hist-brewing: Heather Honey Mead

Chuck Wettergreen meadmakr at enteract.com
Sun Jan 21 17:27:41 PST 2001


Karen wrote:
> It's like buckwheat honey, a 100%
> buckwheat mead would also be undrinkable for years, but
> then that's another story... :?>)
>> Now that I have to disagree with, I have made a 100% buckwheat mead.
Yes,
>> you need to wait at least a year to drink, but mead is for the patient in
my
>> opinion.  I don't doubt that it will only improve, and compared to the
>> accident with the cherry wine/buckwheat mead, it is stronger tasting.
But
>> than I happen to like the stronger flavored honeys for straight meads

I don't know what kind of buckwheat you have  I got mine from Dutch Gold in
Lancaster, Pa.  I offered a jar of it to my wife for baking, but she refused
saying
it "smelled like barnyard". Mine is *very* strongly flavored.

When Wout Klingens and I left our families behind and took off to Brittany
to talk to
commercial meadmakers there, we heard a common complaint.  Every commercial
meadmaker we talked to was also a beekeeper. Their complaint was that the
seed
growers were selecting for bigger buckwheat kernels, which, unfortunately,
resulted
in a smaller buckwheat flower. Consequently they got less buckwheat honey,
and they
were having to purchase it from Canada. They were also buying, I could see
from the 55
gallon barrels in their yards, wildflower honey from Brazil and China.

I had to make a mead today to celebrate my soon-to-be-nephew. For occasions
like
this I always make a "long-term keeper" mead, which I bottle (corked and
capped in
champagne bottles, and appropriately labeled) in year one, two, three, four,
five, ten,
fifteen, twenty, and twenty-one years. The smell of the buckwheat honey was
not
pleasant to the nose, but when included in moderate proportions, provides a
rich flavor and,
I believe, additional nutrients for the ferment.While my wife means "manure"
wen she says
"barnyard", *my*  buckwheat isn't quite that bad. But it is black as coal,
and very, very
strong. If I made a 100% mead from this, it would be undrinkable for a numbe
r of years.
Looking at the color of the French Meads (Chouchen Bretagne in Breton) which
I sampled,
and brought back with me in my overloaded suitcase, I would guess that the
French
meadmakers used somewhere between 15% and 25% buckwheat honey in their
meads.

Anyway, I also included a couple of pounds of heather honey in this mead,
and was
amazed, as always, to see it solid in the jar, but when stirred up, to turn
to something
like jelly. The aroma was, as always, phenomenal, and the flavor rich and
floral.

I still would not make a 100% buckwheat honey from *my* buckwheat honey.
:?>)

Cheers,

Chuck Wettergreen
meadmakr at enteract.com
Geneva, IL




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