November 27, 2011

Experimental Winemaking.

I've had a project in the works since August, but didn't want to share since I wasn't sure how things would turn out.  This was my first attempt at brewing home hooch...

What you see here is the Raw Materialsremainder of the fruit harvested at Johnny Hotcakes' orchard down the block.  To the left are apples and pears, and to the right is a bin of purple plums. The bin is leftovers from the five gallons used to make a plum "must" (that's the pulp used to make your hooch).

Here's my recipe:

...more below the fold

  • about 20 lbs of purple plums
  • A couple apples, a couple pears, whatever the hell is free.
  • 10 lbs sugar
  • 4.5 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 5 tsp "yeast nutrient"
  • 5 Campden tablets (crushed)
  • Champagne yeast
First, I crushed the plums and removed the stones, placing the pulp and juice into cheesecloth in a sanitized 6 gallon food-grade bucket with a grommeted lid.  Putting the plums into cheesecloth allows one to remove the pulp once the juice is ready.  Just pull the cheesecloth like a teabag, and only the juice remains.

The MustAfter crushing the plums, I added the sugar (dissolved in about a gallon of boiling water).  Once cool (overnight) I added pectic enzyme to break down the plum pectin (a sugar polymer in plant cell walls) and prevent cloudiness in my wine.  At the same time, I added crushed Campden tablets (sodium bisulfite) to kill any wild yeast, bugs, or commies hiding in my must. The sodium bisulfite dissipates into the (ever-warming) atmosphere as sulfur dioxide.  After adding pectinase and bisulfite, I let the brew stand for 24 hours.

Specific GravityHere I checked the specific gravity prior to adding the yeast.  What you see here is a good number, since final brew will likely be around 15% ethanol if everything goes well. 

By the way, boys and girls... 15% is almost exactly 30 proof.  We'll call this the "schnapps".  Take care not to operate heavy machinery.

FermentingHere's what the must looked like after I added yeast and let it sit for a couple days covered, bubbling through a three-piece airlock.

The crap you see at the top of the cheesecloth bag is one very nasty yeast infection.  TASTY!

Here's where the deal gets a bit complicated...

I had to brew the hooch in the garage since Mrs. botnet wouldn't tolerate the smell given off by the ferment even if I asked politely.  With a smell somewhat like a combination of raw bread and overripe fruit, brewing is something to be done in your basement or garage.

I started the ferment in my unheated garage, but the weather changed to near-winter in a hurry, and I was sure to have killed the yeast.  The airlock quit bubbling after about three days, and I believed the entire endeavor was failed.  After about two weeks, I set about to dump the whole damned thing,  but when I opened the fermenter, it smelled not like vinegar, but like cold duck!  I checked the specific gravity at that point, and the hydrometer read ZERO.  Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Since I was still in business, and the ferment had finished, I racked the brew to a glass carboy and let it sit in the house for about a month.  (Sorry, no picture, I like to drink.)

Empty CarboyHere's the stuff after bottling:

I added a bit of sugar solution to each bottle prior to bottling, since the brew was very dry.  I intend to allow the wine to age until next November, when it will either be a sweet, sweet celebratory nectar, or I'll use unopened bottles to bash about the head and neck area of any libtard I see.

The StashHere is my weapon stash:

Dear Lord,  Please allow me to drink these, and share them with family and friends.  I wish not the necessity of bashing bottles of your fruity goodness over the heads of idjits and fuckwads...

Amen.

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