Welcome to my “Recommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. 🙂 Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.
I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!
When we decided to try making mead we, of course, did research, first.
Unfortunately, what we found was a lot of conflicting information.
One source would say to just mix honey, water and bread yeast in a jug, top it with a balloon, stick it under your desk and forget about it for months.
Another source would describe starting a fermentation in one container, with daily actions, racking after a couple of weeks, and basically babying the must until it was time to bottle.
Some sources recommended using basically nothing; no other ingredients than honey, water and maybe some yeast. Others would talk about the need for various additives, ranging from raisins to nutrients to various chemicals to start or stop fermentation.
It turns out, mead making is something people can vociferously disagree on, too!
The last time I posted about our mead making attempts, I mentioned a new resource I’d found. CS Brews. This is the YouTube channel for a larger enterprise that includes a similar channel about cooking, a website called City Steading, a Facebook community, and more.
As the website name implies, this is a sort of homesteading resource for people who don’t live in the boonies, like we do. The skills and information are, of course, transferable.
My recommendation, however, is focused on their brewing videos.
Now, this may sound odd, but I don’t actually like alcohol all that much.
While I’ll enjoy the odd glass of booze, the biggest turn off for me is the taste of alcohol. I drank a lot more when I was a teen than I ever did as an adult because… well, that’s what was expected of me by my peers, and I was a total marshmallow at the time. I distinctly remember the day I decided it wasn’t worth it. I was at a function, and everyone was drinking and dancing. One of my brothers, who was already quite drunk, offered to get me another drink and I said yes. I watched him stagger across the dance floor towards the bar, pants sagging half way down his butt, and realizing it just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t like the taste. I didn’t like the buzz. I got fully drunk only a couple of times, and didn’t like that, either. I also didn’t like the embarrassing, stupid and sometimes dangerous things I saw people doing when they got drunk. So why bother?
I was about 14 at the time.
Over the years, I’ve had any number of people try to convince me to drink. Especially wine. And I would try some, sometimes. Mostly, though, I would politely refuse. People seemed really confused by that. Especially when I said I simply didn’t like alcohol. It’s amazing how many people take that as a challenge to convince me that I would really like their favorite alcohol, if only I drank it often enough.
Which is really, really weird.
Years later, when my own daughters reached legal drinking age, we started taste testing different kinds of alcohol. Whenever we could afford it, we’d pick up different types of wine. Then different types of beer. I figured, at some point I’d find something I’d like, right?
Well, I did find a few things, but they were all far too expensive to buy regularly, or could only be found in certain locations.
My daughters discovered they like beer. Not the kinds you can buy in cases of 24, but the kind you’d find in specialty stores and buy one bottle at a time. Or a good whiskey. The kind of stuff that you save for special occasions, or drink sparingly, because it’s just so flippin’ expensive!
I found I just don’t like wine. At all. I also don’t like beer. I like hard liquor, but only in cocktails or really fruity mixes, where the alcohol taste is smothered by other flavours.
I did find I enjoyed hard cider and mead.
Then we moved back to the family farm, where we have all these crab apple trees and a beekeeping cousin who produces the best honey ever.
So the idea of brewing at home became very possible.
I found myself fascinated by the entire brewing process. I would love to eventually make cider, wine and beer.
I don’t really want to drink any of it. I just want to make it! 😀
Our making of mead was very much a learning process, but many of the sites weren’t all that helpful. Even visiting our local brewing supply store is of limited help. Mostly because these sources tended to be people who normally work with beer or wine, and just sort of transferred that to mead. There is also a sort of assumption that the person reading their websites or watching their videos already has a strong background in brewing. OR they were purists who went the other extreme and waxed poetic about being authentically Viking in their methods, or whatever.
Then I found CS Brews.
I am so glad I did.
The basic format of their videos is, they sit there and talk to the camera, going through what they are about to do. Then they go through the steps, explaining details along the way. They explain why they do the things they do, and why they don’t do other things.
Best of all, for a lot of what they’re doing, it’s a very much learning process for them, too. They openly talk about their successes – and their failures.
This channel has only been active since 2018, but they’ve got a lot of videos. They’ve got follow up videos, process videos, taste testing videos, and even a video, made by request, of an air lock bubbling.
With the occasional special effects eventually added.
They compare different types of yeasts, and talk about when to rack a mead or not.
And, of course, they have many, many videos on how to make different kinds of mead.
There are 59 videos in their Meadmaking and Mead playlist alone!
So if you have any interest in brewing at home, or even just curiosity about what’s involved, this is the resource that I’ve found the most useful of all the many, many, many others I’ve looked at.
I wish I’d found them before we tried our first batch of mead!