Amber Shehan makes home brewing a breeze for beginners and experts alike with smaller 1-gallon (3.8-L) recipes that reduce the time, money and energy needed to create delicious brews all year long. Enjoy the nuanced flavors of homebrews like tart Orange-Hibiscus Cider, palate-cleansing Peppermint Wine or soothing Vanilla Bean and Chamomile Mead.
As an herbalist, Amber showcases her knowledge of culinary and medicinal herbs, wildflowers and plants in this incredible collection of deliciously infused brews that are both intoxicating and tonic. Rosemary and Clementine Mead is the perfect refresher for a warm summer evening and Spiced Pomegranate Wine will warm you right up on the coldest of winter days. With inventive, potent recipes and all the brewing know-how you need to get started or build your skills, Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing is your go-to guide for creating memorable brews beloved by all.
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|Publisher:||Page Street Publishing|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The craft of brewing is ancient, one of the oldest forms of alchemy that we've been dabbling in as a species. There is a theory that the discovery of naturally fermented fruit lying on the ground (and the feelings it gave after consuming it) developed into the purposeful pursuit of alcohol, or that water simply leaked into a honey storage jar and the resulting fermentation was a happy accident that we gleefully recreated.
We've been playing with brewing technology for so long that there are thousands of methods for brewing alcoholic drinks. Many modern brewers prefer a more scientific, measured approach to their craft. They use hydrometers to measure the potential alcohol content and refining agents to help clear their brews, and they create exactly measured recipes that can be easily replicated. There are also wild brewers who pursue a slightly more chaotic path, using wild yeasts or no additives, making an ephemeral brew that can never be exactly repeated.
The methods that I use fall in the middle of those two roads. It is easy to appreciate the use of sanitizers and the convenience of some modern brewing equipment, but you can limit the use of chemical additives in mead, wine, cider and beer and still end up with a tasty brew.
Ultimately, there are as many methods of brewing as there are brewers! Once you get comfortable with the basic techniques, I'll bet you'll find yourself tweaking recipes, skipping ingredients, adding new ones and otherwise making your brews your own. Enjoy the process and do what works best for you.
Seek out your local community of brewers. If you have friends around who like to brew, geek out with them, or see if there is a local homebrew club that you can join. Check for a homebrew supply shop in your area. That's a great way to meet a group of folks who won't get annoyed when you prattle on about your techniques! It will afford you the opportunity to listen and learn from the methods of others. A group to share with will ensure that you'll always be learning new things to try.
WHY ONE-GALLON BATCHES?
Brewing batches of bubbly booze at home is a great hobby, but it can seem a little intimidating when you begin. The initial cost of equipment, ingredients and your time can seem quite steep if you jump straight into 5- and 6-gallon (19- and 23-L) batches.
If cost is not a factor, your own size, strength and physical ability might play into the decision to craft small batches of brew. After a few brewing sessions where I had to heave and haul full 5-gallon (19-L) carboys around on my own, I realized that I should probably explore more manageable fermenting projects for someone of my size and strength. The results of my explorations are the recipes for 1-gallon (3.8-L) brews in this book.
Time is also a commodity for many people. If you have a busy schedule, it's far easier to set aside an hour or two in an evening to brew or bottle a small batch than it is to dedicate half a day to a larger-scale brew project.
Finally, small batches allow you to play mad scientist when it comes to brewing. If you enjoy experimenting with flavors and techniques, smaller batches mean less cost involved in testing out your crazy ideas! Once you have a successful recipe, you can scale it up and re-create it as a bigger brew so that you have plenty of it to enjoy with friends and family. If you want to expand a 1-gallon recipe up to a 5-gallon recipe, you can do it! For most brews, you can simply multiply all ingredients (except the yeast) by five. You would use the whole yeast packet in that case.
If you are worried, take time to do a bit of research. Visit the forums at GotMead.com and WineMakingTalk.com and ask for advice on your recipes. Both sites are great resources with extensive archives and active users. When in doubt, visit your local homebrew shop to seek advice.
SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT FOR BEGINNERS
To get started with making your own brews at home, you will first need to invest in some equipment.
Acquiring a set of homebrew equipment isn't terribly expensive if you gather your supplies bit by bit, over time. Keep an eye on local classified ads, homebrew message boards or your local Freecycle chapter. You can often find wine bottles, beer bottles and sometimes even discounted homebrew equipment from someone who is giving up the hobby! You can also get "free" gallon (3.8L) jugs by buying local apple cider or gallons of cheap wine and reusing the bottles.
Before you buy new brewing equipment from retailers online, you should check to see if you have a local homebrew supply shop nearby. Try shopping there first, even if it costs a bit more. It is worth it to get to know the staff (and fellow brewers), support a local business and get a deeper understanding of the various supplies by browsing them in person instead of on a screen.
At the bare minimum, you'll need the following supplies:
Fermenter (glass jug and brew bucket)
Bung and airlock
Wine thief/sanitized straw
Siphon tube/racking cane
Bottles and caps or corks
Straining bags and strainer
I rely on a gram scale for specialized ingredients, such as dried dandelion root and hops, because it provides the most accurate measurement.
A thermometer is handy to have when brewing. The temperature of the must or wort can affect the yeast, sugars and pH levels of your brew. There is a wide range of thermometers available, from analog to digital options, including Bluetooth-enabled thermometers for constant temperature tracking!
A 1-gallon (3.8-L) pot will work for many brews, but you'll need a 2-gallon (7.5-L) pot for the beers. It's best to have a lid that fits it well, as that will reduce boiling time and help to steep the herbs.
You'll need a spoon long enough to reach the bottom of your pot so that you can stir sugar, honey or other ingredients into the hot water. Many people prefer a metal or silicone spoon since those are easier to sanitize, but if you want to use only wild yeasts, a wooden spoon can become your magical brewing wand!
The glass jugs that are used in this book are called carboys, demijohns or fermenters in the brewing process. These are 1-gallon (3.8-L) bottles that apple cider (or cheap wine) is often packaged in. If you get one secondhand, check it over carefully for cracks or chips before using it and discard any jugs that are questionable.
Some recipes need 2-gallon (7.5-L) plastic brew buckets as fermenters. These are great for making brews with fresh fruit, as we'll explore later on, and essential for beers. You can easily drill a hole in the lid to accommodate a rubber gasket and an airlock. Brew shops sell brew buckets with airlock-ready lids and spigots on the side to make things easier at bottling time.
BUNG AND AIRLOCK
The bung is the plug that sits in the mouth of the gallon jug. A #6 or #6.5 bung should fit the mouth of most 1-gallon (3.8-L) jugs. Make sure that you are getting a bung with a hole drilled through it for the airlock. It's also good to have solid bungs on hand — they are good for closing off your jug when you shake up your brew.
The airlock is the plastic part that sits in the bung and serves to release the gases created during fermentation. They keep the brew safe as it ferments. The airlock is filled with liquid that acts as a seal so that the gases can escape and unwanted bacteria and yeasts can't get in.
I prefer to use an oxygen-based, no-rinse sanitizer like One Step, which you can find at any homebrew supply shop, but you can also use bleach to sanitize your equipment in a pinch. If you use bleach to sanitize, make sure that you are using it correctly (1 tablespoon [15 ml] to 1 gallon [3.8 L] of water) and that your supplies are rinsed very well to prevent residual bleach from killing off your yeasts. Bleach can also cause off-flavors by soaking into the softer plastic equipment, like siphon tubes, so be careful!
WINE THIEF/SANITIZED STRAW
A wine thief is a handy plastic or glass pipette-style tube that you can stick into your primary fermenter to draw out a bit of the liquid. They generally cost under $10 and are easy to find at a homebrew supply shop, but if you don't have one handy, you can use a regular straw or bit of tubing to get your sample of brew. Sanitize the straw or tube and dip it into the fermenting brew. Seal off the other end with your fingertip, pull it out of the jug and transfer the liquid into a small glass so you can give it a taste.
