Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Dragon's blood is bottled now.  I really like the way it came out.  I found it does need some back sweetening due to the sour taste the berries can have.  Now (speaking of sour berries) I am thinking of trying a test batch of  a cranberry mead. 

I decided to seal the Dragon's blood with wax.  I like the way it looks and its less plastic.  We don't need more plastic in our environment so I'm not interested in buying plastic sleeves to seal my bottles. 

I did this once before and ran into a similar problem, the wax just drips way down the bottle.  I'm using wax beads like this
to seal the bottles. 
I found this video and he has a better technique than I do.  I'm going to test one out this way and see how it works:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Dragon's Blood

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I am making some Dragon's blood.  If you are unfamiliar with it this is a wine Recipe that has gone around the web all because someone was willing to share their creation (and its a good one).  You can learn more about it here:

I give bottles of wine as Christmas gifts and found that this past season I mostly had Dandelion Wine and some Pumpkin mead from the previous year.  By the way, I recently opened a four year old bottle of pumpkin mead (maybe another article) and its amazing.  So I thought as I set out in 2018 I should start making more various wines and try new recipes or come up with some.  I started with Dragons blood.  I cut it down to a 3 gallon Recipe. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dry or liquid yeasts

In the world of brewing I think there are two ends of the spectrum.  There is the Charlie Papizan, relax, have a home brew end, and on the other side is the more scientific, Dave Miller kind of approach.  I think most of us fall somewhere along the spectrum rather than pinned at one end.  I am always interested in learning more, but I am not a scientist.  I have learned a lot just by doing, and then if I am curious, I will go back and try and find out why things turned out the way they did.  I can write down my brews and copy the recipe if I want to make it again, but I find it better to know why things work the way they do.

With wines things can take longer and thus I forget more about what I did when I brewed if I have not written it down somewhere.  In a lot of brewing beer people use liquid yeasts and starters to ensure there is a strong fermentation.  I have read, and found it to be true, that with dry yeasts it is not good to use a starter.  Most wine is fermented using dry yeast.  If you google around you can read about the different processes of getting the yeasts to you, and as I have learned the process of making dry yeast is not as clean and thus any replication (making starters) can amplify (like a copy machine) any imperfections.  When using dry yeasts I have always seen better results using no starter, but a good dose of yeast nutrient.

I prefer liquid yeasts but for wines, there doesn't seem to be as much variety in the liquid category.  Do you have a favorite yeast, or do you use wild yeasts when fermenting, let me know in the comments.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Coffee Wine

While shoveling snow from a recent storm I piled some on top of the garden bed that grows mint in my yard.  Maybe this will give it an extra cool taste this year.  It's certainly leaving me feeling cool right now.

I'm thinking about this because I have discovered a mint wine recipe:

I definitely want to experiment with this during the Summer.  I am having fun experimenting with different wine recipes, changing the recipe a little as I go until I find that I really like it.  Right now I have this coffee wine brewing.  It's basically a cold brewed iced coffee that should end up around 10 - 12 % abv.  Here you can see me stirring the coffee grounds as it was brewing the coffee:

I have made 1 gallon and it's fermenting now.  I have a friend who has challenged me to make a gluten free beer, so I need to get moving on that.  There is also a bucket of 11 lbs of honey and two sugar pumpkins waiting for me to make some mead with, all while this coffee wine is fermenting.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my brewing projects here; I will be publishing updates as these projects move along.

