(scene opens in long open cabin room, tween pre-bed chaos in full swing)
Me: (paces to center of the room, orates loudly) Okay campers! I did not get any sleep last night and I am highly resentful of that fact! Tonight, at lights out, we will not have yelling! We will not have running around and shaking the entire cabin! There will be no crying, no fighting, and there will be quiet! Am I understood?
So once upon a time, I use to play with making mead. And when I say “play with” I really do mean it. I have this delightful inclination to go full on Lab Kid* when doing anything halfway arty. I can’t say halfway sciencey because we all know the difference between fvcking around and science is writing it down.
I was not writing it down in those days.
In that Fvck Around Phase I made some hella good mead. A few stands outs were a my plain sweet, a morat (mulberry mead), and a peach mead. My brewing process went as follow –
1.4 cup orange juice to start off a packet of Montrachet yeast
2.5 gallons of tap water (Lake Michigan for you aqua connoisseurs)
2.5 gallons of blackberry honey from the Great North Wests somewhere. I think from Glory Bee.
I’ll give a few of you a moment to wipe the coffee you just spit all over your screen. Yes. 2.5 gallons. We good? Okay – so I like mead sweet. Those of you with even the smallest bit of fermenting knowledge will not be surprised to hear it took me nearly two years for it to be drinkable. And I bet it could have gone longer, but as soon as I brought some bottles out to test drink, it went fast. Any notes I took – if I was even halfway that organized – had me do some math. I only remember this math on the alcohol content because I did it several times over, 100% certain I had totally fubar’ed my math and it just wasn’t humanly possible.
It was clocking in at 20%.
Okay, you really need to stop drinking when you’re reading my hilarious interludes. Get a fresh cup and come back.
This ridiculously high alcohol content is hilarious because I am a lightweight beyond compare. I bring shame upon my known-for-heavy-drinking ancestors with my two drink drunk. Alas.
My morat ran as follows –
Same juice set up, 3 gallon bucket, who knows how much honey, topped off with water.
No notes. Because I was full on mad scientist, which wasn’t really all that sciencey because no documentation. Who knows what my alcohol content was. But that got drunk as fast as the blackberry sweet.
Same juice set up
12 pounds of mashed peaches with skins ripped off (you can’t really peel peaches when they’re really ripe, just mutilate them)
Oh hey, look, I have some left over honey in this three gallon bucket. I have no idea how much honey is in there, lets just dump it all in and add some water and call it a day.
See? Very precise. Such Math. Much Science.
Even with my lightweightness, that had a kick. I had racked them into 16 oz Grolsch bottles I had saved for this project. Half way through one of them I had to lay on the floor and recover. Five years later it was still amazing. I only know this for it having shown up in a Mystery Brew Box (for having no label) where adventurous re-enactors would drink for a dollar donation. It was the hit of the evening.
And now we are here. I have a little black book now and am more sciencey than arty.
Raw honey and here we go! I know some of you are thinking – why is the water and honey separated? Are they supposed to be mixed?
Yeah. I guess so? I did this with my blackberry sweet. I’d have to roll the carboy every couple of weeks to agitate the top layer of honey as the yeast slowly ate its way down. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason the yeast was able to accomplish this task, it gave it time to build up tolerance. Also I’m sure there’s some sort of very niche-trick of slow fermentation that impacts the final product something something wine snob goes here.
Weirdly, the water/honey was more homogenous until I poured in the o.j. with the nicely foaming yeast. Cleared it like oil and water. Fascinating. So now my yeasties beasties are going to slowly nibble from the top down.
I guess we’ll see what we get? In two years? It’s only three gallons, so maybe we’ll see in one year.
Listening, more like. My brain has been scatter shot of late and I can’t keep my eyes on the printed word for very long, skimming like I was trying to cram before a college final. Audio books are rarely an option for me as I cannot stand most voices. I have finally found myself another audio reader that I can stand (still can count them all on one hand) and settled in for some embroidery and listening. Thank you Moira Quirk.
We shall begin. Ahem.
I had so much no-damn-clue what was going on, I checked out the first audio book for a re-listen to help me get fresher base for whatever insane bit of storytelling architecture I was subjecting myself. By the way, Sassomancers get +3 to everything when voiced in snotty English accents. The kids kept interrupting me wanting to know what I was laughing at.
While I had a better understanding of Gideon’s tale of WTF, I still had no idea what was going on with Harrow’s WTF. It didn’t mean the story wasn’t interesting, it just had less Sassomancy than the first book. I’m not even sure how to describe what was going on without giving exceptional spoilers. We do get introduced to the Undying Emperor. Some space travel. Some space bees.
I’m not kidding. Space bees. You know you want to read it now just for that.
Again, there’s some hard science to the necromancy but still no damn explanation on how the Emperor Undying became undying and no damn explanation on why they’re at war or who they’re at war with! There were times I had to stop to consider that maybe this story was being told by the baddies perpetuating a terrible and unjust conflict. It didn’t make any more sense of the tale I was being told.
Harrow’s strange little trip does get some resolution by the end. Most of her crazy little drama is made clear, but in the process of unveiling that madness, it just gives you another crate of WTF and isn’t even shy about the cliff hanger it gives you.
So, just the fact I listened to it on loop to make sure the WTF portion of this novel wasn’t 100% a user error (constant familial interruptions likely contributed) should be factored into the entertainment the book provided based on my Stargate Theory*. The characters were interesting, the mystery compelling, I’m dying to find out the rest of the world and the universe and am still holding out that I will have that itch scratched sooner rather than later. I suppose I need to find out if Ms. Quirk read the rest of them and hope that giving them a listen will make All Thing Clear(tm).
Still no clever undead ratings, so I’ll give it another four outta five stars just for the brain game it played with me.
Carrot’s Stargate Theory: Back when Stargate hit the theater, a knot of us nerds went to see it and debated the merits – or lack thereof – for well into the evening. Someone pointed out that we talked about the movie longer than the movie’s actual run time. It was postulated that any movie that could make you discuss it for that long was de facto a good movie.
Ergo, the fact that a completely incomprehensible book was interesting enough in its confusion to get you to hit repeat for a second ride meant that it was good.