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Day 109 Racking IPA to Bottling Bucket

 

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Since racking off of the trub and dry hops in primary fermentation, the IPA settled and had a fairly thin layer of sediment left on the bottom. In addition, there were some little bits of what I am assuming were hops that somehow made it through. They were floating just below the surface and they did not look like they were going to precipitate out.

Floating bits that I had to filter out.

Floating bits that I had to filter out.

So, I decided to rack to my bottling bucket, filtering through the bag I use for BIAB.

Using (sanitized) BIAB bag to filter.

Using (sanitized) BIAB bag to filter.

That seemed to work well. I now have just under 4 gallons of beer. I’m going to give it the day to settle again and will hopefully get it bottled tonight. If not, then tomorrow.

I did get a small taste from the siphon when I was done. The flavor is bitter, but it is supposed to be…and I’m thinking the flavor is improving.

trubby sample...waiting for it to settle.

trubby sample…waiting for it to settle.

I pulled some additional beer from the bottom of the carboy and put it in a testing tube in the fridge to chill and settle. Once it separates, I’ll pour off the good beer and clean the testing tube, return the beer to the tube and test for the FG.

Update: The sample settled a little more than what is shown in the picture, but after pouring off the good stuff, I was below what I needed for the hydrometer. I took just enough additional through the bottling bucket spigot to get a reading. I’m seeing an FG of 1.012; the OG was 1.058. That makes the  ABV 6.04%. The recipe estimate was 7%, but the actual for the recipe was 4.7%, so I’m in great shape, I think.

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Day 108 Racking Major Nelson IPA & White’s SEC

Dry hopped Major Nelson, ready for secondary.

Dry hopped Major Nelson, ready for secondary.

Primary has been going for 8 days, the last 4 were dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin. I racked a little over 5 gallons from the bottling bucket that I used for primary fermentation into a big glass carboy.

Racking to secondary.

Racking to secondary.

This batch had a crapload of trub! I wound up with what looks like a little under 4 gallons of beer and gallon or more of trub…dang it!

Spent yeast and hops equals a gallon of trub!

Spent yeast and hops equals a gallon of trub!

Trub up to the gallon mark...maybe a little more.

Trub up to the gallon mark…maybe a little more.

I could have topped it more after the boil, but it would have brought down my SG. I would rather have better beer, than more beer (to some extent…short a full gallon kinda hurts)!

A little under 4 gallons (?) in secondary.

A little under 4 gallons (?) in secondary.

I pulled a small sample to taste…and managed to knock it over. D’oh! I did get a single, small sip and it has a bracing bitterness and very hoppy aroma. So many hops I haven’t had experience with before…it will be interesting! I plan on a few days in secondary; maybe a week, and then bottling. Recipe calls for aging for 30 days, but IPA’s are meant to be consumed pretty fresh, before the hops fade, aren’t they. We’ll see. I’ll check it about 12-14 days after bottling and see how it’s doing. Now…I just need to get the carbonation right!

I also racked a half gallon batch of “White’s Fresh Pressed” Super Easy Cider to secondary with no issues. The SG is 1.007…a little past where I wanted to go with it, but that’s ok. Maybe I’ll back sweeten a little when I bottle.

 

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Day 107 Dry Hopping the IPA

The airlock has slowed to a crawl on the IPA, after 4 days, so I’m adding the Nelson Sauvin hops pellets for the dry hopping stage. They should be in about 4 days and then I’ll rack to secondary for clearing, if the SG is where it’s supposed to be. I’ll make sure the fermentation is done before bottling.

Nelson Sauvin hops for dry hopping stage

Nelson Sauvin hops for dry hopping stage

Of course, I sanitized everything. I was planning on dropping the hops pellets into a little nylon bag, but decided against it at the last minute. I went ahead and just dropped them in and gave a light stir. I took a tiny bit into the spoon and tasted it and it is very bitter. I hope it will mellow a little bit in that respect. I know IPA’s are supposed to be bitter, but wow! At any rate, the dry hopping is in. The fermenter is resealed.

