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 !

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Comments etc....

Just got my finger out and actually see if anyone had posted comments (noticed a while back there was a few bits of spam......) Brilliant. Some good ones there. Nothing rubbish or rude etc - ha! any that were offensive or spammy shite would just get deleted anyway :D Sorry if it's taken me a while to actually read them, but I want to try and be a little more conscientious....... (watch this space) The only thing I'm not sure about is where Marek said about making a "Blackthorn melomel" ? I presume that meant using the Sloe's for the fruit, or was that to make it like the French recipe where they use the leaves etc ? I'm gonna go with the fruit, as I might actually be able to get time to pick some this year - should have been out last, but as the bloody builders still had the place in pieces, that was out of the question ! Hey ho! shit happens

Young's "High Alcohol/Dessert Wine" yeasts - some excellent info.......

One of the members over at Gotmead, who can't find much by way of wine yeast locally, emailed Young's to ask them.

They were kind enough to attach the following text, by way of a .pdf file attachment.

Dessert / High Alcohol Wine Yeast 5g

Young’s yeast’s range is the result of over 2 years worth of research, testing and analysis of commercial yeast strains.
Yeast strains from the leading manufacturers world-wide were screened to determine which of those performed best
for home beer, wine & cider making, and selections were based on quality not price. Our commitment to this quality
is shown in the fact that each batch of yeast we receive is checked microbially and also fermented out before it’s
packed – this ensures the quality is consistent in every sachet, and every bottle you produce.

Species: Saccharomyces Bayanus

Young’s Dessert / High Alcohol Wine Yeast is an exceptional strain that allows optimum wine quality to be achieved
with each and every brew. It’s properties include an ability to ferment up to 18% ABV, rapid clearing, low foam
formation, and the ability to ferment as low as 10°C means this is a reliable and easy to handle strain. You can expect
a taste and aroma profile that will bring the natural grape flavours to the fore, it will also add a definite weight and
depth to your wine, making it perfect for high alcohol sweet wines. Excellent across numerous varietals producing
classic, true to type sweet, flavoursome wines with balanced mouthfeel and smooth finish, exuding the baked fruit
flavours synonymous with high alcohol wines. Making well structured, clean wines that are a wonderful accompaniment
to many after dinner treats is what this strain does beautifully.

Uses

Youngs Dessert / High Alcohol Wine Yeast is a excellent all round strain, perfect choice for high alcohol, dessert and
fortified wines.

Technical Information

Alcohol tolerance: 18% v/v
SO tolerance: High
Foaming: Low
Low production of fusel oils
Viability: >1.0x 10 CFU/g
Wild yeast: <1 br="" million="" per=""> Total bacteria: <5 br="" million="" per="">
Instructions

This is a controlled, consistent and reliable yeast with capability to ferment between 10-30°C, though best results are
achieved when temperature remains stable between 20-24°C. It is important that the must remains above 20°C for at
least the first 24 hours after the yeast is pitched, this will help to avoid bacterial contamination and extended lag time.
The sachet contents (5g) is designed to be pitched into 23 litres of must. This can be done directly, by sprinkling on to
the surface and standing for 15 minutes before mixing in thoroughly for a further 2 minutes or by rehydrating before
addittion - reccommended for high alcohol wines. To rehydrate, mix the dry yeast into 100ml of 40°C water and stir
periodically over a 10-12 minute period until cream. Temperature adjust this to within 5°C of the must by gradually
and slowly stirring in cold water to the rehydrated yeast, add this to the must and mix thoroughly before leaving to
ferment at 20-24 °C.

Storage

Sachets should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If stored correctly, the yeast will have a shelf
life of 24 months from date of manufacture. Store in a dry, odour free environment at a constant temperature ideally
below 20°C. Once opened the contents should be used immediately. Use by best before date stamped on the packaging.
Young’s yeast sachets are packed into the highest grade quality laminate material providing a complete gas and
moisture barrier.

-----

This material is non-hazardous when used as directed. Young’s yeasts are free from allergens and
free from genetically modified organisms or materials derived from genetically modified organisms.

So, while they might have been able to make it a bit briefer, but with more detail, similar to how you find the listing in the Lallemand yeast chart, for their "offerings", but I'm not goiing to moan. It's the best bit of info I've seen about a Youngs product for some time. Their generic listings do piss me off....... it's not like it's any kind of proprietary trade secret !

But thanks very much to Stasis, over at Gotmead for the info. Very much appreciated.

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm not a bee keeper but..........

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/1829/buzz-kill is a link I found while stumbling around.

Now I'm not a bee keeper, but as a mead maker, I try to read up about articles that mention about the kind of problems that bee keepers are facing.

Hence I've posted this over at gotmead (having not seen it or seen it linked etc) to see what some of them, if they can be bothered, to read it, think.

I know that some will, as some of the gotmeaders are bee keepers. I'll have to wait and see

Pip pip!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moniack Mead... a mini review........ part 2

Right ho, thinks me. It's time for the pH meter. Now I don't have much acid testing kit, because meads are fuckers too test. You can get a pH figure, but titration tests etc are usually out the window as they test for tartaric acid etc, in wines. Plus when making meads, any reader who makes their own, knows that we have to keep the pH in the middle sort of area of the 3.X pH range. Because if it drops below 3.0 pH the yeast can throw their toys out their pram and say bollocks, causing a stuck ferment - this seems especially important with traditional meads, because basically there's bog all to buffer the pH and it can swing quite wildly. Melomels, fruit meads in general, this seems to be less of an issue as the fruit can buffer the pH some and you're less likely  to have to reach for the potassium carbonate.

