We pay our last respects to True Blood’s final season with a week of drinks almost as delicious as Sookie’s Fairy Blood.
Get ready for a tasty trip back in time as we explore drinks your favorite vampires would’ve quaffed before they were turned.
Eric Northman (Turned around 930 AD)
Vikings were the badasses of the ancient world. They were taller, they were stronger, and they were downright meaner than nearly everyone they met. Even their food was badass. Any civilization that considers rotted shark meat (known as Hakarl) a delicacy is made of people who aren’t afraid of anything.
Eric was the son of a Viking warlord. In the series, his parents were more than ready for him to get married and produce some legitimate grandchildren, but he was having too much fun lingering with ladies and fighting with friends. (Fans of Charlane Harris’s books know he had a very different origin story in print.) Before he could find a wife, a group of werewolves slaughtered his entire family.
This early exposure to the supernatural didn’t stop a mortally wounded Eric from accepting Godric’s offer of eternal life. Being a vampire was better than being dead. Plus, it would give him eternity to carry out his father’s dying wish to avenge their family.
Young Eric would’ve grown up drinking anything he could loot from the more settled people to the south. This meant he would’ve enjoyed plenty of Roman influenced wine, German ale, and Central European hard cider.
Once he came home, though, he would’ve wanted a big mug of good Viking mead.
Most Vikings drank what modern brewers call a melomel – basically, alcohol made by adding some berries or fruit to the honey. The berries give yeast a little something extra to eat, ensuring a better quality of fermentation.
Unlike Russell Edgington’s hard cider, which is drinkable in five days, Eric’s Viking mead takes up to a year to fully mature. This was the drink of victory and celebration. His people imagined it was a pale reflection of what their gods drank in Valhalla. Modern Eric might remember it as being nearly as tasty as fairy blood.
If you want to drink like a real Viking, break into your neighbor’s house and take whatever they have in the fridge. Help yourself to their jewelry, furniture, and daughters while you’re at it.
If you’re not in the mood to explain your actions before a judge, you could always pick up a bottle of mead from your local liquor store and spice it up at home. It’ll lack the subtle flavor that only comes from sacking your enemies, but it makes up for it by leaving you to enjoy your hangover in your own bed instead of in a jail cell cuddled up with a meth addict.
Poison-Free Spiced Mead
– 1 bottle Mead
– ½ inch freshly peeled Ginger Root
– 4 Whole Cloves
– 1 Cinnamon Stick
– ½ teaspoon Ground Allspice
– 1 pint Blackberries or Strawberries
– 2 cups Water
Bring your water to a boil. Gently crush your spices in order to release the aromatic oils within and dump them in the water. Simmer until the water is reduced by half. Meanwhile, throw your berries in a blender with a quarter cup of water and liquefy them. When everything in the blender is as smooth as you can possibly make it, strain the solids from the berry juice.
Once the spice water has reduced down to one cup, strain out the whole spices and mix the remaining liquid with your berry juice. Add your bottle of mead and give everything a hearty stir. You can either warm the mead up and serve it hot on a cold winter night or put the mix in fridge and serve it iced during the summer.
You’ll end up with a sweet, spiced, fruity mead incorporating all the flavors the Vikings would’ve taken for granted without any of the pesky hygiene issues or horrible skunky flavor they also took for granted. Ignore anyone who claims people only drank pure honey mead with no fruit or spices. That stuff was almost impossible for the Vikings to make. Even modern homebrewers use chemical tablets to give the yeast a little something extra to feed from. Instead, enjoy your modernized mead goodness along with other luxuries like indoor plumbing, electricity, and hot Scandinavian men who appear shirtless on television.
Eric Northman’s Fairy Blood Mead
True sticklers for authenticity can try to make a batch of mead as horrifyingly awful as the stuff real Vikings drank 1000 years ago. No one makes it like this anymore – and for good reason. Reading about the process is enough to inspire sacrifices to the wine god of your choice to thank them for modern brewing.
