Monday, December 31, 2007

Apfelwein Anyone?

I believe that my next brewing adventure will be an excursis into Apfelwein: a German hard cider or apple wine. I love hard cider and as I was buying a six-pack of Woodchuck Dark Draft ($9.95) I thought, "Hmm.. I bet I could brew something like this!" I started researching hard cider and viola! I found Apfelwein!

This hard cider seems to be popular in Germany and actually has a special 0.3 liter glass that is used to quaff it called a "Geripptes" or a "Schoppen." For larger quantities, Apfelwein is served in a 1 - 1.2 liter stoneware jug called a "Bembel" that is gray with blue detailing. Look out eBay!

The recipe seems simple:
5 gal Apple Cider
2 lbs Dextrose (corn sugar)
1 packet Montrachet yeast

After fermentation and clearing, I will try my hand at carbonating with more corn sugar and into either flip-top bottles or growlers. The Apfelwein should finish dry (FG: 0.99) and be quite quaffable (ABV: 5-7%). The best part is that I should be able to make 5 gal for less than $20.

-Safari Bob

Friday, December 7, 2007

More Racking Fun: 3-007 Buckwheat

Today, in a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable writing of a paper, I racked 3-007: The Buckwheat Traditional. This is a show mead in that it is simply buckwheat honey, water, and yeast. I was cautioned against this by some other mazers but I wanted to try it.

Wow! The must tastes sour with some coffee-like bitterness that is not at all unpleasant. I cannot wait to try it after it matures. OG: 1.102; SG: 0.996; ABV: 14.7%

-Safari Bob

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mead I Have Known: Yuletide

In 2005, I brewed a batch of mead based on a recipe I found in the forums at Joe's Ancient Orange. This mead is dry and has a distinct holiday flavor. I brewed this on 5 June 2005 and bottled on 14 August 2005. I did bottle too soon and now I have sediment in the bottles. This is a great recipe, however, as one can get all the ingredients at your local grocery store. Here is the recipe:

5 gallon water
10 lbs Wildflower Honey
6 lbs Raw Clover Honey
6 small oranges
5 'handfuls' of raisins
7 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
4 cups tea
6 tsp yeast nutrient
3 bags of Fleishman's Bread Yeast
OG: 1.123; FG: .995; ABV: 17%


-Safari Bob

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More Racking Fun!

Today I racked two batches: 3-006 and 3-007.

3-006 is the Orange Blossom traditional. It has been perkin' along but lately it was down to a bubble every 3-4 minutes so I racked it. OG: 1.108; SG: 1.022; ABV: 11.2%.

3-007 is the Buckwheat traditional and I have been worried about it. This batch has stopped fermenting (I thought) way too soon; in fact I have been contemplating adding more yeast to kick-start it. Its color is dark brown and reminds me of a good porter. OG: 1.102; SG: .998!; ABV: 14%.

Turns out that the Buckwheat is done and bone dry at SG: .998. The must also reminds me of a porter and portrays a distinct bitterness without any alchohol bite. I can see that it will need extended aging, however.

-Safari Bob

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Batch: 3-008

Tonight I brewed another batch of sweet, sweet mead! I love cysers - mead made with apples or apple juice instead of water - and so I could not resist all the fresh apple juice available in the fall. The must is rich, sweet, with the distinct flavor of apples and with a minty aftertaste that melds well with the sugar. This is the third cyser I have made this year. Here is the recipe:

Batch 3-008
1 gallon Mint Honey
3+ gallons Apple Cider
1 pound of dark Brown Sugar
5 tsp yeast nutrient
50 mg of Lavlin k1v-1116 (hydrated)
2 whole vanilla beans (for the secondary)
OG: 1.144

Mmm... I can not wait! I should bottle in Feb or March.

-Safari Bob

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New Arrival: Mint Honey

I have a new honey: Mint Honey. I have not heard of this varietal but I cannot wait to try a show mead made of this. I am curious as to how much yeast nutrient I will need of if I should add yeast energizer.

I may, however, introduce fresh mint into the secondary - thus making it a methglyn - or I may try something else. Does anyone have a suggestion?

Here is the description of this honey:

Our Mint Honey is very dark, but does not have the strong flavor you would expect. It has a minty aftertaste, but many people say they taste only the richness that can be found in Mint Honey.

