Making Mead From Buckwheat Honey

At some point I thought making alcohol out of honey sounded like a great idea. I enjoy mead but tire of so many sweet and simple styles. Just because honey is its source does not necessitate it become a dessert drink.  Why can’t mead have the gravitas of wine?  Why can’t it taste dry, complex, and be a friend to food?

Thankfully, there are as many kinds of honey as flowering plants.  If a bee can find it, we can ferment it.  After trying countless honeys, I settle on the most savory one: buckwheat. Yes, earthy, ashy, mineral buckwheat: ingredient of black pancakes from Brittany, angry muffins, and serious soba noodles.

Every recipe and online forum says to stay away or blend other honeys. They use descriptors such as “rancid bacon”, “roadkill”, or “burnt old socks”.  Perfect!

I grab 48 ounces of local Heavenly Honey and add it to a boiling pot of water.

buckwheat-honey-boil

After much stirring and boiling (to avoid infection) the house smells like hot toffee and pepper.

buckwheat-mead-boil

I then pop the pot in the freezer. Once cool enough, I funnel it into the most adorable glass carboy, add a Champagne yeast to ensure it dries out, and tuck it with airlock into the dark cool closet.

fermenting-buckwheat-mead

Weeks pass. The airlock continues to rattle away. Once it slows to a near halt, I add sulfur to freeze it and transfer it off the lees into two growlers and pop them in the fridge.

It looks like tap coffee, but smells intensely of tar, molasses, pencil lead, and whole wheat bread. Annoyingly, it smells alcoholic and a bit wild.  At its core it tastes of rich clay and potting soil, bacon, and molasses, but something feral, meaty, twangy, and an edge of alcohol come through.  If only our cooler worked, then fermentation could have slowed evading some off flavors.  At least it feels dry.

Frustrated, I research more. Many point out that mead needs months if not years to mellow out, especially buckwheat meads.  Fine.  I will stow it away and report back later.

 

 

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