How I Got Started: Jonathan Marting

As corny as it will sound, ever since my accidental (honest!) gulp of a family member’s beer at a relative’s birthday I’ve known that beer will always be a part of my life. I was way underage at the time; fourteen, if I’m being generous. Wouldn’t get another taste of beer until college. I drank the swill that is typical at college keggers. Disappointed in general with the options, but I of course kept doing it. Then somebody handed me a Killian’s Irish Red and my love affair with dark beer was born. Every party I went to was a chance to try a new style of beer (Mixer Sixers were a lifesaver). I quickly found ones that I would repeatedly come back to, such as Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel (or Sammy as I like to call him) Smith’s Winter Welcome, Michelob Honey Lager and J.W. Dundee’s Honey Brown.

After I graduated college I moved back in with my parents in southeastern Indiana. They lived close to Cincinnati so I thought finding a job would be easier. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m still living with my parents and working at a dead end job that doesn’t pay me enough to live on my own. I went to a coworker’s party where she and her boyfriend revealed to me that they brew their own beer. Instantly intrigued and eager to dispel the image of a nasty bathtub full of beer, I asked all sorts of questions. They then tried to scam me by offering to go half and half on an ingredient kit from Brewer’s Best. The total cost they quoted me was $70. I trusted my gut instinct and said I wasn’t interested. Later my dad told me there used to be a homebrew store in Cincinnati somewhere. I looked into it and found a place called Listermann, pretty much across the street from Xavier.

It was a curious sensation entering that homebrew store for the first time. Overwhelming, yet accessible. Organized, but unkempt liked a well-used workshop. I would compare it to how the kids and parents felt when they first entered Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory just without all the whimsy. I probably spent an hour and a half just looking at everything. Eventually one of the store clerks offered to help me. I told him that I was very much interested in brewing my own beer but had zero ideas where to start. He helped me pick out an equipment kit which was the most expensive one they had, but it was also cheaper than the same kit is now (and well worth the price!). For an ingredient kit I chose Listermann’s kit for Irish red ale to honor the beer that set me down this path. At the checkout counter the store clerk, who was a middle-aged man missing a finger or two, gave me three pieces of advice that have stuck with me ever since:

  1. (For this one he jabbed the instructions for the ingredient kit with the stump of his right index finger which was severed at the first knuckle) Read the instructions. Front and back. Everything, including bottling. Go and do something unrelated for half an hour/forty-five minutes. Come back and read it all again.
  2. Take notes on everything you do. Especially if you think it will affect the flavor of the beer.
  3. Clean and sanitize everything.

Other than those three pieces of advice I was flying blind. My parents helped me, of course, but they had as much to go on as I did. What helped us was our collective experience in in the kitchen. That first beer kit ended up being a decent beer and I made many mistakes brewing it, but I kept brewing. Every time I went back to Listermann’s  I chose another style to try, which meant more notes, more equipment to wash, more instructions to read (twice!), and of course more experience. When I moved up to Indianapolis one of the first things I did was locate a homebrew store, i.e. Great Fermentations (there wasn’t an Avon store at the time). I kept the momentum going, always pushing myself to try something different. Last year I set about an annual challenge for myself. I’d ask my Facebook friends and family to suggest beers for me to brew, which were then voted upon. The one with the most votes would be the beer that I brewed, even if it was a style I didn’t really care for. And the challenge was for me to create the recipe, not brew an ingredient kit. I’ve had good results so far, but I’m always growing, always taking notes, always washing equipment, always reading and rereading instructions.

How I Got Started: Jeremiah Tyson

My entry into the homebrewing world was…let’s just say, slow. I bought a Mr. Beer kit and watched for years as it collected dust and eventually faded from my memory (I found it about 6 months ago randomly). I have always had an interest in the science aspect of it as well. I talked with a friend of mine from California who is a homebrewer, and had the opportunity to assist Jonathan Marting on several of his batches while I learned the process. All in all its been several years of learning, but I only just began brewing my own batches last year. I wanted to create something I knew I enjoyed but at the same time, satisfy the itch to perfect the craft that melds cooking and chemistry together. I am a particularly big fan of German festbier, probably due to my up close and personal exposure,  I think their process is also appealing to me. Once again, nobody is perfect but they strive for perfection with their process. So I particularly enjoy altbier, hefeweizen, and hellesbock. The altbier is probably my favorite to brew so far and I have a hefeweizen recipe I will be trying out for Big Brew Day!

