Archive for the Experament Category

6 Gallons of Love

Posted in Experament, Fun and interesting, Mead, Ritual with tags on December 2, 2012 by theredlass

While I may occasionally express irritation at how things don’t always go as I had planned with my group, I can not deny how positively lovely this little experimentation has turned out! Right now, my kitchen counter is occupied by no less than 6 gallons of beautiful, multi-colored, honey saturated wine. It bubbles away soothingly as it is infused with scent and flavor lovingly added by a dedicated group.

Our original flavors changes a little with what we had available to work with. After the initial taste test (which may or may not have required several tastes…to be sure of quality!) we got down to the business of pumping the mead into individual containers. I have to say that this batch (only the second I have ever made) turned out much more bubbly and vigorous than my first. The sweetness was much more apparent and it did not have that yeasty overtone the way my first one did. Perhaps because we added the full 20lbs of honey as oppose to just 15lbs?

We then pulled out the ingredients and began cutting, chopping, slicing and squishing what we needed. I am so glad I went ahead and splurged on a 6th 1 gallon carboy! Otherwise we would have wasted a huge amount of mead. We decided to leave one gallon plain, just so we can taste it after secondary fermentation and see if it’s any different. While some may not find this particularly interesting, I do, so I am going to post what each member did with their carboy.

Myself- I took my time slicing the peaches into little cubes (I bought frozen peaches because they are not currently in season) and dropping them into my cloudy golden mixture. I added about 4 tablespoons of pure almond extract, shaking the carboy around a few times so that the oil didn’t pool on top. Lastly, I sliced up 4 good sized pieces of candied/ crystallized ginger (this stuff was strong!) and dropped them in. I popped the cork in and shook it vigorously, making sure my additions were being… bruised?…into the liquid. We gave it a small taste but all you could really get a sense of was the almond, nothing else had really soaked in yet. But I still have high hopes. Even a day later I can see the bubbles working their way through and the color starting to drain from the peaches.

Laura- Her process was a little more automatic than the rest of ours. A few weeks ago we bought a Lingonberry syrup from Ikea which she has taken a shine too and wanted to see how it would fair with mead! She poured herself a small glass, then began adding syrup until the tartness made a nice counter to the sweet. Once she’d added about 1/2 a cup to the carboy, it took on a cute pinkish tone and she decided that was enough.

Kasii- This member went for what I think is a traditional melomel, squishing up a huge bag of blackberries and chopping up strawberries. As a last minuet addition, she put in a small handful of the pomegranate seeds, just to see if she could get the level of tartness up a mite and improve the color. The flavor was noticeable right away and I maaaaaaay have attempted to steal the cup. It’s now a deep purple red color and has the honor of being the first batch to ‘pop’…twice…as the yeast feeds. She thinks it’s cute “Ït needed to be burped!”

Kayleigh- Another melomel, but with a different flair. I sincerely pity & respect Kayleigh for sitting there and peeking, scooping, and checking 2 1/2 pomegranates to get the seeds out! Her fingers will be black till Yule! But damned if she didn’t sit there dedicated to see it through. She even added an apple (diced up) to the mix to add some of the more mellowed out flavors. I will note that while the mead itself is turning a bright purple, it is the apples color that I notice dissolving most quickly. The taste of this one was refreshingly tart and awakening. I’m really excited to see how it comes through.

Ariel/Anthony- Technically the last jug is theirs to flavor, but there was an emergency which meant they could not attend. So we took it upon ourselves to make sure their desires were carried out. I think this is the batch we are going to warm for our Yule feast as I can not think of anything better than sitting around a table with hot apple cinnamon mead! I think we ended up putting 3 apples and 5 cinnamon sticks into the brew, which now smells almost exclusively like cinnamon but tastes more like apples. It’s gaining a deeper golden brown color as the days go by and I think it will be a lovely addition to the table.

The deal, at the end of this, is that since everyone contributed (either by buy ingredients, supplies or by helping with the process) we all walk home with bottles of mead at Yule. We agreed that 8 would be set aside for the sabbat rituals so that there is always something to use for our “cakes and ale”. And to be entirely truthful, I’m not sure how much mead is going to survive Yule! Everyone including myself is looking at it with greedy eyes and we may well drink a lot of it.

The best part of this is, now that everyone had a jug (which were purchased individually) we can all start our own mead experiments! Laura and I purchased 3 jugs on our own, which means we can have 2 brews going at once. I made sure everyone knew where to get their supplies so that they could go and buy their equipment and we talked about having a mead competition next Yule (2013) with prizes for who ever has the best bottle. I know for sure I am brewing another bottle of the Snapedragon (peach, almond, ginger) if it turns out well. But I also am debating a metheglin brew with lavender, chamomile and anise seed. Haven’t come up with a name yet.

We left about an inch of mead in the bucket because it was far too yeasty to do anything with at that point. I am going into the circle today to offer the last of it to the gods in thanks for their assistance in this batch. We also decided as a group to only do a full 6 gallon brew 4 times a year. It is a lot of work and even with only having to buy ingredients, it can get expensive. Plus this will give us the added opportunity to play with seasonal flavors! So we will do a big batch on the solstices and equinoxes and the rest of the time leave it to each member to brew on their own.

THINGS I LEARNED:1) When working with a group on a large, money spending project, be sure your finances are in check BEFORE starting out. This would have been a lot less hectic had we simply gone and bought everything we would need before hand.

2) Call ahead to your supply shops and be sure they have what you need in stock. I had to visit 2 brew supply shops to get everything which included a 30 min drive the night before we flavored in order to find carboys!

3) Be perfectly clear during communications as to who is doing what and when. No major disasters here but it might have made everyone feel more comfortable if I’d be more specific about what was happening.

Samhain Batch 2012_2Samhain Batch 2012_3Samhain Batch 2012_4Samhain Batch 2012_5

This batch was started on Samhain 2012 and will be bottled on Yule 2013.

This batch was started on Samhain 2012 and will be bottled on Yule 2013.

Samhain Batch 2012_6