by association, if Royal Jelly etc actually does have medicinal properties, then those properties would likely have gotten transfered into the mead. The author includes a Whole Hive Mead Recipe (ask if you want me to post it)

So in making my metheglin - I used the Heather Metheglin recipe from here, the Heather Mead recipe and the Whole Hive Mead recipe from the book...Kind of combined processes/steps...

As it turns out I will probably rack it over to a secondary tomorrow. I have a stout in one of my 5 gals now that I need to bottle too.

I am thinking of splitting the metheglin into my 2 5-gals and cold clearing (anyone have input on this please speak out!) one of them..The reason is that i am trying to have something ready for the A&S competition at Estrella...probably won't be really ready, but its worth a try...I'll let you know how it turns out...it does smell yummy!

01-29-2006, 03:14 AM
Sounds like you have everything under control. Only 3 weeks to Estrella, so you are right and may not have enough time. But try it and bring a few bottles and do a taste test, you never know on some of these things and it may be a wonderful flash brew and ready for entry. But Red Star Premier Cuvee is a Champagne yeast, and they are usually a liitle hot and require time mellow.

Wish I could go this year, but can't make it. My wife is still going her the household though. Guess that gives me a week of City of Heroes. ;D

01-29-2006, 10:11 AM
I wanna try that game.

01-29-2006, 07:49 PM
it's a fun, no stress game. No end game like other online games, no raiding for high end gear, no in game money. It's all about the journey - like a comic book, the storyline, your characters growth, etc. Many people get bored after a few months, but it's a great game when you don't want to devote a lot of time. World of Warcraft was the opposite - I felt I had to play to keep up with friends, farm and raid to get good gear. Max level meant devoting time to raids or getting even in PVP for all the greifing... :-\

01-30-2006, 09:40 AM
Do yourself a favor and save the brew for next year. It will have matured and will impress people if you have a good recipe and have done a good job brewing it. The best you can expect to do with something so young this year is not to embarrass yourself. Again, do yourself a favor...

I'd like to see the recipe you mention. I enjoy the subtleties of the one you are using now that you have explained some of them. I look forward to hearing about your results...

01-30-2006, 10:02 AM
I'd have to agree with Pewter, don't rush anything you plan on entering. I was lucky to hit 89 with my Acerglyn, I think it was 5 months old at judging. (Most brewers were surprised at how young the mead really was) I scored perfect on everything except Documentation and Presentation. Wrote the documentation as I stood there, had the wine in screw top wine bottles. If you're going to enter into a competition, Document the life of your batch completely, no grey areas. I also suggest real wine bottles with REAL corks. I had brought the Mead to share at a tasting event, I had no plans on entering the competition... I was just there to cover it for GotMead incase Vicky didn't show. I lucked out, nah, I'm too modest... it was a damn fine mead!!!


01-30-2006, 01:16 PM
Thanks for the input Pewter and Wrathwilde. Pewter, I am not sure which of the 3 recipes you are referring to - so here is the Whole Hive as that seems the most likely. If you want the Heather Mead from the book too, I can transcribe it, too...

A Complete Hive Mead
6 lbs wildflower honey (I used Millers Clover)
1 oz propolis
1 oz bee pollen
1 oz royal jelly
3 gal H20

Boil Honey and water for 30 min and skimm off foam.
During cooling add propolis, bee pollen, royal jelly - do not strain.
Cool to 70 degrees F. Pour into Fermenting vessel, making sure the undissoved solids from the propolis, jelly and pollen go into it.
Add yeast. Let ferment until complete (16-26 days)
Add 2/3t. honey to each bottle (if carbonated mead is desired), fill bottles, and cap.

Ready to drink in two weeks to a year depending on how long you wish to store it - the longer the better.
From Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, Stephen Harrod Buhner, p. 58-59.

You can see how I combined the recipes by looking at my original post.

Well I racked it into 2-5 gal carboys. Putting one into my aging closet (basement shower - stays about 65-68 degrees down there) and the other into my garage - where it is reading about 50. We'll see how they clear out under those different conditions

It is pretty dry and sharp (has a lot of bite) at the moment. I think it has a nice bouquet, though I wish the Heather was coming through more. The Heather Metheglin recipe from here notd that after about a month of aging, the author added more honey and more of the heather "tea" (need to read up on how to describe things! hmm, didn't I see a post about that somewhere....)

On a side OT note, the stout is not quite what I expected either. I think t will need to age a bit, too.

01-30-2006, 01:53 PM
??? ??? ??? ??? ???
Ok, I just did a check on both the carboys...And I am dumbfounded, going mad, or my eyes are bad...It LOOKS like the carboy in the garage at 51 degrees is FERMENTING - slowly 1 bubble to every 10-15 sec... Uhm.. what should i do??

(I checked the aging closet and it could be too. But the airlock wasn't seated very well - those dang stoppers keep pushing out. I am alsochecking the temp down there...)

