I started my batch in April, bottled in May, and tried it at the end of August, about 5 months later. At this point, it’s ever so slightly fizzy when first cracked open, and a beautiful light golden color.
It smells like honey.
The flavor is somewhat herbal, but in a good, kitchen-not-medicinal way. I could pick up hints of the sage and rosemary, in particular, while the other herbs and grasses add depth and complexity. The flavor is long and changeable, with just a smidge of acidity.
I’m going to need to learn better descriptors for alcohol. For now, suffice to say that this is wonderful, although should be consumed with caution, tasty as it is.
Why it should be in the Next Book:
I could envision this mead being one of many made by the Beesburys, of Honeyholt. I could also see it as a mead from either a meadowy place in the reach, or perhaps even somewhere in the Vale. Or, since metheglin was originally a medicinal mead, it would be well suited to a sept, because of the joint healing/brewing skills of monks and septons.
1655 Metheglin Recipe
Makes 1-5 Gallons Initial Fermentation: ~1 month Ageing: 5 months or more
“Take all sorts of Herbs that are good & wholesome, as Balm, Mint, Fennel, Rosemary, Angelica, wild Tyme, Isop, Burnet, Egrimony, and such other, as you think fit, some field Herbs, but you must not put in too many, but especially Rosemary or any strong Herbs, less than half an handful wil serve of every sort, you must boil your herbs, ans strain them, and let the liquor stand till the next day and settle them, take off the clearest liquor two gallons and a half to one gallon of Honey, and that porportion as much as you will make, and let it boyl an hour, and in the boyling skim it very clean, then set it a cooling as you do Beer, when it is cold take some very good Ale Barm, and put into the bottome of the Tub a little and a little, as they do Beer, keeping back the thick settling that lieth in the bottome of the vessel that it is cooled in, & when it is all put together, cover it with a cloth, and let it work very neer three dayes, and when you mean to put it up, skim off all the yeast clean, put it up into the Vessel, but you must not stop your vessel very close in three or four dayes, but let it have all the vent you can, for it will work and when it is close stopped, you must look very often to it and have a peg in the top to give it vent when you hear it make a noise, as it will do, or else it will break the Vessel, sometimes I make a bag, and put in good store of Ginger sliced, some Cloves and Cinamon, and boyl it in, and other times I put it into the Barrel and never boil it, it is both ways good, but Nutmeg and Mace do not well to my taste. -Compleat Cook, 1655
Chelsea’s Notes: I used what herbs I could find from the original recipe, omitting only the fennel out of personal preference. I’ve included two sets of ingredients: the redaction for a 5 gallon batch, and the redaction for a 1 gallon batch, which is what I made. Feel free to tweak your own batches to taste, and according to the ingredients available to you!
Ingredients for one gallon:
- 3 Tbs. each selected herbs: lemon balm, angelica, thyme, hyssop, agrimony, meadowsweet
- 1 Tbs. each stronger herbs: mint, rosemary, sage, etc.
- 5/8 gallon water – 10 cups water (or enough to cover)
- 1/4 gallon honey – 4 cups honey (3 lb.)
- 1 packet yeast, pasteur champagne or premier cuvee
- 1 oz.ginger
- 10 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
Special Equipment needed:
- 5 or 1 gallon glass jug
- airlock and plug
- mesh bag for spices
- racking wand/tube (optional, but infinitely helpful)
We used wildflower honey, 3 Tbs. each of balm, angelica root, hyssop, meadowsweet, and 1 big Tbs. sage.
Boil your herbs in the amount of water listed, then allow to sit overnight. Strain out the herbs, reserving the liquid. Put the honey in a large pot, then add the strained herb-infused water. Bring to a simmer, while stirring, to thoroughly mix honey and water, and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Pour into your 5 or 1 gallon jug, allow to cool to room temperature, then pitch (add) the yeast. Add the spices, and cap with an airlock.
First fermentation: let sit at least 7 days, [or until the airlock stops bubbling completely], which can take up to two weeks. Remove the spice bag, and rack the mead into a secondary fermenter.
Second fermentation: let sit 1-2 months. When the airlock does not bubble for at least 2 minutes, it should be done fermenting.
Bottle and allow to age at least 5 months.