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Thread: Analyzing Mead

  1. Default Analyzing Mead

    Came across this site while wandering the web. I haven't looked at it much, but seems to have a lot of numbers and big words, which impresses the heck outta me!

    http://www.solorb.com/mead/danspaper.html

    Will read more when time permits.

    ~Geoffrey

  2. #2

    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    One of the authors of the paper is Ken Schramm, who recently published the new book _The Compleat Meadmaker_. Ken's done a lot more in mead than writing "the book" -- he's co-authored several other articles in Zymurgy magazine and was one of the founders of the Mazer Cup, the first national level mead only competition.
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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Good link and enjoyable reading...

    I will point out that the approach to meadmaking was heavily oriented towards chemicals and additives. Whether intentional or unintentional, the article mentioned the positives associated with various additives but failed to mention liabilities such as a lot of people are deathly allergic to certain ones recommended by the author...

    Just to keep thing in perspective...

    Pewter

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Hey Pewter,

    I am finding out through some research on the web that about 1 in 100 persons is actually allergic to sulfites. Also that only about 100 Americans per year die from food allergy reactions (mostly children).

    Here's a short blurb from WebMD:

    Sulfites are a group of sulfur-based compounds that may occur naturally or may be added to food as an enhancer and preservative. The FDA estimates that one out of 100 people is sensitive to the compounds. A person can develop sensitivity to sulfites at any time in life, and the cause of sensitivity is unknown. For a person who is sensitive to sulfites, a reaction can be mild or life threatening.

    I'll post more as I have more information at hand.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    I went to no sulphites when I was married, because my wife -- an asthmatic since early childhood -- is sensitive to them. Whenever we have commercial wines, she ends up needing her medication because of lung tightness/restricted breathing. So far, I haven't had any issues to speak of with infected musts. My palate isn't educated enough to taste sulphites in wines and meads, so I can't say at this stage that deciding not to use them has either improved or worsened things.

    -David

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Oskaar,

    I was told that an informal survey done in the SCA found that roughly 1 in 10 was allergic to sulfites. I also believe that a lot of people "get headaches" from drinking beverages with higher levels of sulfites and do not recognize it as being "an allergy" and therefore do not respond to surveys as indicating they are allergic. I have two friends at work that fall into this category...

    But it really isn't a numbers game of percentages for me. I have one close friend and two acquaintances in the SCA who require immediate medical attention if they drink a sulfited beverage. So for these three, it is 100 percent life threatening, not 1 percent.

    I really have two beefs that apply to the chemical issue. First is using chemicals as a result of laziness, attempts to be cheap, or impatience to shortcut things that could be accomplished non-chemically with an extra racking, another pound of honey, or another 6 months of aging. Second is the failure to label the product to the presence of the chemicals. My meads will be labelled to both the presence of sulfites and citrus since my close friend is deathly allergic to both...

    All of that said, I recognize that my current method risks producing bottle bombs. I currently dread taking my meads to Pennsic War this year since the bottles will likely be exposed to 100F temperatures or more inside my pavillion. That high temp by itself would be hard on a sealed bottle. Heaven forbid it should restart fermentation. If I start having things explode on me, then I may have to resort to something additional. But my first inclination might be to douse every batch that is aging with a shot or two of Everclear to push the ABV above the yeast tolerance. Time will tell...

    Sorry to get a bit religious on everyone but I don't feel it is right to be cavalier with other people's health...

  7. Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Second is the failure to label the product to the presence of the chemicals. My meads will be labelled to both the presence of sulfites and citrus since my close friend is deathly allergic to both...
    I agree with you Pewter, that anything out of the ordinary should be noted on the bottle-container; not only for health reasons, but just out of respect for people's rights to choose what they ingest. Some people, for whatever reason, don't want to intake certain things.

    I have a friend who has been sick for a number of years and just last year found out she is allergic to glutin (sp?). Oh what a shocker that was, and an education when you find out how much of what we consume contains wheat or some wheat by-product.

    On the other hand, I rather see using chemicals as a means to an end, not necessarily a good or bad thing. Sure, one could use other methods, or additional time to arrive at the same results. However, if you don't have time (impatience is a virtue! ), or don't have the physical space needed, chemicals (used properly) work just as well.

    As for the "all natural" argument....I am reminded of George Carlin's rational that "everything is natural. Chemicals are natural. They are all found in nature. Therefor they are all natural!" :P :P

    ~Geoffrey

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Pewter,

    You're entirely right to be concerned about peoples health and the welfare of your friends.

