A Conversation for Mead

flavours

Post 1

Woodlark

Aside from adding herbs and plants to adjust the flavour of the mead, people will also use either honey from bees feeding on specific flowers (professionals with money?) or adding fruit juices. My absolute favorite mead is apple, though the blueberry wasn't bad. I don't know if maybe this is a development seen only in the New World, though. I can tell you that when I was at Starwood last year (a huge pagan gathering in western New York state) there was a vendor who had at least 12 different flavours of mead for sale. Yum smiley - smiley


flavours

Post 2

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Made some, because I'm a skinflint who doesn't like wine or beer. However, I have not been able to get any made by someone else, so am ignorant of proper taste, colour, transparency, etc. I'm quite keen on whatever it is I've concocted, though.


flavours

Post 3

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Oh, and it's got oranges in. (And little brown bits floating in the top because my brother didn't wash the coffee spoon before using the sugar.)


flavours

Post 4

Scorpio

Proper taste doesn't really matter... so long as you enjoy it.

Wow! You make mead and you call yourself a skinflint? Mead is just about the most expensive type of alcoholic beverage a person can make! I think you're just suffering from good taste and excess creativity!


flavours

Post 5

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Are you referring to the outrageous price of honey?
I was feeling extravagant that day. Anyway, it'll be there for the drinking for a very long time.
Creativity I have too much of. Would you like some?
Good taste, I'm not sure about.


flavours

Post 6

Scorpio

Yup... the high price of honey is exactly what I'm talking about. To think, we pay such a high price for what is essentially bee barf. smiley - winkeye

Too much creativity?... Try this... If you can find somewhere to get proper winemaking supplies (i.e.: winemaking yeast, and a few other simple ingredients); try to get your hands on 3 pounds of Buckwheat Honey (unpasteurised is best). Lightly boil (a very gentle boil) to skim off the scum that rises (this is the bee crap and bee parts that drop in the honey smiley - smiley ). Add the honey into a one gallon jug top off with water add a teaspoon of yeast nutrient (available from winemaking shops) pitch the yeast (the best yeast for the job is a strain of yeastused for champagne). Pop a fermentation lock on the top and let go until fermentation stops (about a month); keep an eye on the foam produced by fermentation it may overflow into the fermentation lock and cause contamination of the batch if not cleaned up quickly. You can leave the jug about 1/3 empty for the first week of fermentation (until the foam subsides) then top off with water to avoid this.

Once fermentation has ceased, rack it (i.e.: carefully transfer it from one jug to another) everycouple of months to get it off the sediment; using a tube siphon is best. Don't let the air get to it during this stage; keep it closed up tight. Let it age for about a year and a half (at least a year for sure).

Once it's aged you'll have a positively ambrosial drink slightly reminiscent of some types of sherry. Mmmmm...mmmm!


flavours

Post 7

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Oooooh! Recipe! Thankyou. I shall try it as soon as I've finished my current experiment with cider. Luckily there's a ridiculously cheap home-brew shop near here (demijohns for a quid and so on). Unfortunately, I've lost about three-quarters of a gallon of mead through people's carelessness with bicycles. You will be pleased to know that they were SEVERELY PUNISHED.
I have a recipe for wild-rose petal flavour mead, if you'd care for it.


flavours

Post 8

Scorpio

Bring it on! Always happy to receive new recipes... although I'm probably going to have to look prettyhard for wild roses around here. I don't think wild roses are all that common here in Ontario Canada.

Currently, I'm working on a batch of mead with almonds. It's bone dry, and only two months old so the flavour is brutally harsh but interesting. S'alright, after a year or two it should mellow out very nicely; a year at the minimum. If this discussion is still going by then, I'll let you know how it turns out. smiley - smiley

How big was your batch of mead? If it was only a gallon or so, I can understand your being upset; if it was a demijohn, don't sweat it!

Incidentally, what's a quid (is it more or less than a pound)? And any idea what that approximates to in Canadian dollars?


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 9

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Right then. You will require 3 pounds light honey, gallon of water, cloves, cinnamon, mixed spice, orange zest, 1 cup of tea (2 teabags), nutmeg, 2 pints red rose petals. Squish the flowers in hot water first with a spoon to release the perfume. Heat (not boil) the water and add that lot, steam for 4 hours, then rack when cool. Add yeast (I've been told the best sort is Sauternes) but leave unlocked for a day, then ferment to SG 1.020. It can be topped up with cold boiled water, sterilise everything etc. you know all that. Age for about a year or however long you're able to wait. Supposed to be divine but I can't give my personal opinion yet.
Sorry about the rose petals, but shop-bought ones have no scent. Ooooh! A real live Canadian- sorry, but where I live (Stockingford, near Coventry, near Birmingham, England) rarely attracts visitors. The most non-local we get are occasional Scots.
A quid is indeed one pound stirling. If Canadian dollars are like US dollars, that's approx. $1.50. The things that I know as demijohns only contain one gallon, equivalent to eight pints. I didn't know you could get them bigger than that. (Visions of vast glass bathtub capable of supporting life...)
What else do you make apart from mead? I had the joy of straining a half-gallon of semi-liquid apple pulp through a very small tea strainer, in order to make cider. Such is life...


