Brew of Night and Witches


08/06/2013 by syrbal-labrys


There it is…last month’s work bottled in entirety, about two dozen bottles in all, if you count the yeasty dregs saved to add to stews and chilies. “Nachthexen” we named this black elderberry mead, named for the Soviet women who flew biplanes in World War II to bomb the Germans. Named for women like this one, because we made the mead in the month she died.

I knew Russians of that generation, as I knew Germans of that generation. Both had more courage than the average modern sort can imagine, hardship was the expectation of their age I think. We have not learned the folly of war yet, and we don’t know what sacrifice and courage will be required if we don’t learn before it is too late.


4 thoughts on “Brew of Night and Witches

  1. carrotcosmic says:

    Care to share the recipe? 😉

    • syrbal says:

      It is pretty simple, classic mead stuff….one gallon of honey to about five gallons of water.
      To make elderberry, you either cook about 5 or 6 lbs of elderberries down in a gallon or two of water first, and strain, before adding more water and honey or you use a priorly made concentrate (our course this early in the year….elderberries ripen very late in fall here), and then carry on. Once the water, honey, elder bit has been boiled and poured into the carboy, it is allowed to cool to about 90 degrees before prepared dry champagne yeast (proofed with water and a bit of orange juice) is added. Then we cap the carboy with the usual CO2 release valve and keep it in an area that does not cool down below about 75 degrees until it stops bubbling and brewing. We rack it off to another carboy or into a keg…but do not connect the carbon dioxide to carbonate it if kegged. After another week or two, we bottle it and store it at least four months before sampling; this dark beauty will be best at least a year hence.

      • carrotcosmic says:

        I may give it mead-making a try, although it seems a bit difficult from a laywoman’s point of view! Afters looking at my tiny tomatoes, I think there is something sacred in growing your own food and making your own drink.

      • syrbal says:

        Of all the brewing, mead making is the simplest. It needs the least equipment…beer making is MUCH more involved. A big pot, a sieve and/or bag to contain fruit/flower/etc, water, honey, a carboy and valve lid, and bottles will pretty much do it. Oh, and time. We let our age before drinking, it mellows into Divinity in a glass.

        And yes, I find growing some food and harvesting wild foods intensely satisfying on a sort of sacramental level.

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The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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