Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I make booze now and I think we'll all agree that makes sense.

As you may recall, I had a recent beekeeping disaster.

As always, because it's my way. Sadly. I'm just the world's worst beekeeper is what this is coming down to, but whatever because I have honey.

Like, 25 pounds of it or something like that.

Got to start somewhere, I suppose.
I'd walk you through the process of how the honey got from the hive into the jars via my usual rambling and swearing, but I daresay you can get the gist with a few photos captioned with limited rambling and swearing.

Let's see...

Firstly, I covered my kitchen with all of the cardboard I could find on our property. It was not enough. Obviously. Then I set up my extractor (big shiny thing), the super of honey (the white box on the counter), my bucket (white bucket, hello) and a box (surely you can recognize a box) for the frames once they were harvested.

If you've never seen a frame of capped honey from a beehive, here you go. Honey is in all of the cells and there's a thin layer of wax over the top of each cell to keep the honey in. I can't believe I'm explaining this.
In order to get the honey out of the cells, you have to cut (uncap) the honey with a big ol' knife and then you're supposed to stick it in the extractor, crank the arm and SPIN the honey out of the frames using centrifugal force.
"Supposed to", being the key phrase there.

Well, guess what doesn't SPIN so easily when it's 50 degrees in your house and the honey's been just a hangin' out in the yard in the box for OH THE WHOLE WINTER or whatever? Yeah, honey. 

So, to loosen up the honey that was clinging to the frames with all of its cold might, we turned two space heaters up to MOLTEN LAVA and pointed them at the extractor. 

And then I cranked and cranked and cranked and basically guaranteed that I'd never do anything productive with that arm again. Feel free to take from that sentence whatever filthy or tragic activity you like.
Nasties, all of you.

And then we gave up on the extractor and decided FUCK IT ALL let's just use the crush method which is exactly what it sounds like.

You scrape the honeycomb off of the foundation (the yellow stuff there) into a filter and you crush it.

Scrape. Crush. Scrape. Crush. Scrape. Crush...for 20 frames.

Some of it came out all nice like this, so we saved it.

Some of it did not. So we crushed it.

Then we ate some as a fancy appetizer with our neighbors. Plus cheese and apples.

And once it was filtering and flowing and I'd apparently sown my tomato seeds, there was a toast. Honey harvested.

Some went into jars to sell.

Some went into the cutest tea cup/saucer set in the whole wide world given to me by a very sweet friend.

Some of it went into refilling my own supply.
And a LOT of it is going into mead.

Are we all clear on what mead is?

Some people call it honey wine, but that involves some shit I'm not into mixing with honey (like fermented grapes), so we are calling it mead.

Dry Mead to be precise. Just water, honey and champagne yeast essentially mixed together, fermented and then racked off to sit and clarify for a few months. 

Here lies Thnead Mead. 

From which we drew the original gravity RIGHT ON TARGET BOOM.

71 degrees for a few weeks is all.
And soon we will rack it into a nice Mead Only keg to sit for a few months where it will become THE MOST DELICIOUS BOOZE OF ALL.

Seriously. I love it lots. I also owe a bunch to some very nice friends whose mead I swiftly demolished while they were off gallivanting around the globe.

Sorry, friends. That'll teach you to leave me unsupervised around your liquor. Be glad I don't like rum.

So yeah - mead is happening and bees are arriving again in April and I've cleaned out the hive for their arrival which involved replacing all of the foundation and torching the inside of the boxes to rid it of ghosts and cooties and I now make booze.

I'll let you guess how long it'll be before I try my hand at distilling gin because even though I've said a million times that I'll never do that, I bet you know that that's becoming a lie pretty fast.


  1. I *sooo* want to sample your thnead mead when it's done! I'll trade you some of my Cherry-Apple Cyser (which may, or may not be drinkable)!

    Oh, and given your crap-tastic luck with keeping your li'l bee-friends alive, we are anxious for you to delve into "Bee-Trapper" Territory (but you'll need to wear a coonskin cap, k?!). Our ginormous front-yard tree appears to be flashing "VACANCY... VACANCY..." to the bees in the 'hood. We've got another colony forming - dammit!

    We will gladly re-stock your hive - just say the word! ;-)

    1. I've had my fair share of quality time with feral hives and, while I'd love to be your coonskin cap wearing hero out capturing your swarm, I'll leave that to the pros. May I recommend Awesome Steve who is on this list of local beekeepers who happily capture swarms... He's a delight. And awesome. Don't forget awesome.

      Then we can swap booze.

  2. As much as I dislike bees, I like what they do and what they make (sometimes - I don't OMGLURVE honey but it has it's proper uses). So, you know, I'm all impressed and shit. Must have been a liquor concoction weekend. Husband made beer over the weekend and it's currently sitting in the conical in the living room...

    1. I love that your conical is in the living room. Thankfully the garage and basement get all of the brew, bike and garden stuff around here. Also because of potential explosions. Just saying. According to Reddit, that shit happens every five minutes.

  3. Yes. That is the proper use for so much honey. My brother-in-law makes mead--with honey he purchases in gallon jars from a dude at the farmers market--and it's surprisingly good. Way drier than the commercial stuff I've had, which is grossly sweet.

    And now I am compelled to say it: There is no great loss without some small gain.

    1. It's OK - say it because it is absolutely true. We'll get 5 gallons of mead from this 12 lbs of honey and, while I'm not sure what that equates to in time lost and, you know, SADNESS, I think it will come out about even.

      Hoping for a nice dry mead. The too sweet stuff gives me wretched headaches.

  4. Hawt DAAAAAMN!! Lookit you. So now how/where does one BUY some of that honey you've jarred up ready to sell? Count me IN because most of the local honey is pure Orange Blossom. Not my fave.

  5. You did it! It looks like a ton of of work, but by golly -- you did it. WOOO!


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