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Brew Day! National Homebrew Day! Big Brew Event!

Let's Brew!

Let’s Brew!

Today was National Homebrew Day and I celebrated by brewing at Atlantic Brew Supply’s “Big Brew” event in the Raleigh Brewing Company’s brewery. The recipe I chose is a Saison called Legends Never Die and the 1/2 price deal came up to just over $15 for a 5 gallon recipe. As has been usual for awhile now, I used the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method. The grain bill is North Carolina sourced, the yeast is Belle Saison, and the hops are an ounce of Cascade @20 minutes, a half ounce of Nugget @ 10 min and again @ 5 min. A final 1 ounce dry hop addition is done at secondary fermentation for 10 days.

Raleigh Brewing Company/Atlantic Brew Supply Big Brew

Raleigh Brewing Company/Atlantic Brew Supply Big Brew

The brewing process went pretty smoothly. The brewery hot water was already above 130F, so strike water reached temperature quickly. As usual, I went over my target temperature for mash in, but I added a little cold water and got it right within a few minutes.

My stuff.

My stuff

I did a mash-out this time to 172F for 10 minutes and sparged with 2 gallons of the brewery hot water.  When I was ready to boil, it seemed to be taking a little time, so I started making some notes…next thing I knew, I had a little boil-over. On the plus side, it provided a pretty clean break and I had a nice boil for the rest of the time.

Ready to boil

Ready to boil

I did get a little pop while stirring and got a mild burn on my right hand. It really only hurts when exposed to steam or warm water. I have found that stirring enough to create a whirlpool in the wort while it’s boiling, creates these pops of hot wort that can splash out of the kettle. I used my refractometer to check the specific gravity (SG) and is a little under the projected 1.063…I got 1.058. I’m good with that for my original gravity (OG). A friend had to add a pound of DME (Dry Malt Extract) to get to 1.060, so I don’t feel too bad.

After the boil, I used one of the brewery’s wort chillers and brought the temperature down to about 72F…took about 15 minutes or so. Then I siphoned the wort into my plastic carboy, aerated it with the oxygen cannister for about two minutes, and then pitched the yeast.

Done! Time for clean-up.

Done! Time for clean-up.

Clean up went pretty quickly and I strapped my carboy into my van for the trip home. Done! I arrived at the brewery at 9 a.m. and left right at 2 p.m. Five hours on the button.

Strapped in for the ride home. Click it or Tip it!

Strapped in for the ride home. Click it or Tip it!

I checked on the carboy around 7 p.m. and didn’t see much action, but it looked okay. An hour later, the krausen had literally created a layer on the top of the wort that was about a finger thick!

Belle Saison yeast is a monster!

Belle Saison yeast is a monster!

Time to install a blow-off set-up, before it fouls the airlock!

Blow-off set-up installed.

Blow-off set-up installed.

And it’s time for some Aleve. Happy National Homebrew Day!

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Day 162 Brew Day! McQuinn’s Robust Porter

Becoming a porter.

Becoming a porter.

I got this recipe from my LHBS (Local Home Brew Shop) as a recipe of the month at 1/2 price! It came as a pumpkin porter, but since I already have a Scottish pumpkin ale in the works, I decided to “de-pumpkin-ni-fie” the recipe, add a little maltodextrin and just make a Robust Porter. The name McQuinn comes from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name…and it sounds good for a porter!

I’m trying to input my recipes and brewing sessions into Brewer’s Friend online, but they include some technical stuff that I’m not into yet. They also do not account for things like sugars or fermentables that aren’t part of the “mash” or grain steep. (I’m doing BIAB–brew in a bag–all grain brewing).

All set to brew, BIAB style.

All set to brew, BIAB style.

So, when going from end of mash specific gravity reading, to pre-boil, to end of boil, the calculations show my conversion of grain to sugar and mash efficiency to be over 100% I’m also getting confused on water volume, grain absorbtion, boil off rate, etc. I start with 6 gallons in the kettle to mash, I know the grain absorbs some and the calculations have a standard default. Then I do what I’m calling a modified “sparge” where I drain heated water over the grains to hopefully wash out some more sugars from the grains…so, I’m adding about 2 gallons back.

My "modified sparge" set-up. Hey...it seems to work!

My “modified sparge” set-up. Hey…it seems to work!

Starting at 6 gallons and adding 2 gallons, minus what the grains absorbed, should leave me with about 7 gallons, but I swear I had 8 for the start of my boil. Had to keep the boil slow for most of the hour, because of the volume. Then I wound up with a slam full fermentation bucket.

Pitching the yeast in a "slam full" bucket of aerated wort.

Pitching the yeast in a “slam full” bucket of aerated wort.

I had to actually pull out a gallon to process separately, after I pitched the yeast. I used an oxygen tank with an aeration stone to aerate the wort for two minutes. I’m using Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast. I was supposed to have 5.5 gallons after the boil.

The other thing that throws me off on all-grain brewing is the amount of trub. If you want a nice clear beer, you rack maybe 5.25 gallons off of 6 gallons and the rack again to 4-1/2 for bottling. I don’t care too much about getting a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) so much as I was a good beer and I want my 5 gallons! Ah well. C’est la biere!

So, I keep trying to tweak the brewing program and make notes that explain discrepancies, but it can be confusing. The main thing is that the actual brewing went well…except the temperature dropped in the mash at one point and I fired the burner to boost it and I over-shot from the 153 target, up to 157F. I stirred constantly for over 15 minutes to get it back down. Temperature control in the mash is the bane of my beer making! I’m not sure how it would do in an accurately judged competition, but my stuff still seems to come out pretty well, so I guess it’s okay. At the end of the brew, the color looks good and the OG reading is spot-on at 1.063 with an anticipated ABV of 6.32%.

