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Racking Muscadine Wine 2016

Time to make some wine.

Time to make some wine.

 

Well, I racked the muscadine wine. Unfortunately, one of my plastic carboys in missing in action, so I racked it into my glass one. I added one crushed Campden tablet to the new carboy and away we went…from the bottling bucket in which I did primary fermentation to the glass carboy.

Racking to the carboy.

Racking to the carboy.

My carboy is over 5-1/2 gallons and racking left me a little under 5 gallons. In order to prevent oxidation, I topped off with about 1.25 gallons of Culligan bottled water. I know it will drop the alcohol a bit and dilute the wine, but I actually want something lighter than the wine from last couple of years. I might even backsweeten a little after fermentation is complete and the wine is stabilized.

Nice color. Topped up with Culligan bottled water.

Nice color. Topped up with Culligan bottled water.

The color is nice…a kind of purple version of a rose’. The flavor still has a little muscadine flavor. I’m hoping when conditioning is done and I backsweeten and bottle, I will have an easy-drinking wine that will be a “half-sweet” wine that will be ready to drink in a year.

Update 10/18/16: Okay, I racked the wine off of the lees and it’s really nice and clear. I wound up with a little under a half of a gallon excess…might use it to experiment with backsweetening. Also took a hydrometer sample…looks like 1.001, after adjusting for temperature. So, it’s pretty dry, at the moment. Once I’m sure it’s stable and won’t start fermenting again, I’ll adjust the sweetness. I did add another crushed Campden tablet to hopefully achieve stabilization…it may take an overnight outside on a cold night…but there’s plenty of time. I’d just rather not add Campden after this point. A quick sip reveals that it doesn’t taste bone dry, which is good! And it’s a light body. This one may actually be ready to drink next Summer.

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Day 157 Racking Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale to Secondary

Racking from the fermentation bucket to a glass carboy.

Racking from the fermentation bucket to a glass carboy.

The Scottish pumpkin ale has been transferred to secondary. I really need to mark my carboy, so I can be accurate with volumes, but it looks like I left a little less than a gallon in the primary bucket and I started with about six; so, I’m approximating 5.25 gallons in secondary. I added another can of pumpkin (roasted), a vodka soaked vanilla bean and another 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin pie spice blend to the carboy and racked the beer onto it.

Added the spice blend to the vodka and vanilla bean.

Added the spice blend to the vodka and vanilla bean.

Vanilla bean soaked in vodka for a week and pumpkin pie spice.

Vanilla bean soaked in vodka for a week and pumpkin pie spice.

It was a bit of a challenge getting the pumpkin into the carboy without making a mess. I put it into a Ziploc baggie and clipped on corner and squeezed it in.

Roasted canned pumpkin. Gathering it up to put in a baggie.

Roasted canned pumpkin. Gathering it up to put in a baggie.

Canned pumpkin, spread on parchment paper for roasting.

Canned pumpkin, spread on parchment paper for roasting.

With the volume of additions, once I’m done fermenting, I’ll probably come up a little under 5 gallons, but pretty close. There’s enough alcohol that I could top it off, if I want to.

I took a hydrometer sample and got a reading of 1.028 @ 76.4 F, which is 1.030 corrected for temperature.

Hydrometer sample.

Hydromter sample.

Currently 7.09% ABV, before secondary additions. Good color…seems like flavor is good, but I’m glad I’m adding more spices. I’ll taste the hydrometer sample again later (in the fridge) and see what the color looks like when it clears. The carboy has settled quite a bit already and looks nice.

Carboy secondary a few minutes after racking.

Carboy secondary a few minutes after racking.

I hope those flavors I added blend in well. Still pretty psyched about this beer!

Now that I’ve freed up a bucket, I may go ahead and rack the crab apple/Cripps& Ginger Gold apples, and pear cider to secondary. I’ll look into that tomorrow. I did take a small sample from the spigot on the bucket and it is very “green” tasting with a tannic astringency on the tongue. I’ll probably have to either back sweeten this on and pasteurize it after an extended bulk conditioning.

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Day 17 Racking Beer, Pitching Yeast in Cider Batch #3

Racking the beer batch from a PFB (Primary Fermentation Bucket) and a growler to a single PFB to settle for another day before bottling.

Opening the beer batch to rack it.

Opening the beer batch to rack it.

The SG looked like 1.004 to 1.006. Assuming it’s 1.006 and adjusting for room temp at 69 degrees, I come up with 1.007. That would put me in a 4% alcohol by volume range. I can check the SG one more time before priming and bottling to see if the SG drops any lower.  The color looks good and I get the flavor…a mild bitterness. The alcohol is there. Overall, I think I’ll be happy with the results for a first attempt.

I poured off about an inch of liquid and here's the "bottom of the barrel".

I poured off about an inch of liquid and here’s the “bottom of the barrel”.

It *might* be a little weak, in general. I have bottled a single flip-top and primed it with CarTabs, so I can get an idea of the end product ahead of time. There might be a slight variation with an extra day or two to clarify and priming sugar instead of CarTabs at bottling, but it will be a good approximation.

Over a gallon in the PFB plus a test flip-top.

Over a gallon in the PFB plus a test flip-top.

Having combined the growler and 1st PFB worts (or is it technically beer at this point?), it will be interesting to see if airlock bubbles resume at an increased pace, since the yeast that went into the growler was “guesstimated” up front.  This evening, I will be pitching the yeast on Crabapple Cider Batch #3.

6:30 pm     Pulled the pommace bag and squeezed the juice from it. Pitched in about 3 grams of Dry Ale Yeast Safale s-04. Ready to go!

9:30 pm     Doing a little reading and I think the amount of Safale s-04 that I used is sufficient. However, it seems like I’m reading that it is a slower fermenting yeast than Champagne yeast. The PFB is not bubbling perceptably yet, but that may be because of the slower action of this yeast. (I don’t think there are any leaks.) I have read other people commenting that the primary fermentation may take weeks with this yeast. Another person recommended adding some Champagne yeast for peace of mind, but I don’t have any…that’s why I’m using the s-04. I don’t really have time to run to the brew shop, 15 miles away just for a packet of yeast and I have all the brewing going on that I need to keep track of between now and Thanksgiving! I’m not the most patient person, but I may just let Cider Batch # 3 take its time.

I do need to get a question answered though…maybe I’ll hit a forum and post it. What I need to know is: If I am not going to backsweeten my cider, can I just prime and bottle without pastuerizing or stopping the yeast some other way? I read comments about “bottle bombs” that explode because too much fermentable sugar is left in the cider at bottling. If my SG at bottling, before adding priming sugar (or, in my case, Munton’s CarTabs) is 0.990 to 1.000 and I add the recommended priming amount (4 tabs per bottle), then I shouldn’t have to do anything else, right? Age 4 weeks or more after bottling, at room temperature, and refrigerate before drinking? More on that later.

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