Sima – Finnish quick Spring mead

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.

Traditional sima and Little Caesar's churros

Traditional sima and Little Caesar’s churros

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dissolve the brown sugar and honey in boiling water.
  2. Peel the lemon and carefully remove the white from the peel.  Slice the lemon and remove the pips.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the lemon peel, lemon slices and the hops.
  4. Top up the jug to 1 gallon with clean, cool water.
  5. After the mixture has cooled, dissolve the yeast in tepid water and add to the mixture
  6. The mead is then left to ferment.
  7. The following day, strain the mead and draw the mead off into bottles.
  8. Add a couple of raisins and some sugar to each bottle and then cork the bottles carefully.
  9. Store the bottles in room temperature for 6 hours then store in a cool place.
  10. 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.

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We Made More Mead!

Due to the overwhelming popularity of our Pirate Pancake Syrup we decided to make some more mead this weekend.  I hate to admit it but I think PPS was probably the best thing we’ve made so far, that was some good mead.  It was also very “Limited Edition” since we only made 1 gallon.  So we’re hoarding it like crazy, we gotta stretch these few bottles out at least 4 months until the next batch is done.  I’m not making any promises that’s going to happen.

We also decided to whip up a 1 gallon batch of Acerglyn, a honey-maple mead.  We don’t know what the hell we’re doing here, but that’s never stopped us before, so we used 44 oz of honey, 12 oz of Maple sizzurp and a vanilla bean and pitched some wine yeast on it.  Further reading on the subject of mead making shows a lot of people add some acid blend to their meads to help balance the mead and give it crispness or tannins to increase body.   I’m going to leave this one as is and see what we get out of it.

In Goes the Honey

In goes the honey…

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Don’t worry though, we haven’t abandoned beer!  We also brewed a batch of a top secret pale ale we’re calling Codename: Ohio, we’ll share more info on that one later.  Our fresh hop Simcoe IPA is coming along nicely as well and I just added 4 oz of hops to the carboy to dry hop for 5 days.  That bad boy will go in bottles or a keg this weekend.  MMmmm… hops.

This beer totally got Simcoed.

This beer totally got Simcoed.

Our first mead… Pirate Pancake Syrup

Way back in May Brian and I took the plunge and made our first batch of mead.

I’d tried a few meads in the past and hadn’t been very impressed with what I’d tried so I wasn’t necessarily excited to try this out however Brian brought all the goods with him to tMHBC and I do like making alcoholic beverages so I was game.  We brewed it and stuck it in a closet then we’d peek in on it every few weeks to see how it was coming along.  Our recipe was based off Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, a popular first mead from HomeBrewTalk.com.  Now we’re never been known to make anything as is, cause we’re rebellious like that, so we did make a few changes along the way.

We totally made this mead.

We totally made this mead.

This Saturday we bottled it up and made some piraty labels for it.  We even charred the edges of the labels to give it an old ragged map look.  Since we only set the smoke detector off once the process was an overall success and we liked the results.  After bottling we immediately tossed one in the freezer to try and about an hour later popped it open.  Hoe. Lee. Sheet.  I was shocked by how good it was.  Sweet honey and orange with just enough spices to add to the character.  Without a doubt the best mead I’ve ever had and, it pains me to say this, probably the best thing we’ve brewed so far. (Please don’t tell our Mostly Mosaic pale ale that I said that.)

There will definitely be another batch of Pirate Pancake Syrup in our future.  This is the first brew we’ve done where I can say there’s nothing at all I’d change about the recipe.  The major bummer here is that we only got eight 375ml bottles out of this batch.  The shortage of bottles brought out our greedy side and we immediately felt the need to dig a hole and bury this treasure so none of our freeloadin’ friends and neighbors would want to try it.  We’re normally generous with our brews but not this time, screw you guys, this is our mead.

A little bottle of gold.

A little bottle of gold.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.