Letter From The Editor Itâ€™s the Summer issue of American Mead Maker and I would like to invite you to share a mead toast as you settle in to enjoy the latest articles and photos our contributors have worked hard to share with you. In this issue we get to experience our first recipe. Using mead as an ingredient and as a pairing with a fine meal is something we all should promote. Ricky Klein from Groennfell Meadery talks about recipe design and new mead drinkers. We also are proud to publish a piece on mead history written by Meadery Labâ€™s Eduardo Miranda from Portugal. And since the last issue, many of us attended the Mazer Cup. I hope these few images recall fun memories for some of our readers. Until next time, Jeff Herbert
By Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor i’m usually starting it right after lunch. Grassfed meats cook best at very low temperatures for very long time: I’m talking about 200 degrees Farenheit for four hours or more. In this case I had quickly salted, peppered, and seared in olive oil a couple of lamb shoulder steaks and then stuck them in the oven in a Dutch casserole pan at 200 degrees Farenheit at 1:30 in the afternoon, while I went outside For this issue’s meal, I start- to do farm chores. ed with lamb in the oven. We raise 100% grassfed lamb, and if At 5:00 it was time to think lamb is on the menu for dinner, about dinner. I opened the casA favorite book of mine to turn to for pairings and general recipe riffs is “Culinary Artistry.” I love its format: an alphabetized list of most any food ingredient you can think of, each with a list of other foods and ingredients and flavors it pairs well with. I often find myself looking at “honey” and using it as an inspiration to riff on the theme of mead pairings.
serole, turned over the shoulder steaks, and thought about what else I could forage from garden and freezer. Early March: not a whole lot in the garden, but the beets are always beautiful, and Cook’s Illustrated had just run a story in the previous article about braising beets as a compromise between slow-cooked tender, and also very easy. (I always like easy.) And that made me remember a wonderful winemaker’s dinner at Cana’s Feast Winery a couple miles down the road which featured a very memorable polenta with roasted vegetables. I had asked the chef that night what the secret to great polenta is, and she had smiled and said “just cook the hell out of it!” With the slow-cooked lamb and the slow-braised beets, I had plenty of time for making the polenta too; all of these dishes are very hands-off and only require time, not attention. Only at this moment did I actually
decide how to season the dish, and decide that it was about to become the subject of a MeadFood pairing article. By the way, Middle Eastern lamb dishes are often seasoned with honey. I like to keep a few “cheater” ingredients in my freezer and fridge, and so should you. One is a frozen Tupperware container of Duxelles, which are finely minced mixed mushrooms, sautéed in butter. I make a big batch every fall, and then freeze it. This is my go-to container anytime a dish needs a mushroom fix, whether it’s stuffed puff pastry appetizers to take to someone else’s party, or a spoonful of diced mushrooms in a sauce of reduced pan drippings to drizzle on dinner. Tonight it was two big spoonfuls right in the polenta. Because corn, honey, mushrooms, and butter are a wicked-good combination. Another
ent is a small mason jar of demiglace in the refrigerator. Usually mine is a mixed-species reduced stock; this time of year it’s largely beef and lamb; in the summer it leans toward poultry and rabbit. Tonight it’s going to make a modified Chateaubriand sauce for the lamb steak. Demiglace is an incredibly easy thing to have on hand: just simmer meat and vegetable scraps, reduce and strain into the jar. It will keep covered in the refrigerator for two or three weeks; longer if you return the contents of the jar to your next batch of stock and simmer it for a day along with the new ingredients!
Mead, I thought. A quick search of the pantry brought up a bottle of Mace Mead Works 2007 Dry Mead. This is a very smooth, very soft, very dry Mead, nice honey and hive aromas, but not too much sweetness.
