For a 5 gallon batch
3 bottles of 32 oz 100% lemon juice (e.g ReaLemon in the green plastic bottles or equivalent)
7 lbs sugar (or 16 cups) to ferment
3/4 tsp tannin
6 tsp. yeast nutrient (3 now, 3 later)
2 tsp. yeast energizer (1 now, 1 later)
Approx, 4 1/2 gallons water
Potassium metabisulfite (Kmeta)
Potassium sorbate (sorbate)
2 1/3 lbs sugar (or 6 cups) to sweeten finished Skeeter Pee. Use more or less for your tastes.
Many people have difficulty getting lemonade to ferment. This is due, I believe, to several factors. The high acidity, the lack of natural nutrients, and preservatives that are often included in the lemon juice. Therefore, I do whatever I can to assist the process.
I use reverse osmosis water; this is by choice and tap water should work fine since much of the chlorine should evaporate out during the initial steps. Make invert sugar by adding your 16 cups sugar to a large stainless cooking pot along with 8 cups water and 1/3 cup lemon juice (I keep lemon juice in the fridge for cooking, so I use that. Therefore, I actually have 1/3 more lemon juice than is stated in the ingredients above. If you don’t have the additional lemon juice, go ahead and use 1/3 cup from one of your three bottles; it won’t matter much). Stir sugar to dissolve and heat to just below boiling while stirring. Hold at this temperature for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and pour it into your primary along with 2 of the bottles of the lemon juice (reserve the last bottle until later), and enough additional water to make 5 1/2 gallons. Add the tannin, 3 tsp. of the yeast nutrient and 1 tsp. of the yeast energizer. Stir.
Test S.G with hydrometer and record. I shoot for an SG of around 1.070 which yields a beverage of around 10% alcohol if it ferments dry. If your SG is a little low, you can add granular sugar to bring it to the target level. Make sure you stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar; if you have undissolved sugar at the bottom, it will throw off your readings and your Skeeter Pee won’t turn out properly. Vigorously beat the mixture with a wire whip for a couple of minutes to introduce oxygen and purge it of artificial preservatives. I then cover the bucket with a dish towel and let the sit for 24 to 48 hours.
After 24-48 hours, give it another quick whip and then pour in yeast slurry from the first rack of another batch of wine. It sometimes takes a while, but you should have active fermentation within a couple of days. It helps to keep this must warm (70-78 degrees). You may need to occasionally whip in some additional oxygen with the whip if fermentation seems to be progressing slowly.
Periodically check the gravity. When it gets down to around 1.050, add the other 3 tsp of nutrient the second tsp of energizer, and the last bottle of lemon juice; vigorously mix it in. Don’t be afraid to introduce some oxygen to the mix at the same time. This late addition of yeast food and oxygen helps reduce the likelihood of your batch developing a sulfur-dioxide problem. (Because of the high acidity and low nutrition, lemon has a higher propensity to developing the sulfur-dioxide rotten egg smell.) After a couple of days, you can rack into a clean, sanitized carboy.
Allow the Pee to ferment dry and for fermentation to stop (SG between 0.998 and 0.995). Rack into a clean, sanitized carboy. Give the batch a quick degas (use agitation and vacuum if you have the equipment). Add 1/2 tsp Kmeta, 2 1/2 tsp sorbate, and Sparkolliod (follow directions on the package). After two weeks, the Skeeter Pee should be crystal clear. Rack into a clean, sanitized carboy, add 6 cups sugar, and stir to dissolve. Wait two weeks to be sure no new fermentation begins and bottle.
1. I don’t call this “hard lemonade” because too many people have tried the commercial versions and they tend to make a mental impression of what it’s going to taste like before trying it. When it doesn’t taste just like the commercial versions (which are usually 5% alcohol, lemon flavored malt beverages) they conclude that it’s a poor reproduction. This stuff isn’t a reproduction; it’s the original home-style without the big marketing budget and price tag. Please be advised that you need to keep an eye on those you serve this to. Because it drinks easily on a hot day and the alcohol is about double that of commercial hard lemonades and beer, it is easy to accidentally over consume; it sneaks up on you real fast.
2. This beverage will often take on slight flavor characteristics of the wine that donates the yeast slurry, keep this in mind when deciding which flavors will blend well with lemon.
3. You want to use a healthy yeast slurry to start your batch. If the slurry is coming from wine that is being pushed to high alcohol levels, it’s possible the slurry is suffering from the effects of alcohol poisoning. Therefore, it’s best if the slurry is used while it is still part of an active ferment.
4. You may have noticed that you start with 5 ? gallons of must and this is a recipe for 5 gallons. This is because you’ll be leaving a bit more sediment behind at your first racking. Remember that you’re adding the slurry from a previous batch and it will be left behind along with the sediment created by the Skeeter Pee.
5. If you aren’t in a hurry, Skeeter Pee will often fall clear without the Sparkolloid (as long as you’ve done a good job of degassing). My batches often clear in 30 to 45 days without fining.
6. There’s no need to age this beverage. It tastes great soon after bottling. Serve chilled.
[If you don't have a slurry to start your batch, please see the F.A.Q. tab for recommended procedures.]
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