Ask the Meadmaker: No Nap Nora

In which Ricky the Meadmaker answers questions about using baking soda to carbonate, what kind of siphon to use as a homebrewer, the source of a white scum on the top of fermenting mead, smoky mead, and more!
Further Reading:
Meadmaking Essential Equipment
More on Smoky Mead in Ep. 106

Episode Transcript:

​You want to know how the Viking baby is doing? The Viking baby is doing so well that she’s a toddler now and got a new title. The no-naptime Nora.

Welcome to Ask the Meadmaker, where I, Ricky the Meadmaker and the Viking toddler answer your questions about mead making, mead drinking, mead brewing, and really any question you’re willing to send us.

Can you carbonate mead with bicarbonate of soda?

Our first question comes from Edward who wants to know if you can carbonate mead by just putting bicarbonate of soda in there? Baking soda. The answer is potentially. It would nullify the acid making a very flat and bland and probably salty mead. But theoretically, it could be done. 

which type of siphon for making mead?

Joey has a question that’s very useful for new home meadmakers. Do I recommend pump siphons or the old-fashioned kind? I recommend the pump kind because the other kind are frustrating. 

white scum on top of mead?

Vernon wants to know why every time he ferments with honey a white scum forms on the top of the batch. That could be a lot of different things. If it’s raw honey, true raw honey, it could theoretically be wax.

If you are not sulfiting initially, it could be yeast and bacteria. Or, even if you are sulfiting, it could be the yeast you’re pitching.

Sometimes it just forms a layer on the top that you can’t really see when it’s a darker beer. 

pig’s blood as mead binding agent?

​Nora has moved into the director’s chair for this question. And I’m glad because I wanted to answer Michael’s question all by myself. Michael has heard about pig’s blood. Powdered pig’s blood, used as a binding agent and he wanted to know not my thoughts, but my feelings about it. My thoughts and feelings are both negative, but I feel that it’s a really, really bad idea. 

How to get smoky flavors in mead

​Our last question this week comes from Bullish Group. I am sorry, I am sorry that it has been two months since you sent your question and I haven’t answered it yet. You had to repost it 4,300 times. It’s a great question. But I am a busy man.

Anyway, he has a great question. “How would I get smoky flavors in mead?” And I will tell you what my trick is. And it’s not the one that I recommend for every mead or for everybody, but I like to use lapsang souchong. I make a strong, smoky tea and add that.

The reason it’s not good for everything is it does add a bit of tannin and it also has the issue that it adds caffeine to your mead which you may not want. But there are a lot of options, such as adding liquid smoke, people do that with beer, or if you are a homebrewer you could add a smoked malt. But really the possibilities are endless.

The one thing I wouldn’t recommend is attempting to light a fire at the bottom of your batch of mead. So, I hope that answers your question. 

​Keep sending them and I’ll get to them as soon as possible. Cheers. 

[OUTTAKES. NORA TRIES OUT THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND EXPLORES THE STUDIO] Camera. Yeah, and light. Okay, ready? Ready for me to answer another question? 
Bye, Nora! Where are you going?

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