Archive for mead

Yule and Mead Fail

Posted in Mead, Yule with tags , on December 27, 2012 by theredlass

*sigh* Sometimes you an do everything right and still have something turn out like crap.

So everyone was of course really excited about the mead bottling. We really busted out butts on this so we did it right off the bat once everyone had arrived. We had a whole assembly line of sanitizing, pumping, corking and labeling going and then we got to sample each batch.

Have you ever drunk a mouthfull of vinegar before?

Now all hope may not yet be lost to us. We did take our sample from the last inch of the bottle so it may just be super yeasty and sour. But on the whole there is a lot of worry floating around as to if all our time and money was wasted. Now of course when it comes to something like this I try not to think of it as a waste but rather as a learning experience, which this one was. But when you have 8 people who dropped some serious money into making 6 gallons of mead your thoughts are not on the silver lining.

It’s more that the mead was terribly alcoholic (not a bad thing) and very very SOUR! Despite adding almost 5 extra gallons of honey to the original batch (which tasted AMAZING at the half way point) all our fruit and spices seemed to do was weaken the sweet flavor in favor of a rather unpleasant sour fruit taste.

But not all hope is lost! After rereading all the stuff I used the first time I made mead, I realized 2 very important steps we had failed to go over.
Add Fruit First! When I made my first big batch of mead, I added the fruit to the first fermentation. Apparently, this gives the yeast a more well balanced diet AND allows for the flavors to be more intense and mature even if you filter the fruit/spices out during secondary ferment.

It’s Called Honey Wine for a Reason! It completely skipped my mind that when we bottled our big batch, we sweetened the HELL out of it as we went along. If I had remembered that, we should have added honey to the jugs and shaken them up really well before we bottled which would have gone a long way towards helping the flavor.

So we are going to try and sweeten our bottled med before drinking it and see if that helps at all. On the plus side, I how have 3, 1 gallon carboys, which I can use to further my experimentation. I’m thinking on a recipe with elderberry (a melomel) and something with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and anise (a metheglin) I also want to make sure and do another jug of the “Snapdragon” mead (assuming it tastes better all sweetened) for Ren Fair. I promised my friends a taste of it and the only way I will have enough to go around is if I make a gallon or two! I’d also like to fiddle around with citrus flavors. I can do 2 gallons at a shot, 3 if I don’t mind buying another carboy (which I don’t). Also I found a really great local supplier with people who are more than happy to provide advise alongside supplies.

Also, for reference, we got about 4, 750 ml bottles out of every carboy, this with leaving an 1-1 1/2 inches of the dregs (yeast and fruit) at the bottom.

Other than that, Yule went down rather well. We kept things fairly informal and did six rounds of toasting and drinking while the food passed around. As always I leave my couch and floor open to anyone who feels too tipsy to drive home. We did a gift exchange and tarot readings and just generally had a really nice night!

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St. Patrick’s Day

Posted in Cooking, Mead with tags , , on March 14, 2012 by theredlass

A lot of wiccans talk about how many holidays the Catholic church stole from our “traditions” in order to help bring pagans to Christ. Well in all truth…I don’t care. I really don’t. They weren’t doing anything hundreds of religions have done through out time and frankly it feels as though we stole a lot back (in wiccan rituals and alters at least). Part of the reason holidays exist around certain times of year is because there has ALWAYS been some sort of celebration regarding the cycle of seasons and changing weather. Therefor I have no compunctions about celebrating secular holidays right alongside the formatted pagan ones.

That being said…

I’m gonna wear green (even though green is technically for the Catholics and orange is for Protestants) and get drunk.

The Spring Equinox is coming up and I’m planning on starting a new batch of mead! The last one went wonderfully well and thankfully I have friends who are more then willing to provide me with honey in exchange for future meads. I am actually surprising myself by being not entirely sucky at this! I will still need to sweeten it before it’s bottled in April but beyond that I am just having a blast!

Mead Making

Posted in Cooking with tags , on February 16, 2012 by theredlass

Now I’ve never been one to pretend I’m patient. Not in the least, but few things make me tap my feet more than having to count down days. And few things drive me more nuts than being on the day before something. So needless to say, mead making is an exercise in patience for me. One I desperately need to work out more often.

I went with a very simple recipe the first time through because I have never tried something like this before. Just some oranges and raisins to help make flavor and for the first week I have been monitoring the brew, cheching on it, watching for the bubbles (which yes I discovered are not really necessary for a functional mead) and then…waited…

…and waited…

.and waited…

…and kinda forgot about it for two weeks…

…and then my phone went off to remind me there was only a few days left until I needed to change the mead over and remembered I needed to sterilize everything to siphon it over.

It was an exciting moment for me! Not just because I was relieved to open up the bucket and see that everything looked the way it should.

*sigh of relief*

Also I feel the lack of engineering expertise when I’m trying to figure out how to work a siphoning hose. Yeah…doing it for the first time folks, remember that.

