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Thread: All Natural Show Mead. Is it possible?

  1. #1

    Default All Natural Show Mead. Is it possible?

    I have been reading around when I read this on a website "Honey - fresh natural honey has sufficient natural yeasts to ferment a low alcohol content mead but only if you do not heat it." (http://www.rabbitsfootmeadery.com/CA...e_to_mead.html)

    Now exactly what is meant by low alcohol is anyone's guess. Is it possible to make a decent all truly natural show mead given that: the honey is DARK, the water is high in minerals (let's say as heavy as lead like some water we get from tapping underground rivers from the water table which is undrinkable as it would eventually give you kidney stones), and the very best aeration practices are used. Sanitation must be optimum to ensure no spoilage yeasts other than any yeasts found in the honey are used. step feeding seems pointless as the amount of yeasts in starting must would be directly proportional to the amount of honey used.
    I don't personally know what to think about this preposition. I would imagine that the least you can do is provide your own yeast which has low nutrient requirements and is best to showcase the flavors of your show mead.

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    Mostly the yeast in honey are osmophilic strains that you will sometimes see start fermenting the upper layer in a bucket of crystallized honey. They usually don't smell very good. I think that without adding yeast in some fashion, just trying to ferment diluted honey will prove frustrating.

    Recipes such as Digby's usually involved putting it in a barrel, and the yeast retained in the wood cracks and crevices (or in a clay pot) would be able to initiate fermentation without adding yeast.

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    Last edited by Medsen Fey; 04-22-2014 at 05:59 AM.
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  3. #3

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    Thanks Medsen!
    I would have thought the same if it weren't for the author's conviction of this possibility, such as when he stated that "The recipe does not call for any additional yeast to be added and relies solely on the natural yeast that is present." That would be very misleading as it suggests that not even additional yeasts from barrels are needed. If it is possible in a clean glass carboy I'd say the success rate is low. I would be amazed he has misleading/incorrect data since he seemingly owns a meadery. I guess everyone can make mistakes (or let's just say give incomplete info).
    Adding your own yeast would probably be much easier, although still challenging. However, at that point I imagine there is enough resources on these forums to decide whether a natural show mead (no raisins or extra pollen or anything) is possible. So far from what I read it seems that it is but may not be worth the average Joe's hassle

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    GK tried an all natural mead (that is, only yeast and no other nutrients) and it was a slow difficult ride. Results however, won't be in for a while, so we won't know if it's worth the trouble and worry until it ages out.

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    Ah yes.....to be named Drunken Wench 2: PITA. I don't recommend "no nutrient" fermentation...especially if you don't have 20 years experience or at least a molecular biology degree. Doing so anyway may be the only cure for M.E.A.D. that I can think of.

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    Having a hell of a time getting the turntable to sound decent in the TARDIS. Analog audio is like no nutrient mead. Sigh.


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    What type of turntable is it?


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  8. #8

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    If you get your honey from a bottle then this is going to be difficult as the sugar concentration in the honey is below 18.6% or it would have started fermenting, the yeasts in there are shut down at least until the honey crystalizes and the sugar concentration decreases in a little pool of water on top. In the old old days when they scooped out the comp from the skeps, including the important brood comb and its beebread which had its own yeasts that were actively fermenting the pollen this would have been viable method, not considering that they fermented in barrel that eventually selected for a strong yeast. So if you really really wanted to do a natural ferment you need to get the whole population of yeast from the hive, including fresh bee bread and fresh nectar that has not been cured yet to get the widest population of yeasts. A few larva gets thrown in for yeast nutrition by supplying proteins, along with the pollen and you might have a good thing. Personally I prefer to experiment on how to make mead better and skip the step of wondering if I am going to get a good fermentation by adding my own yeasts, but you may have more patience and honey. WVMJ

  9. #9

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    That reply reminds me of another post somewhere here on got mead that I read a while back in which it was mentioned that traditional practices of extracting honey involved destroying the hive. I think the post was in relation to the added nutrient level of the honey given that there is extra pollen etc etc. Didn't make a connection between this method and the possible added yeast population that could be gained. Of course one would need to destroy an actual hive and compare the yeast population vs gathering honey the more conventional/modern method.
    BUT I have some very controversial information that suggests something else:

