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Update on Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry Citra Ale: Infection!

This is what infection looks like...damn it.

This is what infection looks like…damn it.

Well, I have my first confirmed infected beer. After racking the Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale, I noticed some patches on the surface the next day. Then, the following day, there was a complete film (a.k.a. “Pellicle”) covering the surface. I confirmed that it was on the small blackberry batch, as well.

What caused the infection? I don’t know. A fruit fly touching the beer during racking? A microscopic particle drifting in? Cherries weren’t properly sanitized? Sloppiness when transferring wort from kettle to fermenter? No way to know really. From what I understand, there are a few possible outcomes. I could put it in an out of the way place and let it go for a couple of years and hope that the infection is Brettanomyces strain and would slowly transform my beer into a mindblowing sour beer. It could be an acetobacter (commonly from fruit flies) that would basically turn the beer into vinegar. It could be something yucky than would just turn the beer into something disgusting. Finally, I could go ahead and try to siphon from under the pellicle and bottle the beer ASAP and cross my fingers. The eventual outcome could still be nasty, or it could be good initially and go downhill. Or it could get better with age. Again…no way to tell in advance. So, I’m going to bottle it. The next step, after that, will be replacing my siphon and tubing and bleaching the Hell out of my carboy and bottling bucket, and hoping to salvage them. Some say it should all be thrown away or only be used for sour beers. Others say bleaching works.

I was almost out of 12 oz bottles, but I have some 22 oz “bombers”, so I went ahead and bottled the little blackberry batch into 2 of those and one 12 oz. The beer seemed to taste okay still. Luckily, a brewer friend had a couple of cases of bottles that she gave to me…saving me a trip to the supply store and about $35 for 2 cases of bottles! So, bottling will be my project tonight. I’ll update later….

***Okay…it’s later. I bleached all my utensils and the bottling bucket, rinsed well and then sanitized again with Starsan. The bottles, I soaked in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda solution, rinsed well, and then sanitized with Starsan.I went transferred the beer to the bottling bucket with 3oz sugar dissolved in hot Culligan water. I collected 4 gallons to bottle. I tried to stop well before any of the stuff from the pellicle got too low. As the volume in the carboy dropped, the pellicle coated the sides.

The clarity and color were nice though...dang it!

The clarity and color were nice though…dang it!

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

I went through the bottling process and got 42 bottles (12oz). The beer is clear, the color is nice, the flavor is good. If it weren’t for the infection, I would have been really happy at this point! It is depressing though that the few bottles I did yesterday from the little blackberry variant were cloudy at the bottom and may have had some stuff floating at the top. It could be that it just had more crap in the smaller bucket and I wasn’t as careful getting it into the bottles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the main batch. I had intended to go light on the priming sugar, but I overestimated how much beer I would collect; so it turns out that I added the amount of sugar that would have been recommended anyway…though I was shooting for 2.2 atmospheres, which is a little under. I will have to watch for overcarbing.

Update 9/10/15: Refrigerated a bottle all day and opened it last night. Not carbed enough. I’m not sure it’s good enough to save, but I’ll give it a couple more weeks.

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Racking to Tertiary: Mowing Mt. Ranier

Racking to tertiary for clearing.

Racking to tertiary for clearing.

Looks like the Mowing Mt. Ranier Ale, Cherry-Citra “lawnmower beer” is done with secondary fermentation and dry hopping. I let it go a couple of extra days, just in case, because the cherries in secondary DID restart fermentation.

Secondary-fermented red cherries...giving up flavor and color.

Secondary-fermented red cherries…giving up flavor and color.

Once the small amount of krausen worked itself out, much of it precipitated to the bottom, just leaving the cherries floating. (Note: my little 1/2 gallon blackberry recipe looks good, too and I racked it as well. Not as much color imparted by the blackberries, but the flavor is interesting…good.)

After settling under refrigeration, the blackberry sample.

After settling under refrigeration, the blackberry sample.

Racked my little blackberry batch, too.

Racked my little blackberry batch, too.

