Bottled Jalapeno Wine


First Beer of 2017

2017_05_07_OST_0003After 10 months of not brewing any beer, I decided that I was again going to start brewing beer.  I have been on a Keto diet since last June 1, so I have been unable to drink anything with carbs in it, including beer. However, while not at my “goal” weight, whatever that is, I feel that it is time to have some Friday beers.

I wanted to begin with something new, so I took one of my Sweet Stout recipes and made a few changes.  I deleted the lactose, added oats, and changed (drastically) the hop schedule.  I also did not want to open a new bag of Maris Otter, so I substituted 2-row, which was actually what was in my original recipe.   The hops may be an issue, as I had the hops set, then changed my mind from Magnum to something a bit more appropriate to a Stout.  Then I triple checked with BeerSmith, and found a difference between my laptop and desktop calculations, resulting in the last minute addition to the recipe of the EKG. 

I have always enjoyed drinking my Sweet Stout, and I hope that in 7 weeks, this one will be as good.

The Recipe: 

Recipe – Oat Stout (Oatmeal Stout – 16B):2017_05_07_DSC00002

Boil Size: 7.22 gallons
Batch Size:  5.50 gallons
IBU’s:  37.1


54.9% – 5 lbs. Brewers Malt 2-Row
11.8% – 1 lb. 8.0 oz. Flaked Oats
11.8% – 1 lb. 8.0 oz. While Wheat Malt
7.8% – 1 lb. Crystal Malt – 60L
5.9% – 12 oz. Chocolate Malt (350 SRM)
3.9% – 8 oz. Cara-Pils/Dextrine
3.9% – 8 oz. Roasted Barley (300SRM)


0.75 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 10.51 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
0.75 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – 11.7 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
0.25 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 2.1 IBU’s) – 20 minutes
0.25 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – 3.3 IBU’s) – 20 minutes
1.00 oz. – East Kent Goldings (pellet – 9.4 IBU’s) – 20 minutes


1 pk. – Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs 1084) – 1.6 L Starter


3.0 oz. – Ground Coffee Beans – 5 minutes
1 Tbsp. Yeast Nutrient – 5 minutes

The brew went well, though my efficiency was a bit low, which is unusual.  I also used my new controller for the Grainfather, allowing connection and control through my phone or iPad.  It was a fun experience, though I had to switch from my iPad to my Android phone because of battery drain. 

Wine Update, and Squash!

20Jul42014_DSCF7147Racked my wines today, and I am very pleased with the results, so far.

The Cherry Wine came in with an SG of 1.000 and the Cherry Mead at 1.010.  As I mentioned in the original post, Cherry Wine and Mead, with care, 71B will go way above 14% ABV.  For the mead, it stopped in the perfect spot.

The mead it amazingly good for a 20 day old product.  The honey is present but does not mask the presence of the cherries.  There is a very pleasant sweetness, but not at all cloying. If the mead stops where it is, I will be happy and will not need to back sweeten or add any acid.  Wood?  Maybe.  I do have some wonderful medium toast French Oak chips hanging around, and I think they will go quite well with the mead.  I may split the batch and do half wood half no wood.

The issue is now what happens with the 48 ounces of cherry wine base that I added on the 20th to both the mead and the wine.  I did notice that there was some airlock activity 5 hours after adding the additional fruit, which I expected, so we shall see on the 4th of August how the wines were affected.

As for the Cherry Wine – It is really hot.  A lot of alcohol that I think will age out.  The wine I will have to back sweeten a bit, which I originally thought I might have to do anyway.  There is good cherry flavor and nothing except the alcohol that is harsh.  No wood for the wine though, as it is going to be a light and delicate wine if all goes well.

Look!  It is Misty is a zucchini standing in front of out 8 foot corn!


Cherry Wine and Mead


A picture of Misty drinking coffee during our morning garden tour.

I decided that it was time to make my cherry wine and mead from the sweet (black) cherries that we picked recently. Nothing fancy going into these two batches, just simple and hopefully, tasty.

I also made a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon (Wine Expert) today.  There are nice kits that I have made before, and compete favorably with a couple of the local wines. 

I am impatiently waiting for my Pinot Noir and Cabernet grapes to grow.  With one exception, all of my grape vines are doing well.  I think I lost one of my Cabernet vines.  Only a couple of years to go!