Ok, check the pH meter, fuck....... run out of calibration solution. Ok thinks me, last time I checked the tap water, it was 7.01 pH and while this pH meter is cheaper than the old one (old one measured in hundredths, this one only measures in tenths), I can use tap water, calibrate to neutral (7.0 pH) and it should be close enough.

So, calibrated with water, then into the mead, fuck! that can't be right. Ok so down the shed for some new batteries. Installed, fine. Rinsed test meter again, 7.0 pH for tap water - should only be a hundredth out, fine, that's close enough. Into the mead and.........

2 point fucking 6 ? No wonder it didn't taste cloyingly sweet. I can't say for certain, but one of the known ways for masking excess sweetness is acid, or sometimes tannin addition.
Not surprising it's not as sweet as the other commercial meads I'd previously tasted. I can't say which acid might have been used, but I have to presume that's how it's been done. Could be wrong, but I add acid all the time to reduce sweetness in my own meads.

Personally, I like to use the mix suggested in Ashton & Duncans book "Making Mead" when I do this. It's 2 parts malic acid to 1 part tartaric acid, but I try to add it incrementally so as not to over do it.

2.6 pH ? Amazing.

So what was my over all view ?

Well, I like the colour, there's nothing to suggest whether they just happened to use a dark coloured honey, whether it might have been wild flower, or varietal like heather which can be dark but not always, or even sourced some dark buckwheat to do that. Don't know, just that it's a nice colour.

The aroma wasn't what I'd call very strong. I've mentioned a possible reason for that above, yet it's common for home mead makers not to boil or heat honey very much at all currently, as it preserves more of the aromatics of the honey, whereas boiled honey/must, apparently gives a nicer, less rough, more rounded sort of taste.

The taste was good IMO, didn't seem too sweet, a smooth after taste if the mead is held in the mouth for a couple of moments. Nice "body", good legs in the glass (even though I had to put it into the bottom of a pint glass, as all the other wine glasses are packed away while the bloody builders are shitting up the house......)

I'd give it a "very good" grade, peeking over the edge of excellent. Maybe that'd be a "high" 4 out of 5, almost 4.5 out of 5.

Compared to what I'd paid for half bottles previously, the advertised £8.40 a bottle (on the website, without shipping) didn't seem too bad at all.

My only real critcism is the "corporate generic" appearance of the label and the wording. That gets a "could do better", but WTF, it doesn't affect the taste.......

Moniack Mead...a mini review........ part 1

So, one of the members over at Gotmead, being a Brit, who now lives in the US, wanted to know a bit about one of his favourite mead tipples.

It's called Moniack Mead.

Now this isn't one that I'd come across before, certainly not when I was trying a few commercially made meads about 4 or 5 years ago.

So the only guide I had to go on, was my own mini reviews. Before today, of the 4 commercial meads I'd tried, I found that they all tasted fine. Sweet, yes but cloyingly so (if you want to read what I said, which is only personal opinion, but I stand by it. They might have improved/changed, I can't say. They were pretty expensive at the time, but I felt I should taste some of the offerings available locally).

Now, after a few exchanged messages with Tony, he explained that as far as he was aware, it was made from Heather honey - which from my own experience, tends to be quite expensive. He ordered a bottle and arranged for it to be delivered to me (didn't matter whether it was a load of shit or not, I thought it was a nice gesture as I certainly wouldn't say no to a free bottle of mead, or any booze for that matter).

Once opened, I was surprised to find that the bottle was different to how I'd expected it to be. I suspect Tony hadn't had any for a few years and the bottle is nicely done, if a bit "generic corporate", in label design. There was no mention of heather honey, but some of the wording made me thing that it had been made elsewhere as it was "specially selected". A term you see when supermarkets buy in something made somewhere else, but sold under their label/branding. I have no way of knowing if that might be the case.

Anyway, here's what it looked like in the bottle.......



So not the best of photo's but enough that you can see it's a nice colour, a reddish amber of medium sort of darkness (actually looks better in daylight, but I had to put a piece of white paper behind it so the colour of the liquid wasn't blanked out completely by the flash).

Ok, so looks fine. Like the greedy git I am, pop the cap and take a sniff.

Nothing remarkable there. Like a traditional mead sort of smell, not in your face aromatics, but given some of the stuff I've read recently and what I'll say further in, I'm wondering if they boil or at least heat the must during the early stages of making......

Next, the taste....

A decent flavour, not, seemingly, as mega sweet and cloying as the other commercial meads I'd tasted (and I guessed wrongly, more later). Nice, enjoyable. I decided it would likely fall in the the "dessert" mead a.k.a. after dinner, category.

Ok thought me, time to get the hydrometer out. So with a test quantity (eventually I did drink it - well you would, wouldn't you, free mead and all that). The test picture looked like this......




Now, again, not the best photograph. I had to lean the hydrometer slightly, but hopefully it's clear enough so that you can see it was measuring 1.036......

Which is higher than I thought it would be, given that it was sweet but not cloyingly so like my previous tastes of commercial mead were. I thought it might tip the scale in the mid .020's or so.

Yet it tasted good, sweet but not........ etc etc.