Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cider Deodorizer

It's now been about a week since my latest "brew two" session, during which I made 5 gallons of "Graff" (a cider/beer hybrid) and 1 gallon of "Liquid Sunshine" Pilsner. By now the Graff has finished most of its primary fermentation, but is still very slightly active, so I intend on leaving it in the primary as long as it takes, as well as continue to re-wet its towel wrap each day to keep it cool. The pilsner, being a lager and fermenting at colder temperatures in my fridge, is just chugging along at its usual pace, totally normal and happy.

So tonight I went into the linen closet, which is also my brew closet for all room temperature fermentations, grabbed a fresh towel, and headed for the shower. After I finished showering, I snatched up the towel and began to rub down my head and face when suddenly I noticed.... the scent of fresh apples? Yes! I put the towel back over my face and unabashedly drew in a deep breath. Wow - better than Febreeze! Apparently the CO2 escaping from the very active Graff fermentation had been trapped inside the linen closet and managed to absorb into my clean towels. Amazing!

The whole experience was quite a surprise, and now I'm wondering if I should place a carboy full of active cider in my other closets, you know, maybe even one next to the dirty clothes hamper and yet another next to the cat's litter box? I mean, who needs air freshener anymore when you have fermented apple juice gases, right?

In any case, it was definitely another interesting brewing discovery that just made me realize how many fascinating things can occur in the house of a homebrewer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brew Two!

I consider myself to be pretty lucky, being that I live only about a half hour's drive from a great homebrewing supply store. Many brewers may never see the inside of an actual brewing store, since so few exist and it may not be worth the drive when you can simply have your ingredients or equipment shipped right to your house. But if you are blessed, like me, and happen to live near a store, then you know how fun it is to just walk around in there and check out all the cool toys!

At my local store, it usually takes a couple of minutes for the owner to prepare and package my ingredients, during which time I am free to wander around like some kid in a candy store, ogling all the supplies, dreaming and scheming of future brewing projects. About a year ago while waiting for my grains to be crushed, I came across these really cool 1-gallon glass containers and I purchased two of them, along with the corresponding rubber stoppers. They have proven to be a great asset to my brewing arsenal, and I have used them to make yeast starters, brew mead, and most importantly, make small batches of beer.

At first I would only brew "experimental" batches with new, strange ingredients, thinking that if the beer came out nasty, at least it would only be 1 gallon wasted, instead of dumping a full batch. Around that same time was when I got my kegorator, so the 1 gallon brewing system was great for producing beers for competition that could be bottle-conditioned instead of worrying about the messy transfer from the keg (I don't have a "beer-gun" or other designer keg-to-bottle tool). I even built a small, 2 gallon mash tun, which worked great for these tiny batches of beer. The only problem with my miniature brewing system was the time involved to brew.

Even the most efficient, energetic all-grain brewer needs at least 4 hours on brew-day, and depending on what methods are used, up to 5 or even 6 hours! Why would you spend all that time to make 9 bottles of beer?!! So that's when I came up with the "Brew Two" concept. Since my 1-gallon system was completely separate from my 5-gallon, why not make two beers every time I brewed, one full batch for kegging, and one small batch for bottling? Any time that I had available for brewing I would barely expend the tiniest bit of extra energy, but get way more out of it. So now I have much more room for experimentation, and now I have more of a variety of beers around in case I grow tired of whatever happens to be on-tap at that moment (my kegorator only has one tap).

So the other day I had another "Brew Two" session, during which I made 5 gallons of "Graff," a sort of hybrid mix of beer and cider, and 1 gallon of "Liquid Sunshine" Pilsner. My local homebrewing club is having a Pilsner competition in October, so I figured the Liquid Sunshine would be ready just in time to compete. I know I said I was going to make Jonny's "Backyard" Bourbon-Oaked Ale my next brew, but when I saw fresh-squeezed apple juice on sale at the grocery store, my recession-scarred mind said, "hey, lets go for a more economical recipe this time." Since I already had some yeast in my fridge, I managed to get the ingredients for both batches for about 25 bucks.

