Tag Archives: mead

Mead-Making: the Process

People talk about the old Grimoires and books of magic having “blinds”–instructions left out, or added, to botch attempts by the uninitiated. This may or may not be true, but I have become convinced that many mead-making recipes DO include such blinds, and I think it’s fucking bullshit.  Below is my method.  If your recipe calls for something more complex, think twice.  If something looks stupid, it probably is.  If someone tells you that it’s too hard, or too expensive, or too messy to do yourself … they want into your wallet, or into your pants.  Maybe both.

I’ve been meaning to write this up anyway, to streamline the recipes I post.  It has been made critical by an unfortunate accident in a good friend’s first attempt at mead-brewing.  I don’t know where she got it, honestly I don’t want to: I’d have to flame the shit out of their comments section, and maybe even put in a bad word for them with Him Who Watches Over My Homebrew.

I’ll update this with pictures the next time I start a batch.  In the meantime: knowing is half the battle.*

Satyr Magos’ Process For Turning Honey, Water, Yeast, and Misclanea Into Damn Fine Mead

My process is mind-bogglingly simple.  In fact, most of the time I skip half these steps.  This process has thus far worked for every recipe I’ve tried in my almost three years of homebrewing.

1. (Optional) Start with my honey, and mix it 1:2 with water in a big pot on the stove.  Don’t boil it, just get it hot enough that a light foam begins to rise to the surface.  That foam is wax and other impurities–skim it off.  In addition to purifying the honey, this step offers an opportunity get the most out of ingredients that will benefit from the heat+water combination (herbs &c.).  Put a lid on your pot and let it cool to the point where it’s safe to either either suck-start your siphon or pick up the pot with your hands.  Move on to step 2 while you wait.

2.  Pour your yeast into a container of orange juice (whatever quantity is appropriate for the recipie you are using).  Let this sit to the side while you work.  By the time you’re ready to add this to the mix, it should be happy and frothy.

3.  Pour your honey+water mixture into your carboy in whatever way is most convenient.  (If you skipped step 1, start by putting about 2x your volume of honey in the carboy first.  Use warm water, and mix the honey in as you add it.)  I like to use my racking hose and/or a funnel.

4.  Add your initial flavoring elements (any that did not get added in step 1.)–that is, all the ingredients other than the water, honey, and yeast.  Mix this up well.  For a one gallon batch, I cap the bottle and shake it vigorously.  For a five gallon batch, I grab the bottle by the top and rock it in circles along the circumference of the base (this is less complicated than it sounds: wobble it in a circular fashion).

5.  (Optional)  Add enough water to bring the carboy up to 2/3 full.  Mix well.

6.  Add the yeast.  Mix welll.

7.  Add enough water to almost fill the carboy, but leave an inch or two of space at the top for the must to get frothy.  You can top it off the rest of the way when the initial fermentation (the frothing) is finished.  Mix well.

8.  Apply air-lock.  Leave in warm (60-80 deg. F, depending on your yeast) dark place.

9.  (Optional, but gets better results) Mix daily for the first week.  Rack at 1-3 weeks, at 6 weeks, at 13 weeks, and as needed thereafter.  Add flavoring elements as needed, as whim takes you, or as recipe directs.

10.  (Optional for 1-gallon batches) Bottle any time after 6 months (3 months for fast-brewing Small Mead recipes), or as recipe directs.

12.  Toast Dionysus.

13.  Drink Copiously.

* Why, yes, I am a child of the 1980s.  Why do you ask?

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Imbolc 2012 (Insert Clever Title Here)–Also Blackberry Mead

Imbolc—the Witches’ Sabbat where we huddle together in our cold, cramped apartments, relight our sacred fires, pray for the sun to come back soon and quietly acknowledge how glad we are that we’re not actually bound to the agricultural cycle anymore.  (Except for those of who are actually suffering from food shortage, but that’s a post for a social justice blog.)  Wait.  What’s that you say?  What the fuck?  It was fifty-fucking-four degrees Fahrenheit outside today.  How do you celebrate the desperate hope for the return of Spring when it feels like Beltaine outside?

Well, if you’re me, you duck off into the woods and celebrate like it is Beltaine.  Because why not?  Hooray, hooray!  Who needs to wait for the First of May?

