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View Full Version : Mead with Wormwood? - Newbie Experiment



Jessie
10-25-2009, 11:48 AM
Hi All:

So far I've made two batches of Mead. I try to keep my experiments simple -- the first was Honey, Wine Yeast, Water, no heating, brewing in 1 gallon Carlo Rossi Jugs -- The second was a strawberry Malomel -- So far I've been really happy with my results.

But I want to start getting more complicated, and was wondering about making a mead with wormwood. I really like absinthe, and found I can buy dried wormwood online. Has anyone ever tried this? Can I just dump some wormwood in my primary? How much? And more importantly, how much is too much?

Anyone tried this before? Any advice or recipe suggestions would be hugely appreciated!

Thanks!

Fisher kel Tath
10-25-2009, 11:56 AM
Quite a few hits if ya search for wormwood. Um from what I remember from looking for it myself, a little goes a long way...probally need more information on the recipe before tell ya how much...

MagicNinja
10-25-2009, 04:40 PM
Adding wormword might give you a nice color, or a very ugly color. But you say you like absinthe, well absinthe doesn't taste anything like wormwood. Its flavored with things like anise, caraway, coriander, and a multitude of other things in various blends and concentrations. So it tastes mostly like the anise, kind of like black licorice, but not quite.

Honestly there really isn't much reason to add wormwood to a mead, the flavor it may impart is not really pleasant, hence the reason they add so many strongly flavored spices and herbs to absinthe. You might get some color, but there are better ways to get that green coloring.

If you want something that resembles absinthe in flavor, do an anise metheglin. Use mostly anise, some fennel seed, caraway seed, star anise, a little bit of coriander, nutmeg, mint/spear mint. And I see a lot of recipes call for calamus root, hyssop, cardamom, and angelica root, but I would stick with the other spices and leave those four out.

Or alternatively, you can cheat and just make a licorice mead using chopped licorice root. But its not quite the same.

afdoty
10-25-2009, 06:45 PM
Hi Jessie,

Hey if you can get a recipe together and post it, then we can all beat ya up on it... kidding....

What are you trying to achieve with using the wormwood? Like Ninja said, absinthe was a flavored drink, getting its flavors not from the wormwood but from the other spices.

Fisher kel Tath
10-26-2009, 12:28 AM
Adding wormword might give you a nice color, or a very ugly color. But you say you like absinthe, well absinthe doesn't taste anything like wormwood. Its flavored with things like anise, caraway, coriander, and a multitude of other things in various blends and concentrations. So it tastes mostly like the anise, kind of like black licorice, but not quite.

Honestly there really isn't much reason to add wormwood to a mead, the flavor it may impart is not really pleasant, hence the reason they add so many strongly flavored spices and herbs to absinthe. You might get some color, but there are better ways to get that green coloring.

If you want something that resembles absinthe in flavor, do an anise metheglin. Use mostly anise, some fennel seed, caraway seed, star anise, a little bit of coriander, nutmeg, mint/spear mint. And I see a lot of recipes call for calamus root, hyssop, cardamom, and angelica root, but I would stick with the other spices and leave those four out.

Or alternatively, you can cheat and just make a licorice mead using chopped licorice root. But its not quite the same.


curious, why leave those 4 out?

Jessie
10-26-2009, 09:46 AM
Hi Jessie,

Hey if you can get a recipe together and post it, then we can all beat ya up on it... kidding....

What are you trying to achieve with using the wormwood? Like Ninja said, absinthe was a flavored drink, getting its flavors not from the wormwood but from the other spices.

Hey All,

Thanks for the ideas, but I like the absinthe for the euphoric effects, not so much the anise flavor.

Anyone more educated than I have a guess at how much dried wormwood would be appropriate in a gallon of mead? Would this work? Could it be harmful?

Thanks!

Angelic Alchemist
10-26-2009, 03:32 PM
Make sure you use grand wormwood rather than petite wormwood if you want the effects produced by thujone, which is an herbal muscle relaxer (not a hallucinogen -- that's a myth).

Wormwood is VERY bitter, and the flavor can NOT be masked. The only way to get the thujone without gagging on it is to distill it, which is illegal here in the USA.

Use about 4oz dried wormwood to a gallon of mead. Or, you can soak it in a liter of vodka for better extraction.

The green color comes from the finishing herbs (ummm, melissa and hyssop, if I'm not mistaken?).

Also, use a hearty yeast like EC1118 and be reallllly nice to it. Wormwood is antiseptic and your ferment will be slow as best, stuck at worst.

Wormwood is an abortive, so pregnant women (or women who are trying to get pregnant) should not handle it/consume it. It can be toxic in large quantities, leading to muscle spasms, so be careful.

Fisher kel Tath
10-26-2009, 04:32 PM
Make sure you use grand wormwood rather than petite wormwood if you want the effects produced by thujone, which is an herbal muscle relaxer (not a hallucinogen -- that's a myth).

Wormwood is VERY bitter, and the flavor can NOT be masked. The only way to get the thujone without gagging on it is to distill it, which is illegal here in the USA.