Circle City Zymurgy at Union Jack’s 5th Annual Pumpkin, Cider, and Fall Beer Festival

Man, what a day! Circle City Zymurgy had a great time at Union Jack’s Pumpkin, Cider, and Fall Beer Festival. The event was completely sold out and had about 650 attendees. There were around 40 different vendors pouring delicious beverages with a total of 76 different, unique beers being poured.

CCZ had a great presence at the festival. Along with myself, other attending members were Steve Kent, Wes Martin, Jeremiah Tyson, and Allen Brown. We brought 5 kegs of homebrew. Wes brought his “Great Horse Pumpkin Ale”, Jeremiah his “Jack ‘O’  Porter (served on nitro), Steve brought his PSL – also on nitro, Allen had his near 15% mead, and we had Jonathan Marting’s Pumpkin Roll Ale.

In the end, we poured a total of 25 gallons of homebrew. Everyone that came up for a taste wanted to try something different and I believe we had a great variety for everyone to have something to enjoy  (I’m pretty confident in saying that based on the constant line we had!)

There were a total of 9 homebrewers that attended and we were all right next to each other. As you could imagine, we had great conversations discussing the hobby we love. This year, Union Jack also held a homebrew competition with the winner receiving a $100 gift card to Union Jack. A big congratulations is in order for our member Jeremiah for getting 2nd place for his Jack ‘O’ Porter!

The festival itself was a great time. We really could not have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and really gave an exact feeling of what Fall is all about. As soon as you walked in you were given a choice of two neat glasses that you get your beer poured into. The festival had plenty of great food to keep you going during your beer trek. A few vendors such as Indiana on Tap were there as well supporting the hobby and offering free or discounted offers.

Elysian Brewing, based out of Seattle, Washington, had a great presence as well. They had their own little area where 6+ of their beers were served. Each of theirs had its own unique style and taste as well. With a big name like Elysian, I definitely had to try them all.

In conclusion, this was a very prosperous event for Circle City Zymurgy. I heard multiple attendees surprised that our beer was homebrewed, expecting it to be made at a professional brewery. I also had a few people walk up to me after seeing my shirt and asking where our beer could be purchased. You can’t get a much better compliment than that. This will definitely have to be an annual event for CCZ!

How I Got Started: Erik Howell

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Erik Howell. I’m an Indianapolis native that recently moved to Portland, OR and have been brewing for just over 10 years. I love all forms of fermentation, and would consider myself a “maker/survivalist”. Haha. Sounds better than “doomsday prepper” doesn’t it? I first got introduced into craft beer in the early 2000’s when I was in college. There was a craft beer bar just down the street from my house called The Heorot Pub and Draught House that had an excellent selection of great beer from all over the country/world. They had a mug club that allowed you to get a special mug if you bought one of each beer they offered in the bar. I tried as many different beers as I could afford, however there was no touching that achievement 🙂

I remember a friend’s misfortune with his Mr. Beer kit in college, and I was absolutely certain I could do better. I ended up with the same Mr. Beer kit as a Christmas gift in ‘06 and went absolutely nuts. I did a bunch of reading (The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, How to Brew, Radical Brewing, etc) and went a little overboard on sanitizing. In the very beginning I was literally wearing a facemask and covering my countertops with Saran Wrap sprayed down with StarSan solution. It was like a scene out of Breaking Bad. My roommate at the time was super inspired, and footed the bill for a 5 gallon kit from Great Fermentations that I started using pretty regularly. I was an extract brewer for a long time (admittedly the first 5 years). The beer I was making was OK. I continued to acquire equipment and fine tune my brewing practices and things got much better over time.
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I started a small beer tasting group/blog in 2012 called Beer is My Passion or B.I.M.P. We organized blind tastings in an effort to educate ourselves about what we liked and disliked about different styles of beer. Later I formed a homebrew club out of the group, and started pouring homebrew at beer festivals. It was so much fun! Right about this time I met my soon to be wife Jenn, and we started brewing together. We got involved in competitions, more beer festivals, and networking in the Indy beer community. We were officially out of control. Soon we were branching out into cider, wine, pickles, etc. Beer turned into a gateway for all things fermented.

