Sibling Meadery

I can’t quite believe how long it’s been since I last wrote. I must admit that this post has been in my drafts folder for quite some time now, as evidenced by how long my mead has been fermenting since then! I have had many moments where I had a sudden inclination to sit down and write, yet somehow the thoughts haven’t been funnelled onto the page as easily as I feel they arise (or as easily as mead is funnelled into jars ;-).

Though I’ve certainly had time for relaxing, I’ve not fallen to ‘decrepitness’, as my dad amusingly put it. Early rising, cycling the hectic roads of London, reading, cottaging, various little undertakings, and lots of fermenting projects and cooking with the family have kept me on my toes. Instead of trying to delve into all those endeavours, let me ramble on about one in particular -making mead.

There is something that strikes me as very communal about fermenting foods and drink. The communities of bacteria, cultures, yeasts…yes, that is certainly the beginning. But the sharing and love involved in fermenting is likely why I feel that it is such a communal undertaking; you’re working with communities of bacteria so that you may feed your own community and share with those around you the fruits of your fermenting ventures. As Sandor Ellix Katz aptly says in A Cultural Revivalist Manifesto, food is a “complex web of relationships” and “fermentation is one way in which we may consciously cultivate this web. This is a daily practice of cultural revival.” Maybe that’s partly why I have resisted paying for milk kefir grains since I’ve returned, since sharing grains and SCOBYs seems so much closer to the ethos of fermentation, and if you merely buy the starters then there is no expansion or connections made. But I digress, that may be a tangent for another post.

My brother and I began our mead making adventures when we discovered a big jug of dark honey that had been kicking around in the basement. Though we weren’t sure the quality was good enough for daily use, we figured it would be perfect for our initial attempt at making mead. We had two little carboys, so instead of making one batch and splitting it, we decided to do a more traditional wild ferment in one and then add a more commercial yeast to the other. Walker put cinnamon and a bit of chai tea in the yeasted mead, and I put a couple cups of rose petal tea into the wild fermented mead. My dad later started his own mead with raspberries, so we will hopefully have quite the tasting at some point. I’m delighted to report that they all got to bubbling, and the yeasted mead has now been bottled. I’m leaving the wild fermented mead to bubble a little longer before I rack it (move it into another vessel) to see whether it will then start to bubble again after stirring up the yeasts. I’m looking forward to giving it a bit of a taste when I rack it, but until then I’m contented listening to it bubble, a sound a fondly remember from my childhood and my dad’s yearly beer-making.

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3 thoughts on “Sibling Meadery”

    1. We tried the one we bottled. Couldn’t help but do so! Katz recommends trying some “green”, and I heartily agree. He even mentions that this is how most people throughout history have enjoyed their meads and other alcohols. For aged meads there was mention of beeswax cappings which I think would be SO cool….maybe I’ll have to get Waldorf in on this after a Mayfair candle dipping event.

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