Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The big mead day

Due to the limited time till May crown 2008, we decided to dedicate an entire day for mead making. We started at 10am and finished at 6pm. All in all, we made 115Liter of mead.

This is how they day went and what we did.

Thanks to Katherine Xavier from Cluain, we had 30 Kg of honey to “play” with. A most welcome donation! Thank you Katherine! The honey we got was the most tasty and sweet honey I ever tasted!


Between me raiding my wife’s spice chest and some extra purchasing done by Bernard, we had the following spices to work with. Pepper, Ginger, Grains of paradise, cloves, galingale, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, cardamom.

Firstly, we cleaned and sterilized the kitchen. (I need more students. No fun to clean).

Secondly, we pre boiled the water as Wellington water has both Fluor and bleach in it for health reason. A boil of about 15 min will remove it all and leave a nice and clean taste. (I have just found a most wonderful water supply close to Wellington that is more or less spring feed. Will ask for permission to go out there and get water when brewing…)

All the batches were made more or less the same way with some spice variations. This is how we did it.

As the honey was semi solid we had to heat up the tubs of honey in hot water. As the honey liquefied, we added it to a large pot with water. As the honey and water (about 50/50) started to simmer, we started to skim of the impurities that started to float on top. Ones there were very little impurities we added some Irish moss to the brew and boiled for another 15 minutes. All in all, I think we simmered the mix for about an hour and a half for each batch.

Irish Moss:

Irish moss is the most fantastic thing since sliced bread. I still have to learn the actual chemical reaction but what happen is that all impurities start to stick together the will make clearing process much more easy. (See beer experiments further later on in the blog.)

Ones the boil was done, we added the honey mix to a brewing bucket and added water to make it about 25 liter. We also added a linen bag holding all the spices (and a rock to weigh it down) to the brewing bucket. We then put it in the bath tub, filled with cold water.

As one of the honey tubs was particular yummy, we decided to put 5 litres in a separate brewing vessel with no spices. Starting gravity for this “control” batch was 1065.

The following batches was produces.

R 1:

  • Initial gravity, 1080
  • Volume: 24 Litre
  • Pepper: 20 gr
  • Ginger (fresh): 30 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 8 gr
  • Cloves: 12 Gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 12 gr
  • Cinnamon: 39 gr
  • Nutmeg: 12 gr

R 2:

  • Initial gravity, 1080
  • Volume: 21 Litre
  • (The super yummy honey batch)
  • Pepper: 16 gr
  • Ginger (fresh): 25 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 7 gr
  • Cloves: 10 Gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 10 gr
  • Cinnamon: 31 gr

R 3:

  • Initial gravity, 1090
  • Volume: 25 Litre
  • Ginger (fresh): 31 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 8 gr
  • Cloves: 12 Gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 14 gr
  • Cinnamon: 39 gr
  • Orange zest: 12 gr + the juice from the orange

R 4:

  • Initial gravity, 1042
  • Volume: 20 Litre
  • Ginger (fresh): 36 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 11 gr
  • Cloves: 11 Gr
  • Cinnamon: 22 gr
  • Nutmeg: 12 gr

R 5:

  • Initial gravity, 1045
  • Volume: 24 Litre
  • Ginger (fresh): 33 gr
  • Cloves: 11 Gr
  • Cardamom: 11gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 14 gr
  • Cinnamon: 26 gr

Needless to say that we added yeast to all batches. We used yeast that is specifically for honey based brewing.

Pictures will be added when I can get the images of Bernards Camera.


A couple of weeks later, we had a small tasting session and all batches tasted wonderful. The space bags was now floating, even though we have stones in the bags. In the 1616 cookbook, they were using lead weights, but we suspect that many people may not want to drink it if they know we were using lead so we decided to stay with the floating rocks. As we was on to it, we also transferred the brews to clean brewing buckets to get rid of lot of old and dead yeast.

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