How it all started

I've decided to do my first session blog post although it is a day late. I didn't really try any new or different beers until about five years ago. I had worked in an off license and knew quite a bit about wine and I would try out all sorts of wines but I never thought about beer in quite the same way. It was just something you drank but wasn't particularly nice. Then a visit to Yorkshire changed that. I discovered all sorts of different real ales and they were really nice. You couldn't get the same variety of beer in Ireland but my interest in beer started there. A friend of mine introduced me to a great off license in Waterford, World Wide Wines where I could get lots of different beers which I started to try. It was just after this that I got a job in a brewery and that's when my interest in beer and it's brewing really took off. I tried to brew two kits the first of which was horrible, the second was ok but the barrel leaked all over my parents house. So I waited until I moved to Dublin to brew again. I moved to extract and boiling and the beers I've made have been good. I now appreciate good beers and will go off on odysseys to get them. I think knowing more about beer and appreciating it has actually contributed to me drinking less. I'll have a few really nice beers and because they are so full of flavour I'm happy at that. It's hard to go back to bland beer once you've tasted the decent stuff so in most pubs I don't even bother if all they have is the same old same old.


I've spent the last while reading about mead. There are a lot of almost magical properties claimed for this drink. I haven't tasted proper mead since there aren't many commercial examples around. Bunratty make a mead but I've been told it's more a wine with honey added than a proper mead. There are many Polish meads which are supposed to be great so I will get a Polish friend to bring one back next time they are home. I had a Polish honey liquor which was lovely.
I want to taste mead and so decided I'd have to make my own. I ordered two books from amazon about mead making which haven't arrived yet so I decided to just go ahead and make it anyway. I got a very basic mead recipe from a forum and decided to try that before I start making melomel and metheglin.

One gallon batch
900g honey
Juice of half a lemon
150ml of strong black tea
1 tsp yeast nutrient

I put the ingredients in a pot with about 5 liters of water and heated it to 70 degrees celcius and held it there for about 15 minutes to pasteurize it. It's currently cooling as I type.

I made two of the above recipe and the plan is to ferment in two demi johns with two different yeasts. The first will be a champagne yeast, Lalvin EC1118. The second will be Muntons premium gold beer yeast.

Note the knitting in the background. The idea is to see what the mead tastes like with the two different yeasts. The beer yeast should give up at a lower alcohol level than the champagne yeast and also should give a sweeter mead. The champagne yeast should give a dryer mead which I suspect I'll like more.

The primary fermentation should take about a month. Then I'll rack them to bottles for a secondary fermentation and aging. I'm thinking about making each secondary into a different type of mead by using spices and fruits in the bottle. The mead should be ready for when I get home from my honeymoon which is when you're traditionally supposed to drink it.

Works in Progress

I haven't posted any finished projects recently as I've been knitting away on Tempting a pattern from It's a summer sweater knit in the round and it's done in 2x2 ribbing. So it's pretty easy knitting but it's turning out very nicely. I'm using Sublime merino silk cashmere aran and it's lovely to knit with and looks pretty when knit up. I have visions of myself wearing this on a cool summers evening while drinking a nice pint outside McGanns in Doolin...

I'm also knitting my first pair of socks. I'm using a Universal Toe Up sock pattern again from Knitty. I think Knitty is the best free pattern site on the net. Lots of lovely easy to follow patterns graded by difficulty. The socks are in regia self striping yarn and are turning out quite well. I'm almost at the heel of my first sock. Hopefully I'll manage to knit both of the socks and not suffer from the dreaded second sock syndrome. I'm still not convinced about sock knitting. They are a lot of fun to knit and pretty portable. I do wonder though are hand knit socks that much nicer to wear? I'll have to wait to find out I suppose.