Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mead, The first of many!

Let's take a moment to discuss an often misunderstood libation!

Mead, or "Honey Wine" as it's sometimes known, is perhaps the worlds first fermented beverage. It served the Vikings and the Egyptians well, but we hardly ever see it. Most people have never even heard of it, fewer people have ever had it, and even fewer yet have ever made it. This is a crying shame!

Mead was well known in Europe, India and China for centuries, but when Marco Polo brought sugar cane back from the Spice Islands, this new cheap source of fermentables gained favor and mead fell from grace.

Making mead is as easy as making a batch of lemonade from powder, it just takes a little patience and good sanitation practices. I highly recommend this for anyone that is even marginally interested! And the bonus is, when you make it, you make what you like!

I like my mead a little different from what you can buy. First of all, I usually don't care to have it carbonated. Dry fruit mead is okay sparkling, but most of the mead I make is still.

I like spiced mead to be fairly sweet and I like to have my fruit mead fairly dry. I prefer a well made show mead, one with no other flavor than the honey, to be medium dry. It is rough to find anything on the shelf at the local bottle shop, let alone one that matches my I make my own.

Redstone Meadery, Boulder Co.

There are quite literally hundreds of variants and they all have names. In example, a mead made with honey that is scalded to darken and caramelize the sugars is called "Bochet." Mead made with apple juice instead of water is called "Cyser," and mead made with spices is called "Metheglin." The most popular style is made with fruits and it is called "Melomel," and depending on the fruit you use even that may be known by a more specific name.

I fear no terminology, and I am NOT a mead snob. So if you offer me a "Fruit Mead" instead of a "Melomel," I will just as happily accept!

Mead takes quite a bit of time to make, although there are plenty of guys out there making mead that is quite drinkable in a very short period of time.  I am more of a RonCo type when I make mead. I "Set it and forget it!" I rarely even sample a mead in less than a year.  The exception of course is upon racking, the process of moving the mead off of the lees (Sediment) into a clean carboy. Most of the mead I make I intend to drink over the course of the next 10 years or so. Age is normally a great friend to mead.

Big Kahuna, Chilling with a Red Solo cup of mead!
It takes quite a stash to keep bottles around for that long. It is a great project and an investment in time and learning.
If you are interested in learning more about mead, there are countless resources on the Internet, but I highly suggest a book by Ken Schram called The Complete Meadmaker. It was my first mead book, and while it may be getting a bit out of date, it is like Charlie Papazian's the Joy of Homebrew,  a timeless classic!


No comments:

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series