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Day 161 Bottling Caramel Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider…this little batch is going to be my best flavored cider ever. It will be still, rather than sparkling. I bottled 12 bottles from a gallon carboy plus a 22 oz bomber that have both been sitting in tertiary for a while to clear.

I racked the two containers both into a 2 gallon bucket, to combine and then racked from there into bottles.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

The color is beautiful and clear amber. The taste is smooth and sweet, but not cloying. This batch was made with a combination of Pink Cripps apples and crab apples with a little molasses, a couple sticks of cinnamon and several cloves. The OG was 1.102 and the FG is 1.014, and the ABV is 11.55%. I look forward to seeing what this little batch tastes like in a couple of months…I may even hold back a couple of bottles until this time next year! With the high ABV and being so smooth already, this could be a dangerous drink!

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Day 156 Final Racking for Caramel Apple Cider (Probably)

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

This is what will probably be the last racking for the crab apple/Pink Cripps apple cider that I have decided to call Caramel Apple Cider, due to the small addition of molasses and a cinnamon stick. It’s nice and clear now and I think I’ve managed to leave the rest of the small amount of sediment behind.

I had hoped to bump up the volume to 1-1/2 gallons, by boiling, cooling and adding 800 ml of water. There’s plenty of alcohol and I just don’t want to lose anymore volume.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

I transferred the cider, by siphon, to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, racking off of the sediment and trying to minimize oxygenation. I added the boiled water, cleaned my containers and refilled them.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to fill the half gallon; so I wound up with the volume I started with, minus the sediment, plus enough for a hydrometer check and a nice sample for evaluation!

I measured the SG at 1.013, down from an OG of 1.102…even after the small water addition. That makes the ABV 11.68%. Incredibly, the aroma is fresh apple juice. The flavor is deceptively smooth and sweet, with a nice touch of caramel. The finish is a tummy warmer, though! Really, very nice.

Look at that color!

Look at that color!

I have been trying to carb all of my ciders so far, but the ABV on this one has probably already overwhelmed the Edinburgh Ale Yeast and I don’t think carbonation would be an improvement in this case. I did have enough to fill a test bottle. The cider should be good for a couple of months, but I’ll check the tester in a couple of weeks.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Soon, it will be time to do the “final” racking for bulk aging on the muscadine wine and rack the crab apple/pear/Cripps apple cider to secondary.  And finally, my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale should be ready for secondary sometime next week. So many good things going on and they all take so much time!  The pumpkin ale should be ready before Halloween and should be good (maybe better) at Thanksgiving.

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Day 155 SG Check on Samhain Ale

Yesterday, I could see that the activity in the blow-off tube had slowed way down…in fact, it had slowed the day before. I decided to remove the blow-off tube and install an airlock. (And took a quick photo.)

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Last night and today, I haven’t seen any activity. I’m not convinced that it has finished fermenting yet, though, so I took a SG reading and it’s at 1.031 (corrected from 1.030 @ 74.3F). According to the recipe, it should make it to 1.023 to finish, so I’ll let it keep going. It’s only been 4 days since brewing. I don’t need to be terribly concerned with fermentation being quite done in primary, however, because it will go into secondary with more pumpkin, spice, and a vanilla bean (soaked in vodka). The sugar in the pumpkin could cause a little more fermentation, so I’m planning on giving it plenty of time. Then, I’ll probably do a tertiary for final clearing.

The hydrometer sample has gone into the refrigerator for a look at how it clears, color and flavor…later, but a small taste yielded a very nice flavor that I am quite pleased with, so far.

Hydrometer sample...nice color.

Hydrometer sample…nice color.

My ciders and muscadine wine continue to condition. The crab apple/pear/Cripps blend actually still has some airlock activity in primary, so another week? Probably.

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Day 149 Spent Grain Muffin Loaves, Muscadine Wine & Cider Still Going

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

I had a small bag of spent grain left from my most recent batch of dog treats, so I found a recipe for banana & peanut butter muffins and gave it a try. I have some mini loaf pans and I decided to use them, instead of muffin tins.  Here’s the recipe:

Banana Peanut Butter Spent Grain Muffins
Adapted by Chef Lisa at http://cheflisa.lisahartjes.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-spent-grain-muffins/

from: Eat Me, Delicious (http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-oatmeal-muffins.html)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups spent grains
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2 med.)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup light buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, spent grains, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, brown sugar, eggs, mashed banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until very smooth, making sure all egg has been well-incorporated. Pour into flour mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain.

Wet ingredients

Wet ingredients

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin, filling each just about up to the top.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove muffins from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12.

So, I got 5 mini loaf pans, filled about 2/3, using a #12 disher (most commonly referred to as an ice cream scoop). Two scoops puts about 5-1/2 to 6 oz per pan.

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Banging the pans flat on the counter a few times levels out the top. I placed the pans on a sheet pan and baked in the middle of the oven for about 28 minutes and they tested done. I let them cool awhile and then removed the loaves from the pans and finished cooling on a wire rack.

Cooling on a wire rack

Cooling on a wire rack

Well…one didn’t make it to room temperature! I get the peanut butter and banana…and I like it. The wife probably won’t get past the fact that the grains were used to make beer and dog treats…more for me!

Mmm...warm quick bread with spent grains, peanut butter and bananas.

Mmm…warm quick bread with spent grains, peanut butter and bananas.

