Monday, August 1, 2011

Mead? What the heck is mead?

On Saturday, I attended the book signing and mead tasting for Cricket McRae's newest Home Crafting mystery, Wined and Died. I would have attended the signing anyway, but a mead tasting was definitely an added incentive to head to Old Town Fort Collins on a 90+ degree day.

I parked a few blocks away from the book shop and walked through a rockin' Old Town Plaza where I discovered live music, food carts, lots of people and...Ben & Jerry's. A frozen latte made with coffee ice cream kept me cool while I strolled toward Old Firehouse Books for the 2:00 PM signing. I wasn't sure how a frozen latte would affect the mead tasting, but to be honest, I didn't worry about it too much.

Since I've never tasted mead in my life, actually had no idea what it was or how it was made, I (of course) had to soak it all a manner of speaking.

Mead is a fermented drink made from honey and is sometimes called honey wine. Variations on the original recipe call for ingredients from fruits to herbs. These variations have names, such as Pyment, Braggot, or Rhodomel. I tasted a small sample of each bottle Cricket brought with her (for scientific comparison, of course), but all I remember for sure is that the Pyment was very sweet, like a digestif, and the Braggot contained hops. Other variations were flavored with juniper berries, apricot, or raspberry.

When I got home, I did a little more research on the topic. I found a site called Got Mead which looks like a great place for newbie's to hang out. I've copied the basic recipe for an orange/spice flavored mead in the Newbie's Guide section of the website, just in case I decide to give it a try. Anyone know where I can buy a one-gallon carboy?


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Oh, really interesting! I never knew much about mead, either. Thanks for sharing :-).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Taking up a new hobby, Patricia?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. very much a Celtic drink .. we had it often in Cornwall .. then it went out of fashion and now is coming back in - by the sound of it .. Sounds an interesting book signing and time out .. cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

That's a new one on me. I'll have to try and order one at a Pub sometime.

GigglesandGuns said...

Signings around here have fruit punch. Way too sweet for me.
Sounds like you had a great time:)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Margot, this is a great way to learn about something new. I wish I'd taken my camera to catch the sun shining through the pretty blue bottles of mead.

Alex -- I'm thinking about it. It's Cricket's fault for leading me astray. :)

Hilary, it's certainly an interesting drink with so many variations. I preferred the ones that weren't quite so sweet.

Hi Stephen. I wonder if it will be available at a pub. We'll have to check on that here, too.

Good morning, G&G -- I've been at signings where we had coffee and tea, or even wine and cheese, but happily no sweet punch.

Anonymous said...

Of course I know about mead - just ask a Viking :)

Well, to be honest I only think I´ve tasted it once.

Marlena Cassidy said...

That sounds like an amazing signing and I'm so jealous we get nothing like that here. And of course, by that I mean we don't get Cricket McRae here.

I should make mead. I eat enough honey as it is already.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've never met a drink I won't try once, although I'll never have Sake again.

Cricket McRae said...

I'm so glad you came to the signing, Patricia!

You can get a one-gallon carboy at Hops and Berries. On Remington. Close to the parking garage by Ben & Jerry's. ;>

Patricia Stoltey said...

I knew you'd have the answer, Cricket. I love that it's not far from Ben & Jerry's.

Diana, I'm not fond of sake either. But there's enough of a variety in the mead flavors that it's hard not to find one you like.

Yes, Dorte, I read that mead may have originated with the Vikings. Since I'm 1/4 Norwegian, that explains my acquiring the taste so quickly. :)

Marlena, honey on hot homemade biscuits is like the nectar of the gods -- I'm sure you've tried that if you like honey.