After a few years running BIMP, I found that many of my friends were more interested in the blind tastings than they were in brewing competitions. I was now working part time at my local homebrew shop, and was meeting other like-minded homebrewers that were also entering competitions. We were all competing independently even though we supported each others successes and failures. Ultimately this new group of brewers grew into Circle City Zymurgy. Now that I’m in Portland, I certainly miss my friends, the meetings, and social events that CCZ hosts. I still have a small hand in maintaining CCZ’s website, and still enter beers via our club. Recently I’ve been making various meads, wines, and beer in my new home. I’m hoping to build steam for the coming year’s competitions, and who knows maybe I’ll see some of you at NHC in Portland next year!

How I Got Started: Allen Brown’s Story

I started brewing when I was 29, back in 1994.  This was about 2 years after my wife and I got married.  We’ll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year, which has been 23 of the best years of my life!…(and don’t tell Kim I said that!)

Back then, my LHBS was Great Fermentations in Indianapolis, located on 82nd street.  I purchased a “Complete Homebrew Kit” for $39.99, a “Glenbrew 7# Irish Stout” kit for $22.49, a copy of “Complete Joy Of Homebrew” for $10.00, and a two page printout by GFI titled “Basic Brewing Instructions for the Beginner Using Hop Flavored Malt Extracts.”  The receipt is dated one day before my 29th birthday, so it must have been my birthday present from my wife!  So I went home and learned how to brew beer. In the early 90’s, our choices on ingredients and yeasts were not even close to what we have now.  The internet wasn’t really available to the public yet, and I was brewing extract kits only.  The recipes I got from GFI were printed out on dot-matrix printer paper, and yes, I still have every one of them!  Most of them included liquid malt extract and dry yeast, and no telling how old that can of LME was that came over from England!

Of course back then I was bottling, and I was using bleach and water for all of my sanitizing because that’s what we did.  For the first two years I brewed about every other month.  Each time I did, I set back a six pack of brew I made for safe keeping.  Then, I had a big beer party… I had about 4-5 cases of multiple flavors of six packs and I asked everybody that came to the party to bring a six pack of beer that they have never tried before.  The reason was, none of my friends drank anything but “big beer”, so I wanted to expand everybody’s pallets a little bit.  That party was a HUGE SUCCESS!  I got rave reviews for my beers, and ended up the next day with a BUNCH of free beer in my fridge!

Over the next few years I slowed down a little bit, to a couple of batches a year.  Then when we had kids, I went probably another two or three years without brewing. I know, nobody wants to admit it, but it happens to all of us.

The next few years I got back into it and brewed 2-3 batches a year.  Then I started to get motivated again, and started brewing on a regular basis. At this point, I was probably 15 years into my brewing career.  Keep in mind, I am still just brewing extract kits after all this time.  I was really into the ease and convenience of kits, and I was brewing some very good beer.  At least that’s what my friends told me when they came over to drink free beer!  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started brewing all grain.  I know that most people get into all grain much sooner than that, but people need to know, you can can make some really good beer brewing extract beers!  I happen to know several people who have won awards brewing extract kits in big competitions.

So, jump back to 2009.  My wife and I started really enjoying drinking dry red wine, as well as beer.  I had tried a few peoples homemade wines in the past, but they all sucked, so I wasn’t really that motivated to try making my own wine.  Well, in 2009 we decided to go to Austria to visit distant cousins that we’d never met before.  Turns out that we have two cousins that live in this little village in Austria that have commercial wineries, and we can even buy their wines here!  After finding out that I came from a long line of winemakers, that motivated me to start making wine.  So, I started researching on the internet.  Turned out there was a HUGE amount of information out there, and there was a bunch of people out there actually making good wine.  Who’d a thunk it?

