Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting in touch with my inner Dionysis: Christmas Alchemy 2008

Kim and I have made our first steps into the world of mead making! Being as Christmas is all about alchemy, in all of its interpretations, we figured that Christmas day would make an excellent time to try our hand at fermenting some honey in order to make the age old beverage Mead.

We didn't get any pictures made of us making mead because we were covered in friggin' honey, we are messy kids after all, so the pictures of our homegrown fermenting vessels complete with airlocks will have to do.

We made the vessels out of some food grade buckets that we bought from the local bakery, we used a 13/16 size paddle bit to drill the hole for the drilled rubber stopper in the lid and for the hole at the bottom which fits the spigots (bought at the hardware store, replacements for Coleman water coolers) perfectly. Straightforward and cheap, the way we like things!

Our first batch of mead was made with 11 lbs of local honey (Timber and Wildflower) and a pound and a half of local pure maple syrup. We used yeast nutrient to speed up the process and a bit of acid blend as well. The yeast was KV-1116. The second batch was pure mead, 12 lbs of honey, same yeast and nutrients. They have been bubbling away since just a couple hours after we made them and are still going. The mead will set in the primary containers for two weeks and then will be moved over to a secondary set of buckets, with only stoppers and airlocks and no spigot where they will set for a further two weeks to complete fermentation, once the bubbling in the airlocks stops, the mead will be racked into a third set of buckets which only have spigots where they will age to maturity, bottling won't be a necessity as we will simply place the buckets in the spare fridge on the porch where we can chill them for later serving.

As this is our first attempt at brewing, we aren't to sure what to expect, but none the less are excited and really enjoyed ourselves making up this brew. I'm going to try to come across another gallon of honey and break up the next batch into five separate one gallon containers in order to experiment with fruit flavors (Melomel) and different yeasts so as to gain a better understanding of this brewing process.

I also placed another order for several more spigots, airlocks, stoppers, yeast nutrient, acid blend, and several yeasts, because if all goes well, we all know how I am and I'll be trying to ferment everything I can get my hands on. We were thinking about ordering some concentrates to play with as well, this will make for good practice at honing our new craft, time will tell. Of course in the future I want to make sure that where possible all of our ingredients can be sourced locally, particularly since at the moment the next few years will see us planting a small vineyard, an orchard and lots and lots of berries.

If nothing else, I think now is the time to be playing with this ancient art form as the future remains uncertain and the value of such a product in an underground economy and in bartering will become sky high in an uncertain economy and environment.

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