Sunday, July 13, 2014

Frozen Grapes......

So, last weekend, Brian needed to crash so he could attend a one day course locally on the monday.

He was kind enough to deliver my frozen grapes, that I got from him last harvest (they're Italian grown, various nationality varieties).

We were having some building work done, so rather than get fresh grapes from Grapefest, I opted for frozen (which is better in a way, as he gets a wider range of varieties), and he kindly allowed me to leave them in his freezer.

Don't know whether you can make out from my scrawl on the bucket lids, but Merlot, Cabernet (can't remember which type), Shiraz and Primitivo (the small bucket is a Rhubarb and Apple honey must - melocyser ?).

I've inoculated the grapes with BDX, again, Brian got some for last years harvest (it's only available in commercial size packs unless I mail ordered from somewhere like Morewine).

I got the grapes defrosted and transferred to the fermenter buckets. I rehydrated the yeast using Go-Ferm and pitched once it looked good.

I then left them to do their thing and there was healthy signs of ferment within 24 hours.

After I'd pitched the yeast, I realised I didn't have enough airlocks, and I like to use a pectic enzyme in fruit based batches, so I did an "emergency supplies" run down to the home brew shop, for new airlocks, some rohapect and a few other bits.

The rohapect was added about 5 teaspoons per bucket.

Once the ferment was underway, I remembered the info from the Lalvin Yeast List and that apparently it's "medium" nutrient requirements. So I just mixed in 1 tablespoon of FermaidK the first time I'd "punched the cap down".

So at the moment, it's just a case of letting the ferment do it's thing, punching down the cap at least once daily and keeping an eye on it, just in case I need to add any more nutrient i.e. if there's any sign of problems like H2S (hydrogen sulphide/rotten egg stink) telling me that the yeast might be a bit stressed.

I recall stuff that others do/did for their fresh grapefest grapes, but I want to keep my meddling to a minimum. The 2012 fresh grapes, were made into a "fresh grape pyment", by me adding loads of honey, until the yeast pooped out. I haven't tasted it yet, but I should check it out, as the 18 or so gallons of it, has some mold in the open side of the airlock and while I've dropped a half campden tablet in each lock, caution might be necessary for me to clean it out etc.......

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Yeast Nutrition.........

Not gonna go on about this, there's many ways you can actually provide nutrients etc for ferments, whether it's meads or wine batches.

I'm just gonna cheat a little and post a link to a post by Deezil, from the winemakingtalk forums.........

http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/f86/yeast-nutrients-39655/

It's easier than me trying to re-write it into my language......

Oh, and there's more about it in the top link to your right. Except that is a linked article by the excellent and very knowledgeable Ken Schramm (yes, the bloke who wrote "The Compleat Meadmaker" book).........

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Flavour Combo's........

Just been reading (and posting) at a thread over at Gotmead about somebody trying to come up with a flavour of mead that reflects some of the local stuff.

Well that idea is laudable. Yet IMO, needs a lot of consideration from many angles.

For example, what is the base flavour idea taken from ? How does the idea translate from other products ? Can it be added to an acceptable level and at what stage in the making process ? Does the flavour have a track record for being used in other products of a similar type ? Is there the possibility of "cultural acceptance" or will it bring other stuff to mind ? Etc etc......

Is it from fruit ? spices ? herbs ?

If fruit, then what else is made using it ? Will possible consumers like it and/or think it a good idea ?

What sort of quantity will be needed ? Will you be able to get the flavour into the recipe easily or will it add a massive complexity to the making that is hard to control/manage ?

Will other products that use that flavour help it's acceptance to new consumers of your batch/recipe or is it likely you'll end up repeating the phrase "well, I like it" ?

It's very easy to focus on a flavour because you like it, but then the difficulty of how to incorporate it into a batch to provide a suitable level can be an entirely different matter......

Chocolate is a good example. Western society understands it if its presented in its usual sweetened form, often mixed in with some sort of cream/milk/dairy element, but other forms of it can be vvv hard to translate.

It's found in liqueurs often but they are usually of a creamy nature and equally often contain some sort of complimentary spirit/liquor type taste. Plus they're routinely quite sweet.

Whereas, beers say, that contain "chocolate notes" are a much harder sell.....

Some herbal flavours can present aroma that makes the consumer think of toilet or bathroom cleaning products - whether that's to do with the actual flavour or whether its because thats how its been marketed at us, I don't know.

