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You Get Lazy, You Don’t Document, You Make Something Incredible

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A few months ago, I started a single gallon batch of something similar to “Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead” also know by it’s acronym: JOAM. I say similar, because I know I substituted something, was short on honey…something. I remember when I racked to secondary, I added more honey that I had dissolved into some more water. I don’t know those details or when exactly I started this batch, because I got lazy and didn’t document it here. Probably December sometime is the best I can do.

JOAM is basically a very popular homebrew recipe for a fruit mead. Oranges, plus honey, plus water, plus yeast, plus time, equals JOAM. It’s very simple—even uses bread yeast. Yes, other yeasts have been tried. No, they did not taste better. (That’s the story, anyway. I haven’t compared, but plenty of people have, I guarantee. Here’s the recipe, if you want to give it a try:

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

1 gallon batch
* 3 1/2 lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
* 1 Large orange (later cut in eights or smaller rind and all)
* 1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
* 1 stick of cinnamon
* 1 whole clove ( or 2 if you like – these are potent critters)
* optional (a pinch of nutmeg and allspice )( very small )
* 1 teaspoon of bread yeast ( now don’t get holy on me— after all this is an ancient mead and that’s all we had back then)
* Balance water to one gallon
Process:

Use a clean 1 gallon carboy

Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in carboy

Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights –add orange (you can push ‘em through opening big boy — rinds included — its ok for this mead — take my word for it — ignore the experts)

Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and fill to 3 inches from the top with cold water. (Need room for some foam — you can top off with more water after the first few day frenzy)

Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.

When at room temperature in your kitchen. Put in 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. ( No you don’t have to rehydrate it first– the ancients didn’t even have that word in their vocabulary– just put it in and give it a gentle swirl or not) (The yeast can fight for their own territory)

Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working immediately or in an hour. (Don’t use grandma’s bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90’s)

(Wait 3 hours before you panic or call me) After major foaming stops in a few days add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don’t shake it! Don’t mess with them yeastees! Let them alone except it’s okay to open your cabinet to smell every once in a while.

Racking — Don’t you dare
additional feeding — NO NO
More stirring or shaking – You’re not listening, don’t touch

After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and clear all by itself. (How about that) (You are not so important after all) Then you can put a hose in with a small cloth filter on the end into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited that long. If it is clear it is ready. You don’t need a cold basement. It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet) likes a little heat (70-80). If it didn’t work out… you screwed up and didn’t read my instructions (or used grandma’s bread yeast she bought years before she passed away). If it didn’t work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated.

If you were successful, which I am 99% certain you will be, then enjoy your mead. When you get ready to make a different mead you will probably have to unlearn some of these practices I have taught you, but hey— This recipe and procedure works with these ingredients so don’t knock it. It was your first mead. It was my tenth. Sometimes, even the experts can forget all they know and make a good ancient mead.

Enjoy, Joe

 

So, my little gallon has been sitting on the counter in the kitchen for months and it is nice and clear. There’s a little sediment on the bottom. I tried moving it once and the sediment started getting agitated very easily, so when I bottle it, I’m going to need to be careful not to disturb it or siphon any of it.

I carefully took a sample tonight…probably an ounce. I could smell the citrus (and maybe the honey?), but it wasn’t like juice. It was more like the zest. The flavor was the same way. Zest. Citrus oil. Then warmth. Since I didn’t document anything, I have no clue what the ABV is…probably around 13-15%? But it didn’t burn. It was just warming. I think a rest for several months in bottles and, by Thanksgiving and Christmas, this will be a real treat! I’m usually good about documenting everything, I can’t believe I didn’t this time. Lesson learned. Like the title says: “You Get Lazy, You Don’t Document, You Make Something Incredible”. Then you have no way to exactly duplicate it again. Ugh. I will definitely follow the JOAM recipe again!

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Bottling Jackfruit Cider

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Time to bottle the jackfruit cider…or wine…or whatever it is. I started this project on June 2, 2015. I transferred the cider (for lack of better classification) to a small bucket, to combine from the 2-one gallon jugs and 1-half-full 1/2 gallon jug.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

To that, I added 2 oz of sugar…maybe it will have enough yeast in suspension to carbonate, with enough time.

The color is a nice, light golden. It’s nice and clear, too. The flavor is, well…interesting. It’s pretty dry. It will be fun to see what this is like in a couple more months. The FG wound up at 0.990, down from an OG of 1.083, so that gives it a 12.21% ABV. Wowza!

