Fun With Honey


#1

Say what you will about XPY, but it does have a couple of neat uses. One of them is through @PexPeppers (link), purveyors of the finest of sauces that will make you pray for the sweet release of death. They also do a booming business in fresh, farm grown, high quality honey.

Honey has far more utility than XPY. In addition to being the best possible topping for cornbread, it’s a natural antiseptic, sealing agent, and can even help with a hangover (this will be relevant in a moment). Properly treated, however, it can also be made into a rather strong alcoholic beverage. This, of course, is my primary interest in the substance. :smile:

I recently acquired 5lbs of @PexPeppers’ wildflower honey, and set about to converting it from nature’s near-perfect food, into mankind’s perfect drink. First, the tools of the trade:

Back row, left to right: StarSan (sanitizer), cinnamon sticks, honey, oranges, carboy (fermentation vessel, sealed against dust)
Front row: Yeast nutriment, yeast energizer, brew journal, bung, airlock, hydrometer (for measuring alcohol content)

And last, but not least, the yeast:

Contrary to popular belief, you can make alcohol with bread yeast, available at any grocery store, but surprise, it tastes like bread at the end. Wine or champagne yeast is available online, or at your local home brew store, usually for under $1.

Honey is very thick, and filled with all sorts of complex sugars. Mere mortal yeast have a hard time acclimating to it - one of the reasons that honey never goes bad. Adding a teaspoon each of yeast nutriment and energizer gives the yeast that get-up-and-go boost it needs to break the complex sugars down. Like coffee, for microorganisms.

My fancy, high-bred store bought yeast has competition, however, in the form of wild yeast. It’s all around us, all the time. It can be used to brew (as was done before humans knew what microorganisms were, and fermentation was considered a form of magic), but the final flavors it produces are pretty unreliable. I want only my yeast doing the fermenting, so I sanitize all of my equipment using StarSan. 1/2 oz of StarSan in a 10 quart bucket of water does the trick nicely, and 20 seconds contact with this solution kills off any wild beasts that may be living on my equipment.

Making honey wine, or mead, is actually very easy. It’s as simple as mixing all the ingredients together, and waiting awhile:

Mashing up oranges. I think I got more on the counter and the floor than I got in the measuring cup. I’m using a total of 1 cup of juice, unstrained. I could have used off-the-shelf juice, but here in Florida, it’s actually less expensive to just buy oranges.

3lbs, 10oz of Dr. Pecks finest, and a tablespoon each of nutriment and energizer.

Add orange juice and a cinnamon stick, for flavor. This should give a nice, spicy, warm flavor for those cold winter nights.

Topping it up with water. This will be a 1 gallon batch. Brewing purists boil their water first, or use bottled water, but I’ve never had a problem using plain old tap water. I shake it until the honey stops separating from the water. This takes awhile. Afterward, in go the yeast.

Taking a small sample, for science! It’s tough to see in the picture, but I make the original gravity to be 1.140. I’ll take another sample once fermentation is complete, and by comparing these two numbers, I’ll be able to tell what the alcohol content is. If this batch ferments anything like previous batches, it should wind up in the 16% ABV range.

All mixed up, with the bung and airlock in place. Those yeast are going to have quite a party in that carboy, and create a lot of carbon dioxide that will need to escape (or the bottle will explode). At the same time, those nasty wild yeasts would love to get in and settle down, and I want to keep them out. The airlock solves both problems handily.

Pretty maids, all in a row. The mead is on the left. On the right, 2 gallons of my own Belgian saison (beer) recipe, almost ready for bottling. Behind, a gallon of red wine that I suspect will turn out to be crime-against-humanity levels of awful, but I’m content to let it sit and see what happens. The mead will sit here until April or May, and which point I’ll rack (siphon) it over to a clean bottle to get rid of that sediment cake you can see in the beer. After that, it will sit until November or December. At that point, it’s ready to drink, but mead gets better with age. I’ll bottle it, have a few samples (for science!), take the second gravity reading, and put it in the closet for those cold, Florida winter nights. :smile:


Bitcointalk down
#2

That’s amazing!