    "'Take of spring water what quantity you please, and make it more than blood-warm, and dissolve honey in it till 'tis strong enough to bear an egg, the breadth of a shilling; then boil it gently near an hour, taking off the scum as it rises..."
    So this means that Sir Digby at least boiled his honey, as well as all other ingredients. Moreover he states that:
    "But let your liquor stand on the spice in a clean earthen pot till the next day; then strain it into a vessel that is fit for it; put the spice in a bag, and hang it in the vessel, stop it, and at three months draw it into bottles..."
    The earthen pot mentioned could have been used only for fermentation and may contain some yeasts from prior brews, but this is not necessarily true. For all we know they had other uses for pots other than keeping them only for mead. The generic vessel that is fit for it does not even necessarily need to be a barrel, but it could be. A wine brewer on the other hand could very easily think that a vessel fit for wine/beer fermentation is the same as that needed for mead and could use a barrel full with the saccharomyces yeast.
    With my very limited knowledge I would place my bet on something like this having happened. Otherwise the very first brew of a mazer in a clean vessel would be from yeast that just happened to be floating around in the atmosphere at your home. I wouldn't bet on this being reliable or really tasty (at least until the worst yeasts die off and you get a culture of good, stronger yeasts going in that barrel)

    Conclusion: It is very possible that fermenting by the yeast found exclusively in honey is not only a wild goose chase and highly difficult to achieve, but could also be utterly pointless as previous traditional mazers used some strain of grape or beer yeast. We might as well grow our own culture of saccharomyces (quite easy really, we did it every year when making wine as we relied on wild yeast) or really just pour in your own damn packet of store bought yeast

    Wish I posted this in the traditional section of these forums as this divulged into talking traditional recipes...

  10. #10

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    Also that site was surely incorrect because it stated:

    "Some of the notable points of interest discovered in reproducing this recipe were:
    Honey - fresh natural honey has sufficient natural yeasts to ferment a low alcohol content mead but only if you do not heat it..."

    This is simply not true as the recipe seems to indicate that the yeast could have been introduced from anywhere except that batches specific yeast content because the honey was clearly boiled in the method section.

    Btw, could I have a link to that all natural mead GK?

    Edit: Just to be clear, I still think what WVMJack said is very possible. Rather than discrediting his comment I was discussing this information with relation to the specific recipe on that site. Wild yeast fermentation from honey as suggested in his post is still a possibility

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    Quote Originally Posted by mannye View Post
    Having a hell of a time getting the turntable to sound decent in the TARDIS.
    Did you hear about the Dalek at the beautician?

    EXFOLIATE!...EXFOLIATE!...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maeloch View Post
    Did you hear about the Dalek at the beautician?

    EXFOLIATE!...EXFOLIATE!...
    Haha! That was funny.

    If there's anything that is more frustrating than deciphering an old recipe I have not yet found it. Old recipes suffer from a combination of unavailable ingredients, supposition that nothing, including language use, will ever change and the idea that certain things are "understood."

    I always go around contradictions in the way that suits what I am trying to accomplish by using an ancient recipe. If natural fermentation was the thing, then I would ignore the boiling part, etc.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Stasis View Post
    Also that site was surely incorrect because it stated:

    "Some of the notable points of interest discovered in reproducing this recipe were:
    Honey - fresh natural honey has sufficient natural yeasts to ferment a low alcohol content mead but only if you do not heat it..."

    This is simply not true as the recipe seems to indicate that the yeast could have been introduced from anywhere except that batches specific yeast content because the honey was clearly boiled in the method section.

    Btw, could I have a link to that all natural mead GK?

    Edit: Just to be clear, I still think what WVMJack said is very possible. Rather than discrediting his comment I was discussing this information with relation to the specific recipe on that site. Wild yeast fermentation from honey as suggested in his post is still a possibility
    The idea at the time was to take a middle route between Oskaar and an AStephenson batch. The sad saga starts here ... http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthr...ht=Maury+yeast

    A had a much better outcome with a Digby recipe called Another from Lady Windebanke where I used the Wyeast 1388.... Only problem with that batch is that it may never see the bottle, as there is a tap on the bottom of the fermenter pail it is in, and it keeps leaking into my pewter goblet....
    http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthr...ady+windebanke
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    Quote Originally Posted by mannye View Post
    GK tried an all natural mead (that is, only yeast and no other nutrients) and it was a slow difficult ride. Results however, won't be in for a while, so we won't know if it's worth the trouble and worry until it ages out.
    I had an accidental all-natural mead. It fermented to 14% but is not one of my better meads. It's going to take a while for it to mellow out. I definitely prefer known yeasts that don't give me the "hm, let's bottle that for a while" taste.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moridin View Post
    What type of turntable is it?


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    It's an old Music Hall MMF-5 (the new ones aren't as good a value) with the glass platter and a Goldring 1012GX cart. Sweet sounding table, but it hates my current preamp/amp combo. Looks like I'm back to scouring the thrifts for old tube amps hidden away in beat up consoles. Mead needs music to ferment it's best!

  16. #16

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    Sometimes they just threw in a chunk of bread, that was one of the ways the old timers here made country wines. The other thing to consider is that now we know what clean is and what yeast are, back then they had spontaneous generation. I guess they thought if they lived a good life they would get good mead, if they were evil they would have to settle for whatever they could get. Might be one of the reasons the Monks had such good luck making mead Very good discussion. I can also tell you that if you ever enter a mead as a whole hive mead which included the comb in it that the judges will mysteriously taste the comb in it and think that is a bad thing when its really part of a good whole hive mead, you should taste all of the hive. You can also make a true whole hive type mead using foundationless frames or from a top bar hive without wiping out the hive. I am keeping a couple of top bar hives around just to make whole hive mead from, you just take out the top bar, cut the comb off and put it back for them to make more comb on, you can take the honey comb and the comb with pollen, fresh nectar and a few grubs just as easily.

    WVMJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVMJack View Post
    Sometimes they just threw in a chunk of bread, that was one of the ways the old timers here made country wines. The other thing to consider is that now we know what clean is and what yeast are, back then they had spontaneous generation. I guess they thought if they lived a good life they would get good mead, if they were evil they would have to settle for whatever they could get. Might be one of the reasons the Monks had such good luck making mead Very good discussion. I can also tell you that if you ever enter a mead as a whole hive mead which included the comb in it that the judges will mysteriously taste the comb in it and think that is a bad thing when its really part of a good whole hive mead, you should taste all of the hive. You can also make a true whole hive type mead using foundationless frames or from a top bar hive without wiping out the hive. I am keeping a couple of top bar hives around just to make whole hive mead from, you just take out the top bar, cut the comb off and put it back for them to make more comb on, you can take the honey comb and the comb with pollen, fresh nectar and a few grubs just as easily.

    WVMJ
    Now THAT sounds like something worth doing! Maybe if I can ply some local beekeeper with some BOMM I can try that. I would probably go with D-21 just to be traditional...unless someone has other ideas for a more traditional yeast? (still a noob here)

  18. #18

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    Gone for a day and came back to this.. where to start!
    - GK: started reading those brew threads and from what I read until now Mannye seems right. It seems you have to decipher it and put the puzzle pieces together. Seems like a good read whatever the case.
    - Mannye: I agree. I have recently bumped into a recipe with incomplete information from one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss. Whether or not my final mead is anything near what he did is anyone's guess. I'd say yes and no. First of all he doesn't mention what honey he used (similar to old recipes who probably just had 'honey'). Honey being the main ingredient in mead I'd imagine that is problematic already on its own. Maybe I should post the recipe on these forums some day and see what some more experienced mazers can make of it.
    - Shelley: 14% accidental fermentation? :O I've read threads of a hive getting drowned in the hollow of a tree and that is successful accidental fermentation. I can only imagine that your conditions were even more accidental.
    - WVMJack: Whole hive mead?! I won't even comment on that, you know what I'm thinking. Wow

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    I would point out that Patrick Rothfuss only made 1 batch of mead when he was in college, and I don't know where you would get Lapis or brown flaky stuff" or fenugreek....
    http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthr...light=rothfuss

    Also, even using pollen as a nutrient might have it's drawbacks; suggested quantity is 30 grams/liter, but tends to add bitterness...
    http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthr...400#post226400
    Last edited by GntlKnigt1; 04-24-2014 at 02:22 AM.
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  20. #20

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    Oh look someone already posted about that recipe by Pat. It seems he made more than one recipe from his blogs but that recipe was one that he particularly enjoyed, I also have fenugreek, lapis lazuli and "brown flaky stuff". I buy just about everything online so that is the least of my issues. If only that thread wasn't in the patron's section. Although I guess I am way ahead if they haven't even gotten to finding out what brown flaky stuff is yet.
    I use dark honey and heavy water for metheglins. I wasn't joking when I suggested using dark honey and heavy water at the beginning of this thread. I have found that that particular recipe could be fermented to AT LEAST 12% alcohol even with aeration just twice a day for the first 3 days and simply putting all ingredients into a fermentor. The yeast nutrient I used was even generic wine nutrient since Pat did not specify what nutrient he used. Mead fermented after 2 months and was immediately drinkable. Yes, immediately; a friend who also tried the recipe also found that it is very drinkable after 2 months. Fermentation was slow enough that the taste was good even before fermentation stopped. I tried using tronozymol for my 2nd batch and the mead is nowhere near drinkable after 2 months. Weird
    Last edited by Stasis; 04-24-2014 at 04:13 AM.

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