The red cherries did impart some color that I would not have gotten if I had used all Mt. Ranier cherries; however, it IS a nice color. I removed a sample for tasting and to get an SG reading. The color, as I said, is nice. The flavor has pronounced cherry and citra, without being sweet or heavy.

Transferred back to clean carboy to clear for a couple of days.

Transferred back to clean carboy to clear for a couple of days.

Sample of Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale

Sample of Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale

The SG got down to 1.007, so the alcohol should be 4.73% ABV. That’s actually a little lower than the recipe estimated, but I’m actually very happy with that.

I cleaned and sanitized a bottling bucket and racked into it. I dumped the cherries, hops bag, and the small amount of trub that made it through the last racking. I washed, rinsed, and sanitized the carboy again and transferred the beer back into it. Looks good…pretty clear. I’ll give it a couple of days to settle and then it should be good to bottle.

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Day 168 Brew Day! Partial Mash with Cascade Hops Experiment

Ingredients for an experimental partial mash brew, with DME, grain steep and whole frozen hops and dried hops.

Ingredients for an experimental partial mash brew, with DME, grain steep and whole frozen hops and dried hops.

I have a friend whose son started planting Cascade hops in her garden four years ago. This year, he got a job at a brewery, out of town and wasn’t going to be around to harvest the hops. I was invited over to pick some. Fresh hops! What to do, what to do? I wasn’t ready to use them. I had never used fresh hops before and had no clue how to handle them. Thinking that the best thing was to have them as fresh as possible, I vacuum sealed them in canning jars and put them in the freezer.

Jar of whole hops that was vacuum sealed and frozen.

Jar of whole hops that was vacuum sealed and frozen.

I subsequently heard from a number of people that freezing fresh hops was not a good decision. They would likely become soft and slimey. Flavor was a  big question. One recommendation was to keep them frozen right up until putting them into the boil. So, that’s what I did…right into a little nylon bag and tossed right into the boil.

Some time later, my friend said I should come pick some more. When I arrived this time, instead of big, green cones, most of the hops were drying and turning brown. In addition, it was misty that morning and the “dry” hops were damp. I brought them home and put them in a large cardboard box and put them in the attic to finish drying. After several days, they were nice and dry, but I was concerned about the browning. They had plenty of appropriate aroma, though.

Since I have recently finished up some projects and had some Dry Malt Extract (DME) and a couple kinds of yeast on hand, I decided to try a smaller batch of beer and use some of each of the styles of Cascade hops, vacuum sealed frozen and vacuum sealed dried. I worked on a partial mash recipe and created an American Amber Ale that I’m calling Eastern Cascade Waterfall Ale. The yeast is a White Labs East Coast Ale yeast.

Boiling with the bags of hops...this is just after the 15 minute addition.

Boiling with the bags of hops…this is just after the 15 minute addition.

Eastern Cascade Waterfall Ale (American Amber, Single Hop, Partial Mash)

Batch size 3 gallons, 30 minute steep, 30 minute boil

Fermentables:

3 lb DME-Pilsen, boil 30 minutes

8 0z DME-Light, boil 30 minutes

1 lb American-Caramel/Crystal 60L, Grain sock steep 30 minutes @150F in 3.5 gallons strike water

Hops:

0.5 oz Cascade Fresh/Wet (Note: I used frozen, vacuum sealed in a jar.) Boil 30 minutes (in nylon bag)

1 oz Cascade Dried, Whole/Leaf,  Boil 15 minutes (in nylon bag)

1 oz Cascade Dried, Whole/Leaf, Dry hop (in nylon bag) in secondary, 5 days

Other:

Irish Moss (fining) Boil 15 minutes

Yeast: White Labs East Coast Ale Yeast, 1 vial, Optimum temp. 68-73F, 72.5% attenuation    (Note: I used harvested yeast and prepared a starter.)