Mmm... a rich, full-bodied mead with a dark color and minty aftertaste. Sign me up!

-Safari Bob

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Batch 3-002 is Bottled

Tonight, I bottled batch 3-004; a blackberry vanilla dry mead that is oh, so tasty! OG: 1.080; FG: 0.998; ABV: 11%. I brewed this batch on 26 January 2007 and it was still a tad cloudy. I gt a little over 15 liters out of a 5 gallon batch including: 12 1 liter flip-top bottles, 1 2 liter growler, and 2 16 oz Grolsch bottles.

Initial tasting: smooth, dry but with a distinct blackberry cream flavor. I am curious as to how it will age, although I do not plan to let it sit long. It is dry but I think it will taste great over ice or chilled. Here is the recipe:

Batch 3-002
12 lbs Clover Honey
4 gals distilled water
5 tsp yeast nutrient
4 oz blackberry extract (at bottling)
1 vanilla bean (in secondary)
Lavlin D-47

I couldnt resist including a jack-o-lantern for Halloween! Enjoy a cold, adult beverage after the kids have made their rounds and remember those who have gone before you. In Lubbock, the locals celebrate The Day of the Dead; this is much different than what this Midwestern boy is used to. I cannot bring myself to criticize any holiday that forces me to celebrate it with sweet, glorious mead!


-Safari Bob

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mead I Have Known: Autumn Crisp

When I first began brewing mead I was all about the "Metheglin" or spiced mead. I still enjoy metheglins but it has been some time since I have brewed one. The other night, I cracked open a bottle of batch 1-002 and it sure has changed! When I first tasted 1-002, it had a crisp, sharp taste and so I dubbed it Autumn Crisp. Now, however, it is soft and round; this softness still presents the cinnamon but Autumn Crisp is no longer a good name for this drink. It should be called 'Autumn Delight' because oh my! It is good! Here is the recipe:

10 lb kansas wildflower honey
5 gal spring water
2 oz ground cinnamon
2 cup black tea
Rind of 1 orange
20 cloves
6 tsp yeast nutrient
Ale yeast
OG: 1.078; FG: 0.998; ABV: 11.2%

This recipe makes 6 gallons.

-Safari Bob

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mead I Have Known: Old Winyard

The first pyment I attempted was batch 3-001 later to be known as Old Winyard. This mead is smooth, medium to sweet, and, to me, tastes like a rich merlot. I did have some miscues as I added way too much honey but it fermented and cleared quickly and tastes great (I could be biased however). Here is the recipe:

12 lbs Clover Honey
64 oz water
3+ gal of 100% Grape Juice
Lavlin EC-1118
(OG: 1.166!; FG: 1.026; ABV: 18.7%!)

I brewed 12 January 07 and bottled 14 March 07. It was drinkable soon after bottling and has recieved some good reviews by various imbibers. I bottled in 375 ml bottles for the sake of humaity; 18.7% is nothing to quaff.

-Safari Bob

Monday, October 8, 2007

Batch 3-007 Brewfest: Buckwheat Bonanza!

Tonight I brewed batch 3-007 which is a dry to medium traditional buckwheat varietal. The must is dark, similar to a good, strong porter, and does have a sweet flavor reminicent of raisins or figs. Although I only added the hydrate yeast 45 minutes ago, already a few bubbles have escaped through the air lock. I have a good feeling about this batch!

In The Compleat Meadmaker, by Ken Schram, buckwheat traditional meads are said to be strong, potent, and needing at least a year of age in the bottle or cask. Already I am thinking of adding oak in the aging process but I do want the experience of tasting a pure buckwheat brew. Lord knows I have a decent cellar but can I wait 2 - 3 years?

Here is the recipe:

Batch 3-007
1 gallon raw buckwheat honey
water to 5 gallons
5 tsp yeast nutrient
1 pack EC-1118; hydrated as per manufacturer specs
OG: 1.102; Potential ABV: 13.4%

Simple and, I hope, tasty. I used EC-1118 because I want it to finish dry to medium with a target FG: 1.00. I will not hamper fermentation in any event.

-Safari Bob

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Batch 3-004 is Bottled

Tonight I bottled batch 3-004: a cyser that is just in time for Halloween! (OG: 1.138; FG: 1.014; ABV: 17.1% after backfill) I collected a little over 15 liters from my original 5 gallons - I need to work on less waste.