David Baldwin
01-30-2006, 02:28 PM

At 51 degrees it could be fermenting. If you have residual sugars and an abv of less than 16% you can almost bet on it.

My suggestion... airlock it and let it age. It will eventually quit fermenting.


02-01-2006, 11:03 AM

I agree with David. Unless you want it stopped where it is right now, trap it and leave it go. I think at 51F you should see some precipitating of the lees out of the batch. Make sure to rack off of it when it is up to 1/2 an inch or so.

Good luck,

02-02-2006, 11:04 PM
Well, the gravity reading was a dead 1.0...(but oops, forgot to take the starting... :-[)

The fermentation signs seemed to have stopped. The shower is actually reading 57-60 degrees and during waking hours, the garage is 45-50...

Thanks for the tip on the lees... They both look to be clearing, but then I am not 100% sure what I am looking for...LOL

02-04-2006, 12:18 PM
Well, just a quick update (I found the brewlog section so will do these kinds of things over there in the future)

The lees are getting up to that mystical 1/2 inch line in BOTH carboys even though there has been a 10+ degree difference in the temps. So I think I will rack off one bottle, and then continue to let the carboys rest for a bit longer. (Figure that if I decide to enter the competition I will have some with - hey my first Estrella, so worst I can do is embarass myself and then WOW them next year.)

Any issues with recombining them into one carboy for the duration?

I also did a little digging on the manufacturer's comments about the Cuvee yeast and lees (based on the HOw long between rackings conversation) and didn't find any recommendations.

They both do seem pretty clear - so when do I know to bottle it all?


02-04-2006, 02:27 PM
A couple of things to note:

Information on Red Star Premier Cuvée:

It is intended for Dry Red, white and sparkling wines and translates well to meads. It is also used to restart stuck fermentation. It is a fast clean fermenter, and is generally used for anything but residual-sugar wines.

It is a Davis#796 strain which has a wide fermentation range of 45-95° with an alcohol tolerance of up to 18% and it is listed as a low flocculator. This one is also known as Prise de Mousse (same geographical strain as EC-1118) and is typically a Champagne yeast that is strong acting, low foaming and is very often used for barrel fermentations as is EC-1118. It will impart a strong yeasty flavor, and will produce up to 50 ppm of sufites during fermentation.

I've stated before that I don't adhere to racking based on lees accumulation because every batch is different, and every mead is different, and every yeast is different. To me, there is no one simple 1/2 to 3/4 inch formula for racking. Too many variables in the batches to use a standard approach. In this case the Premier Cuvee is a low flocculator. So racking as soon as the lees hit's 1/2 inch to me makes no sense. Let it sit for a week or two more after you have no activity in the airlock. Give it a little time to compact itself as much as possible, then go ahead and rack. Also, while this is a low flocculator, it is an active yeast at temperatures of 45 F, and it will ferment to completion at that temperature so waiting a couple of weeks after the fermentation has stopped is recommended. Also protracted exposure to temperatures of 45 F will help to compact the lees, as well as precipitate out a good deal of the yeast still in suspension.

Also, I generally rack pretty quickly (I use no heat most of the time but I do pasteurize and boil based on certain recipies that I have), but your batch is boiled, so the same rules do not apply because the protiens, enzymes, subtle aromas of the blossom source and varietal characters have been boiled out of the honey and you want some other characters in there to add a bit of complexity to the flavor, aroma and overall character. A couple of more weeks on the lees and you'll get that, but I wouldn't leave them more than a couple of weeks to three weeks past cessation of airlock activity.

Hope that helps,


02-13-2006, 10:10 PM
Ok, tomorrow will be 16 days in the split secondaries...Am I right that next step should be to bottle? I guess I should taste it first? sorry to be so dense, but...

And an update for those of you off to Atenveldt - sigh, I won't be joining you with or without this metheglin. The 50 horses done gone and broke their legs! So will be staying home and maybe taste testing this and the other brews I had planned to bring. The mead gods must have meant for this to age a bit before it hit the populace!


02-14-2006, 01:49 AM

It's way too soon to bottle. Let it go for at least 5 - 6 weeks with no change in specific gravity readings before you even think of bottling.

You can also sulfite and sorbate the mead after cooling it in your refrigerator for two weeks to ensure that fermentation does not restart. Right now is way too soon.

Patience Prudence!



02-14-2006, 10:01 AM
But Oskaar, 5 weeks is so long... Jeez, I'm waiting for my mead to degas right now. Done fermenting (as in totally clear with a yellow tinge, so clear that I can see the crumbs of Campden sitting all over the bottom), but it's still letting out gas. Mabe it's still fermenting, but it hasn't dropped anything in weeks. Oh, the wait is unbearable.

02-14-2006, 06:12 PM
Mouko is RIGHT!! The wait is beginning to be unbearable.