SIPHON TUBE/RACKING CANE
This bit of tubing is very important, as it is used to transfer the brews from one container to another. You can use a few feet of -inch (8-mm) food-safe rubber tubing and a 24-inch (61-cm) racking cane, but I prefer using an autosiphon to make things easier — just a few pumps and your bubbly brew will flow. The ?-inch (1-cm) or mini auto-siphons are the perfect size for 1gallon (3.8-L) jugs and 2-gallon (7.5-L) fermenting buckets.
BOTTLES AND CAPS OR CORKS
There are many types of bottles that you can use to store and age your brews. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses.
Swing-top bottles (also known as Grolsch bottles) are my favorite way to store mead, wine or cider. They come in various sizes, shapes and colors. Be sure that any swing-top bottles that you purchase secondhand are intended for food use, as there are thin glass versions sold for crafts that won't stand up to the pressures of fermentation. Swing-top bottles can be reused as long as they are in good shape. Check them over for cracks or chips, and discard a bottle if you find any. As a bonus, you will not require special equipment for bottling since the caps are attached. Gaskets used between the cap and the bottle for swing-top bottles are inexpensive. They can be reused many times, but you should replace them if you see any cracks or chips in the rubber. The number of swing-top bottles you need to bottle a gallon will vary depending on the sizes you have on hand.
Traditional wine bottles with corks are the best choice for any mead, wine or cider that you hope to store for a long time. They are also aesthetically pleasing! You will have to purchase corks and a corker to use this method of bottling. Most 1-gallon (3.8-L) batches will fill 6 standard wine bottles (750 ml, approximately 25.4 ounces). Beer bottles are for more than just beer! I often use beer bottles for all of my brews, including mead, wine and cider. Be sure to get oxygen-absorbing bottle caps if you intend to use beer bottles for long-term storage of your brews. If you go through craft beer like I do, you'll have plenty of bottles for "free" and replacement caps are inexpensive! You will need to purchase a capper to use this method. Most 1-gallon (3.8-L) batches will fill 8 to 12 beer bottles, depending on size.
A funnel that fits into the neck of a gallon (3.8-L) jug makes pouring liquids into the carboy much easier. I find that an 8-inch (20-cm) funnel works well with the 1-gallon (3.8-L) jugs, while some of the larger funnels, up to 14 inches (35.5 cm), work well with the larger-mouthed fermenting buckets. Some funnels come with built-in screens, which can be very handy when straining the must!
STRAINING BAGS AND STRAINER
Some people don't mind flower petals or chunks of fruit floating in their ferment, so consider these to be optional.
You can use cheesecloth to tie up herbs that you put in the brew, but when it comes to brewing with large bits of fruit, a straining bag is worth the cost. These nylon bags hold fruit, hops pellets or any other ingredient that would otherwise float in your fermenting brew.
It is also handy to have a colander or metal mesh strainer on hand for straining your wort or must into the carboy.
YEAST AND OTHER INGREDIENTS
The following are the main ingredients in a recipe. You will also add flavoring agents that will be specified in each particular recipe.
Water is the main ingredient in every brew, so you should be sure that the water you use has a good flavor! The well at my home provides a mineral-rich water that tastes quite nice. If you intend to use treated tap water, it is suggested that you boil it and let it sit for a few hours before using it to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Bottled water is an option, but avoid using distilled water as it has no nutrients to help the fermentation along.
The magic ingredient in every brew, whether mead, wine, cider or beer, is yeast! Yeast is a colony of tiny, single-celled fungi that consume sugar and expel carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol (the bubbles and the booze). There are more than 20 billion cells in 1 gram of yeast.
There are many varieties of yeast in the world, and the flavors and alcohol content of your final product depend on which kind you use. While you can purchase individual strains of yeast to achieve specific results, keep in mind that yeast is everywhere! It lives on the skin of berries, the rinds of citrus and even in the air around us. Wild yeast can produce wild results. Since you don't know what kind you are getting, using wild yeast is unpopular with the more methodical brewers.
