Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some of my meads (and other stuff)......

Ok, this is what some of my means look like once made, racked, filtered and possible topped up.

Without getting them out from under the stairs again, that's (from L to R) "Greek" honey (nice and cheap from the local brand of Lidl), then Winter mead (recipe found on the net), a traditional type made with Oklahoma Wild Flower honey (thanks Keith, it's lovely honey) and a modified JAO recipe, though made with lemon and lime instead of orange.

As you can tell from my earlier post, I wasn't sure what to do, so I thought "fuck it" and just ran them through my gravity filter and made sure that they were topped up to the brim and then just put them away for ageing (the JAO, Winter and Greek are already about 2 years old).

It remains to be seen whether they improve any further........

Of the other wines/meads etc, I'm gonna continue racking, filtering etc, but not until I've got a "bag in a box" set up. So then I don't need to bottle any of the fruit wines that are a couple of years old, just get them used up......

I think I'll also end up making up the last few 1 gallon batches, but then move over to making less batches, but 5 gallon ones, instead of the smaller ones. It's a lot of effort and messing about for just 5 or possibly 6 bottles........

Occasional moments of confusion and indecision.....

Ok, so here's where I'm at........

I have a number of 1 gallon batches, some need bottling, some need racking, some need...... well something.......

I don't really want to bottle what needs bottling, because I like bulk ageing meads, I also like how they look in a 1 gallon glass demi-john jar.

So what's the problem?

Well, if I rack the ones that need racking then there's always some racking loses, so you'd normally top them up with something. Water ? Well I don't want to reduce the body of a finished mead/wine/whatever, or reduce the alcohol content. I can use "a similar mead/wine", but I don't really have anything that will do the job.

Then there's the ones that need bottling. My enolmatic vacuum bottler and it's associated filter tend to lose more than if I used something like a "Harris filter" type device - I actually have the older "Boots" filter, but I'm still not a big fan of those as they seem to rely on sitting on top of a demi-john 1 gallon jar, and the wine then splashes into the receiving jar below. I don't like the idea of splashing the wines as it can lead to oxidisation (yes I know that meads don't tend to suffer as badly as other wines, I still don't like the idea......)

What the hell, I might just do that anyway and then just top them up with some of the chenin blanc "panic" wine - it might change the flavour a bit but does that really matter ??? As once it's filtered etc it'll just be put away to age (forgotten about ;-D ).......

Damn! I don't know, I just can't make my mind up what to do next.......

I just want to do something, because then I can start again, and hopefully try and be considerably more organised than I have been up to now..........

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blackcurrant Melomel (clearing out the fridge.....)

Blackcurrant Melomel (soon)
Ok, so one of the things that Clare wants to do over the weekend is to make me some "Lemon curd". Which is wonderful (nice that she's making it and nice to eat, on bread and butter :-p ).

So after having a look at our stock of empty jars (jam, honey, pickles etc etc), we find that we're running low on them.

I remembered that after last years visit to the local PYO, we came home with 6 or 7 pounds of fruit (don't recall the exact amount) and I promptly put it all through the steam juice extractor (reduces the size/volume of original fruit - excellent for "red" type fruit) and jarred it, the jars went straight into the fridge once cooled.

I also had the last of the 6 jars of generic Polish honey that my friend Sebastian brought over with him, last year or the year before. The were all crystalised anyway and would need warming through to use.

So I figured that as Clare needed some empty jars and I'd been thinking about what to make next, presented an opportunity/idea. Black currant Melomel.

Now I love black currant anyway, so the picture is showing the empty honey jar (1.3kg size), the last of the re-sealable jars of steam extracted black currant juice and the bucket being used as the primary fermenter (containing the honey from the jar, a jar of juice the same size as in the picture and 3 x 1lb jars of fruit juice).

The reason why I haven't put all the black currant juice in, is that I'm going to ferment this, but once it's finished and racked off the lees, I'll add the last of the juice to make it more fruity/black currant in flavour. The honey taste is less important as it's nice tasting but it's processed and of unknown provenance.

I haven't taken a gravity reading yet, just mixed up the honey, black currant juice and made it up to just over a gallon with water. That in turn, has had about 2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme and 1 crushed campden tablet whisked into it.

I'll leave this for 24 or maybe even 48 hours for the pectic enzyme to do it's thing, as the BC juice seemed a little thicker than I remember, and while it tasted fine, it's probably set a little pectin from when the juice was being extracted, hence the 2 tsp per gallon amount used (I'll probably have to add more once I add the rest of the juice anyway.....)

I haven't decided on which yeast yet, though as black currants are a malic fruit, it might be sensible to use 71B, due to it's property of being able to metabolise some of the malic acid. I'm also in 2 minds as to whether I really need to add any tannins as there's gonna be some in the fruit juice.

Finally, whether this ends up as a 1 or 2 gallon batch is dependant on the gravity when I measure it today or tomorrow.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Batch news......

So, I decided to check to see how the latest batch was getting on (the Oklahoma Wildflower mead batch that is).

It started at a gravity of 1120, now with the presumption that finished is 1000, the 120 point drop would be, as far as I can work out (shit at maths) 16.3% ABV.

The yeast I've used (Lalvins D21) is apparently good for 16%, though maybe, with a little luck, it could go higher.

