…Even when the post is about mead, cider, distilling and… fine… beer.
First, the mead!
A little while ago, a buddy o’ mine met a farmer close by who farms lucerne. For those of you who don’t know, it’s used as horse feed ’round these here parts. Anywho, lucerne requires bees, bees make honey, you get where this is going…
He produces about 10kg of honey every 3 months – not enough to sell, but too much to use himself. Buddy o’ pal has wrangled a deal out of him which means that I get the honey to make mead (I know, right?), which he gets a fat bunch of. This means that I get to make hordes of mead to experiment with!
Now, the cider.
Along with the mead I also started my first kit cider for my pansy drinker brother. It has turned out surprisingly decent, and not at all like the cider you can buy in normal shops. It’s not sweet at all, rather being quite sour and dry. It’s also almost finished already… oops.
Penultimately, the still.
I’ve begun chopping it up and fiddling with it. The first step was to figure out a decent way of putting the lid back on once I had chopped it off, which I did. I’m chopping it down to about 40litres, instead of keeping it at 100litres, for both cleaning purposes, and when-would-I-ever-have-100litres-to-distill… purposes. It’s almost done and just needs a bit more tweaking. Doing everything by hand means that there’s a lot of adjusting involved. Also, I had no clue what I was doing when I started chopping… which also lends to the sheer amount of adjusting…
Finally, the beer.
For Carolines birthday gist, I got given a mash tun! for those of you out of the loop, it’s basically where the malt gets soaked in the water. Very specific conditions need to be met while soaking, which is what makes the mash tun special.
So… it’s made from a cooler box which is very clever because you see, one of those very specific conditions is that it must retain temperature very well!. As in, it shouldn’t lose more than a single degree over the course of an hour. Another very specific condition is that it should make it easy to leave malt behind while draining off as much liquid as possible. I can’t speak for how well it does that yet, but it seems like it would do a pretty good job.
Another other pretty cool thing is that it comes with a bit of history: The mash tun was made by Stephan Meyer, the man behind Clarens Brewery who is, I’m told, one of the best brewers in the country (there’s a reason to visit Clarens again). It was passed on to Tony from the Sedgefield Brewery who used it for his experimental brews, and now it’s come to me! Whoo! I think one of the biggest unknown pros is that it came with a teeny-weeny working pump! This solves at least two of my possible problems with the brewing setup I have in mind. Yay me!
More beer things!
I’ve begun crazy experiments! I’ve simultaneously brewed up a batch of banana beer and onion (yes, onion) beer. Now, I don’t mean that I made beer that’s meant to taste a little like banana or onion. I mean that those are the primary ingredients with just a little malt for added sugars. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…. who in their right mind would ferment bananas?! That’s just crazy!
Me, and most of East Africa, apparently. It’s only been in for about a week now, but so far, it’s coming along nicely – it’s incredibly strange and oddly milky, and I’m not too sure about its enjoyability yet. It is still premature! Also… it looks like this:
There was also barley bread made! It was frikkin delicious and rather sweet. All them malty starches that were converted to sugars got to be put to good use, you see.
I wasn’t the one who baked it… I had to work… Never the less, behold! The joint efforts of my brewing, Tanya’s mad baking skillz, and Caroline’s ability to remain sober and coherent!
Oh, yes. So far the onion beer is pretty nasty – but I’m hoping it’ll be good in cooking.