Hey, Harper Meader here, pinch-hitting for Jim. I have been brewing mead for about 25 years, and have never actually repeated a recipe. As people who have taken my occasional class know, my method is the “Stir With Your Arm and Measure by the Handful” method. I like to spice mead intuitively, use a lot of fuits and berries, straighten it out in the end with fingers crossed and a hydrometer for a general clue.
Until now. A little background, though. I experimented with a few braggots (mead with malt as well as honey) over the last five years or so, and generally liked the results, even though the “Black Fairy” stoutish batch was only appreciated by a few friends. To my dismay this past winter, I found that a five-year-old bottle of it had spoiled terribly. It tasted like mildew. My theory is that the malt doesn’t keep well, which makes sense since beer generally is better in the first few months than later.
I took this badly, but then thought, “Hey, all this means is the we have to drink braggots faster; that’s not ALL bad!”
With this in mind, I tried a new batch, aiming for flavor in the neighborhood of good Belgian lambic, a fantastic raspberry beer that, if you haven’t tried it, you should. The resulting braggot is just beautiful, lush, complex, a little tangy, and it has been a pleasure sharing it at every occasion. The recipe follows, and I have decided to actually repeat it, a personal first.
Harper’s Raspberry Braggot:
+/- 18 pounds Honey
3 lb. can of raspberry puree (didn’t note the brand)
a half can (1.6 lbs.) Unhopped extra light malt extract
juice of 14 clementines (1 3/4 cups of juice)
4 black teabags
fresh-ground nutmeg, maybe 1/2 tsp?
two packets Redstar Pasteur Red yeast
Warm up the honey enough to completely dissolve, with twice the volume of water, stirring, then turn off the heat.
Add puree, extract, juice, nutmeg, and stir.
steep the tea ten minutes in 4 cups of the must, microwaved to near boiling, then add. With hydrometer, adjust by adding water if needed to have a starting potential alcohol of 17%.
Cool a cup or two of the must in a bowl until it’s below 95 degrees, then pour the yeast on top and let sit to proof. (This makes sure it’s good yeast, and helps it start better)
When must is below 95 degrees, pour into brewing container, stir vigorously with a slotted spoon for a minute or two, and add the proofed yeast.
Cover and add airlock.