In the mean time, here is a picture of one of our table grapes:29June2014_300_2036

The Mead:

I decided to use Costco Clover Honey.  I have used it in mead before and it was quite good.  The local honey is very nice to eat, but it is also very strong tasting with a lot of thistle, sage, and other flavors that may not compliment the cherries.  I also did not boil the honey as I see absolutely no benefit, and the losses of flavor and honey components is not worth the small chance of preventing some (rare) type of infection.  That is what Campden is for, and besides, the raw fruit is full of “stuff”.

The cherries were frozen at negative 5 F for about a week to allow for fuller juice extraction.  The cherries are sitting in a 5 gallon nylon paint straining bag, along with all other ingredients save the yeast.

I may add some additional honey to the secondary to increase the ABV a bit.  Thinking another 21 to 23%’er!

The Wine:

Just cherries processed as above and table sugar.

The Yeast(s): 

For both the mead and Wine, I have decided to use Lalvin 71B-1122.  I chose this yeast for its ability to metabolize the malic acid present in the cherries.  If I need acid, I will add it later.  Since the mead is going to be in the 20% range, I may re-pitch with Lalvin 1118 after the 71B reaches its potential, which is about 14% ABV.  I have had it go way above 14% before, and with care it may take care of the mead on its own.  1118 is excellent for restarting a stuck fermentation, and also great in the secondary.  I have used it in my 23% ABV Blueberry Mead in the past, and I like it. 

The wine is going to be 16.57% ABV, so I am sure that the 71B will run through that with no issue, leaving the right amount of residual sugars to making a nice wine with little or not back sweetening.  If not, I have more yeast and 100 pounds of sugar to deal with any problems.

1July2014_DSC2095Additional Information:

For both the wine and mead, I will be adding 48 fluid ounces of Cherry Wine Base from Vintners Harvest in the secondary.  I have had a 96 ounce bucket of the base sitting at home for the past 4 years, and now I have an excuse to use it. 

The cherries registered a Brix of 23.35, which is a bit above what I had initially thought.  Actually, my go-to calculator had a pre-determined Brix of 16.  Don’t know where that figure came from, but it is being changed.  Nice to have a refractometer – finally!

All ingredients, with the exception of the yeast, is sitting in the primaries with Campden.  I will pitch yeast tomorrow night at 1600.  Wine will be in the primary for 7 days, and probably the same for the mead.  Secondary until they are in a place I want them, then bulk aging for 6 months for the wine, and a year or two for the mead.  I figure the wine will be done in 7 months to a year, and the mead in 2 years as something to drink, and 3 to 4 (and longer) for something to enjoy, depending on final ABV.

The recipes:

Cherry Melomel:

Batch Size: 6. gallons
Potential %AVB:  20.64


20 lbs. – Clover Honey – Costco  
25 lbs. – Sweet Black Cherries 
48 fl. oz. – Cherry Wine Base (Vintners Harvest)  *added in secondary


6 ea. – Campden
3 tsp. – Pectic Enzyme
1 tsp. – Tannin FT Rouge
6 tsp. – Yeast Nutrient  – added at start and again at 1/3 sugar break
1 tsp. – Yeast Energizer


Lalvin 71B-1122 rehydrated in yeast energizer
Possible addition of Lalvin 1118 for secondary fermentation

Cherry Wine:

Batch Size: 6. gallons
Potential %AVB:  16.57


11 lbs. – Table Sugar
25 lbs. – Sweet Black Cherries 
48 fl. oz. – Cherry Wine Base (Vintners Harvest)  *add in secondary


6 ea. – Campden
3 tsp. – Pectic Enzyme
1 tsp. – Tannin FT Rouge
6 tsp. – Yeast Nutrient  – added at start and again at 1/3 sugar break
1 tsp. – Yeast Energizer


Lalvin 71B-1122 rehydrated in yeast energizer

Smoking and Wine

07Oct13_DSCF1931As I mentioned in a previous post, my ProCom4 is not working properly.  I was going to purchase a new, updated one.  Unfortunately,  the BBQ Guru folks do not know how to respond to email, return phone calls, or answer the phone, so, I purchased a new smoker instead and will use my Bradley for cold smoking.

The image on the left is of the new Cookshack AmeriQue (SM066) in its new home.  When I received it I seasoned it, and then decided to test it with a brisket that we received when we bought our side of beef. 

The brisket was 7 pounds and had very little fat. I found a new rub recipe and put that on the brisket 4 hours prior to smoking.  I put the brisket in the AmeriQue at exactly midnight, along with 5 ounces of hickory.  I set the pit temperature to 220 and the meat probe to 190, and went to sleep.  The next morning (5:00 AM actually) I set the pit to 225.  The brisket reached 190 at 4:00 PM, at which time I wrapped it in foil along with 1.5 cups of home made beef stock, and then wrapped that in towels.  We ate at 7:00 PM.

