Thistle Mead

 When I first got this honey, it tasted like thistle looks – spiny, kind of hairy, very green.  It took a long time to age out (measured in years, not months), but once it did it was just lovely.  When it finally came of age, it was the best mead in the house.

Brewed January 4, 2007

In a 3 gallon batch:

  • 12 lb thistle honey
  • 2 lemon peels
  • 3 tsp yeast energizer (1 tsp/gallon)
  • 3 Tb black tea (1 Tb/gallon; Irish Breakfast tea)
  • 1 vial White Labs champagne yeast (activated in Odwalla’s Pomagrand, a pomegranate/ limeade)
  • Small palmful cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ oz oak (probably Hungarian; I didn’t note the toast level) cubes, soaked in springwater
  • Hyssop tea, added months later

My notes say:

-Minced the lemon peel so easier to remove later

-Used bay leaves collected from a friend’s house in California

-Heated honey in springwater to 145F 22 mins. Poured into carboy over lemon peel, yeast energizer, tea, cloves, bay leaf – hot must over spices. Added cool water. After midnight (when I was home and must was proper temp) added yeast and oak cubes.

Tasting the honey, it seemed a little thin and almost bitter, though strong-enough flavored. Heated up it smelled wonderful, but had an almost musky undertone.

-January 30, I racked off the lees. Sharp smell.

-April 4. Still hazy.

-June 11 added 1.5 c hyssop tea and bulk aged.

– July 21 slowly clearing

– Jan. 29, 2008 Light gold straw color. Definite hyssop.

– July 23, 2008 Beautiful gold, strong nose.

– March 8, 2010 sent to American Homebrewers Association national, where it earned a Silver in the East Region.

Specific gravities:

1/04/07 1.7+ – hydrometer nearly popped all the way out of tube

1/30 1.06

4/04/2007 1.03

6/06 1.024

I did not make the glass bottle or cork, but I could make the label paper, spin the thread, and use oak gall ink to write with.

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