Our Mead-ieval Quest got off to a great start when I rolled up my sleeves and started to make something I can only hope will do justice to the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. I mentioned before that I wanted to get right to the heart of mead, and what better way to do that than to explore how it’s made? So a few weeks ago we embarked on a new adventure, and started brewing our own.
Having never brewed anything more than a half decent cup of tea before, this was completely new territory. Nowadays you have to sterilise everything before you start, so after passing the demijohn, the funnel and all the squiggly bits of equipment through the special booze-makers’ formula, I put a litre of water into a saucepan and when it was just warm enough, I emptied a huge pot of honey into it. Once the honey had dissolved we carefully poured this, together with some more water into the fermenter through the funnel, leaving a gap of a few inches at the top so the fermenting process could get going. The recipe we’re following is for Orange Mead, so I added a whole orange cut into segments, pips and all, along with a handful of raisins before shaking the living daylights out of it to aerate the ‘must’, as it’s now called.
Finally it was time to add the all-important yeast. Full of anticipation, I emptied the sachet into the neck of the demijohn. It was then that my lovely mead mixture went all cloudy and I thought I must have done something wrong. Luckily, it seems that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do, so I stopped panicking and consulted the notes as to what to do next. The answer was to give it some space.
So the demijohn took up residence in a cosy corner of our kitchen pantry to do its thing. There then followed what seemed like a little miracle. Within a couple of hours, the mixture had started fizzing and bubbling. It became quite lively. The next day it seemed positively animated, and I began to feel as though we were playing host to an important house guest. I kept checking on it to see if it was alright. I started worrying about it. Was it comfortable? Warm enough? Perhaps it was bored. So I gave it something to read – a castle book, so it could learn all about where it came from. It seemed to be content, because the fizzing and bubbling continued for a couple of weeks. It was around this time that I decided our effervescent house guest needed a name.
This isn’t unusual, of course. Many alcoholic beverages have names, such as Old Peculiar Beer or Kraken Rum, so we set our minds to a fitting title. Several suggestions later, I hit upon the one that won the day. It occurred as I was wiping up a small amount of tacky honey that had escaped a jar onto the shelf. As I bemoaned the fact that the castle book had stuck to it, an image popped into my head of my daughter’s favourite childhood toy. So I named it after Maddie’s adored little furry owl. It is, therefore, with a sense of optimistic joy that I name this mead:
Or to give it it’s full title: Templeton’s Sticky Rogers Medieval Mead
Recently, though, it seems that Sticky Rogers has gone to sleep. This time I worried that he might have died, but after consulting my mead guru at 24/7 Homebrew, I learned that he has, in fact, moved on to the second stage of fermentation. The mad fizzing part is over, and things are progressing as they should. Good news indeed.
So now it’s a case of ‘Do not disturb’. And we wait. In the meantime, I’m learning all about this amazing drink, and lining up a few nice bottles to try out…