I recently read of someone using Basil, was it like a tincture to make an extract type thing or in a mead as a methyglin ? Can't remember, but suffice to say, Basil conjures up thoughts of wonderful Italian inspired tomato sauce recipes etc...... so maybe needs more thought/consideration.......

Fruits are much easier generally, but they too, can have some difficulties. Do you want a fermented change in the taste similar to the comparison of grape juice to wine ? Just with the idea and/or aroma of the original fruit ? Or are you aiming at a more "fruit cordial" type taste ? say something like a blueberry or cranberry juice that has some hint of honey and an alcoholic kick to it ?

These are all very valid points for consideration. Without that level of thought you are, IMO, condemned to making batches of mediocre tasting brew of limited merit and nothing to recommend to others.........

TTFN.......

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Another link......

I make no assumption as to the quality or age of the linked info......

http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/utils/getfile/collection/honeyboard/id/221/filename/189.pdf

Another link from the same forum post........

http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/utils/getfile/collection/honeyboard/id/187/filename/205.pdf

Links to various info......

Gonna try and start using this like a memo pad, so when I find any handy or what I think might be interesting info, I'll post it as a link here

Starting with this......

http://www.beesource.com/resources/usda/honey-composition-and-properties/

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Some interesting info about using Oak, especially in meads but also other wines etc......

Oskaars Gotmead thread here. Medsen Fey's link in the original Gotmead thread, to the "Oak influence on Making and Maturing Wine" from Wine business monthly mag - it seems you have to be a registered member, but that seems to be a free registration - I'm just off to do that while I'm posting these links....... A barrel supplier in the US, that Medsen has posted a link to..... Another of Medsens links to the "Art of Oak" in "wines and vines" - it's a 2 part article, and the second part is found here..... Iowa State University site link about oak ageing red wine, but the info is also relevant to meads when it comes to some of the detail on oak/wood extraction. Again, linked originally in the Gotmead thread by Medsen. This one is about making barrels for Jim Beam - it's a youtube vid posted in the GM thread by afdoty. It's an overview of barrel making. Another article posted by Medsen about oak etc..... Another "supplier" type liink taken from the GM thread. This one is from "New World Wine Maker and deals with using oak chips etc, again, originally posted by Medsen...... This one is one that Medsen attached at Gotmead. It's in the original thread linked above, but I'm trying to get as many of the links here, as it's amazing that the benefits oak can bring to meads etc danr posted this, it seems it's from morewine, their oak information sheet. Ok, so that's about it for links from that thread (the first one linked at the top). I have viewed them all, and hopefully remembered to credit everyone necessary. I want to post the info as it's a good reminder for me to read up (again) about this. I'm not sure if it's ok to just cut and paste the info into a new page/document here, even with full credits etc. I've tried where possible to point the links toward the original locations etc. Either way, it's all pretty interesting stuff (it is to me anyway) and hopefully explains enough info so if you're thinking of using oak for a batch, you'll be able to decide what and how you want to use it, and in what form (dust, shavings, chips, cubes, staves, spirals, etc etc etc).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

a link that was posted over at gotmead.....

a good link originally posted by Doug (I think), about paring meads with food.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Useful drums/containers......

Last week, I was looking around ebay as I needed something for water storage. The intention is to recycle rain water. I have a reverse osmosis filter, to be self sufficient in the "softest" water I can manage. I say soft water, in the sense that it will be low in calcium/magnesium salts as I can manage (our local water is medium/high in calcium as the area sits on a thick strata of chalk). The RO filter isn't strictly necessary but should keep other elements picked up in the rain i.e. the stuff that is atmospheric and makes "acid" rain, out of the supply - will not entirely but to low enough levels not to be an issue. We have a water meter on the mains supply into the house, so presuming that with the RO filter, only about 20 to 25% of water in, makes it through the membrane in the filter, it would be prohibitively expensive to use mains water, hence recycling rain. I don't need huge amounts, so the 30 gallons a day capacity of the filter should be fine. I want it for home brewing and "erindoors" will benefit as it's good for her orchids too - no residual chlorine build up in the plants, which is known to be an issue with utility water.
These drums are what I found. A very good price at £9 each, though the chap who was selling only does them as "collect in person". So yesterday was a 2 hour round trip to get them. They still work out cheaper than other options like that. They are food grade and were used for Olives in brine originally. The labels list olives, water, salt and tartaric acid as an acidifier, so should be easily washed out. about 220 to 225 litre capacity. Very good quality. All I've to do now is to get one of them set up to a down pipe from the shed guttering. I've bought a few pumps so that I can run the RO filter and then move the water round without the hassle of trying to move them when they're full (they'd be about a quarter tonne full). Ha! I could even likely use them as fermenters if I wanted too, but I don't routinely make batches that size as they'd be costly, and given that I don't have a commercial license, I'll give that a miss for now........

