Harper Meader Podcast Interview

This week on the Sweet Peas Podcast, we were very happy to interview Harper Meader, who in addition to being a contributor to this site and my meadmaking mentor, is a fabulous storyteller and interviewee.

He was kind enough to bring a 1996 pumpkin mead — fermented inside of a pumpkin — that we shared on the air. If you’ve never had a 15 year old mead, well, words fail.

This is one of my favorite interviews we’ve done for the podcast…. check it out (get the mp3 here, or the rss subscription file here). In this episode, we refer to a posting on this site by Harper, called So You Brewed Some Mead…. You can find it there.

Mountain Rose Herbs

I always prefer to harvest herbs wild from my ecosystem. However, this is not always possible, and sometimes I want to experiment with herbs that don’t grow in Maine. When this is the case, I regularly get such herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I’m always impressed with the freshness and the quality of their plants; many of the herbal brews on this site were prepared with herbs from Mountain Rose.

In addition, their website is a fantastic reference for herbalists in general, with plenty of info about various herbs, their properties, how to prepare them, their cultural lore, and more. This is often the first place I turn to look something up.

They do things the right way, and I’m proud to be their affiliate. Please support this site by ordering your herbs through the link below.

'Tall' so fresh that smiles are guaranteed

Fermentation Internships

I just heard today from Eli Cayer at the Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland, Maine. Great news for those who might want some hands-on experience in a commercial, community-oriented fermentation operation: he is looking for interns to help with production. Right now he is doing mostly ciders, but there are plans for other ferments and cultures in the future.

If you are local to Portland, and interested in spending some time learning in a commercial fermentory, contact Eli.


Bottling night is probably the most work out of the entire meadmaking process. However, I find it essential for longterm storage of mead, as well as closely-related to the overall vibe. Pulling out a well-labeled bottle and a corkscrew is definitely part of the fully-immersed mead experience.

I’ve noticed that I’ve tended to post a review mostly of the finished bottles, and not so much of the process. Here, I’ll try to document a bit of it.

The most labor by far is cleaning and de-labeling the bottles, especially if you are using recycled wine bottles as I often do. For this you need lots of hot, soapy water, a bottle brush, and a razor blade to scrape old labels off. Here’s the result of my work, with a couple dozen clean bottles, a pile of scraped labels, and the bottle brush and razor blade visible:

Once the bottles are clean, you want to siphon the mead from the jug (in my case, 1 gallon recycled wine jugs). You can see that I use a small stepladder to elevate the jug, so that the bottles are lower:

I also use the same cap to start the siphon as I do for the carboys, though because the lip of the jugs is too small, I have to hold it airtight around there while I blow into it to begin the siphoning process.

Once the bottles are full, you want to cork them. I always steam my corks, both to sanitize them and to soften them:

You can also see a dozen or two shrink caps ready to use also. Once the corks are soft, simply use a corker to apply them to the bottles. Then, put the shrink cap over the top of the bottle with the cork, use a spoon to temporarily hold it in place, and submerge the cap into the boiling water (under the steaming corks above). The heat from the boiling water will cause the shrink caps to shrink tight around the bottle within a few seconds.

Once done, clean the outside of the bottle, dry it, and apply your label!