2/14/2017: Bochet (or: Whups, the kitchen’s on fire)

So yeah. Blah blah mead this mead that. zomgz all the mead.

I bottled the 5 gallon JAOM out of the 5g carboy last night, into 4 1-gallon jars (between lees, headroom, and the bottle I took out last weekend for that spectacular taste test, it only amounted to 4 gallons, which is fine.)

I put labels on the bottles and went to my notes to get an initial fermentation date and notes to mark them with…

nothing.

*sigh*

Scooter forgot to write down what he did in creating this lovely batch of mead. I can ONLY hope it’s in my paper notebook (rather than the OneNote brewing reference I’ve been maintaining (and yes, backing up) for years.) So I was pretty pissed.

I’d been thinking that I needed to start numbering my batches so I could put them in an ACTUAL database (the OneNote thing is neat, but it gets a bit unwieldy) I called this the “M-1000” batch, and proceeded to take notes under an “M-1000” entry in OneNote like a friggin dipwad.

But, whatever. I put the four bottles in a box, numbered the bottles (I’m interested to see if it matters, though it shouldn’t) and stuffed it in the very back corner of my closet, for “bulk aging.”) I had a vision as I was on my way out of the closet, looking at the box over my shoulder, of a day in the far too close future, where I had a dozen or two such boxes, and shuddered.

The ulterior motive was to free up the 5 gallon carboy for further experimentation, since I had all kinds of plans. But when push came to shove, I was a bit stumped.

There are a couple things I want to try:

  1. A plain mead in bulk that I could freeze distill to see what came out. (This is how Apple Jack is made, but with hard cider.) I’m convinced a true honey liquor (instead of that honey flavored vodka horseshit) would be lovely. The start to yield ratio of freeze distillation is high enough that I’d really want to start with 3 or 4 gallons, so this would be the way to go.
  2. It’s mid March though, and I think my reputation would spread far and wide if, by the time it started getting hot this summer down here, I had case after case of hard lemonade, some with ginger, some with strawberry, and most plain (though a friend of mine said “and some with watermelon.” But he’s clearly nuts.) I haven’t made hard lemonade (or “skeeter pee”) in years and I was nonplussed by my previous result.

The bigger problem is, it’s No Spend March, so this is all academic (something I’d forgotten yesterday) so I washed out the carboy, ran a couple shots of bleach through it, then rubber-banded a top on it, so it wouldn’t get full of dust or other nonsense. Then I stowed it away….iiinnn the middle of the kitchen floor ’cause I haven’t been back over to the closet yet.

But what I DID start, realizing that it was Sunday night at 6:30 and I needed a couple wins under my belt, was a Bochet.

Now, Bochet is mead made from burnt honey. I can’t IMAGINE what it tastes like. It’s always really dark in the pictures and people say they love it.

So I put my 8 quart pot on the stove (gotta be enough) and put 2 1/2 pounds of clover honey in it, turned it on medium low and went back and sat down to putter a bit. It’s supposed to take between an hour and a half and two hours to torch it all the way down, so I didn’t think anything of it.

Not until I heard that telltale “bubbling over” hiss. I raced over to the stove, but it was too late. Honey had boiled over and splattered everywhere. What. A. Damn. Mess. I moved the pot to another burner (dragging molten honey behind it the whole way) turned off the burner and barked an expletive… or six.

I disassembled the stove and cleaned it out, unable to quite judge how much had been lost in the boil over.

Undaunted I got my huge lobster pot, put it on the stove, poured the honey in, along with an additional pound, and turned it on. I figured I could measure it back out once it was cooked by pouring it in to the original container (which was a 2.5 pound container) until it filled up, then just using that. Simple enough. Then I’d experiment with whatever was left.

So it’s been cooking there for about 40 minutes. It’s starting to smell pretty burnt, but I remember the video I saw a long time ago of these hippies making bochet and burning honey over an open flame (I mean…in a pot, don’t be stupid) and the number of times they went back and said “uhm….LOOKS burnt….SMELLS burnt…but the book says the smoke should be smokey” so I’ll leave it a bit more and see what happens.

This should be an interesting experiment if nothing else.

EDIT: 20 minutes later: Well, I quit burning the honey before it was actually smoking. The bubbling had died down almost completely and it was a really weird color. Even the bubbles were dark.

Turned off the heat and poured it all in to a steel bowl and scraped the sides with a teflon spatula (CAREFULLY) because it was sticking to everything. Once in the bowl it was clear that pouring it back into the plastic container would almost certainly be the most unintentionally hilarious bit of misfortune of all time, as it was probably still at about 300 degrees or more.

Filled up a measuring cup of water and put about a tablespoon in, at arms length. It just sorta glided along the surface until I noticed a weird expansion. It was bubbling up from underneath in one big blop. I stood back, fearing molten honey, but it burst without event.

So I started pouring more water in, my goal to dissolve it and cool it down for easier handling. It formed a crust on top as soon as the water hit it, which I then mixed in, and the water started boiling (duh, I suppose) so I mixed in a bit, stirred a bunch, etc. Once it stopped overtly boiling, I poured it through a funnel into the glass jar where it will be living for the next few months.

Unfortunately a whole bunch had crystalized on the bottom of the bowl, so I filled it with hot water and stirred a bunch. Newp. Got a knife and started prying at the glass like honey that had coated the bottom of the bowl and eventually chipped it away and stuffed it in to the funnel, after which I topped it off.

Now it smells like burnt honey and I have a metric fuckton of dishes that look like they’re spotted with thick brown glass.

Yay.

Still got to let it cool down a bit more before I start adding brewing chemistry, then an airlock. But this one’s in the bag for the most part.

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