For quite some time I’ve wanted to try brewing an alcoholic beverage at home. After doing some research, I found a place in my area that has all of the brewing equipment and ingredients and makes a business out of helping people brew their own beers and sodas at their facility. Thus, rather than buy all of the equipment and go through the extensive sterilization process, I decided to take advantage of their service and do it there.
I decided to brew mead, mostly because mead is fairly uncommon compared to beer. I can buy countless varieties of beer almost anywhere, but I’ve only found half a dozen varieties of mead in my local stores. Also, mead is a bit more versatile than beer as there a number of different ways you can serve it (see below).
I took the brewery’s standard mead recipe (2.5 gallons of honey, 7 gallons of water, 1tbsp Irish Moss and 2 tubes of Champagne yeast) and modified it a bit (I’m one of those people who can’t follow a recipe without adding my own flourishes). I added one quart of light malt in the hopes of giving it a subtle malty accent. This should theoretically be quite pleasant, though it isn’t nearly enough malt to transform the brew into the traditional mead/ale hybrid known as “braggot”. Unfortunately, it will take a couple of months for my batch to ferment before I can bottle it and taste it for the first time.
For those of you not familiar with mead, here are some interesting facts about it:
- it’s believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage brewed by man (5,000BC or before) and variations were brewed by most ancient civilizations all over the world
- it’s usually about 10-15% alcohol (mine is predicted to be 13%)
- it’s believed by many to be the source of the word “honeymoon”, as Celtic, Scandinavian, Babylonian various other newlyweds would drink this honey wine for a month or “moon” after the wedding (some cultures thought this enhanced fertility or increased the chances of conceiving a male child)
- depending on recipe and yeast type, it can range from a very dry ale or wine-like beverage to an extremely sweet dessert wine (I’m trying for moderately dry)
- both dry and sweet variants will have a honey-like flavor, and the type of honey used strongly affects the flavor of the beverage
- mead can be flat like wine, or sparkling like champagne (I’m trying for sparkling)
- the are many ways to serve mead, ranging from drinking it chilled like beer to mixing it with fruit juice on the rocks or heating it with mulling spices like mulled wine
- it is easily brewed without sulfites, and is less likely to cause headaches than wines made with sulfites
I’ve read that a tasty liquor can be created by freezing mead in a large-mouth container (like a bucket) over night, and then removing and discarding the block of ice from the remaining liquid. This removes a significant portion of water as well as some impurities that get trapped in the ice. The result is a higher concentration of alcohol and a more pure tasting beverage that can be served as a cordial. This might go nicely as a Drambuie substitute in a Rusty Nail, one of my favorite mixed drinks.
If you’d like to learn more about mead, try these links:
Wish me luck in the outcome of my first batch. If this works, I will probably get the equipment and try making it at home on my own next time.
Labels: Food and Beverage