Mead Workshop in Auburn, ME

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be offering a Lore And Craft Of Mead Workshop in Auburn, ME on Tuesday, July 26th at 6pm. The workshop will include a small mead tasting of a few brews I’ve done, a talk about the lore and value of mead, and a demonstration of how to make your first batch of mead. Registration for the class is $30, and includes a copy of The Lore And Craft Of Mead eBook.

If there are any questions, or specific requests for what the class should cover, please contact us! I’m very much looking forward to sharing the magic of mead with Lewiston/Auburn people! Space is limited, so register now!

What’s so special about mead?

What’s so special about mead? This question has been on my mind a lot recently. It’s a valid question. I’ve been head-over-heels in love with mead for a while now, and such devotion tends to create blind spots in one’s understanding. I find it useful to periodically identify and examine some of these blind spots.

There are many things about mead that differentiate it from any other drink — alcoholic or not — that I’ve experienced. This article will talk about some of these differences.

Mead Is a Natural Beverage

First off, unlike any other sort of alcoholic drink, mead is a natural beverage, meaning it can happen without human intervention in nature. If rainwater fills an abandoned beehive and the mixture is charged with wild yeast in the air, fermentation will occur producing ethanol (the edible form of alcohol) and mead will be the result. This is not true for beer, which requires mashing, malting, and sparging grains (usually barley) to extract their sugars for fermentation, or for spirits, which require a complex distillation process that we’ve only been doing for a few hundred years. Wine is a bit closer to being a natural beverage, but the grapes must be crushed and liquefied somehow for fermentation to happen.

Furthermore, as far back as we can see into history, we find mead in all parts of the planet. Mead is perhaps most associated with northern European cultures, but it is also part of culture in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and among the aboriginal Australians.

Inspiration and Poetry

Mead is old enough to be encoded in the mythologies of most of the cultures it exists within. For instance, in Norse mythology, it is called the “mead of inspiration” and is renowned for its ability to loosen the poet’s tongue, resulting in the ability of the poet to see connections that would otherwise remain hidden. Absent are the archetypes of ethanol consumption prevalent in our culture: the frat party where pledges take turns vomiting in the bushes, the exuberant but not-so-coherent heckler at a sporting event, or the wino slumped against a loading dock, swilling his addiction from inside a brown paper bag, his life destroyed.

Mead is alcohol. You can get drunk from it, and it is most definitely intoxicating when consumed in quantity. But the effects of mead seem different to me, both in my personal experience and in my observations of people indulging in it. We all know the stereotype associated with ethanol consumption in our culture: someone drinks too much. their speech is slurred, and some of their most intense personality traits are further intensified. Some may become violent.

Yet mead somehow seems to raise the vibration of the gathering, lifting the spirits of those sharing it. Ancient texts refer to mead as “bringing wisdom” or allowing people to begin to “thrive,” bringing inspiration and facility with poetry (see, for instance, The Poetic Edda from Norse culture).

I was speaking with Eli Cayer from Urban Farm Fermentory about this phenomenon last week on our way to the MeadFest 2011. He told me a story of his first experience with mead, where it raised the vibration of the party, everyone had a good time, and there was no trouble. This theme is all-too-familiar with mead gatherings I have attended.

What is it about mead that is related to the energy of the people drinking it? I think there are several reasons for this profound relationship between mead and consciousness. The most obvious is honey. Honey is a profound food, probably the most magical naturally-occurring sweetener on Earth. At the risk of quasi-new-age mumbo jumbo, honey seems to be at a higher vibration than other available sugars. I notice a huge difference between mead and beers, for instance; much of this difference I attribute to the superiority of honey over extracting sugars from grains, a practice that is rooted in monocrop agriculture and therefore a relatively recent (and problematic) addition to the human experience.

Mead is a very wide spectrum of different drinks

Compared to (for instance) beer, mead has an extremely wide range of types and flavors. While beers such as a light wheat ale or a deep brown stout will not taste the same, they are at least in the same ballpark, they are both beer, with the malty flavor of barley and the bitterness of hops to some degree. Yet, even a plain, traditional mead made from only honey, water, and yeast can vary considerably in alcohol content (0-20% or so) and on the sweet/dry spectrum. But mead really starts to get interesting when one considers the huge spectrum of additives that can be used to flavor the mead. Adding favorite fruits or berries produces a melomel (fruit mead); adding spices produces a metheglin (spiced mead); mead made with apple cider rather than water is called cyser; mead made with grape juice is called pyment; then there are the nontraditional meads and herbalism, both of which can produce a unique beverage. All of these means will be profoundly influenced by the qualities of the ingredients used.

