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    Default Socratov's brewing, Liqueuer making and woodcrafting log

    Welcome to my log thread. Every weekend i will get back to my parents and become bored. So, in a quest to find something to do I stumbled ondoing stuff with alcohol.

    My first thing I made was coffee liqueuer. A month further it's coming together nicely. If the project is a success I will post a recipe

    But now, inspired by the latest mead thread I have now made the step to the real homebrewing.

    Form time to time I will log my adventures in brewing the various concoctions here (in spring I will try to make elderflower liqueuer) and if you have questions, please ask (pictures will follow)

    If you have any questions, remarks or something, feel free to post

    My meadmaking tutorial with basic recipe

    My first Log: Basic mead

    Thor's Mighty Hammer: Applemead

    Freya's cherry: Cherry Mead

    Loki's Trickery: Boeren Jongens Mead

    Sköll and Hati Hróđvitnisson: Black Tea Mead

    Freyr's Nectar: Strawberry and Passionfruit Mead

    Liqueuer making:

    Coffee Liqueuer
    it's very good in chocolate milk, coffee, or dishes that need just that bit of sweetness and coffee essence (like desserts).

    Woodworking:

    Project Ca(i)ne!
    Last edited by Socratov; 2015-06-29 at 12:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    To honey, and beyond!
    Brewer's Log, date 24th of November 2012.

    Today I dusted off (and cleaned thouroughly) my old fermentation equipment. Why I have fermentation equipment? I once distilled rum for school as a project. Bcuase you need fermented molasses to make rum (the sugar will need to be processed into carbondioxide and alcohol) I made a very simple, yet easy to use fermentation rig.

    I used a container (those little vats sailors often use becuase of it watertightness), drilled a hole through the top and put a tube through the hole. in the container you put the stuff you want to ferment and the tuve ends in a bucket of water to act as some sort of waterlock. Pretty simple huh?

    Now, Mead. The stuff of legends (and vikings! ). Basically it's a wine made form honey instead of grapejuice, which is fermented and made clear(ish). After scouring some websites and fora I found a general trend in recipes (seriously every person on the net brewing has a recipe of his own ): between 20% and 35% honey of the total solution, ferment with yeast. only about half of the recipes tell you to boil the honey with some water, while others tell you it's a deadly sin to do so. After some more research I happened on a person who tried both (same solution, same methods, made simultaneously) and the only differences seem be the fact that the mead becomes clearer after boiling and loses some of it's rumored health benefits (which honey has! Read wikipedia!).

    So there I stand, with my pot of boiling water and honey (about 1,4 kg for 5 liter total solution), scooping off foam. In the mean time my mother's new puppy tries to play with me by dragging the ends of my trousers unsuccessfully

    After the honey has boiled to satisfaction I once again scour the fermenting gear with piping hot water. While my honey starts to cool I add water until the 5L mark has been reached. I pour the solution into the container and cool it down with some cold water on the outside. When my solution is almost cool enough I use a cup of cold tea to start up my yeast. Yeast is very important and the various boards and sites can't agree on what is a good yeast to use. I tend to be practical and earlier bought a packet of dry yeast. Yeast goes in the tea, the whole shebang gets dumped into the solution. Swirl around, screw top on and now we wait.

    waiting for the first blob to emerge form the bucket acting as waterlock. I'll keep you posted on my mead brewing adventure(s).

    By the way, if this batch works well I'll make a mead to a recipe that is described as being liquid apple pie Becuase there is no such thing as too much awesomeness

    pictures:

    Spoiler
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    my brewing rig


    Edit: when I shake the rig it starts bubbeling so the reaction is quite on it's way. I guess the yeast culture is growing for now and eating it's fill of sugar etc. To maintain my patience I imagine that the yeast is now playing the movie Highlander, fighting againts the sugar in the realm. I somehow picture one of the yeast cells painting himself blue and rallying the rest of ghe yeast to attack the sugar and break it down into alcohol and co2
    Last edited by Socratov; 2012-12-27 at 08:58 AM.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    The Headless Mermaid approves of moonshine, all kinds.

    I know nothing at all about mead, so I may be off here, but judging from similar procedures I'd suggest you avoid plastic containers. Plastic doesn't mesh well with booze, especially when it's boiling/hot/fermenting. Stainless steel is good, and also some sort of ceramic - but that's not my field of expertise, so I don't know which exactly. (I think it must be non-porous, IIRC.)

    Instead of a bucket, maybe you can pour it directly into a glass bottle? Glass to avoid plastic, and bottle because when the surface is large, you lose a lot of alcohol from evaporation. (Logically. I haven't tried it.) I'm assuming you don't expect extreme temperatures that could break the glass, right?