Original Gravity: 1.053,      Final Gravity: 1.015,       ABV 5.04%     IBU (tinseth) 36.99     SRM (morey) 12.69

After the boil, I chilled to 68F in an ice water bath and tranferred to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation. I had a little under 3 gallons of wort, so I added enough Culligan bottled water to top it off to 3.25 gallons. The plan is to have 3 gallons to bottle after racking to secondary. I aerated with an oxygen stone for 2 minutes (or you could agitate/rock for 5 minutes).  Yeast pitched and fermentation bucket sealed and an airlock was installed at 1:05 pm.  As of 8:30 pm, signs of activity were evident in the airlock, though not aggressive. Unfortunately, I have no idea of the pitch rate. That’s one area (of several) that I have had no experience with figuring out.

Initial impression was positive…no weird or off flavors or aromas were noticeable. Color is a nice brown; perhaps a little darker than I anticipated, but all the indicators match the American Amber style, according to my recipe calculator. I did hit my Original Gravity (OG) number pretty closely. The recipe calls for 1.053 and I measured mine at 1.055 on my refractometer. Good brew day!

One update: the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale has been in the bottles for 11 days now. I opened one of my two test bottles, at room temperature, and poured a small sample. The sample looked clear and, frankly, the aroma and flavor are amazing.

Finshed the chilled bottle later.

Finshed the chilled bottle later.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale sample.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale sample.

I recapped the bottle and stuck it in the refrigerator for later. I did open and drink the rest of the bottle tonight and my assessment stands. It is low on the carbonation, though not flat.  I hope that the carb will continue to improve over the next few weeks.

Update on the Eastern Cascade Waterfall: By 8 pm, there was sign of action in the airlock, but it was slow. By the morning after brew day, the airlock is happily chugging away, so my yeast starter appears to be a success!

Update 10/30/14: Eastern Cascade Waterfall Amber airlock action is slowing to a crawl. Probably going into secondary Sunday. Might just get it bottled by middle or end of next week. Lots of choices for Thanksgiving this year!

 

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Day 165 Bottling Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale…Finally!

Well, it took awhile…32 days to be exact. Yesterday, I finally got to bottle the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale and, if I got the priming sugar right and all goes well, this has the possibility of being pretty amazing! It just seemed to want to keep going…so I let it. And it did drop by another point over the last 10 days. The hydrometer sample looks nice and clear and wound up at 1.014.

Hydrometer reading.

Hydrometer reading.

Looks great!

Looks great!

That makes the ABV 9.06%…definitely in the “imperial” range. Or is it “wee heavy” for a Scottish Ale? Anyway, the aroma is nice and the flavor is terrific! Thanks goes to “Billy Klubb” at Homebrewtalk.com for the base recipe for his Scottish Ale…awesome recipe! I chilled the hydrometer sample to evaluate (a.k.a. DRINK!) later and it is really good.

Chilled sample for evaluation.

Chilled sample for evaluation.

I used 3.50 oz of corn sugar to prime for bottling. The priming sugar calculator that I have had the best luck put it at 3.40 oz for a Scottish Ale at 2.1 volumes or 3.66 oz for a Winter Ale at 2.2 volumes…so I just split the difference and crossed my fingers. I racked from the bottling bucket that I was using as tertiary to a second bottling bucket with the priming solution, so  it would mix thoroughly.

Racking onto the priming solution. Nice color and clarity.

Racking onto the priming solution. Nice color and clarity.

The bottling went smoothly. The calculation on my estimated 4.85 gallons said I would get 52 bottles and I actually filled 50 bottles, so I was pretty close. Now, the excruciating wait to see how it does in the bottle!

Fifty bottles of beer...not on the wall, but who bottle conditions their beer on the wall?! That's just silly.

Fifty bottles of beer…not on the wall, but who bottle conditions their beer on the wall?! That’s just silly.

Bottling the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale...finally!

Bottling the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale…finally!

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Day 164 Racking McQuinn’s Robust Porter to Secondary

 

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Setting up to rack 1 gallon jug plus about 6 gallons in the bucket to the big glass carboy.

It has been just past a week in primary fermentation for McQuinn’s Robust Porter. Activity really seemed to dive after just a few days, but I gave it a week anyway. It looks pretty good…nice color and decent clarity.

