View Full Version : Hi! I've finally got time to use this forum!!!

03-09-2008, 12:39 AM
hi guys!!!
hi Vicki!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm a cordial brewer in the SCA who one day wanted to jump onto the big dog's brewin'.
After a few competitions and awards I started on a cider than came out very good and now i'm eyeing mead.
i've done my research, bought books and have my eye on a few more bottles.
For the next few weeks ( i find myself not employed) I will listen intently and gather my thoughts and your advice/exp, and once i have a job i will go to the nice little home brew supply shop i found ( 80 mile drive :tongue1: ) and then find myself sum hunny.

I'm very excited about it all and a little worried about space issues, as my cordials take up like every corner of my house despite me going to events and literally getting everyone not non alcoholic or allergic bombed. ( must get more ppl drunk- lower the banility of the world) Besides that i'm raring to go--- i have an unused bathroom with a shower waiting to hold a jar of yum and new airlocks :)

so my only question is:

I've started writing my documentation for the mead in case i run it in a brewing contest ( like yah i know- wishful thinkin but my track record is really good brewing wise-- first cordial was good enough to run in a comp and my first cider --well i wish i could take it to competition but its gone...... sigh.) anyways back to documentation -- do'y think this paragraph ( to be edited as my future actions dictate) is too much?

"What they did:
As I understand it, they took water and boiled it. Then they dissolved honey in it. It seems to be common to add the spices and flavorings, if one wanted them, at this time. Then they took yeast from the last batch of what they brewed and put the lees in ( the stuff on the bottom of the container they brewed in ). They added it after the Must was blood warm or as warm as fresh milk. ( blood being 98.6 or so, does a cow have a similair temp?) They wanted it kept at a stable temp, not too cold and let it stand 3 days and 3 nights or so. Then they siphoned it off the lees and let it stand 1 or 2 nights and served it. They aged it for better flavor but usually it was all consumed within the year.

What WE did:
Being the SCA, A standing for Anachronism, Technology rules!!!!
Yes, we boiled the water, dissolved the honey in it and added any flavors we wanted in it too.
However, we gave the yeast a head start. Honey is really not nutritious as the little yeasts need it to be. We wanted the yeasts to be strong and happy so they could suffocate one day in their waste products ( alcohol and gases) and make a yummy thing for us to drink ☺
They need yeast nutrient ( nitrogen and vitamins) and sometimes yeast energizer (amino acids and other things to build strong cell walls and mighty yeastlings). So we used those."

( its all based on a 13th century manuscript for mead i found, and the redaction done by Master Rhys Terafan Greydragon, dun worry i gave him credit.)

Do ya think they will giggle or get really weirded out? :icon_cyclops:

03-09-2008, 06:16 AM
Welcome to GotMead? Gwir!

Take a look at several of the great resources here before you jump in. I'm too lazy to point you to the NewBees page off the main site with a direct link but I'm sure you can find it. Also, do a search in the forums for any questions you might have. There are a lot of friendly and knowledgeable people here that will get you going on the right track.

I think you'll find that most here don't heat the honey in any way. You lose aromatics when you do and honey is pretty robust, it's hard to infect it. I'd love to try the mead you made though, you obviously have some passion!

Welcome to the addiction!

Dan McFeeley
03-09-2008, 03:11 PM
Welcome to the forums!

Just a quick question -- How do you pronounce Gwir! ?


03-09-2008, 06:27 PM
-- wildaho :) thanks for the welcome! I havent actually made mead yet-- i am a little disjointed sometimes in my messaging style. I'm a cordial brewer but i will be starting my first batch of mead soon. Dont heat the honey at all you say? I know that one shouldnt boil it. does warming it slightly lose its flavor?

Dan - its like the sound a helicopter makes - whirrrrrr -- but i respond to a slightly different way to say it as well and that's "were" or also like a dragon's "wheir" or where?. i am also the mighty whirbles too ( i have no idea where that nic came from)

03-09-2008, 07:24 PM
Hi Gwir, welcome to the addiction!!!

Cordial brewing sounds interesting. I may have to give it a try at some point.

As far as warming your honey I like to keep it pretty much to a minimum myself. I heat my water to where it's just a bit uncomfortable to touch then use that ambient heat to help dissolve my honey as I add it to the must. That and a BUNCH of stirring (or lees stirrer/battery drill mixing). That's it. Once my honey is blended in nicely and aerated I let it cool a bit so the yeasties will be happy then pitch. So far it's worked every time I've made a batch and I just started my 20th batch two days ago.

