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Homebrew day

#1

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Bottled: Pumpkin Rising (pumpkin spice flavored amber ale). Just needs to carbonate and bottle condition. Good in about 3 weeks. Right now, it tastes like pumpkin pie, so I can't wait for it to carbonate and add a bit of crispness to the flavor profile.

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Started: That Voodoo That You Do: Amber and Golden malt with brown sugar. We've had this before and really liked it.

Unfortunately, my brewing container developed a leak, so in my mad dash to save everything, I dumped it into a new bucket--and forgot to sanitize the bucket first. So here's keeping my fingers crossed that I don't infect my batch (which has never really happened before..joy)


#2

PatrThom

PatrThom

Unfortunately, my brewing container developed a leak, so in my mad dash to save everything, I dumped it into a new bucket--and forgot to sanitize the bucket first. So here's keeping my fingers crossed that I don't infect my batch (which has never really happened before..joy)
Worse yet, let's hope it doesn't get infected with something that makes it INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS and then you're never able to replicate it again.

--Patrick


#3

Krisken

Krisken

Can't wait to see how this turns out. I'm a total beer snob/amateur enthusiast. Would love to hear your thoughts on how it turned out/what you would do different.


#4

Wahad

Wahad

I have yet to brew, though I have a brewday planned with some veteran brewer friends. Hella fan of the craft beers, though, so definitely interested in following this progress. Or, you know, a taste test. If you need any volunteers.


#5

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

So, it's a general rule on brew day: Sample some of your previous wares.

So, I pulled out the chocolate cherry mead to my wife's disappointment. She's never liked this one. And it's been around 10 months since we tasted it. It's almost 2.5 years old now from start to finish.

She loved it. The chocolate notes were finally coming out, with a slight taste of cherry. Half-way through the bottle, I got the bright idea to stir some stevia into my glass--and OMG did it make the chocolate flavor explode! It almost tasted like an alcoholic Yoohoo. With a touch of sweetener, this is now one of my top 10 brews.


#6

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Worse yet, let's hope it doesn't get infected with something that makes it INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS and then you're never able to replicate it again.

--Patrick
A lot of people brew with wild yeasts or Brettanomyces in order to introduce sour or funky flavors into their homebrew. It could happen. The worst thing that could happen would be for me to check on it in a week and see a pellicle growing on top signifying a bacterial infection. Bacteria usually add flavors like wet cardboard, vomit, or mildew. If I see a pellicle, the only thing I can do is dump the batch and sterilize the shit out of my brew bucket.


#7

Gared

Gared

One of the things I'm dreading about getting back up north is having to deal with the 17 gallons of bulk aging mead that I'm going to have to just dump out at this point. There's no way in hell I have time to bottle them, and I know better than trying to transport long distances in carboys (my car still smells slightly meady on really hot days), so my only options at this point are to dump them, or find someone else local who wants to inherit them. At least I'll still have all of the bottled varieties, and I can start brewing again now that I'm not "planning on moving" and therefore not "planning on having enough time to ferment, age, and bottle." I have a 5 gallon batch of Balathustrius' Heartbound Hibiscus, a 5 gallon batch of hibiscus and cocoa, and a 5 gallon blueberry cinnamon melomel that are all slated to go the way of the dodo this weekend. I guess the one saving grace is that I never managed to save up enough money to buy any really good honey, so it's not like I'm dumping OBH or Tupelo or anything, just plain old Washington wildflower honey.


#8

Eriol

Eriol

I gotta brew some root beer. It's been sitting on my counter for a few months (it's an easy package stuff) but I've just been lazy.


