Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 26 Feb 2006

Back in the fall someone planted the idea in my head of making hard cider. That plan never worked out, but it did directly lead to the limoncello and other liqueurs which I’ve started making. And now it’s led to actual brewing. That’s right, it’s time for mead.

My textbook for this new endeavor is

The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm. It’s a nicely written and very approachable piece of work. Restraining my hubris and desire to jump right into something complicated, I’m starting with Schramm’s basic “first-timer” mead recipe. It’ll make five gallons of still (not sparkling) mead. Or so I hope.

I’ve become convinced that the reason folks don’t make or drink much mead anymore isn’t some flaw in mead itself. No, the reason they don’t make or drink much mead is that honey is bloody expensive. Fifteen pounds (five liters) of honey are required for my recipe. It can’t be crappy honey, either. Crappy honey gets you crappy mead and, really, what’s the point of putting in all the time and effort if you already know it’s going to suck at the end? Today I went down to the Marin farmers’ market and scoped out the honey purveyors. One would sell me 15# of wildflower honey for $80. Yowza! The other, thankfully, was able to get me 15# of orange blossom (called for by the recipe) for a paltry $48. Still painful and more than expected, but not so bad.

The gear and doodads required for brewing beer/mead/cider are relatively inexpensive. I’d been accumulating them over the past month or so, picking up a few whenever I happened to be in the neighborhood of the homebrew shop.

The entire process took maybe three hours, which includes a lot of down time for such things as “bring a gallon of water to a boil” and “let the mixture cool down to below 80° F.” I thought of photo-documenting the process, but it really wasn’t photogenic.

Now I have five gallons of sugar water and yeast living in my closet. Tomorrow I get to check and see whether the “thing that goes bloop” (aka the gas lock thingie) is actually blooping. That means the yeast is alive an well and gorging itself silly. We like that.

Anyhoo, we’ll see how this all works out. Maybe it’ll flop and I just blew $48 on nothing. Or maybe the end result will be a sublime tasty beverage. Updates will, of course, be found in this space as they become available.