Alright, so you have your basic, every day mead (this is clearly your mead for every day, since we’re sure you don’t make everyday mead). You know what honey you like, you know what yeast works best for you, and you know how much of everything goes into the fermentation bucket.
Now you’re ready to grow. You’re ready to move on. You’re ready to make something beautiful, unique, and out of this world. You do not, however, have the foggiest idea where to begin.
Inventing a recipe can be a little nerve-racking since you very well may have months of work and lotsa cash on the line. You know that you won’t poison your friends, but what if you make something gut-wrenchingly bad? What if your friends try it and start telling people that mead is made with honey and goat urine? Answer: You need to try your mead before you give it to other people, and also you probably need better friends.
There is good news: We at Groennfell Meadery have broken down the three simple ways to develop a recipe. For our examples, we’re going to be making a blueberry melomel.
Technique #1 – The Mad Scientist’s Lab: One of the most common ways to develop a recipe is to decide what ingredient you want to work with and do side-by-side small batches.
1) Procure at least four 1 gallon jugs and an appropriate number of airlocks, bungs, etc.
2) Mix up your control items in one batch so you’re sure that you’re only testing for one variable. In this case, mix your water, honey, nutrient, and yeast and divide it evenly into your jugs.
3) In one jug, add 4 oz. blueberry juice; in the next add 2 oz. blueberry juice; in the third add raw blueberries; in the next put in blueberry extract, and so on.
4) Complete your fermentation, bottle it, label it appropriately, and do a blind tasting.
5) Find a winner and make tons of it!
Technique #2 – The Chemistry Set: In this version, we start with a base mead and utilize a titration technique to add flavor and analyze on the fly.
1) Make a batch of your favorite mead, bottle it up, keg it, whatever you do…
2) Pour out a glass of it and carefully add blueberry juice with a medicine dropper. When it tastes about right, write down the number of drops.
3) Now try it with drops of concentrate.
4) Note: It’s hard to put blueberries into an eye dropper.
5) When you have decided which extract, concentrate, source, and quantity gives you the flavor you’re looking for, scale up the batch size to your normal fermentation quantity and see if it tastes right.
Technique #3 – The Groennfell Meadery: AKA Flying by the Seat of Your Pants.
1) Decide that you want to make a batch of blueberry mead.
2) Ask yourself: “How much do I like blueberries?”
3) If the answer is “a lot,” put in a lot of blueberry juice, 1200 pounds of honey, house yeast, and cross your fingers.
4) If the answer is, “not so much,” make something else.
Which technique do we use? We’ll never tell!
So you like drinking mead, but how much do you know about meadmaking? Test your knowledge with this quiz from Groennfell Meadery.
If you can't load flash, you can take the quiz here.
It's time for your weekly Thursday Fun Fact!
The name Groennfell is a play on words: Groenn Fell is Old Norse for "Green Mountain" which is the meaning of "Vermont" in French.
How the state got this name is actually a very interesting story. The naming of the Green Mountains and the subsequent translation to "Vermont" is detailed in this article by Joseph-Andre Senecal. Here is an excerpt:
Based on a review of the available evidence we can advance with some degree of confidence that the word Vermont is indeed a translation of Green Mountains, and that most likely it comes from the fertile mind of Thomas Young, a self-made scholar who probably knew some French. The ultimate question might be why did Young write Vermont rather than Montagues Vertes or Vertsmonts! In other words: Is Vermont good French? The answer is yes. Archaic but excellent French. In the language of France as in English, two words compete to designate mountains: mont and montagne (mount and mountain). The words come from the Latin mons/montis and montanea. In French mont is much older than montagne. . . By the 1700s, mont had clearly lost out to montagne. . . Even in 1777, mont was archaic. However, its use in place naming was well established and carried an aura of antiquity.
Grammatically, the word order (adjective + noun: vert + mont) and the fusion of the adjective and the noun are perfectly correct. In modem French, one would say in a normal enunciation: les monts verts. However the creation of Young is probably not inspired by modern French, even the modern French of 1777. Above all, grammatically speaking, it is not part of a sentence. The word answers the special rules of geographical naming.
Drum roll please...
This is a photo of a drum cradle! Thank you to all of our entrants, and congratulations to our winners: Bob, Diana, and Andrea!
Honorable mention for creative (though incorrect) answers goes to:
Greg who said, "It's clearly a collapsible wheelbarrow!" and
Dan who said, "Why, it's the throne of the Mead King, of course!"
Here is the photo of the full piece of equipment:
Everyone knows what goes into Mead: Honey, Water, and Yeast. But do you know what goes into a meadery? Copper, water heaters, pallet racks, forklifts, a lot of dust, paint... well, take a look at this week's photo update!
This week we're having a contest! (Contest Closed)
The first five (5) people to correctly identify the piece of equipment in this photo will win a prize!
To enter, fill out the form below the photo by 8:00 am EDT on Monday, May 20, 2013.
“Can mead make me sick?” We get asked this question all the time. Since we at Groennfell Meadery are pretty sassy, we usually respond, “What’s your tolerance and how much do you plan on drinking?”
All joking aside, many of these people are prospective home meadmakers and we understand the real question: “If I make mead at home, am I going to poison myself, my family, my friends, and my pets who drink the stuff when we’re all convulsing on the floor, foaming from the mouth, with half-finished bottles of homebrew in our hands?” In other words, can mead make me sick?
The short answer is no. The long answer is no, not from pathogens since no pathogens can survive in the environment provided by mead. The longest answer is as follows…
The low-oxygen, alcoholic, high acidity environment presented by all fermented beverages from cider to beer to saké to mead are extremely hostile places to live. Recent papers on salmonella and cholera being introduced into already fermented beverages, both beer and wine, have demonstrated that in a matter of weeks the pathogen is dead and no longer a risk to the consumer. (We encourage you to perform your own search for these papers, just to ensure you find the most up-to-date research on the subject.)
The follow-up question is, how would such a pathogen be introduced into your beverage in the first place? Well, as per the aforementioned cases, sadistic scientists might sneak into your home and inoculate your brew. This seems unlikely, however. Some web forums mention the use of egg whites as finings which could be a potential salmonella vector. Or, if you live in 19th-century London or are on the Oregon Trail, there’s a very good chance the water you mix with your honey has cholera.
Beer has the advantage of starting out by boiling which takes care of any pathogens which are initially present in the grain or the water. As for honey, thanks to small amounts of a recently identified protein known as defensin-1 as well as naturally occurring Hydrogen peroxide, honey is antiseptic and has the potential to kill pathogens even when diluted in water. (We DO NOT advocate trying to cure cholera or bubonic plague with honey water, however.)
Then, thanks to the extremely low pH, zero-oxygen, high-carbon dioxide, alcoholic solution which is mead, anything that survived defensin-1, sulfites, and your sanitization practice should be long dead.
Without boiling or proper sanitization one thing can survive in mead, and that is wild yeast. Wild yeast can’t hurt you; it can just make your mead taste awful. And, as we’ve mentioned before, even this can be dealt with through simple sanitization of must and equipment.
As part of our ongoing effort to make the world, ourselves, and our consumers more awesome, we are going to start incentivizing awesomeness.
We’re talking prizes!
Here’s the drill:
1) Follow us on Facebook.
2) Make sure to check us out on Saturdays.
3) Maybe win some stuff.
Groennfell Meadery is Vermont’s premier craft meadery. Inspired by Old Norse legends, brewed with extraordinary ingredients, Groennfell’s meads are unlike anything you’ve had before. Crisp, clean, and astoundingly drinkable, the only way to explain any one of Groennfell’s meads is to try one yourself.