There’s some­thing brew­ing for sure

Reporter Joanna Grif­fiths learns how to make mead with Pat Hoff­mann.

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

It reeked.

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

JOHN HAWKINS

Eye reporter Joanna Grif­fiths learns how to make cyser mead with South­land Bee So­ci­ety mem­ber Pat Hoff­mann.

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