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Ebulon's Honey is a Tart!

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Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
And he was being such a Braggert about her too...

So I've been on an elderberry kick lately, brought on in part by a sincere belief the antiviral properteries of elderberries may be of some benefit in the face of a Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. I discovered the old tradition of Ebulon, a beer made with elderberries, and then I started making it as sour beer, like a Flanders Red or Oud Bruin. Well I still have some extremely old malt left in the fridge so I decided to launch the next version which will take the path of a sour, only this time, I'm diving into the deep end of the pool.

This one is going to be a braggot/braggert. I'll aim for a similar 5-6% ABV as I did before, but last time I only did a partial sour, letting it sour enough to get a twang, then pasteurizing it, and letting yeast (T-58 ) finish the fermentation. This time, I'm going to let the mixed sour culture (my Kombucha culture) ferment the thing completely. I know that Saccharomyces Boulardii exists in there, and it is a good yeast that can pull 15-16% ABV, tolerates acidity, and it ferments clean at room temp (and maybe much higher) and doesn't get stinky even when fermenting a batch of tea with sugar and no added nutrients. These are all admirable characteristics. This runs the risk of it becoming way too sour, and ending up as a batch of honey/elderberry/malt vinegar, but that wouldn't be a complete waste so I'm going to give it a try. This would make a Belgian brewer's head spin! :laughing6:

Ingredients
Crystal Malt 10 degree - 1 Kg (more than 5 years old)
Briess light DME - 800g (That's all I had left - 5+ years old)
Maillard Malt liquid Munich extract 900g (3+years old)
Mint honey (beefolks) - 800g (10+ years old)
German Hallertauer Hops (2oz) - (5+ years old)
Dried Elderberries 4 oz (5+ years old)
Florastor yeast and Kombucha culture

nutrient - Fermaid O - 9g

Batch size 4.5 gallons
Fermentation temp 73-75F
Starting gravity 13 Brix (approximately 1.052)
note - I plugged these values into the calculator on brewersfriend.com and it came up almost exactly at this number. That is a useful tool for building batches should you need one.

I steeped the crystal malt, then mixed in the extracts and the honey and fired up the boil. Now some of you are shaking your heads and trying to avert your eyes; "What is he thinking by boiling honey (shudder)?" Well some honey may actually make better mead with boiling. This has been a debate that has been around for quite a while as seen in this thread. This old mint honey still tastes OK but I found that it had some phenolics that didn't sit well with me in meads. I think this may work fine in a braggot, and boiling it should improve the outcome overall.

I added 1 oz Hallertau Hops for 30 min boil, and I added the other 1 oz with 5 minute boil. The elderberries are in a bag added at flameout. Based on the Ebulon batch I started with, I made a Newbee mistake using 2 pounds in a 5-gallon batch which was way too much (unless you are making a port - which, by the way, I just happen to have enough old malt left to do, so guess what's coming next). I'm starting with 1/4 pound. It may be that 1/2 pound will be needed, but I can always add more later. I cooled it with the wort chiller, transferred to a bucket, and then I move it back into the stainless steel brewpot once I dumped the trub and cleaned it up. I will ferment in the brewpot with the lid on. When I am ready, I can easily pasteurize it then keg it up for clearing and bottling. Again, this will prevent a host of lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria from finding a good home in my equipment.

If I was really smart, I'd probably do this in the brewfridge at a temp in the 60s, but it is busy at the moment, and so I'm going go at room temp recognizing that this warm temp may allow the bacteria to overdo the acidity and create vinegar. I'm going to chance it, but as a small measure of insurance, I'm going to pitch a small starter of Saccharomyces Boulardii that I created by rehydrating some Florastor capsules with GoFerm, and adding to a 1/2 cup apple juice. This will give the yeast that are part of the Kombucha culture a head-start. I'm also giving a little yeast nutrient which may allow them to get a lot of the fermentation done quickly, and then I can wait for the souring to get to the point that it puckers my mouth.

So we will see if I get a sour, fully-mixed-culture-fermented, braggot in the style of a Flanders Red or Oud Bruin.
 
Last edited:

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
290
4
18
Indiana
A handful of questions if you don't mind...

How hot do you get it for pasteurizing?

How does one pasturize 4.5 gallons of liquid... do you "float" your carboy in a larger heated water pot/tub or apply heat to the braggot vessel directly?

Is pasteurizing a typical beer stabilization technique?

How much does the heat affect the flavors?

