Sunday, April 29, 2012

Banana Mead Part 5

Well, it's nearly finished already.

I tested it when we got back from lunch and it's reading about 1.005, which is about 11.5% ABV (if I've remembered my start details correctly), so there's some room for it to go further i.e. 71B is capable of about 14% ABV.

Now as I'd expected, it's not very "bananery" in taste, but that's mainly because all of the extracted flavour has been in primary fermentation. So one of the things I've decided I will be doing, will be to rack it off the sediment and onto some more banana.

What I haven't decided about yet, is whether I'm gonna augment the alcohol some with a bit more honey, or possibly change the flavour a bit by adding some vanilla as it goes quite well with banana.

Or I also have the option of adding a 1lb jar of malt extract, letting it do it's thing before back sweetening.

Of course, it's all rather "undecided" as this batch wasn't really planned because I wasn't expecting to be given the banana that prompted this batch (and I'm far too disorganised when it comes to my batches).

I do suspect that both the malt and vanilla would enhance the banana flavour if it's present in a large enough quantity. I suppose I'm unsure because so many of the recipes and brews that others make, I wouldn't - some wonderful ideas, but I just don't see the point in a lot of them. Perhaps because I'm not adventurous enough, I don't know......

Whether Banana Vanilla Malted mead is the way ahead ? Hum ? Dunno.........

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Banana Mead Part 4

Ok, last night, when I checked the brew, there was plenty of foam showing, but the gravity test showed little, if any movement.

Tonight when I checked it, I could see not only plenty of foam but some yeast scum on the top of the inside of the fermenter, so I was happy that it was fermenting fine, and my concerns of the previous posts on this where unfounded, just that I suspect I'm correct in thinking that I should have left the must in a bucket for a day or two more to dissipate the sulphites more.

Either way, it's going well.

Both last night, and tonight, I've stirred the hell out of it and managed to generate foam eruptions twice. When I checked the gravity tonight, it was down to 1.070 - which is only 10 points from the 1/3rd sugar break, so I took about 750mls out of the fermenter and put it into the liquidiser once I'd sanitised it and ran it on slow to aerate the contents. At the same time I stirred the fermenter as well, to help remove some of the built up CO2. Once that was done (about 5 minutes of "aeration"), I thought "sod it" it's gonna steam past the 1/3rd break over night (probably), so I added 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of FermaidK and 3/4's teaspoon of DAP (di-ammonium phosphate) and stirred that in well, before pouring the 750mls of well aerated must back into the fermenter.

I'm gonna leave it for now.

Just for info, the ferment was well underway, until I stirred the hell out of it. If you look at "Machalel's" (he's ? - a newer member over at gotmead) video clip, that's about the same level of activity I was getting, just that my batch didn't look quite as impressive as my fermenter is a 3 US gallon water cooler bottle (I'll try and post a pic another time) coloured transparent blue, and my must is lighter in colour as his batch was "caramel banana", mine is just banana.

Right, that's it for now. TTFN

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Banana Mead - Part 3

I left this batch for about 36 hours, stirring a number of times to dissipate the sulphites. Then I rehydrated the yeast with GoFerm, then before I pitched the yeast, I gave it another good stir to aerate the must (actually I sanitised the liquidiser and blitzed a pint or so) and pitched the yeast.

Ok thinks me, looking good as I could see a few bubbles in the airlock after about 12 hours i.e. as far as I could tell, the lag phase was over, so I give it another stirr to aerate it and added 2 teaspoons of FermaidK and a teaspoon of DAP (di-ammonium phospate).

The next day......bugger all. No sign of bubbles in the airlock and no apparent drop in gravity.

Looked this morning and there did seem to be some sign of bubbles in the airlock, so I can only presume that I didn't leave the must long enough for the sulphites to dissipate.....

Should I just put a clean cloth over the top of the fermenter instead of an airlock ? Don't know. I prefer to use an air lock as it does show indications of something going on.

I'll have to wait and see when I get home tonight, to make sure that I wasn't imagining things. I'll give it a stir anyway.......