    Again, these suggestions are only tentative - they may or may not apply to mead in particular. And in any case, your rig gets points for being very cheap and easy to build. Keep at it, and good luck!
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    You are right, but it depends on the sort of plastic. And while I earlier found no problems after destillation, it's certainly something to look out for in the Endproduct. When I start taking things more seriously I will definately by some glass apparatus . For now i do it cheap
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    *UPDATE*

    The lack of bubbling disturbed me. However I discovered that my seal of the lid and hose is not that adequate (should look into that next time, and memo to buy some more ducttape). Some of the mead now rests on top of the lid and tastes delicious. Next time I will also add more acid to help the yeast better. But asit is going now it seems to become absolutely deliscious. A good sweet strong flavour is developing. Within a week I think it will be done fermenting and be ready for clearing.

    Ion, I am thinking about making a fermenting tank out of an old boiler (if I can find one). I once read a pdf on moonshining (and how to craft the distilling tank) and I think I can make something similar for brewing and fermenting. Any thoughts? If I can I will upload a sketch of what I mean.

    And I heard about ways to make your own yeast. Anyone experience with that?
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    However I discovered that my seal of the lid and hose is not that adequate (should look into that next time, and memo to buy some more ducttape).
    I'm not sure how they're called in English, but those rubber rings that we use for taps and pipes would do the trick nicely. You have to find the right diameter and secure it somehow, clench it. Ideally, with those metal rings, which again I don't know how they're called in English. (I'm not helping much, am I? )

    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    Ion, I am thinking about making a fermenting tank out of an old boiler (if I can find one). I once read a pdf on moonshining (and how to craft the distilling tank) and I think I can make something similar for brewing and fermenting. Any thoughts? If I can I will upload a sketch of what I mean.
    Fermentation or distillation? The process I'm familiar with (and I can look it up for you, if you want) is about beverages where the fermentation has already happened naturally, and you only have to worry about heating up the mixture and distilling it. Would that help?
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    ...subscribed to this thread on day one.

    ...was kind of hoping that it could be uncluttered information about making mead, but... ( sigh )




    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    [...]but those rubber rings that we use for taps and pipes would do the trick nicely.
    Washers?



    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    Ion,
    Who's Ion?



    ...looking forward to what you discover, Socratov. Good-speed and good-mead.

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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    I'm not sure how they're called in English, but those rubber rings that we use for taps and pipes would do the trick nicely. You have to find the right diameter and secure it somehow, clench it. Ideally, with those metal rings, which again I don't know how they're called in English. (I'm not helping much, am I? )
    I know what you mean, but that didn't work (or at least not with the things I had a the moment (also, the word you're looking for is rivets ). But not I have used Shoegoo to seal the top part of the hole (while pulling at the hose which has some sort or electric tape knot underneath the lid). that shoudl seal a lot better then just stacking hockeytape

    Fermentation or distillation? The process I'm familiar with (and I can look it up for you, if you want) is about beverages where the fermentation has already happened naturally, and you only have to worry about heating up the mixture and distilling it. Would that help?
    Well, both sorts of tanks work on the same principle where you have a botom and top half, the ability to close and secure the lid and 1 way out for the fermentation gasses. the tank (as I envision it) would be the same as the plastic container I have now, but with a slide on top sealed with a rubber or glue band between the top and bottom parts, secured with rope wrapped around hooks. the top would have a hose connected to it which (again) ends in a bucket of water acting like a waterlock to prevent contamination from getting in. the upside sould e that it's very easy to clean and scour. the down side is that I need to learn some metalworking skills. but that is a project for the future (when I have more disposable income to spend in these kinds of fun stuffs and when I will take brewing more seriously. the bit that seeped out through the tape tasted okay, so I think the current setup is not as bad as you feared

    Apart from the waiting, hoping, anxiety whether it will turn out ok brewing at home is a lot of fun. it really makes you get into the spirit of things. and the result will make you feel like you have acomplished something (creating food and drink yourself really generates a form of pride).

    In Other (old)News: My Liqueuer is really getting well. I started with grainspirit, added brown candysugar (those chrystal liek sugar thingies), vanilla sugar and moccha beans. Shaken (or have poeple shake it) everyday and it's starting to look really dark in the meantime. somewhere around the end of december or Januari it should be ready for the first tasting and depending on that it might turn into a gift for my mother's birthday or a late gift for my mother's birthday.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Quote Originally Posted by Story Time View Post
    ...subscribed to this thread on day one.
    welcome and I hope you enjoy reading this as much s I enjoy writing and doing this...
    ...was kind of hoping that it could be uncluttered information about making mead, but... ( sigh )
    Well, if I will post the recipe it will be less cluttered. first the experience and if it works the (as uncluttered as I can be at that moment) recipe.




