Archive for the ‘Drunken Bunny Liqueurs’ Category

Feast of St Arnold 2017   1 comment

 

Today is the Feast of St Arnold, patron saint of Belgian brewers and hop pickers. The long weekend of celebrations started Wednesday with the run honouring Women. While one such Woman out in LA was completing an honour worthy project, we shamefully (or is that “shameLESSly”?) slacked off in the spirit of the season.

 

 

 

It wasn’t all fun and games, though.  Thursday I had to endure a bit of photography based biopsy of some more skin cancers before we were free to go to the Church Street Market in St John’s Wood and then wander around Ealing. The marvelous art deco building at the top of this posting can be found at the intersection of Luton and Penfold in St John’s Wood. After a run down to Hanger Lane, we settled into martinis and some BBQ chicken.

 

 

 

Friday was devoted to household chores such as strimming our weed-and-food-wrapper filled lawn then hanging out in Ruislip thrift stores. Out the back gate, I fought nettles and thorns to gather enough blackberries for some infused vodka (a Thanksgiving treat, if all goes well).

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, I used some of the charity shop finds to start fermenting a jar of garlic then roasted the remaining heads to make a batch of pesto. To ferment garlic, peel the cloves (the last layer should be left on at least a few of them as this is where the bacteria and yeasts that do the work will be found). Leave some head space and pour a brine of 1 TBS non-iodized (think Kosher) salt per liter of chlorine-free water. Weigh the cloves down, cover, and check back every now and again for 4-6 weeks. Use this like roasted garlic although it should still be firm enough to grate. If you add it at the end of a recipe (that is, don’t cook it), you can diversify your gut microbiome with these.

 

 

 

Pesto recipe:
shitload of garlic
some toasted pine nuts
lots and lots of basil
olive oil
salt & black pepper
Parmesan Reggiano

Blitz all of this together, taste, and adjust to taste whilst trying hard not to eat it all during preparation.

 

 

 

 

The second fermentation project (remember, this is all about St Arnold), is a turmeric bug, sort of a starter culture for carbonated lemonades and limeades. Wash the turmeric but chop it up skins and all to make about 3 teaspoons. Add this and 3 teaspoons of brown sugar to 750 mL of water. Cover and put it in an airing cabinet or other stable, warm place. Feed it, daily, 3 more tsp each of turmeric and sugar until it starts to bubble up pretty good (as much as a week) then transfer to the fridge to slow it down. Feed the bug with a TBS of sugar each week. A half cup of the bug juice plus a half cup of sugar in a gallon of lemon water makes your fizzy lemonade (use Grolsch bottles to store it).

 

 

Things went a bit awry Sunday as I broke a cocktail glass then Frank Sinatra screwed us: One For My Baby, the last cut on Only the Lonely, was far enough toward the warning track on the album that our turntable shut off and I had to turn the disk by hand (the very hands, I remind you, that had just clumsily dropped a cocktail glass).

 

 

Eating well is the best cure for a streak of bad luck like this and I opted for a big pot of prawn Phô. I couldn’t find unpeeled shrimps at the store but I had some frozen bits of sea bream in the freezer from last week and combined them with some existing broth and vegetables to cook into a makeshift fish broth (normally I’d use the prawn heads and shells). Cassoulet may be my Desert Island Dish, but if I were able to find some way to make noodles and gather seafood this would diversify my menu.

 

 

So, now it is off to work … and, on a proper Holy Day, no less.  The plan is to down a Dubbel in Arnold’s name ahead of barbecuing some burgers tonight (although that should probably be some “Brugers”).

 

 

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Yellow Peril Dandelion Wine   Leave a comment

 

There were four recipes for Dandelion Wine in my copy of the Farmer’s Weekly Home Made Country Wines, Beer, Mead, & Metheglin (c 1955) and I took what I thought to be the best bits of numbers 3 & 4 with some small variations based on the supplies available on the day. The basic recipe was:

4 quarts of dandelion heads (no stalks)
3.5 pounds Demerara sugar
1/2 pound raisins
peel of 1 lemon and one orange
1 1/2 ounces of heavily bruised ginger root
1 gallon of water

 

 

 

The early Spring, this year, brought a horde (or should that be ‘hoard’) of dandelions around the neighbourhood and it only took about twenty minutes (including a brief chat with an elderly neighbour about her friend who collects these for her tortoise: “do YOU have a tortoise?”) to gather a large bowl of flowers.

 

 

 

For the sugar, I bought a kg of demerara and topped it up with 380 g brewer’s sugars and 120 g of dark brown muscovado (1.5 kg or 3.3 pounds).

