Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adventures in homebrewing...

OK - the Day is Here!

No, I am not speaking of the Broncos v. Patroits (aka Tebow v. Brady).  While that game may dominate my house at the moment (Go Tebow!  Let 'Em Go!), this is not what we are speaking of today.

Today for the big homebrewing event!

Now, first to give proper credit - the recipe I based my brew on can be found here, but I will recap my fun below. 

And as you all know from my post earlier in the week, the recipe I used called for glass bottles.  And, as you all know, glass bottles are hard to find these days.  Plastic has taken over our world, and that is not all good.

So, where do we turn, you ask?  The trusty natural foods store, of course.  This was the only place that I could find glass bottles bigger than a beer bottle.  And what were these bottles holding?  Why, Vermont Organic Milk, of course! 

Feel free to cue angels singing...Now!

OK, but to be serious, and get now to business, the first course of action was to free up 2 of those glass bottles.  And my family can only drink so much milk.  So, into holding tanks they went (more about that later) and the now empty bottles had to be cleaned and sanitized.  I know that there was probably fancy ways to sanitize bottles for brewing and I found plenty of products on homebrewing sites, but here, we gotta work with what we got.  Which was bleach.


A small amount went into each bottle, and then we rinsed, rinsed, rinsed...and then rinsed again.  When absolutely no trace of bleach could be smelled, it was time to move forward.

The ingredients for this brew were very simple.  A gallon of unfiltered apple cider, four to six cups of sugar (white and/or brown), bread yeast, and some party balloons (more about that later, too).  The rule of thumb, as I read it, was that the more sugar, the sweeter the brew and the higher the alcohol content.  Now, as a complete novice, I can't vouch for this, but this is what I read.  So, to stick with a middle ground, I decided on 5 cups of brown sugar.

To start, you pour the sugar into a large sauce pan and then add about half of the cider.  Set another cup of cider aside for later.  On a low heat on the stove top, you mix the sugary solution until all of the sugar is dissolved.  This, of course, involves near constant stirring - burning would not be so good.
When the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and let it cool a moment.  Then take the other half of the cider and split it between to the two clean 1/2 gallon containers.  You, of course, do all of this with 1 full gallon container, but I am just working with what I have.

Once the clean containers are each about 1/2 full with the cold cider, add equal parts of the warm ultra sweetened cider to each.  You want to leave about  2-3 inches open at the top, so if you fall short, this is when you use the cider you set aside to top it off. 

And then, it is time to add the yeast.  Just 1/4 teaspoon of yeast into each and it is set. 

All that is left is to get the balloons, rinse them out (cause of the non stick stuff inside), and put a pin prick into each.  The stretch one over the mouth of each balloon.  Now, as the yeast is working its magic, the fermentation will happen, and then the balloon will blow up.  As this happens, gas will be able to escape the pin prick, but no bacteria will get back in.  Simple enough.

And now the work for today is done.  I will just keep an eye on the fermenting brew for the next two to three weeks, making sure that the balloon remains secure.  Then we will "rack" it, and sent aside for another couple of weeks.  Come summer or early fall, we will have our own brew to enjoy!

And, before I forget...we did find a home for all of that milk.  How, you ask?  Well, for cheese, of course!!

1 comment:

  1. I will be watching this carefully, for this is something that I have always wanted to try! I drink apple cider vinegar in water every day, so I think I would like this!! Beautiful honey colour :)


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