I’m back! By popular demand. Well, maybe not popular demand, but Johns’ demand. No, it’s not a typo. There are two Johns that have been pushing for me to get back into brewing. The John that you all know and love “The Truth Bomb” and Jon the co-worker.
I started home brewing around 1993 and somewhere in earliest part of the 21st century I introduced John to home brewing. Being involved in my kids’ activities made me very much a part timer and once my youngest got involved in scouting my weekends were filled with camping and many week days with meetings. Now that my son is in his last year and things are winding down, I figured it was time to get the brew flowing again.
John had requested that I do a Mead to start things off and perhaps have it a future LA Ale Works or Bierkast event. For that those of you that are not aware of what mead is, it’s one of the first known alcoholic beverages. A true mead is made with nothing but honey, water and yeast. So for all you with intolerances to Gluten, Drink up!
Since I had given away all my home brewing equipment years ago, off to the Home Brew store I went. New buckets, bottle filler, hydrometer, oxygenator, caps, the works. A lot has changed in the years I’d been out of brewing and the techniques for making mead have as well. The first patch of mead I brewed back in the late 90’s spent a year in the fermenter and a year conditioning in the bottle. New ideas and techniques stolen from wine making indicate fermentation time could be as little as 3 weeks. We’ll have to see about that. It sounds too good to be true.
One of the new techniques is to not heat or boil the must (“must” is the “wort” of mead making). Since there is no starch to convert to sugar, no need to heat other than to pasteurize and kill off any bacteria that may be in the honey. Not only does this kill off bacteria but it also kills off flavor.
I’m going to live dangerously and take the no heat, no boil, all flavor approach.
For my welcome back batch I am using 15 pounds of Honey, that’s 1.5 gallons of sugar in a 5 gallon batch. If you do the math it’s only 3.5 gallons of water. I chose a Dry Mead Yeast that is alcohol tolerant to 18%. Yee Haw! The WYEAST I purchased had a nutrient pack built in, but I needed to break the seal and wait for the package to swell. 7 hours later I was ready to begin.
This was not a formal Bierkast event and with both Johns busy, I was on my own. Oh wait, I still have a kid in the house. Paging Nicholas to patio. It’s never too early to learn. With Nicholas came Dharma his cat.
With my fine young apprentice and Dharma under foot, we began mixing the water and honey. With all the honey in the fermenter, I added some YeastEX (It’s like Flinstones Complete for yeast). Take care of the yeast and it will take care of you. I took a quick reading on the hydrometer (O.G. 1.130), potential alcohol 15%! Add a minute of oxygen and pitched the yeast. Sealed it up and the waiting begins.
Not having to boil, steep and cool really cuts down on the time. We were finished in about 30 minutes. Why didn’t I have time for this? The mead started to slowly bubble 4 hours after the yeast was pitched and continues to bubble. Stay tuned for more updates!
– Mike M.