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Homebrew #62: Evil Clone (Mk. III)

by Rob Friesel

Because we gotta keep some on hand at all times, and because we were rapidly running out of bottles: Evil Clone (Mk. III):

REAL VIKINGS DRINK MEAD

I’ll keep this blog post relatively short, except to say that Evil Clone (our Root of All Evil ginger mead clone; see also: Mk. I and Mk. II) has become a house staple. And as we were running low on bottles from the last batch, I figured I would get 5 gallons going so I could stick it onto the draft system.

Brew Day

No photos, sorry. But things went down like this:

  1. Busted out gear approx. 9:20pm.
  2. Sprayed down a bucket fermentor with Star San; crushed 5 Campden tablets and threw them in.
  3. 2 × 3 lb. honey + 1.5 lb. honey into a pot; filled pot with hot water.
  4. Filled the 10 gal. kettle with 5 gal. hot water.
  5. Ran off 3 gal. hot water into bucket fermentor.
  6. 2 × 3 lb. honey + 1.5 lb. honey into bucket fermentor; much vigorous stirring.
  7. Top off each container with hot water from the kettle; shake vigorously and pour into bucket fermentor.
  8. Top off bucket fermentor to 5… whoops! 5.25 gallons.
  9. Gravity reading: sighted 1.051 @ 101ºF → temp. calibration makes it 1.057 → and offset makes it 1.053 (so really only just shy 1 point high).1Reverse engineering the O.G. in BeerSmith, it looks like I was at 1.056 before the slight over-shoot on volume.^^^
  10. Cleaned everything up and back on the couch at 9:59pm.

Fermentation

About a day after making the must, I rehydrated 11.5 g of US-05 and pitched that along with the first nutrient addition (2 g DAP + 2.5 g Fermaid-K). Following along with a staggered nutrient addition schedule, I added another 2 g DAP + 2.5 g Fermaid-K at +2 days, at +4 days, and the last one at +6 days.

At +4 days, I also added 5.5 oz. of finely diced peeled ginger, along with the juice from 5 limes.

I took the first gravity reading at +253 hours (post-pitch; approximately 10 days), and found it had come down to 1.004. Three days later? 1.001. Three days later? 0.999. And three more days… still 0.999. Good enough to call it as final gravity, I think.

But it wasn’t quite gingery enough so I added another 5 g of powdered ginger and that got it into the right neighborhood.

Into the keg it went, at 45 PSI for about a day or so. Got it nice and sparkling.

(Still no pictures, sorry.)

Overall Impressions

Twenty-two days from brewing to serving. That’s a decent turn-around time and while it’s a satisfactory batch, I don’t think it’s my best.

Evil Clone (Mk. III)

AROMA. Moderately strong ginger. Mild and light honey aromas. There’s a hint of sulphur happening in some pours (eggy!), but that tends to blow off quickly; otherwise clean fermentation character.

APPEARANCE. Pale gold and hazy. Delicate white head fades very quickly. (Though that’s expected.) Fine fast-rising bubbles.

FLAVOR. Ginger is prominent throughout, but not overpowering. Some lightly floral notes co-mingle with a mild honey. Very dry. Little aftertaste. No discernible esters from the yeast.

MOUTHFEEL. Light and dry. Crisp. Nice bite from the relatively high carbonation. Alcohol warming is present on the low side of moderate.

OVERALL IMPRESSION. Refreshing and crisp. Spicy character from the ginger is nicely complemented by the higher carbonation. Despite strength, is fairly smooth.

Changes for next time?

  1. Needs more ginger. The last batch used a rate of 2 oz./gal. so I really don’t know why I backed off to the ratio from the first batch. That said, peeling and dicing all that ginger is such a pain and I wonder if I could just use the powdered stuff and save a bunch of effort?
  2. Figure out a better nutrient schedule. The staggered schedule I used here seemed to work fine for the Mk. II batch with EC-1118, but US-05 being so slow to start under even more ideal circumstances needs a much bigger nutrient charge up front. I’ll probably do a 4 oz. dose of the Brew Craft nutrient blend next time and then maybe feed it with Fermaid-K and DAP to help it along. The other thing that will help here is mixing in some Go Ferm during rehydration.

Those are the two big things. I didn’t get the sulphur smell the first time that I used US-05 here, so I think that a better nutrient schedule with a more vigorous fermentation (especially early on) should help that. If not, I could always switch over to D-47.

Otherwise I’m pretty satisfied. I like it at this strength, and while I could use a little more ginger, it’s otherwise going down the way I want it to. Cheers!

Recipe

The recipe for Evil Clone (Mk. III) is as follows:

Water Chemistry

Starting with the Champlain Water District profile as a base, add 1 Campden tablet per gallon.

Fermentables

  • 6 lb. wildflower honey
  • 1.5 lb. clover honey

Flavor Agents

  • 1 oz./gal. peeled and finely diced ginger root (add after 4 days)
  • juice of 1 lime per gallon (add after 4 days)

Yeast

1 sachet Fermentis Safale US-05

Brew Day

  1. Collect 20 qt. water and heat to 105°F. Add 3 gallons of water into mixing bucket; add honey to water and stir until dissolved. Top up to 5 gallons.
  2. Transfer must into a carboy. Add 5 (crushed) Campden tablets. Swirl to mix until dissolved.
  3. Let sit 24 hours for Campden tablets to work on the must.
  4. Aerate must; pitch rehydrated US-05; add 0.5 g/gal Fermaid-K and 0.4 g/gal diammonium phosphate (DAP).
  5. Start fermentation at 69°F.

Beyond Brew Day

  1. For the first week, alternate de-gassing and adding nutrients. De-gas on odd days (1, 3, 5, and 7); add 0.5 g/gal Fermaid-K and 0.4 g/gal DAP on even days (2, 4, and 6).
  2. After approx. 4 days of fermentation add 2 oz./gal. finely grated fresh ginger. (Use a muslin bag to keep it contained.) At this time, also add the juice of 1 lime per gallon.
  3. Allow fermentation to complete (approx. 2-3 weeks after pitching) at approx. 69°F.
  4. After hitting final gravity, force carbonate at 45 PSI for 24-48 hours.
  5. Enjoy!

Details

Evil Clone (Mk. III), a ginger mead by Tilde Gravitywerks

Original Gravity 1.053
Final Gravity 0.999
ABV 7.1%
Attenuation 102.0%
SRM 2
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About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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