All those ingredients went into a stainless steel pot (there was still a bit of the green parts of the heads on the flower but I think the final product might taste good a little bitter) and brought to a boil, left to bubble for an hour, then cool for the next 4 hours. This wort was strained onto the juice of the lemon and orange, a teaspoon of yeast nutrients, and 2 crushed Campden tablets then left till the following afternoon.

 

 

 

The two recipes I was using were especially compelling because they used baker’s yeast for the fermentation. When I got home from a post-work run the next day, I poured a cup of the wort over 3/4 ounce (21 g) of bread yeast and let it get a start before shaking the bottle well and pitching the culture.

 

I took the patient route and, once the ferment slowed to almost nothing (about 3 weeks), I racked into a clean carboy and allowed it to settle on its own for 3 more weeks then racked again (off the lees) adding the inhibitor and a Campden tablet and shaking occasionally for a few days to mix the chemicals and release the CO2 (the test dram was a bit acidic).  Bottled 25 May, ready next Spring.

Starting SG = 1.110
Finished = 0.995
estimated ABV = 15.1%

 

Wilko Cabernet — DBL Homebrew #2   Leave a comment

cabernet-wilkinson-label

 

Fancied a go at something I know, so I bought a can of Cabernet Sauvignon concentrate at Wilkinson’s (these ready-kits already have grape tannin mixed in which saved me a trip to a brewing shop this time).  The instruction packet seemed a bit cavalier with cleanliness, telling me to pour up the grape juice with 1.8 liters of cold water and 450 g brewing sugars then pitching the yeast and nutrient packets.  I opted to drop in a couple of Campden tabs and waiting 24 hours before inoculation.  Starting specific gravity was 1.142 in 3.8 liters (I added a little more sugar to call it 1.120 in the topped up 4.5 liter final volume).  Pitched at 19:00 on 30 January, topped up with club soda (clean, acidic) on 1 February.

As with the mead over the course of December and January, I had little control over the temperature but the growth/conversion was nearly as advertised this time and finished after 8 days instead of the 7 the package suggested.  The ‘stop’ packet contains metabisulfite (a crushed Campden tablet, essentially) so I added ½ tsp of potassium sorbate to inhibit any rogue yeasts that escape exposure to the toxic gases released.  I then deferred to the packaging and used the Wilko chitosan finings in lieu of my trusted gelatin/kieselsol regimen.  Clear as a bell in 10 days with a SG of 0.982 (suggests 18.1% ABV) and bottled on 18 February (20 days from start to finish).

The claim is it is ready to drink immediately and we sacrificed a glass to this theory — more MD 20/20 than Chateau Lafite Rothschild but definitely wine.  We’ll open another at monthly or so intervals until we are down to the last bottle which will get a full 2 years rest.

We’re rolling into spring, now, and soon we can do a bit of foraging for ingredients.  Nice to know that this simple method works like it says on the tin, though.

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Winter Solstice Mead 2016 — DBL Homebrew #1   2 comments

 

winter-solstice-2016-mead

 

21 December 2016: The First Day of Winter and last day the lab is open until 3 January.  Boiled 3 pounds of honey in enough water to bring the total to 4.3 litres and added nutrients (ammonium sulfate, mostly) and glucose to bring the specific gravity to 1.092.  Once cooled to slightly warmer than my hands, pitched the yeast (5 grams of a generic but highly alcohol tolerant strain) and gave it a good shake.

 

honey-going-into-mead

 

2 January 2017: Twelve days in and the fermentation is slow but the house cools to 16°C overnight and rarely reaches 22°C during waking hours so no big surprise there.  Thinking of buying a heating jacket for this bottle (we used to have one but it wouldn’t work with UK electrics — 110 V and 60 Hz back in the States), but this is the first British batch and I’m kind of interested in how it goes in ambient conditions.
mead-wort-cooling-ahead-of-pitching

 

8 January: Racked the wort off the lees to try to unstick the fermentation but, on weighing 42.5 mL of the juice at 41 grams (for a SG = 0.965…and at a cooler temperature than the initial measurement), decided it wasn’t so much “stuck” as “finished.”  This suggests 16.7% abv, which is about the tolerance of my yeast, as well; with that specific gravity, this will be a very dry batch.  I transferred it to a clean jug with an air lock and will check on things every week or so.

22 January: Two weeks since racking off the lees the fermentation has slowed to a halt (the sides of the air lock stay roughly level).  Added potassium sorbate and a Campden tablet and will swirl this for a couple of days before fining.

