Re: Re: Making a BHP mead

Home Forums General Discussion Making a BHP mead Re: Re: Making a BHP mead

#19376

JamesS
Participant

Okay!  Since I didn't see any responses regarding formatting, I'll just keep with the same style as I did the honey gathering portion.  There will be one difference: since I'm trying to keep this as close to Jamie's podcast about Dark Ages Drinks, I'm going to copy and paste bits of his rough transcript sections as I go.  So first up is:But lets imagine you can’t afford Beer but you still want to get your drink on.  What else was there?  Well, the next rung down was Mead.  And oh boy is this drink old.  In fact, the word for Mead appears to be derivative from the sanskrit word for honey.  It's that old.  It was also something of a heroic drink.  Mead was the drink used to repay warriors and it was also the drink of choice for many royal feasts.Very true, as Jamie has pointed out in several podcasts.  I mostly wanted to add this part in, because one of my very favorite authors uses it.  In Neil Gaiman's American Gods, the main character agrees to work for Mr. Wednesday (any guesses whom that may be?) and they seal the deal with mead.  One of my favorite books.Next is:So what is mead?  Well, it’s fermented honey and you didn't need a lot of equipment to make it, especially when compared with ale or cider.  And because it was so easy to make, it was the common drink of the masses.This is, from a personal stand point, even more true.  From someone who has home brewed beer (dozens), mead (several), cider (a few), and wine (once), I can state that mead is by far the easiest to make.  All you need is water, honey, and yeast.  Like all brewing, each one of them can affect the flavor.If you're wondering why different regions of Britian produced different types of ale a few hundred years ago, it was because of the water.  Certain salts did better with pale ales and other regions with different salts and such made better porters.  This is a huge topic, so rather then soapbox it to death, I'll leave it at that.Yeast also can change the flavor profile.  Yeasts can give butterscotch, apple/pear, peppery, and oh so many other flavors.  Yeasts are now made to handle specific types of drinks (beer, wine, mead), so I did choose a nice sweet mead yeast.  (You can also get dry mead yeast, but as Jamie points out, the Anglo Saxons loved their sweet drinks, so I went with the heavier and sweeter sack mead.  Later on, I'll explain how to make a dry mead.)  Also, I chose to not use a branch from outside.  Just like Jamie's beer experiment, I did not want to waste my time making some nasty undrinkable mead.  In consideration, though, I did take some of the yeast and dipped my wooden stirring spoon in to it for a bit at the end, just for the historical sake of it.Different types of honey can produce different flavors.  For example, I've always wanted to make a mead using orange tree honey, but since I live in the US Midwest, I can't find it easily.  So I've always made my meads with clover honey.  White clover specifically.  My dad is planting some buckwheat and yellow clover this fall for his hives' winter crops, so I'm going to see if I can finagle some of that.And that's it for the main ingredients!  As Jamie points out:Was it easy?  Yes.But also:Was it sanitary?  No.Here, too, I diverged from history.  I refuse to spend the time and money on something that will end up tasting like rabid monkey sweat because I didn't disinfect it.  So I did use some sanitizing agent to make sure everything was clean and would not produce off flavors.  Honestly, making a sweet/heavy/sack mead would help cover some off flavors in any case, and even back in the day (fifteen hundred years ago), the fermentation process would've killed off "creeping things," but again, I want it to taste as good as possible.Another modern bit is to use some yeast energizing agent (pictured below with the sanitizing agent).  For those who want to make their own mead, I highly recommend it.  It helps the yeast get the most out of the honey's sugars as it can.  This time, though, I did NOT use it, as I am trying to be a bit more historically accurate.  I know... woohoo, one modern bit you're not using!  The thing is, besides the stove and stainless steal, the materials and methods really aren't that much different.  I was just too lazy and stressed about taste to do this out back in my campfire area.  ;DSince I can only upload four pictures at a time, I'll leave it here where the text matches the pictures.  I'll work on the rest later this afternoon once I get back from my daughter's physical (so she can play volleyball this fall).The pictures show the basic ingredients, the two modern bits (one I'm using and one I'm not), and the equipment.  Although the siphon is relatively modern, I could've poured the mead straight into the carboy (big glass jut that it'll ferment in).  However, I need to strain the comb out of the honey so I'm using it as my strainer.  So ha!  Rather than buy a strainer for this one thing, I decided to use stuff I already had, just like they would've in the olden times.  ;)

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