Initial tasting: smooth, sweet with a light cinnamon. The vanilla is present and the cyser does have a creamy texture with a touch of alcohol with should mellow with time. I find it already drinkable. Here is the recipe:

12 lbs Clover Honey
1 lb Brown Sugar
1.12 oz Apple Pie Spice
1 Whole Vanilla Bean (in secondary)
Apple Juice to 5 gallons
5 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1 packet K1v-1116 (hydrated as per instructions)
OG: 1.138

This batch does constitute a first for me in that I am experimenting with fermentation. In addition to the 8 magnum bottles of still cyser, I collected 6 "Grolsch" bottles (the homebrewer's best friend) in which I added Munton's CarbTabs with the hope that it will carbonate. I did consider adding honey but the CarbTabs offer better control for potential replication. We shall see.

-Safari Bob

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Buckwheat Traditional Recipe

I have in my possession 1 gallon of pure, raw buckwheat honey. Soon (I hope) I will have a free carboy and therefore, it is time to start thinking about potential recipes.

I hope to brew a dry to medium stout mead composed of entirely buckwheat honey. Personally, I enjoy brewing without adding chemicals, athough I will probably have to add some yeast nutrient. In the past I have used raisins but I hope to avoid this. So far, the orange blossom traditional is doing fine without raisins although I did add six teaspoons of yeast nutrient due to the lower level of nitrogen commonly found in this varietal.

What I am thinking:

1 gal buckwheat honey
5 tsp of yeast nutrient
1 pack Lavlin D-47 (hydrated)
Water to 5 gal.

Any thoughts?


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Adventures in Racking 1.0

Tonight I racked two batches of sweet, sweet mead. For those who are scoring at home, "racking" is when the mazer (or pipe-smoking semi-ridiculous bald guy) transfers the mead into a new carboy and off of the "lees." Lees refers to the sediment that accumulates in the bottom of the carboy or bucket during the fermentation process.

Batch 3-002
This mead eventually will be a dry sparkling (or live) raspberry vanilla melomel. I brewed it 26 January 2007 and it is still clearing. Some lees had accumulated and I racked with the shameless hope that it would excellerate the clearing process.
(OG: 1.080; SG: 1.010; ABV: 9.2%)

Batch 3-004
This mead is a Cyser or mead made with apples or apple juice. I started it 16 June 2007 and it is almost clear enough to bottle. I enjoy cysers and I like to brew them although this one is a little different; I have added vanilla beans to give it (hopefully) a creamy texture.
(OG: 1.138; SG: 1.014; ABV: 17.1%)

Soon I will bottle 3-004 and then I will brew the buckwheat honey varetial...


Friday, September 21, 2007

New Drinking Horn

This horn is a beauty! The artisans at are both talented and open to new ideas for work. When I ordered this horn, I simply asked Ross what he recommended and viola! The inside is coated with a resin so I could imbibe mulled mead but they also will line with bee's wax.

The engraving is of two goats at rampant facing each other. In the negative space created by the goats a thor's hammer is formed. The horn itself is almost translucent and when one looks inside the opening, on can see the shadow of the engraving. It is beautiful and I am well pleased.

I intend to order another drinking horn from Shrewwood soon. This time I hope to have them work some sort of scene that includes a stag. Until my next post, enjoy a cup, horn, or glass of mead!



Thursday, September 20, 2007

A New Horn and A New Batch

Welcome to the first post! I know of no other blog dedicated to the sweet hobby of mead making. I have been brewing mead for around four years and I do enjoy it.

Today I recieved in the mail my new mead horn.

What is a mead horn you ask? It is a bovine horn out of which someone quaffs sweet mead. I ordered mine from and it is spectacular! On the horn is engraved two goats butting heads while in the center is a thor's hammer. They did an excellent job and I am well pleased.

To celebrate, I brewed a new batch of mead that is my first attempt at a "varietal." This is a traditional or show mead using a single variety of honey. Batch 3-006 is made from orange blossom honey. OG 1.108 (14% -15% Potential ABV).

In the future I will attempt a varietal from buckwheat honey. This honey is strong and dark; I am warned that buckwheat varietals are not for the young and make Guinness seem like PBR (whatever that means). Also, I am told, buckwheat varietals require a good 3 years of aging...well shall see.