Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Pondering the Puzzlement

I've given much thought to Philosophy

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(9/1) Philosophy has seldom been a subject I've given much thought to, until recently. Even now I don't put a lot effort into figuring out "Life, the Universe and Everything". Nope. I dug far enough into the discipline to realize that I am God, depending on how one defines God. (I think there is nothing but God, so I have to be God.) Since I was raised a Christian I decided to put my "being God" to a test. Like Jesus before me, I would turn water into wine- sort of.

Not being a fan of wine I needed to find something besides rotted grape juice to aim for. Enter Ambrosia- food or drink of the Greek gods. (Fermented bee spit is more the way I think of it.) Mead, the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) brew masters call it.

Delicious, I call it. "Nasty" if I drink too much of it and two glasses are one too many! Which is kind of embarrassing when I think back to the days when I could down 30 bottles of Bud in an evening and walk home. Now I have to use a two fisted grip on the handrail if I need use the stairs after sipping a glass of mead!

Turning water (and bee spit) into wine? The "miracle" isn't particularly difficult, though you'd never believe it if you read some of the books on the subject. I mean come on, mead "happened" without human intervention long before written history. Historians suggest the first alcohol Man sipped was mead that occurred naturally when a bee hive in an old tree was exposed to rain. Yeast (a god in it's own right) went to work once the rain mixed with the honey, and alcohol was created.

A million or so years later (depending on your concept of the origins of Man) I managed to perform the "miracle". Now I admit I have advantages over the mead makers of the distant past. I can buy honey in a variety of flavors from "wild flower" procured locally, to "heather" from the highlands of Scotland, or delightful honeys from Brazil, Russia or even Bulgaria. The honey has also been filtered so I don't have bee parts and wood pulp to deal with.

The yeasts that best create what humans like about mead have been isolated and mass produced so I don't have to worry too much about unpredictable flavors in the finished product. I also have access to SCA brew masters who have worked for decades to reproduce the mead of the Middle Ages. (Mead was the drink of much of Europe until the Romans introduced the rotted grape!) I also have a friend who has recreated a "short" mead as close to medieval mead as is currently possible. Still, I see my attempts as "turning water into wine".

I have encountered a minor problem with my thinking I'm God. Sure I can turn water into wine (big deal), but turning water into good wine seems to be beyond my abilities, at the moment. Good wine and good mead take time. Yes, I can turn honey and water into alcohol, but a mead that is mellow, smooth and drinkable for most people, still escapes me. Why? Because I lack a thing the Biblical god seems to have possessed in quantity- patience!

Four weeks for the yeast to do its work then transfer the "wine" to a secondary fermentation container and wait another month for the grape to finish (a year for honey!) before bottling. Then at least six months for the grape to mature (another year for the honey!) before sampling.

So far every batch of mead I've made has been consumed long before it was ready to be bottled! The oldest any of it has been was 8 months. That was a batch of apple cider mixed with honey- cyser, the brew masters call it. I admit it was smooth and tasty, but it never made it to a year's end.

I currently have a gallon of straight mead aging out of sight (but not out of mind) and 4 gallons of ginger mead slowly being consumed as it reaches it's second month of existence. Obviously I need to tweak my philosophy of God. Somewhere there has to be a clue to achieving patience.

In the meantime I think I'll walk on the waters of Toms Creek. I could use the exercise.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.