A homebrewer living in Kuwait. I've brewed wine, mead, cider, and tepache.
Naming Your Brews
Part of homebrewing is being able to name your creations. I am often tickled when hearing the names of other people's beverages: 'Haramadan,' 'Dry Town Stout,' 'The Grape Gatsby,' 'Pineapple Apple Pen.'
For this particular mead, I named it 'CinnaMead' because the only other flavor profile I added was cinnamon.
The way I like to name a brew is by thinking about the ingredients and try to create a word association, a pun, use a pop culture reference, or occasionally use a historical reference.
One example of a historical reference that I used to name homebrew was when I was brewing red wine and the grapes I was using Turkish black grapes. I tried playing with the color black or something to do with the distinction between red grapes and black grapes. The initial ideas weren't promising, so I changed the focus and tried focusing on the grapes Turkish element. I ended up naming it 'Mustafa Ataturk,' after the historical figure who was part of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
The naming process has various stages of brainstorming and evaluating if a name is a good one. A more modern version of using a historical reference was of a cider was during the Robert Muller investigation. The proceedings were all over the news and heavily seasoning social media. Originally I thought 'Rober Muller: Redacted Edition' was a winner, but felt like it was too vague and just didn't communicate that it was a homebrew apple cider. Finally, I ended up with 'Muller Red: Ingredients Redacted.' I felt that 'Muller Red' signified the red apples and that 'Ingredients Redacted' communicated that it was a recipe that was classified in the same way the Muller report was redacted from the White House.
To review, the most popular ways I like to name homebrews are:
- Create a word association
- Incorporate a pun
- Use a pop culture reference
- Utilize a historical reference
How to Care for Your Ferment
During primary fermentation, there are a couple of things you can do to help your brew along.
- Add yeast nutrients early on in the fermentation process. This will aid your yeast to multiply and do their job in converting sugars into alcohol.
- Stir your brew once per day. The main purpose of string your brew is to release excess carbon dioxide, the bubbles being produced during fermentation, and add oxygen into the mead. You wouldn't want to allow too much oxygen into your brew because that would end up making vinegar.
- Keep it in a cool place and find a way to regulate its temperature so that the yeast doesn't over-activate creating additional unwanted flavors in your brew.
Time and Aging
I made approximately nine bottles of CinnaMead and I was so eager to taste test the result. From what I had researched it was best to allow it to age about four weeks. So on top of the almost 10 weeks of fermentation, I had to wait an additional four weeks.
My wife and I drank one bottle and thought it was delicious. We both found this to be rather sweet and ended up cutting it with soda water and fresh lemon juice. That's how we enjoyed the drink pretty much all the time. We aren't heavy drinkers and we had other drinks in stock from previous brews, so we didn't try another for a while. Several weeks later and the flavors had changed, it had gotten smoother and more delicious. Again, it was sweet and decadent, we didn't have another bottle for about the next 9 months because we were pregnant! The next bottle I opened was when my parents came to visit and see their grandchild. Still delicious.
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Henceforth CinnaMead bottles were officially for special occasions and once in a blue moon.
Fast forward two years, and we have a second child and my mother comes to visit again. She and I open another of the bottles and it had improved in taste.
The mead was something akin to port wine—rich, sweet, smooth.
My wife and I finished the CinnaMead line before leaving Kuwait in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now we are in Singapore with an open homebrewing community and I hope to reproduce CinnaMead once more.
Bottom line: If you can let your mead age it gets better.
*If you can get glass bottles that are tinted brown or green to keep sunlight out it will help. Also, store the bottles in a dark evenly temperate room.
You'll need a couple of basic brewing tools in order to brew.
- Carboy or some sort of vessel to hold your ferment
- Bung to keep out oxygen
- An airlock to allow carbon dioxide to be released without allowing in oxygen
- An auto-siphon to transfer the brew
- StarSan to sanitize equipment
- Bottles: Flip-top or Swing Top is easiest because it can be sealed and reused without any additional equipment like a corker or bottle capper. One word of advice is to get the kind that can hold up under pressure from carbonation.
- Hydrometer or refractometers: In order to measure the sugar levels in the liquid in order to calculate the alcoholic content of the brew.
- Wine thief and test tube: Most homebrewers would be aghast to know that I am taking hydrometer readings straight from my carboy. However, this is part of my brewing experience in a dry country with limited access to supplies and equipment. I've had to make decisions on what was most important in order to complete homebrews.
- Digital scale: Always good for measuring exact amounts.
- PH and temperature test strips: I inherited some of these an I personally felt the use of the strips was a bit more involved than I wanted to be and a bit too complicated for what I was ready for.
- 3 kilograms honey
- 4 cinnamon sticks, whole
- 6 liters purified water
- ~ 4-5 milliliters Vintner's Harvest AW4 saccharomyces cerevisiae (wine yeast)
- Sanitize all your equipment using StarSan. Don't worry about residual bubbles, and do not rinse after soaking equipment.
- Warm the honey so that it becomes more viscous and pours more easily. A good way to do this is partially to submerge the jar/container of honey into hot water.
- Pour the honey into your brewing container.
- Add one or two liters of water and stir the honey and water together.
- Add the remaining water into the mixture.
- Pitch your yeast. Within the next 36 hours, your mead should begin to ferment and bubble.
- The primary fermentation should take place over the next 5-7 weeks or until the bubbling subsides.
- Rack your mead into a secondary container using your auto-siphon. This secondary fermentation should take around 2 additional weeks.
- Use an auto-siphon to bottle your mead. At this point it is ready to drink, however, allowing it to age will mellow the alcoholic taste and allow it to develop.
This mead should taste sweet, almost sickly sweet. My wife loves this delicious mead though. A great way to drink it is to mix it with some soda water and a squeeze of fresh lemon or citrus for freshness. The sweet and sour and fizz from the soda water put this drink over the top for me.
© 2020 Andrew Witthoft