Mead is truly a wonderful drink. From the halls of the ancient vikings to the Ethiopian desert and ancient India, mead (or tej, in Ethiopia), has been hailed as a delight from the gods. I'm sharing one of my favorite simple mead recipes that is intended to be aged for at least one year, preferably two or three. This mead could also be considered a Metheglin, as it is mead with an added spice - the flowers of the morning glory vine. The result is a very pleasing beverage that interests the palate with an intense floral aroma contrasted by the middlin' sweetness of the honey.
Some brewers say that anyone who drinks the mead of inspiration will become a wise man and a poet. I question the "wise man" inference after a few mugs of the stuff and I start dancing on tables, but it does awaken your senses. I've also heard stories of how the gods themselves keep it, but a few drops have fallen to the earth to give man inspiration.
There's also stories of an ancient brewer's tradition of yelling at mead in order to wake up the spirits within it, i.e. the yeast. Now we know that yeast responds better to food than yelling, but I still yell at it sometimes for shits and gigs.
It is said that in Ethiopia, Tej is mixed with the bitter bark and leaves of the gesho plant, a species of Buckthorn. The morning glory mead presented here is far from bitter, but may become dry if the yeast is modified by the flowers or if a wild yeast is added.
|15 lbs of Honey|
|4 gallons of spring water or filtered pure water|
|2 ounces fresh Morning Glory flowers|
|1 packet ale yeast|
|1 packet Champagne yeast|
I always recommend using the purest, most natural water source available for brewing any beverage because I have personally tasted the difference. By using spring water or filtered water you neutralize many factors that might cause off flavors. Chlorine, fluoride and any other nasty chemicals that appear in treated tap water are not issues when you use spring water.
These chemical additives could throw off the taste of the brew or support bacteria. Make sure your yeast is primed and ready to go in a sterile flask, beaker or jar before the brew day - it helps to make the yeast starter 1-2 days beforehand.
Honey Boo Boo
I never recommend boiling honey. Honey is a complex and delicate syrup. Honey is, of course, the product of the bee - the bee's regurgitated lunch, gathered from a variety of sources. As such, honey in nature never gets very hot - certainly nowhere near boiling temperature. A lot of the more delicate flavors and flower essences will be destroyed from heating honey even to pre-boiling temperatures, but the sugars in the honey become caramelized as well when boiled. These caramelized sugars can be more difficult for yeast to consume. I suggest heating the water for the mead to 160 degrees Fahrenheit then adding the honey and stirring over heat only until the honey is dissolved into the wort. Once the wort is removed from heat, cool rapidly.
While the water is heating up you can wash the fresh morning glory flowers thoroughly in cold water. You will put these flowers directly into the primary fermenter prior to adding the chilled wort and then pitching the yeast. Once the mead has been activated with yeast culture and has started fermenting, you can leave it be for two weeks. Then, it is time to rack the mead into a different fermenter and strain out the flowers. Now, the mead will take ten to twelve months to finish out the fermentation. You can then bottle the mead and age it for one to two years. The resultant drink is exceedingly rich and enjoyable.
Best enjoyed chilled and with musical instruments close at hand.
|Christian Lavender is a home brewer in Austin, TX and founder of Kegerators.com and HomeBrewing.com.|