Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rabbits Foot

My mouth is burning. Pulsing like red coals in a fire. But I’m not in agony. I’m not panicking. The endorphins have kicked in. They’re soothing without being neutralizing. I can feel both the fire and the relief in a delightful extended balance - just like I like it. Oh, and the honey stout in front of me is contributing some delicious caramel notes.

I’m at the Rabbit’s Foot Meadery. It’s a Friday evening, and I’m introducing some co-workers to  mead produced down the street from our office. It’s been a good Friday. This is my second visit in the same day. Why two visits? A better question is why not two visit? I guess I’m just turning into their biggest promoter. I took a friend to the meadery after lunch. When I got back, some co-workers asked how my day was going. Soon I was back again introducing more folks to the mead.

Mead is probably the first alcoholic beverage that the human race ever made. And it all starts with honey. If you want wine, feed grape sugar to some yeast. They’ll go into a diabetic frenzy that results in that lovely brain-changing chemical called alcohol. If you want beer, grind up some grains and feed those carbs to the yeast. For mead, feed ‘em honey.

One problem - yeast can’t eat honey. It’s a preservative. I was told you can preserve an apple by submerging it in honey. I’m dying to try honey apple slices! Yum! Honey pear slices? Even better!!

But if you add some water, those yeast get a foothold. And then you can make all kinds of good stuff. Most of it sweeter than…honey. Honey wine. No grapes, just fermented honey. Honey cider. The hard kind. Infuse some fruit puree to get your flavor of choice. Honey beer. Let those yeasties munch on both honey and grains.

What does the capsaicin burn have to do with mead? Well…there was a food truck, you see. “Chutney Mary’s.” Fusion cuisine, because that’s what all food trucks do in the bay area. Asian Chicken Tacos, Chicken Wings, and Shredded Pork sliders on Hawaiian buns. With choice of hot sauce. On a scale of 1-10, we picked the 15. It was made from Habaneros and Ghost Peppers. Actually it was just a 9.5, but Californians are soft. (Well, you are.) Still, hot enough to get my attention.

And then it all came together. The bartender pulled out a special mead for us to taste. Golden and translucent. With a giant red ghost pepper floating in it. An exquisite balance of heat and sweet honey.

So why is it called the Rabbit’s Foot? The owner was home-brewing mead. After several failed attempts, he finally got a batch that looked like it was working out. Golden clear. The next day it was cloudy and discolored. For no good reason. Well. His daughter had dropped in her lucky Rabbit’s Foot to help him succeed. Yeah, ruined the batch with contaminants and coloring. But he decided that if he ever opened a meadery, he would call it the Rabbit’s Foot. And so he did.