Ok, I snapped a few pics of my Cyser brewing, and just finished resizing and uploading them. A Cyser is a Mead (fermented honey) with apples. Add
grapes, it's Pyment. Add spices, it's melomel, or something other variety. This was my first mead, and I'm pushing to have it done by May 5th, which
is National Homebrew Day. From my calculations, I'll have about a case and a half of 12 oz. bottles, and will be sampling it over and over, just to
see how it's finishing. Well, the basics, first....
Since this is a first attempt, I'm not going to spend a lot of money on anything. I even went cheap on the yeast, buying a 3-pack of bread yeast for
$1.59. Call it fifty cents for my yeast. It's dry active yeast, so I decided to culture it first. Normally, you'd add a tsp of yeast nutrients to
the "must" specifically for wine/mead, but I'm going cheap. I used 1/4 cup priming sugar to 1 cup of water in a paper cup. 1 minute in the
microwave, and it's time for a temperature check. The package said to pitch at 110-115 F, so I got a temp reading.
Yikes. 1 minute in the microwave jacked it to 155 F. Gotta let that cool down. I still have to sanitize everything, so I mixed a gallon of "Easy
Clean", by LD Carlson, a brand of one step sanitizer especially for brewing.
Here's my simple yeast culturing apparatus. (I just sanitized it.) I had to drill a small hole in the lid, fit it with a grommet (they cost 25
cents), and insert the also sanitized fermentation lock. They are like $2.50, but I have a couple already. It's ready for yeast as soon as the
"nutrient mix" is done. To activate this yeast, all I really needed was 1/4 tsp to 1/4 cup water, so my ratio I used is sort of like steroids for the
yeast. I want a good colony of yeast started once I pitch them into my must. The more yeast added initially, the quicker it should finish. Mind
you, yeast are microscopic, so the only way to detect their presence is by observing their behavior. The whole idea behind the fermentation lock is
to reduce the number of microorganisms in the air into your wort or must. The CO2 the yeast produce escapes, causing the inner lock to bubble up and
down, and you note the rapidity of bobbing to scale the amount of CO2 being released. A lot of bobbing, a good yeast culture.
Closer, no yeast yet.
Checking back to my "nutrient mix", I see the temp is just above pitching temp, about 118 F. Shoot, it'll cool down by the time I add it to the mason
jar. Temperature loss factored in, it'll be the right temp.
Yeast freshly pitched. I am now waiting for 15 minutes, to see an indication of bubbling in the water/priming sugar/ yeast mixture. If there's
bubbling, I have an active culture. If not, well, I have two more packages to start. Bad ratio, try again.
I set this on top the fridge, so it doesn't get bumped or knocked over, and it's a few degrees warmer there than on the counter.
I have other stuff to do while waiting for my yeast to culture. One is bringing the brew water up to temp. With this recipe, I am going to bring the
water temp up to 160 F, and hold it there for 30 minutes, a bit I picked up while I was researching this recipe. In homebrewing, the thermometer is
your first best friend, the second is the hydrometer. I picked that thermometer up years ago, I think for $5.95, and it has served me faithfully ever
since. Temperature is one of the most important factors when calculating fermentables. I did a triple decoction last year for NHD, and had three
temperature rests that I had to meet in order to extract the maximum amount of sugars from the grains I was using. Bocks are very tricky.
While the yeast is culturing, and my water is heating, I have one last task ahead of me. Cleaning the fermentation bucket.
It's a 6 gallon fermenter I did buy online, $15 bucks. It gets re-used, and re-used....
Before I put my must in it, it needs a good cleaning and sanitizing.
After that was done, I checked my yeast again. Holy crap! Full of massive bubbles, it's percolating away, and I smile. The point being is that I am
going to be feeding them something super sweet, and they are going to make me alcohol to drink. If they don't act like they're active, and up for the
job, I would be worried about my mead fermenting. No question about that now, I have a super healthy culture in about a half hour after pitching.
My fermentation bucket is assembled and sanitized.
I'm using 6 pounds of honey. I still have over 24 pounds left from the last harvest.
I am using a wildflower variety, and the color gets lighter from left to right.
edit on 4/18/12 by Druid42 because: reformatted picture sequence....