Autumn brewing season

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Autumn isn’t only the time of harvesting and preserving – its also the perfect time to be brewing ales, ciders, and other things that use top-fermenting yeasts.

So here’s what has been brewed over the last month or so, and what is under way currently:

  • Extra Special Bitter ale
  • Amber ale
  • Apple cider
  • Sweet fruity mead (metheglyn)

Happy to share the recipes with anyone that’s interested.

Cider is of course the archetypal autumn brew – owing mainly to the fact that this is when the orchards yield the scrummy fruit! We paid a visit to the Kellybrook Cider Festival, held up at the Kellybrook Winery in Wonga Park. It was an awesome day consisting mainly of roast pork sandwiches, scrumpy, toffee apples, and Morris Dancing. It was also the ideal place to pick up several litres of freshly-pressed apple juice to turn into Cider.

Morris Dancing!!!

We also cracked open a bottle of the original Mead that I made 3 years ago to commemorate our Handfasting. It has certainly improved with age. I’ve learnt a lot more about the process of brewing since then, and realise there is so much more to Mead-making than just fermenting some honey and then bottling it. It needs time to age before it is bottled, and that is the process I’m taking with this batch – I’m also only making 4litres or so, so to experiment with recipes on small batches before attempting something grand like 20litres….

3-year old Mead, straight out of the bottle.

This original batch was made using a fairly typical ‘sparkling’ yeast (cuveé). Not so with this season’s batch, as the availability of specialist yeast strains is so much more prevalent; instead I am using a yeast that is commonly used for sweet wines and fruit wines. So the end result will be less ‘sparkling’ and more ‘sweet’. The adjunctives include orange and clove….

As the weather gets closer, the plan is to make another batch or two before getting into the winter (pilsener time). The focus on these will be using some of the more hybrid yeasts, that can either be treated as warm-temperature lagers or cool-temperature ales. Typical hybrid beers of this time are the Steam beers and other similar brews originating from the west coast of the US. I have a great deal of Williamette and Chinook hops to use, so these are best suited to these kinds of flavours. And of course, I have a better chance of using the climate in my favour, using some of these kinds of yeasts – I can steadily maintain brewing temperatures of 14-20°C easily here without the need of belts or heating pads – permaculture principles in practice!

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