When the idea of having a KarmaFleet cooking series was first mentioned, I decided that I wanted to participate with my newly acquired hobby of homebrewing. I knew that it would take some time, but like anyone else picking up a new hobby I decided to throw away the book and jump into things.
To be clear, I am an amateur homebrewer and probably made tons of mistakes that experts would cringe at. I’ll try to point out the ones I noticed in hindsight. But, just as Goons never claim to be good at Eve, I’m making no claims of being a good homebrewer.
Tools and Ingredients
While many recipes call for ingredients that might not be commonly stocked in everyone’s kitchens, when homebrewing, there are tools that not everyone will have. I’ll list the things I used that not everyone might have immediately on hand;
- 2 Gallon Food Grade Bucket
- Rubber Corks with Airlocks
- Fine Mesh Bag
- 1 Gallon Glass Jugs
- 16oz Swing Top Bottles
- Auto-Syphon and Tubing
- Star San (Food Safe Sanitizer)
And here is the list of actual ingredients I used, including some of the homebrewing specifics;
- Assorted Hot Peppers
- Green Italian
- 7 lbs of Honey
- 4 Liters of Water
- 2 tsp Yeast Nutrients
- 2 tsp Acid Blend
- ¼ tsp Powdered Tannins
- 1 Campden Tablet
- ½ tsp Pectic Enzyme
- 1 Packet of Yeast (Lalvin K1-V1116)
The Prep Work
So the first thing you must do is sanitize EVERYTHING! You are trying to intentionally encourage specific yeast while avoiding all kinds of other stuff that could do things like; make your brew not taste as good, convert your alcohol to vinegar, to being harmful if ingested. Keep things clean.
As stated earlier, I’m relatively new to homebrewing and have never made something like this before. So when I was at the store choosing what kind of hot peppers to use, I had no idea what I would like, so I basically grabbed one of everything. It made a colorful basket that was quite photogenic.
I then proceeded to chop all of the peppers into small chunks, making sure to remove the seeds and stems. The seeds in particular add a lot more heat, and with so many peppers already, I knew to avoid overpowering the flavors I was trying to extract. Once I was done chopping, all of the chunks went into the fine mesh bag. After another quick photo, the bag was tied off and put into the 2 gallon bucket.
Next I needed to get the honey dissolved into the water. This process is pretty straight forward of heating water in a pot, but not boiling, and then adding in the honey. My original plan was to make roughly a gallon, but I forgot that displacement was a thing. In the end I used 7 pounds of honey and 4 liters of water, which is around 1.5 gallons.
This was then poured into the bucket with the bag of hot peppers. As the liquid cooled to around room temperature, I added the yeast nutrients, acid blend, and powdered tannins. I also took a hydrometer reading to determine the specific gravity, which basically means I measured how much sugar was in the solution. Lastly, I crushed one campden tablet and added that as well, and took another photo before sealing everything up.
Now I had to wait 24 hours before moving onto the next step. At the time this felt like forever, but this was actually one of the shortest waiting periods in this whole process. The next day, I added in the pectic enzyme and sprinkled the yeast packet on the top of the solution. Next, the bucket was resealed with the airlock in place, and the bucket went into the corner of the house to do its thing. For the next few weeks or so, I would carefully open the bucket and make sure the bag of hot peppers was turned and nothing weird was growing, but otherwise I left it alone.
Roughly two months later I determined that it was done fermenting. At this point I removed the bag of hot pepper mush and siphoned the liquid from the bucket into the glass jugs. This is where I lament my earlier miscalculations, because not everything fit in a single jug.
At this point, there was little to do other than wait around some more. This is the aging process – when the liquid clears up and flavors blend, typically mellowing out, though the hot peppers didn’t do much of that. After a few more months I decided to bottle it up and drink some. I again used the siphon, filling bottles till the jugs were empty.
The Final Product
Behold my creation, Angry Bee Mead!