My first wine I made was a honey mead wine.  The recipe I used was “Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead.” It’s a very simple mead recipe using 3.5 pounds of honey protein gallon, one orange cut into quarters, one cinnamon stick, one whole clove, a handful of raisins, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Mix it together, and add Flieschmanns bread yeast, and let it sit for two months without touching it.  At two months it will clear and most of the fruit will drop out.  (I know, you are thinking that’s just crazy talk using bread yeast, but it’s a tried and true recipe that been made millions of times successfully).

Even though I’ve never entered a single beer into a beer competition, I decided to enter this mead into the Indy International Wine Competition.  I ended up winning Honey Wine Blend Of The Year 2010!  I’m sure if the “mead aficionados” knew I made a mead with bread yeast they’d verbally crucify me! The next year, I started buying kit wines from Great Fermentations made by WineExpert.  I started making a bunch of kit wines.  I also started entering my wines in the Indy International. In 2011 I won Indiana Amateur Winemaker of the year! The next year, I got red wine juice from Easley Winery.  I got some Chambourcin juice that was grown in southern Indiana, fermented it, and then did a malolactic fermentation on it, entered it, and won Indiana Grown Wine Of The Year!  In a three or four year period I won about 30 medals, bronze, silver, gold, and even three Double Golds!  Now, I usually buy about 30 gallons a year of fresh juice from GFI, ferment it, keg it, and keep it on tap with nitrogen.

I don’t think that the reason I won all these awards were some kind of magic mojo I have, I honestly believe that it is because I followed the directions and recipes EXATLY TO THE TEE!  I made sure my fermentation temperatures were just right, my sanitation was perfect, my timing of racking, oak additions, malolactic Fermentations, etc., followed time tested schedules, and most of all, I TOOK MY TIME.  It’s all about consistency.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just follow the dang directions!

Fast forward to last year, I decided to up my game!  I built a single tier R.I.M.S. System brew stand.  I now have a 15 gallon Spike HLT, a 15 gallon Spike MLT, and a 20 gallon Blichmann brew kettle.  I’m now brewing 10-15 gallon batches, twice the amount of beer in the same amount of time!  I now also use BeerSmith software for designing my recipes.  It really has helped me get my recipes figured out, and helped me to brew consistently.  The last thing I want to share is I have really started to get my brewing water totally dialed in.  I purchase Primo Water for my brewing.  It’s five gallon jugs of R.O. Water that has minerals added to it.  I took a sample of my home city water, and a sample of the Primo Water, and sent them off to Ward Labs to be tested.  My local water came back SO BAD, that it really can’t be used for brewing.  It’s not that it’s contaminated, it’s that the Bicarbonate, HCO3  is 515 ppm, and the Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 is 426 ppm… way too high for brewing. So, I take those results from the water test, and I enter it into John Palmer’s water spread sheet, (free from his website), and it tells me exactly what I need to add to the water to get the BEST BEER for the style I’m making.

Needless to say, I am now making some pretty darn good beer.  Just ask me!

Mash of Wonder Competition Update

Last month, Circle City Zymurgy conceived their first-ever homebrew competition. The Mash of Wonder was going to take all the nerdiness and excitement of brewing and tabletop games and combine them into one of the more interesting, unique competitions around. Since then, the competition ballooned into something bigger and more ambitious than anyone in the club could envision. In the end, 32 teams of brewers registered to participate in The Mash of Wonder, including our wonderful sponsors at Great Fermentations, Imperial Yeast, and the Cone Keepers Hopyard!

Getting my DM on

Last week, everyone gathered at the Noble Order taproom in Zionsville to roll for their fates. It was a fun, exuberant affair. I very much enjoyed being the “DM”, presiding over the event and informing my fellow homebrewers of their fates. Each favorable throw was met with groans from bystanders, and each disastrous one met with shouts of approval (yours truly somehow ended up with basil, cardamom, and sarsparilla…FML).