McQuinn's Robust Porter, ready to rack.

McQuinn’s Robust Porter, ready to rack.

I’ll see how it settles in Secondary. It may not need very long. The hydrometer sample I collected puts the SG at 1.010 at 73.6F, corrected=1.011; the recipe projected the final at 1.015, so I’m already beyond that.

Hydrometer sample

Hydrometer sample

A little taste is nice and roasty. I think it’s good, but I don’t have enough experience with porters to really know what I’ve got. It might just be mediocre. Eventually, I’ll get some reviews. For now, I’ll just keep on rolling.

Wound up with 5-1/2 gallons in secondary.

Wound up with 5-1/2 gallons in secondary.

Now I need to see if I want to try and harvest the Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast. It certainly seems to be a quick and effective bunch of critters!

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Day 143 Bottling Citra Belle Saison

Time to start bottling the Citra Belle Saison.

Time to start bottling the Citra Belle Saison.

I figured about 4.75 gallons for bottling and, using Northern Brewer’s priming calculator, I underestimated (on purpose) a little and used 6.0 ounces of corn sugar. Then, when I racked the beer onto the priming sugar, I only got 4-1/2 gallons. I decided to add a quart of bottled water to make up the difference and keep the priming sugar about right. Somehow, it would up back at the 5 gallon mark! anyway, the FG came out to 1.001, after temperature correction. The OG was 1.047, so we should have 6.04% ABV. I filled 29 twelve ounce bottles and 12 twenty-two ounce bottles.

Here's the bulk of it.

Here’s the bulk of it.

I have to say, when I removed the dry hops bag, after I let it drain, I squeezed it out into a measuring cup and it smells AWESOME! I love the smell of Citra hops! And the little squeezed stuff tasted great, too! I also stuck the the hydrometer sample into the fridge to look at clarity later and sample. So far, it’s looking, smelling and tasting good. First sample bottle should be right after Labor Day.

Also did a little organizing of my “cellar”…such as it is. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s what I have. A lot of my inventory is comprised of a few of this and a few of that. The Hi-Nelson Saison with Hibiscus and the Citra Belle Saison are the largest quantities and there’s a fair amount of Major Nelson IPA and Strawberry Blonde.

Inventory.

Inventory.

Checked on some local wild grapes today…picked over half of a pound in about 5 minutes. Need to go check my main source…soon!

10:30 pm and I checked the SG on my Second Runnings  Ginger Beer. It is at 1.06 at 72.6F=1.061…just not moving. My last effort is to add 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient and pitch the rest of the Champagne yeast, after rehydrating. Everything is all sanitized and back in place…let’s see what happens.

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Day 137 English Ale Yeast Starter, Updates on Tepache, Citrus Saisons

Decided to go ahead and pick a yeast that I got when I took the SouthYeast class and grow it by making a starter. I picked the WLP028 English Ale Yeast because it is recommended for Scottish/Scotch Ales and ciders…both of which I would like to do soon. Unfortunately, since the crab apple trees on our community property have all been destroyed ***STEAM***

Cutting down the crab apple trees...crap!

Cutting down the crab apple trees…crap!

So pissed.

So pissed.

I’m going to have to go ask a neighbor if I can pick from his tree, in exchange for some jelly or cider.  Aaaanyway, got the starter going.

I moved the Peach-Pineapple Tepache outside to get some sun for a few hours. It is fermenting, but obviously needs another day or two before I strain it.

Fermenting! Peach-Pineapple Tepache.

Fermenting! Peach-Pineapple Tepache.

The Citra Belle Saison is still getting some airlock action and there’s no rush. It’s still in primary fermentation; about 6 gallons. I’ll probably lose almost a gallon when I rack it, due to the fairly thick layer of trub. The Cherry Belle Saison is also fermenting again in secondary fermentation on the vodka soaked cherries, but not aggressively at all. I’m actually surprised that the natural sugar in the cherries didn’t kick up a stronger secondary. Again, no rush, but I’m kind of intrigued by this little one gallon micro batch!

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