Embarking on a New Journey
Over three years ago when we released our very first four meads at Five Barrels in Wollongong, two were meads made with alternative yeast and bacteria. We first came across the idea of sour meads whilst in San Diego and hanging with the crew at Golden Coast Meadery in Oceanside.
Since then we've always been passionate about the notion that mead doesn't have to be sweet and a dessert style and particularly obsessed with using alternate yeasts and bacteria to create meads that completely change consumer perspectives. We started with commercially available cultures to make our previous meads but Embarkment is different.
Firstly it continues to represent the lay of the land and the importance of sourcing local but introduces our success with foraging for wild ingredients as well as utilising some strains of yeast collected from these foraging experiences.
12 months ago, during the previous summer, we knew of numerous locations over-run with wild blackberries, so took some time out from brewing, rummaged up some empty honey buckets and set out to fill our barrels. These blackberries were at their ripest: big, sweet, juicy and in abundance. Knowing what we've learnt in the past couple of years, we decided to let the locally sourced yeast on the blackberries start our fermentation. So, without adding sulphites to kill off any yeast or bacteria, we let it thrive and grow and do its wildly funky thing. This attenuated just over half of the way at which stage we introduced our house ale yeast and dry-herbed with Lemon Myrtle (think dry hopping but not with hops) . To dry herb, we collected the leaves whilst on another foraging adventure from a local tree and then dried in house.
And finally the most important ingredient; honey. Embarkment is the first mead made with our new honey supplier. A stalwart in the industry, based out west in NSW, we have been blessed in being able to look to the future, knowing we have a supplier who cares as much as we do about the state of the industry as well as ensuring the bee's direct welfare but can continue to work with us as we grow. Exciting times ahead!!
Embarkment underwent a two-staged fermentation, which then followed up with a short time sur lie ageing on the fine lee's. This process alters some compounds and breaks down others to create a flavour and aromatic complexity that occurs when the yeast components are released into the mead.
And finally, taking the time to bottle-condition each bottle by hand to ensure the success of creating the final element of complexity to finish our journey. This is the part of the journey where we've done all we can and are now ready to package, in one sense its the final point, where all the hard work and patience finally comes together, it's been a success and its' nearly ready to be enjoyed by others. But at the same time, bottle conditioning in these style of meads isn't set in science, there's not a great deal of data about it so we take what research has been compiled from the brewing industry and use that knowledge. Its like all the hard work is forgotten and the journey is only just beginning again. Things can go wrong during this process; under carbonating, over carbonating, flavour variances, inconsistencies between bottles just to name a few.
After six months, Embarkment was ready.
Foraged fruit and herbs, wild fermentation, sur lie ageing and 6 months bottle conditioning. What a journey it has been. If your familiar with pet nat wines making a comeback at the moment, this is something that you'll find fascinating and delightful.
Release date: Tuesday 4th June 2019
9.3% ABV. 2.8 standard drinks.