For instance, honey is the lifeblood of an ecosystem. Its characteristics will reflect the flowers and plants whose nectar is collected by the bees that made the honey. My favorite honey produced by my local apiary is raspberry honey, where the bees take nectar from raspberry plants within range of the hives. This honey is delicious, with the unmistakable tang of raspberries tucked inside the sweetness of the honey.

Even the qualities of the water used in the honey will affect the final product. For me, my brews always begin with some of the best water available on Earth — spring water that I harvest myself from a mountaintop spring in glass containers. Even if you don’t go to such extremes, using the best water available will contribute to the mead being the best it can be.

If mead is so special, why did it fall out of favor 500 years ago?

This is a very interesting question, I found out. It’s hard to give a simple answer. In the thinking and researching I’ve done, I’ve discovered it’s important to take that period of history into context. This was a time of tremendous change in Europe. Every aspect of culture was in transition:

  • This was the time of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution;
  • The New World was under frantic colonialism and exploration;
  • Capitalism was taking root economically, transitioning away from feudalism;
  • Smoke from the witch hunts was ubiquitous (which are one of the first globalized examples of mass genocide: most of Europe was at war with one another, but virtually all these countries were in agreement that burning witches was an appropriate strategy). This practice severely reduced the number of wise-women healers and shamans, who traditionally were responsible for the health of the tribe;
  • Land enclosure and large-scale monocrop agriculture were widely practiced for the first time.

A good example of how these shifts manifested in Europe the is the Reinheitsgebot (or Purity Act), passed in 1516 in Germany:

in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.

This law had profound effects on humanity’s relationship with ethanol. Prior to this law, throughout Europe there were Gruit Guilds, that is, herbal supply guilds, whose recipes and herbal mixtures had been perfected over centuries and handed down countless generations. It used to be, one went to the “pub” to get an ale for what ails you; there would be a variety of brews available, depending on the herbal effects desired.

The Purity Act wiped these guilds out, by specifying that the only acceptable herb to brew with was hops. What do we know about hops? As an herb it is highly estrogenic, which contributes to the stereotype of men who consume too much beer, with their increasingly goddess-shaped figures. Hops are a sedative, and they reduce the sex drive. By mandating that all legal brews must contain hops, the Ingolstadt magistrates ensured a more docile (and less healthy) populace, and by mandating confiscation of traditional herbal brews, they ensured that the healthiest drinks would be available (legally) only to them.

Another reason contributing to mead’s fall-from-grace is the relative scarcity of honey, especially compared to the unprecedented yield of monocropped grains taking root in the economic culture at the birth of capitalism, along with the fundamental feature of capitalism called “enclosure.” Land Enclosure allowed parcels of land to be enclosed from the common, razed to the soil, and only one plant allowed to grow. The patchwork quilt-like appearance of the English countryside, for instance, is a visual testament to centuries of land enclosure.

Finally, this period saw mass distillation of alcohol available to people for the first time in history. There is a “ceiling” to the amount of alcohol that fermentation alone can produce — when the alcohol content of a fermenting beverage reaches 15 or 20%, it creates a toxic environment in which the alcohol-producing yeast can no longer survive. Apart from being a fascinating metaphor (can you think of another organism that gradually toxifies its ecosystem until it can no longer sustain life?), it meant that the strongest alcoholic drinks were no more than about 20% alcohol at the most.

By the 1500s and 1600s, the alchemists’ secret of distillation was commodified and unleashed onto the public. By evaporating and then re-condensing the alcohol, spirits were created which could be up to about 95% alcohol — common spirits we know today such as whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila, and all the others. It is also interesting to note that the phenomenon of widespread alcoholism was relatively unknown until this period in history.

All of these factors contributed to mead losing popularity, remaining a rustic novelty drink with a few diehard enthusiasts keeping the tradition alive in a culture besotted with beers, wines, and spirits. Here were are now in the 21st century, with corporate-produced beers dominating the ethanol consumption across the globe.

Mead is making a comeback

As I write this in 2011, mead is making a comeback and is increasing dramatically in popularity. Micromeaderies are opening in every town, mirroring the Microbrew phenomenon of 20 years ago, when brewpubs seemed to pop up on every corner of the urban landscape.

