From the HBD Archive
From: Michael Bergman <>
Subject: Mead and pH: recipes
Date: 1989-03-01 15:46:21 GMT

OK. My book is called "Making Mead" and is by Bryan Acton and Peter
Duncan. They have this to say:

"Honey and water alone represent a very poorly balanced "must", which
is why meads made from these two ingredients alone ferment very slowly
and mature rather poorly; such mead requires perhaps 8 years before it
is drinkable. There is no need to mature mead for so long if the must
is first adjusted to conform to the basic rules of modern mead

They then go on to say that the necessary elements are:

good yeast
good quality honey
yeast nutrients

Apparently magnesium salts are one of the trace elements necessary--they
say that there can be problems using distilled water due to their
lack. They say (assume from now until I say different that all
"facts" are attributed to this book) that insufficient acid can cause
the yeast to produce "peculiarly flavored substances" that spoil the
mead, and make it taste "like cough-mixture". "Meads should contain no
more than 2.5-3.5 parts per thousand acid (sulphuric acid standard).
Pure meads must therefore need only 1/2 to 3/4 oz acid per gallon."
They go on to say that melomels (fruit juice/honey water mix) and
other honey drinks in which honey is not the only sweetener should be
treated like regular wines as regards acidity. Citric acid is the
traditional acid used and "many like the flavor it imparts", however,
they recomend 1/3 tartaric acid to 2/3 malic acid for "superior

Nutrients: (per gallon)
Ammonium Phosphate 1 tsp
Vitamin B1 2.5 mg
or Marmite .25 tsp
Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulphate--mentioned earlier) .25 tsp
potassium phosphate .25 tsp (2 grams)

"Meads that lack astringency lack character." 1/15th or 1/20th of an
ounce grape tannin per gallon.

They also give "beginners additives" as follows:

per gallon

juice of two lemons
1/4 tsp Marmite
pinch of Epsom Salts
1 tsp Ammonium Phosphate
1 Tablespoon very strong tea

"Advanced mead maker's additives"

4 gms Ammonium Phosphate
2 gms Potassium Phosphate
1 gm Magnesium Sulphate
1/2 5-milligram vitamin B1 tablet
2 gms Tannic acid
6.5 gms Tartaric acid
10.5 gms Malic acid
3.5 gms citric acid

They suggest multiplying these quantities by 20, mixing with two pints
water, then using 2 ounces of the mix with each gallon of must, and
keeping the mix in the fridge.

They recomend sedimentary white wine yeasts for the average brewer,
although "Tokay yeast" is good but requires fermentation at 95 degrees
farenheit. They particulary recomend Sauternes and Steinberg for

It should be noted that the object of the authors is to produce a dry
white wine sort of mead--they do admit the existence of sweet meads
but produce them by using the same recipe and racking it earlier to
slow the fermentation. Since the yeast is bottom dwelling, racking
has a rather significant effect.

Most of the mead-makers I know are not always so patient as to age
their meads for the minimum two years Acton and Duncan recomend, and
divide meads up into two categories: "quick", or "light" or "small"
meads, and "great" mead. I believe that there is some historical
justification to this, but don't have documentation at hand. I'll ask
around. The quick meads can be drunk after as little as a few days,
and are probably more like a ginger ale or root beer than a true wine,
although they can be considerably stronger. Usually the quick mead
recipes call for less honey, as the yeast will not be given time to
ferment it all.

I seem to have wandered away from the original question of how much
acid to add to the must to keep the yeasties happy, as well as gone on
at length. I will add one more recipe; jackie brown didn't say what
kind of fruit s/he had ready, so I will pick one at random.

Peach Melomel:

6 lbs peaches 1/30th ounce tannin
3/4 pt elderflowers nutrients (as above)
2 1/2 lb acacia honey Graves yeast
water to make one gallon 1/4 ounce tartaric acid
1/4 ounce malic acid

Press the peaches (after removing pits). Dissolve the honey is 4
pints warm water, blend in the peach juice along with acid, tannin,
and nutrients. Add 100 ppm sulphite (2 Camden tablets). After 24
hours, add the yeast starter, allow to ferment for 7 days before
adding the elderflowers. Ferment on the flowers for 3 days then
strain them off and top off to one gallon with cold water. Ferment
untilthe specific gravity drops to 10, then rack. Rack again when the
gravity drops to 5, and add 1 tablet. Then proceed with the "basic

Basic procedure (for any mead)(according to Acton and Duncan)

rack again as soon as a heavy deposit forms or after 3 months,
whichever is sooner, and add another campden tablet.

rack again every 3-4 months, adding a tablet after every second



Note that they say that melomels can be drunk sooner than meads, after
only a couple of months, and reach full maturity at about 2 years.

They advocate campden tablets rather than boiling to sterilize the
honey because they feel that after boiling for a long time most of the
essences of the honey that make it honey are gone.

Disclaimer: I have not used these recipes myself. Furthermore,
neither has my employer.

The book is published by "Amateur Winemaker", South St., Andover,
Hants, England. I got my copy at a local winemaking shop.


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