||[Sep. 24th, 2008|01:52 am]
Well... I started my first mead batch today.
I really don't know what to think. You don't really know if you've done it right or not. All you have is 3 quarters of a gallon of something that looks like urine but smells like honey sitting in a glass demi-john. I may provide pictures later.
Anyway, I could give all the stats but I won't, as that would bore most. However, I have discovered some things during the experience:
- A jar of Dunne's Stores honey costs 1.49
- These jars happen to hold just about 250ml of honey (Edit: And they weight 12oz or 341g). This helps to figure out amounts.
- Sterilising everything is a pain. My hands smelled like swimming pools for a while. I'm guessing this isn't friendly to the hands.
- I also discovered at one point that I made far too much must. I decanted some excess into a mug.
- I drank said mug.
- Almost immediately, I regretted it.
- While a drink made on 1 part honey to 3 parts water is delicious, it's also heavy on the stomach
- Several hours later, I still regret it... and I find bits of my hands that are still sticky.
On the other hand, I did make what could be an interesting must... if it goes well. It's a basic honey, water and yeast combo (1 part honey, 3 parts water - of the water, 1 part hot, 2 parts cold) but with a mug of very strong (by which I mean, I wouldn't drink it normally, nor could I expect any sane human to drink it) raspberry, vanilla and rose tea that I bought in Camden (seriously there's a lovely specialty tea shop that Abey led us to - seriously, the 4 of us probably looked like the most unlikely herbal tea drinkers in the shop). I thought it was strong until I added it to the must. Now I'm not so sure. There again, a lot of the sugar in the honey will turn into alcohol, so hopefully the flavours from the tea will make themselves known.
By the way, I'm using wine jargon - "must" just means the material that you intend to ferment. Incidentally, that's also why I'm trying to work out the yeast pun, "they do what we must"... or something similar.
Now that the demi-john is sitting in our spare room, I keep wanting to watch over it and see if anything's happening yet. This is the most difficult part, I've done all I could, so now I have to sit back, see if anything's changed in the next few days, when all I can do is go all Louise Woodward on it once a day to get the CO2 out.
Now, I'm just feeling particularly parental towards it, and wishing I could do more for it; I've already made a nest for it. It's verging on becoming my companion cube, hopefully without the threats to crawl into my bed and stab me in the middle of the night, like that last homebrew wine batch. I want to show people photos, and I want to carry them in my wallet, while showing people stats like its original specific gravity (1.100 for those that care), and what type of yeast it uses (Lalvin EC-1118, Champagne yeast), while talking about the attenuation (which I can't get firm stats on, although it's a very very sturdy yeast, and seems to be a good one to start on) and telling anyone who'll listen how well it's doing. In case you've not figured it out yet, those people are you; I'm sorry, just bear with me and normal programming will resume.
I don't know how I'm managing to write so much on this. I've managed to fit a lot of home-brewing and mead-making trivia into my head, but I can't really talk about a lot of that. The procedure itself was rather simple but tedious. The main point is the anxiety. Did I clean everything enough? Did I do something silly like leave a spoon where I shouldn't, letting it get infected and corrupt the must? Did I pitch the yeast (again, I've been reading too much of this stuff over the past month or so, pitching yeast just means "getting the yeast living and chucking it into the must") when the must was too hot for the yeast to live? I won't be able to see any signs that it's working or not until later, so I'll fret and fuss pointlessly until I know that the yeasty beasties are working their magic.
Yay for non-vegan wine!