Bernard Massard – Sparkling wine from Luxembourg

Last week I went to the airport in Luxembourg for the first time in my life. It is a very nice small airport with very good service. To be considered again if I need to be in the neighborhood another time.

As I traditionally bring a present for my husband when I travel for business, I found a local sparkling wine I thought would be fun to try. I know the brand Bernard Massard from Luxembourg, as my parents used to drink this as well. So I bought a Millésimé from 2015 from Bernard Massard.

My husband and me opened the bottle last weekend to taste this product from Luxembourg.

The bottle said Brut, but it was not as Brut as I am used to from Champagne. As the grape varieties were not mentioned on the bottle, I looked it up on their website: https://www.bernard-massard.lu/tous-les-produits/bernard-massard-millesime-brut-cremant-de-luxembourg-2015/

The grapes used are Pinot Blanc and Riesling. I was surprised to find this, as it is a combination I did not try before. That was probably the reason why the aroma was quite fruity and floral, and the taste dry but not as dry as Champagne. A very good combination though when you don’t like it too Brut. And excellent as aperitif.

So I can recommend to try this crémant de Luxembourg.

What type of sparkling wine do you drink?

Belgian sparkling wine is definitely on the rise!

This week was my birthday and that had to be celebrated :-). I just had spent the weekend in Belgium and when I was looking around in Brussels airport I found out that there was one Belgian Winehouse selling their wines there: Genoels-Elderen. That had to be tried!

There were 2 types of wine for sale: white wine (mostly Chardonnay) and sparkling wine. I bought the sparkling wine, called Zwarte Parel and flew back to Copenhagen with it.

Last Wednesday was the day to open this beautiful bottle. The Zwarte Parel is made with Chardonnay according to the ‘Méthode Tradionelle’. This means that the wine has been ripening with the sediment in the bottle for at least 9 months. On top of that, de Zwarte Parel has been ripening for 9 months more, so 18 months in total in the bottle. The wine has not been ripening on wooden barrels, so it went immediately from the stainless steel tanks (after fermentation) on the bottle.

The wine looks exactly like a champagne:

The bubbles are small and there are many. The taste was really excellent if you like it Brut. The taste was refreshing, a bit fruity and with a slightly higher acidity compared to a champagne. However, the wine was in good balance and I was impressed with the overall flavor and taste.

Definitely worth a try if you like Brut sparkling wine!

My honey cider – ready to be enjoyed

Last month I described how I made two types of cider (Cider made with special yeast). One with only apples and the other one with added honey.

After the yeast had been settled, I chilled both ciders. The honey cider was put on a keg, with the idea of force carbonating it. With this technique you force carbon dioxide into the cider without having to referment it. In this way you get a very fine sparkling cider without sediments in the bottle.

After one week of carbonation at fridge temperature, it was time to bottle my cider. I used my beer gun to bottle the sparkling cider.

I tried my beer gun now several times and am very happy with it. It works well and it is very easy to use once you know how to put it together. I also learned to over carbonate my beers or cider as you do loose some CO2 while bottling.

I used my beer gun to bottle the 18 liter of honey cider.

It was not so easy to find the right bottles, as I like white glass bottles for cider. However, they also have to withstand pressure. I found some bottles with a patent prop, and they work fine for cider.

After filling all bottles, I was happy that my first honey cider tasted very balanced. The flavor is a mix between apples and flowers and the taste is dry, but with full body and a hint of sweetness. Definitely the best cider recipe I have made so far :-).

Fiebeer blog New Years Resolutions

It is that that time of year again where a lot of people make their New Years resolutions … and yes, you guessed it right, I am one of them. I simply love New Years resolutions. Why? Because it gives me energy to think that I can start something from new. Kind of like being born again.

It might have something to do with the fact that my birthday is in the start of January. So I have double chance of reflecting over the year that has gone and what to start putting my energy in for the next year.

This year I will dedicate more time for my blog. It gives me such an energy to see that people read my blog and hopefully also getting some energy or creative ideas from reading my crazy home brew experiments or my nights out in Copenhagen.

A very good friend of mine posted some ideas on her blog last year to write an even better blog. One of them was a weekly theme. That is exactly what I will try this year.

It will not surprise you that the first weekly theme will be ‘Beer of the week’. My husband and me love to try new beers. Therefore it won’t be difficult to tell you something about a new beer every week. As we are subscribed to Belgisk Bryg, we get Belgian beers every month at our doorstep. Those will be perfect to start. Of course it won’t be only Belgian beers I’m talking about. Every interesting beer that we taste, is an optional winner for the ‘Beer of the week’ award.

Another one of my New Years resolutions is to try to create healthy and tasty alcohol free alternatives. As I love juice and we try not to drink alcohol during the week days, this will for sure be an excellent way to get my creativity going with alcohol free beverages. Every drink is possible here, as long as it is not alcoholic. I will start with some homemade juices, but also hope to be able to show some alcohol free fermented beverages. Very exciting!

Apart from my blog resolutions, I also want to create more home brewed beers, along with moving on my cider project. As my home-brewery is almost fully working now, I can’t wait to tell you more about new beer recipes and tricks to make even better home brewed beers.

Are you ready? Let’s start the new year with even more beverage creativity :-).

Cider – made with special yeast

The fresh apple juice I made this year was not only used for drinking the juice, but also as the main ingredient in my ciders.

It is the second time I make cider, so I wanted to experiment a bit more to get different flavors. I had around 35 liter left after I pasteurized the juice just to drink. That was enough to divide it in two and make two different ciders types.

