The GGA Project -- Day #115 "Meaty Sludge Removal Crew'"

If you'll remember, a couple of months ago my friend Brian introduced me to the art of wine-making (mead, specifically).  What we did that day--the boiling and the stirring and the adding of yeast and acid and the measuring of potential alcohol content--that was all just the first step.

Since then, the mead has been sitting in the glass container we left it in, releasing air bubbles as it fermented and slowly gathering a thick layer of used up yeasty matter (and yes, that's the technical term for it) at the bottom.  Brian had mentioned to me that we should take care of that soon.

Just look at that yeasty matter!

Today's New Activity: Racking Wine

What we needed to do was transfer the clear liquid at the top to a different container so it could finish the fermenting process without taking on the flavor of all that yeast.  The first thing to do was wash out containers for the transfer.  I wouldn't normally feel compelled to share the details of this particular step, except that Brian had the coolest tool ever for this purpose, which we attached to the utility sink in his laundry room.

I know you can't see it very well, but theres a little rubber spout attached to the spigot, which is facing up.  When you place the bottle over it, the bottle's weight triggers the water, which shoots upward all the way into the outer edges of the bottle's bottom.  It was so fun!  Apparently they use these to rinse glasses in bars, but I guess I was never paying close enough attention.

So after our new containers were clean and ready, Brian brought out another tool...basically just a siphoner (which is a word I'll go ahead and make up right here, since I don't know what else to call it other than just a rubber tube--it had a specialized end on the part that went in the wine, though I couldn't tell you what it was for except maybe to keep the large chucks of stuff (like pieces of cinnamon sticks and clove we'd added) from sneaking into the tube).

The tricky part was getting it started without letting the mead escape out of the tube and make a mess on the floor.  And yeah, I failed miserably at that (like I mentioned the first time around....Brian is a very good trainer.  He doesn't just do the steps and tell you what he's doing; he's very patient and explains what needs to be done, then let's you do it (and screw it up) yourself.  It really is nice to actually learn how to do something new.

Almost done!

When we'd transfered all the mead into two 1-gallon containers, we tested it for alcohol content again...it was hanging in there at a solid 16%...it'll be just about right after a couple of weeks in its new home(s).

Finally a preview taste test.  I joked when I smelled the mead that it somehow smelled similar to a little Italian deli called Guiliano's that my parents used to take us to when I was a kid.  "Is it supposed to smell like meat?" I asked.  "No," he said, "it's M-E-A-D, mead, not meat."

No matter...it didn't taste like meat.  It tasted like a rich, sweet, slightly warm going down nectar-like dessert beverage.  I suppose that's exactly what it is.  And it was so smooth going down!  Brian was happy with the outcome, calling it an improvement on past batches, which were a good bit more tart and tough to swallow.  I'm looking forward to tasting the final outcome, after we do the bottling.  For now the mead will sit in its new container for a little while more.

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