#9

Officer_Charon

Officer_Charon

One of the things I'm dreading about getting back up north is having to deal with the 17 gallons of bulk aging mead that I'm going to have to just dump out at this point. There's no way in hell I have time to bottle them, and I know better than trying to transport long distances in carboys (my car still smells slightly meady on really hot days), so my only options at this point are to dump them, or find someone else local who wants to inherit them. At least I'll still have all of the bottled varieties, and I can start brewing again now that I'm not "planning on moving" and therefore not "planning on having enough time to ferment, age, and bottle." I have a 5 gallon batch of Balathustrius' Heartbound Hibiscus, a 5 gallon batch of hibiscus and cocoa, and a 5 gallon blueberry cinnamon melomel that are all slated to go the way of the dodo this weekend. I guess the one saving grace is that I never managed to save up enough money to buy any really good honey, so it's not like I'm dumping OBH or Tupelo or anything, just plain old Washington wildflower honey.
*cries with powerless grabbyhands*


#10

Gared

Gared

Yeah... definitely didn't have any time, money, or energy to bottle a bunch of wine when we got to the apartment. The good news is I was able to fit three cases of bottled mead in the trunk, including the chocolate raspberry mead I made for my wife's birthday a few years back. Maybe after we get some groceries this afternoon I'll crack a bottle open to celebrate the move.


#11

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Our pumpkin spice ale is carbonated, but not conditioned. Nevertheless, we're trying a bottle tonight


#12

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Stuff came up, and we didn't drink the pumpkin spice ale that night.

Just opened a bottle to have with dinner. It was pretty amazing. Pumpkin pie and ale. Will drink again :)


#13

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Bottling day with the missus

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#14

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Wife's out of town until next week. I'm already bored as hell.

Consequently, since we loved the 2-gallon batch of strawberry wine that I made last August, I have started a 5 gallon batch today.

Some people bake when the weather gets cooler. Evidently, I get the brewing bug.

I'm going to start a blackberry wine this weekend.


#15

Gared

Gared

Are you using frozen berries, fresh berries, or those cans of Vintner's fruit pulp?


#16

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Are you using frozen berries, fresh berries, or those cans of Vintner's fruit pulp?
First time around, I used 8 lbs of fresh berries for a 2 gallon batch, and pureed them in a Ninja blender, and my wife and I pushed the pulp through a 200 micron "yogurt bag", and added the resulting juice to sugar water and nutrients.

IMG_0209.JPG

This is not the recommended method from any recipe I could find on the internet, but it made a very fine strawberry wine. And it made my hands sore. And it was super expensive because strawberries ain't cheap. But, the wine clarified quickly, was super tasty, and cleaning the carboys was a breeze. And I avoided the mold potential that can happen when fruit is floating on the surface of your brew.

This time around, I ran across the Vintner's stuff, but I didn't get the fruit pulp. I got the "fruit wine base", where they've basically puree a fruit, mixed it with sugar, and measure it out into a 1 gallon jug. You just pour it with 4 gallons of water in your carboy, add nutrient and yeast. It was on sale for $27.00, so about 1/4 the cost of buying strawberries at the grocery store right now. It's super cheating, but the syrup tasted just like strawberries and sugar, so I have high hopes for it turning out :)

My only grump so far about it: It's got color added, so I fear I'll end up with a pink strawberry wine. This is what most people expect when they first brew strawberry wine, but real strawberry wine is usually orange-ish or golden in color because the fermentation process breaks down the color components in strawberries.


#17

Gared

Gared

Yeah, out-of-season fruit prices can be prohibitively expensive and the fruit can be less flavorful anyway. We cracked open a bottle of the mead that made it to Oregon with us last night. Really wish I'd labeled more than just the chocolate raspberry, but I'm pretty sure this one was my Christmas Mead from a few years back - lots of orange, juniper berries, and cinnamon, if I remember correctly. And maybe some allspice berries. It was very nice, no bitterness from orange pith, not overly spicy, a good mouth feel - exactly what I was hoping to find at a store before I started making my own. I'm pretty sure I have that one, a regular sweet mead, a botchet (this one I'm certain of), and the aforementioned chocolate raspberry. I should find out where my nearest LHBS is and go buy some yeast and brewing supplies. There is a LOT of honey available down here.