Nelson Sauvin hops pellets added to the IPA.

Nelson Sauvin hops pellets added to the IPA.

By the way, I like the smell of  hops pellets. I’ve smelled several now and they all have a component in common, with different intensities and subtle differences. I don’t really have the words and experience to really go more in depth, but I will say that there is a distinct difference with the Nelson Sauvin. It will be an interesting beer, for sure.

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Day 95 Racking the Pale Ale

Pole Vault Pale Ale racked to secondary.

Pole Vault Pale Ale racked to secondary.

The Pole Vault Pale Ale was ready to rack today. I tried to draw a sample off yesterday and I got sludge through the spigot, so I decided to rack through my siphon. Since I bought a longer siphon recently, I decided to go ahead and rack into the glass carboy. The trub in the bottom of the bottling bucket was definitely above the spigot…around the 1 gallon level!

Trub definitely above the spigot.

Trub definitely above the spigot.

A lot more trub than I'm used to seeing.

A lot more trub than I’m used to seeing.

 

I carefully racked off as much as I could, without getting into much sediment; however, there was a little that got through. The carboy is at, what I believe is, a little under the 5 gallon mark. Judging from the initial settling, I’ll probably lose another 1/4 gallon when racking at bottling time. So, I may not get my full two cases, but that’s okay.

On a side note, I tried my brew buddy’s all grain strawberry blonde  and compared it to my extract version. Mine was messed up in the beginning by too much water and a low OG. I added extra DME after the fact to raise the SG. By comparison, mine had a decent strawberry flavor…I added mine at 170F following flameout and she added hers to secondary. I think this plus the extra DME probably overpowered my hops bittering. I was also a little overcarbonated, but not drastically. Despite my minor flaws, it is drinkable if you like the strawberry flavor. While I love ripe strawberries, I think fermented strawberry flavor is not really my thing.

Brew buddy's all-grain strawberry blonde. (Right after pour)

Brew buddy’s all-grain strawberry blonde. (Right after pour)

 

My extract version of a strawberry blonde.

My extract version of a strawberry blonde. (After head dissipated)

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Day 90 Tasting Strawberry Blonde & Plain Jane

If you look back through the journal, you will see the lengths to which I went to try and make the Strawberry Blonde a successful brew. Alas, I believe it was all for naught. The Strawberry Blonde is lacking in hops, either in aroma or bittering. The strawberry flavor is best described as musky and muddled, hiding any hint of malt. But the extract sweetness is there. I don’t think aging will help, but I’ll give it a little more time. I compared with a commercially produced strawberry wheat beer produced by Lancaster Brewing Co. and, while I didn’t really like the commercial product either, it was generally better than mine. It did have a strawberry cream soda like flavor to it from the strawberry flavoring.

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A pleasant surprise, on the other hand, was the “Plain Jane Blonde”, small batch.

Plain John Blonde...surprisingly drinkable!

Plain John Blonde…surprisingly drinkable!

It has, by way of the attempt to up the OG, a little strawberry essence to it…just barely. While there are no hops in the aroma, they are there with a slight bitterness. The malt comes through and there is a little sweetness, but it isn’t cloying. It’s actually a pretty drinkable beer! Not my best offering, but not bad. If I were to attempt this recipe again, I would 1) Measure the water more accurately!, 2) Decrease the strawberries from 6 lbs to my original thought of around 2 to 3 pounds and, 3) Add the fruit in secondary, instead of after flameout at 170F.

I also used a free, simple beer label maker program to create a label for the Costa Kona Mocha Latte stout that I think looks passable. I kind of did a similar thing using a different program and printed it on plain paper, cut it out, moistened the back with milk and applied it to a bottle. Oddly enough, it works! Cheers!

