There’s something brewing for sure
Reporter Joanna Griffiths learns how to make mead with Pat Hoffmann.
I don’t have the best track record with home-brewed alcohol.
Growing up, we had a family friend who used to brew his own beer in the garage.
Everything within a 500 metre radius stunk of yeast.
I remember my dad, who is admittedly a fussy beer drinker, once cracked into a bottle of the good ol’ home brew and took a swig before turning a shade of red and immediately spitting it out.
Apparently, a more bitter brew has never existed.
What ended up happening to the remainder of the batch, you ask? Well, waste was seen as the enemy in my house ... so my mum washed our hair with it.
(No washing your hair with beer isn’t that weird - look it up.)
But the final nail in the coffin for home brew happened in my third year at university when one of the savvy engineering students set up a mini distillery and made his own vodka, rum and whiskey.
The stuff was deadly, and after one crazy night I vowed to never touch home brew again.
So, I had mixed emotions about trying my hand at home brewing for this challenge.
Before this challenge I didn’t know anything about mead; I mean, I knew you drank it but that was really the extent of my knowledge.
For those who, like me, were in the dark, mead is an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water and is one of the oldest forms of alcohol in the world.
Luckily, this was not a challenge I had to endure on my own. Southland Bee Society member Pat Hoffmann was on hand to prevent any disasters.
Pat decided to spice things up and teach me how to make cyser mead, an apple and honey-based beverage that was similar to cider.
I expected this challenge to be, well ... a challenge, but I was surprised at the simplicity of it all.
Turns out preparing mead is incredibly easy.
You literally just have to measure out your ingredients, pour them into a bucket and leave it alone.
There are no crazy pipes, bunsen burners or complicated filtration systems.
Admittedly, Pat did most of the heavy lifting before I got there, collecting 4 kilograms of honey from her hives and hand pressing 15 litres of apple juice.
This was a weird challenge because I have no idea how I went.
And it could be up to a year before I know I successfully made mead.
Who knows, maybe I made about 20 litres of vinegar - that would be slightly awkward.
I guess I will have to go back once the brew has fermented and find out.
The best part about making mead is the taste testing.
Pat put aside a small glass of a berry mead, called mambo in your mouth, that was still in the process of fermenting.
Having not taste mead before, I was not sure what to expect.
I was a little apprehensive about tasting something that was still fermenting.
It smelt strongly of yeast and alcohol and it was still very syrupy.
As I took a swig I was pleasantly surprised, it tasted delicious.
The best way I can describe it is like a mixture of port and cider - in a good way.
It was fruity but not overly sweet with yeasty undertones. Weird but wonderful.
Which leads me to wonder - why isn’t mead more popular?
It was so drinkable, with a deceptive alcohol content - I could see it being potential hazard at a dinner party.
Turns out I really like mead. Will I make it again? Quite possibly.
I guess we will just have to wait and see how my first batch turns out.
Watch the video online at stuff.co.nz/southland-times
Eye reporter Joanna Griffiths learns how to make cyser mead with Southland Bee Society member Pat Hoffmann.