Supply Chain Woes

So much for the best laid plans of mice and men. Now, let’s not get too disappointed; we’re still proceeding with the tequila. We just have to be flexible because the stuff I wanted wasn’t available locally. Given time constraints that I’d just as soon not get into here, I want to start the fermentation this weekend. That will put distillation day towards the end of the month.

Most of my disappointment is in my inability to source Fermaid-O in a reasonable amount of time. I’ll for sure pick some up in a future project, but for now I’m in a “beggers can’t be choosers” sort of mood. Rather than Fermaid-O I am going to use Elo’s Premium. Now, I don’t want to get anyone excited. A quick search around the net has revealed no connection between the yeast manufacturer and the band that brought us “Mr. Blue Sky”. More’s the pity, I’m afraid.

I went with Elo’s Premium because it was available and because it claims to provide the yeast with the horsepower it needs to go the long haul in a wash more or less devoid of nutrition. It has a decent reputation and I’m excited to check it out. This will be the first time to “activate” the yeast rather than “pitch and pray” turbo yeast.

I’ve picked Lalvin D-47 as the yeast for this round, and I can honestly say that the yeast wasn’t picked primarily for it’s availability. It’s a yeast that seems pretty well regarded by mead makers for both it’s speed and efficacy (up to 14% which will help out with the post distillation yield). It also states that it has a moderately low nitrogen demand. The long and short is that it feels like a pretty safe bet for my first attempt and yeast activation. It’s not everything I had hoped for, but I’m far from discouraged. Besides, perhaps we’ll try the same recipe later in life with Fermaid-O or Midwest’s Yeast Nutrient.

Next step for me is to source the agave. I’ve seen it in the larger grocery stores around town. I’m looking for a nice amber syrup. We’ll just need to figure out how much of it we’ll need to achieve the desired sugar content. I’m not gonna lie, my plan at this point is to over sugar the wash to make sure we have enough to make the magic happen.

Hoping to get the party started on Saturday or Sunday this week.

Next Up…

So, you’ll probably remember a few days ago when I was all like, “let’s take it easy. let’s not go crazy. Let’s not jump into the deep end of the pool.”. Well, I guess the best laid plans of mice and men. There’s no doubt that my focus hasn’t changed. I still want to spend the time, do the math, and suffer through the scientific method of measured, analyzed fermentation. The end result, however, is going to be a bit different.

My initial plan was to kick it, maybe make some wine, some beer, some prison hooch…who knows. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the prisonhooch subreddit…check it out. My thanks to a very special member of my family for turning me on to it. You know who you are, you shameless bastard :).

Anyway, I’m off on a tangent. I reached out to my dude, “the man of Steele”. I mentioned him in a post several years back. It was a long time ago, but since I’m a blog delinquent it’s not much of a “scroll down memory lane” if you’re inclined to fact check me. I thought that he’d let me get away with something easy, but that’s not his style. He made the same request that he made years ago when we worked together. I asked him what he wanted to make and he said…well, he said “let’s make tequila”.

Done.

Ok, so let’s make some tequila, or, as I’ve come to call it, cheaterquila. Why is it “cheaterquila”? Simple. It’s “cheaterquila” (henceforth referred to as CQ) because I live in Canada. It’s a beautiful land with no less than 12 weeks of amicable weather annually. Canada has tremendous natural resources, but Canada has a striking absence of blue agave. Casual searches proved that I could indeed import it for a ridiculous sum of money. I’m not going for that. So I went down the internet rabbit hole.

When I came reemerged I had the base of a plan. I’m not going to process the agave, I’m going to start with agave syrup. Look around online if you’re interested, there’s a ton of information on it. I’m going to use my 7 gallon spike fermenter (we’ll discuss that later) to bring create the agave wash. I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m gonna shoot for about 22-26 brix OG.

But wait, that can’t be all, right? Oh, that’s right! Remember, the focus here is on fermentation. I did some reading and it turns out that syrup/sugar/honey is more or less completely devoid of nutrition. It doesn’t have the YAN or other nutrients needed for healthy, prolonged, fermentation. Now, I could go back to my roots and pick up a package of turbo yeast, but that would go agains the whole plan. The solution? TOSNA. It turns out that I’m not the only person who has faced this particular difficulty. There’s a whole organic process to create healthy, happy yeast…and I’m gonna do it. Check out this calculator.

So here’s the TLDR:

  • I’m making Tequila/CQ
  • I’m going to ferment about 7 gallons (for my 8 gallon still)
  • I’m going to start with a wash of ~24 bx
  • I’m going to give TOSNA a shot
  • I’m gonna bro out with “the man of steele” and have a damn good time.

I’m still working on the recipe. I’ll keep you posted.