Also, if you're bad at gathering honey, you can accidentally run a study on eating honey THEN getting stung.
This may also explain why there are so many more studies on eating honey than getting stung.
Also, if you're bad at gathering honey, you can accidentally run a study on eating honey THEN getting stung.
In which Ricky the Meadmaker goes back to basics and answers questions about brewing mead with fruit and spices, including when to add fruits and spices, whether to use fruit concentrate, whole fruits, or fruit flavors, whether to sanitize spices before adding them in secondary, and more!
To the Larder! Experimenting with Fruits and Spices
How We Brew Everything We Brew
It's the episode you've all been waiting for, assuming that all of you have been waiting for the episode where I talk about nutmeg.
Welcome to Ask the Meadmaker, where I, Ricky the Meadmaker, answer your questions about mead making, mead drinking, mead brewing, and really any question you're willing to send to me. This is part four of possibly four possibly more, depending on the questions I get by the end, of basics about mead making And as promised, it's an episode all about fruits and spices in mead.
And the first one is easy: When do I add fruits? And the reason it's easy is, ooh it's complicated. Uhhh... Let's see. Usually if it's a sugar heavy fruit like cherries. Uh, you add them at the beginning, so that you can ferment those sugars out. And the fermentation process usually won't take up all the flavors. Citrus is usually added at the end. But not always. Strawberries are one of the only common fruits that's almost added always in the secondary fermentation - because although there are sugars in it, it's such a subtle flavor - so the reason it's easy is because, ooh, you're just gonna have to experiment.
Our next question is juice concentrate or natural fruit flavors. And the answer is, concentrate is convenient, and usually you can get things in concentrate that you may not be able to get in pure juice form. Juice is great if you can get it. Natural fruit flavors are, for the most part - there are no hard and fast rules, but for the most part -to be avoided.
Our next question is just as easy as the first one. When do I put in the spices? And the answer is, oh, obviously. Let's see, uh, cinnamon is weird because you can put it in at the beginning or the end, if you put in at the beginning, you'll get some yeast scrubbing, which means it will change the flavors that you extract due to the yeast interacting with some of those compounds. Also, it's a bark technically, which means you can get the effect of oak aging while extracting cinnamon flavors. Uh, cloves are very intense, nutmeg is very intense. (I know you've been waiting for it.) So we recommend putting those in at the end, tasting it every day. And then going, "Uh, that's enough," and racking it right off of those spices and packaging it. Uh, let's see, what other common spices - oh, herbs. Herbs usually go into the secondary. What did I say about that first thing? Oh yeah, you probably have to experiment. I know I keep making it sound like experimenting is a bad thing. It is not. Experimenting is the best because then you have a whole bunch of mead.
We're gonna breeze right over the question of how much spice to add. And you need to see my thing about experimenting. Also, you can add a lot and rack it off really soon afterwards.
So one of the big questions in homebrewing in general is do you sanitize your spices? So you've gone through all this work of making sure you have a clean must when you start your fermentation, and now you have a great mead. Do you have to sanitize those spices? And the answer is, that's a tough one. But the best way to sanitize a spice, if you're going to do it is drop them into vodka, then you get the addition of high ethanol extraction on some of those compounds, and you pour the whole thing into your mead, then it's a little boozier has a lot of spice flavor, and you don't have to worry about the ingredients not being sterile.
And our last question this week is: Are there special dangers about adding spices? This is a curious question because there are things that are safe until there's an ethanol extraction of them. But for the most part, anything you might want to add to your mead would be safe, as far as I know, but I am not a medical doctor. And if you're questioning it, either do a lot of research or don't use it. It's the best advice I can give you. There are so many safe ingredients you can use.
So that was our last question this week. Keep sending them and I'll get to them as soon as possible. Cheers.
Well, I guess we have good evidence that they are capable of doing that, just perhaps not on this one occasion.
In which Ricky the Meadmaker answers questions about what kind of mead to brew for your first batch, what to do if your mead doesn't taste very good, when to add yeast nutrient (and what exactly is it?), and more!
Basics Part 1
Basics Part 2
Your First Batch of Mead
Meadmaking Essential Equipment
Making Mead at Home in Three Short Weeks
Hi everyone, I'm finally answering questions at work again! And... guess what! It looks the same!