Dang, cuz I just had a thought to give my honey ( ;D ) the first bottle as a Valentines day present. Sigh. OK I will wait. It is pretty clear....and its been sitting between 45-50 degrees or 57 depending on which carboy I look at...Nice lee accumulation too.

02-19-2006, 05:19 PM
Well, I couldn't help myself. I had to taste it! (21 days in the secondaries)

Its interesting, the 2 carboys are tasting a bit different. Both are golden in color, with a hint of heather bouquet - not as much as I would have thought. But pleasant

The one averaging mid 50's is harsh and very dry. The one outside which is ranging in the 40's is much mellower and not quite as dry, but still dry.

Whoever posted the original Heather Metheglin recipe back-sweetened it and added more heather "tea", which I might do. I am going to let the other half taste and see what he thinks.


03-09-2006, 08:52 PM
OK, life is going to force me to bottle them. I am getting ready to move and need to pack everything away.

The boys tasted the little bit that I stole a couple weeks? ago and like it so hey, if they will drink it maybe I didn't do too bad. (They can be pretty snobby.)

I am thinking that I am going to recombine the two carboys into one, let it resettle for a couple days then bottle. I have brought them upstairs where the average temp is 71 unfortunately. I don't have workspace in the cooler parts of the house to rack/bottle. There are some small particulates floating at the surface that are collecting little rings of bubbles...Is this a problem?

Any other words of wisdom, before I bite the bullet and bottle this? My only regret is that I am going to have to put it into screw top bottles as I don't have a hand corker nor the money to put into one right now.

Wish me luck!

03-10-2006, 01:45 AM
Just a word of caution. You said that one batch was drier than the other and that you were going to combine the two - if there are still viable yeasties in there, they could chow down on whatever sugars you have left and restart fermentation. If fermentation is still going when you bottle with screwcaps you could end up with a recipe for mead grenades :o (or maybe just a touch of sparkle). Your SG was low enough that I'm guessing that you wouldn't have enough to build up terribly much pressure even if it tried that - more of a theoretical possibility than a likelihood, I'd think.

03-10-2006, 07:11 PM
Thanks for the input. At this point it is a risk I am going ot have to take. I am moving next weekend :( And I am concerned about moving active/full carboys. Don't want to stir up all the shtuff on the bottom.

04-02-2006, 05:31 AM
Well here is an update...

I combined the 2 batches and muffed it up - stirred up the lees pretty bad in the carboy I was racking from. Did that on...3.10.2006 if i remember correctly. So I went for broke and rather than trying to keep any of the gunk out of the other carboy, I moved it all. I put it back out into the 55 degree garage. I ran another gravity reading - still at 1.0 dead on pretty much. I tasted the combined from the gravity read theif and it is still pretty young. On some advice from my friend Grayleaf, I decided to leave it in the carboy for the actual move.

So it got moved to my boyfriends garage on 3/18 and there it sits. I haven't even really checked on it since. With all my stuff in storage, I really can't do much to it.

I may go buy a new racking tube setup - I have started to notice some striations/hairline cracks or scratches in my current 4? year old one. I can get to my other 5.5 gal carboy. So with that, can rack it off the now combined lees and continue letting it age and clear...

Thoughts comments would be appreciated. I am nervous that all my mucking about and moving may have toasted this batch.

04-02-2006, 08:30 AM
Don't worry, let the thing sit until it clears. Taste about every two weeks or so to see where it's headed.

Once it is clear you can decide on backsweetening, more heather tea, etc. Things will be just fine :) Mead, for all the cautions we take can be incredibly robust and forgiving as well.

Your experience is why I always say to make several batches of basic, traditional mead before you decide to get fancy. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't experiment, just do it parallel to your basic batches and live it up with the experiment. To me making basic batches and reproducing your results dead-on each time is the goal. After that you can improvise, or you can improvise in parallel. The point is learn to walk before you try the 100m hurdles.

It's really important to know the various stages of fermentation, and what to expect when racking, clearing, backsweeting, aging, etc. Once you have a firm grasp of that you will know where your failure/opportunity points are to make treatments and adjustments to your meads after having practiced on your basics. There are other subtleties of treating, infusing and adjusting that you'll want to try with melomels, meths, etc, that are not necessarily needed in traditionals and vice versa.

I guess my advice would be to make some basic meads to really dial in your technique, and then get fancy once you've gotten really good at basics. Hey, after making mead for the last twenty some odd years I've gone back to basics to revisit my techniques and new methodologies that are adding value in the wine world. I'm finding some of them to be of value in the mead world as well.

Hope that helps,


04-03-2006, 11:45 AM
A little aging never hurts...

But if you have significant lees, especially at or near the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, rack off of it...

Good luck,

04-03-2006, 12:25 PM
As mentioned below, let your goal of what you want as an end product, rather than a timetable govern when to rack. Certain yeasts impart benefical qualities to your mead when exposed to the lees, one such yeast is D47.