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Banana Mead, part 2

Ok, so I chopped all of the fruit, after it was "topped and tailed" into pieces about 5mm or so thick. I managed to get the whole lot into my GF's "Maslin" pan (jam/jelly making pan) with about 6 litres of water, but had to take some out and transfer it to the base of our pressure cooker, as it was just too much fruit for the 1 pan.

Both pans were brought to the boil, and then simmered for 30 minutes, then switched off and left to cool.

Once they were cool enough, I checked (the liquid/fruit was put through a strainer, and then the pulp was wrung out to remove the last of the "juice") how much "juice" I had and then made it up too 2 gallons. I was working from guidance that suggested 4 and a half pounds of banana to the gallon, and figured that 5 and a half pounds per gallon wouldn't make much difference as there was no point in trying to split the numbers. To that, I added the 6lb of local wild flower honey. All the liquid contents went into the chosen fermenter, which was capped and I shook the hell out of it. Then added sulphites (in the form of campden tablets). I use 3 tablets, because with the honey, it was up to about 11 litres of liquid.

This has been left for about 36 hours, with lots of shaking in between, so I'm hoping that the sulphites will have dissipated enough not to be a problem. The whole point of the sulphite was because I wasn't sure about what I was going to do next and was still digging round the net for idea's etc.

I've mixed up about 150mls of water and the same amount of the juice/honey mix, which has gone into a jam jar with half a tablespoon of GoFerm (7.5 grammes - which according the some stuff I've read about dosage should be 1.5 x the weight of yeast - a 5 gramme pack). I've put the yeast into that and shaken the hell out of it. Hopefully, by the time I've finished typing this, it will have started to show some signs of activity (about and hour or so).

I'll pitch the yeast and then give it all another bloody good shake to make sure it's as aerated as I can make it, without mechanical assistance.

Oh, and I took a gravity reading, which was 1.090 at room temp, so it I get the ferment down to 1.000 it will be about 12.2% ABV, if I can get it down to 0.990, then it will be about 13.5% ABV - I'm aiming for 14%, which is the tolerance for the chosen yeast, Lalvin 71B.

I'm still thinking about this batch and might chuck in a couple of vanilla pods, as that usually goes well with banana, and maybe a jar of malt extract, as malt also goes well with banana, but it would also give some fermentable and some non-fermentable sugars to the brew. I'm already expecting to have to add some more honey to the batch if I want 14% and some residual sugars for sweetness.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gift horses mouths - Banana Mead

While working yesterday, I was given a carrier bag full of banana's. Not wanting to "look a gift horse in the mouth", I was happy to accept the fruit.

But what to do with it ? Ok, banana wine, maybe banana mead, something like that.

A quick look round the net last night, showed that I need about 4 and 1/2lb of fruit per gallon. Having eaten two of the 'nana's yesterday, and Clare having taken some for banana bread, I've still got about 11lb in weight, so I can safely go for a 2 gallon batch.

I haven't used bananas before, though I'm aware that they can be used to increase body in a batch of country wine. Plus I don't know whether I'll actually need to use pectolase and/or amylase, as I don't know whether bananas contain pectin - they're certainly likely to contain some starch, but whether that's gonna be an issue or not, I don't know.

This is what 11lb of banana looks like once it's been washed, "topped and tailed" and chopped, then added to about 5 litres of water. I should probably have measured out the whole 2 gallons, but as we only have the jam making pan on the right, and I used the base of our pressure cooker (left), as it was too close for comfort with just the jam pan.

I've also been up to Paynes this morning and got 2 x 1.36kg/3lb buckets of "English" honey - which isn't very well named as it's local wild flower honey. I figured that I just need to have a medium flavoured honey, that doesn't or at least, isn't likely to detract from the banana flavour.

Initially, I'm just gonna strain off the banana water/liquid and wring the fruit pulp for the last of any flavour I can get out of it, then let it cool to room temperature. Then make it up to two gallons with RO water (Reverse Osmosis). I'll mix in the honey and sulphite it, while I'm working out whether I need to use pectolase and amylase in it or not. I haven't decided on the yeast yet, I'll have to get to see what I've got available first. And as my 2 x 2 gallon buckets have got brews in them at the moment, I've dug out my 13 litre water cooler bottle, and I'll use that to ferment in.

