Tag Archives: home brewing

Mead, the Monks Brew

3 Jul

I love home brewing! It is so exciting, collecting your ingredients and waiting for the outcome. Making mead has been an ambition of main for a long time now and I finally got my act together last month.

I got this recipe from my friend Benny the bee keeper. Benny is now in his 80’s and uses an ancient recipe created by monks. It is super easy and has a great outcome. For this recipe I used some of my grandfather’s honey. My grandfather keeps his bees in the Wicklow Mountains where I live and the honey is just unbelievable. It is important to eat honey from where you live as it is believed to help hay fever and anything to do with your breathing such as asthma. This is because the bees take their pollen from your surroundings.

Note for Brewing

Brewer’s yeast, yeast nutrient tablets and wine bottles can all be bought from home brewing and winery stores.

The finished product

Prepare the mead in summer which is best for fermentation.

Make sure to add yeast nutrient tablets, otherwise the yeast will feed on the honey and cause bitter mead.

Recipe

Simple recipe for homemade mead

1.8kg/4lbs Good quality honey

3.7 litres Rain water

28g/1oz Hops

28g/1oz Brewer’s yeast

2-6 Yeast nutrient tablets

1. Collect rain water and filter through muslin.

2. Place the rain water and honey into a large container and stir until dissolved.

3. Add 1oz of hops to the honey water.

4. Using a large pot, bring the honey water to the boil and remove from the heat. Only allow the mixture to reach boil, do not over boil or else the mead will become bitter.

5. Using a wooden spoon, remove any scrum which has risen to the top.

6. Allow the mixture to cool and add the brewer’s yeast. If the yeast is added when the honey water is too hot it will kill the yeast.

7. Pour the honey water into a large sterilised container such as a clean unused bin or any large clean plastic container.

8. Crush between two to six yeast nutrient tablets. For medium mead use four tablets.

9. Use a minimum of two tablets for a dry mead or a maximum of six tablets for a very sweet mead.

10. Place two sheets of muslin over the container to prevent anything from entering and contaminating the mead but also allowing air to enter.

11. The mixture will begin to ferment and bubble, this will happen for 3-5 days, once the mixture has stopped bubbling vigorously it can be bottled.

12. Filter the mixture through two sheets of muslin and pour into sterilsed resealable wine bottles.

13. Leave the mead to ferment for a month before opening and enjoying.

Elder Flower Champagne

1 Jul

Elder flower is strongly connected to Irish legend and medicine. The elder tree is often connected with bad luck and is host to the mischievous tricks of the fairies. The elder flower and leaves are thought to have a mild narcotic effect, Irish folklore warns of sleeping under the elder, for fear you may never wake again.  Legend also claims that if an old maiden is to wash her face in the dew of elderflowers, she will retrieve her youthful beauty.

Making champagne out of elder flowers is so simple! All you need is a large sauce pan and some bottles. Elder flower is light with only 1.5% alcohol. The elder flower gives this sparkling drink a  beautiful lemon scent and taste. I also added some rhubarb cordial to some of my brew to make a pink champagne.

Recipe 

For 4.5 litres of champagne you will need-

6 freshly picked elder flower heads

Two Lemons

One Orange

750 grams of sugar

Equipment 

You will need several bottles before you begin. I got special home brew bottles that have two layers of plastic in them. It is better to use plastic bottles instead of glass as plastic bottles won’t explode from too much pressure. You will also need some muslin cloth for straining the champagne, the muslin will remove all the petals from the elder flower.

Method

  1. Take a large sauce pan, add the 4.5 litres of water, the elder flower heads and sliced orange and lemons. Cover, and leave over night.
  2. The next day, strain the water through muslin cloth.
  3. Place the water into a large clean bucket or back into the sauce pan. Add the 750g of sugar and stir until it dissolves.
  4. Bottle the champagne. Over the next few days it will begin to ferment as the wild yeast from the flower feeds on the sugar. Wait for one month before drinking the champagne.