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 10

Scorpio

Whoa! That's a complex recipe... but I'm intrigued. I will give it a try once I've finished all my other planned batches (currently have an Ice Style Wine on the go, and planning a batch of Raspberry wine); the ingredient list sounds like a challenge (especially the wild rose petals and the Sauternes yeast). However, I do like a challenge!

As it turns out, that batch of almond mead I started about three months ago is already decently drinkable; unusual for a mead. I do plan to age it for at least another year, however; I bottled it a few days ago.

One gallon demi-johns, wow! What we know as demi-johns here in Canada hold about fifteen gallons (plus or minus 45 litres); they are huge jugs that look like one gallon jugs (if you were a 20ft. giant) with plastic or wicker basket work around them. Your demijohns may need some vitamins, they obviously haven't finished growing up yet! Of course, I now understand why you were upset about losing that 3/4 gallon of mead!

As for what else I make besides mead? I have made regular grape wines, all from kits so far. I have made fruit wines; some from canned fruit purees and some from fresh fruit. I have made a number of batches of mead; and so far I've had excellent success with these. I have made a couple of batches of Ice Style Wine; someday I will save up the money to make a batch of true Canadian Ice Wine (using Ontario Vidal Ice Wine Juice). I live close to the Southern Ontario wine country and can get this stuff locally but it's pricey; a 12L batch would cost me about $1200can. ( that's probably about 500 quid smiley - smiley ). I have an apple cider kit sitting in my refrigerator, but haven't managed to brew it up yet.

You're obviously a little more than an amateur brewer/winemaker yourself; what other concoctions have you created?


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 11

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Actually, I'm extremely amateur. I've only been doing this since November, and thus have yet to sample anything I've made. However, I tend to do things with enthusiasm, which either results in:
a) great success!
b) comedy hi-jinx of the slapstick variety.
Slight crisis- we're having uncommonly hot weather here (for England, that is) and due to this every single one of my bottles took it upon themselves to hurl their corks about. Thankfully there were no casualties- some time ago, we experinced a spectacular Vesuvius-stlye eruption of a bottle of ginger ale. Warmth such as this is so unusual that we're totally unprepared for it.
Have located roses which seem to be on a public footpath, and therefore don't belong to anyone. However, doubtless I'll be caught and given a sound thrashing, and later featured in the Menace to Society section of the Local Newspaper. (See stunning Guide Entry on Local Newspapers. They're really that bad.)
I don't live near to any wine country, or even anything remotely interesting...but this summer we will be visiting Lindisfarne, where I can purchase mead made by people other than me. Hurrah!


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 12

Scorpio

Well, we all start as extreme amateurs; why only a little over two years ago I didn't even know what a carboy was, let alone a racking tube.

As for this statement of yours:

"...I tend to do things with enthusiasm, which either results in:
a) great success!
b) comedy hi-jinx of the slapstick variety..."

you seem to be taking both results as a good thing. That's exactly the attitude with which to approach this hobby! If it isn't fun making the alcohol, it won't be fun drinking it either. Keep this attitude, and however amateurish your production techniques may seem, you'll be producing great wines, and meads, long into the future.

When you say "every single one of my bottles", do you mean just your homemade stock? If so, this might indicated that the wine (or particular drink) may not have been adequately degassed, or may have had to have been bottled differently. Before bottling any wine that is not intended to be a sparkling wine, it must be degassed; This means stirring it vigorously in it's vessel (carboy, jug, demi-john (be they our canadian giants, or your english miniatures)) for several minutes to force the dissolved carbon dioxide out of the wine.

I was just double checking your mead recipe; what exactly is meant by mixed spices? I want to be a close as possible to the right thing when I try out this recipe.

Perhaps someday, I'll manage to save enough money to take a trip across the big pond and visit all these interesting places you mention.


