Home Brewing

I did a little home brewing last winter...my first attempt. It all started from having drunk some home-made mead at a Christmas dinner. I was astonished enough at tasting honey wine and even more so to find out Chet had made it himself with just some honey, water, yeast and an orange and some cloves. In a jug with a balloon for a fermentation lock!

Well the wheels started spinning and I started on my mead almost as soon as I got home. I did some reading on the internet and decided that the frozen Saskatoon berries could be used for mead as well...and also the rose hip syrup I had made the previous fall might be better reincarnated as a mead or wine. (The syrup was a rose hip jelly that had not set).

Rather than recooking a jelly that had not set I used the syrup as a base for rose hip wine.

I went a bit crazy using up all the frozen fruit and experimenting with frozen grapes but I think it's been worth it. Yesterday and today I a actually bottled all the wines and meads as there has been no activity in the airlock for the past month or so. I'm more or less on schedule with it but I hadn't anticipated I would wind up with over 20 bottles of fruit wine! I'm pretty pleased about it - the tastes are a bit snappy which is to be expected as they are still young - and the flavors have all come through! Orange-Clove and Saskatoon Berry for the meads, Rosehips, Saskatoon Berry, and S.Berry/Banana for the wines with brilliant colours. I deliberately bottled in clear glass for the most part to show off the colour for the photos. The only disappointment were the two bottles of grape wine which turned out nasty...extremely harsh in flavor but will still be o.k. for cooking.

My wines...I still have to make proper labels :)

I do a lot of stuff on the cheap (recycled wine bottles, water jugs for fermenting containers etc.) but with making alcohol there are some things that are necessary and some that are HIGHLY recommended:

Bottles and corks. (free at the glass recyclers)
Fruit to ferment and sugar- lots of it. If you plan on making mead you will need lots of honey instead. (If you have fruit trees/bushes or your neighbors do use that fruit- much better than store bought. Wild fruits that you gather yourself are wonderful too.)
Yeast. Most people use wine yeast but you can use bread yeast as well but no doubt the connoisseurs of wine would be able to detect it!
Siphon Tubing. Food grade quality to rack your product.
A bottle brush and bleach. To properly clean a wine bottle you need a bottle brush. Cleanliness is super important for wine making and bottles can sometimes be difficult to clean due to their shape. Get a good quality one. Bleach to sanitize- rinse thoroughly.
Highly recommended:
A Hydrometer. If you want to know the potential alcohol content of your product then buy a hydrometer and  learn to use it.
Fermentation locks. The balloons work in a pinch but it's way nicer to see the activity in the airlock without guessing if it's finished or not.
If you plan to make a lot of wine and/or have lots of dinner parties:
Carboys. Big glass jugs for holding lots of 'must'. Heavy and take up a lot of space but a lot simpler to work with than a dozen water jugs!
A bottle corker. A lot of corks don't go in easily...I imagine this is a time and strength saver.

Ultimately you can also buy a kit or utilize u-brew facilities. I actually discovered The Wine Press in Merritt has everything you need to get started. I bought my corks there as well as fermentation locks, wine yeast and a hydrometer.

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