Game Faces

You can view the results of everyone’s throws by following the link below. The plan is to provide continuing updates on the competition as we go along. If you missed the deadline to register and are still interested in participating, you can still come to the November 8 club meeting at Great Fermentations Indy, where we will announce the results and you can sample some of the beers yourself. We are also still looking for volunteers to steward the event. If you want help out and see how homebrew competitions work, stewarding is an excellent way to do so. Email me at [email protected] to sign up to steward. Thank you so much to everyone who signed up and to all our sponsors. This is going to be a fun next few months.

MoW Results

Indiana On Tap Tasting Society Recap – An Outpouring of Love

On Friday July 21, Circle City Zymurgy participated in the July gathering of the Indiana On Tap Tasting Society. The goal of these events is to showcase our state’s fine breweries and/or the beers available throughout the state by bringing something special and different to each event. In fact, no two monthly events are the same. The events are intimate–think more of a swanky party instead of a beer festival. What’s cool about this is attendees had plenty of opportunities to talk to the brewery staff and the brewers themselves. As a bonus, these tasting society events are also Indiana’s premier venue for trading rare and hard-to-find beers from all over the state and the nation.

CCZ members including myself, Nick Boling, Jonathan Marting, and Matt and Lauren Wolford had a great time pouring our beer and representing the club. Joining us were Rhinegeist Brewery from Cincinnati and Creatures of Habit from Anderson, IN. For this event, Indiana on Tap partnered with Bottom’s Up, which meant we got to serve our beer on their awesome draft system. Thank you to Bottom’s Up for providing pouring enjoyment for our crew! As the indoor temperature rose to meet that of the outside, the event space filled with throngs of thirsty beer geeks. Having the premier pouring space, most guests queued up in front of the Circle City Zymurgy booth. We started the night with a broad spectrum of brewing styles for the tasters; Russ Der Cogburn Lemon Shandy, A Southerner in London (A hazelnut praline English mild), Meeb’s Milk Stout and Grapefruit Baby Doll (An American pale ale enhanced with Amoretti Ruby Red Grapefruit artisanal flavoring). The CCZ line quickly became THE place to be with lines surpassing all other pouring stations for a majority of the night. As the night progressed so did our lineup of tasty malt beverages, such as Mr. Mild Mannered (English Mild), Juicy Lucy New England IPA, 124 Conch Street (Pineapple Wheat) and Tears of a Wookiee American pale ale). All told, the CCZ crew floated 8 kegs in less than 3 hours, while Rhinegeist and Creatures of Habit had a sufficient supply of brews on tap. The ambiance was a hip and cool with party tunes provided by DJ 3pm, beer flavored cupcakes by Tipsy Turvey of Anderson, handcrafted pirogi from The Pirogi Truck and craft hard sodas from Garden Party Botanicals.

Overall this was a very successful night of pouring for CCZ and the club members who participated. With this being a monthly event, there will be plenty of opportunities for other members of the club to participate, however, be prepared to meet the high expectations set by the inaugural crew and remember to bring PLENTY of beer!

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Thank you to CCZ member Rob Ecker for this recap. This blog post has been edited and condensed for clarity.

10 Step Strawberry Rhubarb Melomel Tutorial

I recently came into possession of 5lbs of fresh garden grown green rhubarb and wanted make a special batch of mead this summer. I’ve been trying to hone in my mead making abilities and thought that a strawberry rhubarb melomel may be the best way to use all of this fresh rhubarb. Now all I needed were a few extra ingredients. I picked up a case of fresh picked organic strawberries and some fresh spring harvest honey from the Canby berry farms South of Portland at the local farmer’s market. The honey was light and had a slight brightness to it that I think will pair perfectly with the fruit.

 

Step 1: Wash the fruit, chop, vacuum seal, and freeze.  I filled the kitchen sink with a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water to wash the fruit (1 cup of distilled white vinegar to 8 cups water) using a brush to gently scrub everything. Some people include dish soap into these washes, however I do not do this. Fruit washes in a vinegar solution are a great way to extend the life of your fruit as it kills off native yeast, mold, and bacteria on the fruit. Once washed, I rinsed the fruit and started cutting it into smaller pieces. I cut the strawberries into halves and chopped the rhubarb into 2 inch pieces and weighed them. I used 3lbs of strawberries and just under 4lbs of rhubarb (which approximated to the same ratio I found in a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe online). I then threw them into vacuum sealed bags and froze them. Looking up pie recipes inspired me so much that I plan on making my next batch of mead using whole fresh baked fruit pies (cherry pie, huckleberry cobbler, or possibly even blueberry pie).