    Washers?

    those! stupid me, rivets are for riveting (like those circles holding sheets of metal together)


    Who's Ion?

    the lazy way of writing ION, or In Other News

    ...looking forward to what you discover, Socratov. Good-speed and good-mead.
    thanks I'llkeep you posted every weekend (and week if I'm there). If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. I'm not an expert (yet) but I learn on the go as it were.

    the lesson for today is: Remember to add acids for helpin ghte yeast live in an otherwise carbonated liquid. (and check your equipment for airleaks where they shouldn't be )
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    Edit: when I shake the rig it starts bubbeling so the reaction is quite on it's way. I guess the yeast culture is growing for now and eating it's fill of sugar etc. To maintain my patience I imagine that the yeast is now playing the movie Highlander, fighting againts the sugar in the realm. I somehow picture one of the yeast cells painting himself blue and rallying the rest of ghe yeast to attack the sugar and break it down into alcohol and co2
    This is the first step. The result will be shunted into the anaerobic pathway.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    This is the first step. The result will be shunted into the anaerobic pathway.
    gheh, the first part I understood. then it went all native biologists lingo on me

    Anyway, I may have given the yeast too little food (apart form the honey) creating a too non nuetral ph environment, fortunately shaking helps realeasing the CO2 which is a remedy for that. I can't wait for it to get ready and to help me not open up the tank immedeatly I have moved to may dayjob (throughout the weak I stay at a B&B for work at the other side of the country) so I can't lose my cool. I have given my parents the assignment to shake if it's not bubbling (easy enough right?). I'll be reporting back to you next weekend with another update, during the week you can ask me any kind of question about brewing. If I know the answer I'll happily oblige, else I'll do some research or answer that I don't know

    meanwhile I'll try to design (and draw a little better then I have now) my brewing kettle. It might need some time though...
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Here are a few pictures of makeshift brewing rigs for distillation. NOT to copy them - they aren't for the city. (They are for the country, where there's space, and you can build big mean kettles, with big mean fires underneath.) But to make a couple of points.

    First, for the love of god, cover that bucket with something. Ethanol evaporates overnight, you can't leave it out in the open until Christmas and expect it to remain an alcoholic beverage until then. A plastic bag will do. [Kindly disregard that comment if the photo is misleading and you've already covered it. :)]

    Second, distillation of spirits (if/when you get there) needs cooling. These huge barrels next to the pot and fire are filled with cold water, which you refresh as appropriate. The pipe goes through the barrel, the temperature inside drops, and the gas turns to liquid. Sounds elementary, but most people don't realize how much work it takes to cool it. (If you judge by the classic diagram of distillation in your chemistry textbook, you imagine you don't need a lot of volume of water. But you do.)

    pics:
    Spoiler
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    Once again, good luck!
    Last edited by HeadlessMermaid; 2012-11-30 at 03:31 PM.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    thanks but I'm not going to distill , it brings way too many problems with the government

    Oh, and don't worry, the rig is (almost) airtight, or at least enough to let hte CO2 out and the rest in. When I opened the container, a giant slap in the face was what I got from the alcohol and CO2 inside

    Anyway, A new weekend has started for me so as promised the update:

    And now, we wait...
    Brewer's Log, date 1 december 2012

    So, a new weekend, time to chek up on my brew if my yeast has been behaving itself. When I check nothing is happening, and when I shake only the CO2 in the brew comes out, but nothing more (even sucks a bit water back into the tube) so naturally my yeast cells are done playing and eating and crapping alcohol so it's time to filter and see what happens. I filter my brew through a sieve and one of those Sorbo cloths (liek some sort of microfiber thingie whatsit) and stopped at least some of he yeast getting through. After trying out different household methods of filtration I give up on it and just pour the brew into bottles.

    here they are
    Spoiler
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    I guess you can see that I have a preference for a certain kind of bottle produced by the beer brewer Grolsch. Grolsh is a company that thinks those bottles are a great idea and they are right. They are. So after cleaning bottles on the inside and filling them I make another picture to see how clear (or clouded) the brew is now and that's hwere the next picture comes in.

    FOR CLARITY! @ 12 pm gmt+1
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    To my amazement it's allready started to clarify! For the ones not understanding this amazement, allow me to explain. When you are fermenting stuff, the yeast is just happily swimming though the stuff like you and I would in a bath of beer or champagne. We'd dive in it, swim through it with our mouths open, throw it in the air to let it land on our heads (and in our mouths), long story short, we would enjoy the occasion. the yeast however, eats and eats and eats and eats to no end until the food is gone or the environment is bad for them (quite like humans in dat respect). Then they die and continue floating around, slowly drifting to the bottom. Now if you drink mead you don't want to drink dead yeast because that tastes horrible. You want the honey alcohol goodness that's between the dead yeast cells. so to remedy this you can either filther through a strong filter (like charcoal) and lsoing some taste, or have a little patience (*croons*) and wait for the yeast to get to the bottom of the bottle. the last thing is what I'm doing and to see that in the top allready some clear liquid is present really gives me hopes on a good brew.

