Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bloody silly idea's ?

I'm not really a traditionalist, though I do make mainly "traditional" meads.

For anyone not knowing, "Traditional" meads are just ones made like wines, but with the use of nutrient etc, that honey lacks, when compared to grape juice i.e. honey, water, yeast, nutrient/energiser and any required winemaking chems.

I'm quite happy to admit that there is some historical evidence for variations, when batches/mixes/recipes have used other ingredients, but given what would have been available (and affordable) in times past, the range of other possible ingredients is going to be limited.

For instance, apple juice (it's fucking juice whether it's cloudy or clear America!) might have been used, but the sort of shit that might be in a "liquid apple pie" only exist in the mind of a modern day idiot!

There is no historical version of chocolate raspberry capsimel, with added mint! That's a fucking "weirdomel". Just like a lot of the recipes that might be found at the various mead making websites (no I won't name any, as this is my personal opinion).

Sure, some of the historical recipes did have limited spices, but limited mainly, by what was available at the time - equally, what was affordable at the time. Likewise, ingredients like the honey and water, may indeed, have been boiled. Though that's likely to be mainly connected with them not knowing any better at the time and needing to sterilise the water, rather than the honey. They may have used herbs of various types, because they were available, but most spices would have been far too expensive, if they were actually available.

Now, this morning, I'm reading about "stove top pasteurisation". I suspect that this is some fools idea of being green/organic/stupid, about how to be able to make a batch to a specific level of alcohol, yet kill off any remaining yeast cells, so that they can back sweeten it. Given that alcohol boils at temperatures lower than water, it seems that it's thought that it should be OK to do this.

I'd like to point out, that the volatile nature of flavour and aroma elements of any product are often affected by heat, and that with modern methods, part of the point is to include as many different flavours and scents as possible. So why in gods name, would any fucking idiot want to heat a batch to try and kill off the yeast ? And still have something that's remotely drinkable ???

A little research would have shown that it's probably, either better to make a batch and use the "step feeding" method, whereby, a base batch is made and then small additional amounts of honey are added, along with careful monitoring of the gravity of such a batch, to build up the alcoholic content to exceed the maximum tolerance of the yeast used, too end up with some residual sugars that can't be fermented by that yeast and just supply flavour/sweetness. The drawback of this, is that higher levels of alcohol in a batch, can need ageing for much longer before the batch is drinkable.

And possible alternative, is to make a batch, then use methods/techniques to get it as clear as possible, and then the batch is filtered with as fine a filter as possible. I'd guess something like a so called "sterile" filter, which I believe is the term applied to filter gauges less that about 0.45 micron diameter. Then it might be possible to back sweeten the batch, because in theory, such fine filtration is capable of removing particles down to the size of bacteria. The downside is that they will also remove some colour pigment, as well as larger sized aroma and flavouring particles...

At the end of the day, it's your brew, so it's up to you what you do with it and the processes that it's exposed too. If you post about something which is patently a fucking stupid idea, then don't be surprised if you take shit over it.......


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Guilty as charged.......

Why is it that a lot of newer mead makers, think that if they do this, that or the other, they're gonna discover some magic bullet of the mead making world ?

Or why is it that so many of us, can't be bothered to search for help/clues/answers etc, when there's so much guidance of this type out there ?

Now I never thought I'd find a magic bullet, but I certainly didn't look for enough info. Possibly because when I started out, I'd only hear rumour and stories/mythology of meads, and when I bought a copy of CJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ's "First Steps" book, it was one of his recipes/ideas that caught my eye, which wasn't such a good idea. Likewise, I got my supplies from the supermarket and the local HBS, which also wasn't the best of approaches.

Yes, it did make a mead, but certainly only a mediocre, medium dry mead. But nothing special.

A bit of searching would have led me to at least understand why my materials were crap. Ok, not crap, just not as good quality as I thought.

People seem to think that the higher the alcohol levels, the better the mead will be. That's not to say that there isn't any room for higher alcohol meads, just that they are of a certain type and that can, in turn, cause issues of how they're made, how long they take to make and how long they take to be drinkable etc.

Either that, or they get some strange idea about what ingredients they want to use and then think up some idiotic name "somethingomel" ? Given the minimum amount of info that's available to us about how our historic predecessors actually made their meads, with more info on ingredients and less about how they were used, it stands to reason that the majority of "weirdomels" weren't made for specific reasons. So maybe they should stick to the tried and tested recipes to start with, before increasing their knowledge and skills, and only then try ingredients that don't lend themselves to mead making naturally.....

Ergo, do a search, find a recipe/method etc, read up as much as you can about it, then copy it to make a bench mark version, then search and learn more.

Don't think that because meads are made from honey, that the result is gonna be the same as you might expect from unfermented ingredients, cos it fucking won't. Hell, even just using honey to flavour neutral spirit, is gonna taste different from a properly fermented mead or whatever type......

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I still enjoy making meads but.......

When I look at some of the resources out there, I get a bit pissed off.

There are few standards when it comes to meads. The only "official" ones I can think of, are the ones published by the Polish Government, issued to cover the ones that are made there to a specific type and relate to the ratio of honey and water used. A lot of the Polish ones, would appear to be quite sweet. I don't know for certain....

What I find myself getting impatient with, are people who either try to use very unusual ingredients and/or try making some for the wrong reasons.

Now it's fact that while there's very ancient documentation out there, that mentions meads being drunk at certain places/times and for various reasons, there's not actually very much detail on how they were made. The relatively few recipes/ingredient lists available don't really help. So I for one, am quite greatful to the scientific side of modern wine making in helping to provide both materials and method to be able to get a honey must fermented.

That doesn't mean that I agree with the use of some of the more modern ingredients. For example, coffee. The fucking Saxons and Vikings didn't have coffee, plus those who think it might be a good ingredient are obviously idiots, because I suspect they're thinking of something that has coffee, which has been sweetened with honey, but also has some alcohol in it. Almost something like a "Mia Maria" type liqueur. Yet they forget, that sort of drink is probably "manufactured", rather than fermented like that.

The same applies to many other ingredients.

If you take for example, the locations where the honey wine type drink, known commonly as mead comes from, central and northern Europe, including Scandinavia, then that actually limits the ingredients to honey, some fruit and a few herbs (not spices). Yet when you have a dig round the online resources, so many people, wrongly, think of meads as being spiced. Lets face it, even mulled wines that use spices of any kind, aren't more than 200 to 300 years old. We didn't have the spices then, well certainly not in any quantity that made them affordable enough to use in brewing and wine making.

Also, it doesn't help when you get some of the good people of the US, who like to learn/know about the cultures of some of their long gone "family roots", only to mix them up with the fantasy that emanates from fucking Hollywood. Those wankers are responsible for some of the biggest historical travesties out there. The most glaring of bollocks like this is the "viking helmet with horns". It might have been something from either Hollywood or possibly some victorian era romantic novel shit, or by that other "arch-bullshitter in chief" Sir Walter Scott.

It's fucking idiots like these who're responsible for all sorts of bollocks (tartan, a.k.a. plaid, isn't that historical, it was mainly an invention of regency and victorian weavers and made popular by those period British monarchs).

Anyway, yes, so the use of most ingredients in "modern" meads is either just wrong/incorrect/historically inaccurate or the result of something being needed to act in a certain way, to be able to make the honey must ferment.

If that pisses off half of America, then so be it. Weirdomels are just that, weird. Large slices of European history are completely fabricated, by people who have something to sell, something that sells better if it's got some historical connection and a large array of "mug punters" with too much money to sell "it" too....

Ok, yes. I'll get off my soap box.