I haven’t started up a new bucket for a while, and a few days ago I was talking to a friend about cocktails. “The ones you like are too sweet,” I groused, because I have a bitter black soul. “Let’s just chug the fermented tears of failed human beings.”
I was joking at the time, but it didn’t take long to remember that I had three pounds of honey sitting around and a spare gallon jug and no reason not to take the joke way too far. It’s in the jug starting up right now. No pictures, because it came together ridiculously fast and now it just looks like a jug. Want a recipe?
Let’s pretend that you do. HERE IT IS!
The Fermented Tears of Failed Human Beings (1 gal)
3 lbs honey
3 oz fresh mint leaves
1 2-inch piece dried kelp for soup (kombu)
1 tsp sea salt
0.5 gallon water, plus more to top off
Boil the water. Add mint, kelp, and salt. Let boil for a minute or two, then turn off heat. Add honey. Strain into jug, top up to 1 gallon. Let cool. Add yeast. Wait a few weeks.
So that’s what’s going on right now. Pre-fermentation tasting tells me that I have the salt just about right–I was aiming for a very soft water with just enough saltiness to be perceptible and emphasize the honey sweetness. Like salted caramels or kettle corn. Like what actual brewers’ salts do for malt, even. The kelp is in there to give it more of that ocean-y trace element goodness, just like human tears. We’re basically bags of ocean walking around, after all. And the mint? I don’t know, it just seemed like a good idea. As though drinking tears straight would somehow be gauche.
If this turns out to somehow not be completely terrible, there are a few other adjuncts that traditionally work well with salt that might be worth a try…I’m thinking lemons or plums. But first this batch has to not suck, so I’ll keep you posted.
Quick science note: ocean water averages around 35 ppt (parts per thousand) of salt. Ape HQ is in Seattle, next to the Puget Sound, which is technically a brackish estuary at 28-30 ppt depending on how much runoff and rainfall we’re having. Human tears are about 9 ppt.
There are 768 teaspoons in a gallon, and roughly 1.5 teaspoons of salt in this recipe, giving it an approximate salinity of 2 parts per thousand. It’s much less salty than actual tears but I’m pretty sure I can fool my friends anyway.
Supplementary research note: A little looking around revealed to me the existence of Gose, an old and nearly-extinct German beer variety that incorporates salt and coriander. Of course it’s not Reinheitsgebot-compliant, which didn’t help it during those more strictly regulated times. But it’s still being brewed, albeit in small quantities. I wasn’t able to find a salt-mead equivalent, so if you know of any I hope you’ll say so. 🙂