Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mead: Not Just For Nerds Anymore

I have been busy in the mead lately! I bottled the cream soda mead in 12oz bottles and I primed with sugar in order to induce carbonation. I have tried carbonating mead before and it did not work--too much acid I believe--but I have higher hopes for this latest batch. I hope that it will taste like cream soda only with 14% ABV. God help us all at the next Memorial Day or Fourth of July BBQ.

I also ran across an article praising the mainstream popularity of mead:

Mead, that drink of viking saga and medieval verse, is making a comeback. But this ain't your ancestors' honey wine.

"It's not just for the Renaissance fair anymore," says Becky Starr, co-owner of Starrlight Mead, which recently opened in an old woven label mill in this little North Carolina town.

In fact, this most ancient of alcoholic libations hasn't been this hot since Beowulf slew Grendel's dam and Geoffrey Chaucer fell in with the Canterbury pilgrims at the Tabard.

Here is the article: Article on mead from the San Francisco Gazette

-Safari Bob

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another Pumpkin Cider

So I was wandering around Wal-Fart looking for a particular movie for Nancy's daughter who LOVES Beauty and The Beast. I have never seen it but who am I to cast stones at Disney films? My favorite movie of all time is Disney's Robin Hood. I do love that movie! In fact, I believe a clip is in order:

In any event, I found more apple cider on sale for $3 a gallon so I had to make some cheap hard cider! This time, however, I doubled the pumpkin and I plan to add habanero peppers to the secondary. Here is the recipe:


  • 5 gal apple cider (mixed; no preservatives)

  • 30 oz (2 cans) Libby's All Natural Pumpkin

  • 5 tsp yeast nutrient

  • 3 tsp pectin enzyme

  • 1 pkt EC-1118

  • OG: 1.060


  • 1-3 cinnamon sticks (crushed)

  • 2 habanero peppers (quartered)


-Safari Bob

Because I can...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Batch 6-004: Kokopelli

Today was another busy day in the cider! I racked 6-005 the pumpkin cider (OG: 1.050; SG: 1.004; ABV: 6.1%) and I added 5 cinnamon sticks (crushed) and 2 vanilla beans to the secondary. I really hope that it tastes like pumpkin pie! Mmm... pumpkin pie...

I also bottled Kokopelli, 6-004 the habañero cider (OG: 1.050; FG: 1.002; ABV: 6.4%). I can not believe how quickly these ciders clear! The color is a clear gold and the apple flavor coupled with the habañero burn... oh, so tasty! This should be a crowd pleaser on a cold, autumn evening around the bon fire.

Finally, I am preparing my entries for The Hoppy Halloween Challenge 2010. I am sending The Prickly Pecker and the Kokopelli--even though it is so young. I can't wait to see how the are rated!


-Safari Bob

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

6-005: Hard Apple Pumpkin Cider

Today I brewed another batch of hard cider but this time I added pumpkin. I am really enjoying the hard ciders here lately and they are easy to make. Ah fall! I do love this time of year even though I live in West Texas where fall usually doesn't appear until mid November--and then only for 1 week. Still, we do have a local apple orchard that also keeps bees. Mmm... local honey for mead... Anyway, here is the recipe:


  • 5 gal apple cider (mixed; no preservatives)

  • 15 oz (1 can) Libby's All Natural Pumpkin

  • 5 tsp yeast nutrient

  • 3 tsp pectin enzyme

  • 1 pkt EC-1118

  • OG: 1.050


  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks (crushed)


-Safari Bob

Thursday, September 30, 2010

6-004 Update

I can hardly believe how quickly the hard ciders are progressing. Batch 6-003 is already clear enough to read through and I had to rack batch 6-004 today. I may have to do a third batch here soon!

As I already stated, I racked batch 6-004 (OG: 1.050; SG: 0.998; ABV: 6.9 %) today because it was done fermenting. In addition, I added 2 habañero peppers (quartered; seeds and pith removed) and 3 sticks of cinnamon (crushed) into the secondary. It is quite dry (SG: 0.998) and should finish crisp and spicy (I hope).


-Safari Bob

Saturday, September 25, 2010

6-004: Hard Apple Habañero Cider

I had a busy day today in the mead! First, I finally bottled 4-008 (chocolate mead) even though I brewed it back on 25 November 2008. This mead still has not cleared like I want it to (in fact I can see no difference in over a year) but I needed the carboy. So it will clear in the bottle, I suppose, even though it is now quite tasty. I have tried every thing but magnets to get it to clear and I finally ran out of patience.

I also racked 6-003 (hard cider) as it is time. This is my first attempt at hard cider so I do not know whether this quick fermentation is normal or not. It sure is tasty, however (OG: 1.050; SG: 1.000; ABV: 6.7%). If it keeps up its current rate, I should be able to bottle soon.

