Category Archives: Preparation

The things you need to get ready before you start.

Dandelion Troubles and Muslin Bags

After a while of sitting in the must bucket, it came time to siphon the second batch of dandelion wine into demijons. We use an autosiphon for this, which is usually good at leaving behind anything large enough to cause trouble. Unfortunately this time the dandelions had disintegrated, and within minutes had clogged the valve. This was somewhat annoying, and has led to us having to dismantle and clean out the siphon (even more annoying). Worse, even going back to traditional siphoning (and taking a shot of fermenting dandelion wine to the back of the throat as a result) didn’t solve the problem.

Eventually our local voice of reason (also referred to occasionally as the missus, my better half, the sensible one and/or the smart one) suggested just grabbing a funnel and pouring the whole mess through the funnel lined with some muslin. This worked perfectly, and the resulting mix then siphoned happily into demijons as intended. The autosiphon is currently undergoing treatment to remove the last few stubborn petals.


Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Equipment, Foraging, Preparation


Tags: , , , ,

Not So Secret Project

As you may have noticed things have been very quiet around here recently. This is because we’re currently working on quite a big project (for us). Brewing has still been happening, and once everything is up and running (or at least stable) on the big project all of those recipes will be going up in a deluge of information.

Now, as to the project itself. Obviously hints have been dropped, and if you follow on any of the social media streams you’ll probably know this but I wanted to do a full announcement anyway.

As you may know this is purely a volunteer effort, there’s no commercial aspect to our work on Old Boar’s Brews except for the satisfaction of some people enjoying our recipes, and sharing them with the world. Both of us are quite heavily into the sustainability thing, but have limited time – a lot of which is spent on actually brewing, or clearing up our new allotment plots, or working on the Next Big Thing.

So the Next Big Thing is this: a local business has agreed to give us some land, so that we can set up a small apiary. You can imagine our excitement at this, and it’s been all stations go since this happened as we work out the financials and how best to do it. There’s going to be a lot of work, including fundraising efforts as we’re looking at making this a self-sustaining venture, whereas most of our efforts are purely for enjoyment and not commercial in nature. We’re aiming to have around a dozen hives in place by May next year.

If anyone has any fundraising ideas (currently crowdfunding options are being bounced around, local t-shirt sales with bee-related puns, sponsorship and event a little commercial investment), or would just like to know more about what we’re doing let me know through the comments here, or through e-mail.

We are setting up a separate blog for Old Boar’s Apiary which will have all the latest news, and I’ll share the link here when that’s available.

As for what’s coming up here:

  • Lilac wine
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Elderflower wine
  • Update on the dandelion wine (and we will definitely be making more)
  • Rose wine/mead
  • Plum chutney
  • And more
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Ingredients, Preparation


Tags: , , , , ,

Day of the Triffids

Uncleared allotment

An hour or so after clearing has begun a path into the foliage appears

We now have a half-plot allotment, and an option on another full-plot next

A salvaged grapevine, clinging on to life

A salvaged grapevine, clinging on to life

door. That works out around 380m² apparently, which is quite a lot of land (for someone who works full time, commutes, and tries to make a fair bit of homebrew). Whether we’ll get the full plot, or just stay with the half one we have, remains to be seen (but should be sorted by the end of next week).

The important bit is that the bit of land we have is currently somewhat overgrown. There are about half a dozen ash trees (several metres tall), and the entire area is covered in six foot brambles. Or was. We’ve only managed to snatch a few hours of clearing down there, but already have about a quarter of it completely cleared (or at least to the point where soil is visible – admittedly we’ve yet to start pulling up roots) and have made a marvellous discovery. We’ve managed to uncover two living grape vines.

They’ll need some tender loving care, and we plan to plant more (purchased from our nearby vineyard) as well as some hyssop for companion planting, but the sense of achievement

After a few hours of clearing we discover that this is actually land, not simply brambles on more brambles

After a few hours of clearing we discover that this is actually land, not simply brambles on more brambles

at saving them from the thorny triffid occupation is incredible. The plan also includes getting a bed of hops granted, and brewing some beer, with the aim to be that the only thing we need to purchase is sugar (and I’m not ruling out putting in some sugar beet to deal with that).

So in a year’s time we’re hoping that Old Boar’s Brews is capable of producing something entirely homegrown, possibly even with our own yeast strain if we can get one cultivated. There are a few other plans in the offing for the allotment, so I’ll be updating regularly. Once it’s all cleared and planted I’ll be trying to talk the missus into letting me plant more things to brew – but probably best to keep that quiet for now as I believe she has her own plans.

And finally, for the last hobby mention, we’re looking at brewing some small beer at living history events – in the traditional ways that will scare the pants off anyone used to using sterilizer, commercial yeast, additives or anything else. Just need to find a couple of brewing pots, and we think we can get some custom made. Watch this space.

Also watch out for upcoming articles on lilac and cowslip wine, and the challenges of siphoning dandelion after the dandelion flowers have disintegrated (or rather on the importance of muslin bags).



Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Growing, Preparation, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Dandelion Clock

Dandelion wine

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
* 1 kg dandelion flowers
* up to 2 gallons boiling water
* 1 kg golden castor sugar
* 1 jar honey
* 1 lemon
* 1 orange
* wine yeast
1 kg of dandelions

About 30 minutes worth of collecting

A simple, cheap and very traditional one here. Can be made pretty much all year round, with the possible exception of winter. Just collect dandelion flowers. As many as you can. It works out about 1/2 a kilo per gallon, so the more the merrier (if you have somewhere to store everything of course).