I am really not a fan of brisket.  They are OK, just not really my favorite thing to smoke.  However, this brisket was excellently great.  I have never has a brisket as tender, including the burnt ends, and moist, and so full of flavor.  It is my opinion that it was the operation of the smoker and not necessarily the meat that made this such a great meal.  We used the rest of the meat in tacos, with rice, and by itself. 

I will not post the brisket run recipe as I really did not like the rub that much.  It was an OK recipe, just not great.  In the future I will return to the basics of salt, pepper, and maybe some form of chili for a hint of heat.

Below are a few pictures of the brisket, from start to finish:


While the smoker was cooking the brisket, I bottled 29.5 bottles of Merlot, prepared the grain for my next brew session, and while bottling my wine, looked upon this scene from the garage:


Apricot Wine

14Aug13_DSCF1667An earlier post mentioned that we picked quite a few pounds of apricots from our two trees. I estimated over 40 pounds, and I am now sure that it is over 50 pounds. Anyway, I need some wine to fill the Bearded Hen Cellars, so I decided on doing a Merlot (from a kit) and a nice Apricot Wine.

Usually, I plan on 4 pounds of fruit per gallon of wine.  However, this time I decided that I wanted to go a bit more intense without going overboard.  My final calculations put the fruit at 4.833 pounds per gallon.  The biggest delay in starting the wine was the decision on what yeast to use.  I finally settled on Côte des Blancs, as I want a bit of sweetness with this wine, and if I did this right, it will be perfect.

The biggest issue I can potentially have is the sugar content of the fruit not being the “average” of 9.1%.  I need a refractometer, and I thought I ordered one with my last order, but I guess I didn’t.  So, I am going to order one in the next week or two.  I am looking at this one:  Refractometer ATC with Brix and SG Scale as I would like a better way to measure my wort when I am making my beer and for fruit when I am making wine.  This will be even more important when we start growing and harvesting our own grapes.  Besides, with an SG scale, it will be a lot better than dropping my hydrometer in the wort – far more sanitary also.

Now for the fun part – the recipe!


Volume: 6 Gallons
Calculated SG:  1.110
Expected ABV:  13%


12 lbs. – White Sugar
29 lbs. – Apricots (assuming 9.1% sugar Content)


2 each packet – Red Star Côte des Blancs


6 ea. – Campden Tablets 24 hours prior to pitching yeast.
1 tsp. – Peptic Enzyme
1 tsp.- Acid Blend
3/4 tsp. – Wine Tannin
3 tsp. – Fermaid-K – prior to pitching yeast and at 1/3 sugar break

Pitched yeast at 0700, 12 August 2013 and fermentation was visible by that night.  Punching down cap twice a day, the fruit is pretty much dissolved, and the liquid is a very nice orange color.  Smells great too!  I am actually thinking of some clear bottles for presents. 

I plan to rack to secondary on the 21st, and leave there for at least two months. 


Have fun!

Blueberry Mead–Update 1

Blurberry Mead Calc[1]

The image to the left is my final calculations for this batch of mead.  The calculator is available at, a mead site that contains quite a bit of very good information. 

I have decided to change my Blueberry Mead just a bit.  I have a couple of large primary fermenters, so I am going with an 8 gallon batch.  Actually, the batch will be between 7.5 and 8 gallons.  I also am beeping this batch in the 16 – 17% ABV range, a bit low for mead, but a level that I think makes this mead just a bit more accessible.  22%+ ABV is fun, but I want something I may actually like.  Then again, everyone loved my 22%+ ABV blueberry mead last time, so maybe this summer I will do a 23% mead and a lower ABV wine.

I transferred the mead to a 3 gallon carboy so it can continue fermenting.  I transferred the remaining liquid to a 7 gallon secondary, and added 5 pounds of blueberries, which I let ferment for 4 days.  Today, I added an additional 9 pounds 3 ounces of wildflower honey to the blueberry secondary.  I will let this sit for about 2 weeks, and then rack again.  I will also rack the 3 gallon batch to secondary.  I imagine I will bulk age for at least a year, and then bottle age for another year or so.  In the end I plan to combine the two batches for bottling.  What I figure I need now is a few 10 gallon secondary/aging fermenters for these batches.  Strange how you can always think of things to buy for wine/mead/beer making.

