Since time is always tight, how about something quick that will impress your friends, neighbors and fellow brewers? Mary Izett of Fuhmentaboudit on the Heritage Radio Network gave a talk at this year’s AHA Homebrewer’s Conference on “Alternative Fermentations”. The talk was filled with different projects you can tackle when you have a few spare cycles. To demonstrate, she poured a Strawberry Peppercorn “Short” Mead.
I've always talked in the past about mead as a beverage with a super fast process (2 hours) and interminable wait (4-12 months) before you get a glass of something tasty. Here’s the coolest part about her short mead – when it was on draft, it was one week old! It was fresh, light, spritzy and unbelievably refreshing in the face of brutal East Coast humidity. The speed and rejuvenating characteristic of the mead come from its relatively small stature. Instead of a whomping 13%, this one clocks in at a modest 5-6.5%
Even better, there’s no sourcing of esoteric ingredients, needed. Everything in Mary’s recipe, minus the yeast, is available at your neighborhood Trader Joes’ (or equivalent) and lasts forever on the shelf. Buy the ingredients ahead of time and make it on a sleepless night.
Don’t feel tied to the idea of strawberries and pepper – do whatever strikes your fancy. How about lemon peel and thyme, candied ginger and blueberries, sumac and rose water? Many great possibilities to explore in only a week! Want less? Just scale the ingredients and go!(Check out mylifeoncraft.com for more of Mary's experiments and the NY Beer Scene)
Mary’s Strawberry Peppercorn Short Mead
For 5.0 gallons at 1.036-1.042, ~5-6.5% ABV
3-4 packages Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Strawberries, pulverized
2 tbsp Crushed Peppercorns
1 dose Yeast Nutrient (according to package instructions)
6 lbs Trader Joe’s Mesquite Honey
Dry Champagne/White Wine Yeast
- Steep the strawberries, peppercorns and yeast nutrient in a few cups of boiling water
- Add honey and 2 gallons of water to fermenter and shake/stir to dissolve honey.
- Add the steeping liquid (and solids) and top with cold water to 5 gallons. Shake/stir some more.
- Pitch and ferment in the 70’s until the ferment stops at 1.000.
- Chill to near freezing to crash for a day, then rack and force carbonate to a briskly sparkling level (3.0+ volumes) – Serve and enjoy!