Monday, I bottled my Imbolc mead, made from Pasiphae’s beautiful home-grown blackberries.  She gave me so many that, by the time I was done, I had somehow ended up with two gallons of mead.  I kept one and left the other with Aradia.  It turned out beautifully, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone at the local meat-up tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I can’t really share the recipe: it was too seat-of-my pants.  With the fruit-to-honey ratio I ended up with, it might be more accurately described as “blackberry wine”.  Also, I seem to have lost my notes.  If I were going to do it over again, this is how I would do it:

4 lbs honey

1 gallon ziplock of blackberries (with another waiting in the freezer)

Lavlin 1118 Champaign yeast

Yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, &C.

Start by sanitizing the must using Campden tablets or the equivalent in your primary fermentation bucket, then add the yeast.  Because of the fruit, you’ll want to let this one sit longer than usual.

When you’re ready to rack, break out the second bag of blackberries, let them thaw, and throw them into your secondary fermenter (if you’re lucky, that’s a 2-gallon carboy; if you’re me, that’s dividing them between two 1-gallon jugs), and rack the mead onto them.  Again, leave them in there a little longer than usual.  Repeat as many times as you have blackberries.

Bottle in time for the festivities.

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Honor to Dionysos from the Sunrise Temple

I finally started my first batches of mead and wine, here in Sunrise, IN.

IMG_4625

The mead is a variant on the “Ancient Orange” recipe, which I will reproduce here because there just can’t bee too many copies of mead recipes on the Internet.  The wine was my most basic Spiced Apple Cider wine.

Satyr Magos’ Ancient Orange Mead

4.5 cups local honey (~3.5lbs)

1 stick cinnamon

2 whole cloves

1 whole large navel

1 pkt bread yeast

~3/4 gallon of water blessed at the full moon (oh, yeah: I went there)

I warmed the honey in an equal volume of water, though the recipe didn’t call for it.  I find it makes it much easier to get into the bottle without a mess.  While that was coming to temperature, I sliced the orange and put it, the cinammon, and the cloves in the bottle.  I then poured the hone-water through a funnel into the carboy, added the yeast, and filled the carboy most of the way with water – being certain to leave enough room for froth and sturm und drang – and mixed it by shaking vigorously.  I stuffed in the airlock and will call it “done” when it clears … hopefully in time for my birthday in the time of the Prince of Swords.

Satyr Magos Apple Cider Wine

1 gal. apple cider

1 stick cinnamon

3 whole cloves

1 pk Lavlin DC47 wine yeast

Pour one glass of cider and drink it.  Add the spices and the yeast.  Shake vigorously and add airlock.  Set aside for as long as you can stand to wait, though I recommend at least a year.

I’ll add nutmeg and a few other things as I get my ands on them.

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Persephone’s Gift of Mead

I bottled a lot of mead over the weekend: my first five-gallon batch, the gallon I made for the upcoming Heartland Pagan Festival, and the batch my magical group helped me start last Midsummer.

The five-gallon batch is my second/third attempt at pomegranate mead.  The first was fantastic – my best to date.  The second I started (but which I won’t bottle until October) was for Samhain.  This one I started in December and bottled last Thursday.  It’s not as good as the first batch, but it’s very, very tasty.

Ingredients:

12 lb honey (used Sweatheart honey this time from my brew store)

4x32oz. pomegranate juice (I favor the Odwalla brand over Pom)

juice of 1 lemon, 1 orange

1 1/2 tsp tannen

2 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme

5 tsp yeast energizer

I ultimately added another 60 or so ounces of pomegranate juice as I racked the mead.  The color and the flavor weren’t strong enough for my taste.  The ultimate outcome, for some reason, was never as bold and red as the first, or as richly flavored.  Maybe the Pom brand juice is dyed  and therefore contributed a stronger color (disturbingly likely and all the more reason not to use it again).  We’ll see how the flavor develops in the bottle, it might be just as good as the first batch in another few months.

This is the label I made:

label_persephonesgift

The colors label didn’t scan very well, I’m afraid, but it looks good on the bottle.  I’m very pleased to say that, uncolored and without any kind of label, my mother – who is not a witch of any stripe or even much of an antiquarian – was able to identify the figure as Persephone.

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Beltane Mead

This morning I bottled last years Beltane mead, that it might have at least a little time to rest in the bottle before consumption.  This is my first mead to make it a year (or nearly) from start to bottle, and also my first done explicitly as a religious and magical rite.  It is, for the record, glorious.  A simple honey mead (3 lb : 1 gal), but I can no longer recall the yeast I used.  I think it was the Lavlin 1118, but I’m not certain.  Of course I can’t bottle without tasting, and it is delicious.  I have also used it to anoint a pair of idols that I am working with (slowly, cautiously … I’m still new to that).

