Saturday, 23 January 2016

Bottling summer (lilac/pear mead)

In the last couple of years I have discovered a serious love of brewing. I started with a few wine kits (two malbecs and a Syrah) but then I started looking for more information. I didn't just want to follow the instructions, I wanted to know why I did each step and what each ingredient did to the final product. My e-library is mostly useless, but I managed to find a couple of things to read on brewing.
One of those books was True Brews, by Emma Christensen. It's phenomenal! She covers every kind of yeast brewing, from soda through kombucha and beer to wine. She even has recipes for sake!

I've tried a couple of recipes: sparkling cherry wine that I made from cherries I grew in my yard, and chai mead - which has made me realize how much I like dry mead. I always thought I disliked mead, but apparently I just dislike sweet, renfair-style mead. Dry mead is delicious!

This June, we had an amazing profusion of lilacs. Lilacs grow like crazy in my climate, so almost everyone in town has tangles all around their yard. This means that June always smells amazing. I had been doing a bunch of reading about dandelion wine and while I was in my yard, breathing the scent of my favourite flower, I thought "why can't I made something with lilacs?" I decided to try my hand at a lilac mead, using one of the recipes in True Brews as a starting place.

I picked a huge bucket of lilacs, then removed the blossoms from the stems. This was a long, sticky process. I also learned that you should keep the sprays in water so they don't wilt. From about 4 gallons of sprays, I eventually ended up with about 6 quarts of blossoms.

I boiled up 14 cups of water and mixed in 2.5 lbs if honey, then poured it over the blossoms. I let it sit overnight to steep. It smelled.... odd. And it was an incredible pink.

<- Honey

                     Pears ->

I'm not going to post the recipe here as it would mean my straight-up copying Emma's recipe for Blueberry-Lavender Mead with a different fruit and flower (other than the fact that I made the lilac tea first, instead of adding it with the pears). I'm not okay with doing that. Plus, if you are really into brewing, I think you should get this book. It's so very worth every penny.

I'm so high-tech

Straining the after the primary fermentation
Anyway, after the normal 4 weeks of fermentation I decided it wasn't ready to bottle (it was still fizzy and the SG wasn't where I wanted to to be) so I left it. Then I got crazy, stupid busy and never had time to get back to it. So it ended up bulk aging for another 5 months, which isn't a bad thing. When I finally got around to bottling it, the colour had changed to a much more orange-copper instead of the bubblegum pink I started with.

So pink!

Much more orange
I tried some while bottling, and it's very interesting. It starts with a punch to the face, but finishes amazing, leaving you with a very delicate floral flavour. I'm quite excited to see what it's like in another few months!

Starting Gravity: 1.093
Final Gravity: 0.998
Approximate ABV: 12%

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