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh !

What is it with "some" new makers, who seem to think that just reading instructions, posts, or other guidance, that that is all they have to do to answer questions etc ? I'm thinking of one particular, new contributor - at an unnamed forum. The forum is peopled with users who're brilliant. Some of them have encyclopaedic knowledge about making meads. Not only do they have mega-extensive knowledge of the making, they are some of the most helpful fountains of knowledge I've experienced. Yet this particular n00b, arrives, makes one batch and starts giving it the "know it all" shit. When all it confirms is that this particular prick knows how to read and how to use search ! You've been making meads for 10 fucking minutes ! WTF do you know, other than what you've gleaned from reading other peoples advice, guidance and/or suggestions ? Not a fucking lemon! When you've been making an average of 30 gallons per annum (that means "a year" you naive, whining prick), for 9 or 10 years, with all the added shit that goes with that i.e. sourcing certain ingredients, testing, tasting, measuring etc, then maybe I'll lay off, making corrections - to both your dumb comments, your shitty attitude and your lack of manners/netiquette, in respect of others....... Until then, shut the fuck up. Make some batches. Respect is earned and not yours by right - that's the kind of attitude of a naive, whining kid.......... If you do, per chance, have some hidden expertise, then that's great. Don't make such fatuous comments as is currently the case.... You know who you are..... you complete fuckwit.......

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Has anyone used this company" ?

Some time ago, loetz, a newish member over at Gotmead forums, asked the title question. He posted a link, which turned out to be a honey dealer in Germany (loetz give his location as Austria). So on the basis of the question, I had to say no, but this morning.........
It was a bit of a trial initially, as the linked website was only in German, but on saying that on the forum, loetz was kind enough to re-link it through the Google translate facility (the entire site/page ? not sure as I've only sussed out how to use that with a single page or paragraph). The fact that they've only currently got their website set up for selling/delivering to German addresses hasn't proved to be an issue either. As you can see from this (hopefully), it does make for interesting reading, despite the occasional short comings of Google translate. It enabled me to email them and ask. Their shop staff were very helpful, sending me details and a quote for both the honey and shipping. I know roughly how much honey can cost for a varietal honey, and their quote for €112.23 which included all the tax and shipping element, still worked out reasonable. Obviously it would have been a bit cheaper if I'd ordered a 25kg bucket instead of a 12.5kg bucket, on a price per kilo basis, and likely a little more on the shipping. Either way, it worked out fine, and after a short delay of making the payment (which was equally as painless, just a phonecall to my bank, and supplying the Walter Lang swift and DBAN codes, it was all sorted. I emailed them to say about the payment being on it's way and that my bank expected it to take 2 working days (I called my bank on the sunday). The shop people from Walter Lang were kind enough to notify me that they'd received the payment by the monday afternoon and it was shipped on the tuesday. The delivery people carded me on the thursday and I've been to the post office (the delivery this end was attempted by ParcelForce, and under their "convenient delivery" arrangements, they left it at the post office) this morning to collect it. Overall, it's been excellent to deal with the people at Walter Lang (who now seem to have got an english language bit on their website - well done, brilliant). I'll happily deal with them again. For the varieties I can't find locally....... As for the honey itself ? It's not as dark as the descriptions that are sometimes posted around the bazaars in respect of Buckwheat honey, but this batch is from the Ukraine. It's similar to the bucket that Male (a member over at Gotmead, who's in Poland) helped me to get a couple of years back. Less like the descriptions of the stuff from the US. Certainly not "farmyard" in character. In the case of the two buckets I've had/got, it's not so sweet tasting as many varieties, has almost a malt-like character to it. I'm looking forward to making a traditional batch from it. Someone said that at last years Mazer cup, there was a Polish Buckwheat tradtional that did very well, producing an excellent mead....... Pip pip !