Category Archives: Blending

Flavours of Mead

Anyone who has read this blog will know that I’m a big fan of mead. A very big fan of mead.

Last year we made five gallons of elderberry melomel, expecting that with that many bottles it would last a year comfortably. We’ve found ourselves half way through the year and due to wastage (drinking at home), handing out to friends and taking along to events to share around the fire we’re down to the last six bottles. I’m sure that there must be some creature eating the bottles, because I don’t remember drinking the other 19 of them.

So this year we’re going a little more ambitious, with the aim of having a variety of different flavours for people to try (and me, of course) next year. The actual amount is still under discussion, but I’m hoping for around 20 gallons. So here comes the big question. With 20 gallons of mead even I’m going to get bored if it’s the same flavour. I have a few ideas for different flavours, of course, but no idea which ones will be popular with other people. That brings me to the poll.

I’ve been doing some research over the last few days to get a big long list of flavours. Now most of you won’t get to try these (though anyone who wants to, and lives locally, is welcome to give me a shout in private to arrange a tasting once it’s done) but I’m hoping you’ll be interested enough to share your views anyway. I’m not sure how many of these flavours we’ll actually be able to make, but I’d guess we’ll have at least five varieties come the new year. Please vote, comment, share your views and suggestions and help us work out what’ll be popular. You can vote once a day if you want to, and vote on as many flavours as you’re interested in. All feedback and suggestions are hugely appreciated.

Also I made a comment on twitter a while ago about dreaming of one day having a meadery. I doubt this’ll actually bring us any closer, but as there are bees of our own coming in next year you never know.


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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Blending, Experimental


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Redcurrant Shrub

Redcurrant shrub

  • Servings: 1 litre
  • Difficulty: easy
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* 300 ml strained redcurrant juice (see here for how to do the straining)
* 600 ml brandy or rum
* zest of 1 orange
* 1 tsp grated nutmeg
* 300 g granulated sugar
First stage of infusion with rum

First stage of infusion with rum

Mix together the juice, rum (or brandy), orange zest and nutmeg all together and pour into a wide-necked vessel. You’ll get a sort of jelly, which is why you’ll want the wide-necked jar. Leave it in a cool, dark place for seven to ten days to infuse the flavour.

After you’ve left it to infuse pour the mix into a pan, add the sugar and heat gently to about 60 degrees until the sugar is dissolved. Then strain through a jelly bag or muslin before pouring the resulting liquid into a sterilised bottle and sealing. Leave for a few months to mature, and make sure you drink within two years. We’ve not tried it yet but have a strong suspicion it’ll be a perfect winter drink.

The name shrub describes several things, but in this case it describes the fruit liquer that results. Apparently it was particularly popular during the 17th and 18th Century in England so there’s definitely precedence there. It also describes a cocktail which was popular during the Colonial era in America, made with some form of vinegared syrup and spirits or water.

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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Blending, Experimental, Recipe


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Operation ‘Rescue the Too-Sweet Mead’

By George Shuklin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Raw mead

Towards the end of last year I put five gallons of elderberry mead on to brew, which it has done quite successfully. Despite the fact that it is now definitely done brewing, and is surprisingly strong, there is a slight flaw in this perfect plan. Some tasters have adored the stuff, but I just find it far, far too sweet. Ridiculously sweet. Sweeter than, say, honey and lemon.

As I said, some people love it, but I don’t and nor does my partner in crime. As such a rescue mission is required, and fast, so that I can free up some demijons and reduce the stack of empty bottles currently cluttering our store room (where the full bottles will go is up for debate, but that’s a bridge to cross when we come to it). Not to mention getting it bottled and starting to age is a worthwhile aim in itself. Sadly I’m not willing to bottle it as the syrupy sweet nectar that it is, and so I’ve been discussing this with various people. One of the more experienced home brewers I know had a suggestion which I’m going to try.

Stephen McKay [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Delicious elderberries

You may have noticed that I occasionally mention turbo yeast. This is because I’ve used the stuff, quite successfully, to make some very strong near-liquers before and really enjoyed the result. What I’ve not yet done is used it in the way that nature intended, by making pure spirit. So the plan is to get a fermentation bucket, pour in a lot of sugar, top up with water, add the yeast and make sure the whole thing is standing somewhere waterproof for a few days. After that experiment with different blends of the spirit and mead to see if I can strike a happy medium where the sickliness is reduced, giving us (hopefully) a much more manageable fortified melomel.

There is some prior evidence that this will work, as we had the same problem with a previous mead. In this case it was blended with some commercial brandy and turned into a very warming little liquid, currently sitting in bottles on the rack.


Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Blending, Experimental


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