Check out Pixie's Pocket on Google+ or on the web for some 1 gallon wine and mead recipes:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dry Strawberry Watermelon

I read somewhere that watermelon should be back sweetened or used with another fruit.  I think both could not hurt.  Either way you should read what you can about it, and then experiment for yourself.  The best writers in the world can't tell you how it tasted in such a way that you taste the exact same thing.  This is why I like taking notes when I make a wine, especially a new recipe.  By the time it's ready to drink I want to make sure I have an account of what I did so I know how to adjust the recipe for the future.
I think the Strawberry Watermelon is definitely one to make again in the future, but it is a little on the dry side.  I'm considering adding in some rhubarb to balance the additional back sweetening that I would do next time around.  There is definitely a pronounced watermelon flavor, but it I think there is so much sugar in watermelon that there is not much left when fermentation is over.  Maybe more strawberry too.  Looking back I see that my starting gravity was 1.090; maybe I need to aim a little higher and let the remaining sugars stay in the wine.
Overall I would say this is a good wine, but I think it could be better with more sugar from some source.  I definitely plan on making it again and letting it sit longer before bottling.  There is a lot of pulp left over from the watermelon that is now collecting in the bottom of the wine bottles.  The lighting in my kitichen threw the coloring off a little, but you see what it looks like here:

It's actually a pink color, but the kitchen lighting gives it a different shade.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Clearing your Wine

Many people I know just don't like floaties in their drink.  There's the pulp in orange juice; at least we know what is floating in there.  Then there is the bottle of water someone just took a sip out of, and I think that's the worst.  I never minded a little cloudiness in a beer, but wine is really meant to be very clear.

I started out in this brewing endeavor by making beer.  I just took a chance and tried some wines and now I've bee hooked.  What I have been doing is just putting as little as possible (ingredient wise) into my wines.  If I can let the sediment drop, why add something else to do it for me?  I've sometimes bottled wines a little too soon and had problems.  It looks a lot clearer than it started, the fermentation has stopped, so I bottle it.  Then a week or so later I see sediment in all the bottles, and this is why I like to just wait.  I've had my pumpkin mead in a carboy for a long time now.  I don't even think I can remember how long.  It might have been since January.  The fermentation is definitely over and it has cleared up very nicely.  This, however, is what happened with my watermelon/strawberry wine:

So what is your take on clearing a wine?  Have you had better luck using findings or some other method?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Beet Wine

My wife and I have a CSA from a local farm.  It's a system of buying "Shares" of the farm.  We have 1/2 share.  It stands for community supported agriculture.  This allows the farmer to make money early in the season, and it allows me to get fresh vegetables all season.  This includes beets.  Every week we get fresh beets.  I love them, but after a while my wife has had enough.  We still have beets from last Summer that we canned.  Eventually we give some away to friends.

This year I used the "purple book" as winemakers call it, and I am currently brewing some beet wine in the kitchen.  I was considering the idea of combining it with a potato wine recipe to make it more of a root-vegetable wine, but I decided to start with just beets this year.

The purple book if you've heard of it, or if  you have a copy is a book that contains wine recipes for almost every fruit and vegetable you can imagine.  Each recipe is a 1 gallon recipe so you can multiply it out as you feel the need.  I find that with wine there is usually more yeast sediment at the bottom of the fermenter than with beer so I don't like 1 gallon batches.  I never end up with a full gallon.  I feel like if you want to rack 1 gallon into the secondary you should start with 1.5 gallons in the primary to be safe.  If anything you may end up with a small glass to test for yourself and then the whole gallon in the secondary and some trub in the fermenter.

So this is what I have so far, 1 gallon of water, and 1 mesh bag full of skinned, chopped beets, that I boiled for about 20 - 30 minutes.  It should be a gentile boile that you continue until the beets are soft.  I poured that into the primary on top of 2 lbs of sugar, stirred well, and then added about 2 more lbs of sugar.  Then I added enough cold water to bring it up to 3 gallons.  This is really 2.5 gallons when I take the beet bag out.  The bag has about 4 lbs of beets in it.  It should have been 5, but I found that weighing the beets should be done after you skin and chop off the greens.

Next I added 4 tsp of acid blend and 1/2 tsp of tannin.  The recipe asked for yeast nutrient at this point also but I don't like to add that unless it is necessary.  I find the yeast usually does just fine on its own.  I've got the dry yeast packet in the refrigerator waiting.  Finally I crushed and added 1 campden tablet and when 24 hours are up I will be pitching the yeast.