Brambleberry Whortleberry Mead

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Panel Information

Brewer: Max the Executioner

Recipe Source: Original

Category: Division 2

Time/Place Paneled: BrewU 2013

Panel Score: 74

Brambleberry Whortleberry Mead


Pliny the Elder in his books of Natural History spoke of it in pieces. One part is in Book 15: Chapter 25, “Mulberries” – “a similar but much firmer berry also goes on brambles.” (i.e. brambleberry) Another part is in Book 16: Chapter 31 where Pliny mentions the “whortleberry” which was used as a source of “purple dye for slave clothes.” In Book 14: Chapter 20 Pliny mentions “a wine is also made of only honey and water.” Pliny in Book 14: Chapter 25 also mentions sulfur (sulfites) and the use of sulfurous tree resins as being used as wine preservatives. Neat!! Moving forward to the time of King Edward 1st of England (1238 to 1307), he made brambleberries famous under the name of raspberry, and encouraged everyone to grow them. Raspberries were very expensive in his time. Whortleberries were now known under several different names (bleaberry, billberry, or blueberry) as well. All of these berries fall under the category of genius Vaccinium. In the 1200’s, fermented honey and water was now known as mead. I thought “Let’s combine these elements and see what happens.” I hope you enjoy the results.


Mead Recipe


  1. 10 pounds of honey
  2. ½ fluid ounce acid blend (60/40 malic / tartaric)
  3. 500 milligrams ascorbic acid
  4. 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  5. 3 pint of brambleberries
  6. 6 pints of whortleberries
  7. Clean, non-chlorinated Water Source
  8. ½ tsp pectic enzyme
  9. 1 thiamin tablet
  10. Wine yeast - I use Red Star Montrachet
  11. Campden tablets (sulfites)


Procedure for making a 3 gallon batch of this Mead


  1. Make sure all of your equipment is clean, free of soap or detergent and sterilized with sulfites.
  2. Put water into pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Puree the whortleberries and brambleberries in a blender.
  4. Add in honey and other ingredients minus the yeast and sulfites.
  5. Lower heat and stir until they dissolve.
  6. Bring mixture to 180 degrees for 10 minutes to sterilize the mixture.
  7. Then, cool mixture to 70 degrees.
  8. Add honey/water mixture to the glass carboy and stir thoroughly.
  9. Transfer 16 ounces to the glass jar.
  10. Cover the carboy and add fermentation lock.
  11. Add yeast to the contents of the quart jar.
  12. 3-4 days later, add contents from quart jar to 3 gallon carboy.
  13. Let ferment for 4 - 12 weeks at 70 - 80°F until it stops.
  14. Rack off clear mead to second glass carboy leaving yeast sludge behind. Top off the second carboy with sulfited water solution. (2 tablets per gallon)
  15. Repeat step 13 at 3 months and at 6 months.
  16. At 9 months, bottle with sulfites (2 tablets per gallon) and enjoy.
List of equipment you will need to make a 3 gallon batch of Mead


  1. 2 – 3 gallon glass carboys
  2. Four feet of clear plastic siphon hose
  3. 2 one foot sections of clear plastic tubing
  4. a 1 – 1 ½ gallon non-metallic pot
  5. a non-metallic spoon
  6. a non-metallic funnel
  7. a fermentation lock and rubber stopper
  8. a one quart glass jar
  9. Floating thermometer
  10. Hydrometer
  11. Measuring cup and measuring spoons
  12. 15 Glass 750 ml wine bottles
  13. 15 Corks
  14. 1 Cork Press


Started on 10/25/09

Starting Gravity: 1.116

Potential Alcohol: 15.2%


1/02/10

Final Gravity: 1.030

ABV: 11.2%


Racked and sulfited on 4/3/10.

ABV: 11.2%

Racked on 7/3/10

Alcohol by Volume: 11.2% before racking

Diluted to: 11.0% after racking


Bottled on 10/2/10

ABV: 11.0%


Primary Sources:

Book of Natural History by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), Book 14: Chapter 20 and Chapter 25, Book 15: Chapter 25 and Book 16: Chapter 31

Ancient Wine, the Search for the Origins of Viniculture by Patrick E. McGovern with a new foreword by Robert G. Mondavi


Secondary Sources: Making Mead by Roger A. Morse

Making Mead by Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan

http://www.raspberrylovers.com/raspberries/Raspberry+History/

http://www.indepthinfo.com/raspberries/history.htm

http://www.wildblueberries.net/bluehistory.html

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_bilberry.htm


History of Blueberry Raspberry Mead

Archaeological evidence shows that Paleolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries. The delectable fruit has been a part of the human diet ever since, though the canes were not cultivated until about the 4th century A.D., as documented by Palladius. In the Hellenistic period raspberries were associated with fertility are found in Greek mythology. In the Greek stories, the berries were once white but when Zeus' nursemaid, Ida, pricked her finger on a thorn it stained the berries red and they have remained so ever since. The scientific name for red raspberries, Rubus idaeus, means literally “bramble bush of Ida”, named both for the nursemaid and the mountain where they grew on the island of Crete.

According to research, the red raspberry or Rubus idaeus, is native of Asian Minor and North America. The first to note an appreciation for this fruit were the people of Troy, who used to gather them in the foothills of Mt. Ida, at the time of Jesus Christ.

Other literary records can be found in 4th century writings, by Palladius, who was an American agriculturist. Archaeologists have found seeds in Roman forts in Britain, so it is believed that the Romans are responsible for spreading raspberries throughout Europe.

By the Middle Ages, wild berries were widely known and used as a food, as well as for medicinal purposes. Their juices were sometimes used in art, for paintings for example. King Edward I of England - He made raspberries famous and encouraged their cultivation throughout Great Britain In these times, only the rich could afford raspberries!


Blueberries belong to a well-travelled family, going back a long way in time and place. Perhaps, who knows, even to the Garden of Eden. Today, a relative of the blueberry plant is the oldest living thing on earth, estimated by botanists to be more than 13,000 years old. Skipping ahead from Adam and Eve, it is recorded that Virgil and Pliny recognized blueberries. However, they didn't call them blueberries - they used the term which still identifies the blueberry plant, VACCINIUM, a word rooted in the Latin "vaccinus" meaning cow. The connection between cow and blueberry is indeed obscure, but perhaps ancient cows were blueberry eaters.

The name of the genus Vaccinium is derived from the old Latin word, a name used in the works of the Roman playwrights Virgil and Pliny. Bilberry has a species name "myrtillus", this name is an allusion to the supposed resemblance of the bilberry leaves to the leaves of the myrtle plant. The plant is commonly known as the bilberry, the bleaberry, the blueberry, and even as the common whortleberry in England. Bilberry is the common name for this plant in North America.