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Archive for the 'mead' Category

Identifying Sloe Berries from Damson Plums

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

It’s that time of the year again when everybody (because it’s all joy playing with the cool kids, right?) goes out looking on the highway for sloe berries to exploit their extraordinary tartness as a gin or vodka infusion, or as a jam ingredient. Unfortunately a lot of these people have brought home the equally lovely, but not quite on the money, damson plum. If, after reading this post, you found and used damsons, don’t shoot the messenger.

Sloe Berries are Visually Distinctive

A sloe berry is easy to recognise in that the berry, often covered in that lovely blush, looks remarkably similar to a 5 cent piece sized blueberry in the palm of your hand. When you bite the berry your mouth will dry out instantly. Pucker up. There’s no mistaking it’s power in that regard and once you’ve tasted one sloe berry it will be easy to identify the sloes from damsons in future.

The sloes will generally be found as hedges or along farm fences. Walk up to the plant and look closely at the leaves. These leaves have fine serrated edges on branches that are dark; thus the sloes are found on a plant called the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). On the reaching limbs you’ll see (and they can be difficult to spot at first) wooden thorns up to a couple of inches long and a fair way apart. Your chances of being spiked by these thorns rapidly approach zero, so don’t worry.

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The Obsession with High ABV Mead

Monday, November 18th, 2013

When I discuss mead with drinkers they ask about the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) but they don’t obsess over it. Mead makers do seem to obsess over it. And I wonder if this is a legacy of the faux-wine positioning that the majority of mead entrepreneurs have pursued.

By that I mean the standard expectation for a bottle of wine is around 14% ABV. Mead makers will jump out of their skin to tell you they make 18% ABV liquor… as though that in itself were a milestone worthy of respect.

Well, in my worldview that 18% has a huge down side. A few quick glasses on a thirsty day and I’m smashed. Business meeting goes awry. Social outing gets less social. That 18% ABV works in the wine paradigm quite well, but mead has more to offer than as a wine competitor.

So let’s think about what mead can be… and yes there are a few people out there making mead who know exactly what I mean.

To me a great mead for my personal consumption comes in at around 8-10% ABV. If I put that into a cocktail it reduces to around 6% ABV and often that cocktail includes a spirit and it rises slightly. But this means I’m not falling off my stool before dinner. I’m not out to get smashed on alcohol… I want a social buzz from it.

And I’m interested in niche mead products rather than the safe old standard fare that everybody and their forum researching lab assistant choose to produce.

I’m not saying what everybody else is about is bad. Not at all. Simply not for my interest. Faux-wine isn’t a barb aimed at anybody’s business… it’s just a statement of fact. There is what they think about mead versus what I think about mead. Because mead can be an awful lot of exciting things.

To understand Morgan’s Barn Mead and the core of what I’m about can be summed up by one core phrase – Dangerous Ideas.

There is nothing more exciting to me in this life than waking up in the morning with the ambition to take over the World.

Sharing a 2 Year Old Cyser

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

A while ago I gave friends a bottle of cinnamon cyser and they’d been keeping it to share with me. So when I dropped by for advice last night on how to get out of this phase as rapidly as possible – well, we had to crack a small glass and talk mead for an hour.

It’s absolutely brilliant to sit down with people who are interested and care about what I’m doing. Holding the glass up to the light she says “It’s got legs, as Iain would say.”

That cyser has held up well over the last two years. I was gobsmacked how much it has improved with age, too. We’ve loosely planned a mead cocktail night somewhere in the near future and that’ll drag out the old spirit of our friendship as we enjoy the most immaculate of all best dressed heroes of city living – booze. Living in the city without wine, beer and laughter is bullshit.

So I may go quiet for a while. The sun might rise and fall another year before Morgan’s Barn Mead has bottles to share with you. But share we will. And next year’s vintages will be their old self, not the rubbish that I made buckling to consensus from other mazers. The pure way is what I do – keep your chemicals and extra spoons of stuff for industrial control. It’s not me.

What I’m about is making 10,000 years of history shine inside a glass. It’s that simple. Drink it how you feel comfortable.

And we lost a vintage, but so what. Life is about living, love, passion and adventure. Never kill the wild things in your life. Roar when you must. That’s our adventure.

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About the Author

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

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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