[Content Advisory: Contains booze]
I just discovered, compliments of Groupon, the existence of the 1634 Meadery
, up in Ipswich. How did I not know about this? Did you know about this? How long has this been there? Is this somebody I know? Has anybody tried any of their stock? Is it any good? Is it any good by Scadian standards?
This is less exciting to me now than it would have been 20 years ago, but, still, I'm amused and hopes it turns out to be a viable source. It would be nice to acquire a bottle when I felt like it, and without all the washing of glassware and standing over a hot stove and multi-month wait, so say nothing of the crying expense of honey these days. I wish them success.
In any event, Groupon has a deal on tours
which includes a tasting.
ETA: And they have six varieties on the shelves of my preferred liquor store! I shall launch an expedition forthwith.
ETA2: Success! I scored a bottle of Pilgrim's Pride. Verdict: I've made better, but I've had worse. Not as Scadian-flavored as the tej they sell at Fasika, but definitely something I recognize as a proper mead and at 14.7% ABV it was clearly made in the Scadian way: as with drowning someone, you're not done until the bubbles stop coming up. This is no-saccaride-left-behind booze, and it kicks like a mule. $20 only gets you 500ml. The serving suggestions are either chilled or on ice, and I can see why. I, of course, tried it at room temperature, which at the time wa 76degF, and it has some unfortunate notes which are flashing me back to my undergrad meading days, a milder version of the tastes that caused me and my confederate to wonder if what we made was safe to drink*; those notes are probably suppressed when chilled.
* Okay, story time. My partner in crime and I got such a weird flavored result from our first batch of mead that we found ourselves wondering if we had actually managed to produce some variety of alcohol other than ethanol. Some of those are dangerous to drink, and we had no idea how any of them are made. So there we are in our dorm kitchen trying to figure out how to figure out what our little craft project consists of, chemically speaking. My collaborator is a chemistry major. I am, at this point in time, a materials science major, and say what is probably the most materials-sciency thing imaginable, something to the effect of, "If this were an metal alloy, we would be able to tell what was in it by the temperatures of its phase changes. You orgo types, do you have phase state diagrams for different alcohols vs H2O?" Now, presumably you can just go look that up off the internet; this was before the Web. She checked her textbooks, and didn't come up with anything. It being an engineering school, we then pretty much went door-to-door in the dorm asking if anybody had the reference data we needed; lots of people loaned us likely textbooks, and we pored over them, but no luck.
Now, as it happened, we were doing this on a Friday night, and, as it happened, the dorm was at that very moment holding a party on the ground floor. I don't know which one of us it was that got this bright idea: since we couldn't find the data we needed in references, we could derive it experimentally
. We could take a sample of H20-C2H6O solution of known proportion – a Budweiser – and see what temperature it
boiled at. My confederate had a candy thermometer. I went down to the party and grabbed a Bud.
(Note! I eventually realized that this wouldn't work, because we had two dependent variables, not one. My co-conspirator eventually realized that this wouldn't work because the candy thermometer was probably insufficiently precise to do the job. At least we only wasted a Bud.)
So there we are, in our dorm kitchen. The gallon apple cider jug which no longer holds cider and has the tell-tale U-shaped vapor lock sticking out of the cork in it is sitting on the kitchen table between my co-conspirator and I. The rest of the table is covered in textbooks all open to pages about the chemistry of ethyl alcohol. A saucepan of beer with a candy thermometer in it heats on the stove.
And the dorm Housemaster wanders in.
He's an affable gray-haired 70-something physicist, and I on no occasion before or after ever saw him on a floor of the building higher than the first. If you had told me he was no more able to climb stairs than a Dalek, I would have had no evidence to the contrary.
I am 19. My collaborator is 18. It's 1990. We freeze like two deer in a headlight.
"Are you girls studying on a Friday night? You should take a break. There's a party in the first floor lounge, you know."
And he wandered back out.
We never did figure out what was in our mead. An upperclasswoman who – perhaps crucially – was a biologist who liked to party hard, counseled us that if it didn't taste like something we wanted
to drink, maybe we shouldn't be worrying so hard about whether it was something we could
drink. Thus we resigned ourselves to the obvious and sadly fed it to the kitchen sink. Some weeks or months later, she actually found exactly the phase-state diagram we had needed and made me a photocopy; I may still have that piece of paper somewhere in my stuff.