Step 2: Thaw fruit and refreeze This step is something I’ve only recently started doing. By freezing, you burst the cell walls of your fruit which makes juice more available. By freezing twice you further break up the fruit. Once it has thawed a second time, the fresh fruit now has a consistency of canned peaches.

Step 3: Thaw fruit and prep for brewday. Measure out yeast energizer, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme for 3 gallons of finished melomel and place them into a small bowl. I use half the recommended amount of yeast energizer and nutrient so that I can add more a few days into fermentation. Prep a rinse bucket and sanitizer bucket for your brew station. Set up brewing kettle and burner, measure out 5 gallons of filtered water, and set up your cooling workflow (I run a chugger pump into a counterflow wort chiller to quickly zapp the boiling liquid down to fermenting temperature and push it directly into my primary). Because I’m working with honey, I placed these beautiful jars of fresh honey in the sun to heat up and become less viscous (100°F outside today in Portland, OR. Ouch…).

Step 4: Test the system with boiling water to sanitize and work out any kinks. Once your water is boiling, cut the propane on your burner and connect your chiller setup to the ball valve on your kettle. Open the valve and let it flow into your chiller.  I power on the chugger pump for a few seconds to help start the siphoning process into my chiller before turning it off and letting gravity drain the water level down to 3 gallons. Once it’s reached 3 gallons close the ball valve on your kettle. Running boiling water through your chilling setup ensures that you are killing any yeast, bacteria, or mold that may be housed in your equipment.

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Step 5: Pour in your honey and stir to dissolve it into your heated water. My preheated honey pours just like warm motor oil. Make sure your heat is off while stirring in your honey to prevent scorching the sugar. I used a ratio of 2.5lbs of honey per gallon of water for a total of 7.5lbs of honey that will finish out at around 10.6% ABV (If I were to do this again I would have used 1.5lbs of honey per gallon to bring the ABV down to around 6-6.5% ABV).

Step 6: Chill your mead down to fermenting temperature and clean. I kick on the hose pushing water through my counterflow wort chiller, open up the valve on my kettle, and then power on my chugger pump. This draws my mead into my chiller and out of the system after passing through my Blichmann Thrumometer. I can adjust the temperature of my cooling mead by adjusting the kettle valve on my pot or the additional valve installed after the pump just before the chiller. This slows the flow of the mead while in the chiller which increases the contact time with the copper cooled by the water in system. I pumped my mead into my primary at 70°F.

Now that the brew day is over it’s time to clean. Make sure to scrub down your equipment, rinse, and dry everything. I also run additional boiling water through my chiller one last time to clean the inside of the chiller and heat up the copper to stave off bacteria before closing off the system. As you can see, I have Pedro’s approval that all is clean and ready to be packed away.

Step 7: Add your fruit and pitch your yeast. Now that you’ve transferred all of your mead into your cleaned and sanitized fermenter, add your fruit. Give the mixture a stir and take a gravity reading. The mead I made today was 1.080. Pitch your yeast on top of your fruit along with your nutrients and pectic enzyme. I use half the recommended amount of yeast energizer and nutrient, and add the other half after about 4-5 days. This helps provide the yeast with nutrients that it needs to continue powering through all that sugar. You can add the whole recommendation of pectic enzyme though. You want as much pectin to settle out as possible during the fermentation process to improve the clarity of your finished mead. There are a lot of different yeasts you can use for mead. Red Star Pasteur and Lalvin EC-1118 are both champagne yeasts and will ferment out dry without too much characteristics from the yeast itself. Wyeast Sweet Mead or Dry Mead are two liquid options that I’ve had a lot of luck with in the past. Today I’m using Mangrove Jack’s MO5 Mead yeast.

