Blueberry Bite Mead

I’ve noticed that in 2013, apart from doing fewer batches of mead overall, I’ve been dialing in and reproducing some of my favorite recipes from the past. I’ve spent several years experimenting with smaller batches, but this year I feel like I have some favorites dialed in, and am making more double-batches. I did this with the recent Mad Trad D2 mead, where I took my favorite sub-recipe from the Mad Trad Trial and made 6 gallons of it, rather than 2 different 3 gallon batches.

I’m doing the same with this batch; basically I’m reproducing last year’s Double Blueberry Mullein and making 2 batches of it. As previously, I made a strong chaga decoction, added black tea and a fistful of mullein at the end, and strained it. I had 5 pounds of blueberries, so each batch will get 2.5 pounds (it got 3 pounds last year). Also it is starting at 18% initial alcohol potential, rather than the 19% from last year which turned out to be quite sweet. It was one of my favorite batches from last year, so I hope this year’s turns out as well!

Logistically I tried something a bit newer as well. I didn’t carefully measure the blueberries to make sure each batch got exactly half; in addition, I was down to the end of my honey bucket so I wasn’t sure each batch would get the same initial alcohol potential (though as it turned out, my estimating was spot on!). Therefore, I decided to split the first batch among the 2 carboys, like this:

first batch of Double Blueberry Mullein, split among 2 three gallon carboys
first batch of Double Blueberry Mullein, split among 2 three gallon carboys

Then, I mixed up the second batch, and topped off both carboys. As always, the rehydrated yeast went in to each empty carboy first.

As it turned out, both batches came out exactly at 18% initial alcohol potential, so I’m not really sure this step was necessary, but it should make both batches much more similar.

In the end, I have 6 gallons of what will become another beautiful blueberry mead:

6 gallons of beautiful blueberry mead
6 gallons of beautiful blueberry mead

May this batch turn out as good — or better — than last years!

UPDATE: 15 December

I racked the mead tonight, and it is still wonderfully dark but mostly clear. It is semisweet, at 2% remaining alcohol potential, which means this brew is strong at 16% ABV. Definitely less sweet than last years. Already nice, but is dry enough to have a bit of bite that will surely mellow out over time. Success!

UPDATE: 21 March 2014

I have officially decided to re-name this batch Blueberry Bite Mead. :-)

Blueberry Bite Mead label
Blueberry Bite Mead label

Wyrd Ways Radio interview

On Wednesday, August 7 at 10pm Eastern Time, I will be interviewed on Wyrd Ways Radio, a show on heathenry and polytheism hosted by Galina Krasskova. We’re going to be discussing craft as devotional work, the place of mead in Northern Tradition lore and ritual, and, basically, all things mead. We’ll also be opening up the phone lines and taking calls.

Tune in to to listen and chat live, call in to the show at 347-308-8222, or if you miss the live show, get it archived on iTunes.

I’m very much looking forward to this one.


The show is archived here. The interview with me begins at about 71:30 into the podcast.

Strawberry Thunder Mead

It’s June, therefore it’s time for another strawberry mead! This year I wanted to have a stronger strawberry flavor, to be a bit drier than past years, and to simplify the herbal process.

I started with a decoction of chaga and a sumac drupe, cooled and strained back into the carboy:

1.5 or 2 gallons of chaga/sumac tea
1.5 or 2 gallons of chaga/sumac tea

Next, I used double the amount of strawberries relative to last year — 2 quarts, which weighed 3 pounds – that were lovingly (and knee-achingly) picked by my wife and daughter this morning:

2 quarts/3 pounds of freshly-picked strawberries
2 quarts/3 pounds of freshly-picked strawberries

Next, I juiced the strawberries in our juicer, which created about a quart and a half of strawberry juice:

1.5 quarts of fresh strawberry juice in the bottom of the stockpot
1.5 quarts of fresh strawberry juice in the bottom of the stockpot

Next, I added the chaga sumac tea, a bit more water, and enough honey to get me to a 15% initial alcohol potential:

15% initial alcohol potential
15% initial alcohol potential

Then I pitched the yeast into the carboy, poured the must in after it, and topped it off, to give me 3 gallons of strawberry thunder goodness:

3 gallons of Thunder Strawberry Goodness
3 gallons of Thunder Strawberry Goodness

I initially thought about calling this batch Strawberry Solstice Mead, but the Solstice was a few days ago, and right when I was making this batch a classic summer thunderhead blasted its way over our house. Strawberry Thunder it is! I expect this batch to be potent, and dry, and full of strawberry flavor. Time will tell!

