Well hello there! The honey beer has finished its main fermentation and has been put in a keg to mellow for a few months before drinking. It’s time to brew some more.
What’s better than a brew day? That’s right double brew day! But wait, that’s not all!
People I bring you Quadruple brew Wednesday!
Hold onto your hats folks things are going to get very sticky. I have a bag of malt, some hops, a barrel of apples and a shedload of honey
If you’re going to try this sort of stunt start with the one that will take the longest and is going to need to sit around for a few hours – the mash.
We’re going continental again with a saison this time – a Belgian style very dry, sharp light beer normally made with pilsner malt but what the hell I’ll go with maris otter pale malt normally used in bitters
1.35.kg maris otter pale
0.5kg wheat malt
300g crystal rye malt
Mashed at 65C for two hours
The hops – 90 min boil
Honey 1kg added once the wort has cooled.
Twelve litres at an OG of 1065
They key thing about saison is that you need to use a saison yeast – I got mine by drinking a lovely bottle of saison, adding the dregs to sugar and water and leaving it to go fizzy.
Whilst that’s mashing it’s time to deal with the apples.
What the hell have apples got to do with honey?
Think of a drink made from apples and I’m willing to bet it’s cider on your mind. If you’re being sly you might go for apple wine but have you ever heard of Cyser?
It’s not quite cider, it’s not quite mead. It’s a drink so lost in the past that I’m not aware of anyone producing commercially.
Take a wild guess at the basic ingredients.
Yep, apples and honey.
Like beer, cyser is a liquid. Apples are solid, if they weren’t Newton might have struggled in his studies. We need to get liquid out of them.
I have a couple of gadgets to help here; a cider press is the obvious one – but you can’t just press whole apples, they need smooshing first for which we need this perfectly safe device – it fits in an electric drill. What could possibly go wrong?
A note to our cousins across the pond here :
I know it comes out of a cider press but what we have here is called “apple juice”, cider is what you get when you add yeast and time. Hard cider is something you guys made up.
Twelve kilos of apples and two hours of chopping and pressing had makes six litres of apple juice. If I was brave I’d let the natural yeasts from the fruit do all the fermenting but I’m not so I’m adding a Campden tablet – a source of sulphite named after Chipping Campden . That’ll keep the wild yeast suppressed giving the yeast I’ll add myself a chance to get established. The honey goes in now. As usual I don’t want to heat it so it gets added cold. Since apple juice already has a load of sugar in it I’m only using 500g of honey- more than that and I’d end up with either something too sweet for my palate or something that could be used to dope horses. I just bought a commercial cider yeast for this one – none of that messing around stealing yeast from bottles.
Two drinks under way and two to go.
On to mead!
Collecting honey leaves a lot of mess stuck to everything, by rinsing the honey extractor I’ve got about a kilo of honey dissolved in water and probably about the same salvaged by washing all the wax cappings from the comb. I don’t want any of this to go to waste and it can help in my pursuit of intoxicating beverages for the lover of bees.
Minimal effort is required for this one. Honey has very little nutrients in it aside from sugar so yeast doesn’t actually do that well on it. I could follow a standard recipe and add raisins or other dried fruit, or throw in a commercial yeast nutrient. Or… I could go ‘sod it’ and use what I have to hand. – Malt.
When I ordered my last batch of brewing stuff I messed up by an order of magnitude and got three kilos of crystal rye malt rather than 300g. It’s a highly roasted malt that doesn’t need mashing and adds colour and a dry caramel-biscuity taste. I also need to use it up. I don’t want it to dominate so I’m steeping just 300g in hot water for twenty minutes and adding it to the honey-water. This gives me seven litres of liquid with an sg of 1080 – a respectable start for a dry mead.
At the moment it’s crawling with all sorts of yeasts and bacteria from the honey, malt and air. I could boil to kill them off but I don’t want to spoil the flavour of the honey so I’m going to pasteurise – heat it to 80C and let it cool down.
Seven litres is too much for one of the traditional demijohns ( they hold five ) so here’s where the fourth drink comes in ( ok I cheated a bit there ) – I’m splitting the batch.
Five litres gets some saison yeast as it ferments very dry and copes with high sugar content. Two litres gets the ‘nothing to loose’ treatment – I also bake bread and I like making sourdough. I wonder what would happen if I used some of my sourdough to ferment honey?
We’re going to find out!
Sourdough cultures usually have a mix of lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast in them. This could go several ways – it could ferment out dry and tart making a refreshing drink, it could ferment part way and stop when the alcohol content gets to great giving me a sweet&sour product – either would be great. It might just go horrible and need to be thrown out, or it might taste ok but turn out to be poisonous ( sourdough bread is cooked after all, this won’t be ). I’ll leave you to guess in which order I’d rank those possibilities.