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

Checking the final gravity.

Checking the final gravity.

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Day 160 Racking Crab Apple/Pear/Cripps/Ginger Gold Cider for Long Term and Pumpkin Ale

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I needed to free up a fermentation bucket, and the cider that I made from crab apples, pears, Pink Cripps and Ginger Gold apples looked pretty clear, so that’s the one I decided to deal with. I racked from the 5 gallon glass carboy into a bottling bucket. From there, I racked to four 1/2 gallon glass carboys, filled to leave as little head space as possible, and capped. These containers were moved to an out of the way dark corner for bulk conditioning/aging.

I wasn’t too aggressive in getting every last drop, since I knew I was nowhere near having enough to fill another container. As a result, I got a good hydrometer sample and a little drinking glass sample. After I took and SG reading, both samples went into the refrigerator for additional tasting later. The immediate taste at room temperature pleasantly seems to have eased up on the tannin astringency that I tasted last time I was able to try a sample. It still needs some time, but it’s pretty nice. It also packs a wallop! The OG for this batch was 1.097 and it is currently at 0.993, which I’m confident will be the FG. That puts the cider at 13.65% ABV! Whew!

I also racked my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale to the big glass carboy for some final clearing and making sure it’s absolutely finished fermenting before I bottle it.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale.

I have still seen a bubble in the airlock up until recently and I don’t want to rush it. I really want to nail the carb on this beer. If I do, I think it’s going to be phenomenal! The body if full, the aroma is awesome, the spice is well blended and not overpowering. Love the color…it does, as my son suggested when he smelled it, remind me of a ginger snap cookie, but not as sweet.

Sample for checking SG with a hydrometer. (And for tasting!)

Sample for checking SG with a hydrometer. (And for tasting!)

The ABV is 7.74% and my volume is only 4 gallons. This may horrify some homebrewers, but I would rather sacrifice a tiny amount of alcohol by volume and have 5 gallons, instead of 4, so I added a gallon of bottled Culligan water. I’m having samples of the cider and the ale as I write this and I’m very happy…and have a nice little warm feeling. >grin<

Samples: Pumpkin left, cider right.

Samples: Pumpkin left, cider right.

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Day 145 More Spent Grain Dog Treats, Ginger Beer Update

Spent Grain Dog Treats and a pile of "crumbles".

Spent Grain Dog Treats and a pile of “crumbles”.

Today, I removed a big bag of spent beer grains from the freezer and put the frozen block on a sheet pan in the oven at 250F. After awhile, I was able to scrape a bunch off of the block…enough to spread out an cover the pan with a good layer. The rest of the block went back in the freezer. I let the grain go for some time, but wasn’t really timing it. It still had some moisture, but it wasn’t very wet.  I let that cool before proceeding with the recipe.

Rather than locating my original recipe, I followed a similar one that I found, but I didn’t check my previous notes…or I would have seen the instructions to wring out excess moisture from the grain through cheesecloth. The recipe was the same otherwise, except for the addition of 1/3 cup honey. Here’s a link to my original post: https://mmmbrews.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/extra-edition-spent-grain-doggie-treats/

The recipe instructions I used today recommended a dough hook attachment to mix the ingredients…it turns out that the batter beater would have done a better job. Even with scraping the sides, there was a little unevenness in the mixing. Because I had baked out a little too much of the grain’s moisture, the “dough” was a little too dry. I pressed it into the pan on top of some parchment paper, scored it and baked at 350F for 45 minutes. It is then supposed to be broken apart and baked another hour or more at 200F until it’s dry. Again, because the grain was fairly dry already, this batch came out done! Unfortunately it’s a bit crumbly…I have a little pile of loose stuff. The honey addition and the crunchiness made it more granola-like…and, yes, I tasted it. A few times. Next time, I need to take the time to read my own notes! I wound up with 1lb 10 oz of treats, not counting the crumbles.

Updating the ginger beer “second runnings”, I’m finally getting some drop in the SG reading. It currently reads 1.039, which gives a current ABV of 3.o4%. It’s still pretty sweet, though, so I’m going to let it go another day or two, cold crash it in the refrigerator and then bottle it. I will probably need to pasteurize it. Anyway…glad to see a substantial movement!

8/23/14  8:00 am Pitched yeast in the muscadine wine this morning.

Rehydrated Montrachet yeast poured into muscadine (future) wine.

Rehydrated Montrachet yeast poured into muscadine (future) wine.

