Bands, festivals and the lot are releasing branded booze by the dozens these days. GRIMM makes it its mission to get to the bottom (of the bottle) of this trend with insightful reviews and extra backgrounds. So sit back, PICK YOUR POISON, and discover all you need to know about your favorite band's alcoholic brands!
We were sad we could not attend Midgardsblot in Norway this year. With pain in our hearts we followed the adventures of last year's friends and reminisced on the perfect experience we had last year. We were thrilled to share our review of the Midgard's Ale with our readers. However, there was more we got to taste on those holy Viking grounds... Under the motto 'Better late than never' we want to introduce you to Midgardsblot Mjød or mead!
Served from the tap at the smaller Viking stage we start our tasting at one of the many wooden benches. You don't get to write down tasting notes with a guy getting his beard braided next to you every day. Only at Midgardsblot! We are looking at an unfiltered golden liquid with a grassy, fresh aroma. It's clear from the first sip this is a mead with a malt base. Not overly sweet, this a mead that would appeal to several beer lovers. The deeper flavors reveal a sweet note of honey (duh!), grass, hay. It has a natural and pure taste which is pretty straightforward and excludes the assumption that anything artificial was added. What I personally find less successful about the Midgardsblot mead is the fact it has a lot of fizzy carbonation and is a bit watery in texture.
When talking about mead many people associate it with a very sweet wine-like drink often termed 'honey wine'. The Midgardsblot mead is something complete different, though. Technically speaking I would guess we are dealing with a braggot style of beer here. [Editor's note: funny enough, this year GRIMM Gent ended up brewing his first beer which happened to be a braggot too! Read everything about Odroerir here or order it online here].
Because mead is such a historic style of alcoholic drink we decided to dig a little deeper and ask the brewer for more background info! Jonas Jensen of Eiker Ølfabrikk was so kind to answer some of our questions regarding the mead:
If you look online, there are a lot of styles of mead. How would you describe this mead?
This is a dry braggot. Braggot is a mead with malt. The malt contributes with a bit of colour and some residual sweetness. For 1000 liters we used 150 kg of local honey and 125 kg of organic malt.
Are you willing to share some specific ingredients you used?
150 kg og local honey (lynghonning) which is collected in august. It has a more intens flavour and aroma than summer honey) 100 kg pale malt, 25 kg caramel malt. The yeast we used is a champagne yeast called Lalvin DV10.
Can you tell us anything on the brewing process?
The malt is mashed at high temperature, 70 degrees celcius, for 90 minutes. The wort is boiled for 90 minutes. Honey is added to the wort when the wort is cooled down to 60 degrees celsius. We keep fermentation temperature at 17 degrees and add yeast nutrients (Fermaid K) every second day for the first week.
How did you come to brew the Midgardblot's Mead? Did the festival contact you or vice versa?
It was both ways actually. I contacted them in January but got no reply. Then they contacted me in May asking if we could make mead for the festival. Very few breweries in Norway make mead, we are the only one with a listing at Vinmonopolet (www.vinmonpolet.no) which is the state operated bottle shops.
Since this was brewed for a viking festival, did you pay special attention on how the vikings brewed their mead?
Yes and no. The vikings never (or very seldom) drank pure mead. This is because honey was extremely expensive. The scandinavians were never good at bee keeping. It is assumed that what they drank was brewed with what they had at hand, so they would probably make a mix of fruits, berries, malt and honey. We have not done much testing on mixing fruit and berries in our mead, that`s is why I played it safe and made a dry braggot.
How much of the mead was brewed and do you have any left after the festival?
We made 35 kegs of 30 liters. During the festival one of our tap-lines died so we did not sell all the kegs, we have about 15 left.
Will you make new batches yearly for each edition of the festival now?
We will have an evaluation meeting with the team form Midgardsblot this autumn to discuss what to do next year. I hope we will end up making a new batch next year, maybe even make two batches. One with berries and one without.
Can you tell us a bit more on your brewing philosophy? I understood you brew everything ecologically. What does this mean practically?
All our products are made either with certified organic ingredients or locally sourced ingredients. We believe that we need to work with nature, not against it. That is why we will not use products made with the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizer. Big fields of mono-culture is extremely fragile to pests and damage. Nature is very adaptable so the level of pesticide used will only increase to keep pest away. It is better to have a diversity in the field and find microorganisms, plants and insects that can keep the food plants healthy.
Anything else you would like to add to our review?
Eiker Ølfabrikk is a family business. We produce about 50.000 liters of beer per year and we hope to increase the production of mead to about 10.000 per year. Last year we produced 3000, and this year we will produce 5000. Let me know if you know of anyone who would be interested in importing our mead to Belgium.
Thank you Jonas for all the additional info!
Be sure to follow Eiker Ølfabrikk on Facebook!
For the collectors among us we can share that the official beer of this year's edition of Midgardsblot was a white pale ale brewed by Færder Mikrobryggeri and the official mead a melomel brewed by Mjøderiet. We have added them to our Pick Your Poison list on Untappd!