View Full Version : Eye Closeing Experiance

06-12-2005, 07:48 PM
Ok what a day.

Recently a local pagan group I've been visiting mensioned a Mead making workshop and that it didn't have a site for it to take place...
So I thought "Sure, I'm a rookie mazer, but I've just moved into a bigger place I have a huge kitchen no problem, all nice folk come on in and invade my home...."
as well as "I can get some more opinions on my mead and learn a few more things from someone who's been doing it for a while."

So they all came over, sat through a presentation and we made a batch, of I kid you not, "Xxxx's Death Head Mead" (repace xx's with name of presenter) consisting of honey water lemon and yeast. For the group to use for rites and imbibe at celibrations ect.

Well the event went well. the people were nice. my kitchen is fine... or will be once i run the diswasher... But the presentation. Oh . My . Gods.

Um not to bash tooo hard but a lot of things concerned me. Especialy considering that this fellow was brought in as an "expert" let me know if im being unreasonable.

First off (yes a list is required)

1. He swears by using bread yeast and only bread yeast... ok fine, your mead man.
I've made joes ancient orange. It's good, so i only have a few warnig bells at this point

2. then he is greatly supprised when a few of us in the room let him know that bread yeasts have a % of alcahol that they can ferment out to/tollerate and that, eh .. if its doing well you might get 15, but not likely 20% which is how he described his brew... ( no hydrometers here, the guy does not use them) So he's gauging his bread yeast mead's alcahol content by taste and effect. The saga continues...

3. He brews in the 10l / 2 gal water jugs and bottles into emptied water bottles! Out of preferance ! (no air locks either only a ballon with pin holes in it.)

4. and realy this is a quote and not out of context... i was asking about sterilization of his plastics.
"It just needs to be clean... not sterilized"

5. He honestly believes and would not be convinced otherwise that honey is basic, thats why all the recipies (he saw) call for lemon juice. "to boost the acid so that the yeast can survive"

6. that if there is ANY head space that molds and funk will set in and imediatly ruin your mead... and he means ruin! He went on about it for a while beacuse the recipie he gave them was for a 4 gal and I hava 5 gal (i figured to top up to 2" clearance with sanitized marbles or talk the group into purchasing more honey. The latter is what happened after his rant)
but for cripes sake imediate mold may be miraculasly cancieved by his unsanitzed funky plastic bottles but for real Honey is hydroscopic (sp) it turns most most any bacteria or mold into dried dead husks... any infection is something you added, or allowed to be added through your process.

It might oxidized but...

7. He advises drinking at 3 months to be good. so i guess oxidising is not a problem

8. And finaly he states that racking is fussing and that meads are better cloudy and murky. That's the way they Should be... And he's never known any one to be sick from it so it's just fine that way. (i have but I'm not sure it was cuz of the murk or quantities imbibed)

the worst of all this, is that I couldn't really argue with him because they had invited him to present and the lore ect was interesting and good but his lack of basic knowlage is staggering. So i simply sudgested that any interested parties do research of thier own. So that they'll be comfortable when they make thier own batches. I really hope they do because it could be unsafe or simply a waste of money otherwise.

Am I off base?...Should I let this group's board of directors know what's going on?

Is any one at risk, following his directions... I mean other than wasting money.

Or am i randomly venting?


06-12-2005, 09:11 PM
Sounds to me like an accident waiting to happen. Turn 180 degrees and run don't walk in the opposite direction.

I guess calling the board of directors of that group would be a good idea, if nothing else it will alert them that they have a loon showing people how to make mead. I wouldn't be too sure it will help though since they may be aware of his philosophy on meadmaking and think nothing of it.

I'd just quietly slip away and not go back personally.



06-12-2005, 09:23 PM
I fear that, if the one in attendance is any gauge, that they love this fella comming in to do the workshops and it's great for him because HE gets a pile of hero worship and THEY dont know that they've just been feed faulty information.

I'm not saying that he does it intentionaly. I think he Believes he's passing along correct and usefull information, unfortunely I dissagree.

Efectively my word against the hero's not the best fight to fight. But I'm directing the members to this site often and fervently as a level headed referance. :) you guys really are shining stars and not just in comparision to this technical dim bulb. Though It'd does sort of make your avatar's few wisps of hair glow even brighter or is that bioluminessance developed from too much time in your mead cavern.?

06-12-2005, 11:03 PM
Heya Tsuchi,
That does sound like a bit of an unnerving experience. I am just a rookie, like yourself, but I would definately say something to someone. Some of those things in there sound debatable, but others sound seriously scarey to me.
The "clean but not sanitized" part scares me the most. I mean if you are leaving something in the fridge for a day or so, yeah clean works pretty well. But with mead we are talking months, possibly even years and that is just too scarey. I would think bread yeast, 10L water bottles, and empty water bottles are "iffy" and somewhat unothodox but still possible. The balloon idea also sounds kinda scarey, i have heard some beer people say it works, but I wouldn't want to try it. I mean ancient joe's is a great mead using bread yeast, and of course i recently had some homebrew beer from a guy who uses empty plastic 5 gallon water bottles as his carboys and it was pretty good for being beer.
The "honey is basic" comment is an interesting one and one that Dan could probably get a good chukle out of before tearing it to shreds. I kinda wonder is that is something he read somewhere or some kind of "lore" (folklore?) that he picked up.
Although what I am dying to know is did he bring any of his "gourmet" mead to taste?? Cloudy murky and all?? Did he prove his expert status in the liquid gold??I really wonder how it would taste and what the others in attendance would thing. Personally, when I rack I always take and SG sample and taste some before dumping the remainder of the sample in the sink. Usually for the first racking the meads are cloudy and murky and usually are really nasty.. Plus mega-fizzy, which I personally dislike really fizzy drinks.
Just out of curiosity, have you read any of Pam Spence's book
"Mad about Mead!!" ?? It has some good info on mead stuff, but has kind of an unorthodox pseudo-pagan lean to it that might appeal to some of the aspiring mazers that are getting shady info up there. Just a thought of somewhere else to point people for info they can understand...
more rambling, as usual,

