Monday, December 31, 2007

Todays efforts!

After a comment at the WinesatHome forums (about honey) I decided to get down to the local branch of Lidl to see what they had.

I came away, not only with some 500g jars of Greek honey but enough apple and pear juice to try a variation of "turbo cider" that I'd read about (or so I thought).

The mead recipe I made up, was one I blogged about before - supplied in hand written form my my mother - who got it from "The Gales Book of Honey".

A straight forward recipe, the only differences being the Greek honey and that I used Lalvin D47 yeast for the first time.

Making the batch up seems to have gone well. I used 4lb/1.75kg of honey to make a "sweet" mead, though I suspect it will turn out very sweet. Like dessert wine. When I did a quick check of the original gravity of the must (just prior to pitching the yeast) it was showing 1.125 or so, whereas the info on the yeast says it has a tolerance up to 14% abv so it'll be about the same strength as "normal" wine, but sweeter.

I then decided to make a gallon of turbo cider. I decided to make it with 3.5 litres of apple juice, one litre of pear juice and a pound of honey - again, I used D47 yeast. It wasn't until I started pouring the pear juice that I realised that it wasn't pear juice, but peach juice - what a prat! I should have read the carton more closely. Ah well.

Anyhow, the mix is fermenting nicely, the only thing being that the pulp from the peach juice floated to the top of the jar and proceeded to foam out right up through the bubbler valve. So I used a baster to suck out some of the pulp and then re-filled the bubbler valve, then gave it a gentle stir by sliding the jar in a circular motion. It incorporated the rest of the pulp just nicely and seems to have settled to a steady ferment.

Excellent. A good days brewing. I'll just have to wait and see how the "turbo cider" turns out!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

even smaller update to yesterdays "mini-update"

Well, the barshack ginger mead with fruit seems to have all but finished, so I'll leave that bit longer to see if it clears or whether I need to rack it off or not!

The canned strawberry seems to have "stuck" sitting at a gravity of 1.050 so I'll have to look into restarting the ferment on that.

The Winter Mead was split into 3 X 1 gallon jars, 2 of them seem to have either finished or got close to finishing - 1 seems to be stuck. So along with working out about restarting, I thought I'd just do the restart thing but mix them back together so that it all reaches the same %ABV.

I'll have to wait and see!

Oh and the "wine thief" device seems to work very well.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Well I haven't done much in the last couple of weeks, though I did find a good place for home brewing supplies. It's not in the UK though, it's only in Belgium. They're called Brouwland. Of course, because they're in continental europe theres a bit of a delay in getting the stuff and the inevitable post and packing charge, but the array of stuff they stock is bloody amazing.

The bits I ordered by way of a little "test" was a "wine thief" (a sampling device that can have a hydrometer inside - it makes testing gravity or %abv simple) and 2 variations of "mead yeast" - more specifically the Wyeast Sweet Mead and Dry Mead liquid yeasts. I haven't heard mention of the dry mead yeast so much but the sweet mead one seems to perform well (anecdotally). Plus liquid yeast cultures seem to be preferred by many so it seems worth giving them a try.

The only downside is that Brouwland use DPD to ship in Belgium, which then delivers through Parceline in the UK - so if I get "carded" for the delivery, it's about a 50 mile round trip to pick the parcel up (their nearest depot to me being Crawley) - a bit of a PITA! I must remember to use the in-laws address for delivery next time.

The "extreme" ginger wine seems to have mellowed a bit. I went to my sisters yesterday for a meal and took a bottle - I was quite surprised how much the ginger flavour had "calmed down". Still I found it very enjoyable and haved decided to note it down as a success!

This weekend I'm gonna test the brews I have fermenting at the moment. They seem to have stopped a bit earlier than I expected, so I'm gonna check to see if any of them have "stuck" or not. If it transpires that any of them have, I'll have to look up info on re-starting fermentation.

The two mead yeasts mentioned earlier won't be used until after crimbo now as I buggered if I'm gonna stand in line in the supermarket for hours - they're currently suffering from the bedlam of the "pre-christmas crush"! So early january will have to do. The packets are enough to make 5 gallons, US gallons I suspect, so a 19/20 litre batch will be in order for each.

Pip pip and a merry christmas to anyone who can be bothered to read this drivel!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ginger Wine!

Well I've just bottled my "extreme" ginger wine.

It's not brilliant, but it's drinkable. It's hotter than "Stones" or other commercially made ginger wines that I've tasted, but despite the addition of nearly half a kilo of lactose (non-fermentable milk sugar) too "back sweeten", it's still not that sweet.

As I say, it's drinkable.

I've also racked the "Barshack Ginger Mead" (with additional fruit) that I made last weekend, off the fruit pulp. So now it just needs about 8 weeks of secondary fermentation - then I'll decide if I'm gonna bottle it (the recipe if for sparkling) or age it in bulk (preferred option as I don't have a corking machine for champagne corks or any champagne type bottles - I'd have to use beer bottles and crown caps).

I also racked the "Winter Mead" out of the plastic water cooler bottle it was in, into glass 1 gallon jars (demijohns), I can't remember why I decided to do that.

Oh and I was intending to proceed with my "Tinned Strawberry", as if it was a stuck ferment, because it seemed to have stopped doing anything, but as it was sitting in the kitchen awaiting some attention, it started showing some signs of life, so I've just topped it off with a sugar/water mix. And I turned up the temperature on the radiator in the dining room as I'm thinking along the lines that it just wasn't warm enough and the cold had convinced the yeast that it didn't want to play.

I'll leave it a couple of days and see how it's getting on.