Showing posts with label mead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mead. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A carboy, a carboy, my kingdom for a carboy!

It has been a while since I brewed. My fermenters sit empty, forlorn and pleading to be filled with wort and yeast, apart from the dandelion wine that Mrs Velkyal made in our tiny little 1 gallon carboy which is being bottled this week and left to sit until Thanksgiving.

I am expecting to change this situation in the near future, in fact at some point today I will be buying ingredients from good old Northern Brewer, and maybe also from Rebel Brewer as they have a wider selection of hops. I have a few options when it comes to what beers to make next.

Of course there is the British Style American Style India Black Ale I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I also want to re-make my Ring of Gold Best Bitter, largely because I am convinced the recipe is sound, it was just that the carbonation didn't happen because the cellar was too cold for the yeast. Then there are my winter beers, Machair Mor and Biere d'épices which maybe I should brew earlier this year to give them plenty of time to condition in the bottle. Also due to be done is making parallel versions of LimeLight using the two yeast strains I have used, to see the difference - on a side note, one of my colleagues mentioned that the 2.1 version reminds him of Hennepin from Ommegang.

Those are the existing brewing plans, and perhaps I think too much but I have a raft of other ideas floating around my head - one of which is to make maple mead, using maple syrup rather than honey, or possibly a combination of the two. Naturally I am planning to take Ron's posts and make some of those historic beers. Also maybe, just maybe, I should make a special beer for my birthday this year, perhaps something with an OG of 1.075 and an IBU rating of 35 or some such mess of numbers.

In the midst of all this homebrew stuff for my cellar, I have also had the delight of helping some friends take their first steps in homebrewing, both of whom work with me at the Starr Hill tasting room. One kicked off his career with a large scale version of the
Black Rose Weizen Porter (originally a dunkelweizen, but perhaps a touch too dunkel, though not too dissimilar in colour from Erdinger's dunkel), while the other started out with a California Steam Beer.

So many ideas, I think I need more carboys...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hopping Mead!

If you have been following this blog from the beginning, then firstly I salute you, and secondly you will know that I have attempted to make mead, which turned out to be rank beyond description - think rough as guts it was that bad.

Since then however, I have learnt to brew reasonably well and so my thoughts at the weekend turned to trying my hand once more at mead, when of course fermentation space allows.

Being the tinkerer I am however, I don't want to make just a plain mead, purely with honey, water and yeast - I want to mess about! When thinking about other things to throw into the mead, my first thought was to use hops - especially given their purpose in beer as a bittering agent to balance out the sweetness of the malt. Using hops in mead is nothing new, having once been an ingredient in braggot, although today it is brewed with honey and malt rather than honey and hops (if I am wrong about that, forgive me - but from cursory searches on Google that seems to be the case).

The questions in my mind then lead me to thinking about boil times, would I have to do a 60 minute boil so as to utilise the various compounds in hops that do their thing at different times in the boil, not to mention the most important question of all, which hops to use?

I can imagine the American C-hops working very well in a braggot, and of as a devotee of the Fuggle hop I would be keen to try that out as well. However, I think to begin with I will use one of my favourite hops on the planet for my concoction, Amarillo! Imagine the grapefruity flavours cutting through the smoothness of the honey!

Have any other homebrewers reading this tried making a hopped mead? If so, what was good, what was bad, what hops did you use? So many questions!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things filed under Misc

So many things have been sitting in the back of my mind lately, muttering "when are you go to write about ME?" - thankfully not literally otherwise I would be very worried.



One such thing has been Mrs Velkyal and I's alcoholic experiments, of which there were three:

Of the three projects only one can be regarded as a success, the dandelion wine. As I commented a few months ago, it already tasted great when we bottled it. However, the recipe we used said that it needed to be left to age for 3 months, which was the first weekend in November. We actually opened our little taster bottle during last week, to discover that it tasted even better! Having just the tiniest of sips - we are taking it to France for Christmas - it is full of citrus flavours, is very sweet, and very, very alcoholic! As we don't have the equipment to gauge the ABV, I am guessing here when I say it is at least 25%. It actually has a similar effect as a nice single malt whisky in that it radiates heat through your body only when it gets into your chest! Yes it is lovely stuff, and something we will be making again.


As for the other two projects, both were failures, and in the case of the mead an unmitigated disaster. The mead actually tasted awful, was thin and acrid, so all 3 litres were poured down the lav - I will however try again to make mead, but this time I will use a different recipe, and I will use a different yeast.


