Sunday, October 14, 2007

The holy grail ?

Now I don't know if it's me not looking hard enough or whether I'm seeking the holy grail.

"WTF are you on about" I hear you say. Well, I've been looking round the net for recipes.

The ones I've found are either too fucking big to be practical (the things mentioned in todays earlier post about the "rackfest" mean that I'm left with about 12 gallons of mead, of various types, all "ageing" a.k.a. mellowing).

5 gallon recipes might be fine if I know what they taste like, but it's a lot to have to sling down the sink if it turns out fucking horrible - both in money and time/effort.

Why can't these people produce recipes that "scale" i.e. if I want a bigger batch, then I just multiply the ingredients (except the yeast of course because a 1 gramme pack is usually enough to "do" 5 gallons).

It's either that, or they contain ingredients that are hard, if not impossible to get, or ingredients that are either too generalised in name or too specialised.

For instance, BuckWheat honey. What the fucks that? where the fuck am I likely to get that in the UK? Or there was another one, that used Cranberries. Great, except it's damn near impossible to get fucking cranberry sauce outside the christmas season, let alone fresh cranberries! There was another one that said use "Tupelo" honey. What the fuck does anyone outside the US know about Tupelo, except I think that was where "Elvis" was born. What the fuck is their major crop and hence what kind of honey is it likely to be ?

Most specific honey's are either way too expensive or like rocking horse shit!

Come on you knowledgeable types, write some usable recipes that will either scale up or down, with ingredients that might be available outside the fucking States! That way, some of we less knowledgeable types might get enough experience to write some of our own recipes!

Ok end of rant, I'm just getting off my soapbox!


This weekends "rackfest"

A rackfest ?

Yes. It's when I rack everything that's waiting to be racked i.e. removed from one container to another. It's done to remove yeast debris, or maybe fruit pulp and any number of other reasons.

So, what have I racked? Well, one gallon mix of "Canned Strawberry" wine that's been fermenting for about a week - the recipe is from the CJJ Berry/Amateur Winemaker book "Making Wine from Canned and Dried Fruit". It's out of print so you have to dig around to find a copy.

Next, was the 19 litre batch of "Dry Mead" again from a CJJ Berry book, called "First Steps in Winemaking". The first time I tried this recipe, it turned out too "rough" i.e. using a high alcohol yeast isn't necessarily the right approach for a first attempt (despite what you may have been told). That first batch has already been aged for 12 months and is still a bit rough (for rough, take the definition by Ken Schramm in his book "The Compleat Meadmaker", where he explains that high alcohol dry meads often taste like "Listerine" when freshly off the yeast i.e. like bloody mouthwash).

I modified the original recipe by making it with 20% more honey and when it had finished fermenting, I racked it off the yeast and added an additional 2 lb of honey. The idea being that it would then have some residual sweetness, post ferment, and the extra 2lb would replace some of the honey flavour that fermented out. It's worked reasonably well, though it still needs aging, so it's now sitting in 1 gallon "demi johns". It was explained to me that it might not be best to age it in a water cooler bottle, as it was polycarbonate and that's very slightly porous. Which could lead to oxidation of the wine.

Next, I decided to blend the 2 gallons of apple wine I made last year (it didn't go as well as I'd hoped as it was VVV "appley" and excessively sweet/sugary. So I've mixed it with 2 gallons of mead that was quite recently off the yeast and still very rough. The result is that it's made the apple part of the flavour less prominent and the mead part of the flavour less "rough". I'll just leave it in the jars - whether I ever get round to bottling it is a different question!

I also racked the batch of "Joe Mattoli's Orange and Spice Mead". I took a taste, and, well, it's not completely fucking horrible, but I'd certainly say that anyone making this, should only use 1 clove per gallon, or maybe only 1 clove per batch. It's turned out very "clovey". So thats another one racked off, that will probably never get bottled. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turbo Cider (and other stuff)

Been reading about how apparently easy it is to make "Turbo Cider" (turbo as it's quick to make - apparently).