    You might think I'm crazy but brewing is quite a spiritual process and in teh tradiotion of monks and vikings who brewed a thousand years ago, I have tried to grow a beard in a week. This is a very important step in teh brewing process. Why I don't know, but it's extremely vital for a good brewing!

    Revel in the goodnessugliness of not shaving for a week
    Spoiler
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    before you all ask "Can I haz recipez nao?" I'll urge you to wait until I have tried to taste it and have given it my seal of approval.

    Also, still incoming: a picture when I go to bed of how the clarification is going and an attempt to see some progress.

    Edit: My hands smell once again like mead. I kind of like brewing if this is always the case

    UPDATE:
    Wow! The clarification is going awesomely quick! Everything natys is at the bottom allready and the mead is a nice yellow at the present, though not entirely clear yet. I'll keep you posted!
    Last edited by Socratov; 2012-12-01 at 07:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    going on a tangent I want to explain what just happened. when Champagne is made it's bottled with the yeast through a conoluted series of champagne-o-mancy a sparkling wine is made. I for got about that today. so hwen I watned to transfer my mead to a yeast free bottle (so help the clarification process even further) I opened the bottle and encountered a fountain. a delicious smelling fountain, mind you, but a fountain none the less.

    So Now I've parked the bottles open with a piece of toiletpaper as some kind of stopper to let out eny excess CO2 and letting hte yeast calm the [REDACTED] down and die allready (and stay dead). I'll keep you posted.

    Note: I was surprised at the speed of clarification since it would normally take a couple of weeks. I'll see what happens now I guess

    Mind you, this is an ordinary problem: mead brewers often complain at sometimes exploding bottles (like some kind of fragmentation grenade) and how it's a waste of the mead. Which fortunately didn't happen to me
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Clear as honey
    Brewer's log, date 8 december 2012

    so, um, where does this saying come from? I mean honey often is not an ideal agent to see through, but now I know. I found my bottles back at the spot I left them (closed that is). without any signs of warzone caused by exploding bottles (this happens people, so take care when you make mead and let it stay).

    the mead in he bottle was a slight yellow clear tint . almost as clear as a lens (protip: hae at least 1 bottle that is see through so you can follow the process).

    IN good hope I pen de bettle and again what happens makes me think of hte fountains in Vegas (not that I have been there in person, but I have watched TV and internt, so). By controlling the pressure release I prevent mead from leaving the bottle and see again the mead become clouded liek the last time. I look better and see a major difference: the yeast that earlier dissolved and bubbled up like champagne now shoots up in tight lumps. this tells me 2 things: the yeast is set so tight it has formed a lump, and that the yeast is most probably almost completely dead (which is good). One sd thing: there is still carbonization in progress, so I'll have to wait a long time before it's clear again, though now I will keep the bottles open with a bit of paper towel n it (to keep stuff from getting in, but allowing CO2 to disperse). if all goes well I should have clear mead in a week (maybe 2). this is a good thing to think about for next time, next time I'll get some kind of filtering agent and yeast fodo so i can more closely monitor the fermentation progress and see when it's actually done properly or not (and to eliminate the shaking from the process so the fermantation goes faster). In the meantime I'm saving up the winebottles my parents empty so I can make another batch and keep the current bottles as clarification/aging bottles. I think that after the clarification at least 2 months will be needed to mature (and more if posible) so if I haven't tried my patience now, it will be tried a lot more in the future .

    meanwhile I have to use some timing for making the next batch (or at least planning it) so I don't end up with a full tank when I move yet again. and when I'm back at school I might want to go by the scrapheap for some kind of boiler or tank and then work on it at school in the workyard. (might give me an excuse to learn to weld ). That way I could set myself up with a proper size tank (10L or more?) to make bigger batches and maybe experiment more though that could be a more long term project

    Oh, and no pictures today, they are not particulalry interesting, unless you think looking at some kind of cloudy yellow liquid with a brown/gray line at the bottom is exciting.

    Anyway, I feel like I learn a new thing every week about brewing and the info just keeps coming . maybe one day I'll have the opportunity to taste my own mead in satisfaction of how good I am.

    if you have any questions I'll remind you that I'll be happy to answer them ask and I shall answer
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    Default Re: Socratov's Brewing Log

    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    Oh, and no pictures today, they are not particulalry interesting, unless you think looking at some kind of cloudy yellow liquid with a brown/gray line at the bottom is exciting.
    I do. Because it's SCIENCE! And art.


    ...seriously, a photo log would interest me. Think of it like making a tutorial based on your efforts, Socratov. Once you've tasted the end result all of us can go back and have visual aids to determine what was happening, when, and why.

