Posts Tagged ‘mead’

brettanomyces project updates, mead bottling

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

I wrapped up a long weekend of turkey and football with an intense bottling session down in the basement.

  • I kegged and bottled each of the three versions of my all-brett blonde.  after three weeks in the fermentor, the WLP644 trois strain finished at 1.006, the WLP653 lambicus strain finished at 1.011, and I was surprised to find that the WLP650 brux strain finished highest at 1.012.  the brux batch finished high enough that I placed all the brux bottles in a cooler to carb up (these should get consumed pretty fast, but you can never be too safe!).  I’m planning on trying a bottle of each variety in a week for a comprehensive tasting/comparison.
  • I also bottled each of the bkyeast half-gallon test batches that had been fermenting for about a month.  each half-gallon batch yielded four 12oz bottles and about 10oz of slurry.  the C2 cantillon isolate finished at 1.010, the C3 cantillon isolate finished at 1.012, and the wyeast berliner isolate (which had a pretty impressive pellicle and was crystal clear) finished at 1.008.  each sample had a unique and exciting flavor profile that I will elaborate upon in a week or two once the bottles carb up and I can get a proper tasting in.

after bottling and kegging the cornucopia of brett variations, I tossed some corks in my bucket of sanitizer and jumped right into bottling the last iteration of my mead, which entered the fermentor sixteen months ago.

  • mead is great for the holidays – it can be substituted for white wine at the dinner table and it also makes a great gift that can be stashed away for decades.  after a long secondary in a keg, my mead turned out crystal clear and managed to finish at 0.997 for an abv of 13.59%.  my sample had an intense honey and wildflower aroma.  I think my next mead will be a melomel (fruit mead) – maybe I can make use of some of my persimmon stash





basque cider attempt, beachwood long beach, library sourfest

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

lately I have been on a little cider kick.  not just any cider, mind you, but the funky, lambic-esque basque cider found in spanish sagardotegis.

  • after reading about the isastegi sagardo naturala over at lambic and wild ale, I picked up a few bottles to try, along with sarasola’s sagardoa.  I was greatly impressed with both ciders’ complex funk and smooth tartness, and grew interested in emulating them.
  • unfortunately, there is little information available online regarding techniques for producing basque cider, so I either had to pick up a book on cider and hope for more info on specific apples and yeast/bugs or just ad-lib and hope for the best.  the homebrewer in me immediately chose the latter, and I ended up pitching the dregs of two bottles of basque cider into a gallon of pasteurized, unfiltered organic juice.
  • after a few days with no visible activity, I combined the gallon and dregs with three more gallons, added a packet of red star montrachet yeast, and placed my fermenter into the fridge at 67F.  with significantly different juice from the basque region and questionable bottle dregs, I’m a little pessimistic about the results, but I’ll be happy with even a small amount of earthy complexity in my resulting cider.

last weekend AP and I also met up with OA and friends in downtown long beach to try out beachwood’s new brewery.

  • after hitting up a happy hour ommegang hennepin and turkey burger at congregation, AP and I made the 30 second walk over to beachwood.  the long beach venue was less crowded than their seal beach counterpart usually is, and we got a table as soon as we got in.
  • the guest taps were pretty killer, and highlights included selections from jolly pumpkin (which I have gratefully been seeing more of in socal), lost abbey, ballast point, and alesmith.  I grabbed a pour of bam noir and watched julian shrago pour candi sugar into a steaming boil kettle behind the bar.  pizza port’s boneyard barleywine took precedence over any beechwood brews as my last pour, but word on the street is they’re pretty tasty.
  • I anticipate many more trips over to downtown LB now that two great beer spots are on the same block.  now beachwood just has to finish up their bottle shop and I’ll be set…

in other news:

OC fair, bottling the mead, hops update

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

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…

mead v.2.0, dreg culturing, hop/funk updates

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

with over a month between me and my last brew session, I was again itching to get a boil going.

