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Viking Blod Mead & Flavour Profile

I’ve been making mead for a decade and the way that I’ve made mead has changed over time. What we know about mead and the processes involved has expanded to a point where you can turn a good mead around in three months from honey-to-glass without that traditional patience of waiting for fruit to drop and months-to-years ageing in the bottle. A really nice mead to make this way is called Viking Blod.

What the Hell is Viking Blod?

You’ll see a lot of Americans, in particular, calling cherry mead a Viking Blod. And that’s fine. But the Viking Blod mead that I’m talking about is that one based on the 1700s Danish recipe with hibiscus and hops. I use a 1-to-4 ratio of hops-to-dried-hibiscus and I probably put a lot more hibiscus in there than the Danish version (and, naturally, the same goes for hops). I believe their Viking Blod is pink, while mine is vibrant red. I would guess their Viking Blod is less fruity and bitter, as well.

The quantities depend how red and vibrant you want your mead; also, how much you like the taste of hibiscus, because it tastes like a citrus and cherry blend. The noble hops you employ should balance accordingly. That 1-4 ratio is a good starting point.

I would suggest if you make Viking Blod the objective is a mead to your own taste. If you are into the honey-wine thing you obviously want your honey to shine through; if you want a bolder flavour profile adjust accordingly. Too many people get hung up on recipe details or what they think mead should be and forget that making booze is about pleasing your own palate. There are no rules in mead camp!

Viking Blod: Flavour Profile

The initial flavour profile of this Viking Blod was very heavy in the direction of the bittering hops. Next iteration I might tone that back a little. However, several weeks after bottling the hibiscus rapidly came forward in a punchy red-wine way that I really loved. And it was dangerously smooth and quaffable given it’s 14% ABV; a deceptive devil in the glass.

However, don’t be fooled by the “mead will last 1,000 years” maxim because there is that special ingredient we all know and love – hops. And where you add hops you entertain potential oxidation. The more hops you employ, the more risk of oxidation you’ll be running. Also, remember that late hops aren’t going to carry that aroma indefinitely. It’s an unusual ingredient for mead.

As for honey ratios in this mead I made it just short of a semi-sweet. If anything, the hibiscus is in large enough quantities that the honey is overwhelmed. You might prefer a lot less hibiscus (a little goes a long way) and a lot more honey to get that honey-wine flavour profile. Again, it’s about making the booze you want to chug, not about somebody else’s vision of what you should enjoy.

At around six months in the bottle there was a distinct change in the flavour profile where the hops came back to the fore. It’s still fruity, but becoming slightly boozy on the back-end as that isomerised hop bitterness has crept forward.

The Fears of the Maker over Time

As a maker I have moments of panic with these flavour changes. With this Viking Blod I’ll have to see where the flavour journey takes me. I do fear the hibiscus could flatten out to the background and leave oxidised hops too forward for my liking. But that’s the future. And it’s not that that shouldn’t happen in a Viking Blod, anyway. There must have been reasons to add the hops in the 1700s and my guess is that it balances out that possibly cloying sweetness from the honey and hibiscus.

I do have to say, though… when I make the next batch in a month or so most of the 30 bottles will probably be consumed within six months because I really did enjoy that vibrant fresh fruity citrus red wine complexity. But that’s my preference; not knowing the future direction this mead’s flavour profile is going to take.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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