Spilled a little bit on myself and tasted it. Not sure how it should taste at this stage of the game but it was a little sour. Most mead I’ve had is sweet. Need to drop by Got Mead and see if it’s okay and if not what I can do to sweeten it up.

Now it’s sitting comfortably on my table, ready to sit and brew for another two months before being bottled. In another month I am going to start another recipe. I’m thinking something with ginger & peaches in it.

Mead Making-Learning How

Posted in Cooking, Experience, Fun and interesting, Ritual with tags , , on December 27, 2011 by theredlass

I would like to add, before anyone reads the rest, that I am in the beginning process of learning how to make my own mead. What comes below is not the words of an expert, but the comment of someone delving into the experience for the first time. I strongly advise doing your own research before taking me at mine and learning about the history.

Furthermore, I would DEARLY love to see what other people have done to create this golden delicacy, your recipes, advise and suggestions. I will promise to include photos when I start on my first batch!

Ah mead! What is there in this world greater than the sweet sharp flavor of honey wine! More than just an alcoholic beverage, it is a staple of modern pagan culture. You’d be hard pressed to find an experienced witch or pagan who does not brew, rock and share their own bottles. Recipes are held as dear as spells and rituals within the grimoire. It is found at most pagan summits, festivals and at no few coven gatherings.

The brewing of mead has been called an art form. It’s creation is sacred and magical, not to mention a ton of fun! It has been known in multiple locals but is most widely attributed to the Norse Vikings. Though the method has changed greatly from the early “sextarius of rainwater and pound of honey”, there is a long and fruitful history of brewing. Mead was a way of producing alcohol in places where grapes would not grow and (until taxation) was a tradable good.

Mead also plays a strong role in mythology. The Mead of Suttungr (Norse origin), was said to turn whoever drank it into a scholar, due to the fact that it has been made from the blood of the near omniscient Kvasir. Dionysus, (Greek god of wine) was said to have great festivals and cult rituals (Dionysian Mysteries) in which everyone became so drunk they turned mad and lost all manner of self control or civility. The Lacandon people (Mayan) believed the brewing and drinking of the mead was a way of communicating and becoming one with their gods. The Finnish Walpurgis Night (coinciding with Midsummer) is considered a good night to brew sima (mead) as it has connections with The Wild Hunt in Norse mythos.

There are a variety of meads, usually named according to the region and ingredients used. It is easy enough to research them yourself, so I won’t go into it here.

The best way to experience mead is to make it yourself! Materials can be expensive to come by, but the easiest way to get everything is to buy a wine makers kit. A good one comes with everything you will need expect the water, honey, fruit, campaign yeast and bottles. It is easiest to start with about a gallon batch as larger batches can be difficult to store and get more expensive. All recipes are for that amount.

Mead Recipe

Tools

Time

Purpose

Instructions

-1 gallon spring water-1 lbs. honey-large spoon

-stainless steel pot

-hydrometer

-wine/champaign yeast

-1 cup room temperature water

-syphon tube

-2 glass/plastic jugs

-cool dark place

-airlock

-cork

-funnel

-Initial Preparation: 2 hours
-First Fermentation: 1 Month-Racking: 1 hour- Secondary Fermentation: 1 month-6 weeks

-Aging: 6-9 months

-to create a basic mead mixture from which any amount of flavors and or spices can be mixed or one that can be drunk straight -put the stainless steel pot on the stove and heat a ½  gallon of water to simmer (not boiling) slowly-put in 1 lb. of honey and mix till dissolved-while that heats, get ½ cup of water (room temperature) and drop in yeast and gently stir it to activate

-let it sit for about 15 mins.

-let the mixture cool on the stove and make sure to skim off the foam that forms at the top. Allow to cool to room temperature. This mixture is called the must.

-Once it has cooled, pour it into your jug.

-At this point you can start adding ingredients into mix to create different flavors. Recipes are included for ideas down below.

-Pour in the rest of the room temperature water till it hits the top of the body before the shoulder. (Image below)

-stopped the bottle and shake it with a firm motion for about 10 minuets. It should start bubbling.

-Pit the yeast (pour it in) using the funnel. Cork the jug again and gently stir it around.

-Fill your airlock half full with water and plug it firmly into a cork with a hole in it. Place it tightly into the jugs neck.

-Within a day or two the airlock should start bubbling actively. Store in a cool, dark place.

ONE MONTH LATER

-You will need a second plastic/ glass jug and your syphon tube.

-Start syphoning the liquid over into the new jug gently, leaving behind the dead yeast (or sediment) at the bottom. Any ingredients you mixed in before to soak should be left behind as well and cleaned out later.

-Check your airlock, perhaps add a bit more water if it needs it, and transfer it over to the new jug.

-Allow the mead to age for at LEAST another month. Watch for the airlock to cease bubbling entirely. Wait two weeks after this and then you can begin racking.

-At this point you can transfer the mead to bottles or let it age in the jug. You can even start the tasting process and smell it to get a sensation and to make sure everything went well.

-Most people suggest racking the mead for 6 months to a year before it is ‘drinkable’.