hist-brewing: Strength of Mead

Phil & Carol Reed pcr at ic.net
Tue Jun 10 20:35:07 PDT 1997

At 09:04 PM 6/10/97 -0400, Marc Shapiro wrote:

>Digby's writing is late period.  The recipes, however, are handed down
>from generation to generation (just as Digby collected them for future
>generations).  It is unlikely that these recipes were very much
>different than those of previous generations.  

As was pointed out to me once by David Friedman (Cariodoc), the
later medieval periods were a time of dramatic change. It is probably
not a reasonable assumption that recipes current in 1580
were the same as those of 300-400 years earlier. And remember, 
we *are* talking about a difference of THREE HUNDRED YEARS or MORE.
We do know that lots of things were substantially different between
the years 1000 and 1500. Why should recipes be excluded from the
winds of change?

>The quantity of honey is
>likely to have been about the same as in earlier periods, as the
>breakthrough to modern hive maintenance and honey production did not
>occur until the 19th century (approx 1840?), when Langstroth's
>movable-frame hive made it possible to harvest honey without destroying
>all of the associated comb. 

No argument here. Any difference would be in husbandry - maintaining
more hives and doing a better job of collecting up the bees after
dismantling the skep.

>I generally make a mead of about 12% to 13% and I use a ratio of about
>1:3 if I am making a traditional mead of just honey and water.  I use
>less honey when making a melomel.  It would seem, therefore that Digby's
>recipes are mostly for a wine strength mead and earlier period recipes
>probably were, as well.

Yes, Digby's recipes are wine strength. However, I'm referring to the 1000-
1300 time frame.


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