But the real story is with homebrewers. More and more people are making mead, experimenting and discovering an entirely new way to be in relationship with one’s ecosystem. The qualities of ingredients and techniques used are both phenomena of place. Each bottle of mead will have its story, of how it came into being in that place.

Every bottle has its story

I love all of my brews, but the ones whose ingredients I wild-harvest myself often have the most meaning to me. Sometimes, I will do a spring run, a honey run, and forage on the same trip, harvesting my ingredients at the same time, with intent.

For instance, I can point to the spruce trees from which I took the leaves in my Spruce Tip Mead. Medicinally, I have been bonding with the Elecampane Mead for a while, getting to know this plant and feeling its effects on my body. The run of berry meads I did last summer were a testament to the ripening season, as each berry was done when it was ripe.

When you make — and consume — your own mead, with intent and a certain amount of reverence, you can resonate with its story. And if you age a few of the bottles, you’ll be able to share these stories far into the future.

Brewing Mead with Chaga

Out of all the ingredients that consistently end up on my labels, I am by far asked most often about chaga. The notion that one can enhance their alcohol using mushrooms is, I suppose, somewhat counterintuitive; I think people picture mushroom gravy from a deli mixed with beer or something similar. But as it turns out, chaga adds a delightful layer of flavor, a beautiful darkening colorization, and plenty of nutritional reasons to include it.

I remember the first time I harvested chaga from the wild. I was spending the weekend with a friend, a quiet retreat in a cabin in the Maine woods. We spent the entire trip in to the cabin looking at every white birch we encountered, combing the surface of each tree for the blackened, charred-looking protrusions, the telltale signs of chaga growth. We saw no sign whatsoever of chaga on the hike in.

After searching for several days, we finally found some ripe chaga — on a birch tree not 10′ away from the corner of the cabin. The tree wasn’t doing particularly well; once chaga is blossoming the tree is doomed and will die within a few years. There was a ladder handy, and with a good knife the chaga came right off. It was a large tree, and we harvested enough to last each of our families several months. It’s no coincidence that my companion on this trip was a friend with whom I’d spent a lot of time brewing beers, before I discovered the benefits of mead.

Normally I decoct the chaga into a delicious tea, simmering it for several hours, most often in a crock pot, until I have a beautiful beverage that looks like coffee and tastes very clean, with a hint of maple and vanilla. I use chaga tea (sometimes with other herbs such as reishi) as a base for my elixirs, which I drink nearly every morning in the winter.

This same tea is the basis for many of my meads, particularly fruit meads using berries. Beginning with chaga tea rather than water has several benefits for the mead. First, you get all the nutrition and herbal benefits of the chaga. Second, the chaga adds a nice mellow layer of flavor that is subtle in the finished mead, but mellows things out nicely. Third, while the finished mead isn’t coffee-like in color like chaga tea, it does darken the final mead product noticeably and beautifully.

When I brew mead with chaga, it’s usually a 3-gallon batch. Therefore I will brew 2 gallons of chaga tea, adding about 2 fistfulls of chaga to 2 gallons of spring water, and decocting for 4-6 hours minimum. With this 2 gallons of tea, I follow my basic mead recipe, which is described in detail in my meadmaking eBook.

I have not yet experimented much with tincturing chaga, either done traditionally with vodka or another distilled alcohol, or in the mead during secondary fermentation. UPDATE: I have now done several double extractions with both chaga and reishi, my technique is detailed here.

In addition, I tested meads in the Mad Trad Trial, 2 of which used chaga, the other 2 did not. The color of the finished mead was every-so-slightly darker, but perhaps more importantly the 2 batches done with chaga cleared much more quickly than the 2 non-chaga batches. This preliminary empirical evidence suggests to me that there is something in the chage, perhaps electrolyte related, that causes the mead to clear more quickly.

All in all, chaga is probably my #1 favorite herb in my life, and I absolutely love what it does to my meads. I encourage you to experiment with it (or whatever your favorite herbs are) when you brew.

Coca Kola Mead

I’m really amused by this mead, on several levels. Obviously the name might have a familiar ring to some, but I’m actually referring to the generic ingredients: Coca leaves and Kola nuts. These ingredients were originally used in the more familiar iteration of these particular words.

In past decades, I drank a lot of modern cola industrial soft drinks, most of which were made with corn syrup and contained no coca at all. I’ve often wondered what the original formulations would have tasted like, so I decided to recreate it with a mead.