    Also, please accept this post as a general encouragement of your project.

    A boiler would be nice. Gas welding tools are...expensive. I wonder how a pressure cooker would perform or may-be some type of...glass-based apparatus.

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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Omg, Socratov, this is awesome.

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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Quote Originally Posted by ThiagoMartell View Post
    Omg, Socratov, this is awesome.
    Thank you! it feels awesome to do really
    Quote Originally Posted by Story Time View Post
    I do. Because it's SCIENCE! And art.


    ...seriously, a photo log would interest me. Think of it like making a tutorial based on your efforts, Socratov. Once you've tasted the end result all of us can go back and have visual aids to determine what was happening, when, and why.

    Also, please accept this post as a general encouragement of your project.

    A boiler would be nice. Gas welding tools are...expensive. I wonder how a pressure cooker would perform or may-be some type of...glass-based apparatus.
    Oh, but the tutorial is coming, I'm just saving it up for when I'm done so I can identify the pitfalls and problems for you so you don't have to. I'll try to remember to make some pictures laterof who it looks right now (not very different from a week ago) and I'll try to remember to include picture of the cooking before fermenting when I make the next batch. else I'll make sure to describe every (imortant) executing the steps to make mead. if you want I can make a tutorial of what I have done at the present (and to start it up), includigsome lessons I learned. I'll dedicate a whole post to it and link to it in the OP so you can at least start and follow me with a few weeks in between
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    Default Re: Socratov's Brewing Log

    That sounds pretty great. A concise list followed by step-by-step narrative explanation would be very nice.

    "May ye ne'er meet a bitter brew!"

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    Mead-making: a guide and tutorial by first-had experience
    No Heiđrún at hand? Lots of thirsty Einherjar around? Here is how to make your own

    *[please note that this guide is under construction, check back often and read the lessons I learned in the brewer's log files]*

    Legal Information
    Spoiler
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    Ok, first off, a warning. Some countries don't look favorably upon alcohol in general. Most countries however think making alcohol is fine as long as it is safe and assumed for own consumption. Try to gain some information about local laws, ordinances and rules (even in your neighborhood) to see if it is legal and if people you live with are abjectly against brewing or anything. The best way to tackle this is to invite friends and neighbors for the first tasting to soften them up. This is not bribery, which would be illegal, however it's a token of friendship. Remember kids, alcohol is best used in an oral manner with friends and a happy environment. I cannot be held responsible for errors on your part, faulty information (if info is faulty I have to deal with the same problem) or angry neighbors because you didn't offer them a sip of your brew.

    Oh, and before I forget, don't drink and drive, derive or operate any sort of machinery that could mean harm to you or your surroundings. I expect you to act responsibly and use your brain with the included common sense package.


    So, with the (boring) necessary pert out of the way, let's make ourselves some mead. First I will start with what mead is and what mead isn't. Then I will tell you a bit about fermentation, both the tools you need as well as the ingredients. Then I will in some manner of step-by-step guide you in making your own mead.

    But first and foremost I'll tell you why. (The most interesting question in the world anyway, and the reason why some children are way better at academics then any teenager or adult: they ask the question "why" often to the detriment of mental health of parents).

    Why should I brew my own mead? Why shouldn't I? Here is a pro's cons list. You may weigh your reasons to do or not do it yourself.

    Pros:
    • it’s fun
    • it keeps you busy
    • there is a distinct feeling of gratitude of making something yourself, whether that be clothes, furniture or indeed mead
    • depending on the price of ingredients it may save you money
    • it's awesome (the Vikings did, and they pretty much monopolized awesome in the dark ages)
    • You'll learn a lot about how alcohol, yeast, sugar, additives, carbon dioxide etc. works. No really, it's a great learning experience
    • you can make stuff that is often not available in your region or make up your own brews


    Cons:
    • You'll need equipment, which costs you money
    • it takes long
    • no longer then that
    • there is a chance of failure
    • proverbial **** could hit the proverbial fan in various forms
    • it produces a certain scent which people might find unsettling


    So yeah, the pro list is longer than the con list. Take your pick.

    What is mead?
    The stuff of Vikings.