UPDATE, 12 April 2014

This mead went for a very long time without clearing! It still isn’t clear which is somewhat of a rarity for me these days. I’m sure it’s because of the extra pectin from the abundance of strawberries I used. I finally racked it today and, while not clear, it is delicious, a bit sweet, and tastes strongly of strawberry, coming in at 12.5% alcohol, meaning there is 2.5% remaining alcohol potential, which is somewhere between semisweet and sweet. The strawberries add another layer of perceived sweetness so we’ll call this one a sweet mead.

Because it didn’t clear, I may end up not bottling it in the normal 750ml clear wine bottles, instead using smaller grolsch bottles or larger jugs, for use at fireside gatherings where it will be served in horns and the lack of clarity is not to be noticed. :-)

Midsummer Harvest

Well, I am officially behind on my meadmaking thus far in 2013. Only 4 batches have been started this year thus far (though a fifth will be forthcoming in the coming week or two).

That said, a bountiful midsummer harvest, consisting of the Black & Cran Cysers from last fall (one sweet, one dry), and the Chaibernation Spiced Mead from January. 30 beautiful, golden bottles of mead:

Black & Cran Sweet Cyser, Black & Cran Dry Cyser, and Chaibernation Spiced Mead
Black & Cran Sweet Cyser, Black & Cran Dry Cyser, and Chaibernation Spiced Mead


Chaga Spruce Mead

I have done several batches in the past with spruce (and other evergreen trees). I maintain that they aren’t necessarily my favorite, but many people have loved them. I wanted to do another batch of spruce mead this year, with a few variations on the theme as I “dial in” a precise recipe.

This year, for the first time, I used chaga with my spruce. Some of the spruce meads haven’t cleared very quickly, so hopefully the chaga will assist with that. Also, I gathered the spruce tips a few weeks later than last time. Rather than beautiful tips, these are fully formed needle branches, though they are still a noticeably vibrant green compared to the old growth:

about a half gallon of fresh spruce tips, gathered a bit later in the year than the previous batch
about a half gallon of fresh spruce tips, gathered a bit later in the year than the previous batch


I began with a good chaga decoction, and then added the spruce needles at the end, letting them simmer for about a half hour:

spruce needles in with the chaga decoction
spruce needles in with the chaga decoction


When I got this far, I realized I had far more tea than I needed. Rather than discard any, I strained out the spruce needles, and then turned up the heat to reduce it to more manageable levels. When this was done, I cooled the tea in the sink, strained everything out of it, dissolved enough honey to get to a 17.5% initial alcohol potential, and pitched the yeast into the carboy:


Chaga Spruce Mead
Chaga Spruce Mead


Note that for this batch, I did NOT add any orange juice, black tea, sumac, or anything else to adjust the pH. I wanted to see what a good strong chaga decoction and the spruce tips would do.

UPDATE: 17 October

After 4 months of primary fermentation, this batch has already cleared beautifully, unlike the previous spruce meads. I could have racked it weeks ago, but for a variety of reasons I let it sit until tonight. It’s racked, and it is now 4.5% alcohol potential, therefore it is 13% ABV. It’s quite sweet, which suits the spruce flavor just fine. This one came out great, and should only improve with age!

UPDATE: 22 March 2014

Here’s the label:

Chaga Spruce Mead label
Chaga Spruce Mead label

Mad Trad D2

Well I’m very happy to say, after an all-too-long break I’m back to making mead. I finally picked up a bucket of honey and wanted to immediately get some mead going (all of my carboys were empty!)

Right off, I wanted to get a batch or two of traditional mead going. I really enjoyed The Mad Trad Trial more than I expected to, and committed to making at least a couple of traditional meads per year. Now’s the time.

Of the 4 batches I did in the Mad Trad Trial, they were very close but Mad Trad D was my favorite so I reproduced that recipe. It used chaga & sumac tea as a base, with honey and Montrachet Yeast. I did 2 batches of 3 gallons each, for 6 gallons total.

I started with a strong, 3 gallon chaga decoction that simmered in fresh spring water for about 15 hours. For the last 15 minutes of the decoction, I added 3 sumac drupes. I used more chaga and sumac than I usually do because I wanted the tea to be stronger than usual, since I would be watering it down and splitting it between 2 batches.

Mad Trad D2a had an initial alcohol percentage of 18%.

Mad Trad D2b had an initial alcohol percentage of 17.5%.

I did not take pictures throughout the process (Look back at previous batches on this site if you need help visualizing it), but the final product looks great!

