Archive for Mead Making

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

 

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Dionysus Ritual

Posted in Ritual with tags , , on January 10, 2012 by theredlass

Haven’t actually had the chance to use this yet. My full moon group crapped out on me all save for one person and we were going to use the opportunity to make mead. Ah well, comes when it pleases don’t it?

Dionysus

Dionysus’s immortality was discovered through the tragic circumstances of his birth. His mother was the mortal Princess Semele, who had fallen in love with Zeus. When Zeus’s wife, Hera, discovered the liaison, she befriended the woman in disguise, but asked if she could be certain that it was really Zeus, and not some trickster in disguise. Semele became worried, and when Zeus next visited, insisted upon seeing his godly form to prove that he was a god. At first Zeus refused, but Semele refused to be with him if he would not grant her this request, and called him a liar. Zeus had no choice, and revealed his divinity to her. Upon seeing it, Semele burst into flames and died. Zeus was saddened, but as he looked into the flames he saw an infant, glowing divine light.

Quickly, Zeus snatched up the fetus and sewed it into the skin of his thigh till it was fully developed. Thus he was given the title dimetor, or twice born. He was then given to the wild nymphs of Mount Nysa to raise him until he was out of harm from Hera. To add extra protection, he was often concealed in girls cloths. As he did women’s work, he discovered the process to extract grape juice and the secrets of fermenting it into wine. Hera discovered him soon after this and used his own invention to strike him with drunken madness, causing him to wander the wilderness, insane.

Soon he met with the goddess Rhea (his grandmother on his father’s side) who cured him of his illness and taught him her mystical rites and sacred wisdoms. He traveled again, from Asia to India, until his cult and worship was powerful enough to return to Greece without fearing Hera’s wrath.

His worshipers were many, but his temples were few. His priests were the Maenads, driven mad with divine insanity and possessed by the spirit of the wine. His worship involved the mysteries of life and death, and fertility within the earth. Dionysus was associated with the snake (who held earth mysteries), the leopard(who’s skin clothed him), the bees, (who provided honey), the bull (who’s horns were used for drinking vessels) and the goat (who’s skin was used for wine pouches). The vine was sacred to him, as well as the fennel stalk.

His mysteries are said to be those of the unconscious mind, and were among the few open to anyone, regardless of status, class or gender. Bisexuality was commonplace, as well as gender swapping in honor of Dionysus’s time spent as a woman. Drums and pipes were frequently used in the dance and celebration, as well as the bullroarer, to create a rave like atmosphere.

 

 

Dionysus Rite

1)      Cast the Circle

  1. We gather on this sacred night

When moon hangs heavy high

(Chorus) Cast the circle thrice about
Good things in and bad things out!

  1. To dance within this holy rite

As spirits draw quickly nigh

 

(Chorus) Cast the circle thrice about

Good things in and bad things out!

 

  1. So twist and turn

While fire burns

And chant the rhyme and rhythm

 

(Chorus) Cast the circle thrice about

Good things in and bad things out!

 

  1. No ill wind blows

While in their throws

Our bodies spinning with them

 

(Chorus) Cast the circle thrice about

Good things in and bad things out! x3

 

2)     Purify and Welcome

  1. There are many gathered here tonight who are new to this circle, all of us in fact! But we come together with the same intentions; desire to learn, desire to share knowledge, desire to know one another as friends, and desire to mix our creative juices in this sacred and holy act. So it is with this in mind that we purify and welcome one another to this circle!
  2. No one person here is greater than any other, so we hold no priest or priestess above us. We purify one another as a sign of community and respect between the learned scholar and the seeking neophyte.
  3. Each member will turn to one another with the feather and the sage and waft it towards one, saying: “I purify you in the name of your gods, that they be with you in your heart while this circle lasts.”

 

3)     Call to Dionysus

  1. Bring forth the wine and good cheer!
    For tonight we revel as the followers of the vine!
    Tossed about in waves of red and violet,
    We drown sorrow and melancholy in the fruit of life and death!

(Chorus) Hail Dionysus!
We ask thee come among us!

  1. Drink deep of his blessings and know his mirth!

For he is a god of youth and pleasure!
A god of one and all, who holds no bar,

Against class or gender, status or sex!

(Chorus) Hail Dionysus!
We ask thee come among us!

  1. Tonight, in his presence, we become his followers

Tonight we are the driven!

Tonight we are the wild ones!

Tonight we are the Maenad!

 

(Chorus) Hail Dionysus!
We ask thee come among us! (x3)

 

4)     Dance Round The Fire

5)     Offerings

  1. At this time, if anyone has any offerings or anything they would like to say, you may take the floor and be recognized.

 

6)     Releasing the God

  1. Dionysus, giver of wine and mirth

We thank thee for your time among us

For your blessings and gifts,

And the divine inspiration your bring upon us

If you would stay, know it is as a welcome guest.

If you would go, know we have found you an excellent companion.

 

(Chorus) Hail Dionysus

We bid thee farewell! (x3)

 

7)     Closing the Circle

  1. We walk about to widdershins
  2. And set the magic free
  3. Until another full moon glows
  4. And we will call on thee
  5. Farewell to friends long past life
  6. Farewell to spirits near and far
  7. Farewell to those who wink and grin
  8. And to those who come from stars.

 

8)     The Circle is now Closed