From the HBD Archive
Subject: Spices in mead
Date: 1989-06-15 17:17:00 GMT

It's me again. Since my strong suit is metheglyn (spiced
mead), I feel qualified to speak to the question of which
spices to add. Roger says: "Cinnamon might be a bit harsh...
clove, nutmeg, or the other sweeter spices might do better."
In my experience, both clove and nutmeg are quite easy to
OVERdo, and the result can be disastrous and may not even
be rectified by LONG aging. I have shipped my (prize-
winning) recipe to this network before. Believe me, it's
good, and the minimum aging period is only about six weeks.

I don't mean longer aging won't improve it, but it's not
only clear and drinkable after the shorter period, it even
tastes GOOD. I would suggest that a possible cause of the
problem mentioned by Dave could be the use of powdered or
ground, rather than whole spices. Maybe Dave could answer
that directly.

Many people prefer to vary amounts of spices to suit their
own taste preferences. I can see that Roger would prefer
less cinnamon than some might. But the oils in clove and
nutmeg can produce very nasty bitternesses, if they're used
improperly or in too large amounts, so don't just leap into
the breach.

For a small batch of metheglyn (one to one-and-a-half gallons
finished), I use 3 lbs. of honey to a gallon of water, and
one "grab" handful of stick cinnamon, two cupped handfuls
(scant) of whole allspice, and a short palmful of whole cloves.
I do not add nutmeg to my basic recipe, although I'm VERY
fond of it and can happily add it to almost any other cooking.
I don't add it because it's so tricky. I DO put some in my
rose-petal mead and my peach mead, but only one or two split
nutmegs. Maybe Rob still has my recipe on file somewhere,
if you want it. Or you could email me direct. If you expect
direct email answer, though, you have to be accessible via

What I intended to say was that in my early days of mead-making
(some ten years or so ago), I tried using ground spices and
ruined a couple of batches before I found out what the problem\

My foster-brother likes heavy, sweet, spiced fruit meads and
has some good recipes for that type. I don't care for them at
all. Mine, while not exactly "sec", turn out dry enough for
an acceptable table drink. I believe I have previously
compared them to a good Moselle for sweetness.

My second batch of beer was almost, but not quite as good as the
first. I must have either mixed the bottling sugar insufficiently
or capped incorrectly, because about half the bottles were flat.
No problem in Newfoundland. We have a local beer called "Jockey
Club" that is QUITE drinkable. I simply mixed the flat homebrew
with Jockey and drank it happily. I have noticed that my brewing
colleagues here ALL choose Jockey. It's minimally darker, a bit
lower in carbonation, and noticeably better tasting than any
other domestic commercial beer here. I wish I could make it
available all over North America. It's something I'll MISS when
I leave in August.

I have a friend here who makes a delightful rowanberry (European
mountain ash, dogberry) liqueur. If anyone is interested, I'll
see if I can get his recipe. It's strange in that the actual
flavour is light, fruity, and sweet, while the "nose" is
distinctly remeniscent of freshly-cut lumber. WOODY is a MILD
description. Like the infamous moose-turd pie, "It's good,

Here's how!

--Ye Olde Batte

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