Over the last 9 months or so, something I have been experimenting with has been making Mead. I have done a couple of batches with varying success on quality and like with my chilli plants it’s still very much a learning process.
When I tell people that I’m brewing mead, they often say something along the lines of “How Medieval of you” or “like the Vikings?” but it has roots much older and more further east that Europe, having had forebearers potentially identified in clay pots from China as far back as 7000 BCE, it’s first theoretical appearance in Europe come from residual samples taken from samples thought to date from roughly 2800-1800 BCE and it is believed its earliest written description comes from old religious texts (the Rigveda) from a precursor to Hinduism (Vedism), Aristotle is said to have been a fan of the drink as well.
Mead is known as “honey wine” honey being what is being fermented, along with water, to create alcohol. Like wine its sweetness can vary depending on how much honey is in it or how much is consumed by the yeast before the yeast’s alcohol tolerance is reached. It can be flavoured with various fruit, to make things even more interesting, from example I have flavoured mine with things like blueberries and cherries, apples and spices, chillies, as well as citrus fruits, all with varying success and interesting flavours.
Like my chilli growing, I kind of started doing it to see if I could do it and now part of me wants to do it properly and really experiment with it to see where I can take it as a side project. There are so many sub-categories of mead that you could wing it and find what sticks, like I have done so far, but you could also nail the process and make it an exact science using almost laboratory grade equipment. Depending on what kind of fruit you brew your mead with, it technically becomes another type of drink, like how ale and larger are different types of beer. For example, pretty much all mead brewed with fruit is called a Melomel and then under that banner depending on what fruit it is, it will have a different name i.e. mead with apple is a Cyser, a Rubamel is mead with raspberries.
The process of making mead itself can be relatively straightforward, once everything is clean and sterilised, it can be as simple as leaving the ingredients, Water, honey and yeast, in a container with an air lock to allow any gases to escape, or you can go full professional brewery about it and have a sophisticated setup to create a very precise drink. I definitely belong in the “simple as possible camp” at the moment, I figure while it taste good there’s no need to complicate things or make things harder than they need to be, although certain parts of it could be a lot more efficient.
More experimenting is on the horizon though, so watch this space. I have, I think, an interesting idea for my next batch of mead and it’ll be interesting to see if it works or not, but some more research and planning needs to be done I think, so we shall see what comes of it, a lockdown does seem like the best time to become a bit of a mad scientist.