Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bottle day

After many months of "bulk aging" in the carboy, I finally got around to bottling some of the maple mead.  Half of the batch just got racked into a new carboy with some Potassium Metabisulphite and Potassium Sorbate and will sit for a few days before I try re-sweetening it with some additional maple syrup. The grocery store had maple syrup in handy flask shaped bottles with Grolsch style lids, so naturally I had to get one of those. Come festival season that flask might come in handy. :)

I have to start a new batch of something like the "Sunshine in a Bottle" batch that won 3 Rivers Fest's competition for my brother-in-law's wedding next summer.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Winner - 3 Rivers Festival Brewer's Competition

I entered 2 meads into the smaller Three Rivers Festival brewer's competition this week. One was the same Cranberry Spice Mead that won 3rd place at Wellspring 2 weeks ago, the other was a sweet naked mead (plain honey) that I just bottled.

This competition was not as fancy as the Wellspring judging, it was straight popular choice. ~40 people tasted each of the 6 meads entered, and voted for their favourite.

My naked mead, dubbed "Sunshine in a bottle" by some of my friends there, won.
Drum's Lemon Balm and Rosemary mead and Jay's Orange Blossom Mead came in second and third place.

It was a good weekend. I got to try Auz's Yarrow Strong Ale, which to me would fit in nicely with the Scottish Heather Ale collection.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

3rd Place!

In competition with 10 other meads my Cranberry & Spice mead took 3rd place in this weekend's competition.

My average score between 3 judges was 36.66/50, scored according to the American Homebrewer's Association score sheet. While not an AHA/BJCP sanctioned competition, one of the 3 judges was a BJCP qualified judge, and his score of my mead was 40/50.

Overall, I'm quite pleased. I got some valuable feedback and picked up a few hints and new ideas.

The mead that I liked the best was a Birch Mead that placed second in the competition. It had a very pleasant minty flavour to it.

Given that this was only the second batch I had ever brewed and there was some good competition, I was quite happy to have placed 3rd.

Some of the comments from the judges were:
"nice colour, nice sweetness"
"Clean, very drinkable"
"Well balanced Mead, it is very drinkable, and interesting throughout"

My first brewing competition, a success!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mid-May Update

Wow, looks like I've neglected to write anything to this blog in a while.

I currently have a batch of regular honey mead oak ageing ...with oak chips in the carboy. I can't be bothered with properly cleaning and caring for a cask when I'm so early in my brewing journey that there's likely to be no noticeable difference between casked and chipped. I also have take 2 of my Acerglyn (maple mead) going. It is just over a week in and going much, much better than the failed batch.

I have tomorrow off work, so I will be racking the mead off the oak chips, it's been a little over a week with the oak and it's quite nice right now. I don't want the oak flavour to over power it.

The reason I have tomorrow off is to pack the car for Wellspring, where this whole adventure started last year. I intend to enter my cranberry mead into the Brewers competition there. I don't expect to win anything, but the feedback will be nice and I kind of feel obligated to give something back.
This year is the Grand Symbel, there will be home brew in several varieties from several of the Guild Brewers to sample and enjoy. I am really looking forward to it.

Two weeks later is 3 Rivers Festival, where I will enter more of that same batch into the competition there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A New Batch Started

I have not yet bottled the Cranberry Mead I started a while back, perhaps that'll be a task for this weekend.
I have started a new batch of regular mead, this time using some yeast nutrient. ...I think perhaps I made a mistake dumping the maple mead. I noticed that the aroma of the must changed significantly when the nutrient was added. I may have been hasty in dumping that last batch, but I didn't want to risk my health if it was breeding bacteria.

I also started a couple more bottles of the Mister Beer Bottle Brew. This time I am doing the Brown Ale again, and a Pilsner. I think I will continue to make these as they are simple, tasty and cheap, and I'm not a big enough beer drinker to warrant much more than a few litres brewing at a time.

Mead recipe for this week's batch:

Bring 36 cups water to 160F (71C) 
[I only have a 3Gallon stock pot, so I can't do the whole batch in one go]
Slowly stir in 9.9lbs (4.5kg) honey  …because I used President’s Choice unpasteurized honey which comes in 3kg bottles. (9kg total used in this recipe)
cook for 10 minutes or more at 160F or slightly higher.
Cool pot in sink of cold water and ice.
Transfer contents of pot into plastic fermenter bucket.
Make another batch as above
Cool in sink of cold water and ice to 80-90F (27-32C)
Transfer to fermenting bucket
Add yeast nutrient 5tsp, and acid blend (citric, malic, and tartaric acids) 7.5tsp to fermenting bucket
[Both from]
Add Yeast to fermenter and agitate to oxygenate mixture.
Yeast Used: LALVIN EC-1118 Gluten-free champagne yeast

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mister Beer Bottle Brew

So I finally opened the Mister Beer Bottle Brew Brown Ale that I mentioned starting a couple of posts ago on Christmas eve, to share with my brother and brother-in-law. For a cheap ($5 for 2L) DIY beer it was really good. I can't imagine not using this method to produce cheap, but good, beer instead of buying big brewery beers. The fellow at Vintner's Cellar will be pleased to hear that. :)

I may one day go into beer brewing on a large scale like I am with the mead, and get into it more in terms of picking out individual ingredients, but because I'm not a big beer drinker and my wife doesn't drink beer at all, it would take a while for me to go through 5 gallons of it.

In the meanwhile, I think I may have to drop by the store and pick up a case, or whatever he has left after the holidays, and try out a few of their flavours.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Beginning of Dec Check-in

Well, the Cranberry Mead is filtering.

That filter I bought, while slow, is awesome. using an AF2 filter I have taken some still very cloudy mead and turned it into something that looks like the red wine you might buy  that is designed to be consumed relatively young. Clear, and clean looking.

It is going to need to age, so it will be nice for next Christmas season, but it is not really very tasty right now. The metabisulphite and sorbate added to it to stop the fermentation has given it an unpleasant taste. This taste should dissipate during the aging process.

The Cranberry mead was tasting very nice before stabilizing. I expect it will taste wonderful again after aging. This batch is 13.13% Alcohol By Vol.

The bad news (aside from having to wait for the Cranberry mead, which is not too surprising.) is that I had to dump my maple batch. It was not fermenting, and it smelled off. Apparently something else got into that batch that did not belong. It is sad that I lost about $90 worth of ingredients and a chunk of my time, but I was not about to try to "fix" it somehow. My health and that of my family and friends comes first.