Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Perkunas (Lithuanian Style Mead)-Jon Talkington

Jon Talkington brews for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware.  He’s also a 16 year home brewer and has a passion for making mead.  His beers and meads have been used in heathen rituals in the Northeast United States for years.

Perkunas is my take on Lithuanian style mead or ‘Midus’. Traditionally these meads were flavored with hops, juniper berries, spices, fruit juices such as blueberry or black currant, and were fermented with beer/ale yeast instead of wine yeast. Meaderies in Lithuania still use these ingredients to make this unique style of mead. I based this recipe on traditional Lithuanian and Russian recipes I read about while researching this style of mead.
In many traditional mead recipes the honey is boiled in water, this was a practice done in the ‘old days’. While this makes for clearer mead by coagulating the proteins in the honey, this process destroys the flavor and aromatic properties of the honey. By not boiling and using modern techniques and processes you will have a faster fermentation and quality mead.
I wanted this mead to be sweet, allowing the rich flavors of the buckwheat and wildflower honey to shine through. The ingredients all come together nicely and make for very complex mead. The blueberries give the mead a really nice color and subtle fruitiness. Aging on oak chips really mellows the mead giving it a ‘barrel aged’ character. I let it age one year in the bottle which really allowed the flavors to meld.

In fermentation bucket

10 lbs Buckwheat Honey
10 lbs Wildflower Honey
3 lbs Wild Blueberries
1 oz Crushed Juniper Berries
1 oz Hallertauer Leaf Hops
1 Tbsp Ginger Powder
1 Orange – Zest & Juice

22 grams Safbrew T-58 Dry Ale Yeast
5 grams Fermaid-K Yeast Nutrient
5 grams DAP Yeast Nutrient

2 oz French Oak Chips

Starting Gravity: 1.145
Final Gravity: 1.040


1. Mix honey and ginger into 1 gallon warm water, pour into a fermentation bucket, and then add cold water to top to 5 gallons.
2. Put juniper, hops, orange zest, and crushed blueberries into a mesh bag. This will make racking easier.
3. Rehydrate yeast warm water, aerate must, and then pitch yeast.
4. Fermentation should be kept around 68 – 70° F.
5. When fermentation begins add the Fermaid-K, when the gravity reaches 1.097 add the DAP.
6. Allow the mead to ferment for 10-14 days, rack into a secondary fermenter – a clean glass carboy and age on oak for a month, and then rack into another carboy.
7. When clear, rack off of the sediment which usually takes 3-6 months. A fining agent may be added to speed up the clearing process. Bottle when clear and stable. Cork in wine bottles for long-term aging.