Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

Heather Mead

by Aethnen - January 20th, 2009.
Filed under: Recipes. Tagged as: , , , , , , , .

ABOUT

Mead is perhaps the oldest known alcoholic beverage we know of in Britain, dating back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. It was considered a drink of the gods, and sacred for use in rituals, celebrations, and as offerings to the dead ancestors and the spirits in the otherworlds. Heather mead is perhaps one of the oldest meads that has been discovered in Welsh Neolithic sites, and in one sense, that is not surprising with all the heather we have growing around here! Heather was probably a very sacred plant though to these early “Welsh” people, and when you realise that actually heather has slight psychoactive and psychotropic tendencies, you see its connection to ritual and archaic shamanistic religion. So this recipe is special, specifically for ritual or sacred use. It isn’t particularly mind-altering, but if you want to get even a bit of an effect, don’t wash the flowers! I think the recipe came in part or whole from a book of Dafydd’s on Sacred Beers and Meads, by a fellow who had tried and tested all sorts.

INGREDIENTS

6 lb heather honey
10 cups lightly pressed (unwashed–as washing removes the narcotic powders in the flowers) flowering heather tops
4 gallons water
yeast

DIRECTIONS

Heat water to 170 F and add 6 cups of heather blossoms. Allow to stand over night . In the morning, strain liquid and boil, then remove from heat and add honey. Stir in until dissolved. Allow to cool then add brewer’s yeast (5 grams roughly) and ferment until fermentation slows down noticeably. Then remove 1/2 gallon, add 2 cups of heather flowers and heat to 158 F. Cover and steep for 15 minutes, then return to ferment. When fermentation is complete, bottle and store for up to two years for aging.

Note that heather can be rather astringent so sometimes more sugar (in this case, honey) than less is a good thing! The first batch I made got left too long and it was like eating sloes *yeck* …. the best thing is to use plenty of honey and make sure you bottle it as SOON as it stops bubbling, or else the heather flowers leach bitterness back into the mead.

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