Finally, I brewed another batch of hard cider. This time I hope to have a more spicy cider for next summer. Here is the recipe:


  • 5 gal apple cider (mixed; no preservatives)

  • 5 tsp yeast nutrient

  • 3 tsp pectin enzyme

  • 1 pkt Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast

  • OG: 1.050


  • 2 habañero peppers (quartered)

  • 2-4 cinnamon sticks (crushed)


-Safari Bob

Thursday, September 23, 2010

13th Hoppy Halloween Challenge

There is a new (to me) homebrew competition coming up in North Dakota this Halloween: The 13th Hoppy Halloween Challenge!! I have not before entered this competition but it is one of the few that openly encourages mead and cider entries. In addition, they only require two bottles per entry. Also, they award sweet medals!

I think I will enter the prickly pear cyser into The Hoppy Halloween Challenge and see how it does there. I was fortunate to do so well in The Cactus Challenge 2010 and I am curious how the cactus flavored mead will do in the north! Of course I now have to peel off the labels and hope that the glue is not too bad.

This competition is unique in that they have a special Halloween-centric category. I would love to go to see that but I don't think I will enter anything for this. It does look fun, however.


-Safari Bob

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Batch 6-003: Hard Apple Cider

So instead of grading or working on my dissertation, I decided to make a hard cider. I was walking by an aisle at Wal-Fart when I noticed that they had gallons of apple cider on sale for $2.50 (no preservatives). Also, I just finished a six pack of Strongbow Cider and suddenly the thought of some hard cider sounded really tasty. So, I picked up some apple cider and got to it. Here is the recipe:


  • 5 gal Apple Cider (Mixed; No Preservatives)

  • 5 tsp Yeast Nutrient

  • 3 tsp Pectin Enzyme

  • 1 pkt Red Star Pasteur Champagne (Dry)

  • OG: 1.050


-Safari Bob

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cactus Challenge 2010 Results

Tonight the award winners from the 2010 Cactus Challenge were announced during the award ceremony. Earlier in the day I went to help judge a couple of beer styles and met in person a few of the people from Ale-ian Society (the host of the Cactus Challenge) that I only know from the forum. It is sad, really, as I do live in the same town as these folks. I helped judge the Brown Ales and Fruit Beers entries.

Although I had to leave the judging around 1pm, Nancy and I did make it back for the dinner and awards ceremony and we had a great time. The folks at theAle-ian Society are all good people. We sat with a couple from Plainview, TX and laughed so hard we were crying. They shared with us a wonderful, tasty Jalapeno Ale that they entered (it won 2nd in the Spice/Herb & Vegetable Beers category). Also, we bought 6 raffle tickets for $5 and Nancy won a t-shirt and a $10 gift certificate to a brew shop. Good times.

You may recall that I entered meads into three categories: cyser, traditional, and other. Unfortunately, they did not have enough mead entries to judge in separate categories so they combined all the mead entries into one category. Here are the results:

  • First Place: Safari Bob, Mockingbird Alley aka Prickly Pecker (Southwestern Cyser--prickly pear)

  • Second Place: Safari Bob, Golden Delicious (Cyser)

  • Third Place: Safari Bob, Desert Goat (Traditional)

I was shocked! Of course I thought that maybe I was the only one to enter meads but there were three others submitted (LOL!). So out of 6, I had the best three. Not exactly a big deal but I'll take it!

I was told that the prickly pear made it to the last 7 (of 35) in the Best of Show, however. I suppose they could be pulling my leg; those guys are ornery and the kegs were getting low!

View Cactus Challenge 2010 results here.


-Safari Bob

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cactus Challenge 2010

I have been remiss in not promoting the upcoming Cactus Challenge 2010 that is a homebrew competition conducted by the local brew club Ale-ian Society. This competition is focused on beer but they do have several categories of mead that are judged each year. The best of show wins a belt buckle (YEE-haw! Welcome to Texas!) but I don't think a mead has ever won. In any event, I entered three meads to be judged. This is only the second competition I have entered but I am hoping for at least one ribbon.

First, I entered the southwestern cyser (batch 5-001; OG: 1.170; FG: 1.012; ABV: 21.1%) under the name "Mockingbird Alley" although I have since changed the name. I just recently bottled it so I am curious as to how it will do in that it is still young. Still, it is one of the more unique meads I have made.

I also entered one of my favorite cysers, "Golden Delicious" (batch 3-004; OG: 1.138; FG: 1.014; ABV: 17.1%), that was bottled in October 2007. Frankly, I love this mead and I was loath to part with 36 oz. regardless of any chance to win.