#3

Oh damn that’ll be good.
Honestly Skyrim did it to me - there’s nothing like getting tipsy as ■■■■ and playing Skyrim for hours (whilst drinking mead in game like a meadception :0 )


#4

Shame you don’t live in the UK, I’d pay you to send me some of the mead for a taster. Never knew Americans knew mead existed, to be honest.

One of my old friends made some cider recently, with a lot of cinnamon flavouring. Didn’t personally enjoy it, as not a cider drinker, but everyone else seemed to think it was ok. Always intrigued me watching people create their own alcohol, even if I’ve never been inclined to try it myself :slight_smile:


#5

Looks god Quig…can you ship it? there might be some XPY in it for you :slight_smile: I would say BTC but I am BTC broke right now.


#6

from time to time, I get some nice honey from one of our neighbours and simply pour a glass or so into a bottle of high voltage, clear, white Schnapps (made from grain) and shake till it dissolves.

Nothing better to treat a sore throat or a lucid or depressed mind.


#7

It can be shipped, but online alcohol sales are a minefield in the US. Home and craft brewers do “bottle swaps” all the time, but they aren’t allowed to charge more than shipping cost for it. If you’re still interested when it’s ready, I’ll send you a sample. :smile:

Brewers know about it, and we have a few varieties available commercially. It gets kind of a bad name over here, because the “mead” available in stores is utterly foul stuff - super high ABV, no flavor, basically honey-colored vodka. Nothing whatsoever like the “nectar of the gods” of lore. :smile:


#8

Great fun informing thread! I have tasted yeasty homebrews before. Never though to ask em if they used store bought yeast but that would make sense.


#9

Thank you!

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of the yeast, but it really does make a huge difference. The right yeast can make the difference between a decent brew, and a great one, regardless of the other ingredients. :smile:


#10

Just awesome buddy! Sure looks a little gross but I’m sure once it aged it will be delicious :slight_smile:


#11

Im not a big alcohol fan, but the whole process is so interesting… Keep posting steps (like when you switch bottle) The slow transformation process from a muddy looking goo to drinkable alcohol… Good thread. Nice to read.


#12

I did the actual brewing about a week ago. This morning, it was still bubbling pretty actively, but it’s now bright, chalky lemon yellow in color. I’m interested to see what color it will turn as it clarifies. :smile:


#13

I know how it goes…reminds me…in a commercial vehicle if I wanted to buy some form of alcohol for personal use later at home I had to make a BoL with the product on it showing I am shipping to myself to be within the “law” I know …ridiculous. Depending on the state I was rolling thru is how serious I took it if I had some beverage


#14

It is kinda cool huhh


#15

Another picture, 5 days later. As you can see, the yeast are chugging away, and the color is a bit more appealing now. :smile:


#16

OOPS you meant drinking fun. :slight_smile:


#17

Similar thought :slight_smile:

Fun with Honey

inmage


#18

A little from column A, a little from column B…


#19

Dude I want some!! That looks great.
PexPeppers is a kick as business and guy that is for sure.
His recent youtube video showing his plants was neat.


#20

I racked the mead into a clean carboy a couple of weeks ago, and got a few more pictures to share!

After several months of sitting, the mead had clarified substantially, and changed colors several more times.

That layer of gunk at the bottom is referred to as the “trub”. It’s comprised primarily of dead and dormant yeast, and any brewing ingredients that don’t break down during fermentation (in this case, orange pulp and a cinnamon stick). “Racking” is the process of siphoning the mead into a clean carboy, to get it off the trub. If I ignore this step, the trub can impart nasty flavors to the mead, or in extreme cases, ruin the whole batch.

Once it’s nice and snug in it’s new home, the mead goes back into the closet. I’ll keep an eye on it, but it shouldn’t need racking again before I bottle it in the fall. The bubbles are from the sanitizing solution I used to clean the carboy.

A better look at the trub. This can actually be washed, and the yeast reactivated and used again. However, it’s a time consuming process, and yeast costs around $2.00 per packet. :smile:

The mead itself. It’s young yet, but very delicious. The cinnamon and orange combines to give it a warmth that will no doubt be perfect for winter celebrations. I look forward to tasting it again in November, once the cinnamon and honey flavors have had more time to mellow. I didn’t take a measurement (I’ll do that at bottling time), but the alcohol content feels a bit higher than I initially expected, maybe 19 or 20%.