From the HBD Archive
From: <>
Subject: herbs and mead
Date: 1989-06-12 15:00:00 GMT

Florian Bell asks about hops and other herbs in mead. I've made three meads
up to this point (so I'm no expert), but here's my opinions: The first mead
I made was straight out of Papazian's book. It was a variation of his
barkshark ginger mead, with a quart of sour cherries added. It also
contained about 10 grams (about 1/3 oz.) each of Cascade and Willamette hops,
which were boiled for an hour. I used champagne yeast and clover/wildflower
honey from a friend's bees. This mead was virtually undrinkable up to 1 year
in the bottle. It's now two and 1/2 years old and much better -- very dry, a
beautiful color and quite intoxicating in small amounts. It's not bad for a
first try. But I wish now that I had started with the basics, so I know what
the contributions of various ingredients are. Looking back, I threw in just
about everything.

My second batch was patterned after a recipe I took out of the contest
recipes in Zymurgy. It was a grape/honey mixture (a Riesling pyment) and I
think of it more as a wine than a mead. It seemed to mature more quickly and
is very pleasing. No hops this time -- whether that is responsible for
the early maturation, I don't know.

My latest attempt is a peach/honey mixture which is still in the secondary.
At this point it's obvious that I haven't got back to basics yet. Why not?
I don't know. I have been enjoying the fruit beers I've made, and live in a
part of the country overflowing with fresh fruits, so I guess I just couldn't
resist. But I think my next mead attempt in the fall will be a strong,
all honey recipe. This will allow me to really evaluate what makes a mead a
MEAD, and not a wine. My biggest problem is not knowing anyone nearby who
makes meads, so I can do the necessary research in less than 5 years. I hope
that changes when I move in the fall.

So in general my advice is to start with just honey and see if you like it.
Don't put in hops if the idea of it doesn't appeal. Keep those wonderful
Pacific Northwest hops for your beers and ales. Good luck!

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