Such neglect!

For just about everything except the mead.

There’s a new batch of peach mead in secondary, thanks to a neighbor and her amazing find of orchard peaches.  I mean, what else was I going to do with 15 lbs of peaches?

I’m testing it tomorrow before Thanksgiving dinner and hopefully, it will be ready to bottle in the spring.

Longer mead post soon, promise.

Hibiscus Mead

Great news. I started a batch of hibiscus mead, based off a recipe I tried last summer. That one turned out a bit too sweet, so I cut back on the honey this time around.

It’s had a nice, fast ferment so far. You can taste the hibiscus.  It’s not so overwhelmingly sweet you want to run for the hills.

The hard part is going to be letting it rest in secondary long enough to mellow out and really be drinkable.  It will be an exercise in patience!

(Temporarily) Unemployed

Six weeks of unpaid furlough is one of the deals that came with my job.  It’s not terrible, because other than the not getting paid part, I can pretty much use the time to do whatever I want.  I do split the time up so I don’t have all six weeks at once.  It’s a nice break after what happens here in the summer, too.

The other downside is having all that work waiting for me when I get back.

Screw it, I’m on (unpaid) vacation.  Not thinking about work for 4 weeks, damnit.  Booze and being lazy.

Have some flowers.
Here, have a random picture of yellow flowers.

Another bonus to furloughs?  Road trips.  Griffin and I did around 5300 miles in 2014, before he retired.  We hit 17 states, both coasts, a bunch of National Parks, and got to hang with some cool people.  I also had to replace two windshields on the Jeep, but hey.  Thank you State Farm?  Yes.  Thank you, State Farm.

2015 was occupied with a new puppy.  This fall, I’m flying back east to visit family instead of driving because Griffin isn’t able to travel in my Jeep.  Old dogs don’t mix well with narrow spaces in cars.  I’m kicking around the idea of getting a beater van in the spring to head out to Olympic National Park and Highway 101.

A badass sunset
Oregon rules

That’s one of the reasons why.  Also, Oregon’s beaches are 100% public access.  None of that bullshit with the private beaches… you can go anywhere.  And you can drink on the beach.  There’s just no way this could go wrong.  I’d throw a futon mattress in the van, for Griffin to stretch out on, and hook Viking’s crate up too.  He’s a jerk, because 9 month old puppies tend to be jerks, and would probably see how car seats tasted if I left him loose.

If I can have Griffin be comfortable in the car, then another trip out to the coast might be possible.  It’s not as far as driving back east.  He wouldn’t have to jump into a van the way he would into the Jeep.  Still, he calls the shots.   If he can handle it and wants to go, then we’ll do it.  His unofficial birthday is April 14th and he’ll be 11+ at that point.  The 14th was his shelter intake date and 11 is his estimated age.  Old man dog gets to choose, though.  He loved the beach, as long as his feet didn’t get too close to the ocean.  I’d like to do one more trip for him to enjoy, if he’s up to it.

Shit I’m doing on furlough, other than crashing on my sister’s couch for a week-

I’m putting in 5 gallons of mead today and another 5 when I find more honey that I like.  Also doing a 1-2 gallon repeat batch of hibiscus mead and aging it.  We liked it this summer and it was drinkable after 8 weeks.  A bit on the sweet side and could probably use some aging, so I’m going to experiment.  Oh, and possibly have 1-2 gallons of mead to take on a road trip in the spring.

National Novel Writing Month.  One month, write 50,000 words.

Doctors.  Shopping for winter.  Errands.  All that jazz.  Since our roads close in about a month and my only way out during the winter is one of these:

 

Drive it like you stole it. (Kidding) (No really)
Drive it like you stole it. (Kidding) (Honest)

Assuming we get snow.  There would usually be snow on the ground by now, but a combo of climate change and a second El Nino year means we’re getting punched in the junk twice this year.  I kid you not, I live at 8,000 feet and it’s 55 degrees out today.  At the end of October.

WTF is this?  I like winter.

Anyway, time to go get started on 5 gallons of mead.  It should be ready to go by June.

 

Caramel Apple Mead

I do think I need to try this:

Recipe Type: Extract
Yeast: Lalvin K1v1116
Yeast Starter: yes
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: 1.120
Final Gravity: 1.010
IBU: n/a
Steep Time (Minutes): 45
Color: golden brown
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 15 days at 68F
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 35 days at 68F

4 Gallons apple juice
2 lbs DME
3 lbs 60L Crystal malt
7 lbs Orange blossom honey
2 lbs clover honey
2 lbs buckwheat honey
2 vanilla beans

Steep grains in 1.5 gallons of apple juice at 155F for 45 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in the DME and honey. Rinse grain sack with 1/2 gallon apple juice. Add the remainder of the apple juice. Aerate by vigorous stirring for at least five minutes. Aerate some more. I now use oxygen with a diffuser stone to aerate (better). Pitch yeast starter (hydrated with Go Ferm per container instructions) directly into the primary (plastic pail fitted with an air lock).

At about 1.075 add 5g Fermaid K
At about 1.035 add 5g Fermaid K
(Dissolve your nutrients in water before adding them to your must. This helps to minimize foam.)

Within about two weeks this should ferment out to 1.012 or so. Rack to secondary and add vanilla beans. Allow to remain in the secondary for about a month.