Pasiphae, Aidan, Chirotus, and D were all there with Aradia and I at the creation.  I don’t know how many of them will be making it back out for the consumption.

The label, which I drew myself, is hidden behind the fold to avoid problems those few who might be viewing this post from work.  It’s an image of the horned god, folks, he’s generally NSFW.

 

2010 Horned God's Blessing

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Mabon Pumpkin Mead

Mabon Pumpkin Mead

Put together from several pumpkin mead recipes on the internet:

http://brewery.org/cm3/recs/10_36.html

http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/mead-recipes.htm

Materials

1 empty 2 gal primary fermentation vessel (food bucket)

1 empty 4L jug

1 air lock

2 lbs raw honey honey

1 lb brown sugar

12 oz diced, baked pumkin

1 cinnamon stick

1 pkt Montrachet wine yeast

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient

1/2 tsp pectic enzyme

1/8 tsp tannen powder

1 Campden tablet

juice of two oranges + twist of peel

water

Process

bake pumpkin after glazing with butter, brown sugar

mix honey and water at 1:2 ratio in sauce pan, heating until foam forms on surface, skim foam

add allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, brown sugar to honey mixture, allow to cool

add pumkin, tannen, pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, honey mixture, and Campden tablet to primary fermentation vessel

24 hours later, add yeast to the juice of two oranges. give 1-2 hours to become frothy

add yeasty orange juice, twist of orange peel to must

rack in 1 month, again 6 weeks later, again 6 weeks later

bottle at 6 months if clear, consume at Mabon year after year

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Midsummer Mead

I racked my first batch of midsummer mead at the same time I did the Beltane. The black cherry flavor was somewhat spontaneous, and the recipe would work as well with any summer fruit substituted. The flavor was potent, but definitely needed more time to meld and harmonize. Aradia – whose palate is much more refined than my own – described it as having two entirely separate flavors, which didn’t quite get along yet. By the time it’s bottled and drank, though, I think it will be beautiful.

Midsummer Mead – Black Cherry Melomel

Materials
1 empty 4L jug
1 air lock
2.5 lbs raw honey honey
32 oz. bottled black cherry juice
1 pkt dry wine yeast
yeast nutrient
pectic enzyme
acid blend
tannen
water
Process
sanitize jug & airlock as described in manuals
fill jug with water, honey, nutrients. shake well
add yeast, shake again
insert air lock
incorporate bottle-shaking into midsummer ritual
rack after 2 weeks
rack again after 1 month, topping off as necessary
rack again after 6 weeks, topping off as necessary
takes about three months to clear from first fermentation
bottle at 6 months
drink at midsummer, year after year.

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Beltane Mead

I just racked and sampled my Beltane mead the other day, so I thought I’d share the recipe. This was my first attempt at incorporating meadmaking into a sabbat ceremony, and I think it’s gone pretty well. Our Beltane celebration took place out at Camp Gaea, which made the operation just a little tricky: packing and prepping everything I could possibly need. Since it was, of course, a bonfire ritual I did all the prep work in the morning – measuring and mixing everything into the honey and water in the jug I used as a primary fermentation vessel- and, because it was a bit chilly this year, kept it near the fire. We did our ritual, and shortly before the culmination (my first cone of power ever), passed the jug around and had everybody dance with it as we danced around the fire, raising power.

I could still feel that power as I racked and sampled (making the appropriate offering to Dionysus, of course) the product, to make sure it was progressing as planned. (Ho, boy could I feel that power. Zing!) Also, very tasty.

Beltane Mead
A recipe refined from experiments with Jug Mead, designed to be made during the sabbat ritual and drunk when the wheel of the year has completed another rotation.

Materials
1 empty 4L jug
1 air lock
3 lbs raw honey honey
1 pkt Lavlin brand EC-1118 wine yeast
yeast nutrient
pectic enzyme
acid blend
tannen
water

Process
sanitize jug & airlock as described in manuals
fill jug with water, honey, nutrients. shake well
add yeast, shake again
insert air lock
incorporate bottle-shaking into beltane ritual dance
rack after 2 weeks
rack again after 1 month, topping off as necessary
rack again after 6 weeks, topping off as necessary
takes about three months to clear from first fermentation
bottle at 6 months
drink at beltane, year after year.

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