Use about 4oz dried wormwood to a gallon of mead. Or, you can soak it in a liter of vodka for better extraction.

The green color comes from the finishing herbs (ummm, melissa and hyssop, if I'm not mistaken?).

Also, use a hearty yeast like EC1118 and be reallllly nice to it. Wormwood is antiseptic and your ferment will be slow as best, stuck at worst.

Wormwood is an abortive, so pregnant women (or women who are trying to get pregnant) should not handle it/consume it. It can be toxic in large quantities, leading to muscle spasms, so be careful.


Been thinking about this, If herbs that are not water-solvable require alcohol for the extraction, wouldn't it be better to put them in the secondary after the mead has obtain some alcohol content?

I'm looking at making a couple herbal meads, and really opposed to using another alcohol in the process...

Angelic Alchemist
10-26-2009, 05:18 PM
Depends on the herb.

MagicNinja
10-27-2009, 12:41 AM
Been thinking about this, If herbs that are not water-solvable require alcohol for the extraction, wouldn't it be better to put them in the secondary after the mead has obtain some alcohol content?

I'm looking at making a couple herbal meads, and really opposed to using another alcohol in the process...

Forget secondary, go tertiary. Put the herbs in after the ferment is complete and it has cleared. It will probably get hazy again after adding the herbs, but it should clear with time.

For this, after you've completed fermentation(go dry to start) and its cleared, add your wormwood first, use a hop bag. Let it sit on that for at least 3 months, 6 would be better. Then run it through a coffee filter to get any gunk out of it if needed, while also trying not to aerate. Then prepare your other herbs by coarsely grinding them up, exclude any roots from that as well as star anise, just break them up a bit. Put them all in a hop bag, and you might think about double bagging it as the bags aren't really fine and will let smaller particles out. This isn't a huge issue, but if you want to avoid the sediment then double bag it. Then its just a matter of letting it sit on that until the flavor is where you want it, check it every couple of weeks for the first months and after that check more frequently.

Use a high alcohol tolerant yeast, and you may want to try step honey additions to try to push the alcohol content even higher. Or alternatively you can fortify it after fermentation is complete. That would have the advantage that you could put your wormwood in the alcohol to extract while fermentation is happening, so it'll be ready to go in when its done, and that will reduce the time it takes to get a finished product. If you go that route I urge you not to use cheap vodka, Absolut or Stolichnaya at the cheapest. You really want something pure and nearly flavorless, so as not to impart any bad flavors in the mead. 6-8 OZ should do it, so long as that covers all of the wormwood in a jar. Keep air tight, and away from light, and shake it every so often. It should turn a dark green color. It'll be really strong stuff that you'll probably want to age at least a year after fermentation and flavoring.

Hehe, just redread your post again. So you probably wont want to fortify, so take the longer route, finish fermentation use a high alcohol tolerant yeast and ferment to dry, or as close to dry as you can with as much alcohol as you can. And let the wormwood sit on it for a long time. Then add the flavoring herbs. You can backsweeten after the wormwood comes out, but preferably after the herbs and spices come out.

Fisher kel Tath
10-27-2009, 02:46 AM
Forget secondary, go tertiary. Put the herbs in after the ferment is complete and it has cleared. It will probably get hazy again after adding the herbs, but it should clear with time.

For this, after you've completed fermentation(go dry to start) and its cleared, add your wormwood first, use a hop bag. Let it sit on that for at least 3 months, 6 would be better. Then run it through a coffee filter to get any gunk out of it if needed, while also trying not to aerate. Then prepare your other herbs by coarsely grinding them up, exclude any roots from that as well as star anise, just break them up a bit. Put them all in a hop bag, and you might think about double bagging it as the bags aren't really fine and will let smaller particles out. This isn't a huge issue, but if you want to avoid the sediment then double bag it. Then its just a matter of letting it sit on that until the flavor is where you want it, check it every couple of weeks for the first months and after that check more frequently.

Use a high alcohol tolerant yeast, and you may want to try step honey additions to try to push the alcohol content even higher. Or alternatively you can fortify it after fermentation is complete. That would have the advantage that you could put your wormwood in the alcohol to extract while fermentation is happening, so it'll be ready to go in when its done, and that will reduce the time it takes to get a finished product. If you go that route I urge you not to use cheap vodka, Absolut or Stolichnaya at the cheapest. You really want something pure and nearly flavorless, so as not to impart any bad flavors in the mead. 6-8 OZ should do it, so long as that covers all of the wormwood in a jar. Keep air tight, and away from light, and shake it every so often. It should turn a dark green color. It'll be really strong stuff that you'll probably want to age at least a year after fermentation and flavoring.

Hehe, just redread your post again. So you probably wont want to fortify, so take the longer route, finish fermentation use a high alcohol tolerant yeast and ferment to dry, or as close to dry as you can with as much alcohol as you can. And let the wormwood sit on it for a long time. Then add the flavoring herbs. You can backsweeten after the wormwood comes out, but preferably after the herbs and spices come out.