    I disagree with your viewpoints on chemicals, as well as the numbers you cited on allergies. The problem with informal surveys is that they are informal and not conducted based on any real qualitative or quantitative standards. Based on what I'm seeing thus far, I'm seeing that the numbers are an emotional or knee jerk reaction to a philosophy rather than fact.

    The reason I posted this is because I just found out that my friend who I've known since I was young (way back before the atom was split LOL) went in for an allergy test. As long has I've know him he's swore up and down that he is allergic to sulfites. Well guess what, he went in for an allergy test and he's not allergic to sulfites, cat hair, rag weed, pollen, yup, but not sulfites.

    I've just undergone an allergy test myself. I was stung as a young child by a bee, my foot swelled up really bad, and in to the doctor I went. I was told I was allergic to bees. Guess what, not allergic to bees. I've been carrying a bee sting kit with me for years that I didn't need. I did find out that I have a mild reaction to cat spit, but other than that a clean bill of health.

    Just as the old "don't swim" for an hour after you eat has been debunked, there are a number of other generally accepted maxims that are being disproven as well. I suspect if everyone who claims to be allergic to one thing or another went in for an allergy test, they would find fewer numbers than the claims.

    Bottom line is there are plenty of things that can be improved with the application of research and technology. I firmly believe that mead is one of them.

    Guess we just have to agree to disagree.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Oskaar,

    II've witnessed my close friend's reaction to citrus when we accidentally got some in a dessert at an Egyptian restaurant. Within a few minutes her tongue was swollen and her speech was slurred. And that was after one bite because she caught the initial burn of her allergic reaction. She tells me that her reaction to sulfites is even more pronounced. I find no reason to doubt it.

    We will agree to disagree. I see the only reason that I accept for sulfiting to be the prevention of bottle bombs. Every other reason I have seen listed can be circumvented fairly easily by either time or methods. Would you agree with that?

    Peace,
    Pewter

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by Pewter_of_Deodar
    Oskaar,

    (snip)

    We will agree to disagree. I see the only reason that I accept for sulfiting to be the prevention of bottle bombs. Every other reason I have seen listed can be circumvented fairly easily by either time or methods. Would you agree with that?

    Peace,
    Pewter
    Pewter,

    I can't speak for Oskaar but I personally certainly would disagree with your only reason acceptable for sulfiting as to prevent bottle bombs. (which it won't)

    Sufiting has lots of benefits including as an antioxidant, antienzymatic, antimicrobial, antibacterial along with providing a fresher taste when used not to excess, better retention of colour and reducing browning. Not to mention that after its initial yeast lag time it actually speeds up multiplication of the yeast.

    A good writeup explaining my claims can be found at :

    http://members.tripod.com/~BRotter/SO2.htm

    A site that was at one time conveniently provided in posts by Dan McFeeley

    Read it if you get a chance. It will help to separate a bit of fact from fiction.

    Peace and Regards,
    Joe

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Pewter,

    As I stated earlier, my friend went to a doctor for clinical, scientific and measurable testing plain and simple; and found his long held belief that he was allergic to be untrue. I accepted his absolute belief that he was allergic for better than twenty years. I'd say that's pretty devoted to someone's word.

    Obviously this is different than the situation you mentioned. I understand your concern. Sulfites are a very usefull product with a wide range of applications. There are a enough people that are allergic to them to make it law that products containing them is mandatory.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar


    Is it tasty . . . precious?

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Joe,

    Wonderful link, lots of chemistry that is way over my head, lots of support for your position. I don't even take issue with the benefits that are listed.

    Maybe I should restate my position. There is nothing in the list of benefits you just mentioned other than bottle bombs (prevented refermentation) that I find necessary to me that would justify the addition to my meads, making them undrinkable and potentially deadly to my friends with sulfite allergies.

    Certainly my opinions are my own. I feel that I can prevent oxidation, bacteria, and other microorganisms by proper sterilization, handling, and bottling techniques. I suppose I sacrifice a few things, but my decision is that whatever I am sacrificing is worth it for the safety of my friends. I want to share my meads with them. I want my meads not to be potentially dangerous to them. Not sure how you take issue with that...

    Do you label your meads for the presence of sulfites?

