Sunday, November 25, 2007

I nearly forgot (Mk 2)

When I went over to my brothers the other weekend, I decided to take a bottle of my first mead.

I remembered what it was like when I was bottling it (still a bit "raw"). I'd also been reading about "de-gassing" - as residual CO2 can affect the flavour.

I bought myself a "vacuvin wine saver". You can use it to keep opened bottles a bit fresher by sucking out some of the air (it is a little vacuum pump and a couple of special stoppers). It will also remove some of the residual CO2 with the vacuum. So I de-gassed the bottle of mead and tried it.

Bloody hell, it wasn't exactly the same as a commercial mead, but it was definitely drinkable. I did stick about half a teaspoon of lactose in it, but it didn't make much difference.

I was just really surprised that it didn't "taste half bad at all". I can't wait to start bottling some of the other meads that I've made, so I can finally get round to judging which recipe really is the best (well to me anyway).

Once I've managed to narrow down the recipe a bit I can then start experimenting with the actual honey I use. Tesco have a reasonable range for me to try, plus I can trawl about the net to see what else I can lay my hands on. Then I can make and age to my hearts content.

Obviously I'll try to keep this updated on how things are getting along.

A new brew and some updates.

The other week, we were in the local Tesco and they had some frozen fruit that was reduced (end of line or whatever), there was 6 packet so I bought the lot for £6 - it was 2 packs of blackberries and 4 packs of cherries.

Another recent addition was a book called "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing". Now it's mainly about brewing beer, which I'm not really into, but it had the original recipe for the "Barshack Ginger Mead" as well, so I read up on it and then, as my partner wanted the freezer space, decided to make another batch.

Except, this time, I've followed the recipe as closely as I can. Plus as it says about using optional fruit, I've defrosted the cheap stuff I got in Tesco and used that.

Having the original recipe and accompanying notes explained a bit about the questions I had last time. Oh and also having tracked down some "corn sugar" a.k.a. Dextrose or Glucose might help as well.

The notes explained that the use of a lesser amount of honey than a normal mead was to do with making a subtly flavoured sparkling ginger mead, that's dry in taste. Yet the addition of the corn sugar is about upping the alcohol level, the use of champagne yeast to ferment it to dryness. It should be aged for 6 to 12 months as well (or more judging by the authors notes and description). So that's exactly what I intend to do.

On the updates side of things, the canned strawberry currently tastes rather like an alcoholic strawberry ice cream syrup. So I'm presuming that something's gone wrong with it. I've tried adding some additional yeast nutrient, in an effort to "jump start" the fermentation, but as yet it doesn't seem to have made much difference. I'm suspecting that it may be too cool in our dining room for it. Which means that I'm probably gonna have to check the spec's on the yeasts I have available and then use one of the champagne/high alcohol ones to re-start the ferment. It will have to be one that will take lower than normal/wide ranging temperatures so that fermenting it in the dining room doesn't cause it any hassle.

Ha! I nearly forgot, I've also made up a batch of the "Winter Mead" (Metheglin/Melomel). I had to help my elderly aunt sort a problem with her computer (she wanted to try a different version of the Ubuntu Linux that she runs). I mentioned that I was intending having a go, so she gave me 2 packs of frozen cranberries. Now the recipe didn't use the actual fruit, just the juice, but as the only cranberry juice I could get was made from concentrate, I figured that I'd put the fruit in as well and then just rack it off the fruit after about a fortnight. It's now sitting in the dining room and looks to be fermenting well.

I think that that's it for the moment, so TTFN

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Well had a bit of a session today.

I racked the "Winter Mead" (well really it's either a metheglin or a melomel as it's got both fruit and spices). It's been 14 days since I mixed it, so now it's in a "secondary fermenter" I have to leave it for 56 days - I say secondary fermenter, the recipe is actually for 4 US gallons a.k.a. 12 litres, but my turned out a bit more. Not sure why, but I actually managed to fill the 12 litre container that I'd prepared plus 4 1 pint milk bottles (handy as the top of the bottle is the same size as a "normal" drilled stopper). The bit I tasted, was very "fruity" and quite sweet, I'll have to see what it's like at the end of the 56 day secondary ferment.

Then I racked the "tinned Strawberry" off the lees. The sediment was rather weird i.e. not very "yeast like" at all, but that doesn't matter. It tasted a bit like an alcoholic version of strawberry ice cream syrup - I might have to try to "restart" the fermentation with a champagne yeast to see if it will ferment out all the sugar - there must be some remaining (I presume) as it's quite sweet.

Then I bottled the batch of "turbo cider" that I made, it was the second one. The first being made of just cheapo tesco's apple juice and yeast, the one I bottled today also had a pound of honey in it. I tastes like the first one but with more alcohol.

finally I degassed and back sweetened a bottle of the first mead I made last year (last year ? I think it's about 18 months old now). It wasn't bad though, much better than I'd thought.

Right, I'm off to my brothers' place as it was his birthday during the week and I'm gonna take him a bottle of rum!


Saturday, November 03, 2007

My latest.......

So, since the "rackfest", the "Tinned Strawberry" has finished fermenting, it's starting to clear so I should really rack it off the lees.

Of the two gallons of turbo cider I made (one with a pound of honey, one not), they both seem to have finished, the gallon without the honey finished first and has cleared quite well. The gallon with the honey is starting to clear, but it's no where ready yet.

I really should think about getting some beer bottles, caps and capper for the one that's cleared, the only downside is that I'd like to get it carbonated, which means that I need to "prime" the bottles. That involves a small amount of sugar in the bottle or mixed with some water and that's added to the bottle. It does seem that dextrose is the best sugar to do this, but getting it (I actually want it for some other recipes as well) has so far, proved to be a pain in the arse. I've just ordered 10 kilo's from a home brew supplier, that should arrive next week sometime.

Oh and while I remember, look around and check out websites, before you buy something. My recent efforts to get hold of larger than "normal" bags of dextrose (a.k.a. glucose), seems to have been a letdown. I found a site called "bargain-supplements", which said that it could supply a 25 kg bag for about £30. It hasn't turned up yet, and after looking around today, the website seems to have disappeared. So if I've lost the £30, then it's tough shit on me isn't it, if it turns up, then great. I'm still exploring other sources, as the 25 kg bag would last me for a month or two.

I reckon that only the one bad site, in the 5 or so years that I've used Internet shopping isn't a bad average. That includes shopping at locations world wide! Ah well! {edit} I left it a week or so and then checked again. The site has re-appeared. So I have to presume that they're hosted by 123-reg, who, as far as I can find out, experienced a "bout" of complete ineptitude or some form of "denial of service attack". Both of which would be quite rare so I've decided that it was mainly impatience (again) on my part{/edit}