    Ok, it’s basically a wine made from honey instead of grapes. Honey was reasonably cheap and in abundance in the dark ages. It was because you'd only need flowers, some bees and the rest came into being as if by magic. Bees had a second advantage: they help flowers in forming seeds/fruits/whatever by distributing pollen to stigma, basically speeding up plantsex

    Yeah, bees are pretty awesome

    So you've got honey? Well, maybe you could make wine out of it. In human history every tribe/set of people at an astonishing rate found out how to get high/relaxed/tripping/drunk and so on. Shamans? Spacing out of their minds. coffee? man it's like Chrystal meth, you get all jumpy and trippy! (or that is sort of how it was discovered). so it did not take long before people discovered that sweet honey, like sweet grapes, could make excellent wine. presto! mead was born (and a lot cheaper than grape wine so available to the masses).

    so how did they make mead? Well, the mixed honey with water and hoped/prayed to the god of bees, saint or bees or proper entity to turn this fabulous honey into awesome mead. Nowadays we have a better way. We learned of yeast, and its role in fermentation. Now we have control and ways to speed up the process. first and foremost mead is a honey wine. If a large part of the brew isn't honey and water you're doing something wrong. You can jump around with flavors, spices and fruits to enhance the flavor, but the main ingredient should always be honey.

    Fermentation
    fermentation is the process of using yeast to transform carbohydrates (carbs) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. the best carbohydrate is sacharose, glucose or fructose. those are sugars. sugar is to yeast what bacon is to Amidus Drexel: a match made in heaven. Now I don’t pretend to be a biologist (some people can explain it a lot better) so I'd advise you to Google around if you want to know more. Me? I'm a layman, I know it works and that's enough for me.

    to ferment stuff you want a safe environment and an environment for yeast to be happy and eat sugar, piss alcohol and fart CO2. One problem, alcohol and CO2 (or more specific: the pH change it causes when solved in water) are toxic to yeast. So you want to make sure the CO2 escapes but that nothing else comes in to compromise the brew.

    enter the water lock. A water lock is an S-form tube with a bit of water in it to stop air form coming in, but to relieve pressure built up by the production of CO2. for the rest an airtight barrel or bottle with an opening to pour the ingredients in and to put the water lock in. people often use one of these:
    Spoiler
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    I used a different looking setup, but the same in principle:


    I improvised a water lock here it's a (should have been) sealed tube and a bucket of water.


    another problem: yeast doesn't want only sugar, it wants other stuff too. Yeah, Yeast, like us humans, benefits form a varied diet. so when you start fermenting you need stuff the Yeast likes, but which doesn't interfere with the taste (or interferes little enough to not notice it) but makes the yeast happy. Luckily internet stores and brewer's stores sell yeast food to solve this problem, often brew recipes include a way to use the natural ingredient as well. one seems to be a very strong cup of tea (or 2).

    last but not least, temperature. Yeast likes a nice warm bath to eat in. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. Just about body temperature seems to be best (20~40 is the range, higher up means faster fermentation. Too high and the yeast snuffs it.)

    Step by step guide:
    so you've made peace with your neighbors, made sure you are allowed to do this, made your setup of an airtight container with water lock, now on to the fun part!
    Step 1: research and assembly of ingredients
    Thought you'd start cooking right of the bat eh? Nope! Research first. Fortunately I've done some for you Socratov to the rescue!
    first you need to know where to get your ingredients and how much. As a rule of thumb you'd better use this: what goes in, comes out. when you make something with bad ingredients, you get bad mead. Simple as that. so, go look for good honey. try farmer's markets (or regular markets), but get the honey as straight form the source as possible and while sieved is ok, pasteurized or sterilized is not ok. it detracts from the taste by not having some 'real' flavor to it. Pollen seems to be a natural partner for yeast, and a great taste maker. don't worry if stuff floats around in the honey, it might just make the mead better and it will not end up in your glass since you will filter or clarify the fermented product before bottling. You'll need approximately 30% honey. A it less makes the mead dryer and lighter (and better for summer) a bit more makes the mead sweeter and stronger (better for winter)

    Next ingredient: Water. clean, good tasting water. In the Netherlands the water quality is heavily regulated by the government, resulting in water purity not even SPA or Sourcy could dream of. Else bottled water should do.

    Then the yeast. I was advised to use yeast for the making of white wine. You can get it on the internet or other brew stores. this kind of yeast works better in enduring alcohol and generally performs better. Baker's yeast is rumored to not work that great in producing a taste. YMMV.

    Yeast food (sort of accelerator) can be found in stores too, or you could add some lemon peel and juice, tea or what have you. I used tea and orange for a bit of acid, essential oils and tannins (from tea). Look around on the internet to find something to your tastes.

    Clean your equipment
    make sure your equipment is spotless, sterile and extremely clean. use acids, boiling water, soap, you name it. make your equipment as clean as you possibly can. this is an important step since it will both affect taste and the way the yeast works. contamination could botch the batch by introducing a nasty taste or killing the yeast before it has done its job.

