I had some free time and birthday money on Sunday, so I decided to brew up some more mead. This was an ambitious and experimental brewing for me. I’ve brewed 2 previous batches of mead, as you may recall. The first batch had a low honey/water ratio and a Champagne Yeast, and came out strong and very, very dry. The second I used a slightly higher honey/water ratio and an ale yeast; which came out slightly stronger than beer with a sweet, rich flavor. Both times I used local Wildflower Honey bought in bulk (5lbs jugs). This time I actually made 3 different batches.
I made a 1 gallon batch using local Clover Honey and the Ale yeast. This should come out pretty sweet, and I am very interested to taste test it against the Wildflower Honey batch, as I used the same yeast and approximately the same honey/water ratio. The 2nd batch I made using the Champagne Yeast and Wildflower Honey at about a double honey/water ratio of the Christmas batch (about 6lbs per gallon). My hope is for a strong, sweet mead; one that’s closer to the alcohol content of strong wine, but with a gentler flavor than the Christmas batch. Again, this was a simple mead (or Show Mead as plain honey meads are called now days), no spices or other additions.
The last batch I made is the most interesting. I used a mix of the 2 musts (though heavier on the Wildflower Honey) and re-brewed them with dried Elderberry and Cloves. Elderberry is an interesting fruit: it has a long held tradition in Europe as a healing plant, especially useful for respitory infections, and is often brewed into a wine with grapes and cloves. Elderberry cannot be eaten raw though, and must be cooked thoroughly otherwise it is actually poisoness. So I was sure to let the batch boil extra long before cooling. It has a very pleasent scent, fruity sweet from the Elderberry and honey, spicey from the Cloves. I’m using the Champagne Yeast, so it should come out pretty strong. I’ve decided to call it my Rainy-Day Melotheglin, and I can’t wait to try it when it finishes fermenting.
So my super awesome wife and I decided to do some brewing and give the results as Christmas presents. Actually it was mostly her idea and I went along because it’s awesome. Above are the results. The one on the right is my batch of Mead (technically Metheglin since I added spices) and the one on the left is Ye Really Olde Fashioned Rot Beer. Or maybe we should just say Sarsaparilla. Turns out, the FDA doesn’t like Sassafras unless it’s been deSafroled, which makes it a pain to get cheap. So we substituted extra Sarsaparilla instead. It smells kinda funny, but we’ll see how it turns out.
Above we have the ingredients we used for the Root Beer. Hopefully the batch will turn out. We are trying to brew it up to be mildly alcoholic, but if it comes out tasting bad I actually think the culprit will be the Burdock Root. That stuff smells awful by itself. Also, we’ll probably look into getting some Sassafras Root if this batch doesn’t come out right. We should know in a few weeks.
The Metheglin is going to take a lot longer. It won’t actually be done until December, and even then I’m supposed to let it age in the bottles for at least a year. But I’ll probably only age a bottle or two; I’ve had unaged Mead before and loved it, and I’m just too impatient to wait that long. I tried a little of the Must (unfermented Mead) and it tasted great, just like Christmas in fact. I’m making it as a dry Mead, so it won’t be very sweet, but the cinnamon and cloves and rosemary should give it about the perfect spice.
I wish I had though to snap some pictures during the brewing process, but it sadly did not occur to me. For those of you unfamiliar with the brewing process, it goes something like this: first, disinfect the hell out of everything. The last thing you want is to ruin a batch because you didn’t kill some miserable little bacteria. Next, boil you water (preferably spring or carbon filtered, pure with no chlorine) and whatever brewing ingredients your recipe calls for. Next you cool it in an ice bath (careful to keep the lid on now that it’s cooling to prevent contamination). Once it is cool enough pour it into the fermentor and add the yeast (usually already prepared in a separate container with warm water). Store somewhere moderately warm, and wait.