Steaks or chops from wellraised, grassfed lamb, about ¾ to 1 inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper, sear in a Dutch oven in 2 Tbsp olive oil until well browned. Removed from heat, cover the Dutch oven, and place in a 200 degree oven for at least two hours or up A salad with honey vinaigrette to five; turn over once or twice. will finish it off : local Portland company Blossom Vinegars makes a lovely Wildflower Honey vinegar. That plus some Mead, honey, and lo- Scrub but do not peel about cal olive oil will make a simple two small-to-medium-sized salad dressing for the greens. beets for each diner. If necTo drink with all this? A dry essary cut the largest ones in
half so the pieces are roughly equal in size. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon honey and about ½ cup of water; bring to a boil; reduce heat to lowest and cover; braised for about an hour or until fork-tender. Drain, reserving the liquid. Cool slightly under cold running water, and slip the beets out of their skins using your hands or a washcloth or paper towel. Trim with a paring knife if necessary, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Meanwhile return the drained liquid to pan and reduce over medium heat to a syrup; pour this into a cup and set aside. Add 2 Tbsp butter or oil to the pan and return the cubed beets, sautéing in the oil until just golden on at least two sides, about ten minutes. At this point you can either keep the beets separate or gently fold them into the polenta, your call. I like them folded in, but just “swirled,” not thoroughly mixed.
Use 1/3rd cup dry polenta or corn meal per person, plus ¾ cup water per person. Mix together cold in a nonstick pan, using a coated whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to lowest simmer and add 1 Tbsp butter per person. Barely simmer, stirring frequently, for about an hour or until liquid is reduced to a thick pudding and polenta is very tender. If desired, you can add fresh or frozen Duxelles (finely chopped mushrooms) at any point early in the cooking.
Salad dressing for four: 2 Tbsp honey vinegar (or wine vinegar) 2 Tbsp Mead 1 Tbsp honey Salt Pepper ½ cup good olive oil
Assembly: To the beet syrup, add Â˝ cup Mead or dry red wine, plus a few tablespoons of demiglace or reduced broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened. On each plate, place a lamb chop or steak, a generous spoonful of the polenta and beets, and drizzle generously with the beet-demiglace sauce. Serve with dressed salad and a glass of dry traditional Mead.
Designing a Mead Recipe By Ricky Klein
Recipe Design Alright, so you have your basic, every day, easy-drinking mead all figured out. (Clearly, this is your mead for every day, since we already assume that you don’t make everyday mead.) You’ve got your process down and your sanitization regime in place. You know what honey you like, you know what yeast works best for you, and you know how much of everything goes into the fermentation bucket. Now you’re ready to grow. You’re ready to move on. You’re ready to make something beautiful, unique, and out of this world. You do not, however, have the foggiest idea where to begin. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, inventing a recipe can be a little nerve-racking. You very well may have months – if not years – of work as well as lotsa cash on the line. If you’ve read our May 13th blog post “What’s to Worry About?” at least you know that you won’t poison your friends or customers no matter what the result of your experiment is.
But what if you make something gut-wrenchingly bad? What if your friends try it and start telling people that mead is made with honey and goat urine? Answer: You need to try your mead before you give it to other people, and also you probably need better friends. There is good news: We at Groennfell Meadery have broken down the three simple ways to develop a recipe. For our examples, we’re going to be making a blueberry melomel. We’re also going to be talking in terms of homebrew sizes, if you’re a professional or an out-of-your-freakin’-mind homebrewer, feel free to read “1 gallon” as “1 barrel” and “2 oz.” as “2 quarts” or whatever works for you. Technique #1 The Mad Scientist’s Lab: One of the most common ways to develop a recipe is to decide what ingredient you want to work with and do side-by-side small batches. We call this the Mad Scientist’s Lab because we once had 9 sideby-side batches going in a bathroom back in our homebrewing days… Approximately 100% of our
of our friends said, “Ummm, I was looking for the restroom, but I seem to have found a laboratory belonging to Dr. Viktor Frankenstein [or, Professor Hubert J Farnsworth].” The Drill: 1) Procure at least four 1 gallon jugs and an appropriate number of airlocks, bungs, etc.
mixing four 1 gallon batches separately rather than making a big batch and dividing it, but by doing this you risk introducing multiple variables into your experiment and may be selecting for yeast pitching rather than blueberry flavor. In addition to experimenting with quantity, this method allows you to also experiment with addition timing and whether you add the ingredient before or after fermentation is stopped/completed.
