Gleðilegt nýtt ár og mjöður

My mead game is getting a little stronger year after year thanks to Griffin Meadery.  I just put on my new year‘s batch this past Sunday.  Mr. Bruce Leslie, head meadmaker at Griffin, said my organic blueberry mead I made with him last spring was outstanding.  I was honored to have the compliment!


What is mead you may ask?  From the interwebs:


“Mead represents the fastest growing segment of the alcohol industry, according to Michael Fairbrother, president of the American Mead Makers Association and owner of Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, N.H.Jul 1, 2016” 


I won’t go into how mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man, and the drink of royals, warriors, poets, lovers and whole pantheons of pagan gods since anyone can find that info pretty easily.  Mr Fairbrother isn’t the only one saying it.  The whole alcohol industry is saying it.  One thing I am most hopeful for is that mead “brewing” helps bring back stronger bee colonies.  Private bee keeping is one of my next ventures….I’m just not there yet.



My current batch is my second in the hopped mead series, and uses Bramling Cross hops and juniper berries.  I’m using American “clover” and Texas honeys in this batch along with some super raw with propolis. My last hopped mead was very nice and was drunk fairly quickly, so I wanted to tweak it a bit and give it another go.


Initial gravity on this batch was 1.10 (3.2lbs honey/ gal. water; Lalvin 71-B yeast) with a sweet mead target of 1.002 SG (terminal 13% ABV). If everything goes well I might have a nice session mead at 12% in 5 weeks.  Wednesday night I’ll add just a touch of yeast nutrient, then rack a few times to keep the ambrosia off the lees.  Pics and vid below are yeast pitching cycle and the airlock popping after about 24 hours.


Where most of the meads I have made have needed to age out over 9 months or so to mature, these hopped styles have been really vibrant at 5+ weeks….. so my experimentation continues.  Patience is an ever important virtue.


Mine wanes on mead.



Griffin Meadery April 2017

You’re never too old to learn. Learning anything of real value, rather, is a good hobby to have.  Mead is a funny thing.  Like any real art, it takes a lifetime to master.  It’s never a quick thing to make and you have a to wait a while to get your own results.  By “while” I mean months or even over a year on a single batch/bottling.


Even when pleased, any good craftsman knows full well there’s room for improvement and learning.


I just started this journey in craft a little over 2 years ago.  Counting this weekend, I’m up to batch #10 having made this one to the right in an official professional mead class. My third batch of about 6 gallons is ready to bottle now, and the blueberry orange blossom honey mead I made this weekend will be ready in around 5 months.  Looking forward to tasting of course, but it’s the process and education I am getting in between that is the real reward.


Should you have the time, a visit to Griffin Meadery in Willis just north of Conroe Texas is worth your time.  I was able to meet the family and staff before class this weekend for a mead making 101 class.  Nine batches in and I really found so much to learn.  Mr. Bruce Leslie, the owner mead maker, has probably forgotten more about mead making and home brewing than I will likely ever learn or put to use.


Whatever level you’re at, this man’s class is worth your time.  And when you have that time, please reward yourself with a class and a mead tasting.  It’ll open your mind.






 Mr. Bruce Leslie, me, and Mr. Jeff Hamby

Mr. Bruce Leslie, me, and Mr. Jeff Hamby

Gleðilegt nýtt ár!

Happy new year, y'allir.....!

.....As Texas Icelanders say.  Looking forward to a new year, very thankful here, and hoping yours is off to a good start.  Plenty of cooking projects coming this year.  The Icelandic month of Þorri (Thorri) is on right now, so I am trying to plan for a Þorrablot dinner this month or next.

I currently have a couple of batches of mead/ mjöður on right now.  One is a Texas wildflower and the other is an organic berry.  Both sweet, and are coming along nicely.  The Texas wildflower is a really nice darker color and goes great with meals, cheese plate, or alone.

I should have pics of a glass soon when I bottle.

Until then, my family and I are looking forward in the new year.  More to come...

Our family whisky

When I was 18, I was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado for training.  If you were under age and wanted to consume alcohol at the time, you’d better find someone’s apartment off base and you’d better make sure you were sober before you came back on.  Growing up in Germany with my parents afforded me the ability to have beer and wine in a totally legal fashion…well under 21.  As a result I’m still puzzled by the American temperance movement.


When I did go off base, I wanted to experience single malt Scottish Whisky.  On an airman’s salary you took what you could get, and it wasn’t until I went back to Germany at 19 on assignment that I was able to both find and afford a quality dram.  I’ve been back in The States primarily for 20 years now, and since then I’ve been able to taste many labels of whiskies.  And Scotches.  Obviously there is a difference.


Research has finally led me to a place I have longed to go. Orkney.


Highland Park whiskies have smoke like no other peat, and sweet like no other sweet.  I know distillers are all passionate about their product, and have clever things to say about why they do what they do for their expressions.  Perhaps I am swayed by my paternal and maternal forefathers all being Vikings on Orkney in centuries past, but damned if Highland Park doesn’t make the finest whisky.

Scarth, Skarð, Skarðaborg, Scharbor, Skerrabra, Skara Brae…my dad's family was on Orkney for a long time a very long time ago.  Mom’s was for certain from another family. That said, I have declared Highland Park as our family’s official whisky.  Bold of me, don't you think?

Someday I’ll go there and thank the distillers myself. Perhaps even sit at my grandfather Thorfinn Skullsplitter’s (Hausakljúfr) grave and share one with him.

Until then, please pick up a bottle for yourself.  There are plenty of fine reviews out there to read on one to your liking.

Find one and let me know what you think.