– 16 lbs raw, unpasteurized Honey
– 4-5 gallons purified Spring Water
– 1 pint Blackberries or Strawberries
– 5 oz sliced fresh Ginger Root
– ½ tsp fresh grated Nutmeg
– 1/4 tsp fresh Rosemary
– 6 whole Cloves
– 1 Cinnamon Stick
– 1 tsp ground Eggshells
– 1 tbsp Champagne Yeast
Don’t balk at the quantity of honey. If you’re going to bother making a recipe that takes a full year to mature, you might as well have plenty of it to enjoy when it’s finally ready to drink.
Step 1: Get a ginormous stockpot. Heat your spring water until it boils. You don’t want to use distilled water. The trace minerals in spring water are actually helpful.
Step 2: Once your water is at a good, healthy boil, stir in all the spices. This will get a little messy. Keep stirring.
Step 3: Let your mix boil for about 15 minutes so the flavors will have a chance to get to know one another.
Step 4: Let your water cool for about 20 minutes. You want it to still be hot, but not quite boiling. Now add your honey. Stir until your arms are tired. You want that big sticky mess to completely blend with the hot water and spices.
Step 5: Meanwhile, use a hand skimmer to skim off any foam that floats to the surface. Try not to remove any of the spices while you’re skimming foam.
Step 6: After 15 minutes, add your ground eggshells. This is your clarifying agent. Do not skip this step. Mix your eggshells in nice and well so it will stick to the bad things in your mead and leach them out.
Step 7: Once every five minutes, skim the eggshells and newly formed foam off the top of the pot. After fifteen minutes and your third skimming, mash up your fruit of choice and dump it in the pot. Give it another good stir then leave it alone for the next half an hour. Go watch a couple YouTube “Best of Eric” compilations.
Step 8: After half an hour, use your hand skimmer to fish out the fruit.
Step 9: Now comes the tricky part. Line a large funnel with two layers of cheesecloth and try your best to pour the mead through it. You want to pour it into another clean, large stockpot with a lid. If you want to avoid an epic and moderately expensive mess, this is a 2-3 person job. Put a lid on your second stockpot and walk away for the next 24 hours.
Step 10: After a day of waiting, it’s time to play with your brew again. Pour out one cup of mead and heat it until the liquid is very warm but not quite scalding.
Step 11: Add your Champagne Yeast and stir until it completely dissolves. Let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Step 12: After 15 minutes, give the mead a really hearty stir. You want to get as much air into it as possible. Spend at least five minutes stirring like crazy.
Step 13: This is about to get really messy. The Vikings of this era didn’t bother with luxuries like fermenters. Instead, they stored the mead pot outside and let it work it’s magic. For the next week, your mead is going to be as violent as the Vikings who drank it. Even with a rock holding your lid in place, you’re going to have a lot of foam frothing out of the bowl and spewing from the sides. They might have harvested this to use in lesser beverages or they might’ve just ignored it and waited for the yeast to simmer down. If you don’t have a yard, you’ll want to line part of your kitchen floor with flattened cardboard boxes in order to soak up some of the mess.
Step 14: Remember the first pot you used to brew your mead? Go clean and sterilize it to the best of your ability. Once it’s clean, line your trusty funnel with a couple layers of cheesecloth and have someone help you pour your mead right back into the first pot. You can stop pouring once you reach the thick, nasty sediment.
Step 15: Put your mead in a cool, dark place and leave it alone. You’ll want to put some flattened cardboard boxes on the ground underneath it to soak up the inevitable messes. In the spirit of authenticity, put a rock on the lid to keep it in place. Try to check once a week to make sure the lid is still in place. Other than that, wait six months.
Step 16: After six months, check to see if it’s drinkable. If so, drink it. If not, try waiting another six months. Somewhere between 6-12 months you should achieve a slightly skunky but certainly alcoholic beverage pretty close to what actual Vikings would drink in 930 CE. Let’s be honest, though. When Erik’s people dreamed of mead fit for the gods, they were actually channeling the stuff you can find for $20 a bottle at Whole Foods. It’s better, cheaper, and less effort. No wonder the Vikings preferred stealing their booze over making it from scratch.
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