Actually, I'm more than likely going to skip the wormwood in my meads, what I hope to do is try and recreate the flavor of an absinthe though...though ya'll say Wormwood flavor can't be hidden, the sugar+water and other herbs in the one absinthe I had, you really couldn't taste the wormwood, but had enough anise to slightly numb your tongue...

only other herbs I know of that were in the recipe for sure are Anise and Lemon Balm...

Fortuna_Wolf
12-01-2009, 10:45 PM
Well, the thread is only a month old so I don't think I'm digging up anything from the graveyard... and I feel like I really need to add some stuff here.

<argumentum ad verecundiam>
I make my own absinthe and essential oils and do some herbology.

absinthe info:
So absinthe blanc is little more than a 70% anisette with grand wormwood. You'll use, generally, 1 part grand wormwood <i>leaves and flowering heads</i>, 2 parts anise fruit, and 2 parts sweet fennel fruit. Star anise is similar in flavor to anise and fennel and cheaper so its often substituted. IMO, anise is sweeter than star anise and sweet fennel has a richer mapley flavour. Macerate those in 70% etoh and distill and dilute back to 70%. You can achieve a very similar result with essential oils of wormwood, anise, and fennel and grain alcohol, no distilling required. Generally 33g wormwood, 66g anise, and 66g fennel to 1L 70% etoh. If your herbs are fresh you'll get not only a nice louche, but that opalescent shimmer from the anisole crystals.
You can also add a small quantity of coriander and angelica (fruit, not root!) to the maceration. 5 and 6g respectively.
You do not have to distill with alcohol, you can distill these herbs in water and add the oils and some of the hydrosol to grain alcohol until its 70% etoh.

Absinthe verte is absinthe blanc that's coloured and flavoured with finishing herbs. 5g petite wormwood -leaves-, 5g melissa, 7g hyssop, 3g spearmint, 3g liquorice root, 5g veronica. The petite wormwood is not bitter like grand wormwood and has a different flavour, its also a huge part of what makes the flavour of absinthe verte. I also wouldn't leave out the melissa, hyssop, or mint. Anyway, put the herbs together into a saucepan with a good lid, pour some of the 70% or higher absinthe blanc over it to cover and put on the stove on very low (just enough to warm up to 110-140F) for 30-60 minutes. Strain and return to the rest of the absinthe.

This should in no way smell like rocket fuel, or be strongly bitter, or look flourescent green (it'll be emerald green for a few days or months if you keep it in the fridge, the fade to olive oil green and then amber).

Now that we've got that out of the way there's a few particulars to bring up. Anything less than 70% etoh results in a muddy brown-green or worse, brown, colour extraction (and also brings out more of the bitter components). You will not get green mead by soaking the herbs in mead. Chlorophyll is simply not a water soluble or water stable chemical. If you chop up a fresh leaf in water and get green water its because the chloroplasts are floating in the water. The chloroplasts will break up and the chlorophyll with them in time.

You could extract some of that herbal flavour support though. Since absinthe is generally watered down 1:4 you could use 5x the herbal quantity perhaps.

Now, about angelica and petite wormwood. In the United States you simply cannot find angelica (angelica archangelica) fruits for sale commercially, nor can you find artemisia pontica, cut and dried, leaves (no stems), for sale commercially. There is a place in Virginia that sells them to people who make absinthe at home I think, but I supplied through friends in France.

Also, grand wormwood is one of the most bitter herbs you'll ever come across. If I breathe any of the dust when I open a container of it the back of my nose, throat, and tongue all taste bitter. The bitter components are mostly concentrated in the stems. The aromatics are mostly in the flowering tops and leaves during flowering. When you buy wormwood from the herbal store in the US you will get mostly chopped up stems. When you make piolunowka or pelinkovac you use the flowering tops as well for the same reason (these are vodka + sugar + herbs, no distillation to remove the bitterness).

Oh yeah, thujone... Thujone isn't that scary. 50% of the essential oil of sage is thujone (and thujone is allowed in foods that contain sage but not wormwood... retarded FDA regs). Just know how much you're adding and what a nontoxic level is. Thujone is reported to cause a mild "dollhouse" effect, or "tunnel vision." A scientific study conducted found that in an alcohol/sugar/thujone drink (yay lab conditions) thujone at a 10ppm level (found in most absinthe) had no statistically significant effect. 100ppm caused an increase in responsiveness in the central visual field in subjects over those that drank alcohol without thunjone. You won't see green fairies.

You also won't get tunnel vision with dried wormwood from the herbalist. Thujone rapidly dissipates from dried wormwood (its a very light and volatile oil).

So the take home is that you can add the flavouring herbs to mead but it won't be green and you can't get them all easily, and unless you can grow your own wormwood and harvest it when its flowering then don't bother adding grand wormwood.

So do what I do and pour 5 parts mead onto 1 part absinthe with honey to sweeten and shake it up with ice in a martini shaker.