Welcome to Ask the Meadmkaker, where I, Ricky the Meadmaker, answer your questions about mead making, mead drinking, mead brewing, and, really, any question you're willing to send to me! And this is part three of probably four, maybe five, where I just answer basic questions!
And one that I get all the time is, "My mead isn't very good. What should I do?" And the answer is easy: wait. While this won't always solve your problem, but hopefully you'll be brewing in the meanwhile, learning from any mistakes you made. And by the time you go back and taste it, and you're like, "Uhhh this really wasn't that good," you'll have plenty of other good stuff to enjoy.
Next question, "My mead is sour. What do I do?" Whoowooohoo... that's not one you want to wait on. Uh... it won't hurt ya'. Uhhhh, mead vinegar could be really cool in some Italian dishes. Also, a side note, wild fermented and sour meads are super popular these days, and we make a whole bunch of them, so you could just pretend that that's what you were going for!
After a previous "basics," people have been asking, what exactly is yeast nutrient? And the answer is, it's a blend of minerals and amino acids, some salts, and for the most part, it's proprietary if you get one of the fancy blends, so beyond that, I don't know. However, certain nutrients like DAP, diammonium phosphate, tell you exactly what they are.
On the subject of nutrient. One of my favorite things to talk about at dinner parties (when I want people to go home) is, "When do I add the nutrient?" And the answer is, this is a shockingly contentious subject. We do it all at the beginning. And I had someone stand up and walk out of a lecture when I said that we did that so, you know... A lot of people will do staggered nutrient additions to try to maintain the health of their yeast throughout the fermentation process. This to me implies that your fermentation - active fermentation - might be going longer than ours here at the meadery but, um, yeah, just take that as another one of them that I almost answered but didn't quite because I don't want to get in any fights.
Our last question this week is one that I can't answer for you, even though I get it all the time: "Should I start with a plain mead with only honey in it? Should I do something fancier to start?" The answer is: Alright, what, what do you want when you're done brewing? That doesn't seem like a very hard question. Do you want a plain mead when you're done brewing it? Or do you want something different? Because if you want something different, brew that! It's not going to change halfway through the process. That said, if you start with plain mead, you can always add stuff to it afterwards. But that would also be a decision that you have to make for yourself! I cannot answer for you!
So that was our last question this week. Come back in two weeks for what is probably part four of maybe part four of maybe four parts or maybe eight parts... we'll see. Keep sending your questions in the meanwhile, and I'll get to them as soon as possible. Cheers!
Today is both Midsummer and Father’s Day; holidays that focus on community, relationships, and being together.
In the world of Coronavirus, voluntary quarantine, and social distancing, it can be hard to celebrate; it might even be impossible to be together, but humans still need community.
Today is about honoring families, celebrating growing things, and observing the brightness of the world while acknowledging the slow, steady, turning of the year back to cold and dark.
While most people can buy our mead online, that’s not what we’re going to recommend today.
We’re an open source company and have been since the day of our founding. All of our recipes are available for free online, as well as all of our brewing techniques.
Many years ago, Robert Putnam wrote a book called Bowling Alone which tracked the collapse of the American community. Since he first published his work two decades ago, the trend has only accelerated.
With homebrew clubs relegated to Zoom Meetings, it’s harder than ever to feel connected. So today we urge you to reach out to the people in your close community, and if you can manage it, get together with your kith and kin, safely distanced if necessary, and brew together.
It may seem strange that we’d recommend brewing mead yourself over buying our stuff online. Actually, it is strange.
The thing is, through all of this, we’ve been separated from our work family and birth families, and we’ve developed a deeper understanding of how important it is to make something real, physical, tangible, and meaningful with people you love.
Making mead is so incredibly simple - all it takes is a bucket, yeast, water, and honey - and the mead you make is something that you can enjoy with your community for years to come.
We absolutely understand that many of you may be unable to be in the same physical location as the people you love. If that’s the case, pull up Google Hangouts, hop on a Zoom call, FaceTime, or just stick a phone under your ear, and stir up some honey and water while talking to your family.
Obviously you don’t need to brew mead to stay connected to your friends and family, but making something tangible together, even if you’re apart, is as powerful now as it has been for the history of our species.
Why mead? Because you can get the ingredients at the grocery store, and it will still be good whenever you’re able to gather together again. Also, it happens to be the thing we're experts on.