BeerLabel Costa Kona

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Interlude: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

While I’m waiting for the next step in my home brew cider odyssey, I am indulging in a single bottle of Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. While I am not the beer gourmand that I once was (meaning I used to drink a lot more beer), I do appreciate a good craft brew.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Here’s where I spill the beans about my beer epiphany. In the Summer of 1983, I took a 6 week trip to Germany with my future wife. We stayed with her parents, who were living in Stuttgart for a couple of years. Up to that point, my experience with beer was pretty limited and basically was your typical binge and purge college experiences with Miller Beer. And then I arrived in Germany. West Germany, at the time. The regional beer was Dinkel Acker and my first one was a revelation in unpasteurized flavor and hops.

Eventually, I learned that there were, in addition to the regional beers, local beers that were specific to even the smallest town. I also learned that a 1/2 liter beer in one town, was NOT necessarily the same in the next town over. Where I am from, there was a limit of about 5% alcohol in beer. One could drive to a neighboring state and purchase beer with a slightly higher alcohol level, but none of it was particularly good. In Germany, the beer did not have a standard alcohol percentage . It varied from beer to beer, without warning! Sometimes I could drink a liter and have a small buzz; while other times, I would a 1/2 liter and have a serious buzz going! And it all TASTED GOOD!!!

My understanding is that it wasn’t until 1978 that Jimmy Carter signed the law that allowed legal home brewing. Is that widely known?! I’m no Jimmy Carter fan, but he DID have one major accomplishment as President! By 1983, the “micro-brew” phenomenon was still in its infancy in the United States. After only 6 short weeks traveling West Germany and visiting surrounding countries, I returned to the United States and, at some point, bought a six back of Miller Beer. I almost did the comedy classic “spewing of the beverage” when I took my first swig. Had someone switched my beer with a bottle of dog urine?!  I couldn’t drink it! (Sorry, Miller Beer.)

Over time, as budget permitted, I would seek out imported beer that was, while pasteurized, still very good. Eventually, the micro-brews started taking off. Home brewers were finding a new audience and stepping up. Soon, even the beer giants started offering some more flavorful beers. I did settle into a regular domestic that was okay and affordable and I drank plenty of it. Then, the doctor said that needed to stop! So now, I rarely have any alcohol and never more than one serving. But could that serving be more worthwhile? Well, craft brews are numerous now, but they can be pricey. What could be more affordable? One look at the internet and you will see that home brewing is still VERY popular and there are people who are seriously absorbed by it!  After an initial investment of about $100 to $150 though, basic brewing really isn’t too hard and the actual ingredients make home brewed beer fairly inexpensive. (I’m hoping my town will have a brew shop soon! Until then, I’ll drive the 15 miles or so to get my supplies.) I was actually pretty happy without alcohol; however, an abundance of crabapples has led me down the path to brewing. (I have all the jelly and crabapple butter I need for the next year.)

While out and about today, I came across the Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale, brewed in Easton, Pennsylvania. Since I just cooked up several quarts of pumpkin puree and have been reading a bunch of brewing forums lately, it caught my eye. So, while I am far from a gourmet who is qualified to critique someone else’s product, I do know what I like.

At $3 per bottle, it's all about quality, not quantity.

At $3 per bottle, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

Technical points aside, since I wouldn’t know what I was talking about; I like this Weyerbacher Ale.

It’s a little bitter, but not overpoweringly so. It’s a pretty color and has a nice aroma. I guess I get the spices a little, but they aren’t assertive. I don’t know if actual pumpkin was used in the process, but I get the overall idea.

Nice color on the Pumpkin Ale.

Nice color on the Pumpkin Ale.

Did that sound pretentious enough? Well, at $3 per bottle, I felt obligated. Anyway, this ale is something I would like to replicate sometime in the future with a brew of my own, just a little less bitter. Okay…enough for tonight. I think I’ll drink the other half of my beer and hit the sack. (My tolerance has really dropped over the last few years!)

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