8/23/14  2:00 pm Ginger Beer update: ABV up to 3.68%!

Hard ginger beer sample.

Hard ginger beer sample.

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Day 143 Bottling Citra Belle Saison

Time to start bottling the Citra Belle Saison.

Time to start bottling the Citra Belle Saison.

I figured about 4.75 gallons for bottling and, using Northern Brewer’s priming calculator, I underestimated (on purpose) a little and used 6.0 ounces of corn sugar. Then, when I racked the beer onto the priming sugar, I only got 4-1/2 gallons. I decided to add a quart of bottled water to make up the difference and keep the priming sugar about right. Somehow, it would up back at the 5 gallon mark! anyway, the FG came out to 1.001, after temperature correction. The OG was 1.047, so we should have 6.04% ABV. I filled 29 twelve ounce bottles and 12 twenty-two ounce bottles.

Here's the bulk of it.

Here’s the bulk of it.

I have to say, when I removed the dry hops bag, after I let it drain, I squeezed it out into a measuring cup and it smells AWESOME! I love the smell of Citra hops! And the little squeezed stuff tasted great, too! I also stuck the the hydrometer sample into the fridge to look at clarity later and sample. So far, it’s looking, smelling and tasting good. First sample bottle should be right after Labor Day.

Also did a little organizing of my “cellar”…such as it is. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s what I have. A lot of my inventory is comprised of a few of this and a few of that. The Hi-Nelson Saison with Hibiscus and the Citra Belle Saison are the largest quantities and there’s a fair amount of Major Nelson IPA and Strawberry Blonde.

Inventory.

Inventory.

Checked on some local wild grapes today…picked over half of a pound in about 5 minutes. Need to go check my main source…soon!

10:30 pm and I checked the SG on my Second Runnings  Ginger Beer. It is at 1.06 at 72.6F=1.061…just not moving. My last effort is to add 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient and pitch the rest of the Champagne yeast, after rehydrating. Everything is all sanitized and back in place…let’s see what happens.

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Day 142 Ginger Beer and Citra Belle Saison updates

I drew just a couple of ounces from the Citra Belle Saison…the flavor has approved since I racked to secondary on an ounce of Citra hops. Needs a couple more days…should bottle Sunday or Monday.

The ginger beer that I bottled previously hasn’t really taken off in the carbing department. In fact, I considered dumping the bottles back into the “second runnings” batch and combining them. However, I checked a bottle yesterday and it had a small amount of carb. Not much, but enough that I have decided to leave the bottles and watch them to see if/when they need to be pasteurized.

The “second runnings” batch is taking a long time to really get fermentation going. I had it off the heating pad for awhile. When the weather cleared, I gave it some time in the sun for a couple of days, but then the temp dropped, so I put it back on the heating pad and covered it with the space blanket and the fermentation picked back up. It’s coming along slowly, but today was the first time that I believe I detected alcohol in the aroma when I opened the lid. So, while a longer process than I anticipated, the plan remains as originally envisioned: virgin batch is to be non-alcoholic and the “second runnings” batch will be fermented out for an alcoholic version. No photos for this update…nothing really interesting to see,  just an update.

Additional update 8/16 10:15pm : I guess I was wrong on my second runnings ginger beer. I just took a SG reading and it looked like 1.066 when corrected for temperature and the OG was 1.062. So, either the the sugar is increasing in this bucket (not likely) or one of the measurements was off. I’m betting tonight’s measurement could be a tad off, due to some bits of ginger solids in the hydrometer sample. Would that affect it? I don’t know…seems like it might. At any rate. I’m thinking that there is no fermentation really going at it here, so I’m making an executive decision to add 1/8 teaspoon of dry Champagne yeast to the mix, after I strained it through cheesecloth and made sure I have at least a gallon of liquid left, which I do. With Champagne yeast at work, I will have to keep a close eye after I bottle it and definitely pasteurize; otherwise, the yeast won’t stop until it is bone dry and bottle bombs!

8/18…I had seen some activity with the addition of Champagne yeast to my Second Runnings Ginger Beer, but it seems to have stopped. I checked the temperature and it was over 100F. I guess a two gallon plastic bucket heats a lot more on a heating pad and wrapped in a space blanket than a 6 gallon glass carboy and I’m sure the yeast must be dead. I Googled and found “This strain tolerates fermentation temperatures ranging from 50° to 86°F….”.  So the plan is to get the temperature down and pitch the yeast again…and no additional heat. The house is usually around 74F this time of year. Still trying! And I missed buying bottles yesterday and the home brew shop is closed today. I guess my Citra Belle Saison is going to dry hop a little longer that anticipated.

