OC fair, bottling the mead, hops update

last saturday AP and I headed out to the OC fair for a “VIP party” in honor of competing homebrewers.

  • unfortunately for my ego, none of my entries placed (~500 entries were received), but several of the winning homebrewers were pouring samples of their prize beers.  memorable pours included a nut brown hemp ale from a great impromptu draft system by backhousebrew and a bright red mead aged on red hots.
  • everyone at the event (both staff and homebrewers) were friendly and approachable, and readily gave out both brews and advice.  after downing some sandwiches, pouring some choice brews, and scoring some raffle schwag from steelhead brewery, AP and I headed off to be immersed in the chaos of the fair, cooking under the midday sun.

the next day, I decided to bottle my local mead, thereby putting an end to almost a month of procrastination.

  • I cleaned and sanitized two cases of wine bottles that had been collected and de-labeled over the course of a few months, filled them up off the secondary keg, and corked them using a portugese floor corker.
  •  corking with the floor corker was a breeze, and I patted myself on the back for picking one up instead of a hand-held corker, which are notoriously inefficient.
  • my bottled mead finished at 9.25 brix (o.996 FG), for an abv of 13.9%.  it has a terrific sweet honey/floral aroma and a vinous finish (the champagne yeast comes through in the back end), and had little noticeable heat, which should dissipate further within the next five months in the bottle.  I had trouble keeping AP away from the gravity sample, which was a good sign for future drinkability.
  • the mead was significantly cloudy, which doesn’t bother me, but which could be avoided by frequent racking off the sediment.  this was reinforced by a conversation with a meadmaker I had at the OC fair – they rack their award-winning mead every three months for a crystal-clear end product.

I also managed to tend to my hop plants this weekend, which are showing steady signs of growth.

  • my vojvodina and chinook varieties appear to have slightly larger yields than last year, and my cascade has been growing like a bush in the ground, sending up new runners every week.
  • the mt hood and sterling plants have send up promising runners, but have yet to flower.  the zeus crown that I split a while back has shown minimal growth and seems to be waiting for something to happen.  I’ve got my fingers crossed…

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