According to Paul Hentzner a visitor from
Recently a good friend of mine Wayne the Leatherworking Reverend has embarked on a very tasty series of reconstruction archaeology experiments based on the recipes from The Closet of Sir Kenholm Digby, Knight Unlocked. He has been endeavouring to brew Tudor and Stuart period ales using full mash techniques appropriate to the period. Of course less the weevils and possibly some extra modern sanitation. His results have been impressive and recently I’ve had the chance to try one a Hydromel as served to the Queen so this is it;
Take 9 litres of water, 0.5l of honey, half a ginger root, two cloves, small bit of fresh rosemary, splash of English ale yeast left over from the Cock Ale (I cheated instead using a dry ale yeast).
This only took about an hour to make, first simmer the honey, but don't boil it or you'll drive off the lovely aromatics. Ferment in a sterilised brewing chamber as per a mead and bottle at the end of the fermentation process depending on the Specific Gravity reading maybe a week or so. Personally I tend to go by taste and aroma as well as keeping a good eye on the rate of bubbles in the airlock. Also remember this is a low alcohol version then 5 weeks in the bottle.
Here is the section it was based on from Digby
Take 18 quarts of spring-water, and one quart of honey; when the water is warm, put the honey into it. When it boileth up, skim it very well, and continue skimming it, as long as any scum will rise. Then put in one Race of Ginger (sliced in thin slices,) four Cloves, and a little sprig of green Rosemary. Let these boil in the Liquor so long, till in all it have boiled one hour. Then set it to cool, till it be blood-warm; and then put to it a spoonful of Ale-yest. When it is worked up, put it into a vessel of a it size; and after two or three days, bottle it up. You may drink it after six weeks, or two moneths.
Thus was the Hydromel made that I gave the Queen, which was exceedingly liked by everybody.
[The Closet of Sir Kenholm Digby, Knight Unlocked (1644), p36 in the 1669 edition]
After all that lets hope it doesn’t end up like this Tudor version