#18

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Yeah, I usually label my bottles, but I got lazy with my bochet and my chocolate cherry mead. And they're in dark bottles, so I can't even see which is which. It's always a gamble opening one of those bottles.

We had one of the chocolate cherry last week, and it was good. But i had the bright idea to put a little stevia in my glass, and omg, it just made the chocolate flavor explode. I did back sweeten it slightly before bottling, but next time I make this one, I will probably sweeten it much more.


#19

Gared

Gared

I'm just glad I haven't run across any bottle bombs in a good long while, since I always bottle with flip-top (Grolsch-style) bottles, I'm always pointing them away from myself and others when I open them. There's nothing quite as exciting as pushing the bottle stopper arm away from the glass and hearing a resounding "Fwop!" as the cap blows off the top.


#20

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Blackberry wine...oh yeah

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#21

Gared

Gared

My wife and I swung by our local homebrew supply yesterday on our way home from Roseburg (the nearest city with a Home Depot or Lowes... yeah) and were really impressed with their selection. They sell equipment for beer, wine (and mead), distilling, candle making, soap making, tincture making, capsule filling, cheese making, bread baking (sourdough starters and such), charcuterie, and more; and they have ready-to-purchase samples of all of those categories of products. They also do homesteading supplies and instruction. We will definitely be spending a lot of time and money there. To kick things off though, we picked up a bottle of Dansk Mjod's Viking Blod. Now I can say I've had two one(?) great commercial mead(s), and that I have something to which to aspire. The first was an excellent black currant "honey wine" from Nalewka Babuni (which at the time was explained to us as a mead... now, after a brief Google perusal, I'm really not so sure). I was afraid the hops were going to overpower everything else - especially since having a few of the local beers. I really don't understand why Oregonians hate their palates so much. It must be a cultural guilt thing. But the balance of the honey, hibiscus, hops, and whatever other spices they use was very well done. I'd say I probably lucked into getting a half-way comparable result with my Christmas mead, so I should start there in my quest to make truly good mead.

Maybe I'll carry on the theme of special occasion meads. I have a Christmas mead and a Wife's Birthday mead, I could go with a Vernal Equinox mead. I did a big "First Day of Spring" themed dinner last year, I could go back through my notes and find some spices for a Metheglin, or maybe a spiced Melomel; pick some ingredients indigenous to our new home region, and then as an extra treat/challenge, carbonate a few bottles of the batch. I'll need to replace literally every piece of my brewing kit - yeah, ouch. But, since we definitely don't have to move any time soon, and I have some time to accumulate gear again, that means I can buy really good equipment. So, any recommendations for equipment that I shouldn't be without? The basics I know - brewing bucket, hydrometer, something in which to float said hydrometer, airlock, racking cane, carboy, bottling bucket, bottling wand, bottles and either flip-top lids or a floor corker/crown capper. Any brands I look out for, or other pieces of equipment that fall outside the "basics" category?


#22

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

So, any recommendations for equipment that I shouldn't be without? The basics I know - brewing bucket, hydrometer, something in which to float said hydrometer, airlock, racking cane, carboy, bottling bucket, bottling wand, bottles and either flip-top lids or a floor corker/crown capper. Any brands I look out for, or other pieces of equipment that fall outside the "basics" category?
I've simplified my brewing life over time. I don't even bother with a hydrometer. Generally I use:

Fermentation bucket for primary. I just got some Big Mouth Bubblers to try out, because it seems that these days, all my fermentation buckets have shitty lid seals.
Better-bottle with spigot for secondary. I bottle directly from secondary
Autosiphon. Makes life easier.
Mr Beer bottles with caps. Super convenient.
(though I also have glass bottles and a corker that I use for my 'aging stock')
Artificial corks (they won't fail like natural corks)
Starsan for sanitizing
Super-Kleer for clarification (though I don't use it often these days)

Usually I do 2-2-2: 2 months in primary, 2 months in secondary, and minimum 2 months after bottling before drinking. This seems to always work out, and I haven't made a bottle bomb since I was in my 20's.