Step 8: FermentWhen I make beer/cider/wine I like to make sure I give the yeast plenty of time to do its thing. Don’t rush your mead through the system. The more times you open your fermenter, the more you expose it to Oxygen which will oxidize your finished product. That said, your mead is actively fermenting in the first 3-5 days. That’s a perfect time to throw in the rest of your yeast nutrient. Once you’ve done that, leave it alone for at least a couple of weeks at the proper fermenting temperature and then take a gravity reading. If the mead still has a way to go give it another week. Your final gravity should be 1.005 or lower. This will ensure it is not too sweet and ensures that the yeast has finished fermenting. If you are higher than 1.005 that is ok, it will just be a little on the sweet side.

Step 9: Rack your mead off the fruit and store in glass carboy for aging. Unfortunately this step can get a little messy. Above is a picture of a nectarine mead I recently racked into a 3 gallon glass carboy. The nectarines were so mushy they were easily pulled up into my racking cane and over to the secondary. It’s not the end of the world, but I’ll likely rack over to another carboy to remove the rest of the fruit and sediment. When racking your mead off of the fermented fruit, use extreme care. Your fermenter will likely have fruit still floating on top, and yeast accumulating at the bottom. You want the good stuff in the middle. Before you start transferring your mead over to a sanitized carboy I would recommend using a sanitized spoon to remove the floating fruit. Use care to not stir up the yeast at the bottom of the fermenter while removing the fruit. Transfer the mead over to glass with an autosiphon and age in glass. Over time you will notice that your mead will start clarifying, and yeast/fruit particles that will start settling out. If you are a stickler like I am you will likely rack your mead over to another carboy to further clarify your mead. Another thing to note is that I purge out the Oxygen in my fermentors when I open them up with CO2 from my kegging system. It’s a great way to decrease oxidation from taking root.

 

Step 10: Keg or bottle your mead. I prefer kegging my ferments as I can bottle directly from the keg using my Blichmann Beer Gun. This allows me to purge CO2 from my bottles before corking/capping my bottles. There is nothing wrong with bottle conditioning, however I prefer to force carbonate over conditioning in a bottle. You have officially made yourself some delicious mead! Chill and serve in your favorite glassware or in my case a fancy 2L drinking horn.

Mead has been made for thousands of years. Don’t feel like you have to buy a bunch of equipment to make it. I’m literally using equipment that I have accumulated over 10+ years homebrewing. Make sure you are using the freshest ingredients you can find. Use good sanitation practices. I would suggest using a glass carboy to age the mead in. Tuck your mead away and forget about it for a year (although make sure to keep the airlock filled) so that it can mature. I’ve found that cider and mead that have been aged for one year are much better than “hot” mead that was rushed into a bottle.  Consider aging some of your mead with liquor soaked oak cubes or maybe even adding some other microbes to the mix to create new and exciting flavor combinations. You can even blend finished meads together with cider or fruit wine!

Meeb’s Milk Stout Tapping

 

Come out to the Noble Order taproom in Zionsville on June 29 as they officially tap the second of our collaboration beers with Noble Order Brewing Company! CCZ member Nick Boling and Noble Order Brewmaster Mike Miller have collaborated to bring you Meeb’s Milk Stout. Based on Nick’s National Homebrew Competition-finalist recipe, this is a smooth, balanced, excellent stout. A portion of the sales from this beer go to support club activities; so you get to sample an excellent beer and help out Circle City Zymurgy. Meeb’s Milk Stout will be available until the keg runs out, so make sure you get it while you can!

Brew-Ha-Ha 2017 in the Books!

The Phoenix Theatre’s 22nd annual Brew-Ha-Ha was this past Saturday. Every CCZ member who poured and attended had so much fun at Indiana’s oldest beer festival. We ended up floating four kegs and several bottles of sours during our special VIP-tapping (everyone seemed to love our sours). Even a malfunctioning Randall and a mid-festival rain shower couldn’t put a damper on our spirits. It’ll be interesting to see how the festival changes if and when they move it to the new site of the Phoenix theatre. But as long as it maintains its intimate size, quirkiness, and residential charm, it should remain one of the best beer festivals in the city.

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