I got the Graff recipe and instructions here, and changed it very slightly to this:

2 lbs pale malted barley
1 lb crystal 60
4 gallons Mott's Fresh-Squeezed Apple Juice
1/2 oz Spalter hops (30 minutes)
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
5 teaspoons Fermax Yeast Nutrient

And here's my recipe for 1 gallon of "Liquid Sunshine":

2 lbs pilsner malt
4 ozs cara-pils
2 ozs vienna
0.2 oz Spalter hops (60 minutes)
0.2 oz Spalter hops (30 minutes)
0.1 oz Spalter hops (15 minutes)
1/2 packet Saflager S-23

My little 2-gallon mash tun filled to the brim at mash-out:

Bag of spent grains:

Left pot is pilsner boiling (I used a 100 minute boil to avoid excessive dimethyl sulfide production), right pot is Graff wort portion just about to start boiling:

Sweating over my two brew-pots, but enjoying the very first taste of the Belgian Dubbel! (came out awesome!):

After about 6 hours at room temperature, the pilsner makes it way into the bottom shelf of the fridge, active and happy:

I put the Graff into the "brew closet," wrapped in a moist towel to keep it cool. One other quick note: after using 1/2 a packet of Saflager for the pilsner, I dumped the rest into the Graff! I'm hoping the towel evaporation technique will keep my fermentation temperature in the upper 60's, allowing the lager yeast strain to add a touch of fruity character. We'll see what happens, right now both beers are fermenting aggressively and I will, as always, report back on their progress.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

First taste of Home-malted Amber Ale

The other night I finally cracked the first bottle of "Home-malted" Amber Ale, and judging from its complexion, I should probably call it "Dark Ale." Mmmm, very pleasing to the eyes and the pallet, but a bit darker than I anticipated. Very nice head, malty aroma, and complex taste. There is a bit of honey flavor (I added honey to all my home-malted creations after each try produced unusually low efficiencies), then some bitter, chocolaty notes, and finally the hop flavor, which is actually coming through more than expected. This one is a good mix, the kind of beer that you have to puzzle over, repeatedly smelling and tasting to try and come up with a way to describe its flavor. Overall I'm very happy since it's much different than the other two lighter beers I made with the homemade malt. Perhaps even my favorite one.

Here's a couple pictures of the Dark Ale in the glass:

As I've said before, malting my own barley at home was very interesting, and I feel that I learned a lot, but I'm definitely going to hold off on doing it again for a little while. It turned out to be quite a bit of work and I was never able to get very good efficiency from the grain. I want to try again in the winter when I can dry the grains in the sun without worrying about the Florida summer rains. Until then, I'll enjoy the last of my Amber "Ice" Lager, and now my Dark Ale, and plan for the next brew session, a recipe of my own creation: Jonny's Backyard Bourbon-Oaked Ale. Prepare for an attack on the senses! This one is a big beer with lots of different flavors vying for attention. I hope to try and brew sometime this week - I'll see you then!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Homebrew Challenge

The other day, after re-reading my last post, I started thinking - wouldn't it be cool to test people and see if they could tell the difference between homebrew and commercial beer? And also see which they prefer to drink? So I invented the "Homebrew Challenge," a blind taste test between my homemade creations and commercial samples of the same style!

Last night I invited over the first victims: my good friend Jerome and his cousin Randy who is visiting for the week and has never tried homemade beer before. I pitted my Toasted Lager against Yuengling's Traditional Lager, a reasonably well respected commercial offering in the same category: American Amber Lager. According to the US Open Beer Championship website "American-style amber lagers are amber, reddish brown, or copper colored. They are medium bodied. There is a noticeable degree of caramel-type malt character in flavor and often in aroma. This is a broad category in which the hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma may be accentuated or may only be present at relatively low levels, yet noticeable. Fruity esters, diacetyl, and chill haze should be absent."

Neither contestant had tasted my lager yet, and they didn't know what commercial beer it would be paired with. I told them to give away 5 total points (split between the two beers) for each of the 5 following categories: aroma, appearance (color, clarity, and head retention), flavor (malt/hop balance, carbonation, and aftertaste), body, and drinkability/overall impression. The end results? An all-around win for homebrew! My Toasted Lager scored very well in all categories, especially flavor and body. The clarity of the Yuengling surpassed my homebrew, but my head retention and the story it left behind on the glass won me that category.

