How to make Mead with Weed – MWead
Yep, you read that right. Mwead. Mead is honey wine. Weed is well – weed – dried cannabis to be precise. Ok, let us walk back a bit into our collective history as humans and find out about medicine. This is the journey we have to go on to learn how to make Mead with Weed – MWead.
Mead – the oldest drink nobody has ever heard of
When the world was young and our ancestors had fun, they drank mead. What is mead? A fellow mead maker, David at Redstone Meadery in Boulder Colorado, calls mead “The Oldest Drink nobody has ever heard of”. So let us delve into this coolest of beverages from the days of our ancestors – in order to do this, we venture back into the deepest darkest forests of Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago.
In this photo, I am holding a brood comb the shape of Africa removed from a hive in a wall. The owner of the house asked me to write a business plan to make mead. This started a journey into mead-making. The ancestors (bees) guide us in life.
Africa – the land of the ancestors
The forests in the middle of Africa are very very big – in fact, Africa is just big. You cannot really comprehend the scale of these woodlands without visiting them. Now let us go back to 200 000 years ago. Our ancestors – all of our ancestors – lived in Africa at that point (bar a few Neanderthals who appear to have been taken as trophy wives 130 000 years later as we moved into Europe, etc).
The central African woodlands until recently teamed with elephants. These megaherbivores roam around and break trees to eat the leaves and branches. This causes crown cracks – the branches at the top of the stem crack. When it rains in the rainy season these cracks rot, and eventually, trees such as baobabs and rosewood develop holes in the trunks. These fill with water in the rainy season.
How mead happens by mistake
If you are wandering around in these very dark forests, and need water, one of the easiest ways to find it is actually to drink the water in these holes in trees. Rivers are few and far between and also tend to attract scary wildlife (lions, leopards, etc). In the dry season, these water reservoirs in the trees dry. Towards the end of the dry season, trees flower.
You may ask why do trees flower when it is dry? Well, the trees know the rain is coming. And when it rains, it really rains. So the trees flower just before the rains so that the bees can pollinate their flowers. The result – bee chaos – bees multiply in August, September, and October. Big hives throw out swarms that look for new nests. Some of these find these convenient empty holes in the top of trees and move in there. They make honey, fill the hole with combs, and then boom. Rainy season and the hive gets drowned.
When a hole full of honey gets drowned, the natural yeast in the honeycomb gets to work and starts turning the honey sugar into alcohol. Within a few weeks, the entire beehive of honey is now a pool of mead in the top of a tree. I have heard accounts of these natural mead reservoirs from friends who fought in the wars in Angola. Their San trackers would be walking through the bush and would suddenly stop, sniff the air, and smile.
The San are great honey hunters and mead makers. The tracker would shimmy the tree, and at the top of the tree was a big reservoir of mead. Everybody got drunk for two days and forgot about the war.
I have a Ph.D. in mead making and studied the old recipes of the Xhosa (the tribe of Nelson Mandela) and San peoples. These ancient recipes are heirlooms of our world culture that are slowly being lost. I tried to conserve iQhilika by creating a business to export it to the US. In this article, I want to share with you a lovely and fun method to make the mead of our ancestors. But first – let us have a look at medicine and where that comes from.
In southern Africa, your medicine person is now known as a Sangoma. A Sangoma occupies a space somewhere between a doctor, a psychologist, and a mystic in traditional African societies. This tradition probably dates back to the earliest of human cultures. As humans spread around the world, these people became known as different things. In Europe, the Druid was probably the Sangoma equivalent. For both, the bees are the ancestors and carry wisdom. Honey is sacred to both these orders and is seen as a healing gift from the ancestors.
In Europe, mead/med is the word for fermented alcoholic honey beverages. If you happen to spice it with medicinal herbs, it becomes metheglin – or medicine. The modern concept of “medicine” is literally descended from the Sangomas and Druids’ traditional knowledge where the alcohol in honey mead was used to dissolve the active ingredients in herbs to make “medicine”.
Cannabis the cure-all
For millennia, cannabis has been a cure-all medicinal plant in ancient European cultures The medicinals in Cannabis are however poorly soluble in water and are highly soluble in alcohol. Both Sangomas and Druids tended to judge the medicinal components in herbs by their “bitterness”. More often than not, bitterness is an indication of biological activity. Bitter things are often medicinal in low doses and poisonous in high doses.
The Beehive Recipe
To make mead the ancient way is very very easy. Imagine a beehive – it comprises a mixture of honeycomb and space. Bees space their combs apart, so towards the end of the rainy season in central Africa, a hive space would comprise about 40% by volume honey, and the rest is air filled with bees. Bees would move out as the hive filled with water. So to duplicate this recipe you need to take a container and fill it 40% with honey, and then add rainwater.
