Day by Day

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bottling and Brewing

Didn't plan on doing much today.  Hah.  The best laid plans of mice and men....

Bottled up a three gallon batch of hard Apple Cider.  Plus a one gallon test batch of pear cider.

Racked a three gallon batch of straight mead; we used honey collected from the cranberry bogs in Wisconsin, it's got an awesome flavor.  Also racked a three gallon batch of cherry melomel.  This one was way too dry, we added three pounds of honey and set it back downstairs to finish fermenting.

Every time I PCS to a new place, I have to re-discover how to brew.  The climate that you brew in has as much to do with how the final product turns out as the ingredients do.  In Cali, I had to dump about half of what I made just because the temperatures were so hot and my house sucked so bad that I couldn't get consistent results out of the yeast.  In Wisconsin, there wasn't anything I couldn't make that didn't turn out well; our cellar stayed so cool in the summer that it was like having my own German monastery to use, and I turned out everything from wine to mead to ciders that all tasted good.  Here, it seems like my basement stays consistent enough that the yeast eats every last bit of sugar.  Both ciders started out at around 1.05 SG, and they ended up at 1.0 or below.  I like a good dry cider, the Mrs. does not.  So I'm happy, she wants it sweeter.  I've got a couple of test batches going that should not only taste good but give me a much better idea of what I'll be able to brew in the basement.  We took the lees (all the yeast that's settled in the bottom of the vessel) from our apple cider and dumped it into a new batch of apple/honey must, so I'm hoping to have a sweet apple and honey cider that will make the Mrs. happy.

All in all, I spent a good portion of the day standing in my kitchen making sure things were doing what they needed to do.  If there's one ingredient that I think people need to be aware of in brewing, it's this:  SANITIZE EVERYTHING THAT TOUCHES YOUR BREW.  So half the time I was doing actual mixing and brewing, the other half I was sanitizing all my equipment.

Oh, and don't wash it in soap - that kills your brew.  You have to use a sanitizer.  Since I'm on a septic here, I use a one-step sanitizer that utilizes oxygen to sanitize.  Plus damn near everything I use to ferment is glass, so all I have to do is make sure it's rinsed well, then hit it with the sanitizer to kill off any bugs that may be around.

I also do a bottle carbonation, because I don't have the equipment to carbonate with CO2.  So I have to prime my cider with sugar before I bottle it.  Takes a couple of weeks for the yeast to eat enough sugar and produce it's CO2.  It's a different carbonation than what folks are used to, but I like it.  So hopefully in two weeks I'll be popping the cap off a bottle and enjoying it.  I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Anybody else out there doing homebrew?


p2 said...

just fired up a six gallon batch of cabernet that oughta finish up & be ready to bottle right around the time it 4-5 weeks....itll be drinkable about new years. gonna start a pinot gris when the cab gets bottled....i prefer a hearty red year round...there are those who'd rather a crisp white when its warm. ive got room for both and the time to get em worked up. first batch ive made in a long while... im just starting to get my sense of taste back after last summer's chemistry fun.....

Ragin' Dave said...

I prefer reds as well, although if I'm cooking seafood I love a good Pinot Grigio. The Cherry Melomel comes out a lot like a cabernet, which is why we always have a batch of it brewing. We go through it quick, especially when friends come around.