Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

11 December 2006

Not the Mess I Was Expecting

Usually when my husband does any brewing, it's in a five or six-gallon glass carboy with an airlock or "bubbler" in the mouth.

This big barrel is different. He doesn't have a cork big enough for the bunghole. His solution was to put a clean piece of cloth over it, both to keep out the fruit flies that hatch out of nowhere (even in frozen January) in the presence of mead, and to control any foaming.

This weekend, we finally saw a bit of foaming. But the tongue of foam you see in the picture is as far as it got.

The mess we are getting that I wasn't expecting at all is that honey is weeping out of the very bottom of the barrel at both ends. Not very much honey, just a drop at a time, probably less than a quarter of a cup total so far. We put saucers under the drops, and my husband plans to weigh the honey that leaks out. But with over 100 pounds of honey in the batch, it doesn't look like it's a significant amount.

My husband and I each have a theory on why the honey is leaking out. Our theories are not mutually exclusive.

He thinks this barrel might have had a "wax seal" inside, and if it did, he inadvertantly melted it when he boiling-water-rinsed it before they filled it with honey and cider.

I think the honey has settled to the bottom, and is very slightly drying out and shrinking the barrel staves towards the bottom, allowing them to contract enough to let honey leak.

Since there is nothing we can do about the wax seal while the barrel is full, he has been stirring the proto-mead with a wooden dowel to mix the honey off the bottom. Following stirring, we got the small amount of foaming.

Two dogs trying to share a small rug. For scale, the floor tiles are sixteen inch squares. You can see that medium-sized black Truffles has the lion's share of the rug, while 100+ pound Ajax is curled up on less than half. When he was a small puppy, Truffles used to drag him around by his collar. Truffles is convinced that she can still do this. (Ajax is, too.)

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