Boiling honey or not(Re: hist-brewing: mead)

Kirsty Pollock kirsty.pollock at mpuk.com
Wed Sep 29 01:15:17 PDT 1999


Nick.

Big post! And valid, all of it. Not wanting to sound defensive, but I'd just
like to stress that I had no particular historical point to make, nor was I
claiming that anything I make is even trying to be 'authentic'. I am well
aware of the many many reasons why it newver could be even if I wanted to.
Mine was a technical point about the effect of clarity (or lack thereof) on
flavour. 

Various 'real ale' (I hate that term, since what they are talking about is
beer...) fans have been persistently at the micro-breweries to stop
filtering their beer and let us have the full taste.


Kirsty

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-hist-brewing at rt.com [mailto:owner-hist-brewing at rt.com]On
> Behalf Of Nick Sasso
> Sent: 28 September 1999 20:44
> To: hist-brewing at pbm.com
> Subject: RE: Boiling honey or not(Re: hist-brewing: mead)
> 
> 
> Greg and Kirsty,
> 
> I  wanted to add another viewpoint to the discussion, and 
> agree with th basic thrust of what you both said:  There is 
> something satisfying about making a beverage that was made by 
> people centuries ago the way they made it then.  there is a 
> connection, or communion, with those people and their mastery 
> of their craft.  It's almost a spiritual experience to drink one.
> 
> The disagreement part is that of clarity and boiling and 
> fining.  One has to make distinctions and decisions about 
> just what part of history is being connected to.  Malt 
> extract syrups were available to the British Navy in the 18th 
> century, isinglas was available and used as a fining agent in 
> the 15th century, grain beds were known to strain out gunk 
> (trub) from the wort as long as grain was mashed 
> intentionally,  dried yeast cultures are a late 19th century 
> invention, liquid yeast cultures late 20th century, egg 
> whites or shells in wines can be found in "The Closet of Sir 
> Kenelm Digby. . ." if I recall correctly, wild innoculation 
> was the standard fermentation method in the 6th century since 
> yeast was not really a known (they called in god-is-good in 
> some western cultures), open fermenters were the standard 
> rahter than the glass carboys many use today---beer is still 
> fermented in huge open pools in modern Belgium, American 6row 
> barley is a modern hybrid that works far better than the 
> british 2-row for housebrewing, but is farther from what was 
> available before 1900, wood fires and iron or copper furnaces 
> were the standard until steel was invented in the 1800's, 
> kiln dried malts were made with wood fires through the 1700's 
> at least.
> 
> I am not trying to beat a horse, just offer lots of 
> perspectives on what is historical and what we as historical 
> brewers, vintners and meaders are trying to approximate.  We 
> all have choices and stuggles to make with our personal goals 
> and integrities as we balance accurate recreations with needs 
> for sanitation and certain qualities of our products.  I 
> encourage all the people I contact and consult with to 
> challenge themselves to take deliberate steps toward history 
> in their methods whenever they can afford and are willing to 
> do so.  It will increase their experience of the beverage and 
> push the rest of us as well.
> 
> To say that beer or mead with any specific characteristic is  
> or is not historical can be tricky.. Especially when you read 
> laws in medieval Europe that proclaim beer may not be sold 
> that is oder than 4 days or the Reinheitsgobot.  We are 
> travelling a road backward that involves choices and balances 
> that impact other choices and balances.
> 
> pacem et bonum,
> 
> Nick Sasso
> 
> P.S. it will be really heard to give up my steel boiling pot 
> over the gas fire, but I'm getting there.
> 
> Greg,
> 
> Good points all. I also make beer and find that (although 
> they do clear
> easier than mead usually) it makes no odds to the taste, and 
> in fact, in may
> beers may improve it if it is less than sparklingly clear. I 
> have one brwon
> ale which is a particular favourite which you can't see 
> through - the effect
> being due in part also to the very dark, almost black colour.
> 
> If you are drinking from a horn - who cares! The only thing 
> to watch is if
> you have a yeast allergy/intolerance.
> 
> 
> KP
> 
> 
> 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-hist-brewing at rt.com [mailto:owner-hist-brewing at rt.com]On
> > Behalf Of Gregory Rehm
> > Sent: 28 September 1999 06:10
> > To: hist-brewing at pbm.com
> > Subject: Re: Boiling honey or not(Re: hist-brewing: mead)
> > 
> > 
> > Hello all,
> > 
> > This my first post on this list after lurking for some time.
> > 
> > I've made meads, and melomel with and without boiling the 
> > honey.  In my
> > experience, there can be little doubt - boiling makes 
> > clearer, less aromatic
> > mead.  The relative merits of sanitization from boiling and 
> > the relative
> > overall effect of the reduced aromatic compounds can be 
> > debated, but I think
> > it misses the point.
> > 
> > If a historically inspired or acurate beverage is desired, 
> > clarity can play
> > a reduced role.  Finings are a relatively recent developement and
> > micro-filtration is more modern yet.  I have enjoyed making 
> mead that
> > retains a completely murky, cloudy appearance.  I don't think 
> > it reduces the
> > appeal of the beverage one iota.  Indeed, bucking the 
> current trend of
> > crystaline drinks suits me fine.  There's something magical 
> > about dumping a
> > load of honey in some warm water, throwing in some yeast 
> and getting a
> > beverage that thrills your friends and ties you to history.  As for
> > clarifiers/finings, loads of live yeast help stabilize a 
> young or low
> > alcohol meads and their taste is an important part of the 
> > history of these
> > drinks.
> > 
> > I find a mead with a strong honey nose, a wine like flavor 
> > and a hefe weizen
> > appearance wonderfully un-modern.  I think i've made my 
> > position CLEAR ;)
> > 
> > Gregory Rehm
> > greg at turnpoint.net
> > 
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Kirsty Pollock <kirsty.pollock at mpuk.com>
> > To: <hist-brewing at pbm.com>
> > Sent: Friday, September 24, 1999 5:36 AM
> > Subject: RE: Boiling honey or not(Re: hist-brewing: mead)
> > 
> > 
> > > I did have a good success with a half honey/half golden 
> > sugar mix (2lbs,
> > 1kg
> > > respectively) with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and a bit of 
> > lime juice as
> > > flavouring. I boiled it a bit, but not more than say 10 
> > mins. Used a wine
> > > yeast. It was pretty vigorous, but stopped fermenting and cleared
> > reasonably
> > > quickly (a couple of months). I racked it twice, and it was 
> > medium sweet
> > and
> > > so far no fizziness/exploding bottles and goes down rather well.
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > --------------------------------------------------------------
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