Good natural honey
What honey to choose? Ideally, you want live honey. Commercial honey is often pasteurized or even irradiated. This will mean it does not have wild yeast in it. If you find natural organic honey, this has wild yeast in it. I have had good results using natural African bush honey, which is widely available globally now thanks to the efforts of Dan Ball and his team at Forest Fruits in Zambia. It is not for sale in the US yet, so drop them a mail and complain!!
This is bush honey just like our ancestors ate it. Real, organic, and pure. It is rich in natural yeasts and if you dilute it with rainwater these yeasts will activate. Buy some organic lemons (lemons can have all sorts of horrible things on them if they are not organic) and squeeze and add the juice of a lemon per gallon of mead.
And there you have it – put that mix in a bottle or bucket. If you use a bottle, place a little cotton wool in the neck and then put tin foil over the lid. The fermentation will make a lot of gas, so do not put a lid on this. You will blow up your cupboard. I have done this. It is messy and unpleasant. If you use a bucket, place a cloth over the bucket and then put the lid of the bucket on top of the cloth and a weight on the lid. The gas that evolves from fermentation will wiggle its way through the cloth and out. The cloth stops fruit flies from getting into your mead.
Method Eish Accidental
We call this method of making mead, Methode Eish Accidental. In Africa, if you make something, such as a mistake and have no idea what or how, or why it happened, you just go “eish” and shake your head. This mead is a natural accident. Eish. Enjoy. The accident takes time, so just forget about the mead for at least 6 months. Put a reminder on your phone saying “check mead” for 6 months from mixing.
When you open your mead 6 months later it should have a nice sherry smell and be finished doing its things. Take a glass and scoop a bit out, you may need to pour it through a cloth to clean it up. Taste it. It should be sweet, strong, and delicious. This is just like our ancestors liked it in the days when we still had to hunt scary things with our bare hands.
A glass of green MWead.
How to make Mead with Weed – MWead
How to turn your Mead into Mwead/Medicine. Cannabis contains cannabinoids that are alcohol soluble. The mead you have made contains about 16%-18% alcohol depending on how it went. This is enough to slowly dissolve cannabinoids into the mead turning it into Mwead. Cannabinoids are however a bit bitter. Sugar hides bitter tastes. This mead recipe is a very sweet mead, so you can add quite a bit of cannabis before it becomes unpleasant.
There is however the danger that, if you add too much cannabis you will end up making something that will turn people into drooling wrecks on the floor after two sips. This is best avoided. My favorite mix is half a gram of good weed per two gallons of mead. A decent fruity herb works well – any of the berry/citrus/raspberry type cultivars add a nice terpene finish to your mead. The cannabinoids add bitterness. Try and find a balanced bud – one that is not just THC – something with a bit of CBD as well.
If you want a daytime mead that will be “medicinal” but not psychoactive, you can add hemp. The CBD in hemp will extract into the mead. A glass of this mead to help with period pains will be a prescription from the ancestors.
Getting Mwead Right
I have found that the best way to make Mwead is to take an old gin or vodka bottle and fill it with mead. Add a few grams of your chosen bud and leave it in here for at least a month. Preferably longer. Once the extraction has worked its way, you will find your mead takes on a greener color.
This bottle is your stock solution. Now comes the fun part. Fill glasses with a standard amount of mead, and then use a syringe to put ever-increasing amounts of mead from the stock Mwead solution bottle into your glasses. Record the measure on each glass and invite a group of friends around. Each tries a glass. See how each person does, and then choose the mix that had the “best effect” for your circle of friends.
Now that you have used your friends as lab rats, use the chosen ratio to mix the rest of your mead. Bottle and store the bottles and bring them out for special occasions. I find a little nightcap of this stuff can really help with sleep, and, if you have back pain it helps a lot to relieve this.
MWead, Feed, and Music
MWead pairs particularly well with good music and food. A relaxed afternoon sipping MWead in good company is a special thing. There will be quiet times. There will be theories that will never be remembered. The food will taste better than best. And Music will Buzz with the magic of bees. Drink MWead and you will understand what I mean.
Now you know how to make Mead with Weed – MWead. I have spent a long time, and made a lot of mistakes gaining this knowledge – please spread it widely. We need the gifts of our ancestors to be passed on and enjoyed. This is a drink from when the world was young, dreams were big and life was different. Enjoy it. Remember – friends in mead are friends indeed.