Brew meister needed

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

It has come to the attention of a few of us that we are SERIOUSLY deficient in knowledge of an essential to the truly self-sufficient homestead.. the art and science of home brewing. Beer, wine, liqueurs, what-have-you... the congenial coming together of yeast and fruit.

So if you've done some home brewing, or are willing to give it a go while we watch, we'd love to hear from you!

Come on, you know if society melts down and we all end up living like our G'G'G'parents, we'll NEED a fortifying whiff of the vine, at the very least. For medicinal reasons, of course. =0)


Rock Tavern, NY

Oh yes, medicinal. :-)

I started making mead last year. My younger brother brews his own beer. I am very interested in continuing the mead making and I'd like to start wine making, but it has to wait until we've relocated to wherever the heck we're going.

I can put up some pics of the mead next time I rack it, though (next couple of days). I can tell you it's much easier than I would have thought. It just takes time and patience.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Mead!? I haven't had mead since college, when we made it in biochem class. I've forgotten how it's done, other than it takes honey. How is mead made? And yes, please do post some pics. =0)

I do remember is was very nice.

Rock Tavern, NY

We are big mead fans here. Many of the wineries around here make some form of it, and we feel it's our duty to taste test them.

Mead is really easy. Basically, it's an amount of honey boiled together with an amount of water for about 5 minutes. It cools a bit, and then yeast is added to it. The yeast that is used is Champagne yeast, which is different from beer yeast, and from what I understand, makes the best mead. This is only my first batch, so I can't comment on that bit yet. There are many different strains of yeast, and some people swear by one or another.

Anyway, the yeast is added, you stir it, and you let it sit in a bucket for 2 weeks. Then it gets racked (transferred to another container) and has to sit for 3 months to get the alcohol content up. This is the point I'm at now. It's been sitting in a warm, dark corner, fermenting.

I can tell you right now it smells like warm beer and doesn't taste like much. I panicked when we racked it into it's current container, because it tastes like alcoholic water. BUT, I looked into it, and I saw that I am supposed to rack it, kill the yeast with Campden tablets, and then add honey for sweetness. Because the yeast is then dead, there won't be any more alcohol made, it's just for taste at that point. It'll then be racked again and allowed to age 4 more months.

And that's about it. There's more equipment used than I mentioned, but it really isn't any harder than that. I am enjoying the process. I hope it turns out well, because then I'm going to do it again!!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

How much water to how much honey?
I had no idea there were so many different kinds of yeast. I just figured, ya seen one yeastie beastie, ya seen 'em all... {{snort}} So where does one find out about all the little critters?

Do you have a favorite book? Supply site?

Rock Tavern, NY

Hey Jay,

The recipe I used this first time was 6 lbs honey to one quart of water, boil, then top off the hot liquid with enough water to make 3 gallons. They are all variations on that same theme, but that's the gist.

As to favorite book, I am still looking. I have a book called "Wild Wines" which is ok, but I'm not in love with it yet, and I wouldn't call it a be all and end all of brewing.

My brother (who brews beer) likes this mag:

I like this site for mead:

I went there when I had questions about what my mead was doing. It was really helpful. What I was surprised to learn is that there is a TON of information out there about homebrewing. Just type in what you want to learn about, and there's the info!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Thanks! Let us know when you find the book...

Rock Tavern, NY

Ok, so we racked the mead later than we expected to, but essentially 3/12 months after the first racking. This is what it looks like. It's cloudy, and you can see the sediment (the yeast) hanging out on the bottom and the ridges of the bottle. At this point, we've racked it into a plastic container with campden tablets to kill the remaining yeast. That should help clarify the rest of the liquid. After it's sat for a week (or two or three, knowing us), we should be able to re-rack it and add honey to sweeten it.

At this point, I can tell you that the mead is better tasting than it was the first time, by far. It is not as harsh as it was, and the color has deepened. I have hopes that this experiment just might work!!

Thumbnail by littlebrook15
Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

That is some seriously scarey looking stuff! You are a brave person in my book. LOL

What's in a campden tablet that kills yeast?

Rock Tavern, NY

Campden tablets:

It's not scary! It's just honey and water and yeast, no big deal, and nothing that's never been drunk before. I think the reason it looks so different is because it's not cleared yet. I'm waiting to see if it will do it by itself, or if I'll have to filter it before bottling.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the link.
The brew reminds me of my pickles... they sorta scare me after they come out of the crock, but I eat 'em anyway. Yum-yum!


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