A couple weeks ago someone posted on a homebrewing forum about a recipe from 1900 for a quick “mead”. Of course one of the awesome things about internet discussions is that someone is likely to know details about any subject out there and I quickly discovered the recipe was for Sima (see-mah), a Finnish quick mead traditionally brewed to be enjoyed during the Vappu festival celebrating the start of Spring. It’s popular to serve sima with funnel cakes however we didn’t have any funnel cakes so we improvised and served us with churros from Little Caesar’s. Dee-lish.
As expected there are variety of recipes out there for sima however all of them include sugar, brown sugar, lemon and raisins. A few include the addition of honey, molasses or dark corn syrup and the recipe that I used was the only one that I found that contained hops. I took the original recipe and tweaked it to make a one gallon batch and got to brewing.
Sima – Finnish quick mead
Instructions for a 1 gallon batch
- ⅔ gallon water plus additional to top off
- ⅓ lb honey
- ⅓ lb brown sugar
- ⅓ lemon
- 4 grams hops (we used East Kent Goldings)
- ⅛ tsp yeast
- 2-3 raisins per bottle at bottling time
- 1/4 tsp sugar per bottle at bottling time
- Dissolve the brown sugar and honey in boiling water.
- Peel the lemon and carefully remove the white from the peel. Slice the lemon and remove the pips.
- Pour the boiling water over the lemon peel, lemon slices and the hops.
- Top up the jug to 1 gallon with clean, cool water.
- After the mixture has cooled, dissolve the yeast in tepid water and add to the mixture
- The mead is then left to ferment.
- The following day, strain the mead and draw the mead off into bottles.
- Add a couple of raisins and some sugar to each bottle and then cork the bottles carefully.
- Store the bottles in room temperature for 6 hours then store in a cool place.
- After one week the mead is ready.
A few notes on my preparation. Many recipes used just lemon slices without the need to peel and remove the seeds, if I was doing this again I’d probably go that route. Filtering this was a bit of a pain. I tried using a coffee filter and that clogged so I tried paper towel and that clogged. Eventually I used the filter that came with my funnel however it allowed some of the hop residue through. Meh, no big deal. I’ve read on some other sites that sima will produce about 0.5% ABV per day that it ferments, however it doesn’t taste very good if you let it ferment more than about 10 days. If brewed and bottled as instructed above it is suitable for children due to the super low ABV, should be <0.5%. Sima won’t keep very long but make sure that it stays in the fridge to store it, if it heats to room temp the fermentation will start up again.
And the taste… I got a lot of brown sugar followed by honey and lemon with a touch of hoppiness. It’s lightly effervescent and extremely refreshing. I thought it tasted good, and would definitely make/drink it again. Brian thought it was great and is ready to brew another batch, of course he wants to let this batch go a bit longer and up the ABV.
This was a fun experiment and produced good results. It’s super easy and would be a cool project to do with your kids. When you serve it don’t forget the churros.
- Finnish Spring Mead (Sima) (scandinavianfood.about.com)
- Sima, The May Day Drink of Finland (shebrewsgoodale.wordpress.com)
- Sima (mead) (en.wikipedia.org)