06-13-2005, 08:58 PM
He did in fact bring some of his prescious "deaths head" mead one batch aged three month which, for what it was was not horrible, but honestly after the first drink i kept on passing every time it was handed arround, Harsh raw and totaly murkey in an old water bottle with a lable afixed with packing tape. The other he brought and treated like gold was a year old, same recipie, In the same packaging... um and the taste well while being slightly less like jet fuel than the first was still kinda foul.. Though i think, not toxic...
And about the book from lewellwyn "mad about mead" That was his mead bible and he had never heard of ken Schram(sp).

I do hope to get a chance to chat with some of the council just to let them know there were some tecnical errors and that perhaps next time Before encouraging a pile of people to trust in someone to present they themsleves should read up a bit to know the basic health hazards...

I Mean you dont hire a chef to train people how to cook if he's failed his bacic "food safe" test do you?
Hopefully they dont get too defensive.

06-13-2005, 09:00 PM
Just out of curiosity, have you read any of Pam Spence's book
"Mad about Mead!!" ?? It has some good info on mead stuff, but has kind of an unorthodox pseudo-pagan lean to it that might appeal to some of the aspiring mazers that are getting shady info up there. Just a thought of somewhere else to point people for info they can understand...

I have the book (it was a gift). It's cute, a fun read, with some very basic mead making info.


06-14-2005, 02:14 AM
Ok, this is getting mildly wierd... Pam Spence's book, which you mentioned this guy treats like his bible, very clearly and repeatly mentions not only cleaning but steriliziing everything that comes in contact with the must.. She does point out that it(equipment) need not be hospital quality sterile, but still sterile. While there is a whole chapter on sterlizing/not the actual must, she clearly points out that carboys, bottles, etc should be sterilized. While this book is not a copy of Ken's book, it does hold similar information, especially on cleanliness and the virtue of sterilizing equipment. Kinda makes me wonder...
But of course, his mead sounds pretty scarey. Somehow would hope that someone with "expert" status could come up with a better mead...
just my thought..

06-14-2005, 05:10 PM
Hi All,
Just back from a 3500 mile motorcycle ride to South Dakota dodging thunderstorms all the way back.

I think the results of this brew will speak for itself and take its own course. Offer them a glass of one of your better batches and most will soon be looking to you for advice. Good Mead and good practices speaks for itself.

I took 4 1.5 liter bottles of my CW Mead at 6 months old on a motorcycle camping trip with 9 other bikers and 8 of them were drinkers who now posses a respect for an ancient drink they now recognize as a most pleasant and smooth intocicating beverage.

Offer the leaders of this group some Mead made with more modern practices and their preference will soon change.


06-14-2005, 09:03 PM
Right on! Hope you enjoyed your trip.

And like Ancient Joe always says "the proof is in the pudding!"
If you weren't impressed with his pudding, then he doesn't make for a very good teacher. Nuff said ;)

06-16-2005, 10:52 PM
Snicker, mostly joe gets the credit for my prowess they all wanted the ancient orange recipie... ;D and honestly I think people were starting to cringe everytime his bottles made the rounds so I added a few of mine... the orange barely made the first lap. my cycer and cranberry were tried buy all and liked more or less acording to sweet tooth or not.

Has anyone else found the sweetness or lack of to be more of a determining factor for enjoyment than flavor, for people who've never tried mead? I'm sure It sounds funny but it really seemed that clear cut. People with a sweet tooth enjoyed the sweeter maeds while people without liked the dry without real regard for flavor. One person admited that my ongoing rasins versus beeplolen (4 and a 2 sugar content respectively) of the two the beepollen tasted better but the rasins were sweeter and thats what she'd likely drink. I swear people dont use the taste buds that they were given. Is this a common reaction?

06-17-2005, 01:02 AM
Is it possible this guy read the book after a few healthy helpings of mead and missed the cleaning parts? Did honey get on the book and pages stuck together???
I would make a 180 and move quietly away..
Hey Tsuchi, cool avatar. How did you come about it? It would make a great background for a label.


06-18-2005, 09:56 PM
Lol about the honey on the pages ( It's as good a theory as any;) ) The avatar is an ink drawing i did a few years back. My boyfriend of five years keeps saying he wants a tatoo made of it. I dont mind you using for lable, it could be cool, just give a credit or I can add my initals descreatly into it. and send you a copy if/when you get around to it.

Lable making is allways some thing that takes me forever. Oh and we all have to see the final draft in the lables file speeking of... i think i have a few to add to that post if i can dig it up.

06-19-2005, 01:39 AM
Very cool,
I was thinking of it being the background in a sepia tone ink, with a darker color for text.
It would also makee nice corners on a label...
Of course I would give credit, also initials would be a cool thing. It would be like the artist's initials on a reproduction of the original art. I have a couple of labels, I'll post them soon.

Keep on meadin'