I had my first bottling session in a while today. That’s kind of what happens when your production rates slow down as they have the past couple of years. Only 24 bottles, but boy are they purty. I got 10 bottles each of Blackberry & Raspberry Harvest, and another 4 bottles of Longest Night Blackberry Cyser. Yum. Used up the last of my clear bottle stash also.
It’s been a few years since I’ve made spruce mead, and it’s one of the more popular brews I do. I knew I’d do another batch this year, and when I tasted the Pine Barren honey from Fruitwood Orchard in New Jersey at The Honey Exchange, I knew I’d found the honey I’d use for the next Spruce Mead.
As I did last time, I began with a chaga decoction using some fresh spring water after a trip to the spring where I was enchanted by fireflies, the most I’d ever seen in Maine. Last time the chaga went beautifully with the spruce, so it’s worth repeating the recipe. After the chaga had been simmering for about 12 hours, I went out and harvested some new spruce growth, a bit beyond the “tips” stage, as they were last year:
When I brought the tips in, I rinsed them off and dumped them in with the chaga, to make a delightful-smelling herbal tea:
After the tips sat in the tea for about 30 minutes I strained it and let the tea cool down overnight.
The next day, I went to mix up the mead, starting with the pine barren honey and a little extra Maine wildflower honey. The Maine wildflower honey had crystallized, so I let them mingle together for a bit before adding the tea and dissolving:
After some elbow grease and stirring, I had a beautiful must ready to go:
I have 6 gallons in their new mini-ecosystems for fermentation:
I expect this batch of spruce to be as good as previous ones. It’s not my favorite tasting one (probably the traditionals or maybe some berries are), but this might be the most potent brew I do, since so much of the flavor comes right out of my immediate ecosystem — the spruce trees in my yard.