And, to be completely honest, it seems like we all need easy wins right now. Watching those bubbles come through the airlock and imagining drinking a pint with your friends and family is better than constantly refreshing Facebook, binge watching anime, or trying to learn what a TikTok is.
So, dear Meadiacs, stay safe, stay healthy, and brew together whenever you can. It means more than you can possibly imagine.
 It’s also Chris Pratt’s birthday and World Giraffe Day, but those are less germane to the subject of this article.
 We’re a small business and, of course, it would be a great Father’s Day gift to Ricky, but not the point of this article.
 And book clubs, Girl Scouts, Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, Catholic Mass, local gourmet clubs, Doubles Tiddlywinks, beaches, philately organizations, and... pretty much everything else.
Or, alternatively, you can make him a card that says, "I was thinking about buying you mead, but then I didn't. I still think you're a good dad, though."
Ricky Klein and all the staff of Vermont Craft Mead stand in solidarity with the BIPOC community. Your lives matter to us. Thank you for being you. Stay strong. Stay safe. We are here.
Here are a few resources from B Labs that we've found super helpful:
Tackling Racism As Accountable Business Leaders
4 Steps That I and Other White People Can Take to Fight Racism
A very special episode to support the work of Mystic Seaport and their amazing Viking Days Exhibit! In this episode, Ricky the Meadmaker dispels some of the common myths about Vikings and mead!
Fun Fact: Skulls of Enemies
What's So Sweet About a Honeymoon?
Fun Fact: Mead of Poetry
Lady with a Mead Cup
So usually I'd be doing this on Father's Day at beautiful Mystic Seaport but there's this pandemic going on. So we're gonna try it by video.
Welcome to Ask the Meadmaker, where I, Ricky the Meadmaker, answer your questions about mead making mead drinking, mead brewing and any question you're willing to send to me. This week we're collaborating with Mystic Seaport in Connecticut for Viking Days, which got canceled and then moved and then moved and then canceled. We're working on it, folks.
So we're going to do only Viking mead questions this week, and we're going to start off with one of the biggest myths out there. Number one: No, Vikings did not drink their mead out of the skulls of their enemies they drank out of intricately made horns, silver, and in some cases imported wine goblets made of glass.
While we're dispelling myths, honeymoon is not related to drinking mead for a month you will go on even fact based websites that claim that it's some Viking tradition of giving them Mead. We have a link in the doobly doo below dispelling the myth.
Here's an interesting one for you. Although mead is extremely popular in Viking legends, the mead of poetry (the ability to recite verse) actually comes from a mead that is stolen by Odin and put in his mouth when he's a bird and then barfed up into some buckets. But skipping that, mead was so special because honey is almost unavailable in Scandinavia directly. So where the Vikings lived, and especially in Iceland, honeybees don't flourish or even survive, so they actually had to trade for it.
Another myth to dispel: No the Vikings did not drink mead every day unless they were inordinately rich because of the thing that I just said about the access to honey.
Here's a fun fact about dying as a Viking if you were lucky enough to be selected by the Valkyries and taken to Valhalla: You get to eat pork and drink mead every night because there is a goat there named Heiðrún who gives mead instead of milk.
Here's one that we don't know the answer to: Was their mead sweet? A lot of craft meads like what we brew here at Groennfell Meadery and Havoc Mead are extremely dry. A lot of honey wines, which are also very popular, are usually very sweet. So what were the Vikings drinking? The answer is we don't know. Conjectures range, but we do know this: If the honey remains in solution, that means those sugars have not been turned into alcohol, and it's unlikely that the Vikings would have left any potential alcohol behind if they could help it.
Along those lines, what did Viking mead taste like? We know that they often used spices. Sometimes they mixed it with grain. And other than that, all guesses.
Our last fun fact is a twofer! So the central place in most Viking-era communities was called the Mead Hall - Meduseld. And this means "the place that has mead" showing how central it was to their community, but what many people don't know is it was the women in those communities who did almost all the brewing and distribution of that mead. For more on this and other interesting facts will have a link to the book Lady With the Mead Cup below. Fascinating research work. And also of course, a link to the Viking Days website.
If you have any questions, you can send them to me and I'll get to them as soon as possible. Cheers.
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.