It releases complex polysaccharides during the end of primary fermentation and autolysis. These polysaccharides are mainly glucans and mannoprotiens. In oenology mannoprotiens play mulitple roles, they act as stabilizing agents with tartrate and protien precipitations, as aroma support, and as stabilizers for polyphenolic compounds.

In mead they have another benficial effect which is to add body, fullness and richness during extended lees exposure. I use D47 exensively in my traditional meads and cysers, and the effect of exposure to the lees is profound in my opinion. I let them go on the lees in the primary for up to six months. See my photos from the New Year Cyser thread in the Brewlog section of this board.

Envision your end product, design your must with that in mind and then choose your yeast accordingly. Some yeasts you'll want to rack off of in a hurry, others you won't. The beauty is that you have abundant choices.



04-04-2006, 10:53 AM
There's really nothing to go around about.

Pewter is not well informed enough about the number of different yeasts that are indicated for lees aging to really speak with any degree of authority.

A simple few moments of checking on the yeast you are using before you allow extended lees contact is all you have to do to avoid imparting any yeasty off flavors from the lees. So you can do a bit of research up front or even ask a few questions here to avoid any problems.

Pewter tends to make blanket statements like:

"The chance the lees of a yeast other than D-47 is going to harm the taste of a batch is greater than the chance it will help."

I find this pretty funny since two of the top four yeasts I see discussed on this board regularly are indicated for lees aging. I'll let Pewter tell you which yeasts those are.



04-04-2006, 11:06 AM
The chance the lees of a yeast other than D-47 is going to harm the taste of a batch is greater than the chance it will help. As you get closer to the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, the negative impact will be potentially even greater as the yeast becomes strained by the alcohol.

Um, no. I've been leaving my meads on *all* the yeasts I use, for *years* now, and find that in almost *all* cases, it improves the mead, adding complexity, and depth to the brew. Lees are an essential part of creating mead, just as grape skins are in making wine. You wouldn't expect to make a great cabernet without leaving it on the skins.

I've got around 60 gallons right now, and every one is sitting on lees. I'll rack off them a couple times when I'm ready to bottle, just because I don't care to decant every bottle as I drink it, but lees are a Good Thing.

Vicky - leave the lees

04-04-2006, 12:06 PM

You keep pointing to your master brewers and your friends who have taken courses where they say lees are bad, yet give no real places for us to research and see what the research has been, who has done it, or what specific studies have been done with what conclusions.

There is plenty of information on lees aging being beneficial to wine and mead from the very yeast manufacturing companies whose yeasts you use. There are also plenty of other resources freely available on the web for you to research. All you have to do is a simple google search to find them and de-ignorize yourself about lees aging. If you want to speak out of ignorance feel free to do so, just don't try to pass that off as fact to other people who don't know any better.


04-04-2006, 12:21 PM
Well, I don't know your friend Scott. And the Barons aren't here to speak for their own research.

Pewter, if you're going to say that this is the way to go, then support it with valid resources, not 'my friend says'.

You yourself admit you're a relatively new brewer, and there are folks here with over 30 years of experience who say lees are good in many cases.

If you say lees are bad, speak to specific yeasts and specific circumstances. Don't tar the entire issue with the same brush, that's not good research, and misleads the newbees into thinking that lees are always bad, when that is simply not the case.

Folks, if you want to give the newbees advice, then *please* make sure what you're saying is valid. Saying 'always do this' or 'never do that' is poor advice (and bad research technique), unless you can support your recommendation with research and backing from those who have been brewing longer than many here have been *alive*.

Pewter, I'm not trying to slam you, but you're not giving advice that is supported properly, and it might mislead someone into making a lesser mead than it might have been, possibly even costing them a competition. Do your yeast research, then come back and tell us what you learned.

If the Barons wish to come here and tell us what they know, we'll be happy to listen. Likewise for your friend and his expert.

What I've learned as 'fact' has changed time and again as I learn more. Be willing to accept that as you progress in your mead education, you might actually find out that previous ideas are not necessarily the best way. Such was me when I discovered that you didn't have to boil. I no longer do.

The DeLondres meads are nice meads. But they (nor anyone) are not the end-all of mead knowledge. Do your homework, and learn from multiple sources.

04-04-2006, 12:28 PM

You're missing the point. It's not a competition, it's simply facts versus non-facts. I did not call you ignorant, I indicated that you should take the opportunity to research this subject and de-ignorize yourself about lees aging. Because you are ignorant of the facts about lees aging.

I'm sure your meads and DeLondres meads are wonderful. That has absolutely zero to do with lees aging and how it affects taste, structure and complexity. Do the reasearch and you will find there are many benefits to lees aging.

Of course it's always your choice to make mead the way you like. But, don't try to tell people that lees are bad based on secondhand information and present it as a fact.

This is not personal it is about facts.



04-04-2006, 12:51 PM

Now you're just being melodramatic.

Bottom line is you made a blanket statement and I called you on it. Deal with it or don't. That's up to you.



