Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Illicit Tasting

After an ill-fated attempt to go to the Shakespeare Theatre last night, I came home and snuck into the basement. I was there for all the wrong reasons. I wanted a taste of the highly immature, barely week-old beet wine. It's way too early for that, and there's no way the wine is ready, but my curiosity would not be sated. As is often the case, I had to know what was happening inside that beet-red jug (get it?).

I went down with a jug of extra must that I've been storing in the fridge to top up after my tasting. Removing the airlock, I poured a little in a glass. The aroma! And the taste. Yeasty, funky, a little weird, but much different than what I was expecting. The sweetness from the added sugar in the must is mostly gone. That Montrachet yeast has been very active, gobbling up honey, cane sugar, and residual beet sugar to turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide. What remains is somewhat viscous and redolent of fruit flavors and a strong hint of banana. The yeast and shredded beets have mostly settled, but there's a lot of sediment in what I poured, leaving a chalky residue on the glass. The thing it reminded me of most is this beer.There was an immediate connection in my mind to the Weihenstephaner Vitus. The yeasty banana flavor is written all over it. There's also a musty, almost savory taste to it.

I topped up the jug with some more must to feed the yeast a little bit and replace the airlock. Needless to say, can't wait to taste the finished product.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beet Wine - now with video

I spent Monday afternoon making beet wine. It was a long time in the offing, but surprisingly easy when I actually started doing it. I boiled about 3 pounds of beets, removed the beets from the water, added sugar, honey, and orange juice concentrate.

 Boiled that mix, cooled, added a yeast-orange juice starter mix, and voila. Beet wine, in a brilliant purple-red color. Won't be ready for at least six months, so temper your expectations, please!

Here's the video of the must bubbling away in the fermenter:

Waiting for this to finish fermenting and aging is not going to be easy. I want to drink the whole thing right now! Definitely encouraging to try something that seemed so complex and find it a fairly simple proposition. I will not hold back from attempting outlandish wines or other fermentation projects in the future. As the truism goes: you can't succeed until you try. Or something like that....

Monday, October 14, 2013


In preparation for the beet wine batch today, I'm sanitizing jugs. One problem - my kettle is too small (really just the biggest pasta pot we have). I've ended up pouring sanitizer into the jugs and sloshing it around a little. If it sounds amateurish, that's because it is. We'll have to make it work!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Quick post: Weekend Plans to brew for Columbus

I will be making beet wine this weekend! At last, the day has come. Montrachet yeast ordered, orange juice concentrate stocked in, beets to be bought, 5 lbs of honey in the basement. Just need to rack the maple mead out of the primary fermenting bucket, and maybe bottle it. I even bought fresh corks for the bottling process. Hurray for me!

This means I'll be sterilizing and siphoning all weekend. That's what Columbus would have wanted on his feast day! This recipe should only be for a gallon, so quantities are limited. Leave a comment if you'd like me to reserve you a bottle.