Mead Interview (Part II) With Mead Master Jotham Kinder!
Welcome, Microbigal Nation for another episode of The Microbe Moment. We are excited to bring you part II of our interview with Jotham Kinder. This is our fourth and perhaps final week of March Mead Madness. We hope you enjoyed this little segment of ours and now understand a little bit more about microbes' role in mead making. We also hope these episodes inspired you to start your own microbe-related hobby whether it is homebrewing, fungal foraging, or anything else you are interested in! Go out there and make your microbe moment a reality every day!
Jon and Jotham get into a lot more mead-making facts. They start discussing how yeast alters the taste of the mead. Different yeast fermented at different temperatures kicks off different products that our noses can pick up and add aromas and flavors to the mead or wine. Wine yeasts are absolute thugs, they will straight up murder anything! Jotham jokes that champagne should be consumed cold so you don’t notice all the flavor stripped out of the champagne but the Yeast Mob Family.
Temperature also plays a role in how the yeast alters the flavor. Changing the temperature will change the behavior of the yeast. Jotham also discusses the Kivik phenomenon. A popular mead right now. The yeast for this mead comes from a barn in Denmark. What is special about this yeast is it ferments at a silly high temperature, up to 100F. This is an example of extremophile yeast! Jotham says this yeast produces a beautiful fruity aroma not seen in many beer yeasts.
Jotham’s knowledge of yeast brings us into a discussion of what is the difference between dry and wet yeast and whether it is worth it to buy the more expensive brands of yeast.
Jotham reveals how deep his mead addiction is. He is constantly thinking of new mead and wine combinations. The sky's the limit, basically, anything is fair game in the world of homebrewing, allowing your curiosity and imagination to guide you in whatever mead flavors you wish to try.
Jon and Jotham also discuss the difference between back sweetening and arrested fermentation to make a sweeter wine. Again, Jotham says do what’s comfortable for you. Both will do slightly different things to the yeast and the flavor of the mead. Jotham discusses his preferences but makes it clear that mead making is up to the mead maker. Homebrewing is the perfect way to try out your experimental design skills, to put on a lab coat, and give being a scientist a try!
This brings me to my favorite quote from the podcast, “You are trying to get them [yeast] to reproduce in a way that is beneficial to you. It’s the same principles of domestication.” Homebrewing is all about creating the perfect environment for the yeast to grow and thrive in. When they are done and have run the course of their life then the homebrewers can come in and spice the mead. In a way, home brewing is like adopting billions of microbes as pets!
After the break, Jon talks about his cyser horror story and asks Jotham to share his own. Jotham gives a wonderful visual of rural mead making, picking up local honey, and harvesting his own herbs from the land. Unfortunately, this beautiful imagery did not turn out quite so good. Although it did not get contaminated, it was rather watery and simply did not taste great. Jotham is a huge champion of buying local, supporting your local business, and finding honey from local sources.
Next, Jotham talks about the simplest way to make a hard cider. So simple is it, he says, that anyone can do it from anywhere. His recipe is to buy a gallon of unpasteurized cider and put it in the fridge. It will ferment and with a little time, you will have a low abv, sweet, and inconsistent but a decent hard cider nonetheless. If it swells up, maybe poke a little hole to relieve the pressure.
Finally, Jotham discusses the biggest misconception around homebrewing. “It’s not hard.” It requires very few supplies and ingredients. With a little research and not a lot of money you can become your own homebrewer. Of course, it can get more complicated, it can get expensive but it doesn’t have to be. Homebrewing can be a great activity for all sorts of folks for all sorts of reasons. I think if there is one thing Jotham would like to emphasize is you can make mead however you like, don’t worry be happy, and enjoy the journey and the booze at the end. Always support the local homebrewer supply. You’ll get some great service, might make some new microbe friends, and certainly have a new appreciation for yeast!
Well my microbe friends, that's it from Jotham! We hope you enjoyed this little segment and as always if you’d like to reach us send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us up on Twitter/Reddit/Instagram @microbigals. Keep your microbes happy!