Jerome, having tasted some of my beers before, was able to identify the homebrew after the first sip, saying "it's less refined, but not in a bad way." He then pointed at the Yuengling and said "The way this comes across is almost watery." I took a video of the tasting, but unfortunately it was a bit dark and didn't come out that well - I will post more video content after the next "Challenge," but here is a stillframe of Jerome holding up the two brews:

Cheers, buddy! Thanks to Jerome and Randy for taking part in the "Homebrew Challenge." I invite anyone else who's interested to stop by and taste the difference!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Session Beer" - the Toasted Lager review

Waiting to taste your splendid, frothy, miraculous malt creation has to be the most difficult thing about homebrewing. Especially when each batch utilizes some new-fangled technique, recipe, or method, which in my case happens quite often. Such is the story with my Homemalted Organic Toasted "Ice" Lager (is the name long enough for you?). Here I sit, having just got home from a barbeque with my friends (during which many blah-tasting commercial beers were imbibed by all those present) just staring at the kegorator, thinking - why not just have one glass? And so I went ahead and poured the first sampling - aaaah, what a wise decision.

Even though this beer has been force carbed in the keg less than 48 hours, I must say that it has great body and is very delicious. This is the first ice beer that I have ever brewed (by accident), and I must say that I can notice an immediate difference in the head formation and retention. Absolutely amazing! After pouring the first glass, I can see that the head is very thick and robust, almost like meringue, and it lasts and lasts. Even when I took the last sip, there was still almost a finger's width of thick foam floating on the surface. So I can't help but wonder - should I freeze all my beers from now on?

I was even tempted to try and balance a quarter on top of this amazing head, but by the time I found one, I had already finished most of the glass. The flavor of this beer is very light and malty with hoppy undertones, actually more hoppy than I expected. A bit more body than the last "homemalted" creation, but very smooth and easy to drink. With its clean aftertaste and low alcohol content (about 3.5%), I would definitely consider this a "session beer."

The term "session beer" is used by homebrewers and beer drinkers to describe a beer that is easy to drink and can be heavily consumed in one sitting without becoming inebriated. Wikipedia defines "session drinking" as "drinking in large quantities over a single period of time, or session, without the intention of getting heavily intoxicated. Unlike binge drinking, the focus is on the social aspects of the occasion." Homebrewers like to say that their session beer is "quaffable," or easy to drink.

But where did these terms originate? I've always wondered about their conception, so lately I have been digging around a bit, and I found this awesome article, which states:

A British expat and buddy of ours in California once suggested that a "session" referred to one of the two allowable drinking periods in England that were imposed on shell production workers during World War I. Typically the licensed sessions were 11am-3pm and 7pm-11pm, and apparently continued up until the Liquor Licensing Act [of] 1988 was introduced. Workers would find a beer that they could adequately quaff within these restrictive 4-hour "sessions" that were laid down by the government without getting legless and return to work or not get arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Now he could be full of shite, but we've found some smatterings of info to back this up and it sounds like a fine origin of the term to us.

Sessionable beers of the time might have been a cask-conditioned offering, Mild or Bitter, at 3 to 4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), but no higher. Poured into a UK pint glass (20ozs vs. the US 16oz pint), patrons might have had upwards of 8 pints during a session and still remain coherent, ergo the "session beer." Sounds like a lot of beer, but it actually works out to be about 1 beer per hour if you take into consideration the rising ABV of today's beers.

Very interesting stuff, right? However, unlike England circa WWI, there are no regulations regarding drinking "sessions" at my house. So come on by anytime and let me introduce you to a better beer - fresh homebrew!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ice Beer

Well, I finally finished the "Homemalted" Pale Ale, so last night before bed I decided to transfer my Toasted Lager into the keg with hopes of getting a taste this weekend.

I started by sanitizing my cornelius keg and some plastic tubing for the transfer, and cleaning the kegorator lines. Then I took the container of lager out (I lager my beers in the back of the kegorator), opened it up, and to my surprise found that it was partially frozen! I really do have the coldest beer in town! But is that a good thing? I mean, now what am I supposed to do with this beer ice?

In all actuality, this is a scenario that I have always hoped to some day experiment with. You see, allowing your lager-style beer to partially freeze is not a bad thing in any way. Partial freezing is a technique that can be manipulated in a couple of different ways to produce very beneficial results in your final product.

First, there is a practice called "Ice Stabilization." This is a process where the brewer allows a small amount of ice particles to form in the beer (usually around 5%), and then skims them off before bringing the beer back above the freezing point. The ice particles will contain mostly water, which raises the alcohol level of the beer slightly. Also, I have read that this technique also appears to aid considerably in clarification. The partial freezing seems to trap haze-forming particulates and assist in the fining process of the beer. This, in turn, will obviously make the beer "smoother" tasting, with much more flavor stability. Not bad, right?

