A Plunge Into Alcoholic Alchemy

Posted in food, homesteading

I have wanted to explore the world of brewing for a long time. Not because I’m some kind of wine connoisseur, or have a large appetite for alcohol or anything, but because it always seemed like the ultimate chemistry project. Not knowing much about the process itself, I always imagined it to be a sort of well-guarded secret potion-making. Intimidated by all the foreign vocabulary, technical terms, and expensive equipment involved, for me the alchemy of brewing remained shrouded in mystery.

That is, until I met a girl at a potluck in college who had brought along a bottle of homemade mead. After trying a sip (it was delicious!) I asked her how she made it. She shrugged and said she’d mixed together some honey, baking yeast, and water in a jug and stuck it in the back of her dorm room closet and forgotten about it for a term or two. Amazed that it could be so easy once the process was simplified, I resolved to try it myself. Unfortunately, moving every couple of months the last year hasn’t been conductive to any long-term brewing experiments, but when the first dandelions started to bloom this spring, I knew that I couldn’t wait any longer. Right time or not, right place or not, I decided- I’m making dandelion wine.


Once I made the decision, the first thing I did was, of course, to look up a hundred different recipes online, and watch a hundred different youtube videos, and I’m sure I eventually settled on one. And I’m sure I fully intended to follow it too, but then… life happened.

While at Katharina’s one afternoon, Michael and I noticed the abundance of dandelions flowering in her yard, and decided to pick them right there and then, since we could be sure that none of them were sprayed with anything funky. Of course we arrived home and realized we didn’t actually have anything to brew the wine in, but no matter- since we needed to steep the flowers for 3 days first anyways. Two days came and went, and instead of finding a brewing vessel, we had instead somehow managed to make plans to go away for a long weekend instead. “Oops, looks like the tea will have to steep a little longer,” we said, and off we went! But what to a more logical person may seem like poor judgment and irresponsibility, turned out to be fate indeed. You see, the place we had decided to run off to was none other than Vosa, and when Johannes and Peter heard about our brewing plans, they gifted us two huge glass carboys and an air-lock! So upon our return home 3 days later, we of course set about making our wine right away… And of course we didn’t have any of the oranges the recipe called for, and wait, how much sugar was it again, yes I’m sure it said 1 packet of yeast, but if you really wanna add two I guess that’s fine, and are we supposed to put the lemon guts into the carboy like that, oh, well now that its in there, lets just leave it.

And just like that, our first alcohol-to-be concoction was created, mysteries de-shrouded, and more curiosities catalyzed- just like in our experiment which is now sitting in a dark nook and bubbling away happily (ok, so its not actually bubbling, but the water in the air-lock does bubble every now and then when it lets the gas out, and I consider that to be a happy sound of good things to come :)

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