And before I forget, here's a picture of the banana bread that Clare made from some of the fruit.
I certainly don't mind her pinching some of the fruit, as the banana bread has come out very well. I don't think it's gonna last very long........

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Latest batch (March 2012)

The other week, our freezer decided to die. We did quite well, managing to save most of the food. One "almost" casualty, was some small bags of "mixed summer fruit", but I let them defrost completely, then mixed them into a must of honey (Polish Buckwheat) and water. I sulphited that, because I couldn't make my mind up what yeast to use. I ended up just chucking a pack of D21 into it. A couple of days later, I checked the gravity, and it was down to 1.060 or so, so I added a 1lb jar of RewaRewa honey (from New Zealand) and a teaspoon of FermaidK and half a teaspoon of DAP. This morning, I've checked it and it's down to 1.020, so as the fruit was looking rather manky, I decided to remove as much of it as I could with a sieve and slotted spoon. We do our weeks shopping on a sunday morning, so after sorting out the fridge, there was about 1lb of strawberries, 4oz of grapes and 2oz of raspberries left. I've trimmed and chopped them, added about 6oz of sugar and heated them to make like a fruit coulis. That's now cooling on the cooker, and I'll strain it through cloth and add that in as well. I've also bought a couple more bags of frozen "summer fruit", so that when it's finished, I'll add that in as well, to help sweeten it some, as well as adding more "fruitiness" to the batch. Ha! not bad eh? still my usual standards of "make it up as I go". I'll probably back sweeten it as well.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Gravity point drop equating to X %ABV

Ok, I'm gonna post a table as best as I can (I know sweet FA about CSS, HTML and the other kinds of shit needed for this - I'm copying some shit from google). The point is, is that I'm obviously being a bit thick, as I haven't worked out how to use the "mead calculator" over at gotmead. Fine. So I'm putting this table up, the data having been produced by the unfeasibly helpful Bob Morton, who runs WinesatHome, because it's just a bald list of how much alcohol you can expect from a certain drop or difference between a start and finish gravity reading. It takes nothing into account, not any possible variations of sugar content from different honies, etc etc. Just that if you measure X as your start, Y as your finish, then the drop in gravity will equate to a %ABV reading from the list. I believe it also works with multiples i.e. if you start at X gravity, let it drop say 50 points to Y gravity, then you step feed some fermentables back up to (lets call it) X1 and then let it go to the fermentation finish of say Y1 and the drop from X1 to Y1 is equal to 100 points, then you've had a total drop of 150 gravity points which also equates to Z %ABV. I hope that makes sense, I certainly find it easier to work out the strengths of my brew with a reasonable level of accuracy. Oh and I'm only listing the %ABV to 2 decimal points, and not 7 as Bob did with the original data. If you want to be that anal and go to that level of accuracy, then you'll have to register at wines at home and get Bob's original spreadsheet. Edit...... Ok it turned out to be a complete pain in the arse to input the data as a pretty table, so fuck it, here's the data, just as a long list...... The first column is the difference or drop in gravity, while the second is the % alcohol that the drop in gravity represents.
50 6.79
51 6.92
52 7.06
53 7.20
54 7.33
55 7.47
56 7.60
57 7.74
58 7.88
59 8.01
60 8.15
61 8.28
62 8.42
63 8.55
64 8.69
65 8.83
66 8.96
67 9.10
68 9.23
69 9.37
70 9.51
71 9.64
72 9.78
73 9.91
74 10.0
75 10.19
76 10.32
77 10.46
78 10.59
79 10.73
80 10.86
81 11.00
82 11.14
83 11.27
84 11.41
85 11.54
86 11.68
87 11.82
88 11.95
89 12.09
90 12.22
91 12.36
92 12.5
93 12.63
94 12.77
95 12.90
96 13.04
97 13.17
98 13.31
99 13.45
100 13.58
101 13.72