A Conversation for Mead

Mead

Post 1

Bernie Starchaser

There are a few potential minor inaccuracies in this report on Mead. First of all is the assertion that Mead is a fortified wine. I cannot comment on whether or not UK law classifies mead as such, but in comparison to other fortified wines (sherry, brandy, et al), mead hardly measures up at a mere 15% alcohol (at most).

Secondly: The term "honeymoon" does indeed come from a marriage custom as described in the article. However the custom comes from ancient Babylon and other parts of the middle east and not from the Vikings, although the practice may have been "borrowed" from the Babylonians by the vikings. It IS true that we most commonly associate mead with the viking culture, and I expect that "Beowulf" and norse mythology in general has as much to do with that as anything.

As a mead maker myself I have done a little historical research and I HOPE my information is accurate. That is why I said "potential" inaccuracies above.

Oh one last thing: Adding of herbs dates back to early England (like 1500s or even before). The product thus obtained is referred to as "metheglin". If fruit is added it is called "melomel". I have made a metheglin based on a recipe I found on the net which was found in turn among the private papers of some 15th century minor English nobleman. It involved parsley and sage and was VERY good.

Apologies in advance for any of my information that proves to be inaccurate. I stand ready to be re-educated should that prove neccessary.

-Starchaser


Mead

Post 2

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

I thought 'fortified wine' was the result of a specialised process, where fermentation is paused and more sugar added, several times, to up the percentage. I've never done this with the mead I make; all the sugar is present in the honey at the outset.


Mead

Post 3

Ugi - Keeper of typos & spelling errers - MAT (see A575912)

I believe the "fortification" process in most fortified wines is the addition of a distilled liquor (eg brandy in the case of sherry or port). This was done originally to preserve the wine for long voyages by ship.


Mead

Post 4

Ugi - Keeper of typos & spelling errers - MAT (see A575912)

I also meant to mention that the first alcoholic drink was very likely to be wine.

Unfortunately, as many who have tried to make mead will know (I have - tip: warm the jar before you pour in the boiling honey or you get one hell of a mess to clear up!) you need to add other nutrients, typically in the form of a malt extract, because honey is full of sugar but little else.

A grape however is the perfect unit of wine. Not only does it have the sugar, it also contains the other required nutrients and has suitable yeasts naturally growing on the skin. All you have to do is crush some grapes and leave your water-skin in the sun and you get wine. It must have come as a shock to someone when they fell over I should think!


Mead

Post 5

Bernie Starchaser

I'm pretty sure you are right on the fortified wines issue.

As for making a mess with mead:

Best procedure is to boil a concentrated wort. Fortunately, Mead is pretty resistant to contamination, unlike beer, so extended boil times are unneccessary. A nice 15 minute boil to get all that nasty albumin out is all you need. I use 1/3 of my total water volume, plus a little for the pot, so to speak (it will be lost through evaporation during the boil). To this I add all my honey and the nutrients too (you don't HAVE to have the nutrients, actually. But if you don't add em, your fermentation time goes up from a few weeks to a few months). Once my boil is finished, I have already prepared and ready the remaining portion of the total water volume in the primary fermenter, cold. I chill the wort in a container in the sink (I work in 2 gallon batches so I can do this) filled with cold water. Once I get the wort temp down to 85 f or so, I add this to the cold water in the fermenter and pitch the yeast dry on top. With good yeast I usually get activity within a few hours.

GL and enjoy!


Mead

Post 6

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

As regards nutrients, are you supporters of: proper-sounding chemical ones with long important names (citric acid, tannic acid, vitamin B-something, etc.) or the juice of 1 lemon and a couple of tea bags?
I've used each one once, but as one was in a melomel and the other was just straight the comparisons aren't very good.
Woe and alas! There used to be several mead-makers, now all gone it seems, before the BBC's involvement. I used to get free recipes that way... sulk.


Mead

Post 7

Ugi - Keeper of typos & spelling errers - MAT (see A575912)

The only recipe I have worked to used a couple of tablespoons of "Malt Extract" for added nutrients. This is basically the sort of mega-concentrated wort you get in beer kits and is seems to work well. I have never made a comparison however. Actually it is now years since I made mead - perhaps it's time I dusted off the jars!


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Mead

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