Well this should be interesting.
I threw 2.5 gallons of water in the freezer, and another 4.5 quarts of water on the stove. Typical recipe stuff, but this time done correctly. I may have already mentioned it, but my recipe actually has conflicting numbers here, but after the last batch, I now know what the right numbers are…but…
I threw all my leftover grain in a bag. That included 2 pounds of pale malt, 2.5 pounds of crystal malt, and a pound of chocolate malt. That’s a total of 5.5 pounds of malt grain, so I should have gotten just a bitt higher temp on my water before adding the grains to mash in. I got it only to 170. The recipe is written with 4.5 pounds of grain in mind (and of course a completely different sort), so the rest temp dropped to around 140, a little lower than is really acceptable for starch conversion in this process. I heated up some of the additional sparge water (1G is specified), and in the end added about a third of a gallon of higher temp water to get the temp up to a solid 150F.
I mashed in for 30 minutes, nothing unusual there, and then sparged with the remaining water (at 180F). I set this on to boil, and then went to check on the cherries. Turns out my daughters with both responsible for eating the cherries. And the eldest says she “didn’t know” she wasn’t allowed to eat them. We’ll just move on from there, I suppose. While the boil continued, with my wife minding the house, I ran to the store and picked up some more cherries. Back home, I halved 3 pounds of cherries, added them to a fermentation bag, and during the last ten minutes of the boil, threw in the cherries.
And I went ahead and purchased an extra pound for the girls, while I was at it.
I put 10 pounds of sage honey in the fermentation bucket, followed by the bag of cherries. The taste of the sage is decent, but I am not exactly a fan of the smell. It is what I have on hand, and we will see how it goes. In any case, I took the pan of boiled mash and placed it in an ice bath for a bit (got it down to about 120F). I then poured it into the honey-cherry mix, and stirred up to combine. to this I added the chilled water, followed by some additional tap water to make up to 5.5 gallons. Turns out that the boil evaporated quite a bit of water.
But all this worked out perfectly, with a resulting temp of 69F, a reasonable temp to start yeast. I tossed in 2 tsp. each of yeast nutrient and yeast energizer, then had to take off for lunch. A superb sausage, ricotta and spinach calzone later, I rehydrated 10g (2 packs) of K1-V1116 yeast according to package directions (typical, 15 minutes at 104-109F). I pitched the yeast and covered the bucket.
So in the end, we have a grab bag of grains, a grassy-smelling sage honey, and 3 pounds of halved cherries. A deeply opaque black-brown, it came out to a 1.090 SG when measured prior to adding the yeast.
As for the other things: I racked the braggot started early in the week to a 5 gallon carboy. Uneventful, honestly. I did get to sample some, and it needs more time to develop. If memory does not escape me, this is a “hopless” version of my typical recipe. And it shows, with a very mead-like flavor, with the maltiness of the “beer” side not nearly as in-your-face, at least for the time being. Still good, I thought. The specific gravity measured 1.020. So I might be a teeny bit premature in racking it, but in my estimation it needed to get under a good airlock, and my bucket doesn’t have a good enough seal. Once I saw limited bubbling through the airlock (meaning air was escaping through the lid’s sides), it was time.
And finally, I just put the yeast on to rehydrate for the cranberry wine started yesterday, a 5g package of Montrachet yeast, per Garey’s recipe. Right on time for the 24 hour pectic enzyme soak, I’ll toss it in and we’ll watch it get underway, too. Oh, and the SG came out to a whopping 1.132! Cheerful, indeed!