Mead is a fermented drink made from honey, which was popular in the Middle Ages. Bochet is a special variety of mead developed in France, but became completely lost to civilization for hundreds of years. Now that a 14th-century recipe has been unearthed and translated into English, adventurous chefs are making bochet. The ingredients are honey, water, yeast, and spices, but what makes bochet different is that the honey must be caramelized by boiling.
Finding a vessel that’s big enough can be a challenge, however, particularly for commercial-scale bochet. “Honey can double, possibly triple, in volume when heated to certain temperatures. For safety, the vessel would have to be four times larger than what you think you would need,” says Ricky Klein, head meadmaker at Vermont’s Groennfell Meadery. He has made small-scale, experimental bochets, and has some words of wisdom. “There are two things I will always say about a bochet. One is, you have never been scalded like getting boiling honey on your skin. It is a second-degree burn, immediately. It can be a very, very nasty burn,” says Klein. “The second thing is, what I just said.”
For some homebrewers, the danger of recreating bochet may be the very thing that attracts them to it. “People who like rollercoasters and jumping off cliffs like bochet,” says Verberg with a laugh. “You can make a sugar volcano that will explode, violently.”
Gemma Tarlach went to great lengths to recreate authentic medieval bochet, with different kinds of yeasts, fluoride-free water, and honey harvested with the honeycomb and bees included. It’s somewhat of an adventure.
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