Tag Archives: mead

What am I even doing: Fermented Tears of Failed Human Beings (recipe)

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. 🙂

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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!

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