    Peace,
    Pewter

    PS: BTW, I am not angry or upset with anyone for wanting to discuss this or taking issue with my POV. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it does those reading good to see both sides to the issue.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Oskaar,

    Did not mean to imply that so I have edited the post. What I have trouble with is that the entire issue is not a numbers game to me. It doesn't matter if it is 1 in 10, 1 in 100, or 1 in 10,000. If I have one person that can be harmed by something, I don't do it unless there is an overriding reason for it or I can't achieve the same result another way. None of the benefits listed are suitable reason to me to make my mead essentially poisonous to my friends. The fact that the numbers are much higher than just one person make the choice an easy one to me.

    Peace,
    Pewter

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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by Pewter_of_Deodar
    Joe,

    Wonderful link, lots of chemistry that is way over my head, lots of support for your position. I don't even take issue with the benefits that are listed.

    Maybe I should restate my position. There is nothing in the list of benefits you just mentioned other than bottle bombs (prevented refermentation) that I find necessary to me that would justify the addition to my meads, making them undrinkable and potentially deadly to my friends with sulfite allergies.
    Glad you restated your position and clarified things. My one point I thought you might not yet be aware of from your comment is that sulfites DO NOT prevent bottle bombs. Sorbate does.

    Certainly my opinions are my own. I feel that I can prevent oxidation, bacteria, and other microorganisms by proper sterilization, handling, and bottling techniques. I suppose I sacrifice a few things, but my decision is that whatever I am sacrificing is worth it for the safety of my friends. I want to share my meads with them. I want my meads not to be potentially dangerous to them. Not sure how you take issue with that...
    No issue taken with your preference especially when stated accurately. If the majority of my drinking friends were alergic to sulfites, I also would not use them. But that is not the case here. (None are alergic but of course, I might not have as many friends! )

    Do you label your meads for the presence of sulfites?
    No I don't but your suggestion is a Good idea just in case one of my bottles gets in the wrong hands. I keep detailed records on all my batches and 90% of them use some degree of sulfites. The exceptions are my ancient meads and straight meads that go to alcohol tolerance. I like my alcohol near 12-14% at most. (sometimes less) Makes them drinkable early without significant aging in my experience. Marking them on the label is an excellent idea that I will implement starting now.

    Peace,
    Pewter

    PS: BTW, I am not angry or upset with anyone for wanting to discuss this or taking issue with my POV. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it does those reading good to see both sides to the issue.
    I take no issues with your preferences. I just wanted to make sure readers get enough factual information concerning sulfites to make their own preferences with all of the data presented so they can make their own informed decision.

    Good discussion,
    Joe

  15. Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    A few notes to add:

    1) As Joe points out, sulfites are not what you should add if you are worried about bottle bombs. Potassium Sorbate or Sodium Benzoate will prevent renewed fermentation. Sorbate, however, should not be added without sulfites. I'm not sure about benzoate.

    2) Sulfites are a by-product of fermentation. Again, the link that Joe provided mentions this in wine. Nearly every source will talk about how this happens in wine. However, it also occurs in meads - at least according to Honeyrun meads which say that on their label. According to at least one source, it occurs in beer too: http://www.tu-berlin.de/~biotec/mibi/Hefen/Pro3.htm.

    3) While there certainly are people with severe, even dangerous, sulfite sensitivities, it is far more likely that bio-amines are the problem when people think that sulfites are causing them troubles. Winexpert had a great newsletter about this a couple of years ago.

    Here is another link about sulfites which should be interesting (I had no idea that pancake syrup contained them!):

    http://www.clickabrew.com/cn-0604.htm

    Scroll down to:

    Sulphites and Wine Kits
    by Bill Reddy



    Cheers,
    Jay


  16. #16

    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    There's a good article on sulfites and allergies right here:

    http://www.beekmanwine.com/prevtopbd.htm

    Take a look -- covers a lot of informative material.

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    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  17. Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Dan,

    Great link. I'm going to include that in my next Jay's Brewing Supplies newsletter.


    Cheers,
    Jay


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    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Hey Jay,

    You're right about it occuring in beer as well. Mostly it's a function of the yeast being a high H2S producer. Here's a link to the Lallemand yeast reference chart where you'll notice a column for H2S production by yeast type.

    http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php

    Unfortunately a lot of really great yeasts will produce H2S if they are not rehydrated correctly and the ambient nutrient level is not sufficient, or of the correct composition. Another reason to ensure the type and amount of nutrient you're using is correct for the yeast innoculum.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Analyzing Mead

    Ooooo...nice list. It makes me dream of possibilities. Thanks Oskaar!

    -David

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