If these posts look odd it's because Pewter deleted his posts in between the responses from Vicky and I. I'm leaving my posts because I stand by what I said.



04-04-2006, 04:48 PM
Interesting articles and yeast descriptions:

Champagne and lees aging:

See descriptions of D47, MO5 and CY3079

Barrel descriptions and more yeast information:

Good article on yeast and some nice information on lees aging:

Good article on MicroOxygenation of wines and gross lees contact:

Barrel fermentation and lees management:

Excerpt of an email from Clayton Cone:

". . . pH information on each fermentation is good to have. You
may find that you do not need potassium carbonate on some types or
batches of honey. If the pH does not drop below 3.0 during the first 12
to 24 hours you will not need potassium carbonate.

71B should give you a light and fruity mead that is at its best when
racked ASAP.

D47 is good for aging on the lees. It should give you good mouthfeel and

K1 is good for quick racking or aging on the lees.

Let me know the results of your fermentations. Give me some descriptors
that I can put into my files.



PS: Are you going commercial?"

Well, there's something to get started with.

Also see the brewlog entry of my New Year Cyser Here (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,609.msg11943#msg11943)



04-04-2006, 05:22 PM

The following is excerpted from a much longer article on micro-oxygenation (http://www.beveragebusiness.com/bbcontent/art-arch/nesto1201.html) but I think it talks about gross lees aging in terms of how I brew and what I expect to see happen...

...."The research shows that if maturation on lees is sensitively managed, there are, in fact, numerous benefits. If the lees are not managed correctly, the decomposition of yeast and bacteria can result in bad odors which can degrade or destroy wine. There are two categories of post fermentation lees. The gross lees are the thick layer of yeasts, bacteria and other sediments that lie at the bottom of the tank after alcoholic fermentation, or after the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations, if these two fermentations are more or less simultaneously achieved. The fine lees are the thin layer of sediments that remain after a previous racking has removed the gross lees. Maturation of red wines on the fine lees is an option in traditional Burgundian red winemaking. Occasionally, this technique is used on Pinot Noir wines made in other countries. Maturation on fine lees does not usually include batonnage. Maturation of red wines on the gross lees, however, is a new technique. which requires batonnage (lees stirring) to control bad odors given off by the large amount of decaying yeasts and bacteria. While maturation on the gross lees offers more potential benefits than maturation on the fine lees, the risks are substantially greater."


"When the gross lees form a sediment more than ten centimeters thick and this sediment remains undisturbed for about one week or more, yeast autolysis typically encourages bad-smelling sulfur-containing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, disulphide, or mercaptan. Batonnage helps lift up and homogenize nitrogenous compounds and polysaccharides, therefore reducing the possibility that the lees will become putrid. Batonnage reduces the liquid pressure on yeast cells, a factor that increases the development of negative sulfur-containing compounds. It also mixes air into the wine, thus macro-oxygenating it. In addition, batonnage also increases mannoprotein-anthrocyanin combinations by as much as 20%. It enhances the colloidal state of the tannins and intensifies color stability and soft tannin palate expression. Winemakers usually combine micro-oxygenation and/or macro-oxygenation with batonnage in order to enhance their control over the oxidation-reduction potential of maturing red wine. The lees push the wine towards reduction. Batonnage and/or MO push the wine towards oxidation."

My only comment would be that what constitutes "gross lees" for a brewer working in smaller batches like we do is not 10 cm but maybe that magical 1/2 inch I have mentioned before.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out,

Additional note: I post this because my technique, however poor or good, does not include daily stirrings of each batch. I tend to pitch a batch and let it sit until I rack it, which I believe duplicates what a lot of people here do as well. Given that fact, I believe that the comments about damage due to gross lees aging apply to my meads. You decide if they might apply to yours...

04-04-2006, 05:54 PM
The article referenced by both Pewter and I is a very good article pointing out both the benefits and possible detriments of aging on the gross lees. The article points out that the benefits of gross lees aging can really only be accomplished by batonnage (stirring of the lees in order to eliminate the sulfur aroma and poor taste developed in the gross lees)

As Pewter mentions below, if the gross lees are left in tact without being disturbed, then you have a very real potential for imparting off flavors. I tested that with my New Year Cyser in which I used dried cherries (Ranier and Montmorency) for the tannin the skins would impart into the mead. I found that early oxygenation and stirring, along with additional stirring added a great deal of complexity to the cyser which is now a little over a year old. It's incredibly complex and very well structured. I'll continue to refine this process in my meadmaking, especially in this particular cyser recipe.

Note that below Pewter mentions that he does not stir his batches daily. That's fine, as I have mentioned in other posts and will reaffirm here, I do. this is all part of using the lees to increase the complexity and structure of the mead. Batonnage has also been discussed in a few other threads as well.

I reference the following comments on this specific cyser from people who have tried it:

See here (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,3213.msg27370#msg27370) for comments from Comrade who's posted here a couple of times and is a member of the homebrew club I recently joined.