First, let’s take a closer look at these two ingredients.


In preparing for this mead, I wanted to thoroughly research coca for somewhat obvious reasons. Coca is very controversial because it contains the alkaloid cocaine, which is of course illegal and has become a problem with its use in its commercialized, concentrated form of white powder after having been extracted from the leaves. Regular Coca Leaves, in the United States, are also illegal, categorized as a Schedule II drug. What is not so widely known is that coca leaves can be “decocainized” in the same way that some coffee beans are decaffeinated. These sort of decocainized coca leaves are legal to import into the US, and are not scheduled in the same way regular coca or cocaine is:

Coca leaves (9040) and any salt, compound, derivative or preparation of coca leaves (including cocaine (9041) and ecgonine (9180) and their salts, isomers, derivatives and salts of isomers and derivatives), and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation thereof which is chemically equivalent or identical with any of these substances, except that the substances shall not include decocainized coca leaves or extraction of coca leaves, which extractions do not contain cocaine or ecgonine.
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 9, Parts 1300 to end]
[Revised as of April 1, 2005]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 21CFR1308.12] [Page 94-96]

Cocaine, however, is but one of several alkaloids in the coca plant. Coca tea, in South American circles where it has been used for thousands of years, produces effects very similar to coffee, another drink from that region that Americans have grown quite accustomed to. And since it was a common ingredient in old brews including the original colas, I wanted to use it in this mead.


The Kola Tree is an evergreen tree native to west Africa. The tree produces nuts as seeds to reproduce itself. The Kola Nut, in its native land, is valued for its stimulating, aphrodisiac and healing qualities, which to me seems similar to how people use cacao in South America. The trees are related.

Kola contains a significant amount of caffeine, and as such is sometimes used as a remedy for asthma.

The cola can be extracted by boiling or tincturing the Kola nuts. For this mead, I decided to tincture the kola, which will happen after primary fermentation, after I’ve racked it into jugs for clearing it will sit with the Kola nuts to extract their colors, flavors, and other properties.


I began this mead by making a coca tea. The coca I was using was powdered, which maximizes its absorptive surface area. I was concerned about being able to filter it after the tea was done, as the powder is too fine for my screens/sieve, so I used a new kind of DIY teabag designed for a teapot (as opposed to a cup). With this sort of bag, you fill it half full of your tea (coca powder in this case):

Coca Teabag - photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt

Then, once the bag is half full, you use a common iron to seal it shut:

Ironing shut the teabag -- photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt

This left me with two large teabags containing coca leaves:

Teabags -- photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt

I wanted a strong Coca tea, so I decided to decoct it. On the other hand, I didn’t want it to be too tannin-y, so I opted for a short 15 minute simmer:

Coca decoction -- photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt

After the simmer, I wanted to continue to let it infuse for a few minutes. I also added a sumac drupe for its acids to help the yeast:

Coca Sumac infusion -- photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt

I let the infusion sit for about an hour, then strained the teabags and the sumac drupe out. After it cooled for several hours I poured the tea through a strainer (to get the small bits of sumac out) and added it to the pot with just under a gallon of honey, dissolving until I brought it to 17.5% alcohol potential (I wanted a strong and sweet mead for this batch):

I was left with a relatively neutral color mead, with a slightly golden hue. The mead’s color will not shift much during primary fermentation, but I expect the Kola nuts that I will add after racking to darken it considerably:

This is a somewhat complex batch with many steps, there will be several updates along the way over the next few months.

UPDATE: June 28

I racked the mead tonight, tried a bit of it, and failed to take a hydrometer reading, since I dropped the hydrometer and it shattered on my floor. Ah well. I’ll pick up a new hydrometer soon and get a reading up here.

Coca Leaves and Kola Nuts
Coca Leaves and Kola Nuts, photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt

The mead tastes fantastic. It has a smooth, tangy effervescence to it (it’s not sparkling, but the tangy part of the flavor is not unlike 7up in a strange way).

I racked it into one-gallon jugs, into which I had stuffed 4 handfuls of Kola nuts and Coca leaves, so it will infuse/tincture over the coming weeks.

The mead that I racked into the waiting Kola nuts got darker very quickly, and the kola nuts caused a slight bubbling to form:

I will continue to update people as this mead develops! Very exciting, this could end up being one of the best batches yet.

