Mead Musings – The Recipe Catalog

I have been remiss in updating here,  a situation I intend to correct over the next few days. But starting with my newest musings.

My mead recipe catalog embodies the thousands of hours I have spent on my quest.


Every mead recipe is entered as soon as it is identified. Details are entered (and modified) as sources progress through transcription, translation, and detailed review or as I adjust how I want to look at information about the recipes. Not all recipes are completely entered, and structural changes to the catalog are populated over time. Many of the decision points are fussy (e.g. what triggers 6 entries for variant recipes as seen here for Russian Meath).

I use the catalog continually: to find a recipe, relationships between recipes, look at use of ingredients over time, sort by recipe characteristics, and to understand what the entire collection of recipes tells me.

The screenshot above shows a tiny bit of the catalog as of this morning; the core organization being:

  • Bibliographic information about each recipe.
  • Addition recipe identification and sorting mechanisms including type and identification of core and variant recipes.
  • Identifiers of source type, topic, language, and geography.
  • Details of the brewing, fermentation, and storage instructions including honey to water ratio, other liquids, treatment during brewing, how flavors are added, use of yeast, fermentation conditions, and aging/storage conditions.
  • Finally, checklists of individual ingredients or additions, like the four that can be seen at the far right of the screenshot: fruits and other additional sugar sources, grains, spices, herbs (really flavor additives not categorized elsewhere and mostly herbs), flowers, citrus, and brewing aids/misc/exotics.

In all there are 363 columns, over 300 representing individual ingredients that have been added to at least one of the mead recipes.

The catalog also dynamically summarizes the data in many ways that I have found useful. You can see from the top of the screenshot some of that. The data is summarized for different time periods (pre-1600, pre-1669, Digby, and Post-Digby (1670-1750)).

The screenshot above offers the following interesting information:

  • 2065 recipes have been entered. 1939, or 94% of them have been cataloged for process and ingredients (the remainder are identified but not transcribed, translated, interpreted and/or entered).
  • 644 recipes are from before 1600, 575 from 1600-1669, 194 from Digby, and 622 from 1670 to 1750.
  • Of those 1939 cataloged recipes, 31.1% contain ginger – which happens to be the most common addition to mead recipes across all time periods.
  • I have assigned 744 recipes (about 1/3 of the total) recipe IDs, resulting in 206 ‘different’ recipes, which collectively have another 347 ‘variant’ recipes. There are 191 recipes among those 744 that are duplicates of an earlier recipe. (extrapolating these numbers to the entire database suggest the entire catalog will have close to 600 different recipes, 1000 additional variants, and 500-600 duplicates.)

The structure and content are constantly changing. Today I am adding column 364: Expected OG, which will permit me to look at the estimated gravity of each recipe as it begins fermentation. While I’m at it, I will change the summary statistics in the per-1669 category to 1600-1669.

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