Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Word of Advice to the Newcomers

Wait a few days before you start to get in a panic about your mead not fermenting, or fermenting “right”.  Yes, that was me.  Captain impatient to the front lines checking the time between bubbles coming through my airlock every couple of hours.

When the fermentation was really getting started I was very excited because a bubble was coming through the airlock roughly every minute.  Next thing I know after about 36 hours it had slowed to a bubble every minute and a half or more! “Egads!  It couldn’t be!” I said to myself.  Meanwhile my wife, not understanding the doomsday scenario playing out in my head where honey bees come to claim those that misuse their sweet work, attempted to calm my nerves.

“Honey, “ (eh? eh? see what I did there?) “Honey, “ she said, “would you stop checking the bubble every 30 minutes.”

“But! But! What if it’s a stuck fermentation! I would have to do something about it! Pronto!” I would retort.  I considered throwing in some yeast nutrients or energizer, neither of which I have yet, but instead I decided to move the carboy from the kitchen counter into the kitchen closet and cross my fingers.  Lo-and-behold after about 24 hours in there my bubbles were coming at under 60 seconds per.  Tonight they are down around 28 seconds per bubble.

Wahoo! I say to myself.  There’s some amount of satisfaction that comes from watching this creation slowly unfold itself while it still maintains its mysteries of taste, and smell.  I very eagerly await the day that I can pop the stopper out, siphon into a secondary, and siphon a little off to have a little taste test.

On a little side note, I bought a bottle of Starrlight Mead’s Traditional Semi-Sweet Mead a few weekends ago at a local renaissance faire after trying it in a taste testing.  I was originally going to pop this bottle in celebration of my mom graduating from truck driving school this weekend and while I still plan on opening it in celebration it won’t be for another week or so now when my parents come back into town.  I will be sure to post a quick note on it once I open it.

ttfn and thanks for all the mead

Saturday, April 16, 2011

First batch, easy and cheap

It's official, my first batch of Mead is fermenting!  I was a bit surprised to be honest.  I just knew that I screwed something up somewhere along the line and that it wasn't going to ferment, at all.  It didn't help that after I got everything mixed together, plugged, and my airlock inserted that I sat there and watched the water moving into the wrong chamber.  I decided not to freak out about it and just see what happens and after going to dinner and returning, the air pressure was now going the right direction and I sat and watched a bubble push its way through and not so silently cheered.

This is my first ever attempt at trying to brew anything and I have absolutely no idea how well it's going to turn out in the end but hey! it's fermenting right? That's a first step at least.  For those that want to know, the whole setup cost me around $28.00.  Everything except the distilled water I purchased from a local store called American Brewmaster.

In total I purchased:
  • 2 1 gallon glass carboy jugs
  • 1 Lalvin D47 dry yeast
  • 1 #3 drilled stopper
  • 1 S type airlock
  • 1 8oz package of One Step
  • 1 lb of orange blossom honey
  • 1 screw cap (to keep the dust out of my empty jug
This is roughly half a gallon of must so I'm hoping the 1 lb of honey will make it sweet enough but only time will tell I guess.  In searching around I found a super simple recipe that I mostly followed from Storm The Castle.  Unfortanutely I didn't have any oranges, or raisins, so I substituted around a tsp of lemon juice and around 2 1/2 tbsp of light brown sugar.  Again, I have no clue how this is going to turn out but I have my fingers crossed that it's going to come out tasting at least 80% like mead and 20% like rocket fuel.

For those interested here is the quick run-down on the process I followed.

#1 - SANITIZE EVERYTHING.... Seriously, my sink has never looked so clean, ever.  I scrubbed the kitchen sink down with just a little bit of dish detergent and then washed it out really, really good.  Then I plugged it up and made a batch of One Step to sanitize the sink and anything that would be coming in contact with the must or yeast.

#2 - Started the yeast activation.  Heated a little bit of water, mixed it together with the D47 yeast, agitated it a little bit to make sure that some of the yeast was getting to the water, and then set a timer for 15 minutes (package instructions).

#3 - Made the must.  Poured the 1lb of honey, 1/2 gallon of distilled water, 2 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice into a 1 gallon glass jug.  Threw the lid on and began mixing and aerating.  Proceeded to shake the jug for 5 minutes.

#4 - Pitched the yeast into the must.  Gave it a little swirl to try and make sure the yeast was distributed into the must.

#5 - Plug with stopper and airlock, wrap in towel.

That was basically it.  In the future I'll probably go into a bit more detail on some of these steps and I'll definitely make sure to let everyone know how this concoction tastes when it's done fermenting in a few weeks.  Now I just have to hope that the fermentation continues like it's supposed to and it doesn't wind up just dying off.

For now, Be Well Readers!