Extreme Frugality:
Mead and Greet

An ancient libation isn’t just for renaissance fairs.

Lisa took a swig of Hod’s Mead, Batch Number 2, and passed the bottle. Without saying a word.

“Well, whad’ya think?” I said.

“It was … fine,” Lisa answered noncommittally.

“What do you mean?” I persisted. “Is it strong enough? Do you like the ginger?”


“ ‘Yeah’ ” I repeated. “So it really isn’t good enough to give as Christmas presents? That’s okay. I’m not an expert yet.”

While the mead I made back in June is already drinkable—meaning it’s finished fermenting—most of the literature on the subject suggests waiting a while to improve the flavor. Given Lisa’s reaction, I’d say the literature is correct, although I liked my effort a lot. It tasted like a sweetish, alcoholic ginger beer with very few bubbles (I’m sure there’s a market for that somewhere). But then again, I wanted to like it a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t have used that honey from China that I got at Caswell’s, but at $1.60 a pound, it produced five gallons of mead for $16.40.

Mead-making has turned into a near obsession, and I’m not really sure why. I don’t drink that much, and while it will make nice, frugal presents, we can come up with other, more practical inexpensive presents. There’s simply something about making and perfecting mead that is unusually compelling. I think it’s because it’s such an ancient tradition; I’ve come to think it’s in our DNA. Some historians believe its production is one of the things that marks the advent of civilization—the proof being the discovery of mead-making in Mesopotamia.*

Which perhaps explains why I feel I should keep making mead. I’ve only gotten back in touch with it by happenstance—specifically, by being broke—but I’d recommend attempting your own batch no matter your financial circumstances, unless, of course, you have other things your spouse might want you to do in your free time—like clean out the chicken coop, fold the laundry, and make some money.

In that case, stay as far away from mead making as humanly possible.

* Check out Got Mead.

Frugal Tip of the Week
Remember those ubiquitous shampooing instructions: Wash, Rinse, Repeat? Well, drop the Repeat part, and watch your shampoo last twice as long.

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