Monday, December 5, 2011

Thorsdays are still Thirsty

So here we are, nearly a year since last posting?  If you're reading this, you may wonder what has been going on.  Here's the executive summary: Mead: Bottled.  Several bottles: consumed.  Tasting notes:...noted.

In a fury and frenzy of activity, we blasted through the bottling process.  Our oh-so-stylish labels affixed, we arranged our finished product in the proudest, most grandiose of reliquaries: the boxes we got the bottles in, stashed in my basement.  So clearly, refined presentation still needs some work.  But my whole basement probably needs some work, so that goes with the territory.

Exciting news on the aging front: batch #1 has carbonation.  Fortunately, very light carbonation, so that no bottles have exploded (yet).  Nothing adds spice to a night of drinking quite like pulling your bottle from a potential minefield.  And those little fizzy bubbles really help lighten up the medium-sweet mead.

And sweet it is.  What we have ended up with is best classed as something like a dessert wine.  Heavy alcohol content, best served chilled, and fairly sweet.  At room temperature, still a bit raw and unrefined, though time seems to be curing those ills.  We embrace the imperfections, consume the fermentations, and embark on new adventures.  Are new batches coming soon?  Well, there's been a lot of assorted life happening, but fueled by the boundless energy of Eddie's hoard of highly caffeinated beverages I'm sure we'll manage to get another batch set down before long.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Godt Nytt År

Happy New Year from your friends at Berserker Mead.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seeking greater clarity...

So the mead has been sitting, lurking in my basement, yea these however many weeks it's been.  Have not cracked the seal to check alcohol content, but I have taken a peek to see how it is progressing.  A little bit of foam on top implies that there may be some last stages of fermentation going on, but no real bubbling out the air lock in any timeline that my gnat-like attention-span can fathom.  The most exciting development is that the mead is definitely getting clearer.  I doubt that the taste changes much from a clear to a cloudy mead, but it is gratifying to have it clear up for a more professional-looking appearance.  

We're pretty much leaving it up to the weavings of the Norns as far as how clear it gets.  Whether due to an appropriate viking fatalism, highfalutin notions about old-school, natural brewing, or just a last-ditch attempt to introduce some aspect of purity into lives of seemingly endless debauchery, we have opted not to use any added clarifiers.  At this point, the mead contains its own destiny, and we are just here to make sure that nothing interferes with it.  

-Ben Berzerker Rooney

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirsty Thorsday

Welcome to another thirsty Thors-day with the Berserker crew.  This post is actually a week late, as we racked batch 00002: Pineapple Insanity into its carboy last week.  But in the spirit of the day, we proceeded immediately to Frank's Place to celebrate another step on the road to mead-drenched Valhalla.

Frank's is our friendly neighborhood bar.  How friendly?  Well that depends on whether Jim the bartender is in a good mood.  But the drinks are always strong and the prices are reasonable, so it is an excellent location to take refuge from the sober world.  You meet colorful characters at Frank's.  I was in there yesterday, and I kid you not, Jim said "the crazy lady who sits in the bushes came in the other day."  Michael Vick tried to sell me some drugs one Saturday (I think it was Michael Vick...he was wearing the jersey anyway...).  And always be wary if you see the Witch or Laszlo the crazy Hungarian.  I should give Laszlo his due, he's got fabulous stage presence in his karaoke act, and he bought me a shot last Monday.  It's nice not to be the weirdest guy in the bar.  Though the cast is pretty colorful, it's usually pretty chill, so if you're not such a delicate flower that you quit reading our blog, you should be fine to go there.

But I digress...

Project Pineapple Insanity is coming along nicely.  Looks like it will be even higher in alcohol content than batch 0001.  A tasting confirmed that it was coming along nicely.  The racking went very smoothly.  Like any project, once you get it figured out the first time, repetition just makes things more efficient.   Some sterilizing of equipment, a little mugging for the camera, a quick hydrometer reading and chalk up another victory for the berzerking bastards of brew.

Story by Ben Rooney
Pictures by Eduardo Lima *ahem* I fukkit

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Party like a Rack Star

Yeah, the pic is old, but it gets the point across.  That is my most estimable brother on the left.
Racking...Compleat!  As of this Thorsday, 10-7-2010, batch 0001 has been racked into one of the glass carboys.  Probably could have racked a little earlier, as fermentation is now nearly complete, but as a wiser man than myself once said "Let's not argue and bicker about who killed who."  The task of racking was made incredibly easy by the auto-siphon I picked up from the good folks at our local brewing supply company,  Unless you have mad siphon skillz or a lovely assistant who can suck-start a leaf blower, I highly recommend that particular piece of equipment. 

Naturally the most important part of the proceedings was to take this opportunity for a little tasting of the merchandise. To give an appropriate air of gravitas to such an occaison, we busted out the prayer from the 13th Warrior:
Lo there do I see my father,
Lo there do I see my mother,
And the line of my people, back to the beginning.
They call to me now, and bid me join them
In the halls of Valhalla
Where the brave may live
Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer...I am awesome.  This stuff already tastes pretty good.  Some aging to mellow it out, clarify, and smooth the rough edges, and I think that Batch 0001 is going to be a winner.  It is translucent and kind of an iced tea color, in keeping with the dark wildflower honey. We're rocking a solid 12% alcohol by volume according to our amateurish-at-best use of the hydrometer.  Whatever the exact number, it's got enough power to put a warm glow in your chest on the way down.

I now know how Dr Frankenstein felt when he cut loose with his famous, "It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!"  To drink your own booze and have it taste good is pretty damn epic; I am producing a controlled substance in my basement.  Bring on the zombie apocalypse, I can make my own alcohol. 

-Ben Rooney

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wait for it... (2)

We're getting ready to rake our first batch of awesomeness, but before we do, let's look at mead and how it relates to life in general.

Mead is life. The end.


Just kidding. Mead is actually the antithesis of modern life. Mead cares not if you're thirsty. Mead cares not if you need your booze fix. Mead cares not if you went on an all-night bender and need to wash the taste of cigars and hookers out of your mouth. Mead will be ready when mead will be ready, and not a minute longer. This ain't no Bud Light, folks! Now, that flies in the face of our modus operandi, does it not? Humans were too busy to stay in line for a cheeseburger on their way to work, and we invented drive-thru. We were too embarassed to go to our nearest adult bookstore in fear of being recognized as the deranged perverts we are, and we invented the internet. You see where this is going? At the ebb of our civilization, we have gotten ourselves into a damn hurry to accomplish even the most meaningless of tasks.

Cheeseburger-eating, porn-addicted beer drinkers

Mead drinkers
So, it comes as no surprise that meadmaking attracts those of us in search for an antidote for everyday life. The very process of preparing the ingredients, mixing them into a must, and watching it ferment week after week is in itself an exercise in patience and anticipation. It is also as close to alchemy as one gets, which is why we plan to brew our future batches dressed in robes and wizard hats. Now THAT ought to be a hit with the ladies, uh?

With that said, despite the relative unpredictability of meadmaking at the homebrewing level, it is OK to set goals. After all, what's the point of brewing this stuff if you don't get to consume it as much and as soon as possible? We're trying to remedy it by brewing batches in set intervals, to sort of 'cheat' our way into having mead available all the time. We expect our first batch to be drinkable around April, so we'll see. Mead cares not if it's Easter and you have friends over for dinner, but that's OK. If the mead is not ready, we'll just serve beer.

-Eduardo "don't-serve-me-that-swill" Lima

Friday, September 17, 2010

Much love, much love

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who came before us and led the way towards the mead revolution.

The Compleat Meadmaker : Home Production of Honey Wine From Your First Batch to Award-winning Fruit and Herb Variations - props to Rooney for this great find. Unsure as for why the misspelling on the title, but let it not fool you: this is as encompassing as it gets. Tons of info, lots of pics, tables, comparison charts... a tome of vast importance if you want to experiment with various honey varieties and types of fruit. Essential! - If Ken Schramm's book is called The Compleat Meadmaker, Will Kalif's website is the Compleat Idiot's Guide to meadmaking. Step-by-step instructions on what ingredients to buy, how to prepare your must, and a plethora of knowledge (including videos) sure to make your wife hate you for spending hour after hour in your basement making booze -- all presented in simple to understand, idiot-proof prose that's at once informative and motivational. After reading Will's site, the question was not 'how to make mead': it became 'how can we not  make mead'. A must! (pun intended)

-Eduardo Lima