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Day 123 Finally Bottling Pineapple-Mango Melomel

Setting up to bottle the Pineapple-Mango Melomel. Nice color!

Setting up to bottle the Pineapple-Mango Melomel. Nice color!

I decided it was time to go ahead and bottle the Pineapple-Mango Melomel. It was started on April 3rd, so about 2-1/2 months to this point. I love the color of it, like a golden late harvest Riesling or an ice wine. The ABV is at 15.09%. The flavor is hot with alcohol, but the pineapple is very evident. Hopefully, it will mellow over time and the mango will come out too. I got ten 12 oz bottles to put away for a year and a half or so…maybe November, 2015?

I like the Boulevard Brewery bottle in the foreground.

I like the Boulevard Brewery bottle in the foreground.

I may hold some until Nov./Dec. 2016. I also had enough to fill probably about  9 oz in another bottle, so I added a little bottled water and capped it with my fingers crossed. I used oxygen absorbing crown caps and I marked that last one with a black X. I’ll open that one sometime next Spring just for fun…and hope it isn’t bad!

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Day 116 Opening a Pineapple Tinker, Updates

Pineapple Tinker

Pineapple Tinker

On the evening of December 10, 2013, I began a little experiment with a pineapple, some honey, sugar and brown sugar. It was kind of a melomel, a fruit mead, but it wasn’t sweetened entirely with honey. As my little experiment progressed, I included some vanilla bean and some untoasted American oak chips. I called it Pineapple Tinker. As the pineapple was fermenting, I was discouraged, because it smelled AWFUL. I was sure that it was going to have to be thrown out. With a little research, I found others  that had similar feelings about their fermenting pineapple, but had waited and were amazed at how good it turned out to be. So, I decided to stick it out.

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According to my notes, the OG was 1.112 and the FG was 1.000. That would make a 14.70% ABV final product. Is that even possible with S-04 yeast?! I would have thought the yeast would have died off before that. If there’s that much alcohol in this Tinker, that’s dangerous! There’s no burn…maybe a little warmth lingering in the throat. Anyway, bottled this small batch on January, 20, 2014. What I have now, is a beautiful pale yellow crystal clear color with a definite pineapple aroma. It is very well carbonated with fine, Champagne-like bubbles, a dry, but not bone dry, clean pineapple flavor. A little more sweetness in this would be nice, but I’m pretty impressed! All honey for sweetening would have been nice. And maybe back sweetening with a little something non-fermentable would have been a good addition, but for a first “Tinker”, I’m happy!

Still no real sign of life in the pineapple tepache. Pineapple-mango melomel should be an interesting contrast to the Tinker…it continues to carboy condition. And the American Wheat RyePA is at a crawl in primary fermentation. I did get some vodka today and zested two lemons and two oranges…combined in a covered storage container in the fridge until ready to go to secondary with the RyePA. That should happen over the weekend, sometime.

Ready to cover and refrigerate.

Ready to cover and refrigerate.

Citrus to be zested and vodka for soaking, sanitizing and extracting flavors.

Citrus to be zested and vodka for soaking, sanitizing and extracting flavors.

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Day 102 Tepache at 48 Hours, Updates on Others

(Pineapple) Tepache at 48 hours.

(Pineapple) Tepache at 48 hours.

 

Okay, at 48 hours, I am just barely starting to see minimal signs of fermentation beginning in my tepache. The liquid is very sweet and dark from the piloncillo, raw Mexican sugar.

If I want this to be alcoholic at all, I need to let it go longer. I have been doing some reading and have heard others talk of allowing their tepache to ferment from a week to over a month. Some say that it will tern to a spiced pineapple vinegar if you leave it in the refrigerator for a long time. The home brewer that let his ferment for over a month, like a beer wort in primary fermentation, said his fermented out dry and tart. So, it sounds like the trick is to check it regularly until it is the flavor you prefer. For me, I’m guessing about a week.

I’ve also heard people debate adding beer to the mix. Several said they did not prefer it…some said it was too bitter. I still think I want to try it with my strawberry blonde. It isn’t too hoppy or bitter, but I think it might cut the sweetness a bit. I’m estimating Sunday or Monday will be in the range to take the next step. That will be to strain, add some water and a beer and then let it go until around Wednesday? Then, it’s into a pitcher in the fridge.