Thanks in advance!
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
How hot do you get it for pasteurizing?

This table sums it up. I shoot for just above 160F
TemperatureTimePasteurization Type
63ºC (145ºF)[SUP]1)[/SUP]30 minutesVat Pasteurization
72ºC (161ºF)[SUP]1)[/SUP]15 secondsHigh temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
89ºC (191ºF)1.0 secondHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
90ºC (194ºF)0.5 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
94ºC (201ºF)0.1 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
96ºC (204ºF)0.05 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
100ºC (212ºF)0.01 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
138ºC (280ºF)2.0 secondsUltra Pasteurization (UP

How does one pasturize 4.5 gallons of liquid... do you "float" your carboy in a larger heated water pot/tub or apply heat to the braggot vessel directly?
Keep in mind that with this batch, I'm conducting my primary fermentation in my 10-gallon stainless steel brewpot. All I have to do is sit it on the bayou cooker.
If I were fermenting it in a corny keg, that would be easy to sit in the brewpot with boiling water to get the temp raised quickly.
I'm not going to try this with a glass carboy.

Is pasteurizing a typical beer stabilization technique?
Many breweries pasteurize - Anchor is one though they use flash pasteurization which is really quick. There are a couple of short articles on the topic HERE and THERE.

How much does the heat affect the flavors?

I have not compared side by side to really determine the answer. I'm not sure my palate is sensitive enough to detect the difference. I suspect with a batch like this that is full of hops, honey and acid products, you won't notice much missing.


Day 2
Refractometer Brix 12.0

There is rich layer of krausen in the pot this AM (It is fun to use fancy brewing terminology sometimes
:) ).
I did add a 28g portion of a light toast American oak spiral to the batch this AM. It smells good so far.
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
290
4
18
Indiana

If I were fermenting it in a corny keg, that would be easy to sit in the brewpot with boiling water to get the temp raised quickly.
I'm not going to try this with a glass carboy.
thanks for the answers! PS - would you use bentonite or superkleer to fine out the glass particles from a shattered carboy? ;)
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
thanks for the answers! PS - would you use bentonite or superkleer to fine out the glass particles from a shattered carboy? ;)
First I have to ask, what’s the story behind that question? :confused:

For an answer, neither.
If there is broken glass in a batch, I would rack it through some pantyhose to filter out any larger particles, and I would stop racking at a level above the lees and not try to get the last drop. The particles of glass that are small enough to make it through pantyhose aren’t likely to be a problem and should drop into the lees without needing fining agents.

Day 3
Refractometer Brix 8.5
Est. Gravity 1.022

The Saccharomyces Boulardii is working to get the fermentation done quickly which is great. At room temp, especially with the starter, the yeast have dominated quickly and will get the alcohol fermentation done before it become too acidic which is what I was hoping to see. Then we will wait for the sourness to develop.
It smells good.
 
Last edited:

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
290
4
18
Indiana
sorry, my attempt at humor WRT you not wanting to submerge your glass carboy into boiling water to pasteurize. So far I've only had cracked carboys which leaked and never a shattered one. Yes I'm knocking on some wood!
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
Having had a carboy crack, and the bottom fall out spilling mead and glass all over the floor, I haven’t purchased a glass carboy since. I also wear close-toed shoes whenever working with a glass carboy. I’m now a huge fan of Corny Kegs; I don’t need any more carboy adventures.
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
Day 4
Refractometer Brix 8.0
Est. Gravity 1.018

I have no idea how low the attenuation can go with a bunch of bacteria at work. I understand that with some of these Belgian-style sours, the gravity can get close to 1.000. It still smells good and the taste isn't bad either. It think it could use a little more elderberry.

I added:
dried elderberries - 2 oz (total is now 6 oz)

They were blanched with boiling water out of habit. Really though, since I'm running this with a load of lactic and acetic acid bacteria, I'm not sure there is anything to contaminate it with that isn't already in there.
 
Last edited:

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
Day 10

This thing is now sour. It smells sour and it tastes sour. A nasty looking layer of scum is floating on the surface. Rather than boiling all this scum, I decided to rack this into an old keg along with the oak, and then I cleaned out the brew pot, and put water on to boil. Once it was boiling, I sat the keg in the pot and heated it for a few minutes. I then cooled it in the pool, flushed the space with nitrogen, and placed it in a 30F freezer to drop it clear.

I’ll rack it and force carbonate later. Right now it is still yeasty, but is it has a malty, fruity & cider-like character that may turn out to be good.
 
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