Secondly, there is a process called "Ice Distilling." For this procedure, much larger amounts of beer are allowed to freeze and are then removed, drastically increasing the alcohol content of the brew and completely changing the flavor profile. Eisbock beer is the most famous example of this method of brewing. Eisbock is basically a traditional German Doppelbock that has been ice distilled, increasing its ABV to anywhere from 9% to 15%, and concentrating its flavor incredibly.

And lastly, I have even seen a few people who claim that they accidentally froze their beer completely, and then after thawing and kegging experienced dramatically better beer - smoother flavor, better head retention, etc. There are a few guesses I could give as to why this might work, but I think mostly it has to do with clarification and the fact that you have effectively killed off every yeast particle.

In any case, I decided to let my beer thaw overnight and in the morning it still had a few small pieces of ice floating on top. I removed them with a sanitized strainer and proceeded to transfer the beer into the keg. I can't wait to see how it comes out! This will be my first actual experience with ice beer so, needless to say, I'm very excited.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Carboy watching

The life cycle of ale yeast is an extremely fascinating thing to see in action, that is, if you have the benefit of brewing beer in a glass carboy. First, during the initial "lag time," the yeast tends to collect near the bottom of the fermentation vessel, slowly moving and undulating into mushroom-like little clouds, collecting nutrients and oxygen. It looks like it is planning or scheming in some strange way. Then the next 3-5 days of intense growth and activity become infinitely more visually impressive. Suddenly, the yeast explodes with energy, releasing billions of microscopic carbon dioxide bubbles. The CO2 rises and carries the yeast molecules up with it to the top of the fermenting beer, where the gas escapes into a great foamy mass. The yeast continues to react fervently until it slows and clumps together (flocculates) with other yeast around it. These tiny globs fall back to the bottom, creating a sort of "circulating" effect. It is because of this heavy amount of action at the surface of the beer that ale yeast is known as "top-fermenting" yeast.

During the peak of activity, a fermenting ale looks like someone is swishing it around with some kind of huge invisible spoon! Yeast clumps are rising and falling with incredible intensity, foam is billowing from its surface - it really is quite amazing. Homebrewers may not like to admit it, but many of us, including myself, are "carboy watchers." Seriously, there really is nothing like staring into your carboy, observing the crazy party going on in there.

And you can't help but think to yourself - hey, my yeast are having a damn good time, right? I mean, they could be stuck fermenting some boring pile of bread dough, all sweaty and hot in the back of a pizza joint, but no, they somehow made their way into a sweet batch of homebrew - and they are rocking out! Think about it - the yeast organism does not have a huge amount of functions. Whenever someone asks me about yeast, I like to sum up their entire life with this analogy: yeast basically live to eat and reproduce, and then they "fart" pure carbon dioxide, and "pee" pure alcohol. Tell that story at a party and no one will ever forget how yeast works!

But seriously, to sit for just a moment and observe these tiny little creatures and their endless parade of insanity is actually quite calming. It really is nice to contemplate an organism with such a simple existence, doing it's simple task, creating this amazing beverage we call beer. And to think, for thousands of years people never even knew they existed!

Aaaah, carboy watching - call me crazy, but it's just another thing that I love about homebrewing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Belgian Dubbel

Yesterday I finally brewed the Belgian Dubbel and my brew session was quite successful. I ended up with about 5 1/2 gallons of wort (a little more than expected) at an original gravity of 1.066 (recipe predicted 1.065), and my "tiny-mash" yeast starter worked great - my airlock has been blowing crazy CO2 and I can see the yeast churning with delight.

I have a couple different Belgian Dubbel recipes, but this time I chose to buy an all-grain kit from Northern Brewer. I wanted to try using less specialty grains and allow the flavor to rely primarily on the Belgian yeast and candi sugar (crystalized beet molasses), so ordering this kit was a quick, easy solution.

