Beer and Bling in Iron Age Europe – Hochdorf Mead

UW-Milwaukee video accompanying a joint program with Kevin Cullen, then at Discovery World, who developed the “Ale through the Ages” experimental brewing series held there at the time.

Mead of Hochdorf

Brewed for an “Ale through the Ages” event on Power Drinking and Power Dressing in Iron Age Europe at Discovery World, Milwaukee, WI (March 22, 2012) by Kevin Cullen (now at the Neville Museum, Green Bay, WI)

Mixed beverage/braggot based on the residue recovered from the sheet bronze cauldron in the 6th c BC high status elite burial of Hochdorf near Stuttgart.

Batch Size: 12 gal. (two 6 gallon batches

Grain Bill/Fermentables:

  • Wildflower honey, 30 lbs
  • Weyermann floor malted barley, 7.0 lbs
  • Weyermann Smoked Malt barley, 3.0 lbs

Boil Additions:

  • Thyme (Thymus sp.) fresh flowers/leaves, 2.0 oz, add in final 10 minutes of boil
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)(dried), 1.0 oz, add @ 30 minutes of boil


  • Mead yeast, Champagne yeast or Lambic yeast

Brewing Procedure:

  1. Heat 6 gallons of water to 160 degrees F
  2. Add crushed barley malt in a grain bag for one hour. Stabilize temperature at 150-155 degrees F
  3. Rinse (sparge) grain with 4 gallons of water at 170 degree F
  4. Bring 10 gallons of wort to boil for 30 minutes
  5. Add 15 lbs of honey and meadowsweet at beginning of boil
  6. Add thyme in final 10 minutes of boil
  7. Add remaining 15 lbs honey in final 5 minutes of boil
  8. Transfer to fermentation vessels
  9. Cool below 80 degrees F and pitch yeast
  10. Let ferment between 65-75 degrees F for two weeks
  11. Bottle when fermentation is complete
  12. Let age at room temperature for 1 month minimum

Original gravity: 1.100 (estimated)
ABV: 10-11% (estimated)