3 gallons spring water, 3.92 oz. wild violets, 6.25 oz. dandelion petals, 1.02 oz. white clovers, 1.91 oz. dried roses, 1 lemon with rind (6.46 oz.), 36 golden raisins, 6.96 oz. mulberries, 2 pounds alfalfa honey, 2 pounds basswood honey, 1 pound star thistle honey, 1 pound orange blossom honey, 1 pound orange blossom honey with honeycomb, wild yeast or Red Star Cote des Blancs yeast
This was a recipe inspired by a recipe in the book Make Mead Like a Viking: Traditional Techniques for Brewing Natural, Wild-Fermented, Honey-Based Wines and Beers. We picked wild dandelions, violets, clovers, and mulberries.
Bring 3 gallons of water to a boil (we used spring water). Remove the pot from the burner and add the 2 pounds alfalfa pure honey, 2 pounds basswood honey, 1 pound star thistle honey, and 1 pound orange blossom honey. Stir until dissolved and return the pot the burner. Bring to a boil and add the dandelion petals, violets, dried roses, and clovers. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cool to room temperature then add the lemon juice and rind along with the crushed mulberries, raisins, and the remaining jar of orange blossom honey with the honeycomb.
We left the must open to the air over night. The next day we stirred vigorously about 5 times throughout the day. After 24 hours we transferred to a primary fermenter with an airlock. The next morning there was some pressure in the airlock but no obviously visible signs of fermentation. We added a second lemon and stirred again. After two more days there were some signs of activity in the airlock, but when we took a closer look we were disappointed to see some signs of an infection starting on the surface. After some thought we opened it up and took a closer look with a sterile spoon. What we thought was mold colonies from an infection turned out to be dissolved honeycomb parts (I was surprised to see the honeycomb had completely broken up on its own), however one large piece of honeycomb floating on the surface did actually have some mold growth on it. There were no off smells in the must and the mold was contained to the honeycomb piece so didn’t take any chances this time and reboiled the must for about 10 minutes, cooled with a wort chiller, and added some Red Star Cote des Blancs yeast. The yeast took over and began a very steady fermentation the next day. I guess we are not real Vikings… Transferred to secondary (going to need a third, there is still a lot of plant debris) 3 months later. Split batch into two 1 gallon fermenters and put a third of a heavy European oak spiral on one.
In the future I plan to be a little smarter with wild yeasts and create starters from wild yeasts I’ve tested on smaller batches (as described in http://bootlegbiology.com/diy/capturing-yeast).
At around 3 months the mead had a wonderful fresh floral smell, but had a harsh plant-like after taste. After 10 months of aging the mead had really smoothed out. The un-oaked version had none of the bitter plant tastes and was incredibly smooth, but complex. Hints of floral and maybe even the rose are definitely present. Other notes of lemon and general fruitiness dance around. The taste ends acidic but its smells and tastes sweet. The oaked version was on oak for nearly 8 months. It added a distinct vanilla note to the nose. The smoothness and the complexity of the unoaked version remained the same, but the oak gave it a nice vanilla anchor of to tie it all together.