Hey all! Let’s kick this off in proper nerdy style. This is my first mead ever, and it’s got trees in it. Specifically, fir trees. I’ve been reading a lot about spruce and juniper ales and sahti and suchlike lately–but I live in Seattle and if there’s one thing we’ve got all over the place, it’s fir. There’s a bunch across the street from me. There’s one twenty feet from the door of the brewshop I like. All this delicious tree standing around for free and LIKE I’M EVEN GOING TO CONSIDER NOT BREWING WITH THAT.
Resiny trees bittering a brew is nothing new–I’d be surprised if the base recipe I used here hasn’t been a base recipe for a thousand years or more. The Imperial presence, however, is all me. First, the recipe:
FOREST MEAD OF ENDOR
1 gallon water
3 oz fir tips (snip the last couple of inches of new growth off a branch. You could use even more fir than I did, too.)
3 lbs honey, I used wildflower but whatever
(optional) essential oil mix: 7 drops wintergreen, 5 drops clove, 3 drops anise
1/2 packet wine yeast
Boil fir tips in water for 30-45 minutes, until the water is a nice pale green and the needles are a gross off-brown. Strain, and add honey to hot fir tea. Stir to dissolve. Add essential oils while it’s cooling, and prep the yeast, and once it’s cool bung it all into the fermenter. Wait. Wait a good long time.
I got my batch started two weeks ago, so here’s some action shots.
Naturally I’ve tasted it, and it’s coming along great–there’s a ton of honey in it so the result will be fairly sweet. The essential oils are meant to duplicate sarsaparilla bark, which I didn’t have on hand. I think steeping any of the actual spices (i.e. anise, wintergreen, or cloves) with the fir tea would give similar results. Or hell, real sarsaparilla bark. Or citrus peel. That sounds really good, actually, I think I’ll try that next time.
Combined with the fir resinousness and the honey sweetness, the Forest Mead of Endor tastes a whole lot like…really really good old-fashioned root beer. Just astringent enough to avoid being cloying with a growing alcohol bite. I can’t wait for this one to finish!