The kit included:

10 lbs. Dingeman's Pale Malted Barley
0.5 lbs. Dingeman's CaraMunich
0.25 lbs. Dingeman's Special B
1 lb. Dark Belgain Candi Sugar

1 oz. Spalt hops (60 min boil)
1 oz. Czech Saaz hops (1 min boil)

Wyeast #1214 - Belgian Ale Yeast

The suggested mash schedule called for:

122 degrees for 20 minutes (protein rest)
153 degrees for 60 minutes (sacharification rest)
170 degrees for 10 minutes (mash-out)

A great, simple recipe. I noticed quite a few weird stems and chunks of barley plant in my grains for the first time, but my efficiency didn't really suffer, so I guess it was no big deal. Here's some other takes on the Belgian Dubbel style:

(For 5.5 Gallons)

12 lbs. Belgian 2-Row
0.75 lb. Cara-Munich
0.25 lb. Belgian Biscuit
0.25 lb. Aromatic Malt
0.25 lb. Special B

1 lb. Belgian Dark Candi Sugar Syrup

1.375 oz. Styrian Goldings 4.2% Pellets 60 min
0.75 oz. Czech Saaz 3.4% Whole 15 min

White Labs Belgian Golden Ale WLP-570

OG: 1.078
SRM: 18
IBU: 25


12.00 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row)
0.63 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
0.50 lbs. Victory Malt
0.25 lbs. Aromatic Malt
0.25 lbs. Special B Malt
0.13 lbs. Chocolate Malt
1.00 lbs. Candi Sugar

1.50 oz. Fuggle Pellet 5.00 60 min.
0.50 oz. Fuggle Pellet 5.00 5 min.

WYeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity

Ugh, one thing that I never look forward to on a brew day is the clean-up. Here's my mash tun, bucket & wort chiller, 7.5 gal brewpot with strainer, and 4 gallon brewpot, all filthy and waiting to be hosed down and cleansed:

What a day! See you next time...

Monday, July 27, 2009

How I made a yeast starter without malt extract

Usually when I make a yeast starter, I use dry malt extract (DME) - only because I believe it is the "standard method," and it has sort of become a habit. So I usually have a pound or two in the back of my fridge for that purpose. But if you've had a chance to read about my first attempt to brew with homemade malt, you already know that I had to basically ransack my fridge during that brew session, and all my available DME wound up in that beer (which miraculously came out excellent and I am drinking it right now).

In any case, today I wanted to get a starter going so that I can brew my Belgian Dubbel tomorrow, and suddenly realized I have no DME. So I decided to make a tiny little mash to produce a quart of wort for the starter. First I smacked my Wyeast pack to release the nutrient pack, which needs at least 3 hours to activate:

Then I opened up my ProMash software and created a small recipe. I immediately discovered that ProMash will not allow a recipe smaller than 1 gallon. So I kept the batch size at 1 gallon and adjusted the grain weight until I achieved a predicted 1.040 specific gravity, which came out to 1.44 pounds. Then I divided that by 4 and came up with 0.36 pounds - the amount of Belgian Pale Malt (my primary ingredient in this brew) necessary (at 75% efficiency) to make a tiny mash and produce a quart of wort.

Next I measured out 0.36 pound of grain and 1 quart of water, adding a little extra water for grain absorption and boil off. I also decided to use a couple chunks of Belgian candy sugar, since it is part of my recipe and I feel that it is always best for a yeast starter to consume the same sugar profile it will eventually be expected to devour and make beer out of:

Then I heated up the water to the mid 150's and dumped in my grains. The mixture stabilized at about 151 degrees:

I left it for an hour, goosing up the temp every 10-15 minutes by turning on the stove burner for a few seconds and stirring gently. Then I heated it up to 170 degrees for a 10 minute mash-out. I got out another pan, put my mesh strainer on top, and dumped the mash through it:

I then transferred the strainer back to the first pot and slowly drizzled the hot wort over the grains, performing this action 3 or 4 times back and forth between the two pots:

I eventually ended up with a pile of "spent" grains, and some nice looking wort:

I brought the tiny wort to a boil. Here's its miniature-sized hot-break:

Then I added the chunks of dark Belgian candy sugar:

I boiled for about 10-15 minutes, then dumped it into my sanitized 1 gallon fermentor that I use for starters (no I don't have a cool flask and stir-plate):

I chilled the wort in an ice bath:

And finally, I aerated vigorously, and then pitched my yeast:

And that's it! It's just like a regular mash, just super-tiny! It's the first time I've ever tried doing it that way, but it appears to have turned out very nicely - I guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow morning. See you then!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mead for a good friend

My friend Steve just got married last week and unfortunately I was unable to attend the wedding. However, when Steve and his new wife Jodi return from their honeymoon this weekend, they will finally receive my gift - mead! Over six months ago I found out about the marriage and I decided to brew up a small 1 gallon batch of traditional (but lightly carbonated) mead as a wedding present.

