hist-brewing: cloudy meads

Mills, Scott Scott.Mills at COMPAQ.com
Mon Feb 7 15:29:15 PST 2000

First let me preface by saying that I am an ANTI-boil 
fanatic.  I never boil my honey because in my mind I KNOW 
that it drives off too much of the honey aroma and it alters 
the flavor.  I boil my water then remove from the heat and 
add my honey.  I have seen documents from the National Honey 
board that mention a working temperature of 160 F and that 
honey should be cooled quickly after heating to avoid changes 
in its chemical composition.  In the NHB  brewing documents 
they recommend pasteurizing by heating to 176 F and then 
adding to the already fermenting wort at high kreusen.

This past weekend I shared a mead with a small group of local 
brewers and a number commented that they had never had a mead 
with so much honey character.  Yet it not an overly sweet 
mead.  This honey character is as much from the aroma as from 
the taste.  Like Al I also have an AHA Gold medal for a 
traditional mead and I did not boil the honey.  Unlike Al's 
mead mine was crystal clear (I assume Al's was not because he 
says the judges overlooked the cloudiness in favor of the aroma).

There are a number of carbohydrates in mead that are not 
fermentable (about 5% of them) as well as enzymes, minerals 
(that's where the color comes from), amino acids, and other 
organic acids that all make honey what it is.  If you are 
buying unmolested honey that has only been strained and not 
heated and filtered then there is also going to be some wax 
and pollen and a few other impurities.  These impurities are 
filtered out in commercial store honey not because they hurt 
the flavor but primarily because they hurt shelf life by 
promoting crystallization.  All of these extras in honey can 
cause a mead to be cloudy under various conditions but in my 
experience the biggest cause of cloudy meads appears to have 
been suspended yeast that will eventually settle out. 

To my mind I have never had a lot trouble getting my meads to 
clear.  If your mead isn't clear just give it time and 
eventually it will clear.  Think like a winemaker who is 
looking for a product to be ready in a year or two not like a 
brewer wanting to serve in three weeks or even three months.  
Better yet, as Al said don't worry about the haze and just 
enjoy the aroma and flavor.

If you still cant wait  and want to help the mead clear then 
I recommend bentonite.  (at times I also have been rushed to 
get a mead ready for a wedding or other special event)  Keep 
in mind that bentonite is not an overnight clearing agent but 
for me has usually enticed a mead to clear and be ready to 
rack in about a month.



Scott Mills	 
Scott.Mills at Compaq.Com 

AKA Ld Eadric Anstapa
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