Mead-Making from the Ground Up I first experienced mead while reading a friend’s novel, and was struck by its special vocabulary. Words and phrases like “carboy,” “wine-thief,” “pitching the yeast” … sheer poetry. Once I sampled a glass of my friend’s home-brewed mead, I was hooked. Mead-making is an ancient art, practiced in cultures all over the world. It is a simple fermented beverage made from honey, yeast and water. Time and nature do the rest, fermenting the sugars to create a heady, sweet brew. Yet this is only the beginning, as I soon learned. Many mead-makers add fruits, spices, flowers—even ingredients like chilies and chocolate—to make each batch unique. When I became friends with a group of local mead-makers, I soon realized that sipping an occasional tasty glass wasn’t enough. I wanted to begin to learn the process from the ground up and create my own brew. Luckily, they welcomed a rank novice into their circle, and I’ve been working as an apprentice to learn the craft. In choosing ingredients to enhance the basic, or “show” mead, make sure the flavors complement one another and use the highest quality ingredients available. For a tasty, spicy fall mead, try adding apples and pears with a cinnamon stick; cranberries and ginger; or orange and clove. Mead-making has experienced a recent surge in popularity as enterprising home brewers branch out into new arenas. Access to Internet suppliers has helped promote this art form in areas where brewing equipment isn’t readily available. This has resulted in a wealth of new recipes and ideas—and, of course, many new bottles to uncork. Bottoms up!
Make Your Own Mead! You can find many Internet resources on mead with great recipes and brewing supplies. Here are some of my favorite resources. Cheers!
• Storm the Castle. A user-friendly site for beginners. www.stormthecastle.com
• Got Mead? A website that covers the basics. www.gotmead.com
• Old West Brew. This company specializes in mead-making supplies and equipment. www.oldwestbrew.com
• The Pagan Arts. Check out the mead-making page for techniques, recipes, and more by Durango mead-maker Alane Brown. www.thepaganarts.com
• Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. Check out the mead and wine supplies page for all your home-brewing needs. www.brushymountainbeefarm.com
6 edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS WINTER 2010
Telling the story of local food throughout Southwest Colorado and The Four Corners.