The first cider I am making is a regular dry cider without any additives. For this one, I only used the freshly squeezed apple juice. I poured the juice in my fermentation bucket and added a Torulaspora delbreuckii yeast (Prelude from Chr Hansen). This yeast can ferment up to 12-13 percent of alcohol, so that is fine as my cider will be maximum 7% alcohol (v/v). The Torulaspora gives a more full-bodied cider with a fresh fruity aroma. The fermentation was done at 17 degrees Celsius, to have a slower fermentation, resulting in more fruity flavors. Tasting after fermentation showed a dry clean cider taste with crisp fruity flavors.

The cider is being chilled at the moment, ready to be put on bottles…

For the second cider, I used honey as extra sugar source. This results in a more sweet cider with higher alcohol percentage. The final alcohol will be around 13 % (v/v). To make this cider, I dissolved 4 kg of honey in 8 liter water.

I dissolved the honey by warming up the water up to boiling temperature. In this way the honey also gets sterilized, making sure no wild yeast or bacteria can take over the fermentation. I also used the Torulaspora delbreuckii to kick-start the fermentation, but I added a normal Saccharomyces wine yeast (Jazz from Chr Hansen) after 5 days of fermentation. After fermentation, the taste was clearly more fruity, flowery and sweet than the cider with apples alone. The honey definitely gives an extra sweet touch to the taste and more fruity/flowery aroma to the cider. That combined with the better mouthfeel from the Torulaspora will definitely result in a winner cider.

Now both ciders are chilled, and after the yeast has settled, I will use my beer gun to put the ciders on bottles…

Chateau Lamothe-Cissac – Bordeaux wine 

Bordeaux wines – they are normally not my favorite as it is so difficult to get the wine right before opening a bottle. And then I mean the cellar ageing. How long do you need to cellar a wine before it is drinkable and before it is just the perfect wine? It must be an art to master this. And that is exactly what I would like to learn … by doing :-).

We are building a wine/beer cellar where we can age both wine and beer. It will take a lot of learning but also fun to start ageing great beers and wines to just the perfect moment for drinking. That is why my husband and me bought a Bordeaux wine one year before we could get it home. A first for both of us, but with a not too risky Chateau as we tasted this wine before at my father-in-law. However you never know how the wine of another vintage will turn out. We bought the 2015 vintage:


Chateau Lamothe-Cissac is situated in Cissac, close to Pauillac, which is the so called Haut Médoc. You can find more info on: http://domaines-fabre.fr/en/nos-chateaux/chateau-lamothe-cissac.

It will be very exciting to age this wine and taste it in a couple of years. The only thing we will need is … patience.

Autumn is coming – and so is my cider…

As we are approaching more cold and rainy days, it has become time to use all picked apples to make juice and cider.

Last year I tried to make cider with a blend of our own apples and the apples of a friend, as the apple harvest was quite poorly. However, as I let in too much oxygen with racking off, the cider became more of a vinegar. We had to pour it away.

So now I want to try again, as the harvest is looking very promising. Luckily, I have a good friend and colleague that has very good equipment to smash the apples and to press the juice of it. A perfect job for a Sunday :-).

All in all, our harvest was around 100 kg, not too bad at all!

IMG_2531The first step of cider making is to grind the apples into smaller pieces. You can do this by hand with a manual mill, but my friends did it with an electrical fruit mill. And yes, that went fast :-).

After milling all the apples into small pieces, the pieces need to pressed into juice.

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As it is hard work, I was glad there were some guys around to help out with the pressing. The leftovers are for the cows, nice dessert for them, as quite some sugar is left :-).

And so the first part is ready, apple juice. The juice was way more sweet than I expected, which was super nice. I picked some of the apples when they were still green, but the juice was not acid at all. In fact, the juice had a perfect sweet/acid balance.

Then came the time to drive home with my freshly pressed apple juice and decide what to do with it. As it is tasting really delicious, I decided to sterilize 24 liter of the juice, just to drink as juice and to make cider of around 10-12 liter of the juice.

Sterilization of apple juice is really important if you want to keep the juice at room temperature. However, sterilization is not difficult at all. You heat up a big pot of water to 66 degrees Celsius (or a bit more to end up with 66 degrees with the bottles in), you put in the bottles with apple juice and you keep the temperature at 66 degrees Celsius for 1 hour.

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So that is exactly what I am doing here on the picture, in my almost closed home brewery (yes, we are getting there with our building, only one more wall missing!).

It is great to have good home brewing equipment, as I can use some of the pots for other purposes as well.

 

Now the last part, making cider! I decided to use a Chr Hansen yeast, namely Prelude, which is a specialty yeast (it is not a normal Saccharomyces wine yeast, but a so-called non-Saccharomyces yeast – it is called Torulaspora delbrueckii).  This yeast will definitely finish the fermentation, as the expected alcohol content is 6.5 – 7%. Prelude is mainly sold as a wine yeast, where you have to add an additional Saccharomyces yeast to finish the fermentation.

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And so I did, adding some Prelude to the freshly pressed apple juice and now it is nicely bubbling away in our kitchen 🙂

My guess is that it will need around 2-3 weeks before it is attenuated. Then I will bottle it to referment in the bottle. With some luck, it might be ready for New Year, to have some sparkling cider as aperitif, instead of Champagne :-).

Exciting to see if it works this time and how it will taste – to be continued…