Friday, June 26, 2009

Information and thieving bastards......

I'm always on the look out for better/extra info on winemaking, specifically on making meads. It's both a minefield and a complete pain in the arse!

There seems to be little, current/U.T.D. stuff available. Yes there's the excellent "Compleat Meadmaker" book by the knowledgeable Mr Ken Schramm, but while his book is excellent, it's aimed at the US market and lots of his recommendations are not suitable/appropriate/available for those of us outside continental North America.

In the last couple of days, I've managed to get 2 "new" (to me that is) books. The first one is "Bee-Keeping at Buckfast Abbey" by Brother Adam. I'm not sure if he's still with us, of whether he's already "shuffled off this mortal coil" (if he is still alive he'll be a very elderly chap). Either way, he's still held in great esteem in the world of Bee-Keeping, and his book (my copy is dated 1974 - though I believe it was republished up to the mid 80's - oh and it's credits don't quote an ISBN, so whether it's still available via the Abbey, I don't know - my copy came via ebay).

The second book is "Mad about Mead" by Pamela Spence (my copy is dated 1997 - ISBN 1-56718-683-1). I haven't really read much of it yet, as it only arrived this morning (again, courtesy of an ebay seller).

The Brother Adam book is primarily about Bee-Keeping, as you'd guess from the title, though there's a final chapter in it about mead making. Which is sort of helpful, yet not. He describes some quite old techniques/methodology, and some of the suggested equipment isn't the most "user friendly" - oak barrels ? obviously he had no appreciation of just how hard it can be to obtain oak barrels of any size that are in good enough condition to use for this, and certainly not the cost............

Plus, having read through it, it seems that he shows a distinct preference for honey type, which is fine, but also only uses "maury" yeast. The honey types he suggests could be obtained without too much difficulty or expense but so far, I'm having a crap time trying to locate either maury yeast or some sort of equivalent....

Hey ho, I'll just keep trying.

As for the "thieving bastards" bit of the title, so many of the recipes and methodology that abound the net for mead making, eminate from the US. Which means that some times, we have to get the materials shipped over (not ideal). The actual prices of the materials is almost always excellent and what I'd call "very competitive". What's a complete fucker is what is charged for shipping. I was looking for 2 items (Di-ammonium phosphate and "yeast hulls"). They came to a grand total of about $6.50, but the shipping charges were from $75 to $82. Now I wouldn't mind that if I was shipping something that weighed about 5 or 6 kg, but the weight for the 2 items was a little over 1lb, plus the weight of the actual packaging. So where those thieving fuckers at UPS come up with $75 to $82 I don't know, other than just conjuring them out of thin air. Plus the actual sellers at Morewine!, surely if they want to sell their excellent catalogue of products further afield than just the US, should try to use a cheaper shipping method (how about USPS, they're much cheaper than fucking UPS!).

I begrudge paying shipping fee's but will only consider it if it's commensurate with the size/weight of the article concerned. For instance, I've just tried the morewine website again, and selected 5 packets of yeast - total weight 25 grammes - they'd fit in a fucking envelope and probably could be shipped for the cost of a stamp! but their "shipping quotation" is

UPS Worldwide Express 69.77
UPS Worldwide Expedited 62.94
UPS Express Saver 66.55

that's in $US. What complete fucking smackhead would ever think of sending something like that ? why default to premium shipping services like that ?

It just looks like that I won't be using morewine!, as there site might seem to have an excellent and extensive range of products, but for all intents and purposed, it's a complete waste of space!

Ah well, I suppose I'd only find up to date mead making info and cheap shipping prices in an ideal world!


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