Beauty In Beer : Making Mead, Beer, and Wine (and some cordials and historic non-alcoholic syrups)

From Li Livres dou Santé by Aldobrandino of Siena (France, late 13th century).

This site is meant as a gateway for moderns to learn history and historians to make good homebrew.  I want it to be a good, clear, accessible resource.  I try to explain things in straightforward ways making as few assumptions as possible.  And I like to tell an interesting story.

 I started home brewing with meads; I got serious about them about the time I started learning to make beer.  I have made a few wines and won a few medals with them.  I like drinking wine but I have a long way to go before I truly understand how to shape one.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try. 

 There’s the history piece: I hang with a lot of people interested in Europe before 1600, and am continually engaged by questions about what it would have been like to make fermented beverages back then.  I like to explore modern techniques for my own good and ancient techniques for all us historical brewers. 

From Li Livres dou Santé by Aldobrandino of Siena (France, late 13th century).
From Li Livres dou Santé by Aldobrandino of Siena (France, late 13th century).


 I’m a long way from knowing everything there is to know about beer…but I’m taking the BJCP class, and hope to (eventually) earn National Certification as a beer and mead judge.

Here’s my guilty admission:  I’m a pretty good home brewer of beers, wines, and meads, particularly meads (check my competition record ), and I really love to write about them (check my recent publications).  However, the list of beers I genuinely like is pretty short. I love trying new brews, and get excited about special projects.  The lure of the adventure!  However, the bread and meat is the great beauty in beer and in the people who make it and share it; beauty in daily life and community and all our remarkable richness.

I hope I’ve arranged my search terms and blog categories in such a way that it’s easy for you to find what you’re looking for.  If you have any trouble, ping me and send me feedback: (or use the Contact Form).  I’ll help if I can.

Updated 11/11/2013
On Tap:                                             
Just Bottled:
Hurricane Braggot
Buckwheat Oatmeal Braggot
Jacintha’s Ginger Gonna Sparkle mead (my first experiment with Methode Champagnoise)
What’s in Primary:
three one-gallon batches made with distiller’s yeast: brown sugar, molasses, or turbinado
What’s in Secondary or Aging:
Buckwheat mead
Cherry Melomel
semi-sweet trad that attenuated too fast; will probably blend this one
Killer bee braggot (full-bodied version; won’t be ready until midwinter 2014)
My Cyser Needs a Daddy! Cyser (sitting on 10 lbs Granny Smith apples)

Next Up:
Bourbon Barrel Porter
Pinot Pyment

100 gallons per person per year allowed by law.  Made it to 85 gallons in 2012.  2013: 17 gallons as of 4/18/13.  Don’t think I’m going to come close this year.
“I rejoiced in the Burgundy.  How can I describe it?  The Pathetic Fallacy resounds in all our praise of wine.  For centuries every language has been strained to define its beauty, and has produced only wild conceits or the stock epithets of the trade.  This burgundy seemed to me, then, serene and triumphant, a reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its long passion had learned another wisdom than his.  By chance I met this same wine again, lunching with my wine merchant in St. James’s Street, in the first autumn of the war; it had softened and faded in the intervening years, but it still spoke in the pure, authentic accent of its prime and, that day, as at Paillard’s with Rex Mottram years before, it whispered faintly, but in the same lapidary phrase, the same words of hope.”Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

1 Comment

  1. Why do you NEED a mash tun? We are using biab method, bewirng outdoors using our boil kettle as the tun, lidding and wrapping in a moving blanket resting in the direct sunlight holding temp steady for OVER an hour . Just sayn . we started doing 1 batch a month for the 1st 7 months in Jan 2012, we did 4 extract batches then moved on into biab for the last 3, we will do batch 8 & 9 in August, then back to 1 per month til Spring.

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