The beer hacking was a case of plenty of fizz bang excitement followed by a damp squib. My intention to infuse the stout with cinnamon and clove flavours certainly worked a treat as the nose of the previously unadorned Kelt was now laden with traditional Christmas scents, unfortunately it tasted dull and lifeless - the beer was flat and so another litre of booze went the way of the U-bend.



Another thing that needed attending to was the growing collection of Primátor beers in my fridge, in particular the Premium which I had never tried before. What a lovely lager this is. As you can see from the picture it pours a dark golden colour with a rocky white head, the nose is full of the classic Czech Saaz floral notes. The beer itself was crisp, I would eve say it was slightly tart with a nicely rounded body, a very refreshing lager, which could quite easily become a regular in the fridge - if only my local Billa sold it!



The third thing that needed seeing to was making a start on the dark beers in my cellar which form the core of my Dark Month, so it was that on Monday night I agonised over which one to open first - the winner being Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, which is pictured above. This one is a wonderful deep ruby colour, bordering on black, and the head was a frothy dark tan. The nose was really interesting as the first thing that hit me was soy sauce, which brought to mind the Pardubicky Porter, however there were also light coffee hints and eventually something which brought to mind the kelp beds on the beaches back at home, which I am assuming was from the seaweed finings used in production. The pre-dominant flavour though was of caramelised bananas, one of my favourite desserts, as well as dark chocolate and a light coffee taste. This was a very smooth beer and one which I enjoyed sipping whilst watching the Daleks and Cybermen try to take over the world!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dandelion wine and mead

This weekend saw the development to the next phase of our alcohol producing projects. To refresh memories, about 3 months ago we made some dandelion wine as well as some mead. This weekend we finally racked them into bottles – thank goodness for IKEA having a range of one litre bottles which are ideal for the job.

/Of course our little “factory” is somewhat rudimentary, and the small is neither being humble nor an over exaggeration, we made 3 litres each of wine and mead. With as much care as possible it as my job to siphon the liquids into the bottles – which I think went quite well. Or at least I didn’t end up with cascades of booze all over the floor. This little video was fun to make - with the camera we bought as a wedding present.


I must admit that the temptation to try both the wine and the mead was too much for me to overcome, so I took the tiniest of sips. The wine is sweet, but has a nice fresh aftertaste, which I imagine is the product of the oranges and lemons from the original boil. The wife describes it as “like being in a field of sunflowers on a summer’s day”, although when she isn’t being flowery she describes it as sweet, smooth yet potent. To coin a phrase my wine loving dad uses often, the wine has legs, it is slightly sticky. I would happily drink it in its current state as a light dessert wine, or an aperitif. If, in common with most alcoholic drinks, the wine improves with age, we will be having a very merry Christmas.

As for the mead, I was disappointed – the recipe I followed called for the use of baker’s yeast, which I found somewhat strange. It assured me that after about 6 to 9 months in the bottle, the mead would be smooth enough to drink. That’s just as well, because at the moment it is somewhat rough.

The most important thing in these experiments from my perspective was to test the viability of 5 litre glass bottles as fermenting vessels – in the absence of homebrew shops in the Czech Republic. Next up will be my long awaited debut into the world of brewing beer. I have decided to start off with an extract-based ale, although I plan to use speciality grains to give the beer body, colour and freshness.

As with the products used in the dandelion wine, I will be returning to the Hop Shop in the UK for my grains, hops and yeast.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A shameless plug

In Mrs Velkyal and I's quest for making random alcoholic drinks, we came across the following people.

Not only are they prepared to ship to the Czech Republic, but also they have been wonderfully helpful.

Thank you very much!

Dandelion wine and mead

Ok not really a post about beer.

Mrs Velkyal decided earlier this year that she would like to make dandelion wine, so on Tuesday it was decided that we buy a 5 litre bottle of cheap Italian wine - see a previous post - and start the process.

Before chucking the wine down the toilet we decided to try a bit, just in case it was worth drinking. To put it bluntly it was the most awful wine either of us had ever tried. It was so comically bad that it reminded me of a Ukrainian wine I bought in Birmingham way back at college. But a 7 euros for 5 litres what do you expect? We only wanted the bottle anyway.

So sitting in the flat is a bottle with dandelion petals and slithers of lemon and orange - it will sit there for another 8 days, doing whatever it is it does, before being filtered into a primary fermenter and having wine yeast pitched in. We are hoping for some yeast from Moravia for this, but we also bought some commercially available from the UK. Apparently this wine will be ready just in time for Christmas.

Next week I will be going through the process of buying a bottle of awful wine again, this time with the intention of making a cinnamon infused mead. Also for Christmas.

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