Blueberry Mead II

First_BlueberrysI am starting another Blueberry Mead.  This time though, I am doing a very simple recipe.  My previous Blueberry Mead was a bit over 22 ABV, but people seemed to like it, and most of them asked for more.  I however, did not like it at all.  A bit to hot for me and, while I hate to say this, it tasted too much like – mead.

The blueberries are a mix of wild berries that we picked this past summer, and store bought berries.  We just did not go out and pick berries this year, except for one time.  That left us with only 7.5 pounds of berries.  A few years ago, we did two pickings and came home with over 50 pounds, 25.5 pounds of which I used for mead, and 24 pounds for wine.  This year, I am only using 24 pounds of berries in the mead, with 17 in the primary and 7 in the secondary.  I also put the berries through my Green Star Juicer and made a puree this time.  What I found with the last batch of mead is that even with freezing the berries, it was very difficult to crush all of the berries to extract all of the juice and flavor.  I also used a fruit bag to hopefully eliminate some of the seeds.  Last batch required over 7 racking’s to eliminate all (most) of the seeds – they are really, really small and difficult to filter.

Below is the recipe.  The SG is a guess as I do not have an idea of the sugar content of the berries.  I am assuming a sugar content of 9.8% for this recipe.  Also, I do not have an accurate way of determining the water content of the berries.  I started with 5 gallons of water, and will adjust the water when I get to the secondary.  It worked last time, so hopefully it will work again.

Recipe (Revised – 18 February 2012):

Volume: 7.5 Gallons
Calculated SG:  1.135
Measured SG: 1N/A
Expected ABV:  17.25%


11.5 lbs. – Arizona Wildflower Honey
6.0 lbs. – Clover Honey
9.0 lbs. – Clover Honey (In secondary with blueberries)
17 lbs. – Blueberries – Primary
7.0 lbs. – Blueberries – Secondary


White Labs WLP 720 – Sweet Mead Yeast – 1L Starter.


1/2 cup – Honey
1/2 cup – Table Sugar
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
3-1/2 cups water
Notes: Boiled for 10 minutes, cooled and pitched yeast, placed on stir plate for 24 hours.


6 ea. – Campden Tablets
2.5 tsp. peptic enzyme
1.5 to 3. tsp. – Fermaid-K – prior to pitching yeast and at 1/3 sugar break

I usually do not heat or boil my honey, but all of my honey was totally crystalized.  To prevent any infection, I heated all of the honey along with 2 gallons of water, to 169 degrees for a bit over 15 minutes.  As usual, I added one Campden tab per gallon of water.  I will let that sit for 24 hours, and then pitch yeast.  Hopefully, a berry scented aroma will fill the house not long after that.

What I did differently this time:  Last batch of blueberry mead and wine saw the addition of acid blend, and tannin, and there were problems with those additions even though they were one-half of the recommended dosages.  The resulting wine and mead was very acidic and had a bit too much tannin.  It a long time and a lot of experimentation to get the products drinkable – I suppose I succeeded, but only because I was lucky.

Other additions:  Yeast nutrient – will probably add 1.5 tsp. Fermaid-K at 1/3 sugar break but will add 1.5 tsp prior to pitching yeast.  I will see how things go.  I will add 2.5 tsp. peptic enzyme about an hour prior to pitching yeast – more than likely along with the Fermaid-K.

Starter:  I was not going to make a starter but I did after thinking about how difficult my past adventures with blueberries were to start.  Last time it took 5 days or so, and a lot of additions and re-pitching’s to get things moving, so a starter was made.

Beer, New Class, and Cookies

Beer_Wit_29Jan11_IMG_0691The image on the left is of a Belgian Witbier that I bottled this past week.  It was started on the 8th of November, 2010, and spent almost two months in the primary.  I had six Coke bottles, so I thought it would be nice to have some smaller “sampler” bottles of the Wit to taste.  I also bottled a Cream Stout last week, again spending two months in the primary.  Both batches tasted exceptional when I bottled them.  The stout, make with 2 ounces of coffee beans, was quite drinkable as is.  They are now carbonating, and hopefully will be ready soon.

My next beers will be a Gruit and a Braggot.  I ordered the Herbs (Sweet Gale, Wild Rosemary, and Yarrow) yesterday.  This is the good kind of Wild Rosemary (Ledum palustre) with terpenes and all.  The Braggot will be a simple one, but the recipe is not quite set yet.  I will post the recipe when I decide on one.