Rezzin from Brewcommune said:

"Once again we had a good time over at Lyns. Oskaar stopped by and shared some of his incredible Cyser. I've been dying to try some of this stuff and pretty much was inspired by what I tasted. I will definitely be giving it a shot sometime down the road - hopefully in the near future. I'm brewing my first all grain batch tomorrow and I can't wait!"

Spkrtoy of Brewcommune said:

"Hmmm, Oskaar's Cyser with Cider/orange blossom honey, tart/sweet cherry's and aged 14+ months at 16% ABV, all I gotta say is WOW Laughing .

If I get that bug, watch out....

Right now I'm just trying to make some competition style beer.

Patience is the rule with the mead and up categories.

Rule of thumb: first learn to make beer, make it consistently, then perfect it so you make it everytime, then branch out.

I'm toooooo damn impatient to make the mead/cyser and up....

Damn nice one Oskarr!!! Please sir, may I have another????"

So I'm fairly confident that the lees aging was well enough integrated into this specific cyser to make a lasting impression on those that tasted it.



04-05-2006, 11:51 AM
Well, after all of that, the lees aging has it - for at least another week or two. I am off to CA today and then to AZ next week, so I don't have time to rack it off.

I appreciate the technical and untechnical advice that everyone provided. I have tended to brew beer like I cook - I start out with following the basic instructions to the letter and then once I am comfortable with the process, I go by gut with that foundation of the technical understanding of the techniques - but I don't always measure and I finger taste.


04-05-2006, 12:09 PM
Now this is good info.

Gotmead visitors and regulars: All I ask is that you are specific about whether a recommendation you are making is your personal preference, or established technique based on published results (and please list your references when you do this, it helps everyone).

I know we've folks here ranging from brand-newbees to old farts who've been brewing forever. Your experience and insight are valuable, whether you've been brewing for a week or 40 years. But be aware that people don't always know what's 'established' and what's 'opinion', so please be clear when you give advice.

You'd feel pretty bad if you sold your personal way to someone as accepted norm, and their mead came out like crap. I know I would.

Vicky - who brews by the seat of her pants, your mileage may vary

04-05-2006, 05:20 PM
I have tended to brew beer like I cook - I start out with following the basic instructions to the letter and then once I am comfortable with the process, I go by gut with that foundation of the technical understanding of the techniques - but I don't always measure and I finger taste.

I am with you. I treat my brewing as an inexact art form, not a science, and I am worried that not having the tastebuds to be a master chef may mean that I lack the tools to be a master brewer. My measure of a particular method or technique is not whether there is research to support it, but what the results are. I suppose I feel like we are trying to disclaim Grandma's Chocolate Cake recipe, even though she makes great cakes, because Grandma cannot cite some expert. My mentors make excellent meads and so I post their methods and use them myself. I find it humorous that those methods based on supposed ignorance actually do have factual basis that can be cited. But I'd still recommend them to friends even if they weren't supported by research. Please understand, and now all my posts carry the disclaimer, that I propose methods that work for me (and for others).

The proof, if you'd like some, will be available to you any time during Pennsic War in the DeLondres Camp. Please stop by if you make it to War. I will post a time and place for a mead tasting to also be held at War when the time gets closer and details are known. Last year's tasting was fun and a learning experience for everyone. You may get to meet several other posters from this forum at that event...

Good luck with your brews,

04-05-2006, 05:40 PM

Making mead does not require anything other than ones time and a desire to make the best mead they can make with the tools at hand. Your analogies are poorly based and you know it.

No one here is going to impugn your or anyone else's opinion on how to make mead, wine, beer, chocolate cake or bathtub gin as long as it is stated as your preference, your opinion or your particular way of doing something. Both Vicky and I have pointed out over and over again that when you state opinion as fact we'll call you on it. We've done so here. Yet, you still insist on trying to play the martyr on these points.

Get on with it, get over it or move on. At this point you're just running laps and everyone here knows it.


04-05-2006, 07:06 PM

Having Tasted both Oskaar's Mead and House De Londres', I'd have to say that as good as De Londres Mead is... and believe me it is excellent... Oskaar's Mead is simply incredible, an order of magnitude better. So yes although there are many different ways to make mead, and Oskaar's tips run counter to a number of those from House De Londres, from what I've tasted so far it's not even a close contest, Oskaar wins this one hands down. De Londres could learn a lot from Oskaar, and I'd pay good money to listen to the debates between them on methods and style.

This isn't to say De Londres' methods aren't valid, they are and they make some incredible mead, but Oskaar does have a handle on some techniques that would take them to a higher level.


04-05-2006, 07:09 PM
I'm jumping into this a little late. I've been making mead for the better part of twenty years now, but my style is different from Oskaar's and many of the other old hands. I often let my meads stay on the lees, more out of lethargy than any real plan or intent. This means that battonage is not a technique I usually practice. I think my style (in this regard, anyway) is more like Pewter's than many other people who do lees aging.

