Thirsty Mallard Brewing – The Blog

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Archive for February, 2014

Mead Update – 2/26/2014

Posted by Jeff on February 27, 2014

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have gotten into meads, lately.

Honestly, I really like their ease of brewing (add honey to water, shake, pitch yeast. Boom.)  Now I am just trying to find that recipe that makes a mead I like drinking as easily.  I brew them in 1-2 gallon batches.  I find this gives me the flexibility to find the type of mead I want to make.

Let’s see… first I made a standard mead.  Just  a regular 1.100 with Lalvin D-47.  Just to see what it would do.

Then I made a test Cyser.  Honey added to 1 gallon of apple juice.  1.098 with Lalvin D-47.  Just to see what cyser tastes like.

Next I brought back some honey from Nova Scotia after the wife and I took a Canadian cruise.  I wanted to make this one to see what flavor impacts a local honey can have to a finished mead.  The honey was very buttery and smooth.  Quite floral, as well.  True to form, the mead seems to be taking on some of those great qualities, as well.  (Side note, I also added about 4 oz. of pure maple syrup.  Because Canada.)

After that I made a cucumber mead.  Standard mead using processed mini-cucumbers.  It sounded interesting and I wanted to test how it would blend with my jalapeno mead (to make a cucumber jalepeno mead).

Finally, just recently, I made an apple pie mead.  Tallow honey and apple cider with a secondary fermentation on apple pie spices.  I also added some sugar to add some complexity.  After primary it tasted pretty good.  I’m excited to see what some age and spices can do to it.  It came out to 16%, which I am pretty happy with.

Now I still have a bucket of honey to play with, and I’m contemplating what to do with it.  I’m thinking of an oatmeal raisin cookie mead aged on rum soaked oak chips.

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Update – 2/26/2014

Posted by Jeff on February 27, 2014

True to form… 6 months and I remember to update this blog.  Onward and upward…

Ok, where did I leave off last time… Ducktoberfest.  It didn’t turn out.  Had a fermentation issue that made the finished beer taste like I blended it with some butterscotch candies in secondary.  I powered through about 6 pints before I called it and announced the time of death.  Poured one (keg) out for the dead homies.

Ok, after that I made a beer which was inspired by Heretic’s Evil Twin.  I use the term “inspired” very lightly, because I’m certain the folks at Heretic wouldn’t want whatever that was that I brewed being associated with Evil Twin.  No fermentation issues this time.  But I think hop and malt substitutions destroyed whatever it is I was trying to make.  It found it’s way to the sewer as well, although I was able to kill half a keg.  Usually when I had already been drinking and really didn’t care about flavor anymore.

After that second failed beer I was starting to really hate my brewing self.  Nothing can quite put you out of the mood to brew like screwing up consecutive batches.  Well, then I decided I was going to make a Brown Sugga Clone.  I love that beer and have wanted to brew it for a while now.  Also, my homebrew club was doing a group buy on 5 gallon whiskey barrels from Balcones Distilling, and I figured that a 10% beer like that would be a perfect whiskey barrel beer.   So, I bought the ingredients, and thought about it, and came to the realization that I was really going to need a lot more yeast to really get this 10% beer fermented.  I figured I really should use the yeast do a small beer first, then pitch that yeast cake.  So, since the yeast was an English strain, I opted for one of my favorite (or favourite) styles, bitter.

Which brings us to the ESB.  I brewed it.  Fermented it.  Kegged it.  Then waited for my inevitable failure.  Alas, I was disappointed!  The beer wasn’t just good, it was damn good!  My faith in myself was, at least temporarily, restored!

So now I have the yeast and ingredients for the 10% beer… aaaaaand I get lazy and don’t brew it.  And then my daughter is born.  If you have never had a child then you probably don’t understand the sheer lack of willpower (or time) you have to do anything when tending to a newborn.  And so the ingredients sat.  And sat.  And sat.  3 months later, I finally brewed it.

Let’s explain some of the fun.  First, the ingredients are all old, at this point (they also got nibbled on by mice).  I forgot to put my false bottom in the mash tun, so after the mash, I had to dump out the grain, install the bottom, put the grain back, and then recirculate.  Needless to say, the beer is a bit cloudy.  Then, before my boil, I checked the gravity and found I was quite a bit low.  So I threw in as much DME as I had on hand to get it closer to where it needed to be.  Then I looked on the boil additions and realized I forgot to add the brown sugar.  Which would explain why the gravity was staggeringly low… and now it would be staggeringly high.  So… sugar in.  Check gravity.  Dilute back down to where I am supposed to be.  Then I let it boil for 15 minutes to help get all my number right, then threw in my 60 minute hops.  Wait… this sheet says first hops go in at 90 minutes.  This is supposed to be a 90 minute boil.  Of course it is.  Glad I just wasted time and boiled that extra 15 minutes.

The rest of the brewday went fine.  Relatively speaking.   Beer went into the carboy and the growler full of yeast went in.

The next evening I had expected the growler of yeast to cause an explosive fermentation of this 1.097 bomb.  It was not.  Mind you, the yeast is now 3 months old (although it was washed and kept at 31F.  So, to recap.  Old ingredients, mash issues, boil issues, fermentation issues.  I am curious to see if this will be an abomination, drinkable, or miraculously fantastic.

So that’s the beer update.  I have more on the mead front, but this post has been long, so I’ll wrap it up.

Until next time!  (I’m putting a button on my Favorites toolbar, so hopefully I won’t continue to forget)

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