Thursday Born

The everyday life of a medical student (who was born on a Thursday).

Homebrew is good for the soul

with 2 comments

I started two batches of mead today.

Almost a year and a half ago, I picked up home brewing. Liqueurs are really simple and easy to make, and until today were all I’d experimented with (peppermint, almond and coffee. And a batch of limoncello that was way too strongly infused and too much trouble to cart half-way across the country).

I was content with liqueurs and there’s still a wide world of experimentation left (I would love to make coffee liqueur with real beans instead of the instant stuff, and I want to try limoncello again), until I discovered mead. Mead was something I’d heard about but had no concrete or accurate concept of beyond knowing it was a type of alcohol.

So when my boyfriend and I ordered a dessert sampler at a bar ( a chocolate bar, to be precise), I wasn’t expecting anything in particular and certainly nothing delicious from the glass of mead that came with it.

It was delicious! Sweet and faintly alcoholic. A nice, subtle flavor that I didn’t initially realize was honey.  I tried to ask for the brand but the staff was completely unhelpful. Months later I decided to try to find some mead to buy on my own, but instead of finding links of where to buy mead, I kept finding links on how to make mead.

Now, I love to make things. As a kid, I would read books on how to do all sorts of craft and science projects that I had no hopes of ever carrying out due to living in a third world country with limited resources at hand (admittedly, this did not stop me from improvising and trying).  Now, as an adult (how strange to be able to say that), I jump at every plausible and exciting enough chance to try making something new.

So less than two months after realizing that mead is makeable, here I am, with two gallons of mead sitting in my kitchen pantry, fermenting away. They should be drinkable in two months, but I think I’ll just take a little bit off each batch to taste, and then store the rest away to age for at least 6 months to a year. I might gift small bottles to my parents and to my boyfriend’s father this summer, with instructions to wait a few months  before opening them.

Home brewing takes supplies, and quite a number of them. It also takes a fair amount of money. The honey alone for this cost me about $20 (there’s about 2- 3 lbs leftover. Bought 10, needed 7, failed at measuring accurately), and that was really cheap honey. Thankfully though, most of the costs are just start up costs that won’t be recurring (although if I decide I ever want to make 3 or 5 gallon batches, that will cost me about $30-$50 more, because 1 gallon bottles are only $7, but bigger bottles cost more than just 3X or 5X the volume). There are also costs incurred when you want to bottle your results.  I think I’ll be using 375ml screw top wine bottles.

Everything but the oranges before I started brewing. There’s an extra 1 gallon bottle that I got just in case, and the brown bottles are for liqueur storage later. The auto siphon won’t be useful for about two months, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to using the hydrometer.

I used a recipe called Joe’s Ancient Orange and Spice Mead, which is supposed to be fool prof and a great newbie recipe, if you follow the instructions. I almost but not quite followed the instructions. I have no idea exactly how much honey I added or if I added equal amounts to each bottle, I put the yeast in before the bottles were room temperature, and although in one bottle I put the orange in whole, in the other bottle, I peeled off the zest, then cut it up, and then peeled off and discarded the pith.

Wow this was a long post. Honestly, I could babble on, but I’m cutting myself off. 🙂 I need to eat dinner and I need to actually pay attention to the lecture I’m playing over my bluetooth earphones ( only $24!  I can now cook and listen to lectures even if my roommate is studying in the living room!)

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Written by Aba

March 3, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. i think more precisely if your roommate is giggling uncontrollably in the living room due to strange thoughts boiling in her head caused by delirium caused by her problem sets/studying. 😀

    Shanchan

    March 4, 2010 at 2:56 am


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