One of my other hobbies aside from archery, the balcony garden and writing drivel for this here blog is the ancient art of making mead.
Yesterday I bottled in my mead lab (bedroom) roughly 20 litres of the golden honey booze, and if I say so myself, damn I’m good. It’s all my girlfriends fault, she got me interested in mead, because it is a really nice drink and finding out just how easy it is to make the stuff I just had to add it to my portfolio of home made booze.
Back in Scotland I tried homebrew beer from a kit I bought in Boots, bit of a failure. It became known as Old Tate & Lyle after the sugar sheds in Greenock. Spilled sugar in the puddles would start fermenting and that smell was similar to the beer that came from that kit. Guess I didn’t read the instructions right, added too much sugar…
Then came plum wine. Where I used to live in The Netherlands there is a plum tree in the garden. One year we had a bumper crop. A branch breaking bumper crop. Branches were supported with broom sticks and all manner of a MacGuiver attempts to save it. And what better way to get rid of so many plums than to make wine with it. Add that to the list of ‘Good Ideas At The Time’. It wasn’t very pleasant, can’t remember the taste off hand now, must have blanked it out.
After that was cider. A neighbour came across a load of apples from an orchard that hadn’t been sprayed with chemicals, bonus! Because if they haven’t been sprayed then you don’t have to wash them, then you don’t have to add yeast, because they already have a natural yeast on them. It was a success. That fact made having to drink Grolsch, a lager I’m no fan of, for the bottles a lot less painfull.
And so to the mead, I made a batch last year, roughly 8 litres, and suprised myself that I liked it, it was no failure, but the fact that my girlfriend and her friends, also mead afficionados, were also enthousiastic about it helped. A good confidence boost.
Wanted to make more, but my bottle crashed, literally, my 15 litre fermenting bottle ended up as a pile of shards after an accident while cleaning.Had a bad feeling this was going to be a one hit wonder, till one of the mead afficionados came across a 25 litre bottle and a smaller 5 litre one, will be using the wee one for experimenting, already have ideas for it. So I started stockpiling jars of honey, noticing the supermarket costs were fluctuating a lot, and going back to last years recipe, scaled up for the bigger bottle, I set to work. Things were going great, the initial stages being easy, the rest the easiest, just waiting and watching the air lock go *bloop* once in a while. But disaster struck. while vacuum cleaning the mead lab the vacuum hose broke the glass air lock. Potential disaster, the thing that lets the fermenting gas escape and stops air getting in and spoiling the mead was bust. A quick frantic search found my back up plastic air lock and shoved that in place, a condom would have worked as well.
It was a case of waiting till bottling time to see if was a success or failure. Bottling time was yesterday, and it was a nervous one. I started syphoning into the first bottle, and the initial taste that came into my mouth was good, as good as I remember last years effort. So just kept on filling, a really nice colour and a cracking taste. Doubts and fears cast aside, damn it I think I got away with it again. Although the real test is my girl friend and the mead afficianados themselves, hope they like it.
If you’re interested in trying this yourself, this is the recipe I used, just scaled up for a bigger bottle. Fool proof, even for this fool.