I am fortunate to be rich in friends but sadly poor in extra funds.
I was creating my holiday gift giving list, and when I started to draw close to triple digits I knew I was going to have to do something creative when it came to gift giving this year.
Being the Drunken Duck that I am, I had a LOT of empty bottles. So I figured I would brew up my holiday gifts this year.
Brewing takes time: a month for cordials, 4-6 weeks for beer, 2 months for mead, 3 month for wine. That’s just the fermentation time until you can bottle; most still need to age in the bottles before they are even palatable.
I can brew in 5 gallon quantities, which fills either 25 wine bottles, 50 (12 oz) beer bottles or any combination therein. Even if I gave out just the beer bottle sizes, I knew I was going to have to brew a few batches to cover everyone on the friends, family, and coworker wish list. Luckily, I have enough supplies to brew up to four different batches at once.
The first batch turned out to be an Apple Pie Meade. Meade? Meade is the name for a honey wine that normally has an ABV around 15-17% ( although you can have some with less or more). Just like wine, a meade can be dry, sweet, or anything in between.
Besides time, do you know what else brewing takes? Money.
For my Apple Pie Meade I used 13 lbs honey, 20 apples, 4 packets of yeast, ½ cup ginger, 1 cup raisins, and 4 TB of spices. Before bottling, I added another 1.5 lbs of honey to sweeten to my taste buds.
That breaks down to $38 in honey, $10 in apples, $2 in ginger, $1 in raisins, $5 in yeast and about $5 in spices. The bottles I already had, but I needed corks ( .25 each), labels $10 and bleach $1. Total this batch cost me just under $80. (That does not include time of brewing, removing labels, and bottling.)
Brewing in the large batch meant I was able to get at least 25 gifts for about $3.20 per gift – and though the initial investment hurt my already tight budget, the end results (AND being able to give out so many drinkable gifts) were awesome!
The Apple Pie Meade was the first one in and the first one out (though cloudier than I would have liked). Even though I told people to put them away as they will only taste better with age, quite a few people have already tapped theirs and the initial response had been positive.