Friday, November 20, 2009
My good buddy Glen, whose family owns some cranberry bogs down in MA, brought me a couple pounds of bog-fresh berries yesterday. Tomorrow I'll create cranberry wine.
After this though, I'm going for the full deal. I'm gonna try a full 5 gallon batch of some kind of grape concentrate wine. I think I'll start with a cab.
It's raining cats, dogs and wombats. But it's Friday - who cares. :)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Funny term: to rack wine is simply to siphon or slowly pour off the winebrew from the solid sediments on the bottom. I racked my mead the other day.
Ok, like I said it's simply removing the solids from the liquids - easy peasy right. Something I did a bajillion times with great success in laboratories. Ugh, racking the mead was a learning experience.
Firstly, the brew shop STILL had not 1 gallon glass jugs. So what was I going to rack into for the secondary fermentation?...I pickle bucket would be too big, but other containers didnt' have a proper top to put the air-lock onto.
Well it just so happened, my husband, for whatever strange reason, bought a big plastic economy container of cheap cheesy puffs. I threw them all away and cleaned and sanitized the container. I Cut a hole in the plastic top to fit my air-lock and wallah!
Next problem was my siphon. I bought some fancy -shmancy siphon rod from the brew shop. The concept is simple enough, but my little one gallon jug just didn't have the head pressure to make the thing work. So, I just used the nice teflon attachment hose and bravely primed it by sucking up the mead (it's tasting pretty good). I wasn't able to get about the last 1 1/2 inches of liquid off the sediments with the siphon, so I slowly poured it off. The glass jug worked really well for this as the shape makes a natural sediment trap. I think I may just use the pouring technique for now on if I'm just making a jugful of something. All my careful sanitizing and planning went down the tube, literally, when I actually had to do this step. But it's done and it looks happy. I'm a bit bummed at how much I lost to the racking process. I guess this is why people do bigger batches. I'll maybe have two bottles when all is said and done.
I also picked up all my stuff for cranberry wine (except the cranberries). I think it will be next weekend's project.
Friday, November 13, 2009
In honor of Thanksgiving, I think I'm going to try and make cranberry wine. It seems pretty straight forward. Cut up the berries, let um soak for a while, strain, activate, brew. HAH!...Sounds easy.
I'm also testing a theory: Am I more apt to follow through on these leisure time musings if I document my desires here in this blog?
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Last night, All Hollows Eve, under a full Hunter's Moon with the wind a-howling, I began my apprenticeship as a brewer. I made some mead:)
Ok so, while I've pondered my brewing capabilities over the last couple weeks, I decided that I was scared of large glass containers. So, I started with small glass containers. Only one jug. I made one jug of Mead. But it was easy.
Thanks goes out to Will over at Storm the Castle for a nice simple one-gallon recipe and step-by-step instructions for my mead-making entrance.
I got my stuff. I had to go to two different brew shops as the quaint friendly little shop nearest my house isn't terribly well-stocked. But, both the shops and their keepers were interesting and helpful. Obviously it is a career chosen out of love for the drink - and they're happy to share....and maybe even make a sale.
Next obstacle was sanitation. I was a bit freaked out reading up about it. I've got a good grip on the importance of sanitation from canning, but reading about how, while creating a nice warm, nutrient friendly habitat for your yeast, you're also making a nice nurturing environment for about any little germy that might accidentally get into the process worried me. I hadn't bought any special sanitizer! I ALWAYS worry about something. None-the-less I plowed forward with the sanitation technique I was comfortable with. I boiled everything.
This was a pain. For later batches I'll be picking up some sanitizer. Still throughout the process I ended up pulling stuff out of the cupboard, to use in my creation, that I hadn't foreseen and therefore didn't get boiled. It'll be ok (I keep telling myself this). Oh and my boiling pot is the same pot my husband often boils chicken in. The first pot of water I set to boiling ended up with just the slightest film of grease on top - my son must of washed it last. 'sigh'. I scrubbed it up good and started again.
Here's my stuff all boiled up (sans the canning jars in the back) and ready-to-go.
Everythings clean. I put a bit of the spring water to heat on the stove for the yeast (the small sauce pan I used was one of the items that I forgot to sanitize - meh).
My honey was a 2# jar from a local apiary. I'm not sure what kind it was, but it was VERY dark...and tasty. Unsure if 2#s was enough I picked up a small jar of pure blueberry honey from the grocery store. While prepping stuff, I put these into warm water to loosen them up.
I started. First some spring water into the jug, next the honey (I used most all of it), 2/5 tsp of yeast energizer, and 2/5tsp of yeast nutrient...and I shook it all up. This pic give you an idea how dark my honey was. It was dark.
My yeast water was warm, I poured 2 cups into the mixing bowl and added 1/5 package of yeast. Haha, the recipe TOLD me to add 1/5 package. I totally eyeballed it. How does one measure out 1/5 of a package of yeast?
After the yeast sat for about 15mins, I added to my jug, filled it the rest of the way with spring water and shook it all up again. For FIVE minutes. My arms were totally tired. A full glass jug is heavy when you're a wimp.
But that was it!!...I put on the airlock and set it in the basement. This morning it's bubbling nicely.
I plan on imbibing in my own mead NEXT Halloween. Cross your fingers and stay tuned. I'll post again when it comes time to rack it.....