Simply collect the flower heads. Some people will recommend to take just the petals, as it takes some of the bitterness/dryness out of the wine, but I’m rather lazy and not about to strip off that many petals.

Then, add the juice from your lemon, the juice from your orange, your jar of honey, your castor sugar, and boil the water. When the water is boiling nice and hot, pour it in and leave it for a couple of nights.

Finally once everything’s cooled add the yeast and stir, then leave few a few hours. After this you can rack the liquid into demijons and put into storage, racking when the sediment gets too much and otherwise just waiting to enjoy your wine.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Experimental, Preparation, Recipe, Wine


Tags: , , , , , , ,


Apartment Brewing Tech: Towels (and lots of them)

Apartment Brewing Tech: Towels (and lots of them)

The Apartment Brewer’s advice here is important. My flat carpet is still slightly multicoloured from my earliest brewing experiments, before I learned this valuable lesson.

The Apartment Homebrewer

For those who are new to homebrewing, towels may seem an unlikely addition to your kit. However, new and seasoned homebrewers alike know all too well of the messes, sometimes gigantic, that can happen on a brew or bottling day. Since brewing indoors on a stove top presents many challenges, having some trusty clean-up technology can make the process less dramatic, especially when you’re trying to learn or perfecting a new creation. In this Apartment Brewing Tech post, I run down some simple tips to improve your brewing process with the use of some old (but clean) towels.

Why might I need towels in apartment brewing? Kitchen floors and stove tops aren’t designed for homebrewing in mind. If they were, my apartment brewery would be much nicer (and have a built-in floor drain). On brew or bottling day, messes are likely. The bigger the batch, the bigger the mess: more…

View original post 565 more words

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Equipment, Preparation, Uncategorized


Tags: ,

Heritage Carrot Wine

Basic Spirit Mix

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
* 2 kg bright purple heritage carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1 kg castor sugar
* water to two gallons
* wine yeast
* yeast nutrient

While walking through town last weekend we found that our local food stall was selling carrots. Purple carrots. Naturally on seeing these heritage carrots (I’ve heard of them, but never actually had a chance to try them) my immediate thought was ‘I bet those would make great wine’.

Purple carrot wine

Bubbling away very enthusiastically still

It has been suggested that my priorities may be slightly off, and some people would have wondered how these organic heritage carrots would taste as a foodstuff. I dispute this, as the evidence so far is that they will indeed make very interesting wine. It’s certainly colourful, though I was hoping for a more distinct purple out of the mix.

The recipe itself is very simple. Get a big pot. Put in lots of water and throw in the chopped carrots, as if you’re going to cook them. Simmer gently, and keep simmering for a few hours. Throw in the sugar at some point as well, as it’ll dissolve nicely.

Once you’re fed up of the smell of boiling carrots, let the whole mess cool and pour it into a must bucket. Top up to two gallons, throw in your yeast starter and nutrient, cover the bucket and leave for a couple of nights. After that you should have a nice froth on top of the bucket – siphon the liquid into two demijons, top off with an airlock apiece, sit back and listen to it bubble away happily. Wonder curiously about how it’ll taste.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Ingredients, Recipe, Wine


Tags: , , , , , ,

On Foraging and Farming

One thing we try to do with anything we make, wherever possible, is to make it from beginning to end. Yes, sometimes I’ll cheat and grab juices from the supermarket, or buy other ingredients there, but wherever it’s feasible we do try to either forage for things, or beg/barter from people in my network of friends and family. So before we’ve managed to get around 60kg of grapes from a combination of generous allotment owners and a nearby pub’s generosity, a 5kg marrow from a garden (apparently there’s only a certain amount of marrow that can be eaten before everyone is sick of it), 8kg of chestnuts (okay, actually they were for something else but next year I’ll be trying chestnut beer), a whole load of (poisonous and quickly discarded) mushrooms, several kilos of apples and so on.

I’m moderately proud of this, but determined to do better this year coming. Both with being more proactive in terms of foraging (there are specific things that I want to make, and we will need to do a lot of collecting to get them done) and by negotiating more to get produce. There are two things which might help with this, a lot.

Firstly my parents (who do have a garden available, unlike myself) are thinking about getting a couple of beehives and have already planted an orchard. You can imagine how happy I am about this, though whether I’ll see any of the honey remains to be seen. The orchard I’m fairly assured of getting a fair number of apples from (and we’ve located some wild apple trees as well, which will be harvested before the wind can get to them this time).

Secondly there’s a couple of acres of what seems to be abandoned vineyard nearby, and there’s a proposal being put forward to make this a community project. Whether anyone will find out the owner of the vineyard and be able to carry on with this I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot and I’ve already said that I’ll be happy to do everything I can to help out with the whole thing.

With the organised beg/barter stuff out of the way, my wishlist for foraging over the next couple of months comes into play:
* Nettles (nettle beer being the main aim of this one)
* Spruce needles (spruce needle beer, surprisingly)
* Birch sap (birch wine)
* Young beech leaves (beech leaf noyau – a sort of gin infusion)

So, roll on spring. And a stop to the rain would be nice.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Ingredients, Preparation


Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: