Archive for January, 2018

MEAD#9 – Orange Blossom

This honey has been sitting in a corner of my house for a long time now, and finally got it together to make a batch of mead with it before it goes out of date! (Honey goes out of date??) I’m using 14 x 340g jars of Tesco Finest Orange Blossom honey, which will finish with some residual sweetness hopefully. In 12 litres of must, it should have a target alcohol of >15%. But the idea is that the Lalvin 71B yeast I’m using to ferment this batch will reach its alcohol tolerance at 14-15% and the yeast will give up the ghost, thereby leaving some sweetness in the mead. At least that’s the theory, this is still a little new to me.

My meads in the past have all fermented out to complete dryness, so after some research, I’ve decided to increase my fermentables considerably in the hope of getting at least a semi-sweet mead.

I’m not sure whether the Tesco honey will result in anything delicious, but it was cheap enough, so I’ll give it a go. The labels says it’s a “Product of Spain and Mexico”. I’d like to split the batch in the two, one half will be a base orange blossom mead, with the second half flavoured with juniper or vanilla.

13/01/2018 Brew Day – very enjoyable afternoon making this mead. This is my first time doing a 12 litre batch. I plan to ferment this in primary as a whole, then split into separate demijohns for aging. I took a gravity reading with my refractometer, but it was off the scale! So it’s over 1.100.

15/02/2018 – This has developed a worrying layer of yeast on top. It’s a little like a film yeast with a couple of bubbles. I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling it a pellicle. Not sure if it’s worth saving. I have been neglecting its progress over the last couple of weeks. Not sure what to do with it now, might be drain pour.

17/02/2018 – Decided to rack this to secondary. If it is infected, it will show up in secondary too, but no sense in chucking it at this early stage, when I’m not sure. Took a gravity reading and it’s down to 1.002. So my strategy of having the yeast crap out hasn’t worked. Either there is some batcterial or wild yeast infection, or my nutrient additions were too generous and helped the yeast go the extra mile. After some reading up, I’ve learned that the alcohol tolerances given by yeast manufacturers are an average and only to be used as a guide. So basically, there’s no guarantee that Lalvin 71B will finish at 15%. More worryingly, when I tasted the sample from the trial jar, I instantly spat it out. Seriously alcoholic. This might mellow out, but will probably take a year or two.

04/03/2018 – No pellicle or signs of infection in the demijohn. It’s been happily bubbling away for the last couple of weeks.

14/03/2018 – Still the occasional bubble through the airlock, but I think this has finally finished fermenting.

AG#88 – ‘Murica Saison


I had some Ardennes yeast in the fridge that I fully expected to go down the plughole, but I decided to do a spur of the moment brew. As my grapefruit saison has thrown up a few challenges, namely finishing high in gravity and (as of writing) struggling to carbonate properly, I thought it would be a good idea to do the same brew again, this time without the grapefruit addition. Plus I was keen to brew an American style saison with some citrussy American hops.

I think I need to have a section in every blog post entitled “Today’s Grainfather Fuck-up”, because I seem to mess up some little detail in every brew I do these days. Today I prepared my mash and sparge water as normal but only when the mash was finished did I notice that I had neglected to plug in my sparge water heater! I should get an award for that kind of stupidity. I hastily decanted about 3 litres of the treated water in the HLT into my kitchen kettle and boiled before adding back to the HLT. It was enough to take the sting out of the cold water but it was barely lukewarm. I feared for my efficiency, but as it turned out, the efficiency was fine.

Batch Size: 23 L
OG: 1.050
Boil Size: 28 L
FG: 1.010
Boil Time: 60 mins
IBU: 22.2
Efficiency: 71%
Colour: 7.5

9% 0.50 Wheat – BE 37.0 3.8
4% 0.20 Munich I (Weyermann) 37.8 14.0
87% 4.70 Pilsner – BE 36.0 3.8

Saccharification Rest 65 50
Mash Out 76 10

38.00 Saaz Pellet Boil 60 3.6 13.8
10.00 Saaz Pellet Boil 10 3.6 1.3
20.00 Amarillo Pellet Boil 10 9.6 7.0
10.00 Styrian Goldings Whole Boil 0 3.6 0.0
20.00 Amarillo Pellet Boil 0 9.6 0.0

1.0 Wyeast Belgian Ardennes 3522 0.74

0.5 each Irish Moss 10 mins Boil

01/01/2018 Brew Day – Uneventful apart from forgetting to heat sparge water, but my gravity came out at 1.050-1.052, so surprisingly a little higher than expected. Wort smells great. Pitched the full amount of yeast slurry as it had been in the fridge for nearly two weeks, which is longer than I normally leave it. I try to use yeast slurry within a week or else it gets dumped. Some would say that’s too cautious, but there you go. Some gentle bubbling on the surface of the wort within 8 hours.

02/01/2018 – A slow and steady stream of bubbles through the airlock now. The weather is so cold, I’m concerned about the yeast flocculating out. I might roll this yeast over again into another saison and add some brett.

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