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Homebrew #77: Evil Clone (Mk. IV)

by Rob Friesel

Like I wrote last time: because gotta keep some on hand at all times. Except… it had been a while. Evil Clone (Mk. IV):

Evil Clone (Mk. IV)

I’ll try to keep this blog post short because I feel like making a batch of ye olde house ginger mead has become routine and rote. There’s not much interesting to say here. Anything “of note” here would be that (1) I was trying to bring down the ABV of the finished product to make it more mid-week-drinkable, and (2) that I think I figured out how to streamline things such that this becomes a “set it and forget it” production.

Brew Day

  1. Brought up my gear from the basement. Did a once-over to make sure it was clean, then sanitized.
  2. Collected 5 gallons of carbon-filtered water. Heated that to 104ºF.
  3. Ran off 3.5 gallons into a plastic bucket fermentor. Added 2 oz. of yeast nutrient and 5 crushed Campden tablets.
  4. Added 6 lb. of raw wildflower honey and proceeded to mix it with the wine whip.
  5. Topped off to 5 gallons and mixed again.
  6. Took gravity (1.045) and pH (5.22).
  7. Twenty-four hours later… pitched 11.5 g of SafAle US-05, rehydrated with Go-Ferm.

Fermentation

As noted earlier, I pitched 11.5 grams of SafAle US-05 — having rehydrated it with some 1.25 grams Go-Ferm nutrients per 1 gram of yeast. This was 24 hours after making the must.

This time of year, my basement typically holds temperatures in the mid 60s ºF so I just stashed the bucket fermentor in a cool spot and let the yeast do their thing. Fermentation temperatures held around 65±2ºF for the duration.

Four days after pitching, I added 2 oz./gal. of fresh ginger. The rhizomes were peeled and shredded; the pulp was contained in a stainless steel mesh sleeve. I also added fresh lime juice at a rate of 1 lime per gallon. Afterward I just let things sit.

Twenty-one days after pitching, I packaged the mead. Final gravity was 0.998 (typical) for 6.2% ABV; pH finished at 3.49. It was tasting pretty good, but I wanted more ginger, so we dosed it with 2 g/gal. of dried ground ginger. Kegged it and put it on CO₂ at 14 PSI for about 4 days.

Overall Impressions

Meets expectations. I’d been a little concerned that lowering the gravity might change the final character — either missing some of the “weight” from the higher ABV or else coming out of balance with the ginger. I doubt it would be a competition winner, but it’s fine for casual ’round-the-house consumption.

AROMA. Medium intensity ginger. Mild honey aromas. A little sulphur when the pour is fresh, but that dissipates rapidly. (Wonder if this is a byproduct of the honey? the yeast? combination?)

APPEARANCE. Pale and reasonably clear. Delicate white head fades rapidly. Fine fast-rising bubbles.

FLAVOR. Ginger is the dominant note, at a medium (bordering on medium-high) intensity. Mild honey notes as with aroma, tilting toward the floral. Very dry. Little aftertaste. No discernible esters from the yeast.

MOUTHFEEL. Light and dry and crisp. Nice bite from the relatively high carbonation. No significant alcohol warming.

OVERALL IMPRESSION. Refreshing and crisp; makes a great cocktail or a mid-week pint. Spicy character from the ginger is nicely complemented by the higher carbonation. Smooth drinking.

Changes for next time? Few, if any; this formulation produces a great result for such low-effort and low-cost ingredients. That said:

  1. More ginger? I like the ginger quite strong. This probably is a good level to produce it at, and maybe what I need to do is dose it at serving to-taste.
  2. How to mitigate that sulphur? I don’t know exactly where that sulphur note is coming from. Looking back over my notes, I did observe it with the Mk. III batch, but not Mk. II, nor the original. It’s tempting to blame the fact that I didn’t use a staggered nutrient addition schedule, but I didn’t with Mk. II or the original — so… that’s not it? Blame the US-05? Used that for the original — so… not it? The honey? Pretty much the same honey source each time. Maybe it just needs to condition longer? But then again… it dissipates quickly enough so… don’t worry about it?

Recipe

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

Water Chemistry

Starting with the Champlain Water District profile as a base, collect it by carbon filtration; add 1 Campden tablet per gallon.

Fermentables

6 lb. wildflower honey

Flavor Agents

  • 2 oz./gal. peeled and finely grated ginger root (add after 4 days)
  • juice of 1 lime per gallon (add after 4 days)
  • 2 g/gal. dried ground ginger (optional, to taste, at packaging)

Yeast

1 sachet (11.5 g) Fermentis Safale US-05; rehydrate with Go-Ferm nutrients.

Brew Day

  1. Collect 20 qt. water and heat to 104°F. Add 3.5 gallons of water into mixing bucket; add 2 oz. yeast nutrient and 5 (crushed) Campden tablets. Stir to mix until dissolved.
  2. Add honey to water and stir until dissolved. Top up to 5 gallons.
  3. Let must sit 24 hours for Campden tablets to kill any wild microbes.
  4. Rehydrate US-05 with 1.25 gram Go-Ferm per 1 gram yeast. Aerate must and pitch yeast.
  5. Start fermentation at 65°F.

Beyond Brew Day

  1. After approx. 4 days of fermentation add 2 oz./gal. finely grated fresh ginger. (Use a stainless steel mesh tube or muslin bag to keep it contained.) At this time, also add the juice of 1 lime per gallon.
  2. Allow fermentation to complete (approx. 3 weeks after pitching) at approx. 65±2°F.
  3. After hitting final gravity, force carbonate at 14 PSI for approx. 4 days.
  4. Enjoy!

Details

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

Original Gravity 1.045
Final Gravity 0.998
ABV 6.2%
Attenuation 104.7%
SRM 2

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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