I am taking the GRE on Saturday, with an eye toward grad school in the fall. Given those circumstances, I have decided this summer is a time to throw myself into hobbies and projects I might not otherwise get to for a while.
First up is homemade bitters. The recipe from Robert Hess is published in the current issue of Imbibe magazine, and I won't reprint it here. But the ingredients are:

Rye whiskey (I'm using WT)
Gentian root
cardamom pods
star anise

The recipe produces about 1.5 liters of bitters, which is a heckuva lot. I may split the batch before bottling and make half of it orange bitters with the addition of some bitter orange peel (and possibly coriander).

The initial step is steeping the spices in the whiskey, which I began this morning. Before bottling, the same spices will be boiled with water and then that tea will be added to sugar to make a syrup. This will be blended with the rye.

Next week, I'm doing a series of brews. I'll be making a blonde ale, a Belgian saison, and two meads. All are 5-gallon batches. Here are the recipes:

Blonde Ale
6 lbs. pilsner malt
2 lbs. Vienna malt
2 lbs. rye malt
.5 oz. Mt. Hood FWH
25 IBUs Mt. Hood @ 60 min.
1 oz. Mt. Hood @ flameout

9 lbs. pilsner malt
.5 lbs. CaraVienne
.25 lbs. aromatic
1.5 lbs. jaggery sugar
.5 oz. Spalt FWH
30 IBUs Spalt @ 60
.5 oz. Spalt @10
This saison is a pretty straightforward recipe. Later this summer, I've planned one with coriander, ginger, peppercorns, Grains of Paradise, and orange peel

Peach-Ginger Melomel
20 lbs. peaches, blanched, peeled, and halved
12-14 lbs. honey
1 oz. fresh ginger
The ginger will be adjusted to taste, but a little goes a long way in something as delicate as a mead. I'll be using a really nice white wine strain designed for lees aging to give a full mouthfeel and some nuttiness

Multi-Berry Melomel
12-14 lbs. honey
5 lbs. blueberries
3 lbs. dark sweet cherries
4 lbs. blackberries
1 lbs. dried currants
I have a version of this ready to bottle, and I've tweaked the recipe (the other one had strawberries and raspberries, which tend to take over flavor-wise). It's a really unique honey wine, with each berry taking a turn on the palate. I'll probably oak this one.

Comments are welcome, and I'll keep posting on the bitters as they will be ready relatively quickly.