In theory, it's just a case of sticking some cheap apple juice into a "demijohn" jar, and adding yeast. It seems that just bread yeast can make it to 5.5% abv, but if wine making yeast is used then it takes a bit longer to ferment and can become stronger.

The thread I was reading at the winesathome forums, also said about making it like that but adding some honey as well, which is probably know as "cyser" i.e. mead made with apple juice.

Anyway, I'm gonna try a gallon of just juice/yeast and another of juice/yeast/honey. The batch with honey is only gonna have a pound of honey, but it might need to be "laid down" to age. I'll have to wait and see.

I pitched the yeast into the canned strawberry must on Sunday as previously mentioned and I'm not giving it a bit of a shake once a day, as per the recipe instructions (for either 7 or 10 days). Once the shaking period is up, then it'll be time to strain it into a different fermenter to remove any fruit pulp, and let it ferment out.

Oh and I used enough sugar (from the recipe instructions) to make it "medium/sweet". Afterall, strawberries are (in my opinion) supposed to be eaten with a little sprinkle of sugar/sweet.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Update for the weekend 7/10/07

Well, I haven't really done much but things are building up a bit.

"What's building up?" I hear you say.

I've just made the "syrup mix"/must for Strawberry wine, from a recipe in the "Making wines with Canned and Dried Fruit" by C.J.J. Berry. It's out of print so if you wanted a copy you'd have to search the "amazon marketplace" - erm, I got mine for the massive amount of 1 pence. The bloody postage was £2.75, but the book just the 1 pence.

Basically, so far all I've had to do it put the requisite amount of tinned strawberries in my bucket and after boiling 4 pints of water with the appropriate amount of sugar, pour the syrup over the strawb's.

I've now got to wait until it's cooled enough - the book says 70 degrees F (it's an old book, first written in the mid 60's). So I'll add the acid/tannin etc before I go to bed.

The cooled syrup will be transferred to a demijohn tomorrow and then I'll pitch the yeast.

No change in the ginger wine - that's still fermenting like a trooper. I did ask a question at the winesathome forums to find out about whether there's any issue about pectin. Apparently there's no pectin in the ginger, but it's quite starchy so I've followed that up and bought myself some "Amylase" which should sort out any possible "starch haze" problems.

I also asked about whether it might get any "off flavours" because I intend to leave it on the ginger pulp (some methods of fruit wine making say that you should make them in a "primary fermenter" i.e. a wine bucket in my case, then leave them for, say 7 days, sometimes longer, then to syphon them "off the fruit" into the "secondary fermenter", like a demijohn or carbouy and then ferment it out - because letting the ferment complete "on the fruit", can, in some cases cause the aforementioned "off flavours").

There doesn't seem to be any definitive answer to that! So what the hell, as it was a complete experiment, I'll leave this lot on the pulp and when I make another batch (depending on what it tastes like of course) I'll take that off the pulp after either 7, 10 or 14 days.

Lastly, the "Joe Mattoli's Orange and Spice Mead" is looking good, theres only about 2 or 3 pieces of orange and maybe half a dozen raisins still floating. Excellent, nearly ready for bottling. I just hope it tastes like my head tells me it should. And the "Barshack Ginger Mead", well it took about 2 days after I added the extra honey and ginger, but it started to ferment again. It's starting to slow a bit now, but I'm quite surprised that it's been "re-fermenting" for nearly a fortnight now. Doesn't matter I suppose, as it'll just get racked and left too age.

If nothing else, the "Barshack Ginger Mead" saga has taught me one thing. The "corn sugar" mentioned in the recipe has a different name "over here" (i.e. the UK). "Well what's it called?" I hear you say, well it's bloody Dextrose or Dextrose Monohydrate. Some of the online HBS (home brew shops) sell it as "brewing sugar".