A fun indoor pastime is brewing your own drinks. One of our favorite and most important is mead, or mjod. We brew this once a year, although we still have three gallons left from last year. Around the full moon after the equinox is the time. It used to be called “Vintage Moon”, according to certain old folk.
It is a good thing to keep a brewing journal. I have had one for a long time. It has silly poems, formulas for conversion, more than recipes. I did write down our third year of brewing in this log. I will try to continue this tradition.
The log entry is as follows:
“Year 3 January 7th 23rd Night Waning Moon
First I boiled about five gallons of water in a large kettle. Waiting a quarter of an hour, I tossed in a handful of tea.
I waited another quarter hour, added a dash each: nutmeg, ginger, cinamon & cloves these last less so.
An hour later during which I added 15 fifteen pounds of honey to the must, I pitched warm yeast. Another gallon of water or so was added. The batch resulted in six gallons or so.
Within a quarter hour the yeast began working.
It worked slowly at first. One stout swish did motivate the yeast. The yeast was old; champagne strain labelled S97. By the 9th, the second day of fermentation a foamy top has formed and the yeast is moving.”
I did not include the end report in the journal. I shall add it later to the book. In meantime, here it is:
“No readings were taken with hydrometer. The resultant yeast at the next full moon had created a layer of foam which vanished by the next moon. The mead was very clear and racked into 9 nine, bottles for table and distribution as gifts. Three gallon jars were filled with the remainder along with one pint bottle. Some we drank immediately and it was green. After a rest in the cool it was drinkable. At a feast about a week later we gave some as gifts. I got reports that the mead was opened early and drank all at once, it was very fine and mellow.”
I am happy to say that the remainder of the bottles were imbibed by myself and several friends. Some took them on journeys. Who knows where those were drank? I am sure it was in good company. Heil to those who drank of it and I hope it brings them wisdom and health.
If you drink mead, try brewing it. You will never find an easier drink to brew. In old times there was not a great knowledge about what made the brew yeast up. Some of you already know, for those who do not, I will tell you: Floating all about in the air are tiny invisible creatures we call in the common tongue, yeast. If you leave something sitting about in say, a bowl, the wind blowing about will let them fall into the mixture. In this way many types of yeast are able to grow and make more like themselves. So yeast is not unlike bees or indeed ourselves. This is how people made the first mead. In open mouthed stone kettles people gathered a crop of it on the top of their potion even before the use of bronze metal had got going much.
Magic made their kettles boil. For me, even when I pour a packet of yeast into some warm must, magic makes my kettle boil. Like them I am creating a small universe of my own each time the bubbles begin to rise. I share this magic each time a friend takes a drink and smiles. Near or far.
All brewed things are in a sense magical. Sauerkraut, magic in a jar. Mead has been for some people the highest of brewed drinks in holiness. Beer, a wonderful and magic brew useful for cooking besides, is used for toasts. Barley is a young crop. Honey is as old as the trees and the bees. In this way, mead is a special drink indeed. At Yule and the Spring it is looked for at every table.
Since I was quite young brewing was of great interest to me. I started by making mead. All the stages the drink goes through are pleasing to me. The cup in the picture is a sample from the tail of the racking. It was what we call “green” and cloudy from the siphon. Green mead has a strange quality to it. It is tart. That does not quite describe the feeling. After a bit of time this mellows into a clear, slightly sweet drink that uplifts the spirit in small quantities, depending on size. In large quantities it leaves a fellow witless and stammering. Be wary of it.
If you enjoyed this article on brewing, leave us a comment or send an email. We love to hear from readers. In future we might do an article on brewing beer. In meantime, heil to you dear reader. Fare well wherever you fare.