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The progression of an idea

June 23, 2012

With my last batch of mead I added peppercorns to the bottles.  The logic behind this was simple:  Aroma’s are volatile, therefore adding flavoring ingredients during the fermentation will result in the loss of aromatics.  So, add flavors during the closed phase of brewing, and aromatics will be retained.

The results were eye opening.  The mead tasted very very much like black pepper.  In fact, so much so that it is a love or it or hate it kind of mead.

Regardless of the mead’s reception, the technique was a massive success.  In all of my wanderings through the interweb I have not seen people adding ingredients to the bottles.  Perhaps it is done, perhaps its even common – but it certainly isn’t widely published.  As there is a dearth of published material on the matter I don’t know what ingredients are appropriate, sane or desirable.  Given my absence of knowledge I have turned to a time tested method: trial and error.

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The end of a hiatus

May 10, 2012

It has been far too long since I have made mead.  But its time to fire up the…ladle?  Mead doesn’t actually have to involve any heat I’ve found – so perhaps the metaphor is a little weak.

Ah!  But the ladle – this is a solution to the problem that had been vexing me when I ran out of honey so many months ago.  I say ran out of honey.  This is blatantly untrue.  Rather than actually run out of honey, I ran out of the oh so convenient to pour honey.  And when I say “oh so convenient” one has to take into consideration that pouring honey is never a simple task (ever fought one of those 1lb bear shaped containers?) and to successfully pour honey from a 50lb container while trying to weigh out a specific amount, while not rocket science, is not simple.

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Tea and Peppercorns (XII)

October 23, 2011

Yesterday I bottled the 13th batch of mead (technically 12th…since one batch was not in fact mead, but close enough), and this one ought to be quite good in 6 to 12 months.  The batch is slightly different than many of my previous batches – instead of water I’ve used black tea.  Also – the alcohol content is lower at 9.5% rather than the 12-15 that I have been aiming for.

So why black tea and lower alcohol content?

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Strange things are brewing

October 3, 2011

After taking a couple month long hiatus from brewing I’ve started back up with a most peculiar brew. The recipe was simple:
Take one large watermelon. Chop into pieces small enough for the blender to handle. Blend. Repeat until watermelon has been reduced to a pink slurry.

I even included the skin, because why not?

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The oddities of life revealed through brewing

July 25, 2011

Its been a long time since I’ve made a post here – simultaneously a dearth of new brewing news, and regrettably, laziness on my part.  However today that’s changed (at least briefly) because today was a bottling day!

Before I get to the details of the new batch, I’m going to extremely briefly digress.

While filling the bottles I thought to myself “I wish this process could go more quickly so I can get more stuff done today,” and then it dawned on me that I was running the dishwasher and the laundry machine.  So although I was internally wishing to be more productive I was achieving a level of productivity that up until the early 1900’s wasn’t even possible.  Kind of an odd thing to think about – we’re capable of doing more with our time, but it is still in remarkably short supply.

Ok! Back to mead!

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Why Hi-Grav? The glory of high alcohol creations

June 27, 2011

Although I’ve only been making mead for a short time now, already I’ve made mead ranging from just over 5% ABV to greater than 20% ABV.  The middle of the road is probably what suits most people best, as the lower end of the spectrum is a little less interesting, and the higher end of the spectrum is a little too potent.  And yes, I am able to appreciate the sane rationality behind this.

But it is a flawed rationality.  Mead can be a lot of things.  It can be delicately aged and refined, as sweet as nectar or dry as sun-bleached bone.  But I think that what I enjoy most from mead is the burn.  Drinking a non-distilled beverage that sits north of 15% alcohol is a wonderful experience; the flavor is completely different from the ‘eau de ethanol’ of distillation.  Sure, if it’s not old, it’s not smooth.  Life is short though – and sometimes smooth is little more than an euphemism for easy.  Not that there is anything wrong with easy mind you, just sometimes a bit of fire reminds you that you’re alive.

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At long last! Bottling Day (Technically day after bottling day…) for Mead V

June 17, 2011

And V is for vanilla (also its the 6th mead I’ve made, and the letter V is the roman numeral for 5, which makes sense since I think it makes sense to start at counting at 0*), which this mead should have plenty of.  Particularly when you consider that it fermented in the company of a handful of vanilla pods.  You know how good vanilla ice cream has those little black specks?  Those are vanilla seeds (or at least that’s what they’re supposed to be), and this mead has them too!

By far this is the most aromatic mead I have brewed yet, the combination of heretofore relatively short boiling time and buckwheat honey (from Weeks Honey Farm in Omega, GA) along with the complexity of flavors that the vanilla pods bring along seems to have really worked in its favor.

The timeline on this mead goes something like this: Read more…

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