In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for Mead and Cyser (apple mead from South West England), ancient drinks enjoyed by the Celts. You might want to try making your own Mead and/or Cyser.
Instructions for Making Mead
- Demijohn1 kg honey (different honey will make different mead)
- 2 litres spring water
- A spirit or wine thermometer
- An airlock
- Brewers yeast
- Sterilising tablets (optional, honey is a natural steriliser, so some skip this as long as everything is cleaned in hot water)
- 6 3/4 litre screw bottles (recycle)
- The honey is initially heated with 1 litre boiled water to 65 degrees C for 15 minutes (I found electric mark 3 was the best for maintaining this temperature).
- Pour into the demijohn using funnel.
- Add refrigerated spring water to the demijohn and then cool to 32 degrees C (put the demijohn in a bowl of ice)
- Once it has cooled add the yeast and a crushed sterilising tablet
- Seal the demijohn with a wine airlock
- Top airlock up with water and then cap the airlock
- Leave in a dark cupboard for 2 weeks
- Siphon into a pot, but leave the residue at the bottom
- Discard the residue and thoroughly clean the demijohn and then pour the mead back into the demijohn using the funnel
- Siphon after 1 week into bottles and then label the bottles and leave them for a minimum of 2 weeks before they are ready to drink (the longer you leave them the better the taste)
Cyser is an ancient drink compromised of a mixture of mead and cider. This recipe produces a gallon of 14% Cyser.
Basically, in the recipe you are using the same amount of honey as in the mead recipe but replacing water with apple juice. Fresh press apple juice is best, but you can make a decent Cyser with any commercially available apple juice. You will need 1 litre of the original mix and then add 2 litres after you have heated the honey with 1 litre of apple juice.
Follow the same instructions as for mead, except replacing water with apple juice. Honey is a natural antiseptic, so sterilising tablets are not essential in either recipe. However, you need to ensure that your demijohn is absolutely clean.
Whether you make, or purchase Mead or Cyser, it is always wonderful to include it as part of your rituals, or after as part of a feast. Remember, for those who don’t partake of alcohol, ensure there are alternatives like apple juice or pure water.
The Celts drinking habits are mentioned by first century BC Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, who states “their desire makes them drink it greedily, and when they become drunk they fall into a stupor or into a maniacal disposition”. The Celts were the original party animals! However, for your own good health, “try” and drink responsibly and enjoy the ancient beverages of your ancestors.