A few weeks ago, Mr B made mead. Now, I am suspicious of mead. My only experience of it is a riotous new year some years ago at Belle’s. Having run out of booze in the early hours, we raided the prop supplies of Mr B’s younger brother, who at that time liked to spend his weekends re-enacting medieval battles. We found mead. We drank mead. It was not a pleasant experience. Thus the re-enactors lost their props, and we gained terrible ‘govas.
Anyway, I am assured that *this* mead will taste nothing like the hideous, gloopy concoction we drank that new year. This mead will be light and sparkling and refreshing. It will resemble nothing less than champagne. It will be a beverage revelation. I remain to be convinced. But it does, it has to be said, look rather lovely in the bottles into which we put it yesterday:
It contains elderflowers, lemongrass, and raspberries, hence the pleasing pink colour.
One of the reasons Mr B is so enthusiastic about this mead is because of Charlie Papazian, by whom it was inspired. For those of you who do not know, Papazian is some kind of home-brewing god, and his brewing bible, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (yes, I know) contains a long, and very animated, section on home-made mead. The mead about which Papazian is most rapturous is made with prickly pears (none of those here, unfortunately), and he has a novel method of bottle-aging. He buries it near the summit of one of his favourite mountains and, at carefully chosen intervals, ascends the mountain to uncover, and sample his creation. I quote:
“In October 1992, two friends and I had the privilege of enjoying a bottle of prickly pear mead that had been aged on a mountaintop. Among the clouds swirling around us, threatening rain and snow, we opened one well-aged bottle, and cautiously sipped. There never has been nectar tasting as close to godliness as that mead. Without any exaggeration, I must confide that we all agreed that this mead, on this day, on Mead Mountain, was unanimously ‘the best drink we ever had.'”
(Complete Joy of Homebrewing, 3rd ed., p.341)
Can you guess what happens next?
Yesterday we went up our own mead mountain, and buried the mead. This was a precise and careful operation. There was much discussion about the most appropriate location. Having settled on this, we ascended mead mountain at dusk with trowel and bottle. A hole was dug close to the summit, and the mead placed ceremoniously inside.
And we made extra sure we would be able to find the mead’s location again, by placing a virtual flag on the spot with Mr B’s GPS device.
The mead will wait for us until Winter on mead mountain.
On Christmas morning, we intend to ascend mead mountain, to sample the mead. I am full of expectation already. Has anyone else done anything similar with their home brew? If so, I’d be really interested to know.
There are others that has been inspired by the same text by Papazian:
Thought I doubt that this meathod of aging is better than a good wine cellar. The idea of it is far more romantic and might just make the mead taste better
So I’ve been stalking this blog for a long while, and I know you wrote this post FOREVER ago but it so intrigued me that I had to get a copy of the book so I could try this recipe myself. Also, I wanted to offer you some prickly pears which grow abundantly where I live. You may have to wait until Summer for me to send them, but shoot me an email and I’ll get you some if you’re interested. If not, I expect I’ll just come back here & let you know how mine turns out next Summer!
such an amazing photo story. Love it! Wassail!
What an amazing mixture of the past and the future! Mead, the drink of the ancients, hidden away within a geocache – the technology of the future!
Excellent – if i know which mountain you climbed then there was once little coffins found with little figures in them – and never a satisfactory explanation – it went down in history – i hope you enjoy your mead.
It made me laugh anyway. I want a ‘device’.
The GPS is truly a genius touch! How exciting.
And the next time Mr. B gives you any crap about any of your wacky knitting behaviour, well, I think you’ve got a little something in your arsenal now:)
Great use for a GPS. We do a bit of geocaching with our children – easieer to get them to walk up a hill if there is the promise of buried ‘treasure’ up the top. Now mead would be a much better find than the usual plastic gifts from a cereal box that fill the majority of caches.
That is so amazing. I loved this post! I’m a sucker for ceremony.
The closest thing I can think of is our old, Italian neighbor. He used to dig giant pits in our backyard, fill it with peaches, and cover them with, I believe, sugar.
A few months later, we had some amazing peach brandy.
That’s such a good idea! I haven’t branched out into homebrew yet, but if I do I’ll bear this one in mind…I hope your mead tastes as delicious as it sounds.