hist-brewing: Strength of Mead

Daniel W. Butler-Ehle dwbutler at mtu.edu
Tue Jul 1 09:55:53 PDT 1997

On Fri, 27 Jun 1997, Chuck Graves wrote:

> On Wed, 11 Jun 1997, Baden,Doug wrote:
> > Cysers and metheglins were developed to extend the honey with 
> > cheaper ingredients.
> To which "Daniel W. Butler-Ehle" <dwbutler at mtu.edu> responded:
> >I believe it was more likely the other way. Cyser and pyment were 
> >developed to extend the apple and grape juices with a cheaper, less 
> >flavorful ingredient (honey).  
> I certainly would have to agree with Doug on this one.  Honey has always 
> been a limited commodity.  Historically, it was NEVER inexpensive.
> >It just takes too much boiling to get apple juice to a respectable 
> >strength.
> That is a curious statement.  Do you have a source which shows the boiling 
> of ANY fruit juice?

Nope, and I doubt they did it.  Thanks for supporting my point.
If I had simply said "Since they didn't boil anything in those days, 
they had to add a concentrated sugar if they wanted to boost strength 
and the only one they had was honey.", then someone would have said 
"Can you document the absence of boiling?".

> Both historically and currently, grapes and apples are cheap; honey is 
> expensive.  Just check your local market...compare 3 lbs of honey to 1 gal 
> of apple juice.

A rather odd comparison. Cider is about SG 1.035 (but varies greatly).
Three pounds of honey in topped to a gallon with water is about SG 1.12.
Try comparing one pound of honey with 3 or 4 gallons of fresh apple juice.
Then it is still not a valid indicator of relative cost in the middle ages 
because they didn't (necessarily) have machines to press their apples or 
centrifuges to extract honey.  So the relative production costs may 
have been much different.

Who *buys* juice and honey anyway?

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