While things do tend to slow down in this the dormant season of winter there still are things to do in anticipation of summer harvests and also a summer of good and happy fellowship with our family and friends. This past week here at Hunny-Bunny Farm I’ve not only been busy pruning the orchard but also reviewing my seeds for the upcoming season. In addition, I took an inventory of my wine cellar. As many readers know I make my own wines and since I’ve not made any wine in about two years we only have about 25% of the wine cellar’s capacity. Additionally, I am quickly running out of my elderberry wine, which is medicinal; yes, really… medicinal. It is used in the flu season to ward off colds and flu. I also noticed that the orange chocolate port wine, a fine desert wine, is also low. Now, lest you accuse me of being a wine-bibber many of these wines are used at our frequent after Sunday Mass dinners and BBQ’s and also as gifts for Christmas and other occasions. So in anticipation of another great season of summer picnics, BBQ’s and swimming I knew it was necessary to make wines now to be ready for the upcoming season.
In anticipation of this, over the fall months I bought wine and beer kits to prep this winter and took this week to make them. So right now I’ve got four batches of wine and beer in various stages of fermentation. Together with the port and the elderberry wine I’ve got a 5 gallon bucket of chardonnay, which is a white wine; and I just completed brewing a Russian Imperial Stout by the unfortunate name of Rasputin, after the famous commercial stout. This is a high alcoholic beer of 8.8 proof. As a stout drinker I really liked the commercial version of this so decided to buy the kit last spring when it became available to the homebrewing hobbyists.
Generally, I like to make my wines in late summer and early fall and my beers, ales, and stouts during the winter. The beers, ales, and stouts actually require a boil so in order to cut the time in half when the final boil is completed I rush the 5 gallon stockpot outside and bury it in a snowbank. This rapidly reduces the temps and precludes any wild yeast from entering the wort, (unfermented beer). I then top it off as needed with cold tap water and pitch the yeast when it reaches the required pitching temperature. At the moment these 18 gallons of wine / beer are bubbling away as the happy little yeasty beasts do their job of converting sugars to alcohol.
So yes, relatively speaking, things are a lot slower than in spring or fall, but it won’t be long before the snows are gone and we will be turning the soil for the new garden season of 2014.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.