Skald’s Verse-Bringer Spiced Orange Mead

Rediscover the ancient nectar!

I named this mead in honor of a Viking legend. Odin was reputed to have stolen Óðrerir, the vessel that contained the “mead of poetry,” from Jotunheim, the home of the giants. The mead contained therein went on to become the inspiration for skalds, bard-like figures who served to chronicle the daily lives of ancient Scandinavian kings and other prominent figures. Mead was considered to have sacred qualities as it allowed the skalds to surpass the confines of their physical bodies briefly and enter into a meditative state conducive to poetic verse.

You can use most of the equipment and techniques in Steps 1-6 (pages 90-93) for this recipe. The only exception is that you will add bread yeast rather than letting the honey and water wild ferment.

THE PROCESS: Clean and sanitize all the equipment. Heat enough water to dissolve 2 to 3 pounds of honey. (You will add more water later.) Mix the honey with the water until the honey is fully dissolved. Add the mixture to a fermentation vessel large enough to hold 3 to 4 gallons of mead as well as any fermentation overflow. Fill the vessel to within approximately 4 inches of the opening with clean water.

ADD FLAVOR: Slice two medium-sized oranges into eighths. Add all the orange slices to the mead, and at least one portion of rind. I initially used the entire rind, but have found that less rind makes for a less pithy aftertaste. Add a cinnamon stick or two, a couple whole cloves, a whole nutmeg, 15 to 20 raisins, and some thin slices of ginger. The orange flavor will be strong, so if you like heavily spiced meads, you’ll need to add enough to overpower the orange. The spices can be strong, too, so be careful!

WORK MAGIC: Stir vigorously with a clean spoon or a yeast-infused magic stick. Sprinkle one teaspoon of baker’s yeast over everything. Place a cheesecloth or a clean dish towel and loose-fitting lid over the fermentation vessel, or use an airlock if you’re brewing in a narrownecked vessel.

LET IT AGE: Set aside the vessel and wait at least a month—two months or more is best. As fermentation proceeds, you will see sediment begin to build on the bot- tom and ingredients drifting downward. Once the bubbling has stopped and the mead is mostly clear, siphon or pour it through a clean cheesecloth to filter out the sediment. Have a taste. You will be tempted to drink it all immediately, but I recommend bottling and aging it.

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