Mad Trad D2, sitting amongst a lot of spring water.
Mad Trad D2, sitting amongst a lot of spring water.

As always, I look forward to enjoying this mead toward the end of 2013.

UPDATE: 18 Aug 2013

Both of these cleared in the carboys, so I racked them today. Both are 13%ABV, which means Mad Trad D2a is slightly sweeter at 5% remaining potential, with D2B at 4.5%. Both of these are, once again, scrumptious with a fantastic honey flavor profile left behind.

Interestingly, the original Mad Trad D ended up slightly stronger at 14%, and slightly less sweet. This means the yeast crapped out a bit earlier on this batch than the previous one for some reason. It was later in the year, and we had quite a heat wave followed by a month of seasonally cool temperatures in the 70s, so that could be a related factor.

The Mead Hall: Episode 2

Episode 2 of The Mead Hall is now up. In it, I continue the stories about Mead taken from our Scandinavian ancestors. I get a kick out of this story from the Gylfaginning in the Prose Edda because it shows just how important mead was to them — not only could you not have a feast without mead, but there had to be adequate mead for everyone, to the point where a mile-wide kettle was needed to produce enough mead for a feast for the gods. :-)

Aegir’s Feast

This episode tells the story of the dilemma of Aegir’s Feast, where Aegir did not have a big enough kettle to brew enough mead for his feast for the Gods. Thor comes to the rescue, winning a mile-wide mead kettle from the giant Hymir through force and cunning, evading the giantess Crone with 900 Heads, and nearly capturing The Midgard Serpent in the process.

I did all the narration, except for the Giantess and the Giantess Crone With 900 Heads characters, who were voiced by my lovely wife. I also composed and performed all the background music for this episode on guitar, bass, and drum programming.

Live interview…. Desperate House Witches

Sorry for not providing more notice, but I am about to be interviewed on the Desperate House Witches podcast. The show is underway and I should be going on soon! Once the archive is up I’ll post it here….. I believe they take live call-ins, so if you want to ask me a question about mead (or anything else for that matter) tune in!

EDIT: The show is archived here:

The interview with me starts about 23:30. I had a great time! Thanks to Desperate House Witches!

The Mead Hall: Episode 1

I’m very excited to be releasing this. It’s been in the works for quite a while. This is episode 1 of a new podcast called The Mead Hall. At present, I am envisioning 8 episodes per year. This site has the “brews” part of its name covered well, with many dozens of mead recipes up here now. However, the “bardic” part has been under-represented. This podcast will seek to put this back into balance.

My aim is to tell stories, as well as provide an outlet for some of my music — I am a musician and a recording engineer in addition to a mead enthusiast. So a podcast seemed a natural fit. With that, I introduce The Mead Hall: Episode 1.

The Origin of Mead

The first episode could be nothing but the story of of how Odin won mead for gods and men, from the Skáldskaparmál in the Prose Edda. There are several things that strike me about this story, one of which is that in Viking culture, a mere sip of the sacred mead is worth a season’s worth of work from nine laborers.

Thanks to Lorelei Greenwood-Jones for playing her harp while I had some microphones up. The rest of the music and the voiceover were me. Enjoy!

Imbolc 2013 Harvest

And another bountiful harvest:

Husk Cherry Mead (on left, the label is not very readable due to a printer malfunction), Elderberry Rosehip Mead, and Fox Pyment Single Mead
Husk Cherry Mead (on left, the label is not very readable due to a printer malfunction), Elderberry Rosehip Mead, and Fox Pyment Single Mead
30 bottles total
30 bottles total

Unfortunately, a printer mishap caused the labels to print a bit off in terms of color. Ah well. Close enough. :-)

The Husk Cherry Mead is very subtle; the husk cherries give a nice layer of richness to the dry mead, it smooths/mellows it out nicely.

The Elderberry Rosehip Mead is delightful — tart, dry, and a real immune system blast. I’m happy with it; I was envisioning last year’s Elder Mead minus the bitterness of the reishi, and that’s exactly what it is.

Finally, the Fox Pyment Single Mead is my favorite of the bunch in terms of flavor. A simple mead with just a touch of the most wonderful grape flavor with it. I can’t wait to try the double mead when it is ready…. it should be a bit sweeter with a much more intense grape flavor.

All three of these meads are dry, which is nice. Many recent meads have been sweeter.

With this bountiful harvest behind us, let this be the first teaser: there are a few changes on the horizon for Thus far, most of this site’s content has been focused on “brews” which is great…. but moving forward, look for more content on the “bardic” side of things. Stay tuned!