On Friday, I sampled 5 of my beers: a porter – which is terrible tasting; a Belgian Blonde – which is very good; an Belgian Specialty Ale – which is good; a Robust Porter – which is also good; and a Belgian Strong Ale – which is exceptionally wonderful.  I must have had a bad water day or something similar regarding the essentially crappy tasting porter, as there is a huge band-aid taste that is not present at all in any of my other beers.  I am going to continue to bottle condition it until the end of February, and if it is not good by then, toss it and free up some bottles for my next batch.

I just started another patch of Washington Merlot – It is in the garage fermenting away.  Smells good.  I ordered a Pinot Noir for my daughters graduation.

In school news, I just registered for my first of 4 research classes – not quite sure about this…….  I may change from the Ph.D. program to the Ed.D. program – not sure about this either……. 

Some pictures of the Witbier, and of some Burnt Butter Pecan Cookies – now on my top 3 favorite cookie list:


The March to The Gallows:  I have decided that every once and a while, I would write some thoughts about the people “running” America.  The people, that when the events in Egypt happen here (and they will happen here), will be dragged from their respective houses, taken behind and wall, given a fair but speedy trial, and shot. 

Fun times for all!


Misty_24th_Birthday_2010_IMG_0646This is a picture of my daughter on her 24th birthday – 29 December 2010. 

The last part of 2010 and the first few days (weeks?) of 2011 have been somewhat interesting.  Though it was my intention to post on a regular basis, I found it not possible to do.  Why?  Well……The week after Thanksgiving I volunteered to help the gym teacher with putting protective equipment and rollerblades on the kindergarteners.  When I was helping the last student, with his face about a foot from mine, and with me looking directly at him, he sneezed – in my face.  I had the thought immediately, that I was going to get sick; and I did. 

The entire next week I became more and more tired, with just enough energy to make it through the day.  That Friday, I found I had a sore throat.  On Monday the sore throat bugs moved to my sinuses.  On Friday they moved to my lungs.  The next Tuesday, after a weekend of coughing and after three nights of waking up multiple times to move because the sheets were visibly wet (from sweat….), I decided to visit the local Urgent Care – a mistake I will never again make.

At the Urgent Care facility, a nurse stuck this 4 foot long cue-tip thing up my nose to collect a sample.  It felt like she made it to the back of my skull, so who knows what was on it.  The doctor, if he really was one, said I had a virus infection and that I needed no meds – just rest.  So, after taking Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday off, I took Wednesday off also.  On Thursday, after  three days of coughing up quite a bit of blood in the mornings, I made a visit to a “real” doctor, who said I was fine – really? – and needed no drugs.  I guess coughing up blood is fine sometimes. 

I spent the next two weeks, which were my Christmas break weeks, and the two weeks that my son and daughter, as well as my son’s wife were visiting, sick.  It was difficult to walk because I could not breath.  It was difficult to talk because my coughing ruined my voice.  As for thinking – forget it.  I did manage to do research for my LTM 5006 class at NCU, but I was totally unable to format any research into a coherent final product.  So, though I planned to spend my time visiting with family, making and drinking a variety of beer and wine, cooking and eating all things unhealthy, and finishing my NCU class, I did nothing but visit.  Then again, I spent more time with my kids that I would have done if I was well, so maybe being sick was good. 

Last Monday, after a worsening of my “cold” I went to the doctors office and met with a Physicians Assistant.  I got drugs!!!  My pulse was 95 and my blood O2 was 95.  Normally my pulse is in the mid to low 50’s, and a 100% blood 02 level.  Though I am still coughing, especially at night, and my ears are plugged up so it is at times difficult to balance (which makes driving fun!), this week I am fine.  I finally submitted a paper for my class, and because all my research and drafts are complete, have another one ready for submission.  My class ends in 12 days so who knows what will happen.  Hopefully, I will finish it.

Things I have learned:  Never, NEVER, go to Urgent Care – never!  Go to the doctor when you have a problem and demand a solution.  Like in – give me the drugs!  I have basically spent the last 6 weeks sick, and have missed 7 days of work.  That is more days sick from work than the past 4 years total.

Tonight, after putting the final touches on a paper that I will submit tomorrow, I am having a beer.  A SWMBO Slayer (Belgian Blonde), and maybe even an Abbey Weiss (Belgian Specialty Ale).  I usually do not have beer or any alcohol on a work night, but I really need to sleep tonight so I can be ready for a busy Thursday.  And, I

Below are pics from the holidays.  The first is me filling up bottles of Jalapeno Wine – the wine – and the labels my daughter designed.  We gave this to neighbors and friends. 


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