One thing I do now that I didn't used to: Buon Vino mini-jet filter. But that'll set you back a couple hundred. The smallest pads will filter out even yeast, and I like the clean look it gives my finished bottles.


#23

Eriol

Eriol

Root beer has started. Just a simple Mr. Beer kit, but tasty. 3-ish days until it's carbonated. I cheat and use one plastic bottle along with all of my glass ones so I can test firmness.

Thanks to @Dirona for making it with me. We will share the tasty fruits of our labours.


#24

Gared

Gared

Apparently the main agricultural products (non livestock- or timber-related) in our little valley are blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. I've made several meads with those berries in various combinations and haven't really enjoyed any of them, so my idea of a local-ingredient/spring-time mead doesn't really work; but the Rogue Valley, just to the south of us (and conveniently located within the 50mi radius I like to set for "local") has pears and grapes. I wasn't overly fond of my one attempt at a concord grape pyment either, but pears are one of my wife's favorite fruits so we're going to go with a pear and star anise cyser. Now I just need to find some preservative-free (or at least sorbate free) pear cider, or a juice press and a bunch of pears, and pick a good honey to go with pear, that won't get blown away by the star anise, but won't overwhelm the pear flavor.


#25

Eriol

Eriol

Root beer has started. Just a simple Mr. Beer kit, but tasty. 3-ish days until it's carbonated. I cheat and use one plastic bottle along with all of my glass ones so I can test firmness.

Thanks to @Dirona for making it with me. We will share the tasty fruits of our labours.
Oh, not gone yet, but MOST Of it is gone. And it has been tasty. ;)

Neat story @Gared. I wish you well on your search for a good "local" product.


#26

MindDetective

MindDetective

Apparently the main agricultural products (non livestock- or timber-related) in our little valley are blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. I've made several meads with those berries in various combinations and haven't really enjoyed any of them, so my idea of a local-ingredient/spring-time mead doesn't really work; but the Rogue Valley, just to the south of us (and conveniently located within the 50mi radius I like to set for "local") has pears and grapes. I wasn't overly fond of my one attempt at a concord grape pyment either, but pears are one of my wife's favorite fruits so we're going to go with a pear and star anise cyser. Now I just need to find some preservative-free (or at least sorbate free) pear cider, or a juice press and a bunch of pears, and pick a good honey to go with pear, that won't get blown away by the star anise, but won't overwhelm the pear flavor.
I live in the rogue valley. You are only an hour or two away from me! And yes, great pear selection here in the fall.


#27

Gared

Gared

I live in the rogue valley. You are only an hour or two away from me! And yes, great pear selection here in the fall.
I knew we had at least one more person down here, but couldn't for the life of me remember who it was.


#28

Gared

Gared

Fah! All of my Christmas Mead is starting to bottle carb. I guess I'm going to have to start clarifying my mead from now on.


#29

PatrThom

PatrThom

Yay! Champagne!

--Patrick


#30

Gared

Gared

They do sound a bit like champagne bottles going off. I do all of my bottling in flip-top bottles, so they can handle pressure in case anything goes crazy. The biggest issue here is just that in the process of bottle carbing, the mead is also going dry, and the delicate balance of allspice, juniper berry, orange zest, and clove is becoming a dry, throat clenching, tannin-ridden mess. But I'm in no hurry to wash, sanitize, and dry the bottles; so for now, they can stay down in the basement. Who knows, maybe in 3 years or so I'll have a really well balanced sparkling Christmas mead.


#31

fade

fade

This hobby seems expensive---there's no way I could afford all that inkjet ink for those labels.


#32

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Protip: Per page, laser printers are tons cheaper and more reliable.

A lot of people just scribble something by hand onto a label. Or they skip the label entirely and affix a piece of paper to the bottle via a string, or via a hole in the paper.


