hist-brewing: cultural brews?/Vikings and Celts

Crystal Isaac xtal at sigenetics.com
Fri Apr 28 09:20:07 PDT 2000

You might try looking through Ann Hagan's _A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon
Food & Drink: Production & Distribution_. Published by Viking Books, 1984.
It's rather a cure for insomnia, but lots of good information for the
earlier periods.

For the Vikings and Celts there are mentions of mead in some of the sagas
and the saints' lives. I've meaning to do some reading and compile those
references, but it's project that got put onto the back burner <sigh, I need
to win the lottery so this *work* will get out of the way of my research>.

There a number of good mead links through the SCA Arts and Sciences
WebPages. http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/brewing.html

If you find anything interesting on mead, please do post it.

Sincerely yours,
Crystal A. Isaac (Crystal of the Westermark)

And also:
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon. editors and translators. _Curye on
Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century (Including
the Forme of Cury)_. Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford
University Press. London, England 1985 ISBN 0-19-722409.

Page 150
9	To make mede. Take hony combi & put hem into a greet vessel & ley
thereynne grete stickis, & ley the weight theron til it be runne out as
myche as it wole; & this is callid liif hony. & thanne take that foreid
combis & sethe hem in clene water, & boile hem wel. After presse out therof
as myche as thou may & caste it into another vessel into hoot water, & sethe
it wel & scome it wel, & do therto a quarte of liif hony. & thanne lete it
stonde a fewe dayes wel stoppid, & this is a good drinke.

Crystal's interpretation:
9 To make mead. Take honey combs and put them into a large pot and press
them until all the honey runs out. This “first press” is called life honey.
And then take the leftover combs and seep them in clean water and boil them
well. After pressing out as much honey as you can from the used combs, put
the water into another pot and add more water and heat. Skim it well and add
to the pot a quart of the live honey and then let it stand a few days until
the yeast settles. [When it is] well stopped it is a good drink.

10	To make fyn meade & poynaunt. Take xx galouns of the forseid pomys soden*
in iii galouns of fyn wort, & I galoun of liif hony & sethe hem wel & scome
hem wel til thei be cleer inowgh; & put therto iii penyworth of poudir of
pepir & I penyworth of poudir of clowis & lete it boile wel togydere. &
whanne it is coold put it inot the vessel inot the tunnynge up of the
forseid mede; put it thereto, & close it wel as it is aboue seid.
forseid pomys soden* evidently refers to a recipe the scribe has omitted -

Crystal's interpretation:
10 To make fine (clear) mead and pyment. Take twenty gallons of apple juice
in 3 gallons of clear wort and 1 gallon of life honey. Heat them together
and skim them well till they be clear enough. And put there to 3 pennyworth
(2/3 oz) of powder of pepper and 1 pennyworth (1/4 oz.) of powder of cloves
and let it boil well together. When it is cooled put it into a vessel into
the tunnynge up of the forsaid mead, put it thereto and close it well as it
is above said.

Pouncy, Carolyn Johnston ed. and trans. The Domostroi: Rules for Russian
Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible. Published by Cornell University
Press. Icatha, New York, 1995. (Ivan IV 1533-1584 Chapter 65 may be a later
addition to the text, possible added between 1600-1625. Items in {} are also
later additions.)

Page 196-198
65. Recipes for All Sorts of Fermented Honey Drinks: How to Distill Mead;
Make Juice, Kvass, and Beer; Brew with hops and Distill Boiled Mead

