Prosperity - all in how you measure it.

No, I don't have a yacht or a plane.

But I DO have 4 full carboys going.

From left to right:

  • 6 gallons of Squeak Mead, made when my granddaughter was born, to be put away until she's 21.
  • 4.5 gallons of APA, currently dry hopping with an ounce of Willamette.
  • 6 gallons of straight mead, will break into 2 - 3 gallon batches, one a roasted jalapeno mead, the other to be determined.
  • 6 gallons of a big cider.

Yep.  It's good to be rich!

101 - Digital Thermometer Calibration

First off, let me say that I don't care for digital thermometer calibration.  Or maybe I just don't care to calibrate mine.  And, truly, you don't have to calibrate these digitals very often...they work well.

I have a CDN DTQ450...which I believe is a pretty common model.  The problem, though, is that they don't calibrate at boiling.  You have to calibrate them at freezing.

And, while it's not really obvious, a couple minutes thought and you'll realize that's damned hard to do.  If you have a drink filled with 32F ice cubes, the fluid is a mix of the 32 degree ice cubes and the ambient air's hard to get a real, solid (pun?) 32F reference source.

The best you can do is to fill something with crushed ice and the minimal amount of water.  Crushed ice...little water.

See below....mostly crushed ice and you can see that the temperature appears to be just a bit off.  I think it's safe to assume that my reference source (the bowl of crushed ice water) isn't below freezing or it'd be solid, right?

So, anyway, use your crushed ice and a little fluid and try to get as near to 32F as you can...then hold the CAL button for a couple seconds.  The thermometer will display 'CAL' and then show 32F, like below.

And, as in the previous write up, I like to test it against the other end....boiling.

So get a pot of water with a good boil, insert the thermometer, don't touch the sides or bottom.  Give it a few seconds to calm down and it should show 212F.

Anyway, on brew day I like to have an analog and a digital both calibrated and ready to go.  I'm not sure why.  It just comforts me.  That's all I need to know about it.

101 - thermometer calibration

Prior to Brew Day I like to calibrate my gear.

You don't want to tell the guy that can BIAB 20 pounds of dry grain, and get it soaking wet, out of the pot, without a block and tackle, that you might have been a wee bit off on the mash temp.

(lets see...20 pounds dry grain...I usually get about 2/3 qt water loss per pound...40/3rds....13 quarts...thats 3+ gallons, that's 25 the original 20 for the grain....hmmm...yeah...the guy that can hold 45 pounds of steaming grain at arms length, draining over a pot of 150 degree water....yeah....that's the guy we want to get the temp right for...)

And it's easy.

So this'll be one of a couple calibration posts....this time, analog thermometers.

Get a fairly large pot of water and bring it to a roiling boil.

Put your thermometer in...get it as deep as you can without actually touching the sides or bottom of the pot.  Check the temp.  As you can see, below, this one was reading about 215F.

Now look on the back of the thermometer...there'll be a little adjustment nut.  See it?

Put a wrench on it and turn it just a little.  Just a little means, really, a 1/16th of a turn or less...maybe 1/32nd.

Put the thermometer back in the boiling water...same as before, deep, not touching the bottom or sides...wait a full 30 seconds...check the temp...

Repeat, as necessary, until the thermometer is dead below...212F is what I read.

You can do this same adjustment with ice water and 32F...but it always seemed to me that 212 was closer to mash temperatures than I'll usually check the thing in some ice water, but not really pay much attention.

Anyway, that's it....after the water's boiling you've got 2-3 minutes, start to finish.

Simple Stovetop Mead

This is to show just how easy it is to make mead...truly, the simplest of the fermentable beverages.  No huge pot required, no special burner...this is stovetop stuff.

1)  heat 2 gallons or so of water on the stove.  warm, so the honey dissolves, but no need to make it anywhere near boiling.

2)  stir in 10 pounds of honey.  if you have it, you can add a teaspoon of yeast energizer or yeast nutrient...get it the same place you get your or at your favorite local homebrew store

3)  put 2 gallons of cool water in your sanitized carboy or bucket.

4)  pour in the warm honey water.  shake vigorously, you want to get lots of air into it.

5)  top off to 5 gallons with cool water.

6)  check the temperature.  you want it less than 90F when you add the yeast.

7)  take a gravity reading if you have a hydrometer (you should have a hydrometer...they're cheap and they're pretty basic to brewing anything).

8)  pour in 1 sachet of rehydrated Lalvin D-47 (there are other yeasts, but this is my favorite for mead)

9)  put on your airlock and you're done.  last night it was about 60 minutes, start to finish.

Check your gravity over the next few weeks and, when you get down in the 1.000 to 1.010 range, rack to secondary. 

Now's when you get to make it special.  This is when you add whatever special, secret mix of herbs, spices, fruits or whatever is going to make it your unique, signature concoction.

Vanilla?  Lemon?  Orange? Roasted Jalapenos?  Ginger? This one is going to have 2 ounces of mulling spices from the Spice House in Chicago added.

Let it sit on the flavor anywhere from a month to a year.

For my own tastes, I like the meads I make to be very lightly carbonated, almost like a sparkling wine.  So not too much bottling sugar...maybe 1/4 cup for a 5 gallon batch.

Anyway, there you have it.  You can't get much simpler, easier or faster.

And remember, whatever you do, no matter how tasty, hide a couple bottles away...mead just gets better and better the longer you wait.

SOPA - just say no.

While I try to stay pretty apolitical in this is, after all, a blog for beginning homebrewing, not a soapbox for my hoosier values, this is a little different.

If you create content you should be concerned.

If you use content you should be concerned.

Sign up.

A nice op-ed on why technological ignorance of our elected representatives is no longer cute.