#33

fade

fade

Hey man, you're spoiling my joke about the price of printer ink with facts.


#34

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Reposting from facebook:
Making mead, but I'm testing out a new protocol.

In the old days, mead was honey, water and yeast. Honey has plenty of sugar, but practically no other nutrients. Yeast can survive on it, but they end up stressed. They have to work hard to make all the extra things that they need, and the byproducts of those processes come out as off flavors that have to age out. So, in the old days, it was advisable to let your mead age a year before drinking.

Then came yeast nutrient. It didn't change the protocol much. You threw in honey, water, yeast, and some specific amount of nutrients. Yay, the yeast were less stressed, but I still needed to age out off flavors for about 6 months before the mead became really good.

Now we have a new thinking SNA--Staggered nutrient addition. This one is a lot more work. The thinking is: If you give your yeast all these nutrients up front, it's like feeding your dog a week's worth of food in one day and thinking he'll be ok for the rest of the week. So, people have calculated the nitrogen needs of various yeast strains, and for the first week you pamper your yeast: Use a wine whip to remove CO2 (which is as poisonous to yeast as it is to us), aerate to re-introduce O2, and feed your yeast a measured amount of nutrients for the first few days and once more a few days later when they're well established.

Additionally, some studies show that homebrew can benefit from the addition of a drop of olive oil at the start, to provide lipids for the yeast to use to create cell walls, so they don't have to manufacture it themselves.

It's a lot more work, but supposedly, will produce a mead that finishes fermenting in 14 days and is drinkable after 30.

We'll see how it goes
:) (And if you've read this far, I've added a secret ingredient. Butterfly Pea flowers. It should make something magical. Stay tuned)


#35

Gared

Gared

I was paying attention a few years back when they first started talking about SNA, but I haven't kept up with any new information since the recommended treatment was just a tsp/gal of Fermaid at the 1/3 and 2/3 sugar breaks - and they certainly weren't talking about individual nitrogen needs per yeast strain. But then, I never really took advantage of the speedier aspects of SNA - I tend to rack to secondary only after the mead has cleared, just out of laziness and an abundance of fermentation space. It'll be interesting to see what you think.


#36

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

This site here talks about nitrogen needs of yeast strains and the calculations for each
http://www.meadmaderight.com/tosna.html


#37

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Day 1: added approx 1.5 tsp Fermaid 0 (and will do so for the next 2 days). Degassed with wine whip.

Since it was only 24 hours since I pitched the yeast, I didn't expect much from the whip, but it made about 1.5 inches foam on top of the mead. I was super surprised. If there was that much co2 in suspension, I'm imagining that the yeast are feeling much more frisky with it gone.


#38

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

I had a choice today: Bottle the SNA mead, or bottle the strawberry wine I started in October.
Wife made the choice for me: Strawberry wine :)

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My high-tech logging system. :D

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I use the filter every time now. But it's still a bit messy. You get a little loss, but it's worth it to me.


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A newish bottle filler I've tried out a couple times now. It's like a gas station pump: When the liquid hits the bottom of the filler tube, it shuts off and is ready to put in a new bottle.


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The final product. It's pretty dang good.


#39

Gared

Gared

Back in March, I think it was, I started a new mead - intending to make a s'mores mead, using caramelized mesquite honey and raw meadowfoam honey, I was going to then rack onto toasted cacao nibs and a split and scraped vanilla bean; that plan went out the window when I very quickly needed something to do with about 3 lbs of blueberries left over from our u-pick adventure. So now I guess I'll have a blueberry botchet.


#40

Gared

Gared

I was inspired yesterday to bring this back upstairs for a taste. It's pretty good. It's a little hot, as a young mead is wont to be, but it's also very strong and sweet. I think it's time to find some clean glass to age this one in and move on to the next brewing project. No idea what that's going to be yet.


