Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What's brewing?

Elderberry wine and elderflower wine, in a corner of the living room
According to The Plan, I aim to make 20 bottles of homebrew this year, most of which will be country wines.  Size of bottles is not specified!  But they will be between around 400 mL to 1 L (random wine/spirits bottles with some Grolsch bottles thrown in).  Though we aren't big drinkers, it's nice to have some bottles on hand for special occasions and for gifts. 

I've already bottled up 8 bottles of apple cider in June;  we picked the apples from a wild tree last October, so it was brewed/aged in the demijohns for about 8 months before bottling.  We've drunk some:  a bit sharp, but still tasty.  We're trying to pace ourselves and not drink it all before something else is ready.  Plus we know from past experience, apple cider improves with age!  I hope to pick at least twice as many this autumn and keep a good steady supply of cider.

Around the same time as we began the cider, I also picked a batch of elderberries, again from wild local trees.  I brewed them as a wine without added sugar:  we tested it in June and decided to add sugar and yeast to referment it;  it just wasn't alcoholic enough.  It tasted pretty good, but if too weak it will spoil quickly. I hope to bottle it up soon.

I also made two batches of elderflower wine (one week apart) in June.  I picked the flowers from a neighbor's tree which hangs over the fence onto our property.  Both demijohns are fizzing away furiously, and will probably be ready to drink by Christmas, though we may let one batch age longer.  It's a light, refreshing country wine, not meant to be kept for longer than 12-18 months.  I had about a liter leftover when I filled the demijohns;  I poured this into a screw top bottle to make elderflower "champagne."  It's bubbling in the bottle, building up pressure, and we'll open it on 23 July (three weeks after bottling).

And my last demijohn--I have 5 in total--is merrily bubbling away with rhubarb wine, begun earlier this month.  When visiting my mother in law in London, I asked if I could harvest her overgrown rhubarb, and she let me have all of the stalks;  apparently she doesn't like it so I didn't feel guilty about taking it all.  It was about 8 pounds of rhubarb in total, and I took it home and brewed it up.  I chopped it, poured boiling water over and let sit overnight.  Then I strained off as much liquid as possible and added sugar and yeast.  It's a beautiful pink color, and boy is it fermenting vigorously!  Like the elderflower wine, we could start drinking around Christmas, but may let it age a bit longer.

All this typing has made me thirsty:  I think I'll go crack open a bottle of cider.

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