hist-brewing: gruit metheglin
fabricus at hvi.net
Sun Nov 2 10:52:36 PST 2003
Metheglin with bog myrtle, Labrador tea, and bee balm
Several educated palates have declared this to be anawesome product,
despite its being only three months old. The bog myrtle is commercially
available but quite expensive on this scale; it is also of indifferent
quality compared to the collected from the wild.
Design principle: a mead designed to emphasize a spicy floral character.
Base mead of clover honey targeted at 1.105 SG, 3 1/2 gallons at start of
All herbs dried; 1 1/2 ounces each of bog myrtle and Labrador tea, about
1/2 oz rose-scented bee balm
Yeast: Brewer's Resource Scottish Bitter yeast harvested from under a
barely hopped beer
The honey is not boiled; the water for the mead is boiled, with half of
the bog myrtle and half of the Labrador tea, for about half an
hour. Remove the steeping herbs from the heat and add the honey,yeast
nutrient for meads (Beverage People), and half of the remaining bog myrtle
and half of the remaining Labrador tea; and add half of the bee balm.
Cool, transfer to a carboy, including most of the Labrador tea and bog
myrtle, excluding most of the bee balm, and add yeast
When the primary ferment winds down to a very low level boil half a
gallon of water and steep the remaining herbs in the lidded pot until cool
enough to add to fermenter, including most of the Labrador tea and bog
myrtle, excluding most of the bee balm.
Labrador tea is harvested in flower, in June. It is commercially
available from Taiga Herbs on the net.
Bog myrtle is harvested in fruit, in late September. Strip leaves and
fruiting structures from the shoot tips, preferentially from female
plants. The resiny coating on the fruiting structures is the most aromatic
portion; the leaves have a pleasant aromatic/tannic quality. The bog
myrtle fruits are much denser then the leaves and sort themselves to the
bottom of the pile; use this property to put more of the leaves in the
early additions, more of the seeds in the later additions. Bog myrtle is
commercially available in homebrew shops under the Brewer's Garden label.
The bee balm is collected in early fall, primarily flowerheads and a
few associated leaves. There are many kinds of bee balm, somewhat less
than the number of mints, most inappropriate to this mead. The variety of
bee balm used is a rose scented bee balm available as plants from Richters
Herbs, on the net, as bergamot, rose-scented. The bee balm has a very
pleasant aroma, but develops an unpleasant warming quality at the back of
the throat in a long steep. Therefore, it is best to fish out most of the
bee balm flowerheads before making transfers. The aroma is quite volatile
and extracts readily
As noted, the SG is targeted at 1.105 at start of ferment; the mead was
clearly finishing too sweet, so a fairly large volume was chosen for the
final herb addition, half a gallon. The ferment picked up again, and now
the residual sugar is about right. This makes the effective SG about
1.092, surprisingly low to have residual sweetness. Apparently the yeast,
chosen for its scent of rose petals, is remarkably alcohol intolerant.
To reiterate the herb additions:
in boil 1/2 hour 3/4 oz bog myrtle and 3/4 oz Labrador tea
end of boil addition 3/8 oz bog myrtle, 3/8 oz Labrador tea, 1/4 oz
end of active primary ferment addition same additions as end of boil
(3/8, 3/8, 1/4)
Various experiments can be run on the herbs as teas, to predict their
flavor profiles in the fermented product. The general principle is to use
the boil to extract tannins and other flavors well bound to the plant
structures, reserve the aromatic components for the late additions.
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