Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mead for a good friend

My friend Steve just got married last week and unfortunately I was unable to attend the wedding. However, when Steve and his new wife Jodi return from their honeymoon this weekend, they will finally receive my gift - mead! Over six months ago I found out about the marriage and I decided to brew up a small 1 gallon batch of traditional (but lightly carbonated) mead as a wedding present.

I used 1 pound each of orange blossom, clover, and wildflower honeys, champagne yeast for that extra dry character, and of course yeast nutrient to aid in fermentation, and acid blend for flavor harmony. In the end I got one large "growler" for Steve and Jodi, and four 12 once bottles for me and my wify. I primed the mead with 1 heaping tablespoon of corn sugar to impart a nice "sparkling" sensation on the palate (that's all it takes!).

Anyway, I know that technically six months is not quite long enough to serve a proper mead, but I did open a bottle recently, and let me tell you - I was very happy. I'm sure Steve and Jodi will love it as well, since neither of them has ever tasted mead, and only know of its existence through my constant ramblings at our collective social gatherings.

Here I am on January 16th drinking a homebrewed chocolate-coffee stout and preparing "Potter's Olde Sparkling Mead" (Potter is Steve's last name):

Here's the final product, accompanied by its "Mead Lore" scroll, an overly dramatized "history" of mead (much of which is stolen from Papazian's "Joy of Homebrewing") and a blessing on their marriage. I tried to make the bottle's labels and the scroll look old by burning them with a lighter(!):

The following is what I wrote in the "Mead Lore" scroll (all in Old English font):

Mead, oh glorious mead, the most ancient and sacred of all beverages, was born eons ago in a shroud of mystery and magic. It is quite possibly the first alcoholic beverage ever known to man, believed to have been discovered in old tree trunks that had collected honey and naturally fermented for years. Its intoxicating and aphrodisiacal qualities were the spark of many an unrestrained orgy and outburst of merriment during the Festival of Saturn, celebrated in December in ancient Rome. The Inca and Aztec Indians also brewed mead and held it in high reverence. Throughout the years, mead evolved into a veritable sacrament of great importance and meaning.

Many a tale abounds of the magical qualities of mead; of the joy, the celebration, and even the tragedy that befell its imbibers. Those who are fortunate enough to taste authentic mead today should do so in reverence to all those of the past. Only then can they truly understand the history and heritage imbued in every rosy droplet.

Let it be known that mead is, above all else, a beverage of love. In days of old, the drinking of mead was held responsible for fertility and the birth of male offspring. This is where the tradition of the modern day “honeymoon” got its start. It was believed that if mead was consumed for one month (one moon) after a wedding, then nine months later a son would be born. The custom of drinking mead at weddings and for one month after eventually led to our modern day custom of the “honeymoon”. The mead maker would then be congratulated on his ability to harness mead’s magic for its intended benefit.

Eventually, mead drinking developed quite a reputation for its ability to increase the chance of bearing sons, and became an important part of each family’s traditions. So much so that a special drinking cup, called the “Mazer Cup”, was carefully crafted and then passed down from generation to generation. The couple who drank from the cup would be blessed with the bearing of sons who would carry on the family name, tend to the family’s flock and fields, and fight in the constant wars of that time.

In those days, the making of mead was an art. It was regulated by customs, statutes, and superstitions, and was only allowed to be performed by certain individuals who had been highly trained in the magic of turning honey into mead. Today many have the knowledge required to produce this ancient beverage, but few give its legacy the proper reverence and respect it deserves.

Potter’s Olde Sparkling Mead is an alchemistic blend of three distinctly derived honeys in equal parts: clover, orange blossom, and wildflower. This trio of nature’s finest elixirs have been gently combined, pasteurized, and then allowed to ferment naturally for two months. Primed and bottled, it arrives to you aged over four months. Upon opening, it will release its sparkling effervescence and impart its truth to a place deep within your soul.

I, the mead maker, hereby congratulate you on your union. I ask God to bless your marriage, your life, and your offspring. May you always find happiness, may you always be courageous in all of your endeavors, and may you root all of your aspirations in honesty and integrity. As you drink this mead, please know that I have toiled in its creation out of friendship, admiration, respect, and love. I pray that together we may appreciate the ancient wisdom of mead, and always be humbled in the face of that which is greater than us.

Your eternal patron,

Jonathan C. Windt

Pretty hilarious, right? I will obviously report back after the first tasting by an actual "Potter." Perhaps my son will have another friend soon?

7/26/09: Cracked open the mead last night and it was a great success! Jodi said that it tasted like "liquid flowers." Steve read the entire mead scroll with a weird English accent - I wish I had that on video! Definitely going to brew mead again when I have the chance.

1 comment:

  1. The "trio of nature's finest elixirs" was incredible! There is only a tiny bit left in the jar only because I don't want to be the one to finish it. I had never tried mead before and now I'm definitely picking up a few bottles at the booze store. That night I guzzled quite a few pints of your latest brew after we toasted with the mead. Point is, we didn't create a baby boy that night. But like Tom Petty once said, the future is wide open.