Homebrewing Adventures

It’s a hobby that I’m fairly obsessed with every fall and winter, but I don’t think that I’ve ever written a post about it… home brewing. Why is that? Well, I’m not great at it, and really have just started to finally get to a point where some good products are coming out of my kitchen. I started about six years ago just toying around with fermentations, making ginger beers, playing with extracts and grains, but it wasn’t really until I started making ciders that I had something drinkable. All of the beers that I had made up until the last two years left something to be desired, either coming out way too heavy, too hoppy, or having a watery taste. Last year though, I made a beer at the beginning of the Pandemic that was more in the style of a “Black IPA” – heavy, stout like color, but hoppy like an IPA. This was really one of the few ones that I’d call good that I’ve made to date, and of course I had to give it a fun name, “I asked for Zombies, but all I got was this stupid virus” was what I decided to go with. I figured, why not name it like a mid-2000’s alt song… a full sentence that won’t fit on one line of a label.

“I Asked for Zombies, but all I got was this stupid virus”

Why did I choose to write about this now? I’m starting to move into some winemaking as well – I got a steal of a deal on 6 gallons of Chardonnay grape juice at the local CountryMax that was getting out of homebrewing supplies ($24? Of course I bought it), not to mention an oak barrel, a FastFerment container, and a handful of other supplies that were marked 75% off. Just missed out on the electronically controlled kettle, but oh well. At another homebrewing store locally, they marked some of the odd juice concentrates down 50%, so I picked up some of that as well. All-in-all, I think I dumped a total of $75 on things that could have cost me between $300-500.

Last night I bottled the Rhubarb wine after about 4 weeks of fermenting and conditioning, and I have to say that it’s pretty good for a first attempt. I started the Chardonnay about a week after the Rhubarb, and that’s entered the conditioning stage this week, meaning it’ll be ready to bottle next week. Over the next two months I’ve come up with some cider, and apple wine ideas that I’m really excited to try, and I’ll share if they’re any good or not, what my process is, and feel free to point out where I go wrong.

I’m not going to rant on too much about these like I normally would, but here are a few photos of the process.

Chardonnay after Secondary Fermentation/Oaking, and Degassing, Before Conditioning
Part of the Fermentation Corner – Left: Rhubarb Wine before Degasing, Middle: Chardonnay in Primary, Right: Cultured Butter (Yep, I ferment more than beverages) The FastFerment on the floor to the left has now been mounted to the right side of the bench
Homemade Degaser (Idea courtesy of George at Barley and Hops brewing YouTube Channel)
Yep, She Works! Degasing the Chardonnay and Moving into Secondary – this wine astonishingly hit 17% ABV, I may need to bring down before bottling

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