We've been very, very busy here at the meadery. We thought you might like to see our progress!
How do you get a giant stainless steel tank inside and standing up with only two people and a forklift? This is how:
Sometimes, it seems like beer brewers have all the fun. Brewmasters get to play with grinders, fires, whirlpools, steam jacketed boilers, counter-flow chillers, and a whole lot more.
Meadmakers? We get a big bucket and maybe a paint whip, and that is it. Or so it would seem…
First, for an intro, you can check out our article on Contraptions for brewing. Once you’ve acquired your box full of odd devices, however, it’s time to think about your brew system…
Homebrewers who go off the deep end often end up building themselves extremely expensive, very complicated, utterly cool systems like this:
Meadmakers tend to think that they’re limited to a bucket and maybe a carboy. Really, how hard is it to make mead? Well, to think about it another way, brewers have to invest a couple hundred bucks just to get started, then another couple hundred to step up to All Grain brewing, then another couple thousand to automate their brew system. Meadmakers can start with a $40 purchase and then the sky is the limit.
Meadmaking can be as easy or as complicated as you like. From automated honey warmers to high-powered mixers to jacketed fermentation vessels, the home meadmaker can really go nuts with automation, but for the big jump, you really need to go continuous fermentation. Basically, this is where you slowly add honey and water at one end of your system and mead trickles out the other.
Our friends over at Maine Mead Works just happen to have a fine continuous fermentation system:
Pretty spiffy, right? While it may seem out of the league of the average mead maker, it is certainly not impossible to do at home. We'll be discussing it in a future article, in case you'd like to try your hand at it. If you absolutely can't wait to build your own system, check out this lengthy article (it’s about beer, but easily adapted). And, if you already have your own CF system, comment below and tell us how you like it. Or, better yet, send us a picture and we’ll post it on our Facebook page.
Keep it complicated, fellow Meadiacs.
If you’re like most people, then you have probably never given a thought to the United States legislation surrounding mead. Then again, if you’re reading this blog at all, you’re not like most people.
You see, for those of us who go in for the esoteric, vastly complicated, antiquated-rule-based games (think Cricket, German Batball, and Chaturanga), then the dizzying array of regulations surrounding mead fermentation, labeling, packaging and distribution is almost akin to a sport. A confusing, ever-changing, illogical sport.
The set of laws governing mead is a 204-page-long document known as CFR Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Don’t get cocky and think that this is related to the ATF, (the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). No, we are in fact governed by the TTB (the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau), which is in fact a branch of the Treasury. Yes, fermentation legislation is governed by the US Treasury.
Many people in the meadmaking community recently learned about Ken Schramm’s issues in which the government insists that the volume of fruit (the actual weight) is more important than the amount of sugar it adds to the beverage. They have stayed his label application claiming that his product is not mead on the grounds that there is more fruit than honey. This is not true, but that doesn’t matter. Let’s take a look at what the CFR Title 27 has to say on the subject, shall we?
“The statement of composition must include enough information to identify the tax class when viewed with the alcohol content. First, the wine should be identified by the word ‘wine,’ ‘mead,’ ‘cider’ or ‘perry,’ as applicable.”
And that is it. In 204 pages there is one reference to the use of the word mead and it is “should be identified… as applicable.” Every other reference concerns the specific use of the term “Honey Wine.” This, unfortunately, is another whole kettle of fish which we don’t have time to discuss at present.
Groennfell Meadery is currently involved in a conversation with the TTB of a wholly different nature. While two of our products are allowed to be packaged in 12 oz. brown glass bottles, they claim that our third product, specifically Valkyrie’s Choice, cannot because it is not mead, but wine (despite 100% of the fermentables coming from honey). They claim that it must either be in a 375ml or 500ml bottle. To understand why they would claim this, we must travel back to the 1940s when a handful of bad eggs were trying to swindle the newly minted consumer that was the Napa Valley Wine Drinker. To make a long story short, the wine industry standardized its bottles but the beer industry didn’t.
Cider and mead are sometimes treated like beer and sometimes treated like wine meaning we need to conform to varying regulations. This is why two of our products have the volume in ounces and one has it in milliliters. Two say “Brewed by Groennfell Meadery” and the third says “Bottled by: Groennfell Meadery.” It’s all because the FDA and the TTB have different regulations.
So, to return to the sports analogy: The regulations which govern mead are like Cricket if the rules of Cricket were amended every six years by a group of individuals who had only ever come as close to Cricket as playing Golf one time on a business trip in the 80s.
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.