My biggest problem to date seems to be keeping them hidden long enough that the local cellar rats around here don't drink everything before it can age a bit.

03-09-2008, 08:40 PM
Thanks Sandman! Thats actually what i was thinking of doing, thanks!
Cordial brewing is fun. Vicki has one of my recipes up but if you'd like, I'd be glad to give you pointers. Mind you, I do not hold a laurel, but I do have several years of background and nearly 100 successful batches of cordial under my belt, so my info is at least halfway useful. And hopefully you'll discover something i havent so i can pick your brain >:D Cordials can be fast or slow time wise to make, it depends on how much money you want to put into it ( err i mean materials). To tell the truth, my main thought pattern is to brew like i cook-- drive the flavor in with a drop hammer!!! so my cordials dont take long from finish to start ( most of them take less than a month ).
I have found though, that once you makes something with yeast in the house ( we made a nice cider last fall ), then you must be extra careful with sanitation in your bottles. lol I was very angry at the yeasts for killing a beaut of a watermelon cordial i made, but they dont make teeny tiny whips and chains so there was nothing i could do about it but flush the batch.

I have a real question tho-------
ratio of honey to water..... am i dense or does it all seem random? what reccomendations does anyone have?
I think my brain is going to fall out with all the math i did this afternoon, checking the ratio of every recipe that mentioned water that i found......... :sad5:

03-09-2008, 10:00 PM
Ratio of honey to water totally depends on how sweet or dry you want your final product to be. You also need to factor in what your yeast tolerances are per each recipe and type of yeast. Then there's those pesky fruit additions to consider in melomels. Fruit brings added sugar to the mix so you don't need as much honey. That's actually one of the things I love about this new hobby of mine. It's like a science experiment gone amok and I get to drink the results.

You'll hear many times to do your diligence and read, read, read...

That all being said, you can find the JAO recipe here as well as several other recipes in the Brewlog section. Of course the best recipes are in the Patron's Brewlog section. ;D
I've got a few recipes of my own in the Brewlogs but most of my stuff stays in teh Patron's section these days. I'm using too much input from the other patrons to put them out on the main forum anymore. Oskaar and wayneb have been particularly helpful in some of my more advanced projects.

For a first batch a simple cyser or a JAO is always a good option to consider. They're easy to put together and a great intro into the field of mead making.

Hope that helps,

03-09-2008, 10:58 PM
Awesome. ( Did i mention that i like to talk shop all day lol?)
I was actually reading up some more and getting all the stray bits of info in my head to line up where they are supposed to be and re reading the newbee guide.
i made notes lol. I have a correct order in my head now ::)

I was thinking on making a small batch (about a gallon) for my first try because I have a lack of space. (In fact, its home was just decided - a small free standing closet next to my bed.) i was thinking i would like a very sweet mead but not cloying so maybe 4 pounds honey to 1 gal water? is that good?

I was thinking of using a yeast thats good for maybe up to 15% ABV with a high Flocculation. there's a list of them on the newbees guide under yeast and im going to print it out and call the lady at the only brewing supply store nearish me ( 80 miles away) and ask her what shes got for me and what she reccomends. What do you rec?

I am not sure if i'll start with fruit. unless lemon is a fruit well i know its a fruit but you dun use the fruit.... or is mead different? i saw posts with whole oranges.
I was thinking ginger, mint , lemon, vanilla, a shot of a herbal floral cordial i made, or just plain.
I have cider on hand so i wouldnt go for cyser. :drunken_smilie:
I am still jobless right now so i cant start the process yet, the day i get a job i can, but I'll havta leave the baby mead in care of my fiance, who um... well.... hopefully he will do a good job............. yeah. Maybe they will call me and say you start beginning of next week.... then ill have a good amount of time :laughing7:

03-09-2008, 11:45 PM
Well, you're definitely on the right track. The only other thing I would advise is picking up a copy of "The Compleat Meadmaker". There's a LOAD of good information in that book you can use to improve your base knowledge levels. Ken is also a Patron here so he chimes in on things on occasion. He's a really helpful guy and also another who's willing to share freely of his experiences once you've done your research like you're doing right now.

I forsee several interesting batches coming out of your head soon. 1 gallon batches are good for experimentation, but you'll find really quickly that by the time you decide if you like them they're gone. I still do 1G batches as well (about 12 right now ::)), but I've also got three 5 gallon batches in storage for some oaking and aging.

In general I do tend to prefer dark berry mels, but I'm also partial to a good traditional or metheglin on occasion.

When you decide what your first batch is going to be, feel free to post it as a rough and ask for input. I've done that a few times myself and always get good feedback for my final recipes.