Moving on to my longer term projects. The pineapple-mango melomel is nice and clear and conditioning in a one gallon glass carboy with very little head space. I’m going to let that continue…I don’t know…another 6 or 7 weeks? My plan is to then bottle it and age until the Fall of 2016. That’s a looooong term little project.  The other in-process project is another Murray’s Super Easy Cider, 1/2 gallon. It seems to be going slowly, but it keeps going. I can still see little bubbles at the top of the cider and rising from the bottom. The liquid is pretty clear, so as soon as it stops with the bubbles, I’ll get it bottled.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (left) and Super Easy Murray's Cider (right)

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (left) and Super Easy Murray’s Cider (right)

I’m hoping to participate in the “Big Brew” this weekend, which will coincide with a national event. I plan on doing an all grain BIAB IPA (India Pale Ale). I’m looking forward to that!

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Day 101 Tepache, a Pineapple Cider/Beer Kind of Thing

Cutting up a pineapple.

Cutting up a pineapple.

I had an exchange awhile back with a guy on an online forum and he introduced me to the idea of making a Tepache. I had never heard of it before. It’s pretty rustic. You ferment pineapple with raw sugar, cinnamon, cloves  for a couple of days and then strain it and add water and a beer, ferment a couple of more days and then chill and serve. I grabbed a recipe off of Pinterest…I’m sure there are plenty of variations out there. This one called for:

1 fresh, ripe Pineapple, cut into chunks

8 cups of Water 20 oz Piloncillo (raw sugar). Brown Sugar is an acceptable substitute.

1 stick Cinnamon and 3 whole Cloves

Cover and leave in a warm place for 48 hours. Strain and add 1 cup of water and 1 beer. Let stand for 12 hours. Strain (Not sure why at this point…maybe it will become obvious or still seem redundant when I get to this point?). Add another cup of water and serve over ice. (I would chill it before putting it over ice.) Bottling? Probably not without pasteurizing it. Here’s the recipe  I started with, for reference…giving credit where due!  www.familyfoodandtravel.com/2013/12/tepache-pineapple-drink.html

 

I started into the recipe and cut up my pineapple. Since I have a fermentation bucket, I decided to use it, instead of a bowl or pitcher. And a lid with an airlock just seemed practical and safe.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

So I added the pineapple, water, cinnamon and cloves to the bucket and I headed to a local Mexican store for the Mexican raw sugar, Piloncillo.

Piloncillo...Mexican raw sugar.

Piloncillo…Mexican raw sugar.

When I went to check out, I spoke to the owner, who was working the register. He strongly advised using the pineapple skins and core only and to NOT use the flesh. “It’s no good.” he said. He was very helpful.   So, I came home and drained my pineapple, peeled the skin and cut off the core from each piece and returned them to the bucket and I put the fruit in the refrigerator to eat later.

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Pineapple skins only...use the flesh for something else!

Pineapple skins only…use the flesh for something else!

The cloves, cinnamon stick and water went back into the bucket. I weighed out and added the piloncillo and stirred it around. It’s going to take awhile to dissolve, I guess, so I popped on the lid and airlock and will check on it later to stir and see that the sugar dissolves.

Ready to ferment...just need to get that sugar dissolved.

Ready to ferment…just need to get that sugar dissolved.

In a couple of days, strain, add some water and a beer, another 12 hours and done. Note that there is no added yeast in the recipe. There is also no campden tablet to kill off anything, so the fermentation will occur with whatever is “resident”.  A little scary, but we are going to give it a shot. Now, for comparison, the Mexican store owner had a commercial bottled version on hand, so I bought a bottle. It isn’t alcoholic, but it should give me an idea of what I shooting for. I opened and poured the tepache into a beer glass. The flavor is pleasant and tastes of pineapple and brown sugar…no surprise there, I guess. It is, however, VERY sweet.

So sweet...needs beer!

So sweet…needs beer!

A commercial version, "Tepachito", non-alcoholic.

A commercial version, “Tepachito”, non-alcoholic.

So, I drank half of it, grabbed a bottle of my American Wheat Citra Citrus and I topped off the glass. Voila!…did I just create Mateo’s Tepache Shandy? Why yes…yes I did!  Anyway, still a tad sweet, but it’s much better. That’s it for tonight…now for the wait. But this is a shorter process than I’m used to. I should be drinking this batch this weekend!

Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

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