Finally, I entered a dry, spicy hydromel named "Desert Goat" (batch 3-005; OG: 1.060; FG: .992; ABV: 9.2%) that was bottled in September 2007. I enjoy the crisp mouth of this mead and I hope that it may appeal to the beer-quaffers judging pallet!

I would also like to thank Sograte BBQ and Brew, the local homebrew supply store, for lending me the beer top crimper so I could enter. Because of rules for homebrew beer entries, I had to put a gold crimp top which is common for beer but rare for mead (most mazers use a cork). In fact, this is why I have not entered this competition in past years.


-Safari Bob

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Batch 6-002: Cream Soda Mead

Today I finally got around to brewing a new batch of mead. I was inspired after Nancy and I were at the local grocery store and she confided that she loves Frostie Blue Cream Soda which happened to be on the shelf. I thought, "Hey! I could make a mead like that!"

The real question is whether or not to add blue food coloring. I have never used anything like this in any of my meads. Does anyone out there have experience using food color in mead? I have heard of green dye used for St. Patrick's Day but I have never sampled any. In any event, here is the recipe:



  • 15 lbs Clover Honey
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 5 tsp Yeast Nutrient
  • 1 pkt K1V-1116
  • Water to 5 gal
  • OG: 1.120


  • Cream Soda Extract
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • Blue Food Coloring?

-Safari Bob

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Racking Fun with 6-001

Today I racked 6-001 into a glass carboy. I lost quite a bit of the must due to the strawberry puree but I took a reading (SG: .994; ABV: 18.1%). The mead tastes bitter with distinct lemon and strawberry flavors. I may add another 3 lbs of honey and see what happens. I did add 2 vanilla beans to the secondary.

-Safari Bob

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Batch 6-001: Strawberry Melomel

I just brewed my first batch of mead in 2010; this dissertation is getting in the way of the more important things in life! I have never (until today) brewed a strawberry melomel and I have heard some horror stories about strawberry mels fading or oxidizing so I had to give it a shot.

Here is the recipe:

  • 12 lbs clover honey
  • 8 lbs strawberries (pureed)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 gal apple juice
  • 5 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 tsp pectin enzyme (all I had left)
  • 1 pkt K1V-1116 (hydrated)
  • Water to 5 gal
  • 2 vanilla beans (secondary)
  • OG: 1.128

I chose to puree the strawberries for 2 reasons: (1) more surface area for the yeast and (2) the seeds should add tannins for a more complex mouth. Also, I added apple juice in order to (hopefully) darken the color of the final melomel.

-Safari Bob

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Knight: 5-002 Bottled

I bottled the 5-002: Summer Knight. This batch is a blackberry vanilla cyser that is red-golden in color with distinct berry and honey aromas. The flavor is smooth, dry with subtle sweet/sour berries, and a distinct creamy finish. Although it is good now, I can't wait until it ages some.

I recovered:

  • 12 750 ml bottles
  • 1 1.5 l bottle (to Mr. Roper)
  • 3 1 l Flip top
  • 1 2 l growler

OG: 1.136; FG: 0.996; ABV: 18.7%

-Safari Bob

Saturday, April 3, 2010

More Racking Fun

Today I received in the mail a new Auto-Siphon, stainless steel racking cane, and stainless steel mesh screen. My old racking cane was cheap plastic and quickly broke after my last racking adventure. So today I got to work.

I have two batches that needed racking and I was afraid that they might have been on the lees too long: the southwestern cyser and the blackberry melomel. Both have begun to clear and I still had not racked. Luckily, they both taste good for their age.

Batch 5-001 is a southwestern cyser made with prickly pear fruit and apple cider. It has a bright purple color and has thick legs. I added 2 habenero peppers and took a reading. OG: 1.170; SG: 1.012; ABV: 21.1%! This mead is sweet and sour with no hint of rocket fuel (despite the high AV). This one is coming along nicely.

Batch 5-002 is a blackberry melomel that has a slight pinkish hue in the carboy but a bright yellow cast in the glass. I added 2 vanilla beans and took a reading. OG: 1.136; SG: 0.996; ABV: 18.7%. This mead has some slight sweetness with definite hints of blackberry and apples with a noticeable alcohol burn. Hopefully it will age out and the vanilla should give softness to the pallet.

In another couple of months I should be bottling. Time to work on the next recipe!

-Safari Bob

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Racking Cane is Broken

Currently, I have three batches clearing (a chocolate, the southwestern cyser, and the blackberry cyser) and I need to rack the cysers. So I go and get ready only to break the racking cane in the syphon. This is the third cane that has broken in the last 18 mos. Does anyone out there know of a more sturdy syphon set with filter?

I think I shall have a horn of the Root Beer Mead, a pipe of HS-3, and grouse about how "nowadays they just don't make 'em like they used to!"


-Safari Bob