Adventures in brewing… Part 1

From time to time I decide I need a challenge.  Sometimes this comes in the form of trying to learn a language for which I have no reasonable expectation of ever speaking conversationally with another human being.  That is not entirely true, I know one person who speaks Irish.  That isn’t really the point.  The challenge I have been rolling around in my head is brewing mead.  It is possibly the oldest fermented beverage.  It is very simple.  It has three ingredients.  Water, honey, and yeast.  That is all.

Your biggest task in this whole endeavor is sanitizing everything that will come in contact with the must. Must is the term for the unfermented honey and water.  There are a number of ways to sanitize.  Bleach and water is probably the least expensive.  At a concentration of 1 TBSP per gallon of water it doesn’t need to be rinsed. It needs to soak for 20 minutes. If you decide to rinse, you should use boiled water to make sure that you’re not adding new life forms to your sanitized items.  I didn’t rinse, but  I did give it plenty of time to dry.  Hopefully it won’t cause any problems.  Once you have sanitized do not touch the surfaces that will be in contact with your mead.

Once you have everything clean, and sanitized you can begin.  The recipe I am trying is pretty straightforward.  Boil 1 quart of honey, and 3 quarts of water for 5 minutes.  Cool to about body temperature, and add the yeast.  Stir.  Pour into a container to ferment.  In seven days refrigerate, until the sediment settles in about 2 days.  Strain, and bottle.  It should be drinkable, but it is supposed to be better when aged for several months.

I’ve been thinking about how to do this, and I’ve decided that I am going to do the fermentation phase of this recipe a little differently.  Rather than refrigerate after a week I am going to let the yeast do what it does.  I’ve done a bit of reading about this, and as the yeasts die, the air lock will stop  bubbling and then the sediment will settle out.  Once it is settled I will bottle it, and allow it to age.  I’m not sure how long this will take.  I started Tuesday night, and I’ve still got bubbles every few seconds on Saturday.  I’m keeping it in a box, and have a second box that is on top of it to keep it in the dark.  Mead ferments best at room temperatures.  Depending on the style beer does better in cooler temperatures.

Obviously at this point I have a ways to go before I have anything I can drink, but it is interesting to think that it is possible to make our own beverage. Is it something we all need to do?  Of course not, but it is kind of interesting to try once.  Besides if it turns out to be something you enjoy drinking and enjoy doing, why not?


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