2) Mix up your control items in one batch so you’re sure that you’re only testing for one vari- Technique #2 able. In this case, mix your wa- The Chemistry Set: ter, honey, nutrient, and yeast and divide it evenly into your jugs. In this version we start with a base mead (perhaps your afore3) In one jug, add 4 oz. blue- mentioned non-quotidian deberry juice; in the next add 2 oz. light) and utilize a titration techblueberry juice; in the third add nique to add flavor and analyze raw blueberries; in the next put on the fly. You can actually purin blueberry extract, and so on. chase a titration kit from many homebrew shops or science stores. 4) Complete your fermentation, bottle it, label it appropri- 1) Make a batch of your favorite ately, and do a blind tasting. mead, bottle it up, keg it, whatever you do… 5) Find a winner and make tons of it! 2) Pour out a glass of it and Notes on this method: carefully add blueberry juice with a medicine dropper. * Many people make the mistake of When it tastes about right,
write down the number of drops.
AKA Flying by the Seat of Your Pants. Couldn’t really tell you where 3) Now try it with drops of con- the name for it comes from… centrate, extract, or whatever other form you can get your blueberries 1) Decide that you want to make a in. (Please see notes on method.) batch of blueberry mead. 4) When you have decided which extract, concentrate, source, and quantity gives you the flavor you’re looking for, scale up the batch size to your normal fermentation quantity and see if it tastes right. Notes on this method:
2) Ask yourself: “How much do I like blueberries?” 3) If the answer is “a lot,” put in a lot of blueberry juice, 1200 pounds of honey, house yeast, and cross your fingers.
4) If the answer is, “not so much,” *It’s really, really hard to put blue- make something else. berries into an eye dropper. 5) Oh! What about roses! Maybe *You will find that the flavor of the you could make a batch with rosblueberries can change remarkably es! Just remember to remove the after undergoing fermentation, so stems… experiment with late additions or sorbating if you’re not getting the Notes on this method: flavor you want. *Not for the chronically anxious meadmaker. *This will not work if you want to test for things about the fermenta- Some people have a natural predition itself such as the effects of the lection towards one or another of yeast, nutrient addition, or what- these methods and some people use ever. them all depending on the variable being tested. As mentioned above, Technique #3 a technique may naturally lend itThe Groennfell Meadery self to a specific experiment such
as doing yeast experiments using Technique 1 and maple syrup experiments using Technique 2. As for us, which technique do we tend to use? Hmmmm… it’s hard to say.
For more entertaining and informative mead tales, be sure to look up Groennfell Meadery’s Blog. Ricky Klein is the Head Meadmaker at Groennfell Meadery.
Mead in the Naturalis Historia from Pliny the Elder by Eduardo Miranda
Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23 – AD 79), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a naturalist, natural philosopher and a naval army commander of the Roman Empire. Spending most of his spare time studying, writing or investigating natural and geographic phenomena in the field, he wrote an encyclopedic work, Naturalis Historia (Natural History), which became a model for all such works written subsequently. Pliny the Elder dies on August 24, 79 AD, while trying a rescue of some of the people of the towns at the foot the great eruption of the Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Naturalis Historia is one of the largest single works to have survived from the Roman empire to the modern day and purports to cover the entire field of ancient knowledge and It encompasses the fields of botany, zoology, astronomy, geology and mineralogy as well as the exploitation of those resources. It remains a standard work for the Roman period and the advances in technology and understanding of natural phenomena at the time. Some technical advances he discusses are the only sources for those inventions, such as hushing in mining technology or the use of wa-
ter mills for crushing or grinding corn. Much of what he wrote about has been confirmed by archaeology. It is virtually the only work which describes the work of artists of the time, and is a reference work for the history of art. The Naturalis Historia consists of 37 books. Many of the manuscripts were copied in the 3rd, 4th, 9th and 12th century and the entire work is printed for the first time at Venice in 1469 by The brothers Johann and Wendelin of Speyer. The translation is imperfect and in 1601 a much improved translation was made by Philemon Holland’s and further versions multiplied as Pliny’s reputation grew during the Renaissance. One of the references related to mead in Naturalis Historia is in the book XIV, chapter 20 with the title “HYDROMELI, OR MELICRATON” [Latim transcription]
Fit vinum et ex aqua ac melle tantum. quinquennio ad hoc servari caelestem iubent. alii prudentiores statim ad tertias partes decocunt et tertiam veteris mellis adiciunt, dein XL diebus canis ortu in sole habent. Alii diffusa ita decimo die obturant. hoc vocatur hydromeli et vetustate saporem vini adsequitur, nusquam laudatius quam in Phrygia.
