Forest Mead of Endor

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:


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!

Tagged , , ,

5 thoughts on “Forest Mead of Endor

  1. Matt Spaanem says:

    That’s seems like A LOT of essential oils to be adding to one gallon, how strong are those flavors coming through?

    • brewingape says:

      Not that strong, actually! They were very strong just as they went in, but they’re volatile enough that they’ve tamed down during the fermentation process. Got really lucky on the first shot–I was counting on some of that happening but was prepared for a really spicy brew if it didn’t.

  2. trolleterik says:

    I’m looking to make a mead for the release of the Hobbit movie inspired by Beorn’s meadhall. I was thinking about following this recipe, minus the essential oils and throwing in 2-3 cloves and a lemon peel for the initial ferment. Then when I rack it off throwing in some oak chips and, depending on the pine taste, throwing in one or two dried juniper berries. I might add some rose hips and fresh rosemary to even it out and add a bit of a homier taste. After another four weeks I might do another racking, depending on how it tastes.

    • brewingape says:

      Dude, LET ME KNOW HOW IT WORKS. Me, I put in a LOT of spice, so when I rip you off and try this recipe myself I’m going to use more lemon. 🙂

      • trolleterik says:

        I’ll let you know. I haven’t started it yet because I’m basing this on a 6-month ferment and a 1-month bottling before the movie, which means I’m going to start it very, very soon.

        Which yeast did you use? I have a jar of Fleischmann’s I use for experimental meads and since I’ve not used a method like this before (making a ‘tea’ and also throwing in bark), I’m not sure if it will work as nicely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: