Posted: March 21st, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Experiments, Gluten-free, Homebrew, Mead | No Comments »
Lehua blossom, source of delicious honey
I just got back from a week on the big island of Hawai’i, home of Pele’s volcanos and the Ohia tree with its gorgeous red lehua flowers. Lehua honey is especially delicious, more buttery than any other honey I’ve tasted, and we thought it might make a good mead. So we returned with 10lbs of lehua honey in our checked baggage (yep, it’s ok to bring honey back to the mainland, but you can’t bring bees – go figure) and dreams of tasty mead.
Since you need 15lbs of honey to make 5 gallons of mead, I’ve added 2.5lbs of pasteurized agave syrup and 2.5lbs of raw agave syrup to lighten the color and flavor of the mead. I figure it worked well with the first mead, so why not try it again? I’m also going to pitch kolsch yeast along with champagne yeast with the hope of duplicating the success of my first mead-making accident. It turned out to be fantastic mead!
So here’s to Ohia and Lehua, whose love are making this (hopefully) wonderful mead possible! Cheers!
Posted: June 5th, 2008 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Duvel, Homebrew, Mead | No Comments »
On March 11, I made my first ever batch of mead. Today, June 6, I racked it to a secondary fermenter where it will dwell until it clears — which apparently means it’s ready to drink and bottle. That’s nearly four months of fermenting! Impressive. And if I’d fermented at lager temperatures there’s no telling when this would ever be done. Who even knows how long this next round of fermentation will take. Don’t forget that I accidentally used the wrong yeast in this mead and wound up adding champagne yeast along with the accidental lager yeast. While it tasted sweet and of honey when I tried a little today, it’s still not quite mead-like.
On the other end of the fermentation spectrum, the duvel is quite active which I find a little surprising and worrisome. The last few times I’ve made this recipe, the yeast takes a good 3–5 days to get active in the wort. This time, I had solid fermentation within 24 hours. Unbelievable! I’ve brewed this recipe at least five times before, and each time the fermentation was so slow to start that I thought my yeast might be dead. Because this is abnormal in my experience, I’m definitely going to make more duvel next week just in case the first batch of the season doesn’t turn out right.
This brewing endeavor will have all three of my carboys in use for who knows how long. I may have to borrow one from a friend if I’m going to make more kolsch and possibly some porter for the wedding. So much beer, so little time!
Posted: March 11th, 2008 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Gluten-free, Homebrew, Mead | 2 Comments »
Double, double, toil and trouble…
Ever since we visited Lindisfarne
in Scotland and had some delicious Holy Isle mead, I’ve wanted to try my hand at mead-making. Those monks make a mead that isn’t sticky sweet, even tastes good at room temperature, but is unfortunately expensive to purchase in the US. Lots of local meads are delicious, too, like Mountain Meadows Mead
from California (I really love their cranberry mead), but they’re also a bit expensive. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to make my own? Of course!
All I needed was 15 pounds of honey, yeast, and 5 gallons of water. Simple! We bought 9 pounds of local clover honey mixed with 2 pounds of blackberry honey and 2 pounds of mesquite honey from Trader Joe’s. To top that off to 15 pounds, we also added 2 pounds of agave nectar because, hey, why not! Mountain Meadows makes an agave mead, after all.
I had tried to buy yeast a few weeks ago, but some joker bought out the whole mead yeast selection at FH Steinbarts. Having grown weary of Steinbarts consistently being out of stock for at least one brewing item I needed every time I go there, I decided to call Let’s Brew to see if they had mead yeast. The 11am phone call went like this:
Let’s Brew Lady: “Let’s Brew, how can I help you?”
Me: “Do you have any yead meast?”
Kathy: “giggle giggle giggle”
Me: “Uh giggle giggle giggle I mean mead yeast… giggle giggle”
Kathy: “giggle giggle giggle”
Let’s Brew Lady: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that…”
Yeah, that should have been a sign that perhaps this wasn’t the weekend to make mead. But no, I wouldn’t be deterred. We got to Let’s Brew and bought some champagne yeast rather than sweet mead yeast because we wanted a dry mead. Sounds good so far. Later that afternoon, I boiled 15 pounds of honey/agave with 1.5 pounds of water. Boiling took a long time! And of course, I had to taste the mixture and it nearly made me diabetic it was so sweet. Shocking, I know.
Finally the boil got rolling, I let that go for 10 minutes to kill off bad bacteria, then I put the sweet mixture into my carboy along with enough water to bring it up to 5 gallons. And so the yeast had to wait until the wort temperature got down to at least 78.
Enter the next morning… I reach into the fridge to get my yeast out, and set it on the counter to warm up for a few hours before pitching it, then I go to softball practice. On my return from practice, I pitch the yeast only to notice that is was my German lager yeast and not the champagne yeast! Aaaargghhhh! What to do? Beer yeasts don’t have the alcohol tolerance that wine yeasts do, so the mead would turn out low alcohol and really sweet. Yuck. So I did the only thing I really could do; pitch my champagne yeast in there too!
Two days later, it looks like there’s some fermentation happening. I have no clue how this will turn out!