The wine, cider and mead recipes in this book use 2.5 grams (1 tsp) of yeast. Most regular paper packets of yeast from a brew shop are 5 grams (2.3 tsp). You can use half a packet for a recipe and store the rest of the yeast in your fridge in an airtight container, to keep moisture out, until your next batch. Use the opened packet within 2 weeks for best results.
While you can technically use bread or baking yeast, its high alcohol tolerance makes for strong brews with no sweetness and brews made with this yeast often develop odd flavors, especially if they are brewed in a warm place.
Yeast consumes sugar to produce delicious alcohol, but sometimes sugar isn't enough to get the job done. Our fungi friends need more food, in the form of yeast nutrient. You can buy bottles of yeast nutrient from a homebrew shop, but I prefer to use raisins and other fruit to provide the needed boost to my booze. Most of the recipes in this book use raisins, but I omit them when there is enough fruit to make their inclusion redundant.
HERBS AND FLOWERS
Be careful! Use only flowers that you are certain are edible and have not been sprayed by animals or weed killers. Search for a foraging guide in your area or research your plants before you consume them. If you aren't fond of foraging for fresh herbs and flowers, you can use dried flowers and herbs in a recipe, but use less, as aromatic oils are stronger in dried herbs. If a recipe calls for a fresh herb but you only have the dried herb, use one-third of what the recipe asks for. For some of the more aromatic herbs, you may wish to use only one-quarter of the fresh ingredient.
Tannins are an optional addition to any brew. They add a bit of sharp bitterness, which can provide a nice complexity to balance a sweet mead and add depth to its flavor.
Think of the acrid taste when you over-steep a cup of black tea — those are tannins. While their flavor profile is bitter, tannins can provide a lovely balance to a brew, especially meads. Wines and ciders tend to have plenty of their own tannins from grape skins and bitter cider apples, and the bitterness in beer is provided by the hops.
Many of my recipes include black tea to add tannins when there isn't another tannic ingredient. You can also rack your brew onto oak chips to achieve the same effect.
THE BASIC BREWING PROCESS
If you have never brewed an alcoholic beverage before, don't despair! This section will provide a quick guide to the basic steps of brewing. The brewing of mead, wine and cider are very similar in technique, while most of the beer recipes have more steps to follow and more ingredients to add. I will go into more specific details about each type of brew in the introductory recipes for each section.
Brew day! This is the first step, where you mix the main ingredients, get the must (wine, mead, cider) or wort (beer) into the primary fermenter and pitch the yeast.
This is the hardest part of brewing. After you set up your recipe on brew day, you have to let the yeast work its magic. Fermentation can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the type of brew! You'll know that your brew is ready for the next step when the airlock has stopped bubbling, the jug has mostly cleared and there are no more bubbles rising to the surface of the brew.
When the brew has cleared, use a wine thief or a sanitized straw to draw out some of the liquid to taste it. Since it is fresh from the jug, the brew will have a strong alcohol flavor or sharp tones to it that will mellow with age. If you are otherwise happy with the flavor and sweetness of the brew, go ahead and bottle it. Otherwise, you can try racking the brew.
Racking is the process by which you take the brew out of the primary fermenter and transfer it into a secondary fermenter. This process removes the brew from the sediment, called the lees or trub (dead yeast, hops or other solids), resting on the bottom of the jug in primary and will help it to clear. Racking also gives you the opportunity to adjust the flavor and sweetness of your brew by adding fruit, honey, sugar syrup or flavoring additives, such as oak chips, to the secondary fermenter.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Brewing"
Copyright © 2019 Amber Shehan.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Gift of the Bees Heavenly Honey Mead,
Vintage Varietals Fruit and Country Wines,
Johnny-Jump-Up Ciders Sweet and Dry,
Grains and Gruits and Hops, Oh My! To Hop, or Not To Hop?,
Beyond the Brews Cocktails,
About the Author,