I feel the need. The need for mead.

I read recently that some disgusting Irish politician called Rosin Shortfall (or something) was suggesting increasing the price of alcohol in off licences nationwide. On the grounds that this will reduce the incidence of Irish alcoholism.

Ms. Shortfall who has the appearance of the James Bond baddie Rosa Klebb (in From Russia with Love) is pandering to suggestions put forward by the Vintners Association (The Union of Irish Pub Owners) that have long been concerned about the low prices of alcoholic beverages in supermarkets, compared to the astronomical prices that their members charge in their Public Houses.

So Christmas is coming, as are alcohol price increases. I’m trying a recipe for Mead. It’s my own recipe and I’m experimenting. My ingredients are 2 pounds (908 grams) of Honey from Aldi and 1 litre of pasteurised grape juice. Made up to 5 litres with water. I’m using champagne yeast and I calculate my final ABV to be around the 9% mark..

27th Nov 2011 – I saw that I posted this Mead item on 11th Nov That’s Nov 11th, for our American readers. The brew is now almost ready for bottling and has been filtered once.So a good two weeks to get a result so.

It’s gone from looking like milky tea through to a straw colour and is currently a clear yellow shade that can only be described as – bright piss. When I tasted the brew on syphoning it was not surprisingly a bit like honey – only not sweet. – I will add a better description should one spring to mind.

11th December 2011 – I opened a bottle yesterday. And am posting the picture here. We are talking about a nice clear bright yellow brew. It was also not particularly tasty. Not having the bitterness of beer or for that matter the acidity and flavour of cider. Nevertheless I managed to drink it and found it agreeable. Were herbs or spices used to add additional flavours in the medieval/viking brews – I wonder?



25 thoughts on “I feel the need. The need for mead.

  1. I’ve wanted to drink mead since I was a kid. It’s almost impossible to find here.

    Can you be more exact on the amount of yeast, size of fermenting container etc?

    I mean, a proper and complete publishable recipe.

  2. Firepower – I don’t know a lot about Mead to be honest. Though I did try a sweet version in England, that was probably like some sort of fortified wine.
    Reading on the net there are Dry and sweet versions. Obviously the dry version will have a lower alcohol content. And is going to be more like the stuff Ye Knights of Olde and Viking types chucked back in their tankards. This is the type I’m trying to make here though 9% ABV is pushing it a bit.
    I would add that one of my hobbies is brewing “long” alcoholic beverages. Beer, Wine and Cider.
    I keep my front room warm with a stove and keep my brewing vessels in it. My temperature will be about 70F / 20C
    My apparatus in this instance, is the one pictured above. It is a 5 litre / 1 gallon drinking water container. The Airlock was bought on-line from a brewing shop. I had to drill the hole specially in the cap of the plastic drinking water container. (I have used a balloon with a pinhole in it as an airlock if you do not have one available. – for a big container you could use a condom with a pinhole in – though obviously not a used one).
    My yeast is champagne yeast. – I bought this online. It’s a tough type of yeast. It is very forgiving. I can also bottle condition and carbonise with a secondary ferment.
    Honey, cheapest available, 2 pounds (for some reason or other, they sell it by Imperial measure)
    This comes to 454 gm X 2 = 908 gm. I chucked in the litre of wine juice (with no preservatives) for the hell of it really. 1 litre of grape juice = 170 grams of fructose (fruit sugar) (Don’t believe the 150 gm they will quote on the packet). I made up the solution to a bit under 5 litres using water.

    Sugar content – Honey 908 + Grape Juice 170. Total sugars = 1080
    Which should give around 210 grams per litre.
    When I tested Specific gravity I got around 170 grams though.
    Maybe the honey was adulterated with a bit of water – don’t know.
    Please get back with any further questions –

  3. I’m a novice at home brewing, but quite capable in research.

    of course, Try googling mead – there’s bound to be even youtube vids with visual instruction. lol i googled “mushy peas” to have with fish n chips as i’ve never made them and quickly found the info i needed.

    I suspect that heat may not be the magic bullet, as early brewers etc had none. Saw a good documentary about brewing – one of the reasons why Strong traditional English Ale pretty much comes from only there (german beer is weak, not the “strong” stuff people mistakenly think).

    England’s island micro climate had a lot to do with Ale.

    So, i presume mead might react better to cool(?)

    You, having more exp than I, will have better luck paving the way. i.e. I never knew it used yeast.

  4. Mushy peas – you can buy them by the can here. They are made from the old marrowfat type of pea. That would have been a common legume during the Elizabethan period. Size not flavour would have been the issue.

    The English Beer Yeast type doesn’t fully ferment all the sugars, This leaves a fuller taste.
    The German Lager Style will ferment down to zero and also works at lower temperatures but takes longer. Sadly yeast activity is very much related to temperature.

    The next beer I do will be an English India Pale fermented down with a German Lager Yeast – I reckon I might get something like a sharp version of Sam Adams.
    I’ve got a hard Cider in my big bucket at the moment. Again I’m using the champagne yeast. Why because it’s very forgiving.

    Mead would be originally made using just honey and water. The yeast would be a wild one from the atmosphere. Kinda like Sour dough. The problem with this approach is that it is completely random. The other obvious technique would be to start the liquor by pitching in some old mead that has a good flavour.

