Saturday, April 05, 2008

So much for "my latest brew"!

The other week, I got my hands on some of this excellent sounding honey. I haven't got a clue what it really tastes like, but today I got round to making a brew of it - well sort of!

Sort of ? I hear you say. Yes, sort of.

What I mean by that, is that I started making it - as per usual. I'd got the honey in the demi-john jar (4 lb of it). It was partially dissolved i.e. I'd used warm water to rinse out the jars. I'd then added a pint of tea and a campden tablet, followed by the yeast nutrient (Gervins "Minavit" - the amount suggested is a bit weird - it (the instructions) say 1 to 2 grammes per gallon or 6g/litre for sugar solutions fermenting for high alcohol. As I say, weird). I'd then topped it up to about three quarters/four fifths full, but before I added the citric acid and then the yeast, I thought it sensible to check both the gravity of the "must" and the pH.

I was expecting quite a high gravity - my expectation was bourne out. It was 1140 - high enough to produce an alcohol content of 20 to 21%. Fine thinks me, just check the pH and I'll be ready to pitch the yeast.

This is where it went to a complete sack of shit ! It's my understanding that honey is acid, so I don't know what kind of pH reading I should get, but I certainly didn't expect 6.36 - 6.36 ? what's the relevance of that?

Well, you may or may not know, the pH scale is from 0 to 14, 0 being acid as fuck and 14 being alkali as fuck (both extremes are very corrosive). Neutral is 7. Most water sits either one side or the other of 7 i.e. water is pretty neutral.

As I said, I didn't know what to expect, maybe 4 or 5 ??

The idea being, that the brew is acid enough to start at a theoretical ideal of 3.3 - some people will add some acid to a brew to bring the numbers down, others not. Either way, the recipe suggested a teaspoon of citric acid anyway.

The stress kicks in, with the sensation/feeling of "WTF" (WTF=What the fuck?). So initially, I get the pH meters' buffer solution to make sure the meter is working properly. The solution should read a pH of 7.0 at 25 degrees C, when I checked the temperature of the solution, it was 20 degrees - which according to the solution label, meant that the meter should be reading 7.01, so I set it to that with the calibration control.

Then I took another reading - still far, far too high. So I just "knee jerked" and stuck the teaspoon of citric acid into the brew. A lot of good it did, about fuck all. OK it did do something, it reduced the pH from 6.36 to 6.29, still a fucking mile away from the 3.3 area I was aiming at.

All I could do was to hit the net for answers! After all, fucking honey isn't supposed to be damn near neutral is it!

I haven't found much out that really answers my questions. So I still don't know what has actually gone wrong. I did try to see if it might be related to the relatively high nutrient level, but I got a pH reading of 7.17 from tap water, and after adding a teaspoon of the nutrient mix, I got a reading of 7.11 and apart from that, I'm no further on in getting an answer.

So what to do ? Well I did find a link (well it was posted at WAH), that explained about using "acidulated water" to reduce a pH reading. I don't think that will work - not that I've got anything that will help me work out what I'd need to add with any accuracy any way!

What I'm intending to do, is to add a couple of teaspoons of acid, give it a good shake and then just add the yeast.

What harm can that do ? Well, I'm guessing it will either start the ferment or it won't. I'm not that patient when it comes to things going wrong. So the brew might still end up down the sink, I'll have to wait and see.

I'll post again, once I've "done what needs doing". Whether it starts to ferment or not.

Pip pip!

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