Purely opinion here, but one based on experience: lees aging -- even rather extensive aging of up to several months -- has only rarely brought out what I considered to be off-flavors. I've let EC-1118 go up to (if memory serves me) about four months on a cyser once...blasphemy, I know. The effect...? A slight bittering in the aftertaste. I back-sweetened it a bit, let it age in the bottle for a month or so more, and had a perfectly pleasant mead for my (lack of) efforts. In a championship or competition level mead, this would certainly have been a flaw that a good judge would have picked up. But I didn't care.


Because the effect was not overly-pronounced and it didn't detract anything from my own enjoyment. I do this a lot -- that is, not worry, and just let the magic happen. Is it good procedure? Sure -- for me. For Oskaar, and probably many others it wouldn't be.

See, to me, it's all about what you're after. I'm after a nice mead without a lot of trouble. At one time, I was much more technical. I might go full circle one day and re-examine my basic mead making roots, but mead can be hard to screw up, once you're past the very basics. At some point early on in this hobby, you cross the routine "danger point" of mucking up a good thing, and get into an area of pure subjectiveness.

I'm sorry that some of the comments in this thread are gone, because I missed them the first time around and it's evolved into something pretty important, and, it seems, afield from the topic of lees aging. My view on lees aging is nonscientific and nonempirical: by and large, it's harmless and/or even quite beneficial for particular flavor effects. Again, we're talking about subjectiveness. Just because most of the professional and accomplished-amateur thinking in the wine and mead worlds leans towards the view that lees aging is (depending upon wine/mead style, and yeast used) a good thing, doesn't mean it ever was in ancient times -- or is now for people who seek to emulate and improve upon historical styles. And Pewter runs in that crowd, and comes from that tradition.

Outside of basic sanitation techniques, stating that "thus and such is good/bad practice", which we all tend to do, either overtly or otherwise, is greatly dependent upon background. Many of us like the science behind our opinions to have hardcore documentation. But in times long gone it was word-of-mouth, apprenticeship, and practice, practice, practice that made a mead its best. For his background and current desires, I'd say Pewter is doing things correctly.

By the same token, stating from the git-go that he's been taught by people who do things a certain way because it has proven to make the best mead for them time and again, is probably the best way to avoid miscommunication or apparent misinformation in the future. I'm as guilty as anybody of making blanket statements, and I've had to back off of them or substantiate them whenever I've been called on their validity. For historically-minded mazers of proven skill, such as some of Pewter's SCA friends reportedly are, it probably should be taken -- if not as fact, then certainly as truism -- when they say that something is good or bad practice, because they've found that particular thing to be that particular way by both tradition, and trial and error.

Now, I share what I consider to be the majority opinion here, when I say that it is quite regretful that the SCA and Renaissance Festival mead makers have been all but absent from these boards. With luck, that will someday change, but so far, we have yet to hear from even one "master brewer" of any house on any matter of importance. They have their own boards elsewhere on the Web, I assume, but by the very nature of their organizations, these places must be exclusive of more modern brewing approaches, and the people who practice them. That's fine, because Vicky was willing to devote as much space as they could ever want here at GM to post, persuade, or pontificate to their hearts' desire -- space that is nearly unused. Sad to say, but without their presence, nasty skirmishes like this one will happen again.

All that being said, I think much of what has transpired here is due to pride, miscommunication, and, yes, a difference of philosophy. Nonetheless, there isn't one of us currently posting at GM who wants to see anything but the betterment of our hobby; we all want newcomers to improve their skills and enjoy themselves; and we want the respect of the overall brewing community, society itself, and most of all...each other.

And now, vertigo forces me off of my soap-box. Thank you.


04-06-2006, 11:22 AM
This first part is for Pewter, since you decided to twit me in public:

Drop it. I told you what the problem was. Fix it or leave. More trying to force the issue of 'your' method as 'the' method will result in moderation. I tried being PC about this earlier in the thread, and you decided to ignore me.

My site. My forum. My rules. Clarify methods as 'yours', not 'standard' unless you can prove it with extensive cites.


Back to the discussion of which types of yeast are better/worse if you decide to let your mead sit on the lees. I tend to let mine sit there, just because I don't have time to rack when I'd like. That being said, so far I've not had problems, and some of my meads have sat there on 1/2-3/4 inch of lees for months.

Your mileage may vary, but I've not had problems with it. Certainly there are those who chose to rack off them at a certain time. It all depends on what you prefer to do.

Up until this last batch, I tended to use Red Star yeasts, particularly Premier Cuvee. I'm planning on branching out into Lallemand for my next batches, mainly because I get lots of feedback here that they're great.

A question that occurs to me, how does the *type* of mead being made combine with the yeast and leaving on the lees? Will a spice mead have more or less problems than a fruit mead using, say D-47?