  • unfortunately, the long weekend was packed with events, so I was left with a thursday evening and a third of a garage to work with.  luckily, AP had picked up fifteen pounds of local honey from the farmer’s market a few weeks back, so these limited conditions proved perfect for a quick mead-making session.
  • I stuck with my old preparation4 gals@ 115F, 14lb honey, cool below 80F, hit with some O2, add yeast and nutrients.  I went with WLP715 again and added staggered nutrients for the first three days while degassing the mead.  to fight the heat, I stuck the fermenter in my temp-controlled fermentation fridge at ~67F and will ignore it for about a month before racking it to a corny keg.
  • anyone even remotely interested in mead should give mead-making a shot – total prep time (including cleanup) was about 1.5 hrs, and using a turkey fryer setup and ambient overnight cooling you could probably knock it down to less than an hour.  the hardest part is finding suitable brewing attire

additionally, on tuesday I started formulating a recipe for this weekend’s brew session.

  • after pondering light, clean california ales and summer belgians, I decided on a non-funked saison (due largely in part to temps in the 80s).  unfortunately, my yeast bank only had slurries of WLP570 golden strong, WLP500 trappist, and my wild house strain, as well as a vial of WLP655 sour mix I.
  • therefore, my only other options were to (a) send in an online order and pay $12-15 for a vial that would likely sit in a hot warehouse for a day or two, (b) drive an hour round-trip to the local brew shop to pick up a single yeast vial, or (c) culture some yeast from a bottle down in the cellar.
  • I went with (c) and grabbed a bottle of upright’s four, knocked it down with some panang curry, sterilized the lip of the bottle with a butane lighter, and pitched the dregs into a 800mL starter.  hopefully three days on the stirplate will be enough to get the yeast ready for action.

the advent of summer has also triggered some great hop and bug growth.

  • despite having their initial runner vines accidentally amputated, both my cascade and vojvodina varieties have bounced back as strong as ever and are going nuts up the side of the house.  the chinook have also reached the two-story mark and are still going to the roof.  unfortunately, the zeus crown that I split never took off and what little foliage it has is getting cooked in the afternoon sun.  I still have my fingers crossed though…
  • a nice looking pellicle has also been developing on my cuvee de blanc, which is on its third month in the fermenter.  only nine more to go…

racking the mead, visiting some friends

Friday, February 4th, 2011

so I finally managed to rack my PV wildflower mead to a corny keg for aging over the long haul.

  • I will probably have it sit in stainless for at least a few months, then bottle it and start sampling at the end of the year.
  • I used this link from onebeer to calculate the mead’s vitals.  beersmith has somewhat similar refractometer calculation capabilities, but the onebeer layout is idiot-proof and gives one-step results.
  • the mead started at 24.4 brix (1.104 O.G.) and ended at 10 brix (1.001 F.G.), for an abv of 13.36%.  although it was a little hot when I sampled it, it wasn’t too bad for the alcohol content and had a great complexity.  I am definitely excited to try a glass in a year.

I also headed up to SF this week on business and was lucky enough to check out my buddy AH’s new brew setup.

  • AH is a member of a collaborative brewing project in the upper haight known as the downey street brewery.  they have a sweet 10-gallon all-grain keggle setup and are looking forward to organizing some events in the near future.  definitely keep an eye on them if you’re in the area and are interested in some local homebrew.
  • always the overachiever, AH also whips up five gallon all-grain batches in his apartment.  I got to try his pumpkin stout and blonde, both of which made the trip worthwhile.  thanks again AH!

local mead

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I had no idea how simple it was to make a basic mead before I tried it.

  • I had toyed with the idea of making a mead/braggot for a while, but after reading hightest’s straightforward FAQ at homebrewtalk, I was ready to take the plunge.
  • I managed to score some great wildflower honey sourced locally from energy bee farm at a local farmer’s market.  their product is outstanding and their prices are reasonable, especially when you buy in bulk (they sell in containers up to 12 lb.).
  • unlike grain fermentations, where the wort provides essential elements to the yeast, mead fermentations need staggered nutrient additions.  it seems complicated, but there are only three additions of DAP and fermaid-K that need to be stirred in at defined intervals, each of which takes five minutes tops.  I picked up my nutrients at the moreflavor! conglomerate (under the wine section I believe).
  • preparation and inoculation of the must was as follows:
    • heat 4 gal. water to 115F.
    • stir in 14 lbs honey.
    • cool to below 80F (I hit 72F).
    • add first stage nutrients and yeast (DAP, fermaid-K, and white labs WLP715 champagne yeast for a dryer mead)
  • the process only takes and hour or two and yields 5 gallons of mead.  in the future, I’m thinking about experimenting with the style, including some sour blend/dreg additions, a funked belgian blond braggot, sparkling mead, etc.