Mead used to be even awesomer.

Talking tonight about how much we’re missing in the modern age of brewing mead:

me: according to Radical Brewing
mead used to be even more awesomer
Chris: O?
me: firstly
the root medhu
means honey, sweet, and drunkenness
Chris: Lol
me: “This buzz is not always simply from alcohol. Many plants with toxic and/or psychoactive components exude them in their nectar, which is then concentrated by the bees into a kind of narcotic honey that Pliney the Elder called meli moenomenon, or ‘mad honey’. Datura, belladonna, cannabis, wild rosemary, rhododendron, and a large number of tropical plants are capable of producing mind-altering honey, and the ethnobotanical connections for many psychoactive honeys are well documented”
Chris: Ooh
me: see also Heather Ales: “It is hard to say whether the mythic status of heather derives from the beautiful carpet of blossoms, the lovely aroma, or the powdery psychoactive fungus – called fog or fogg – that adheres to it. An observer writing about heather honey in 1804 says, ‘I well remember, however, that, for two years that I used it, it almost always rendered me drowsy. Sometimes it composed me to sleep as effectually as a moderate dose of laundanum would have done
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New Mead Recipe + Linkdump

Well, I finally unveiled one of the meads from January at Ross’s brewparty last weekend, and it was enough of a hit that I decided to post the recipe. Briefly:

  • 4 lbs Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 Tbs Cardamom, coarse ground
  • 10 bags Black Tea
  • Brandy (for bottling)

For the full instructions, check out the full recipe.

As far as the links go, I’m a fan of the gravity calculator on Got Mead. It’s for meads and fruit wines, not beer, but it makes planning your basic brews really quick. I’ve been meaning to link to Jon Sarriugarte’s project VOLT/AGED for a while now, and here’s a good excuse. He ages spirits with a 15kv Jacob’s Ladder, which is possibly the coolest thing a man can ever hope to do.

The windfall cider I mentioned in the last post has been bubbling away happily. Should it turn it, I’m thinking about trying to culture the yeast that fermented it. My cousin Nate, a homebrewer and programmer out in Colorado, gave me the idea, as he’s been doing this for a while with no ill effects. It’ll drive down costs, and allow me to be EVEN MORE OBSESSED with brewing. This can only be a good thing.

I heart Bender and St. Bart

First and foremost, if you haven’t been to http://www.asciimation.co.nz/bender/, you must. Simon is my new hero for building a real live Bender Fermenter. Words can not express.

I’ve been looking into growing my own hops, and it looks surprisingly cheap / easy / fun. Farms will ship you hop rhizomes for $3-$5, depending on the variety, so when they come back in stock early spring I’ll be picking some up. Odd to think about planning which hops you’ll need for brewing a beer a year or two from now, but I like the idea. It gives it a sort of permanence as well as adds pure homebrew points.

This Friday, as I’m sure you all know, is St. Bartholomew’s day, the patron saint of beekeeping, and in Cornwall the Blessing of the Mead is still celebrated every 24th of August. As such, I’ve decided on a Flagon Slayer party, where we’ll be showing Jeremy how to brew by making a Pomegranate Red Mead of my own devising, as well as sampling ample amounts, of course. A bottle of mead or some decent home/microbrew gets you in, and if you read this, you’ve probably already been invited.

Finally, since Kyle asked so nicely, I’m posting the recipe for Sima, a quick brewing Finnish lemon alcopop. It’s delicious, and costs about $2 / gallon to make.

RFC: Christmas Cyser

Now’s the time to be laying in for the winter months, so I thought I’d make something Christmassy. The idea at the moment is as follows:

  • 2.5 pounds honey
  • 1/2 gallon organic apple juice
  • 1/2 pound raisins
  • several sticks cinnamon
  • 20-30 paradise seeds, crushed

…as well as the usual additives. I’m concerned about the raisins, though, as I don’t want them to be overpowering. Might need to go to 1/4 pound to be safe.  I’ll be using campden tablets, to be sure.