Another reference to mead is found in the book XXII, chapter 52 with the title “HYDROMEL: EIGHTEEN REMEDIES” [Latim transcription]
Aqua mulsa et tussientibus utilis traditur, calefacta invitat vomitiones, contra venenum psimithii salutaris addito oleo, item contra hyoscyami cum lacte maxime asinino, et contra halicacabi, ut diximus. infunditur et auribus et genitalium fistulae. vulvis inponitur cum pane molli, subitis tumoribus, luxatis leniendisque omnibus. inveteratae usum damnavere posteri, minus innocentem aqua minusque vino firmum; longa tamen vetustate transit in vinum, ut constat inter omnes, stomacho inutilissimum nervisque contrarium. [English translation] Hydromel is recommended, too, as very good for a cough: taken warm, it promotes vomiting. With the addition of oil it counteracts the poison of white lead; of henbane, also, and of the halicacabum, as already stated, if taken in milk, asses’ milk in particular. It is used as an injection for diseases of the ears, and in cases of fistula of the generative organs. With crumb of bread it is applied as a poultice to the uterus, as also to tumours suddenly formed, sprains,
and all affections which require soothing applications. The more recent writers have condemned the use of fermented hydro- mel, as being not so harmless as water, and less strengthening than wine. After it has been kept a considerable time, it becomes transformed into a wine, which, it is universally agreed, is extremelyprejudicial to the stomach, and injurious to the nerves. Notes:  “Hydromēlum,” on the other hand, made of water and apples, was the same as our modern hard cider. Disclaimer: The formulas (recipes) for mead in this article was commonly consumed in historic times. The recipes and instructions for these meads are for historical and educational purposes only. The author do not recommend the making or use of these meads by the reader. The author shall be held blameless for any injury to the reader that may occur from the ingestion of any of these recipes. This article first appeared on the website Meaderylab.com. A fantastic collection of mead information is rapidly growing on Eduardo’s site. Check it out and connect with Meadery Lab on facebook.
THE MAZER CUP! Essay and images by Jeff and Jen Herbert
his was our first trip to the Mazer Cup, and we were truly amazed to discover that not only is it a top notch competition, but it is the worldâ€™s best venue for sharing ideas and great times with fellow mead makers. As founders of the only meadery in Arizona, it often seems as though we live on the literal and figurative edge of the frontier. Even at craft beverage events we are constantly explaining what mead is and why someone should try it. Spending a few days in Boulder allowed us for the first time to take a profound understanding of mead for granted as the baseline for every conversation. It was cathartic and refreshing to share so many ideas about mead making and business while putting faces and voices to so many folks we have only known through correspondence. The Boulder Outlook Hotel could not have been a cooler place to host this event. Close to everything, good food, great live music and incredibly hospitable to many mead makers who enjoyed mead into the wee hours. This event is the largest commercial mead competition in the world. We did not serve as judges, but just being at the event allowed a glimpse into the intense organization required to pull off judging so many meads. If you competed in the Mazer Cup, your commercial products or home
made meads were carefully considered by the best mead experts anywhere. Several events occured alongside the judging, noteably the Mead Mixer and the Awards Ceremony. Held at a very nice event center, the Mead Mixer allowed the public as well as professional mead makers to mingle and try an array of meads that I doubt has ever been topped in quality or quantity. Food was also served to pair with the variety of meads presented. From chilis to chocolate, from Colorado to the Czech Republic, mead was flowing. The next evening was the Awards Ceremony. As judges and competitors were seated, unfinished bottles from the previous two days of competition were delivered to every table. Bottles were passed around, and mead makers were able to tell stories to new friends about how they made the mead they were drinking. Incredibly, all of the results had already been loaded into a presentation and projected as competition organizers called out names and handed out the medals for each category. The Mazer Cup 2013 was one of the best weekends we have ever had. We encourage anyone who makes or enjoys mead to get yourself to the next Mazer Cup, currently slated for March 21, 22, and 23 2014. We will see you there!