#41

Eriol

Eriol

I was inspired yesterday to bring this back upstairs for a taste. It's pretty good. It's a little hot, as a young mead is wont to be, but it's also very strong and sweet. I think it's time to find some clean glass to age this one in and move on to the next brewing project. No idea what that's going to be yet.
For the information of everybody in the Halifax area (@HCGLNS , @Squidleybits , and Nick at the least... I can't remember username to tag) I recommend the Annapolis Cider Company in Wolfville. You can sometimes find some of their stuff at NSLC, but their store is the only "reliable" way to find it. Damned fine cider in many varieties. Gared, you're making me desire some of what we have at home tonight, but I have the whole workday to wait until I get some. :(


#42

HCGLNS

HCGLNS

:ninja: shhhh! I know the place.


#43

Gared

Gared

For the information of everybody in the Halifax area (@HCGLNS , @Squidleybits , and Nick at the least... I can't remember username to tag) I recommend the Annapolis Cider Company in Wolfville. You can sometimes find some of their stuff at NSLC, but their store is the only "reliable" way to find it. Damned fine cider in many varieties. Gared, you're making me desire some of what we have at home tonight, but I have the whole workday to wait until I get some. :(
Mmm.... good cider. We have a couple of local cideries that are pretty good, but a lot of the big names down here are still using shitty applewine and mixing in artificial flavors at bottling time, or adding juice to a dead ferment, so you get a horribly sweet, off-tasting cider that tastes like warm Budweiser and Fruit Loops.


#44

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

It's a lot more work, but supposedly, will produce a mead that finishes fermenting in 14 days and is drinkable after 30.

We'll see how it goes
:) (And if you've read this far, I've added a secret ingredient. Butterfly Pea flowers. It should make something magical. Stay tuned)
This was supposed to be FASTER, but every weekend, I've had something going on. I am just now getting around to bottling this...8 months later.

2018-09-16 14.43.20.jpg2018-09-16 16.14.22.jpg2018-09-16 14.55.49.jpg


#45

WasabiPoptart

WasabiPoptart

It's so pretty.


#46

PatrThom

PatrThom

Here's hoping you don't like it so much that you're like I JUST CAN'T WAIT ANOTHER 8 MONTHS whenever you want some.

--Patrick


#47

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Here's hoping you don't like it so much that you're like I JUST CAN'T WAIT ANOTHER 8 MONTHS whenever you want some.

--Patrick
I have near 120 bottles of homebrew in the basement of various sorts. I have plenty to keep me occupied while the next batch works. :D
Any 5 gallon recipe nets me around 22-25 bottles of booze. I drink maybe twice a month.

The real worry is if my *wife* likes it, and I only make a 2 gallon batch (like my first strawberry).


#48

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

Mead bottling day! Simple mead, nothing special about it. Also the laziest mead I've ever made.
I pitched some old yeast, and it didn't work. So the next day I pitched some new yeast, and saw fermentation.

Then I did absolutely fuck-all. First week, I'd think to myself "I should aerate." or "how bout step feeding." Later, I'd see it and go "I should rack that to a new carboy this weekend." or "hmm. maybe I should bottle that." Nope. Did jack shit of nothing for 154 days, until today.

Bottling day, I guess ;)
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The real prize is that while scouring the mead closet for empty bottles, I ran across 4 bottles of strawberry wine that I thought we ran out of in 2018. :D


#49

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

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#50

PatrThom

PatrThom

These bottles are smaller than I expected.

--Patrick


#51

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

These bottles are smaller than I expected.

--Patrick
:p


#52

Tinwhistler

Tinwhistler

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New mead in the new house. Texas "raw, organic" honey. I have my doubts about the "raw" part, as I saw no bits of bees or honeycomb in the honey, so I imagine it's been filtered. Which means it's not "raw". Though it says it hasn't been.

That said, it's nice to hear the pitter patter of a couple trillion tiny feet in the new house. :D

edit: It's alive


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