I used 1 pound each of orange blossom, clover, and wildflower honeys, champagne yeast for that extra dry character, and of course yeast nutrient to aid in fermentation, and acid blend for flavor harmony. In the end I got one large "growler" for Steve and Jodi, and four 12 once bottles for me and my wify. I primed the mead with 1 heaping tablespoon of corn sugar to impart a nice "sparkling" sensation on the palate (that's all it takes!).

Anyway, I know that technically six months is not quite long enough to serve a proper mead, but I did open a bottle recently, and let me tell you - I was very happy. I'm sure Steve and Jodi will love it as well, since neither of them has ever tasted mead, and only know of its existence through my constant ramblings at our collective social gatherings.

Here I am on January 16th drinking a homebrewed chocolate-coffee stout and preparing "Potter's Olde Sparkling Mead" (Potter is Steve's last name):

Here's the final product, accompanied by its "Mead Lore" scroll, an overly dramatized "history" of mead (much of which is stolen from Papazian's "Joy of Homebrewing") and a blessing on their marriage. I tried to make the bottle's labels and the scroll look old by burning them with a lighter(!):

The following is what I wrote in the "Mead Lore" scroll (all in Old English font):

Mead, oh glorious mead, the most ancient and sacred of all beverages, was born eons ago in a shroud of mystery and magic. It is quite possibly the first alcoholic beverage ever known to man, believed to have been discovered in old tree trunks that had collected honey and naturally fermented for years. Its intoxicating and aphrodisiacal qualities were the spark of many an unrestrained orgy and outburst of merriment during the Festival of Saturn, celebrated in December in ancient Rome. The Inca and Aztec Indians also brewed mead and held it in high reverence. Throughout the years, mead evolved into a veritable sacrament of great importance and meaning.

Many a tale abounds of the magical qualities of mead; of the joy, the celebration, and even the tragedy that befell its imbibers. Those who are fortunate enough to taste authentic mead today should do so in reverence to all those of the past. Only then can they truly understand the history and heritage imbued in every rosy droplet.

Let it be known that mead is, above all else, a beverage of love. In days of old, the drinking of mead was held responsible for fertility and the birth of male offspring. This is where the tradition of the modern day “honeymoon” got its start. It was believed that if mead was consumed for one month (one moon) after a wedding, then nine months later a son would be born. The custom of drinking mead at weddings and for one month after eventually led to our modern day custom of the “honeymoon”. The mead maker would then be congratulated on his ability to harness mead’s magic for its intended benefit.

Eventually, mead drinking developed quite a reputation for its ability to increase the chance of bearing sons, and became an important part of each family’s traditions. So much so that a special drinking cup, called the “Mazer Cup”, was carefully crafted and then passed down from generation to generation. The couple who drank from the cup would be blessed with the bearing of sons who would carry on the family name, tend to the family’s flock and fields, and fight in the constant wars of that time.

In those days, the making of mead was an art. It was regulated by customs, statutes, and superstitions, and was only allowed to be performed by certain individuals who had been highly trained in the magic of turning honey into mead. Today many have the knowledge required to produce this ancient beverage, but few give its legacy the proper reverence and respect it deserves.

Potter’s Olde Sparkling Mead is an alchemistic blend of three distinctly derived honeys in equal parts: clover, orange blossom, and wildflower. This trio of nature’s finest elixirs have been gently combined, pasteurized, and then allowed to ferment naturally for two months. Primed and bottled, it arrives to you aged over four months. Upon opening, it will release its sparkling effervescence and impart its truth to a place deep within your soul.

I, the mead maker, hereby congratulate you on your union. I ask God to bless your marriage, your life, and your offspring. May you always find happiness, may you always be courageous in all of your endeavors, and may you root all of your aspirations in honesty and integrity. As you drink this mead, please know that I have toiled in its creation out of friendship, admiration, respect, and love. I pray that together we may appreciate the ancient wisdom of mead, and always be humbled in the face of that which is greater than us.

Your eternal patron,

Jonathan C. Windt

Pretty hilarious, right? I will obviously report back after the first tasting by an actual "Potter." Perhaps my son will have another friend soon?

7/26/09: Cracked open the mead last night and it was a great success! Jodi said that it tasted like "liquid flowers." Steve read the entire mead scroll with a weird English accent - I wish I had that on video! Definitely going to brew mead again when I have the chance.