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 13

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

I hadn't intended it to be sparkling, but it is. It's rebellious. It's okay now, however; that incident was due to highly unusual weather.
Mixed spice includes ground coriander seed, cinnamon, caraway seed, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. I think it's called 'apple-pie spice' in the USA at least; it may be known differently where you are. Even so, I never add it to pies. (I cook, too- I'm into just about any hobby that has the potential for making a lot of mess.)
These places I mention are NOT AT ALL INTERESTING. Apparantly, we're attracting tourists (George Eliot, the Victorian novelist who wasn't really a man at all, was born here- we've got a statue to her. And a park. No, I've never read any of her books.) who, I expect, wander about hoping to find something interesting, then get confused and go to somewhere better. Poor deluded things. Don't come here ever if you value your mind.
The rose-flavour stuff has received a good racking; it clears very quickly, and is a lovely colour. I have come into possession of some commercially-produced Lindisfarne Mead, made on 'The Holy Island of St. Cuthbert', no less- I don't see what effect holiness has upon mead, but somewhere I think they still have a mead-blessing ceremony. Anyway, it's nice- but (pedantry alert) it's ACTUALLY pyment, since it's made partially from grape juice; it's also fortified with other spirits. I suppose it's economically sound to do that, if it's your only product- and some people unused to the Drink of the Gods might find it a bit more familiar. Whatever methods work to convert the ignorant are fine by me.
PS: I'm soon going to Portmeirion (mad Welsh village- set of 'The Prisoner') where they also sell their own. Should be good fun- somewhere where you don't have to be drunk, or otherwise 'altered', to see odd-shaped, brightly-coloured buildings.


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 14

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Oh- and what exactly is 'Ice Wine'?


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 15

Scorpio

Hello again,

It's been a while hasn't it?

Even your area would be very interesting to me (from a cultural stand-point); i've never been past the boundaries of North America. For that matter, I've only been out of Canada twice. I prefer to visit places I haven't been in my own country; that's not a bad thing is it?

As for Ice Wine... In many (vinifera) grape growing areas around the world, grape growers allow their crops to remain on the vine until very late into the season. In fact, they leave them on the vine until they freeze. Once the grapes are frozen, they are very quickly harvested and pressed. The grapes must remain frozen during this process; the resulting juice which is highly concentrated is extremely flavourful and sweet. The wine produced from this juice is likewise flavourful and very sweet (to the point of almost being like a syrup or liqueur). Of course, since much of the grape's moisture remains in the grape in the form of Ice crystals; the grapes produce far less wine than standard processes.

True Icewines are made in the manner I described above. Some vintners harvest the grapes when only partially frozen and subsequently complete the freezing process artificially in large freezers; the Canadian Vintners' Quality Alliance does not recognize such wines as Ice Wines and so they are relegated to being called "Late Harvest" wines. Many "late harvest" wines taste almost as good as true Ice Wines to most people, but they are far less expensive. Only purists, such as myself, spend the large amounts of money for a split of true Ice Wine; a split (375ml) ranges from 40 to 60 Canadian Dollars (about 20 to 30 pounds).

My personal favorite is any good Vidal Icewine; the Vidal grape is a robust Canadian hybrid that produces a wonderfully buttery, nutty flavour. Being here in Canada, I always buy wines from vintners who are members of the Vintners' Quality Alliance; they are recognized as the best in Canada, and some are among the best in the world.

I hope this answers your questions about Ice Wine. I still haven't started a batch of mead using your recipe, but I will eventually.

Cheers


flavours- a big long recipe-message.

Post 16

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Thanks for the explanation. It seems that, where brewing is concerned, people will try anything (still, that's the way that Great Ideas are formed.)
Hurrah! I went to Wales and came back with mead... two bottles of Apple flavour, one original (from the New Quay Honey Farm, no less.)
Unfortunately, I have another mad idea- I'm now stricken with an urge to keep bees. I'm sure it'll pass.
(The rose-flavour stuff starts out a gorgeous pink colour, but at the first racking/sulphing it goes to the approximate colour of a urine sample. Luckily, this gradually wears off, or else no bugger would drink it but me.... on second thoughts, that's not such a bad thing.)
I have converts! On the strength of knowing two other people (besides you and I) who are similarly fond of the nectar of the gods, (one of whom wants to make it) I predict a huge increase in its popularity. World domination, anyone?


flavours

Post 17

Spy

Y'know, I'm pretty certain that my demijohns hold no more than a gallon... (Imperial : 8 [email protected] 20 fl oz per pint)

I need to find myself a supplier of enough honey for me to crank out a 5 gallon batch or two - doing this stuff by the gallon is depressing. I.e. "That was really nice, how many more bottles do I have? Oh. 5. And it'll take at least a year before another batch is matured."

1 quid is a pound, but the term dates back to oooold naval days (no, not navel) where a quid was a measure of tobacco, and was practically used as currency.

1 UKP == 1.217 CAD at the mo'.

http://www.ljsp.com/currency.htm - Currency converter page


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