Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stresses, strains and other disappointments!

Ok, I've just racked the Barshack Ginger Mead, that I made on the 25th November 07. That is, it was racked off the pulp on the 1st Dec 07, and this is the first racking since it actually finished fermenting.

I should have racked it according to the original recipe on the 28th Jan this year, but I had a few other things to do, so it had to wait until today.

Despite the enthusiasm that the original author of the book/recipe has for this brew, I'm sorry to say that I can't (now, at any rate) agree with him.

Why? well I followed the recipe as closely as I could, except I used some fruit I had, which shouldn't, as far as I understand, have made much of a difference. I had a little taste and even now it still tastes like an alcoholic version of one of those "fruit tea's"/infusions. Except it's cold.

Pissy weak, lacking in any real flavour, with little, if any, "body" to it.

So, to try and make up for it's short comings, I've racked it off the sediment, into a jar of the same size. Then I've used a mix of 1 honey, to 2 water, to top it up and get rid of nearly all the air space. I've also added "wine smoother" - which is a product that I bought on the off chance I might have to opportunity to try. It's actually a small sachet of glycerine and a small sachet of "Oak Extract" (Sinatin 17 or something like that). It's supposed to add body and reduce ageing of young wines and smooth out the roughness that some young wines have.

I haven't got a clue as to whether it'll work or not.

I've dated the jar, and in a month or so, when the brew has had a chance to restart any fermentation activity that might be caused by the honey water I topped it up with, I'll rack it into glass, stopper the jars (1 gallon demijohn's - the current 5 us gallon container is sealed with a bubbler valve) and sling it under the stairs and forget about it for a year or two to see if it improves any.

So far, I've been suitably unimpressed with the fruit/spiced recipes I've tried. They're either too heavily flavoured or to bland. Maybe it's just that my expectations are too high. I don't know.

I just find that at the moment I'm not fussed about them at all, as I've yet to taste something that I actually like the flavour of. Though that also applies to my efforts to make a decent mead.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, I don't know. I think I've worked out which yeasts I like to use, but that in itself creates a quandary. Do I follow a recipe blindly, or work out what the approximate theoretical level of % alcohol by volume the yeast will produce and then allow for a bit more honey to make it a sweet mead? I don't know.

I've put a fair amount of thought to this, and I can't believe that historically speaking, old mead recipes would have been used to make anything other than sweet mead. Dry meads are a product of those who think that they're fucking experts, and that they should be making meads that are just honey flavoured versions of popular grape wines.

These types strike me as if they are just fucking train spotters with hydrometers, instead of railway reference books! Fuck off you anally retentive twats!

Why am I being so harsh ?

Well I don't make grape wines, because there's a whole industry that's grown up around those products. Home brews and country wines are a little different. Not really commercial, but made by enthusiastic amateurs that just try to apply similar production principles.

Sure, I guess that some methods go out of fashion etc, but with a bit of reading and a sprinkle of imagination, it's not too difficult to work out what some of these historical recipes might have tasted like, and I doubt whether they were particularly dry. They were popular for a good few centuries. Then industrialisation came about, and it wasn't quite so easy to reproduce these country wine and mead type drinks on a commercial scale, so they made what they could produce on an industrial scale. At about the same time, various marketing opportunities came about, so they just made sure that you could only really get what they wanted to advertise at you. Hence part of the reason for the "rise of the popular brand".

It's one of the reasons that if I actually drink some beer, I tend to drink "real ales". They taste more "original" and not like some marketing nazi thinks I want to drink! (are you listening "Mr Magners", your cider is fucking horrible - I don't care how much you spend on adverts, as far as I'm concerned, your fucking cider is only fit for putting out small fires).

Ok I'll get of my soap box! I've got to rack the mead I made for the winesathome tutorial again, as well as the canned strawberry. I think that I might just bin the "turbo cider" as it's not very nice. Yes that is my fault, as I should have read the packets before I paid for them i.e. made sure I was getting apple and pear juice and not apple/peach! I'll have to wait and see.


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