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Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby sajungzak » Saturday March 4th, 2017 2:44pm

I brewed some mead a while back. I wanted it sweet and with a high abv. What some refer to as a sack mead. I call mine Zach Mead.

I used 4lbs of clover honey per gallon of must. A typical mead would be around 1.5 to 3lbs. A 4lb must is close to 1/3 gallon honey, then fill the rest of the way with RO water. I did heat it up, but I'm not sure that was necessary because it wasn't raw honey and honey has some antibacterial qualities on it's own.

I made 5 - 5.5 gallons in a 6 gallon carboy and added a couple lemons, not really for flavor but to lower the ph a little. My carboys are the new leach free HDPE plastic carboys. Wide mouth for easy cleaning without a wire brush to leave scratches for bacteria to grow in. I used champaign yeast (Lalvin EC 1118) because it has a high alcohol tolerance.

I let it ferment until "dry". That is until the yeast died, not from running out of carbohydrates to convert into alcohol, but from the alcohol. It was still sweet but tasted awful at this stage - very "hot".

Took about 5 weeks and two rackings. First week I used the recommended additives and step feed with even more honey Not a lot, about 1 cup 3 times. To help insure a healthy yeast colony I would stir it up as vigorously as I could (it gets really frothy and threatens to turn the carboy into a volcano) to oxygenate the yeast. This should help get the most activity from the colony but might affect the flavor in most other wines.

I did the first racking into a 5 gallon carboy after the first week, leaving behind a lot of dead yeast and maybe wasting as much as 64oz of mead. The second racking was after the third week. After the 5th week I wasn't seeing anymore action so I racked it one last time for bulk storage. Since it was still sweet I stored it in my fridge for a month at the coldest setting, just to be on the safe side. But I'm a little paranoid and it was my first time, now I don't think that step was necessary.

By my calculations with a hydrometer it was about 17.5 abv! I believe fermenting it so high and so fast is why it was not at all palatable at first. I let it bulk age for 2 yrs. Yes, that's 24 months. Then I bottled and drank it over the course of about 6 months.

Tasted great. Everyone I shared it with liked it. It was really strong and really sweet. Just the way I like it.
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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby cynthialee » Saturday March 4th, 2017 4:14pm

best mead I ever made was terrible tasting at first, and I bottled to soon. Well it became sparkling and by the luck of Dionysius my bottles didn't burst. Well one day my sweetie and I wanted to get hammered and we was broke so we broke into the 'yucky' mead. Well the first bottle was the best I ever had to this day! The two of us went through a couple of magnums of the stuff that day. Woke with a horrid hangover. But it was almost worth it.
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
~Sun Tsu The art of War~


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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby torilen » Saturday March 4th, 2017 5:54pm

Yeah, I've discovered the hard way that things just need to sit. It is really hard to be patient, but it does seem to pay off in the end.

My latest example - some hard lemonade I brewed back in November. Let it sit in the secondary for about a month, then bottled it.
It is just now starting to taste like it should...no yeast flavor...little alcohol flavor...just nice lemonade that makes you feel funny.


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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby cynthialee » Saturday March 4th, 2017 7:38pm

I can wait years to drink a bottle, but it is hard for me to sit on a carboy full of liquor and wait to bottle it. I worry while it is in the carboy...some contaminate might get it. Once I get it in bottles it is golden. I have learned to wait due to burst bottles, but I hate the wait.
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
~Sun Tsu The art of War~


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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby torilen » Saturday March 4th, 2017 10:39pm

DOH! I had a bottle of ginger beer bust on me. I had put some in an old whiskey bottle. I had even pasteurized it,
but apparently not good enough. We were finding pieces of glass six months later. It was horrible.

I had a 3/4 gallon of beer sitting in the secondary and it started getting an infection. I was able to
salvage most of it. It had a weird, funky flavor to it, though. I'm guessing it is what some would call
a sour beer - it is an actual type of beer. Not my favorite, by any means. I still downed it, of course.
I don't throw anything I've made out unless I have no other option.

I even have one batch of wine sitting in a bottle right now...not that strong...and pretty gross, because
I used hickory wood chips instead of oak...but I'm keeping it just because. I can't bring myself to toss
out all that hard work and patience.

That could simply be the tell-tale signs of a true alcoholic...I'm not sure. :D


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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby sajungzak » Sunday March 5th, 2017 12:00am

I was expecting a wait of 2 to 5 yrs with that mead, but I had no idea what it would be like right away. Had to try it.

I was worried about the possibly of it re fermenting, hence the month of cold storage. Maybe that was a good idea after all. I didn't use any chemicals to stop it, just let it die from too much alcohol.

Another way would be to calculate the amount of sugars needed to achieve the desired alcohol content and add more later. The yeast would go dormant after they run out of food. Some cold storage here would be helpful to insure this happens. I achieved this in a 5 gal carboy with a regular refrigerator that I took most of the shelves out of.

Then, after bulk aging it an appropriate amount of time and you're ready to bottle, carefully add your sweetener to taste. A tiny bit of yeast in each bottle will create a sparkling wine. By bottling this way you can control when the refermentation begins and therefore minimize the risk of bottle bombs.
this is where I've been posting my painting progress so far:
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Re: Homebrew - and I don't mean HQ

Postby torilen » Thursday March 9th, 2017 11:28pm

Just FYI - I put on a Hazelnut Coffee wine tonight. I expect it to be excellent, based on the taste
of the coffee itself. I've made coffee wine before...it certainly is not for everyone...but it is
something I quite enjoy.

AND...it is decaf, so I can drink it whenever I want this time (last good batch of coffee wine I made
was full caffeine, and I had to be careful when I drank it).

If you are interested in the recipe and instructions...here you go:
1/2 gallon batch
2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons honey
16 tablespoons coffee grounds
1oz roasted barley
1oz Crystal 60
1oz UK chocolate

Heat the water and steep the crushed grains for 30 minutes.

(**I added about 1 teaspoon of Amylase Enzyme to try and get
some extra sugar out of the grains. Does this work??? )

Take out the grains and add the coffee grounds. Turn off the heat.
Let it sit for about 40min to an hour.
Remove the coffee grounds.
Heat the coffee mixture and add the sugar and honey.
Bring to boil and let boil for 5 to 10 minutes.

Let cool and put in fermentor.

I will be using Lalvin EC-1118 yeast.


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