Rack again onto 1 lb of buckwheat honey and 1/4t potassium metabisuphite or 5 campden tabs and 2 1/2t potassium sorbate to stabilize. Add Super Kleer to clarify. Bulk age for six months to a year before bottling.

I adapted this recipe from one I saw on gotmead.com. Mine is about 14 months old and tastes just like caramel apples. It’s a medium sweet mead that’s very drinkable. At about 13.75% alcohol and no alcohol bite one should exercise caution since it goes down so smoothly.

((Credit goes to SummerSolstice on Homebrewtalk Mead Forums.

Original post (and 21 pages of comments with brewing tips) is here.))

 

Got Mead?

Last year, I got hooked on homebrewing mead.  Before I moved out to Wyoming from Virginia, I’d picked up a do-it-yourself mead kit from the Maryland RenFaire.  It seemed simple enough.  Toss honey, water, and the yeast packet and spices that came with the kit into a 1 gallon jug and let it ride.  The one downside?  If you’re not careful about keeping things sanitized, and I wasn’t, you’ll wind up getting mold and other goodies in there.

That batch went into the trash.  I still wanted to brew my own mead, so I figured I’d go about doing things the correct way.  I got a book, hit the interwebs, and bought some supplies.  Fast forward a year and I’ve got several batches going, three that I’ve bottled, and I now have a slightly better idea about what I’m doing.  I’ve also screwed up a few times.  I created bottle bombs and brewed a batch with buckwheat honey that’s been nicknamed the shitty buckwheat mead.  That one, I’m hoping will be good after it’s aged.  For a very, very long time.  I took some advice from an experienced meadmaker and put those bottles in a closet.  I’ll check on them again after a year if I remember.  Or maybe when I move and find some bonus mead in the closet that I’d managed to forget about.

Needless to say, I’m by no means an expert.  Every time I start something up, I wind up on a forum like GotMead or the Mead facebook group with questions. The best advice I can give about mead is go listen to someone who knows what the fuck they’re doing.  Experiment on your own, too.

Because homebrewing is great.  You can make some very good stuff while saving a shitload of money at the same time.  Startup costs can run over $150, depending on what you buy, but most of it is a one time purchase.  Also why it’s important to get a carboy tote, so you don’t drop your 6 gallon carboy on the floor.  That lesson I learned from someone else’s mistake.

Here’s what I started with:

  • 6 gallon carboy
  • Food-grade plastic bucket for primary fermentation
  • Airlocks
  • Star-San sanitizer
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer
  • Stock pot (found this one at a thrift shop)
  • Wine bottles (cheap to buy at a brewshop, you can also save your own)
  • Corks (buy decent ones, esp. if you’ll be leaving it in bottles for a long time)
  • Wine corker
  • Yeast energizer and nutrient
  • Siphon

That got me started.  Some vendors sell wine-making kits that are sometimes cheaper than buying things individually.  I reuse wine bottles too.  Once they’re empty, wash and sanitize, and they’re ready to go.

My five gallon batch yielded 21 bottles.  I’ve heard some people get more than that, but not all of the mead made it into a bottle.  You have to sample it, after all.  Around here, decent mead sells for 12-18 dollars a bottle.  And no, I’m not talking about Chaucer’s.  I’m sure I’ll do more ragging on Chaucer’s in the future, but suffice to say that mead should not taste like jacked up cough syrup and if you’re paying six bucks a bottle… well, sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Anyway.  Average it out to fifteen bucks a bottle, and I made over $300 worth of mead for a startup cost of around $150.  After you get all of your initial gear, the most expensive part will be buying honey.   Honey will also be in a future post, since it’s kind of important.

Hibiscus mead, two different plain honey meads.
Hibiscus mead, three different plain honey meads.

Since then, I’ve added 3 gallon and 1 gallon glass carboys, and spices.  The most recent purchase was a 5 gallon plastic one for an experiment to see if there’s any taste difference between glass and plastic.  For science!

Some good places to get started:

GotMead’s guide to making mead

Storm the Castle’s mead tutorial and videos

Homebrewer’s 5 tips for making better mead

GotMead Forums

HomebrewTalk Mead Forum

Two dogs and a lot of rum

Greetings.  I’ve had quite a few people tell me I should blog, and I figured now was a good time to bite the bullet and do it.

Expect to find any topic I’m in the mood to write about.  Dogs, rum, hiking, parks, coffee, homebrew mead, fish, writing, Jeeps, more rum, more dogs.   Depending on how things go, or how much I’ve had to drink, I’ll venture into the twin shitstorms of politics and religion.  Those two things are best discussed with friends and booze… or on a blog, where you can say whatever the hell you want and moderate the comments for any fuckery.

What else should I mention?  The dogs, probably, since they’re generally awesome and half of the reason why the blog is called Rumhounds.  Mead is my other interest, but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.  Internet isn’t fast enough for photos right now, but I’ll get them posted eventually.

There’s Griffin, who’s somewhere around 10-11ish, and a sweet ol’ couch potato disguised as a Doberman.  Best dog.

And Viking, who’s an 8 month old German Shepherd.  Definitely not a couch potato.  Usually sweet unless you’re a small mammal, a tug toy, or a sock.  Best puppy.

We live in Wyoming, where I work in a park, homebrew mead, and mess around with writing.  Also blog… which I intend to do on a regular basis.  I have to admit that it’s a good way to let friends and family know what’s going on and a very nice platform for me to ramble on about random topics.