Where was I, Oh yes, so after carefully suspending the hydrometer in the batch (fully sanitised of course), it said that it had a gravity of 1070, which is actually a little lower than the 1080 1/3rd sugar break. Not to worry, it's close enough.

So I figured it was time to add the rest of the nutrients, and as per previous posts, the guidance I'd been given suggested that 2 grammes of the DAP and 4 grammes of Fermaid-K would be in order.

Now I was thinking about this today and I remembered what it was that I left out of the batch so far, that would be any acid addition and tannin of some sort. So I thought that this batch should now be stable enough to take the last pint that was taken out to give it some head space, and hatched the master plan of putting the pint of honey/water must into the liquidiser and then adding the nutrients, acid and tannin. Lots of sanitising spray and that went smoothly (the whole lot was the colour of the "head" in the milk bottle on the left of the main DJ).

So I carefully put the DJ in the sink, and start adding the mixed/aerated must and nutrient/minerals to it. It wasn't one of those fast "fuck fuck fuck" type foam eruptions, it was a slow but steady one that ended up with me having to sanitise the turkey baster in a rush and use it to suck out some of the foam.

For the moment, I've re-air locked it and put the rest of the must/minerals etc back into the milk bottle so the foam can settle out of that and I'll have another go at gently pouring it into the DJ when I get up for work.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

New Batch ingredients - extra info

Ok, so this morning, its obviously finished it's "lag phase". So, because I wasn't sure about how to work out it's exact nutrient requirements, I posted a question at Gotmead and "Medsen Fey" was kind enough to post this response.

"I really like the approach Wayneb describes in This Post. For D21, you have a medium nutrient requiring yeast, and you are starting at 28 Brix which is moderately high. I'd probably shoot for around 350 ppm YAN. There is a YAN calculator that has been put together, but it generates numbers that are quite high, and even I get a little timid about adding that much. Of course, I used to be timid about adding the amount hightest recommends, and now I find that isn't enough in most cases.

In any case:
1 gram of DAP per Imperial Gallon gives 46 ppm YAN
1 gram of Fermaid K per Imperial Gallon gives about 22 ppm YAN

Typically, I like a 2/3 Fermaid K, 1/3 DAP mix to ensure plenty of micronutrients and yeast hulls. So using 8 grams of Fermaid K and 4 grams of DAP would give about 360 ppm YAN. The honey itself may provide 10-20 ppm.  That is the way I approach nutrient additions."
So I've followed that guidance (not that I understand how to use the YAN (Yeast Assimilative Nitrogen) calculator, so initially it's had 4 grammes of FermaidK and 2 grammes of  the Ritchies yeast nutrient (Diammonium Phosphate and something else that I forget the name of - but I'll include it when I've looked it up).

I'm quite glad that I took a pint out of it and then when it was time to give it a stir to aerate it, that I stood it in the sink as I got an excellent foam eruption out of it. The picture shows it after it's settled down again. I'll check the gravity before I aerate it this evening to see how it's getting on, the intention being that I want it to hit the 1/3 rd sugar break before adding the second half of the nutrients.


Apples in season, pressing etc etc......

It's often been a bit of a nuisance when the apples are in season, as I'd dearly love to be able to make use of some.

Whether it's for apple wine, cider or whatever.

Part of what stops me is the price of the kit this should give you some idea of the costs.... very nice, but IMO, over priced.....

Whereas, I recently found this absolute fucking master stroke it's simplicity is brilliant especially if you look further around the net to find the designs for making a press from some framing, pressing boards and a hydraulic bottle type car jack. Or even a smallish, machine shop hydraulic press. You can obtain something like 10 tonnes pressure on the pulp.

The idea of using a "garbage disposal unit" for a grinder is brilliant. Giving a nice, even, "apple sauce" type pommace ready for wrapping up as a "cheese", ready for pressing.

The only downside of that link is the constantly annoying reference of pressed apple juice as "cider". That's more of a language barrier thing between the UK and US (we speak English, they speak "American" - similar, yet very different). It doesn't matter whether the apple juice is clear or cloudy, it's still fucking apple juice. If it's then fermented, it's fucking cider, not "hard cider", just fucking cider!!!!!

Hey ho! be a boring place if we all spoke the same......... Either way, "his" idea and suggestion are, IMO, brilliant......


Saturday, September 04, 2010

New Batch ingredients

In an earlier post (about treasure) I showed some stuff that Keith was kind enough to send over for me. In the picture is the remainder of the Oklahoma Wild flower honey mixed up to a gallon (imperial) with water (nothing special, just tap water).

To work out how to proceed, I've taken a gravity reading which tells me that it's quite high, at 1120. So presuming a drop to 1000 to consider the ferment finished, that should give me about 16.3 %ABV.

There was about four and a half pounds in weight of the honey left so I figured I'd just make it up "as is" and just age it.

Hence it doesn't really matter if it ends up with an "alcohol hot" taste when the ferment has finished.

As I had no idea what the gravity would end up at, I wasn't sure what yeast I would use, but as its 1120, I'll just run with some D21.

The intention is to rehydrate the yeast with some GoFerm and then add FermaidK and some DAP once the lag phase has finished.

I'll be aerating it twice a day to the 1/3rd sugar break (1080 in this case).

D21 is listed as having moderate nutrient needs so I'll be checking the mead calculator over at Gotmead to make sure about the nutrient requirements.