    Step 3: Cooking or mixing
    Honey contains some impurities. you can either boil them out (great for solving honey into water) and scoop them off with a ladle or can choose not to. So far my research has told me that the mead clears more easily. Your choice. (more info here. So, water, honey, yeast food, spices (according to recipe). Mix it all up and make sure it's a (as far as possible) is a homogenous mixture.

    make sure the mixture is cool, temperature around 30 degrees centigrade!

    for the basic recipe: 3 kg honey, couple of cups of tea, 1 peel of 1 lemon, +juice, solved in a bit of water. Now measure how much mixture you have and add water to the mixture until you meet a total of 10L (including the honey mixture). Put it into your container, mix, and swirl and make sure it's homogenous. next work up the yeast. get some lukewarm water (about 30 degrees centigrade) and add yeast (if you have packets, it is said 1 packet of yeast) and allow it to work up a bit (maybe use a bit of the mixture as a starter). Then when the yeast starts foaming, add it to the rest of the mixture in your fermentation container. Put the water lock on top (make sure the water lock has that magical water boundary in it to make it airtight).

    Step 4: Ferment
    Now the waiting game starts. shake up the mixture regularly to free up CO2 trapped in the and to wake up the yeast. for the rest waiting is all you can do now until the fermentation has ended. This will take approximately 1-2 weeks. You can see it when the mixture produces no bubbles whatsoever even when shaken and when the water in the water lock starts to creep into the container. (to make this easier add some food coloring to see the place of the water in the tube more clearly.

    Step 5: Filtration
    When the yeast is dead and buried (and thus fermentation has stopped) you can open the bottle/barrel/whatever and take out the mixture. you filter it through a sieve and same paper towels to catch as much of the remaining yeast as you can.

    Now you have 2 options: filtrate even further or go to step 6. further filtration will make clarifying easier. but it's not mandatory. (though reduces waiting time until drinking shorter). I haven't done such a thing so I'll refer to the internet which advises to add Bentonite.

    Step 6: Clarification
    *[part under construction]*
    Now you bottle the mead and add a water lock or in smaller bottles by adding a bit of toilet paper to create a lock for nasty bits to come in. If you find a lot of stuff at the bottom of the bottle, remove it by pouring the mead into another container and repeat this step in a clean bottle. Repeat until clear.

    My pictures:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Mead put into bottles, you'll not the lack of escapability of CO2 that comes up. leave bottles open with a waterlock in them or some tioletpaper to allow the CO2 to escape and no nasty things to get in.

    Here we see how the mead clarifies a little and becomes clear.

    here clarification done right. While the CO2 excapes through toiletpaper we see the mead become clear as honey at the top. After a week or something it should be completely clear and ready for dinkingaging

    Step 7: Aging and drinking
    mead is best after it had some time to age (though, again not mandatory, this is to taste) and It's time to drink. this is also the stage to measure the alcohol percentage if you have a tool for that. Else be like me and label strong/stronger/etc.

    Enjoy your mead responsibly!

    If you have feedback on this guide, please let me know.

    Recipes will be added and refer to this guide as the method with the recipe describing the ingredients/methods that are different.
    Last edited by Socratov; 2012-12-09 at 07:54 AM.
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    By Odin Alfadir's beard!
    Brewer's log, 9 december 2012

    ladies and gentlefolk, My mead is clear!

    Spoiler
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    Some mead never gets completely clear. But this is quite similar to the pictures I have seen on zhe intertubes. I'ts rather fitting that I discover this while hungover.
    Last edited by Socratov; 2012-12-09 at 07:53 AM.
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    Default Re: Socratov's Brewing Log

    I think some congratulations are in order. Of course, the hung-over part...not so much. But that's a nice photo-graph of clear mead.

    In slightly related news, I've been designing a water lock to fit on top of a glass bottle with a screw lip. So...that's a possibility.

    Socratov, please cut down that DSC_0010.JPG image to around six hundred pixels in width...? The DSC_00081.JPG also?
    Last edited by Story Time; 2012-12-09 at 07:48 AM. Reason: Closing Tag

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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    spoilered them instead of image working and reuploading etc.

    anyway, thnaks for the congratultions. I have jsut tasted the mead in a leftover bottle (was filled for about halfway and a bit cloudy). Some bottles are crispa dn clear (and thsu will be fantastic), some are a bit more cloudy (stuff flowed through while pouring over in bottles.

    all in all the tastetest was successful. the mead has a distinct musky favour and sweet smell. it's best described as a sweet ale crossed with a dry white wine. I'd say it will be excellent for summer. next up the apple mead which will be another adventure since I will be flirting around with meddling with taste/spicing etc. and I will be using Bentonite to clear the mead and filter more thoroughly.

    Besides, I hae created some kind fo cork (a layer of cork, wool and leather, tightly wound) around the hose in the fermentation equipment and I'm anxious to see how it works. that will probably a next project. Oh, and My parents have discovered that winebottles shoudl be saved for me
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    That looks delicious! I've never had mead before, but I aim on trying it quite soon.
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    Brewed a 5 gallon batch of Cherry mead last weekend. Pics forthcoming.