Previous page: AMMA leadership takes their first group photo, Ken Schramm, Mi and one of the nicest lables to appear on any bottle. Below: The Mead Mixer.
chel Faul, Vicky Rowe and Jeff Herbert, Jen Herbert at the Redstone table,
Previous page: Kookoolan and Superstition Meadery finally meet, Moonstruck pours at the Mead Mixer. Below: The Awards Ceremony.
Next Page: A visit to Redstoneâ€™s tasting room, and several shots from the Awar
k Meadery shares a special bottle for an AMMA toast, Hunterâ€™s Moon Meadery
Congratulations to all Mazer Cup 2013 Competitors!
The First Time By Ricky Klein, Head Meadmaker at Groennfell Meadery
“You know, I’ve never actually had mead before.” We hear this all the time. We hear it while we’re out at social functions, when we’re visiting family members, and even in our own tasting area. Oh... people have heard of it, or have some impression of it, or think they learned about it in Game of Thrones, or are pretty certain that it’s just a type of cider, but they’ve never actually consumed Mead. But here they are – mead virgins – and the only thing standing between them and their first taste of this heavenly nectar is… you. (At our facility this is a literal fact as we have taps behind the server; at your facility it may be more symbolic.) You are being told, essentially, that these thirsty guests are presenting you with a unique opportunity: You are in charge of somebody’s first impression of mead. This is a terrifying and awesome burden. What an opportunity! What a risk! What a chance to make a sale! Whatever they have or have not read on the subject, your average first-tim-
ers probably have very little idea about what they’re in for. A first drink of mead can be as much about the ambiance and the overall experience as the beverage itself. What we mean by ambiance is the way we present our product to our customer. Are we being thoughtful and intentional? Are we making mead relatable? Are we being genuinely informative? Are we making mead fun? We’d love to be able to make the first time perfect with rough-hewn oak tables, oil lamps, and a Viking manning the taps. Unfortunately our tasting area is just a couple chairs and an old café table. (We do, however, have the Viking bartender.) But, let’s face it: nobody’s first time is perfect. The first question is, of course: what mead do you pick? Do you go for the light and quaffable hydromel? Something big and bold like a winter warmer? Straight honey or something with fruit? Do you ask them what they normally drink, or do you just grab your personal favorite? The choice is entirely up to you, but we’ve always found it best to try to get a feel for the drinker’s predilections and preconceived notions about what mead is.
The second question is: what do you tell them about it? How much information should you burden them with? Some people hold that the mead should speak for itself; others maintain that without a vocabulary you can’t know what you’re consuming. Our meadmaker waxes poetic (perhaps even verbose) on many subjects, not the least of which is mead. (And, don’t forget, there’s a reason a lot of small wineries have tasting notes on a cheatsheet for the tyro: It increases sales and customer satisfaction.) If you have the stock, perhaps the best way to introduce the novice meadiac to this heavenly nectar is with five or six different varieties in rapid succession. This prevents the rookie error of believing that: “Mead = __________” In our opinion, trying just one mead is the leading cause of a dramatically skewed opinion of precisely what mead is.
son who has “tried mead once, and it was way too sweet” or, slightly less common, “it was way too alcoholic.” All of our meads are dry, but they have quite a range of characteristics, and we try always to tell our customers that mead can have a wide range of sweetness. To take this further, at Groennfell Meadery we feel that it is our sworn duty to introduce our guests to the idea of mead, rather than to any one particular mead we produce. We have no right to say that one style, technique, or variety is better than any other, even if it’s our style, technique, or variety. We do our fellow meadmakers, our customers, and ourselves a disservice if we function as anything but the gateway to the world of mead. So, be knowledgeable, be helpful, and be kind. But most importantly, go out there and get some converts for the cause! The world needs more Meadiacs.
While nothing is more exciting than the absolute neophyte, per- Opposite: Groennfell’s tasting room. haps nothing is worse than the per- Images by Kelly Klein