Welcome to my cellars! Here you will find a few tidbits about brewing and links to useful mead and cyber cider sites. Kenelme Digby's book is probably the most widely used source(in the SCA) for medieval mead recipes. However, I suggest that you examine some of the other references I have provided. The Medieval/Rennaissance Brewing Homepage has a large number of links to other medieval brewing pages, that come in handy.
One snowy January day (A.S. XXX), I took a gallon of sourwood honey that was purchased from a farmer's market so Lord Eadric and I could experiment with some techniques we had read about in Zymurgy magazine. On the way over, I stopped at the local grocer's and bought several lemons and oranges to flavor the brew. Now, if you have never driven in the snow in Falcon Cree, you will not be able to relate to how difficult it is to navigate over the ice-covered twisty roads that look alike. Luckily, I used a 7000 lb. vehicle that crushed ice, left interesting zig-zag patterns and essentially cleared the way for the next set of winter travellers.
As for the recipe, we used the basic mead recipe you can find in the Complete Joy of Homebrewing with our own modifications for flavorings. As the honey dissolved, we cut the lemons and oranges and juiced them for all they were worth, including a portion of the peels which got pulped during the juicing process. 2 cups of lemon and orange juice were added to the mixture. Our "tea" of irish moss and other goodies was steeped in the wort and we skimmed the scum as we went along.
Now came the radical part. Eadric had formed a copper tube into a set of coils to make a heat exchanger. Using the heat exchanger, we decanted the wort in to a 5 gallon carboy allowing the wort to pass through an unbleached coffee filter we inserted into a funnel. Within three hours we had made our wort, chilled it, and decanted it into the carboy!
The next morning I added chamagne yeast the the wort, snapped in the airlock, and left it alone for a while. I would check on it once a month to see how it was progressing, and after three months, it had cleared up a bit. At six months, I could read the newspaper through it, and the yeastie beasties appeared to have gone dormant. I decanted my brew to another carboy, leaving about an inch of sludge. Almost all the sugar had been converted! I had about 13% alcohol content! It also tasted like Lemon Joy and could etch metal....
3 more months, and I was forced by circumstance to bottle it. I was not happy about it, but it had to be done. Two months later, I decided to attempt phase two of our experiment with mead. I took out four bottles of my Sahara-dry mead. Following the Complete Guide to Homebrewing's advice, I mixed up a batch of sugar water, and as my own special touch a cup of VERY strong strawberry herb tea. decanted 4 bottles of the Sahara-dry mead into this strawberry syrup, mixed (stirred, not shaken), redecanted back into 5 clean bottles and corked them up. One month later I had some of the best tasting mead I have ever experienced. Several people whose opinions I respect (and are fellow brewers) agreed that I had gotten it "right".
I recently entered a bottle of the unflavored mead that has not been touched in 6 years into a competition. It is still a little dry, but it has aged well! I still have a couple of bottles of the Sahara-dry to experiment with....
Pages from the Closet of Sir Kenelme Digby Kt. Opened Medieval/Rennaisance Brewing Homepage Cindy Renfrow (A Sip Through Time, Take a Thousand Eggs) The Mead Maker's Page Knaves of Grain
These Web pages are not Official SCA Web pages, and do not delinate
SCA policy or by-laws regardless that I am a card-carrying member
and officer of this Corporation....
Background courtesy of MagickLass
Any society that requires disclaimers has too many lawyers....