Boiled Mead. * Take one part honey to seven parts warm water. Strain the
honey carefully through a fine sieve, making sure no wax gets through. Put
the strained honey into a pot with a half-measure of hops and boil it
carefully. While you boil it, skim it with a fine sieve, till the mixture in
the caldron is clear. When you have reduced the mixture by half, take it
from the cauldron and cool it by adding it to the warm water. Put the honey
and warm water in a clean jar, free of wax, and cover it with yeast bread
and honey. Warm it on the stove, then place it in another jar to ferment.
When it has fermented properly, put it in a cask immediately so it will not
* [footnote by the editor] Obarnoi med: mead made from scalded honey.
White mead. To distill white mead, choose clear, light-colored honey. Pound
it well so there are no bits in the mead. Mix one part honey to four parts
warm water. Add one-quarter measure of hops to the brew. Then ferment it
with yeast. When the mead as fermented, strain the yeast from the mead with
a fine sieve until the mixture is clear. Then pour it into a cask.
	Honey mead. To distill honey mead, take five parts honey to one part warm
water and strain it until it is clear. Place it in a jar and add three
measures of hops. Ferment it with yeast. When it is ready, strain the yeast
from the mead with a fine sieve until the mixture is clear. When you are
done, pour it into a cask.
	Ordinary mead. To distill ordinary mead, add honey to six parts warm water
and strain it until it is clear. Place it in a jar with a half-measure of
hops. Ferment it with yeast. When the mead is ready, strain the yeast from
the mead with a fine sieve until the mixture is clear, then pour it into a
	Boyars’ mead. To distill boyars’ mead, take the wax from six parts honey
and mix it with hot water. Add a measure of hops to the brew and ferment it
with yeast. Strain it so it is clear of wax and ferment it in the jar for
another week. Then place it in a cask  and let it stand in the cask for
another week. Then strain the mead clear of yeast and place it in a second
cask. Fill the cask up with honey.
	Mead with spices. To add nutmeg and cloves to brewed mead, pour ordinary
mead into small casks and top them off with honey. Lace the spices in small
bags and put the bags into the little casks with the mead. Cork the casks
tightly so the air from inside will not escape.
	Berry mead. To make berry mead, place berries of any type in a caldron with
ordinary fermented mead. Cook the mixture slowly and for a long time so the
berries will boil but not burn. When the berry mixture boils, let it stand
overnight. Separate the berry mead carefully from the dregs and pour it into
a cask. You must decide which mead  to use as a base and how much to thicken
the berry mixture. But when you decide the berry mead is finished, place it
in a cask you have not used for mead before so there will be no yeast either
in the casks or in the mead.
	Ordinary kvass. To brew ordinary kvass, take four parts honey and strain it
until it is clear. Put it into a jar and ferment it using an ordinary soft
loaf, without additional yeast. When it is done, pour it into a cask.

May, Robert. The Accomplisht Cook or the Art and Mystery of Cookery. Circa
1660. A facsimile of the 1685 edition published by Prospect Books.  Devon,
England. 1994.  ISBN 0-907325-54-8

Page 275-276
To make excellent Mead much commended
Take to every quart of honey a gallon of fair fpring water, boil it well
with nutmegs and ginger bruifed a little, in the boiling scum it well, and
being boil’d, fet it a cooling in feveral veffels that it may stand thin,
then the next day put it in the veffel, and let it ftand a week or two, then
draw it in bottles.

If it be to drink in a fhort time you may work it as beer, but it will not
keep long.
Or take to every gallon of water, a quart of honey, a quarter of an ounce of
mace, as much ginger and cinnamon, and half as much cloves, bruife them, and
ufe them as above said.

Take five quarts and a pint of water, warm it, and put it a quart of honey,
and to every gallon of liquor one lemon, and a quarter of an ounce of
nutmegs; it muft boil till the fcum rise black, and if you will have it
quickly ready to drink, fqueeze into it a lemon when you tun it, and tun it

To make Metheglin
Take all forts of herbs that are good and wholefome, as balm, mint,
rofemary, fennil, angelica, wilde time, hyfop, butnet, agrimony, and other
fuch field herbs, half a handful each, boil and ftrain them and let the
liquor ftand till the next day, being fetled take two gallons and a half of
honey, let it boil an hour, and in the boiling fcum it very clean, fet it a
cooling as you do beer, and when it is cold take very good barm and put it
to the bottom of the tub, by a little & a little as to beer, keeping back
the thick fettling that lyeth in the bottom of the veffel that it is cooled
in; when it is all put together cover it with a cloth and let it work very
near three days, then when you mean to put it up, skim off all the barm
clean, and put it up into a veffel, but you muft not ftop the veffel very
clofe in three of four days, but let it have fome vent to work; when it is
clofe ftopped you muft look often to it, and have a peg on the top to give
it vent when you heare it make a noife as it will do, or elfe it will break
the veffel.
Sometimes make a bag and put in good ftore of flic’t ginger, fome cloves and
cinamon boil’d or not.

Crystal A. Isaac
“I took advantage of a pigeon once.” -- overheard at choir practice

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hist-brewing at rt.com [mailto:owner-hist-brewing at rt.com]On
Behalf Of Kirsty Pollock
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2000 6:28 AM
To: 'hist-brewing at pbm.com'
Subject: RE: hist-brewing: cultural brews?

Me too. Problem with any kind of history for Vikings and Celts is they
didn't do much by way of writing until the Christian era.


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