Brewing


When last we left my batch of strawberry mead, it was ready for bottling.  Well it has been bottled now and wasn’t too bad drink-wise.  I have some left over which is still aging.  I’m planning on bringing some to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving.  Should be relatively decent by then.

The only oddity this time around: the strawberry mead doesn’t really taste like strawberries.  It’s not bad, mind you.  It just doesn’t have the taste of strawberries in it.  I suspect that the copious amount of honey in it is masking the strawberry flavor.

I’ll consider this batch a qualified success: it’s good to drink, but until I figure a way to get a better strawberry flavor, I’m going to hold off brewing it again.

I’m also gearing up for my next batch: blackberry.  I’ve made blackberry mead before and it was pretty good.  I’ve altered the recipe some this time around (different honey, different nutrient) and will probably be setting up for the first part of the brew cycle in the coming week.

Back on 3/26 I started a batch of strawberry mead. It’s been close to four months and it’s coming along nicely. The fermentation process has completed, there’s no pressure in the airlock, and it’s time to start thinking about bottling it.

One issue that came up is the amount of strawberry debris and particulate matter in the mead. Sometimes a fruit mix will leave a lot of junk floating in the mead that isn’t exactly harmful, however it will mess up the texture while drinking and make the mead taste less awesome. To remedy the floating bits, I added bentonite – a negatively-charge clay which will drag the particulate bits to the bottom with the lees so I should end up with some nice, clear mead. I’ve also added potassium sorbate – a compound which won’t kill the yeast but will keep it from reproducing. If the mead continues to ferment after it’s been bottled, the pressure could build up until the bottles explode or the gasses push the corks out. Either way is a mess. Potassium sorbate should prevent that from happening.

The mead should be ready for bottling next weekend.

Today I racked my mead.  Racking is the process of moving the mead from one container to another.  Once the bubbles in the air lock slowed to less than one every thirty seconds, it was time to separate the mead from the lees (dead yeast that forms on the bottom of the container) and move the mead to a nice safe carboy for the rest of the brewing.

Stats thus far:

Alcohol by Weight: 9.71%

Alcohol by Volume: 12.25%

Brewing is an odd hobby of mine.  I actually got into it because my Hobbit Burglar in LotRO can cook and brew.  I can already cook (I used to be a professional cook) but the thought of brewing was a new one for me.  I looked into it a little.  The most commonly brewed items can also be bought in a store so I didn’t think too seriously of trying it.

Then I went to a local renaissance fair and tried mead.  Once I found out how easy mead was to make (relative to beer or wine) I figured I’d give it a shot.

This past weekend, I brewed some mead. The recipe I was working on is as follows:

18 lbs honey

5 Gallons of water (I used 4.5)

2 lbs frozen strawberries

Lalvin EC-1118 yeast

Fleishmann’s Active Dry Yeast

I boiled the Fleishmann’s yeast in a small pot of water. Since I do not have proper nutrient, boiling yeast is a close second. I also could have added raisins as a nitrogen source but the raisins I have are old and I’m not sure on the quality.

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I brew mead: the result of the process of fermentation as applied to a mixture of honey and water.  There are some who argue that mead is older than wine or beer.  Personally, I don’t care.  It’s easy to brew and in a few short months I can drink it so how long ago it was created doesn’t really matter as long as I get to drink it in the here and now.

The kinds of mead I like to brew are traditionally called a melomel: it’s mead plus some other fruits.  The fruit gives it a distinctive flavor depending on the type of honey you use and the type of fruit.  Other factors include the yeast strain you use, the mix of honey and fruit and the mix of fruit and honey to water.

Just today, I managed to secure another honey supplier and placed an order.  My honey should be here next week so I’ll be putting together the other ingredients and finalizing the recipe I’m going for.

So while I’m waiting for my supplies to show up, and if you’re still interested in mead and how the process of creating it works, you can read up on it at Got Mead.com: a great resource for all things mead.

I finally caught my smuggler up to where I was on the old server.  He’s level 37 now and on Quesh for questing.  Being on a server where I have friends has exposed me to some more content I hadn’t seen before.  I’ve got one friend who has been showing me the locations of various datacrons.  I’ve got some others that are big on group content so I’ve also been smashing though some of that as well (mostly the stuff you can do aboard the ships in the Republic Fleet … can’t think of the name, off hand).

In other news, I’m getting set up for another mead brew cycle.  I was getting set a couple of weeks ago but my old honey supplier dried up and now I’m having to search for another one.  I’ll have another post about this hobby of mine shortly (I hope).