Though the counter says that my trip began 51 days ago, which is when I moved out of The Rental, the part where I don’t have anywhere to be for months started last Friday. This post describes a most auspicious start to my journey.
I woke up Sunday morning in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. On my approach to his domicile, my friend, whom I’ll refer to as Cyserman, told me that I’d recognize his house by the whiskey barrel mailbox. Oh, really, Cyserman? That’s your house with the whiskey barrel mailbox? I’d never have guessed. That’s sarcasm, you see, as Cyserman is renowned for his whiskey barrel aged cyser.
When I arrived, they didn’t kill the fatted calf, but that was only because they don’t raise any bovines. I was treated to the best stock from the cyser cellar.
Wait. I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Jay, what the hell is cyser?”
You are likely familiar with mead, that nectar of the gods, which consists of honey, water, and yeast. A traditionalist might be brave enough to allow whatever yeast that happen to be in the honey do the job of converting the sugar to alcohol, but thanks to Pasteur, we don’t have to. It turns out that there is a term for nearly every beverage that you can imagine that contains honey as an ingredient. A braggot is honey and malted barley (aka, beer). A pyment is a wine (grape juice) fortified with honey. Melomels contain fruit and some non-grape fruit. A metheglin is a spiced-up mead. Cyser, you see, made with honey and apple cider.
Ever had a tasty sip of cider that’s just started to turn? It’s actually hard to do anymore since most cider contains yeast-killing Potassium Sorbate. If you can find cider that’s pasteurized rather than sorbated, get it. The beautiful thing about cyser is that, like its cousin, apple cider, it tastes good at all phases of the fermentation process–from the day that it’s just sweet apple cider until the day its bottled, which in the case of Cyserman’s most recent concoction, is five years after it went into a barrel.
As I wrote earlier, arriving at Cyserman’s house helped me to realize that I’m not in a hurry. After a couple days of cyser and delicious victuals, I headed on to Memphis, but not before Cyserman loaded me up with the better part of a case of cyser and cider. It’s an embarrassment of riches. The visit reminded me that Cyserman has been one of my role models as a host since I met him a decade ago. Anyone who’s enjoyed my Pea Party, a dinner party, or the beer fridge at my house, owes Cyserman a bit of thanks.
And so the journey begins.