Dan McFeeley
03-10-2008, 09:21 AM
Awesome. ( Did i mention that i like to talk shop all day lol?)

You're in the right place. ;D

I have a real question tho-------
ratio of honey to water..... am i dense or does it all seem random? what reccomendations does anyone have?
I think my brain is going to fall out with all the math i did this afternoon, checking the ratio of every recipe that mentioned water that i found......... :sad5:

One pound of honey dissolved in an amount of water that will make up one gallon of honey must total, will contribute approximately 35 gravity points. Given the variance you can find in individual varietal honeys, that figure can go in either direction. It'll give you a reliable ballpark figure and from there, you can take a gravity reading and add a little extra water or honey as needed.

Heating the honey must -- boiling the must is an old technique which was known during the Medieval period, also a standard in the mead recipes in Sir Digby's Closet, and as a result was carried over in meadmaking methods later on. Studies on honey have consistently shown that it is clean stuff, has antibacterial properties, with low bacterial counts. The few instances where honey samples tested out with high backterial counts turned out to be problems during the processing of the honey for commercial use.

Meadmakers avoid boiling the must now, heating only a little if needed in order to avoid driving off the volatile components of the honey that can contribute flavor nuances.

So long as you pay good attention to sanitation, heating the honey must is not a worry. If you're still concerned, holding at a pasteurization temperature of 150 degrees F for fifteen minutes is all that is needed. Studies done by Townsend in 1939 indicated that 150 degrees for only a few minutes was sufficient to kill off wild yeast spores in honey.

And these would likely have been the osmophilic yeasts that can't survive in a diluted honey must.

Here's one of my old Mead Lovers Digest posts on the subject:


Subject: Heating the Honey Must
From: Dan McFeeley
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 11:54:48 -0600

There has been discussion in the past on the virtues of boiling or heating
the honey must on this list, and I thought some information from John
White's chapter on honey in _The Hive and the Honey Bee_ (Dadant
Publication, 1975) might be helpful.

From what I can see, the benefits of boiling the honey must are meads
that clear more easily due to the denaturing of the proteins that cause
haze. The scum that comes to the surface can be skimmed, resulting in
a cleaner must. The disadvantages are an alteration of the flavor of
the mead from the high temperatures used in order to boil the must, and
a driving off of the volatile components that add bouquet and the more
delicate honey flavors to the mead.

John White cited research (in The Hive and the Honey Bee) by G. F.
Townsend published in 1939 examining variations in temperature and
time needed to kill off five vegetative forms of wild yeasts found in
honey (at 18.6 % moisture). White drew up a table which was
calculated from the data in Townsend's article. This is the table
(p. 513) below:

Time at Indicated Temperature Temperature
470 min 123 F
170 130
60 135
22 140
7.5 145
2.8** 150
1.0** 155

** Extrapolated from logarithmic curve constructed from Townsend's data

White suggests heating honey at 140 F for 30 minutes in order to eliminate
wild yeasts in the honey that cause fermentation, should the moisture level
rise high enough to allow the yeasts to stir from their inactive state. For
anyone who is interested, this is the citation for Townsend's article:

Townsend, G. F. 1939. "Time and Temperature in Relation to the
Destruction of Sugar Tolerant Yeasts in Honey." J. Econ.
Entomol. 32:650-654.

03-10-2008, 02:04 PM
sandman: Will be purchasing many more books ;)
Anyone who gives me info will be listened to, as I have yet zero exp on mead making. If there is a obvious fault in logic or fact i'll ask cause i might be wrong-- y'know that happens alot :icon_thumleft:
i'll definately post under the brewlog what im gonna do before i do it. Thanks so muchly for helping, i do appreciate it.

Dan: nodnod i read that article of yours, its sitting on my desktop amoung the many sticky note thingies that are my notes. I have those recipes of Digby's Closet too, but I'm basing my stuff historically off of an earlier recipe. But im not using strictly historical brewing techniques. In the SCA, at least my end of it, one can state in one's documentation the way they did it back in the day and the way you did it and why the two differ. as long as you can explain the whyfore - the differences dont get much points taken off and the points that do get added to your documentation score lol.
Honey, while a sugar had historically been used as an antibacterial mah thingy i know... its also a good drying salve. if you can keep the critters away lol. (HE's LICKING ME!!!! SICK MAN SLEEPS OUTSIDE!!! :toothy10:)