    We are never going to know what the original must have tasted like. Using the champagne yeast when the mead has cleared. I would bottle it with 1 teaspoon of sugar to the pint. Then store at room temperature for a month. The resulting bottle fermentation will make it fizzy and give it a good head. The CO2 will give an extra sharpness.

  5. Heat – No it’s very necessary James Joule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Prescott_Joule
    Brewer and Physicist discovered the relationship between heat and mechanical work because of his obsession with temperature.
    If you have no warm area consider using some box arrangement and a 20 or 40 watt tungsten bulb. As nosey parker environmentalists are keen to point out, most of the energy is used to create heat. A 40 watt bulb uses just under a kilowatt in a day – that’s about 15c here.
    I forgot – I also used a teaspoon of yeast nutrient in the above brew

  6. cool – to get a baseline of what “good” is, i’d like to drink a bottle of commercial mead. any recommendations

    • Alas no. I once met a very old bee keeper in the UK. They (the bee keepers) used to have Mead contests. The stuff I tasted (commercially made) in the UK was sweet. And not particularly pleasant. Then you would be aiming at a fortified wine because that’s an easy cop out.
      All I can do is give it my best shot.

    • I’m doing about 21 litres of hard cider right now. The cloudy apple juice seems to give a cloudy finish – even if you use pectolaise. No harm though.
      I using champagne yeast and go for a secondary ferment in the bottle.

  7. the minimum price of alcohol thing is a joke – if there is one good thing to come of the situation the country is in, it is that we can buy a bottle of rum for 20 euros instead of 35 like before

    • Sorry Toast2Toast – this bloody thing does not seem to approve you. Though is working now. Yes the reduction in the price of spirits brought about essentially – I suppose because of the entry of Tesco into the Irish retail market is good.
      I always used to buy my spirits from “abroad”.

      • no problem, as I said it seems to have to gain a level of trust with other wordpress users and then approves automatically

        I know what you mean about duty free. I have noticed my reduction in heavy spirits drinking has reduced in exact correlation with my international travel. Lack of cultural diversity means better health for me, sadly.

  8. I used to live in Northern England – In a small village – in the pub – they used to serve this rum – it was like “XXX” called Trafalgar. It was like some sort of mouth wash – totally hot – An end of evening drink, if you like – I would swear that you could use it to fight colds. I would doubt that this incredible drink exists today. Something like 120 Proof. God knows what that is in alcohol content.
    I’m trying to study the home brew greats and the reasons for it. And where they were coming from. It’s an interesting story

  9. It’s interesting how we Westerners find ourselves eschewing quality potables – due purely to over-taxation by insatiable, nefarious Nanny States – to return to basement brewing ala 1575.

    Talk about atavism. When an Englishman can’t afford a pint…THAT is when you’ll revolt.

  10. Experimenting with kooky Belgian Ale type wild yeasts would be fascinating.

    In America, the Ruling Elites seem more reticent to tax the shit out of booze, lest the panacea effect boil away on our molten pile of firearms.

  11. I suppose America had the experience of prohibition’ which virtually invented modern organised crime. I’m told the Nordic Nations are good at home brewing which is remarkable when you consider the adverse environment.
    The UK introduced a weak beer law in 1915 whereby beer could only max at 3% A.B.V. It’s been repealed now, though doubtless it must have done a lot of damage. How English – piss for the proletariat.
    In Ireland Guinness held a monopoly until very recently. This caused a remarkable lack of choice.
    Also Guinness used to put the price up about a month before the budget – to sort of limit the governments hand. As a consequence Ireland is overpriced and lacks any variety.
    Interestingly, official figures show consumption of alcohol has reduced in Ireland recently. So yes it appears that you can arrive at a point when people return to the brewing bucket circa 1575

    • My dad used to buy it at one of our outstanding orchards here.

      Store-bought stuff is treated to prohibit free hijinks.
      He’d put the cider in our basement window and vent it manually every few days – then get ripped.

  12. As far as I can tell Apple Juice contains about 120 gm/litre sugar.
    One TV show I watched called Victorian Farm used a similar technique to your dad’s. I watched some show about apples on BBC – there was some cider maker who used Cider Apples. Whether or not Cider apples contain more sugar than is usual, I don’t know. When I made Cider from a concentrate – it took a hell of a time to mature to a decent flavour. I recently made 5 gallons with drinking apple juice and champagne yeast. The product tastes great and doesn’t seem to need any maturing.

    • Adding more yeast to overpower the antibiotics should work – here, now, cider is not suited to do it my dad’s way anymore due to the FASCISTS meddling with the Homeciderfun by forcing chlorine into apple juice

      UNLESS the yeast is added…I passed up a table full of cider this holiday from the exact orchard of my childhood. I’d like to add plain yeast, as cider seems too rustic for such fancy Champagne yeast.

      • What utter cunts – forcing chlorine into a product like apple juice.

        Why Champagne yeast – It’s as tough as old boots. The original champagne was probably devised as a sort of carbonated fun drink, that picked up snob value later on. – I get a sachet and put a hint in a fermentation vessel and keep on reusing the yeast sediment that forms in the bottom. My view is that it is an ideal economy yeast for an amateur. Secondary ferment comes – no problem.

        You are from the North East of the US – I take it?

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