Does anyone know if plastic pails can interact with lees? Just an idle thought, but it might have some relevance to those who secondary in pails. I do this sometimes if I've no carboy available, or if the batch exceeds my 5-gal carboy capacity.

I've always been a 'seat of the pants' meadmaker, the same way I cook. I use a core recipe, then embellish around the edges, don't take many measurements, and am not very scientific about it. My methods change with what I'm doing, and when I learn something new. I don't make yeast starters, just toss the packet contents into the must and shake the crap out of it. I pasteurize or pitch cold, depending on my whim at the moment. I usually *don't* boil (althought one of my best meads was one that was boiled for 1/2 hour, years ago). My mead-making methods are cobbled together from books, people with longer experience than me, and intuition. They change without notice, though, if I discover new things (which seems to happen daily around here!).

04-06-2006, 12:36 PM
Just a couple of factoids:

I have several melomels that leaving on 71B-1122 too long has ruined. Racking off of this yeast is a published recommendation that should be taken seriously.

I have a batch of Sloppy Seconds Grape Wine that an additional 3 weeks on the K1V-1116 lees added some bad characteristics that will require quite a long time to age out, assuming that they will age out.

Good luck with your batches,

04-06-2006, 01:22 PM

I envy you. Based on Oskaar's family background in winemaking and the number of years he has been doing it, I am sure his stuff is really good. I should get to taste it when he gets around to sending me the yeast test batches he has owed me for a year or so...

Might I suggest you get into the Brewlog section and do a review of it in the thread that Oskaar has posted for that batch. Kinda like he did for your Maple one. It will help everyone here to recognize a superior batch, recipe, and how he got there.


04-06-2006, 08:16 PM

The particular batch he sent isn't in the brewlog, he's only mentioned it in passing in a couple of unrelated threads. I'll just say it was light, crisp and citrusy, incredibly well balanced with no alcohol burn, there was a slight smokey carmel taste about it. Very smooth, with good volume and mouthfeel. But this description doesn't even begin to describe how incredible Oskaar's mead is... His mead is complex in a myriad of subtle ways, just absolutely amazing.


05-14-2006, 09:04 PM
OK I know I need to move this over to the brewlog but until I do - here is an update on the mead.

Last saturday 5/6/2006 - I racked off about 1.5 cups of the mead for tasting and CELEBRATION!!!! and then gave it a nice gentle stir.

I found the mead actually almost tasteless, but with a nice bouquet of honey and heather. To me it was like drinking an incredible light white wine with little or no bite and just a little hint of honey. Thoughts, ideas? comments?

My beau and his roomie were gaga over it :o ;D though it does taste better chilled according to them. My bad though, I didn't keep it under wraps so the bad evil roomie drank the vast majority of it. GRRRRR!

(As for the celebration - my boy dog got 2nd place at a race, my girl dog received her conformation Championship on Thursday and I had a kick ass interview on Friday which has now resulted in a job offer!!! )

05-15-2006, 08:33 AM

Congrats on all of the successes!

What's your next batch gonna be?

Good luck,

05-15-2006, 11:41 AM
Oh yeah, forgot to get input (she asks with trepidation ;)LOL ) the temp in the garage is climbing upwards of 75 degrees...what are the potential impacts of the higher temps?

As noted above, it has a pretty nice flavor now which I don't want to louse up. I am not yet in the best position to bottle but could if I HAD to...

05-15-2006, 01:52 PM
Hey Girl,

I'd really try and get that to a spot where your temperature will not go over 70F. You can sometimes get away with over that and not have off flavors, but the longer you age/mature at or above 75F the more likely that you'll start throwing off flavors and fusels.

I'd recommend getting it to a spot in the house that will stay cooler and wrapping it in a blanket, or putting it in a tub of water to keep the temperature down. You can always add cooler water to the tub or just dump it and refill. I'm getting a small A/C unit for the meadworks after last year, we had a very hot summer here and I had to get a fan going out there and keep my carboys cool with a cooler. This year I'm going with A/C just to make it easier on the mead and I.



Either way, try to keep it below 75F and you'll be happier with the outcome.

05-18-2006, 06:01 PM
I will get it moved into the house...the danger then becomes not so much the temperature but boys with long straws that want to tap the carboy! LOL So far they have mostly resisted the temptation...but if its actually IN THE HOUSE...I may have to attach an alarm system to the carboy...

05-19-2006, 04:05 AM
Just tell them that you had two botulism cultures and you can't find one of them . . . and that you're mead is acting weird ... "Hmmm, I wonder where that other botulism culture went?" LoL



05-23-2006, 06:14 PM
That's a good one! I got the mead moved with hopefully not too much sloshing and stirring. Its now a happy 68-72 degrees. sitting right next to an ac vent. I am going to Quest this weekend and will rack off a bottle or two I think...Maybe just one... I have a bottle of "lemony snickets" that another meader friend out here gave me...