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Stygian

Quit Your Wine-ing!

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The fabled spring time has come at last. The sun no longer vanishes at 6pm, water has been discovered in it's liquid form, and there is an odd green species of flora forming on my lawn. The end of winter is neigh! Or so I thought, I swapped my tires over to All Season for Spring/Summer and we had a blizzard. I'm starting to think I'll have to pull a Canadian version of Breaking Bad just to afford enough to move somewhere warm

Speaking of meth brewing, I decided to rekindle my long lost hobby of brewing. As it turned out, a broke engineering student makes for an apt pupil. I melded all my useless vital science knowledge to decode the art of brewing. Thermodynamics, biology, and a touch of chemistry, is all you need to turn water into wine. I stopped myself from learning to distill, even though I know I could pull it off flawlessly. Thermodynamics and steam is a good chunk of what I had to study for my current job (I'm a Power Engineer or Stationary Engineer in the US). That said, I will revisit my choice later in life when I'm more crotchety and have only a couple decades left on the clock lol

Before I go on. A PSA for the people underage in this forum: don't drink, let your liver fully mature before giving it a thrashing. You'll have the rest of your life to drink, no need to rush into it.

All booze has the same basic principle: sugar solution + yeast + anaerobic environment = Ethanol. I worked a few OT shifts at my old security job (while at school) to buy all the equipment I needed. I saw a recipe for mead, and decided it was the easiest to try first. All I needed was a 4L (1gal) jug of mineral water, honey, birthday balloons, and some yeast. I batched it all up as per the recipe and then let it finish fermenting for about a month. I remember being absolutely thrilled at trying out my brew. I poured a bit into a tumbler, swirled it, and took a sip. It had the complex flavour profile of acetone and burning rubber. It was this day I learned that mead needs to age before it actually doesn't taste like printer ink. Having more dignity than currency to loose, I cut it with something sweet and downed it with my best friend. It was not my finest hour.

I eventually got better at it, and it became sort of an art. I learned how to make beer using kits, sparkling cider, wine, and coolers. My crowning achievement has to be coolers. I was at the height of my success and thought to challenge myself. I wanted to know just how cheap I can make booze, in the loosest sense. As it turned out, I made about 9L of pre-cut coolers for about $20. My friends came to give it the nickname Hobo Wine, but it was far more potent than regular coolers. The trick was let yeast break down a sugar solution, and then flavour the hobo wine using tea bags in smaller containers. All you need to do is cut if with sparkling water and you're in business!

If people are interested I can get more into the brewing instructions, but I left it vague intentionally.

I found a couple bottles of a batch of mead I made 6-7 years ago. The flavour profile was really good. It had complex notes of fruits, spices, and wine. I'm very much thinking I will get back into the hobby. I still have all my gear, so it's just a matter of doing the work. I think I'll brew 10 gal of beer, 5 gal sparkling cider, 5 gal of wine, and 5 gal of mead. I might even make a batch of hobo wine for old time's sake. that'll leave me set for a long while. The wine and mead will take a long time to age, so it'll be beer and hobo wine for summer. It shouldn't cost too much either. Two beer kits, 1 cider kit, 1 pale of wine juice, and some honey, should only cost a couple day's worth of OT. I'm house-poor thanks to my mortgage, but I'm in waaaaaay better shape than my old college days. Should be good summer filled with bonfires and booze. I can't wait!

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Comments

  1. Winston's Avatar
    I brew quite a bit myself. Most of my wines and meads get really dry and lose their sweetness. Playing around with different yeasts has helped. a little.
    I am working on a small-batch of dandelion wine. This one might work.
    Luckily, I make better beer, which is what I enjoy most. I'm even growing hops now. If you ever want to compare notes, PM me.
  2. Stygian's Avatar
    If your wine/mead is too dry, it means the yeast did not have enough food. It's all about chemical equilibrium. The yeast will eat X amount of sugar/honey/etc and will keep doing so until the ethanol concentrations increase. When it increases they will work slower, but will keep converting the sugars to alcohol. It works like a feedback loop. After a time, the brew will hit an equilibrium where the yeast will find it too hard to keep eating sugar based off how much alcohol is in the solution.

    There is two solutions I know of:

    1) Over saturate your must/sugar solution to have the reaction stop due to too much ethanol, aka yeast maxed out its yield
    2) Use an after sweetener to make it better prior to bottling.

    I prefer to play with option 1 as it's easy to add more water to upset the equilibrium if too sweet and make the yeast get back to work. Your final product will be sweet and will need Potassium Sorbate. Option 2 is only for those that have the confidence in their chemical supplier to ensure the sweetening agent is inert. If it isn't and you bottle, they will blow up and sadness will rain down on your floor.

    I'm about 4 scotches in, so I'm hoping this is somewhat coherent. I'll PM you tomorrow or Monday. I think you should try making a batch of hobo wine to learn the dark arts of Alcohol-chemestry. I always learn something new with each batch.

    If I had the space for the additional gear, I would love to make my own wort for beer. Unfortunately i'm stuck with the kits, but I do hack them by using quality yeast, and I hop everything once it's in the secondary fermenter (Carboy). My favorite beer to date is a Munich Dark Lager that I hopped with Cascade hops. Bold flavours with a light citrus scent.
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