    I am hoping that it will be kegged and drinkable sometime in June (intentionally).

    Next on deck is a Sour Beer... Flander's Red! But that one will take a whole year.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smellie_hippie View Post
    Brewed a 5 gallon batch of Cherry mead last weekend. Pics forthcoming.

    I am hoping that it will be kegged and drinkable sometime in June (intentionally).

    Next on deck is a Sour Beer... Flander's Red! But that one will take a whole year.
    Awesome, can you post the recipe for it (if possible including metric measures please?)

    I might want to make this as well...

    Also, I'm looking to gather the stuff for my apple cinnamon mead...

    that will truly be EPIC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    Awesome, can you post the recipe for it (if possible including metric measures please?)
    smellie_hippie's Cherry Berry Mead... (5 gallon batch or 18.9 litres)

    12 Pounds of Honey (5.76 Kg)
    1 Gallon water (3.79 Litres)
    2 quarts Cherry Juice (1.89 Litres) (or whatever berry you prefer)
    3 "cans" cherries (as organic as possible)
    2 teaspoons Yeast Nutrient
    Wyeast 4184 "Sweet Mead"

    Ok... This was the iniital recipe that I had.. but it was tweaked just a little bit. I substituted the sweet mead pack for two packets of dry "champagne" yeast because my order didn't come through in time.

    Start by heating up the gallon of water.
    Pour your honey into your "fermenting vessel".
    Use the heated water to get the remaining honey from your containers, and add this to the "fermenting vessel".
    Add your juice and fruit.
    Top off to 5 gallons with cool water.
    Add yeast nutrients and then pitch yeast within temp tolerance for said yeast.
    Put airlock in place and let it go for at least 3 weeks.
    Transfer entire volume to secondary vessel for clarification, and let it sit for another 3-4 weeks.
    Transfer to "bottling vessel" and add a small amount of sugar or possibly honey.
    Age in bottles for anywhere from 6 months to a year.


    I will actually be putting this on tap at my house, so I will let it age in the secondary fermenter for about 4 months, and skip the extra sweetener.

    Enjoy!
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    Default Re: Socratov's brewing log

    Awesome Hippie! I guess I'll need to get a bigger tank to ferment in (currently working with a 5L tank, I htink smaller batches have the advantage of being able to try more stuff out more often). maybe I'll have to accelerate my tankbuilding project

    On another note, I just received my shipment of Bentonite, a dry wine yeast (some fora say it's the best idea for fermenting mead), and yeast additives. Can't wait to try them out (probably after I move to a new appartment). Should go well with the bigger brew project (Or project XX l. (20 l.)as I'd like to call it )
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    How about them apples?
    Brewer's Log, date 24 december 2012

    Welome back again for a day of mead making. Today, i once again forgot to take pictures, but to counter that, usage of new ingredient: yeast nutrients and specialised dry wine yeast. So i started with an apple based mead.

    1kg of honey
    3L of applejuice (not the clear one, but a biologically produced juice which is unclear in the bottle. I know form past experiences that it's great and jummy)
    1 packet of dry white wine yeast
    3 tbsp. of yeast nutrient.
    add water until the 5L mark
    1 large (30 cm?) cinnamon stick

    So I started boiling some applejuice and the honey together with the cinnamon stick. I added the yeast nutrient (not the yest, mind you) and waited unitl the honey had disolved. it's a good thing to taste the mixture before you go on and ferment it since you will know if it will turn out good or not (and how sweet) by tasting hte mixture. the mixture was sweet and very appelly (?) and I'd drink it right away if I didn't want to turn it into mead. So now it's bubbelling away in the bathroom in the usual set-up (see my guide and earlier brewinglogs to see what it looks like). Later on during clarification I will use bentonite (maybe even use a control or somesuch) to help it clarify. So, new batch starting up, let's see where it goes from here. For those who are into the spirit of the seasons: merry christmas/hanukka/kwanza/what have you and I hope you guys (and gals) will have a lovely time these days.

    Of course I'll tell you guys asap when something happens (like the last batch).

    Oh, and an update: teh first batch is becoming really strong now, almost as if it's going through a taste transformation. The taste is dry, slightly acidic (which shoudl check out since it was intended as a dry mead) and generally tastes like a dry white wine with a hint of sweetness and a very faint, almost unnoticable tingle of carbonization. I can almost imane myself sitting on a summer's day drinking this before (or aven during) dinner.
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    Like a metronome
    Brewer's Log, date 27 december 2012

    So, my rew is bubbling away slowly and incredibly rhytmic, I mean you could hold a beat to it. I guess it's the influence of the yeast nutrients and the yeast itself and I'm pleased since you get a nice controlled fermentation and as with all things taking time is a good way of carrying out the thing you are about to do

    anyway, check back when I have more
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