UPDATE: June 29

I got a new hydrometer, so I took a reading today. It’s 4.5%, so it’s still quite sweet and about 13.5%. I’m not 100% sold on the accuracy of this reading since the “before” reading was taken with a different instrument. I don’t know how consistently calibrated these are. It does sound about right though; this mead is sweet but not cloyingly so.

Also, the bubbling has slowed down but is still happening….

UPDATE: July 27

I just tried the first bit of Coca Kola Mead. Wow! The Kola Nuts definitely add a layer of strong flavor. It’s a deep, rooty flavor, definitely reminiscent of cola, or perhaps even root beer. I need to bottle this soon so it can begin to age a bit. I imagine this will be extraordinary in a few months!

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

The Lore And Craft Of Mead: eBook Release

UPDATE: As of June 2017, this eBook is no longer available. If you really, really would like a copy, then contact me and we’ll work something out.

We’re excited to announce the release of this ebook as a PDF download!



This book has been a long time coming. Since I started brewing years ago, I knew that I wanted to help teach people how to make their own fermented beverages. It’s not a terribly difficult process, but I felt the process was more complicated for beginners than it perhaps should be.

Later, when I took Harper Meader‘s “Measure by the handful and stir with your arm” meadmaking class, I knew that I had finally found my fermented beverage of choice. Mead has many things going for it; it’s humanity’s oldest fermented beverage, it’s made from one of the most profound foods known (honey), and it’s really simple and easy to make a delicious batch.

This book builds (or perhaps restores) a bridge between two camps: traditional meadmaking, and traditional herbalism. If we go back far enough there is no difference between the two. So if you are an experienced meadmaker looking to add a dose of herbalism to your brewing, or if you are an herbalist looking to get into meadmaking, this book will speak to you. Of course, it is also ideal for the beginner as it walks you through every step of the way.

There is somewhat of a focus on keeping mead a healthy beverage; I speak of spring water, the best local organic honey you can find, and local or wildharvested ingredients for your mead. Honey and good water are both profound nutrients for the human body; when we combine them with yeast and other ingredients from our ecosystem we can get some of the most powerful beverages available anywhere.

I also worked hard to cut out the fluff, and make the book as concise as possible. Those of you who know me or my default writing style know this is no easy task. ;-)    My aim was to take this meadmaking method, which both is simple for the beginner and very expandable for the intermediate or advanced meadmaker, and keep it to a booklet-length document, cramming as much information as possible into 16 pages. Hopefully I was successful.

So for all of humanity’s meadmakers, past, present, and future, I raise my drinking horn to you!

Coming Soon: Meadmaking Book

Coming very soon, to a browser near you, will be the first publication from It is to be called “The Lore And Craft of Mead,” and will be a detailed introduction to mead, as well as how to make your own mead. It is a more distinct version of some of the content on this site, as well as new information on taking meadmaking next-level.

If you are interested in getting a copy of this book when it’s avaiable, watch this space. I’m presently putting the finishing touches on the book, as well as getting infrastructure (ecommerce/paypal etc) work on this site in place.

The book will sell for less than $20, especially for early adopters. Stay tuned!

Fermenting Hard Cider

My good friend Daniel Vitalis just released a new video on fermenting hard cider that I wanted to share with you. Cider is something that I’ve only recently begun to appreciate, and I definitely think a batch or two is in order before the end of the year and the local apples are done.

Cider fermentation is very easy, and is done with only wild yeast. You simply leave your cider in a wide-mouthed container until it starts to froth from wild yeast in the air, then transfer it to a carboy with an airlock and let it go for a few weeks. Doesn’t get much simpler!

Here’s part one of the video:

And here’s part two:

Inaugural Meadmaking Workshop

The Inaugural Meadmaking Workshop last night was a great success! Thanks so much to Eli Cayer at UFF and Daniel Vitalis for co-conspiring the workshop with me. Also, thanks to Ali and Jason for the backline support. And most of all, thanks to all the mead lovers who came to share stories and skills. There are about a dozen new batches of mead in the world after our workshop!

Jason Arno took some great photos:

U-F-F! U-F-F!
Beautiful fermentation room @ UFF
Great artwork @ UFF
Ready for a great workshop!
Daniel Vitalis speaking on the nutrition of mead, and the controversy over ethanol in the health community
On one hand....
On the break, between Daniel's talk and hands-in meadmaking
Must inside a fabulous crock! These crocks are also great for sauerkraut, available @ UFF
"Stir with your arm, measure by the fistful"
Making mead!
Beautiful meads being made!
A berry mead, probably blueberry
Pouring the must into the carboy
Crazy two-color mead. This is either an apple mead or a goji/cranberry mead. Once it's done fermenting it will all be the same color.
Blackberry mead, you can see the berries floating on top
Either a plain or an apple mead

What a great night! For people who attended, I promised you a free PDF copy of the meadmaking booklet. If you don’t remember how to get it, contact me and we’ll get you sorted out.