The one pound of honey etc part.... im gonna clone that too and stare at it awhile -- takes a bit to get true mathmaticals picked apart in my head ( dun worry i can do it--just havta stare at it) its probally similair to my sugar syrup conversion i use for cordials depending on ingredient, cold or hot brew ingr. , and how sweet i want it to be etc.
Thanks for the input!!!!!!!!!!!! :cheers:

03-10-2008, 06:22 PM
hey welcome aboard,
how exactly does one brew a cordial
when i'm doing show meads (no additives) i normally use 3# honey to 1 gallon water
so 4 pounds should put you into the sweet range
i'd skip the champ yeast and use something like lavin 71b or another yeast that doesn't have a nigh unstoppable alc tolerance
look forward to see you future posts

03-11-2008, 01:27 AM

simple sugar solution: i use one cup sugar dissolved in half cup water, boiled.

and you put a flavoring in it- spices are dumped in with the sugar, fruits depend on what they are. Citrus's are zested and the zest cooked to get the oils out of it. ( i use the meat too an juice) Apples and pears are put in cold.

then you cover it with vodka or brandy, depending on how much fruit or liquid, i usually use like 3 cups.

then you let it sit, taste it now and then and strain it and bottle it and let it age some to mellow.

its alot more simple than mead :)

03-13-2008, 07:23 PM
ah ha, i have something similar to that, i was makig a batch of JOA but after i pushed the oranges into the jub my sences kicked in and i figured out that 64 ounces a gallon does not make, all that was in there was the oranges at the time, and i had plenty more so i just threw some honey on it, bought some cheap vodka and filled the rest of the bottle
its a bit strong but its a good belly warmer, i like it, others don't

03-15-2008, 12:15 PM
lol pith in a cordial will kill it. I have noticed it doesnt make a difference in Mead. ( but ill probally still zest and juice citrus for mead-- i cant see adding pith unless you want a bitter flavor in the back of your throat, which can be nice but there are alot of things that can add that flavor better -- hmmm i wonder what a turkish coffee or chai mead would taste like, sweet and bitter together--lol not for me to start out with lol)

if you zest the oranges with a micro planer you will find yourself a more palatable drink. i find honey too cloying for cordials, unless im making something that needs a honey flavor, such as our pumpkin pie cordial.
( crust an all lol. am proud of that, molly mcbutter in the mix helped the crust flavor stay where it belongs, on the back of the tongue. im all about what order you taste a thing. thats the challenge i find in cordials , not the actual making of a drink but the experience crafted -- you get diff flavors by adding flavors cold or hot and how cold or hot. prouder of my " it contains no actual sunndy D", and my 'purple snozberry' , but i must have like 50 flavors floating around right now.) You need to age cordials out slightly, after straining, to get the sharp alcohol flavors out. i mean you could drink it then but erm why? Sometimes a little sunlight will bring out the summer fresh fruit flavor in it too.

Honey is good in herbal cordials too. theres a 'medieval cough syrup' i made thats actually very nice to the taste, if strange and floral, it has honey in it, and its very nice to soothe the throat after or while smoking the hookah at camp. ( we have a very decadent SCA camp esp in the close-to-us spring events but thats niether here nor there)

lol you should try cordials, they can be brewed anytime and i rarely get hangovers cause most of them are fruit flavored and have lots of potassium and B vits in with your alcohol. but beware of the ones that taste like pledge ( i use em to clean dirty pots and pans after events that i cant wash the pots an pans at. they soften that burnt on 2 day old filth and it comes off with soap after that. lol. ) and beware of things that would taste good on food as a sauce but not as a drink... ( like my pineapple ginger cordial - sounds good right? its not. it tastes like sweet and sour sauce. i hava lime and somethign one that got too old or got too much light or soemthign and thats down to sauce quality too)

im sad tho-- after much observing and moving the digi camping thermometer around my house, i have discovered that my first batch of mead will have to wait until the fall, when temps drop. it is too warm in the cold bathroom ( we dun use it its a big closet with running water) to let the mead sit int he temps it needs to sit.

so ill console myself with concocking a new cordial -- im gonna try orange creme :) the creme will be white chocolate as i dont like to keep bottles in the fridge.

03-15-2008, 12:49 PM
....snip...hmmm i wonder what a turkish coffee or chai mead would taste like, sweet and bitter together--lol not for me to start out with lol...snip...

You should check out some of Leonora's posts. She makes an excellent chai mead that I have personally tasted and can attest to. On the Turkish coffee mead, I have made a number of them (we make Croatian coffee using the same type of roast and powdery grind) and it is excellent.



03-19-2008, 02:07 PM
Thanks Oskaar!