My introduction to the fine people of the Buffalo Barnraisers began in February when I went to a bread workshop. While we waited for the whole wheat bread to rise we were treated to homemade lilac wine. I knew that people who made their own lilac wine were my kind of people (we can smell our own) and hoped that I’d be around to help with the next batch.
Sure enough, right before my buddy T. left town for the summer (miss her) she wanted to get started on the wine and I happened to be in the area. She had a staggering amount of frozen lilac flowers, so we scaled the recipe up to fit a very awesome 10 gallon carboy that a house member had scored from Craigslist, I think? Which is an amazing resource for home brewers, at least around here.
After all of the tough math, we had to wait for the water to boil. Then it was time to dump in the flowers.
(I am seriously jealous of that huge thick aluminum pot. I am devoting considerable mental energy to willing one into my life. Also, meet my tattoo. I forget it’s there, and I’m always surprising people’s parents by having one.)
To make flower wine, you generally steep the flowers in hot water to extract the flavor, strain and cool the water, and add sugar and yeast. So that night we were basically making a huge batch of lilac tea. It smelled amazing! And, as usual, there were delicious brews and snacks being passed around the whole time. A girl could get used to that.
That’s T. on the left and on the right is R., resident brewmaster and advisor on all things homemade and drinkable. He runs the homebrew workshop, a.k.a. our main social outlet. I am holding a very sturdy spoon with the longest handle ever and envying that too.
The lilac wine recipe we followed is the first on this page. It’s been passed around the Buffalo scene and altered a little – for instance if you’re not using yeast nutrient, they recommend reducing the sugar to 2 pounds if you want your wine to be less dessert-y, and they generally do less reracking. If your lilacs are still flowering, you’re in luck. If they aren’t, stash this recipe away for next year? I’ll let you know in a few months how it turned out.
So: dandelion wine, lilac wine, honey mead, banana wine – N. is supposed to be writing about that – and next up is strawberry wine since the rhymes-with-bumpster just bestowed about 20 pounds of overripe strawberries upon us. Even in my most desperate summer-after-high-school days when we had no alcohol connect and actually considered clandestinely brewing some hooch (don’t judge me), I would never have dreamed of all this fantastic winemaking in my life.