 

winter-solstice-2016-mead-bottled

 

25 January 2017: Fining was done with gelatin followed by kieselsol, then it was siphoned into the most recent four bottles we’ve emptied.  We also were able to get a couple of glasses out of this batch before the lees started to invade the siphon.  The bottles will rest until this year’s winter solstice when we crack one open for judgement (two if we deem it ready); the others will get a longer rest (the idea being that we try another bottle each year until it’s gone).

The immature mead in the glasses was decidedly harsh but we wanted to get a baseline tasting.  A little beer-y and VERY dry, I have high hopes for the aged product.  The beer flavour might have been partly flocculated yeasts and mostly the honey but we are definitely looking at otherwise character-free beverage.  In the best case, developing, over the course of the next year or two we’ll find a bit of the enolic and floral aspect that is just hinted at in the raw mead, tonight.  For a start, it’s not bad but definitely not really good, yet.

 

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Eight full years   Leave a comment

Drunken Bunny UK

We arrived in England 8 years ago, yesterday and I started writing this blog a month later.  I’ve done this annual tribute every year since.  This one is short.  Here are the highlights:

I became a British Citizen 3 months too late to vote in the Brexit Referendum.

I ran in the Wales Marathon and stopped, en route, at some pubs (which may not surprise regular visitors to these pages).

 

london-map-2017-01-14-eight-years

 

I drank in 260 new pubs bringing the tally to 1722.  Moving house to the outskirts of London made the difference, here…before the move, the number of new pubs was 51 (in 6½ months); after the move, the virgin running territory yielded the other 209.

Drunken Bunny Liqueurs has branched out to include brewing with a mead in the works (started a month ago but not yet bottled and will need a year of rest, thereafter).  Reports on this will follow, in due time.

Year 9 is starting rainy and cold and with an 11 mile training run to steer past (or, rather, through) a pub.  Here’s to the same old stuff for another round.

Previous recaps:
Year 7
Year 6 (but more info in the end of the Daily Tipple series and the Year of Fish and Chips)
Year 5
Year 4
Year 3
Year 2
Year 1

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Apple Jacks from Drunken Bunny Liqueurs   Leave a comment

drunken-bunny-apple-jacks

 

I bought some cooking apples — hard, tart beasts worthless as snacks — then promptly lost interest in baking with them. They had aged a week when I filtered the Red Flag Sloe Gin the first week of November, so I cleaned the Winchesters and refilled them with these ingredients:

4 large cooking apples cut to bottle neck sized chunks
1/2 cup of medium brown sugar
4 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon
Vodka to float the pieces (just over a liter)

Notably, this is the first apple infusion I’ve tried that doesn’t involve bourbon.  A good shake every week and we filtered it for one of our Thanksgiving treats, something vaguely akin to applejack but with a definitive breakfast cereal tinge.

Apple Jacks for the Apple Jackass in all of us.

apple-jaxks-on-the-bar

Posted November 23, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Drunken Bunny Liqueurs

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Red Flag Sloe Gin   2 comments

drunken-bunny-red-flag-small

There was no sloe gin in 2015 due to me dropping the ball as regards getting out to pick the berries in 2014 after the very good batch of Two Cures (from which we sampled for Quality Control purposes throughout the infusion year starting with the initial mixing).  To be fair, I tried after the first cold snap of 2014 but every blackthorn I could find had been stripped bare by less patient practitioners (there had been a Radio 4 programme in which sloe gin featured that year).  The year before that (2013), it was time for the Monstrous Erection; 2012 found us drinking from the Devil’s Punchbowl (part of the Step-by-Step process write-ups with the final, delicious step linked here).

Like 2014, last year had a really late first frost…nearly New Year’s Eve.  So, I harvested the Monday after Socialism 2015 at the edge of the A420 on the 66 bus route I was still shackled to when we lived in Swindon (the year before must’ve been a fluke).  I put the berries in a deep freeze at -80°C for 8 hours to simulate a hard frost (in Siberia).  Jeremy Corbin had only recently been made leader of the Labour Party and I mocked up the label’s main theme then in honour of him and Billy Bragg singing a rousing version of The Red Flag.

One year to the week later, and it is filtered and decanted.  And, delicious.

The people’s gin is deepest red
It’s lifted to our martyred dead.
And, though we pour it stiff and cold
It warms the throats of young and old.

Then raise the scarlet liquor high;
And, at its pleasure live and die.
Though cowards flinch, teetotalers sneer,
We’ll keep the Red Flag pouring here.

–The Red Flag, sort of.

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