The start of “brewing season” is almost upon us. Brewing season is that time of year when temperatures fall low enough to allow most homebrewers to ferment ales with little or no active temperature control. James and I have got a bit of a jump on brewing season with some recent brewdays. Here’s what we are working on right now. What are you brewing?
I made my first country wine a few weeks ago, and posted the recipe here on Beer and Wine Journal. The wine was made with a mix of cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and some grape juice concentrate. It started at around SG 1.075, and should yield a 10% ABV wine if it ferments to dryness (around SG 0.9996 — and yes, wines can drop below SG 1.000). The fermentation took off quickly once the yeast was pitched. I punched the fruit down everyday and the fruit smelled great each time. When I racked it to secondary, it was a dark red color. It looks like it has almost fallen clear and I will bottle it soon, after back sweetening it to semi-sweetness.
I also made a cherry mead last week, from a recipe I formulated to work well for beginning mead makers. (Plus, I like cherries.) This one should come in at around 12% ABV. I punched the cherries down the first few days, when I was adding the staggered nutrient additions, then just let it go. It is still fermenting, although it has slowed down a bit. Once it stops, as indicated by airlock activity, I’ll let it sit a week or two, then rack it to a carboy.
And finally, I brewed my porter recipe that I have tweaked over the years. I brewed an all-grain version of this, scaled down to 3 gallons (11 L) and using a 3-gallon (11-L) beverage cooler as a mash/lauter tun. The thing I like about my porter is the overall balance. The malt, hops and body of the beer all come together to make a nice beer. Plus, the slightly minty Northern Brewer hops work great with the chocolatey dark grains. This fermented and is still sitting in the primary fermenter. I foresee some keg cleaning over this holiday weekend.
James recently brewed a saison, using ingredients he had sitting around his brewery and a packet of Danstar Belle Saison yeast he got at this year’s National Homebrewers Conference. He brewed the beer using the brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) method. The beer fermented nicely and he racked it to secondary, and noted that the yeast gave a beer a nice, Belgian-style spiciness.