Yeast, don’t fail me now.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the holidays seemed like the perfect time to revisit the ol’ rum recipe. For those of you who have been reading for a while, you might recall that rum was the very first thing that I tried. It is, after all, probably the second simplest project you can do. The first simplest would be to just buy some beer/malt liquor/wine toss it in your still and push play.

How can you go wrong with rum? It’s literally sugar (and molasses…which is sugar) and water. You dissolve the sugar and blamo…you have your rum. Unfortunately, it seems that’s not how it works. At least not this round.

Here’s how the story goes. Like a child on Christmas, I crept down into the basement last weekend where my wash had been fermenting. I paused for a moment to take in the spectacle of my small fermenter huddled under towels next to the furnace to stave off the Canadian cold. As I lifted the tank, I was greeted by the yeasty smell of progress. With no small amount of delight I walked, nay…scampered, into the workshop to open the tank and see what santa had brought me.

I was met with a horror. No, it hadn’t gone moldy. I’m way too careful with my sanitation for that (knock on wood), but the wash I had expected to be about 17% ABV was…2% ABV. I was, to say the least, incensed. I’ve been racking my brain for about a week wondering what could have gone wrong. Sure, the temperature dropped, but the fermenter was still at about 65 F. It’s not ideal, but it’s not low enough that the yeast should have been completely dormant. I had reports from several sources that the airlock was bubbling away throughout the week. I was judicious in making sure that the yeast was room temperature before I pitched it, and that the wash was down to about 98 degrees F. The package instructed 100. I will be honest and say that I didn’t time the mixing of the yeast in the wash, but I gave it a good, long stir. It may not have been a full 2 minutes, but I thought it was sufficient.

So, I thought about it. I decided not to pitch more yeast. I gave it a good, thorough, stir and have been waiting. Yeast, don’t fail me now…I’ll see you on Sunday.

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