Quick update on the crab apple & pink cripps cider and the muscadine wine: they are both slowing down in activity, but still going. I opened the wine bucket and stirred down the bag. Again, a small sample from the spoon is sweet, but less so than it was…definitely young muscadine wine! They both probably have another couple of days until their first racking and the bag of crushed grapes will be squeezed out and removed.

Muscadine Wine...gettin' there!

Muscadine Wine…gettin’ there!

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Day 146 First Cider of the Season

 

Crabby Cripps Cider. Ready to seal for 24 hours, then pitch yeast. Floater is cheesecloth bag of pulp.

Crabby Cripps Cider. Ready to seal for 24 hours, then pitch yeast. Floater is cheesecloth bag of pulp.

My neighbor, who still has a crab apple tree, said I could have as many crab apples as I wanted. So, today I filled a two gallon fermentation bucket pretty quickly. When I got home, I measured the weight and it came out to 12 pounds and over 15 ounces…so, a few crab apples short of 13 pounds.  Referring back to Day 1, I weighed out 4-1/2 lbs  of crab apples.

Crab apples...still have more than enough for a batch of jelly!

Crab apples…still have more than enough for a batch of jelly!

Knowing now that crab apples, by themselves, produce a plain, dry and sharp cider, I am adding 2 lbs 12 oz of Cripps Pink apples. Each of the weights produced about 4 cups of juice from each type of apples. Obviously, bigger apples yield more juice per pound. I used the same little countertop juicer that I used last year. It’s struggling, but still getting the job done. I used a couple of caps full of bottled lemon juice to reduce browning of the juice.

Once I had my juice, I filtered it through cheesecloth and I added it to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket. I made a bag out of the cheesecloth and put the pulp from the juicer into it, tied it closed and dropped it in the bucket, as well. Next, I added a gallon of water, 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient, 1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme and 2 crushed campden tablets and stirred. Finally, I added 3-1/2 lbs of white sugar and stirred again. I popped on a lid and an airlock and it’s good to go for 24 hours…so, about 1:30 tomorrow afternoon. At that point, I’ll check the SG and add more sugar, if necessary. I may try molasses or raw sugar, if needed. The goal is around 1.090 or a little higher. I may also throw in a couple of sticks of cinnamon and a few cloves.

Update on Muscadine Wine: Airlock was slow to build, but it’s chugging along pretty well now. Supposed to stir every day while the fruit is in the bucket. The bag was floating on top.

Stirring the wine...nice color!

Stirring the wine…nice color!

Crushed grape in the bag...floating on top.

Crushed grape in the bag…floating on top.

 

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Day 128 Gushers and Bottle Bomb!

Bottle shards from a bottle bomb during pasteurization.

Bottle shards from a bottle bomb during pasteurization.

After 24 hours, I felt confident that my 2 ginger-bug apple sodas (I used one as the tester) and 11 tepaches could go for another 24 hours of carbing. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. All were gushers. I guess 30 to 36 hours would have been better than 48! So, I decided to gently lift a small area on the crown caps to release the excess pressure and then use the bottle capper to try and re-tighten the caps. I should have reread the notes on pasteurizing…I heated water to 190F instead of 180F. I was using my pressure canner pot and, after removing from the heat and placing the bottles in the preheated water, I covered loosely with the lid.

After about 3 minutes, I had the crap scared out of me by an exploding bottle. Luckily, I was not standing right beside it and the lid was mostly covering the pot/ Some liquid came out and made a bit of a mess and a couple of nasty glass shards made it out of the pot. One of the two apple sodas had busted and I could see bubbles escaping from the second one, so I removed it. The tepache bottles appeared to be sealed, so I let them finish the pasteurization process.

The next day, I opened one of the tepache bottles and sampled it. I honestly think this is the best batch. I’m going to leave out the optional beer addition after straining, in the future, as I did on this batch. I did, however, open a bottle of Matt’s Summer Brew and did 1/2 and 1/2 with the tepache to make Mateo’s Tepache Shandy and it is the best yet! Great combination!

Mateo's Tepache Shandy, made with Matt's Summer Brew...delish!

Mateo’s Tepache Shandy, made with Matt’s Summer Brew…delish!

No significant change on the Hi-Nelson Saison…continues to gradually slow in primary fermentation, while set on top of our heating pad on the lowest setting.

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Day 88 Bottling Murray’s Super Easy Cider, 1/2 gallon

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

After returning from a vacation, my Murray’s Super Easy Cider is ready to bottle. I don’t want to waste any by checking the FG…just have to guess. But it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t have a helper and starting the siphon was a pain in the butt and stirred up a small amount of lees…not too bad though. I got five 12 oz bottles out of the little 1/2 gallon batch.

Lees on the bottom, after siphoning cider into bottles.

Lees on the bottom, after siphoning cider into bottles.

A little ring in the neck, them fairly clear. Layer of lees on the bottom.

A little ring in the neck, them fairly clear. Layer of lees on the bottom.

It’s getting a little late in the day to bottle my Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout tonight. I’ll do it soon though…tomorrow or this weekend. I would like to do my first all-grain Brew in a Bag (BIAB), but I’m not sure if I’ll have time this weekend. We’ll see.

Meeting my brew-buddy to deliver some goodies she wanted, that I picked up while on vacation.

Swag!

Swag!

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Of course I picked up some for myself as well! The highlight and big deal is Nugget Nectar from Troeg…along with a few other bottles. Also a few bottles from Appalachian and Lancaster Brewing Companies.

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