For those of you who missed the workshop, we’re gonna take a break for a bit, but are already co-conspiring to bring you more events at UFF in 2011.

Elecampane Mead

I’d never even heard of elecampane before, until I heard an herbalist called Sean Donahue was moving to Maine. I read about his story dealing with asthma, getting great results with elecampane, and immediately felt inspiration and resonance:

Its a familiar archetype: the bookish, asthmatic child whose imagination is captivated by stories of other worlds that sound more like home than this one. At once distant and emotionally sensitive. At times deeply empathetic and perceptive and at other times completely oblivious to social norms and cues. Asthma in these cases is often closely associated with social anxiety. Breath is a tenuous thread barely keeping the child present in this reality….
Elecampane is a medicine that reaches deep into the lungs and gets things moving again — releasing and cleansing buried grief just as it brings up old, infected mucus.

I decided I wanted to do a medicinal mead, incorporating elecampane, to treat my asthma.

I also decided to add some additional herbs to the mixture. I wanted to include rose hips, because they are in season and a great source of vitamin C; schisandra berries, because they’d add more adaptogens and other nutrients; St Johns Wort, because it helps elevate the spirit allowing one to breathe more deeply, and mullein, which is a great lung tonic.

In researching how each of these herbs should be prepared, I decided to make a decoction with the elecampane, rose hips, and schizandra berries, and an infusion with St John’s Wort and mullein.

I began the decoction with 2c rose hips, 1c elecampane, 1/4 c shizandra berries, 2 gallons spring water, and simmered it for 1 hour:

After an hour, I turned off the heat and added the infusion herbs: 1/2c St Johns Wort and 1/2c Mullein:

I let this cool overnight and strained it the next day, leaving me with a gorgeous, deep brown, very potent-tasting tea:

I poured it back into my stockpot and added about 3/4 of a gallon of honey. I don’t want this medicinal mead to be too sweet, so I was shooting for 15% alcohol potential. I took a few readings, adding a bit of honey or spring water to get the desired result:

As you can see it’s a bit above 15%, not quite 16%, but I knew I’d be topping off the carboy with extra water to get it to 3 gallons. So I pitched the yeast and transferred the must into the carboy, shook it up, gave it some positive juju, and wound up with a beautiful carboy:

Looking forward to being with this medicine in 2011.

UPDATE (Feb 27): I just racked the elecampane into jugs. Fermentation had definitely stopped; there was no bubbling and the mead was “dead”, which is just a subjective observation that there was no life remaining in the mead. Much to my surprise, with a low initial alcohol potential of 15%, the mead still tastes quite sweet. I took a hydrometer reading and got 5%, which means this mead is only 10% alcohol. Admittedly I’m somewhat puzzled by this, since this mead sat for 4 months in fermentation. Perhaps one of the herbs is a fermentation inhibitor, and is unfriendly toward yeast? I think I shall let these jugs sit for a few months and then take another reading. Not sure if there is any live yeast left in the jugs or not….

UPDATE (Mar 15): It was almost certainly the elecampane, which is used in antifungal and antiyeast protocols. Now the question is, do I try adding another yeast to get it to ferment some more, or just drink it as is?

UPDATE (Apr 11): The two gallons of mead have cleared somewhat, and I’ve been sipping on the top of the batch for a while. I really love this medicine. I wanted to bottle one of these gallons to capture it as it is now, and I wanted to experiment with the other gallon by tincturing more elecampane herb in the alcohol of the mead.

So for the first gallon, I added about 2 TBSP of dried elecampane root to tincture, which floated at the top and will slowly start to sink down in the coming days:

With the other gallon, I simply bottled it into 10 extremely handy 12oz grolsch bottles:

I drink about 4oz of this medicine per day when I’m using it, so a bottle will last me 3 days. I’m grateful for this powerful medicine, and I look forward to seeing how the other gallon with the tincture will turn out.

So far, my favorite quote about this batch is: “the Elecampane Mead is far from my best tasting mead. However, it is by far the best tasting asthma medicine I’ve ever used.”