Chilling the boiled wort in an ice bath...maybe a copper coil chiller for Christmas?

Chilling the boiled wort in an ice bath…maybe a copper coil chiller for Christmas?

Despite the brewing program confusion and water volume weirdness, this should be a pretty decent porter…and I have an extra gallon or so to experiment with. I’m using blow off tubes, since this is a dark beer and the volume is high.

Hit my numbers and still had more that I could fit in the fermentation bucket.

Hit my numbers and still had more that I could fit in the fermentation bucket.

I may wind up combining them at secondary and then dividing them again at bottling time and add cold brewed coffee to one half or one quarter.

If anyone would like the details of the recipe, I am happy to share…let’s see how it turns out, though!

Update: 10/6/14   The porter has been chugging away all day!

Update: 10/8/14   It has only been a couple of days since brewing and the porter has already gone through a quick chugging fermentation period and by yesterday afternoon, had already slowed substantially. I think I might go ahead and switch from blow off tubes to regular airlocks. I don’t know if this is normal for Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast…I have to assume so.

Day 3 after brewing, small jug...action substantially slowed.

Day 3 after brewing, small jug…action substantially slowed.

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Day 154 Brew Day! Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale

Samhain label...no artist to credit, but it's beautiful!    Not for sale, so I guess it's okay.

Samhain label…no artist to credit, but it’s beautiful! Not for sale, so I guess it’s okay.

After I picked up a new oxygen canister and some bags of ice, I set up for brewing my Scottish Pumpkin Ale that I’m calling “Samhain”, which is the Celtic version of Halloween and is pronounced “so-win”.

The recipe is a modification of a Scottish Ale recipe from a member at www.Homebrewtalk.com. I put the recipe together like this (but note the changes as I brewed!):

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale

Original Gravity: 1.068 Final Gravity: 1.019 ABV (standard): 6.49%

IBU (tinseth): 30.47 SRM (morey): 19.58

Fermentables

Amount Fermentable PPG °L Bill %

14 lb United Kingdom – Maris Otter Pale 38 3.75 73.7%

1 lb American – Caramel / Crystal 80L 33 80 5.3%

0.75 lb United Kingdom – Brown 32 65 3.9%

4 oz Molasses 36 80 1.3%

3 lb Dry Malt Extract – Light 42 4 15.8%***

19 lb Total

Hops

Amount Variety Type AA Use Time IBU

1 oz East Kent Goldings Pellet 5 Boil 60 min 19.79

0.5 oz Fuggles Pellet 4.5 Boil 60 min 8.91

0.5 oz Fuggles Pellet 4.5 Boil 5 min 1.78

Hops Summary

Amount Variety Type

1 oz East Kent Goldings Pellet 5

1 oz Fuggles Pellet 4.5

Mash Guidelines

Amount Description Type Temp Time

5.5 gal BIAB Infusion 158 F 60 min

2 gal modified sparge Fly Sparge 168 F —

Other Ingredients

Amount Name Type Use Time

29 oz Pumpkin, canned, roasted 30 minutes at 425F,  Boil 15 min

29 oz Pumpkin, canned, roasted Other Secondary 0 min

2 tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice Spice Boil 0 min

1 each Vanilla Bean, split Flavor Secondary —

2 oz Vodka, to soak vanilla bean Other Secondary —

Yeast

White Labs – Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast WLP028

Attenuation (avg): 72.5% Flocculation: Medium

Optimum Temp: 65 – 70 °F Starter: Yes

Fermentation Temp: 70 °F Pitch Rate: 1.25 (M cells / ml / ° P)

393 B cells required (Guess…I have no experience calculating this.)

Priming

Method: Corn Sugar CO2 Level: 2.4 Volumes

Target Water Profile: Cary Town Water

Method: BIAB

Style: Holiday/Winter Special Spiced Beer

Boil Time: 60 min

Batch Size: 5 gallons (fermentor volume)

Boil Size: 7.5 gallons

Boil Gravity: 1.045 (recipe based estimate)

Efficiency: 35% (brew house)*** 

Source: Matt Miller

Non-grain fermentables added at 60 minutes.

Irish Moss added at 15 minutes.

 

***So, there were a couple of issues that required some changes. The efficiency that was the default in the recipe builder for Brew in a Bag (BIAB) brewing was 34%  and I evidently get double that.

Sparging...kind of.

Sparging…kind of.

Set up for a rigged "sparge". Seems to do the job.

Set up for a rigged “sparge”. Seems to do the job.

After the mash, I had an SG of 1.075, which was already better than projected and I had not yet added the 3 lbs of DME I thought I would need to add to the boil…so I omitted it entirely.

The process went smoothly. If anyone is interested, there are other posts that go through the process. The color is really nice!

Nice color!

Nice color!

Sorry the photos aren’t better…*someone* took my camera to use at a Demi Lovato concert and didn’t bring it back in time. I had to use my phone’s camera. I did chill the wort down to 76F, using an ice bath.

Ice bath chill

Ice bath chill

Then I pulled a sample, oxygenated the wort for 2 minutes using a sanitized oxygen canister and “oxygen stone” set-up and pitched my Edinburgh Ale Yeast (that I harvested from a previous batch of cider). I had prepared a starter for the yeast in advance and it was very active. I don’t have experience with “pitch rates”, but I believe I have plenty of yeast cells for the job. Since the volume I wound up with is about 6 gallons, in a standard fermentation bucket, and I have seen this yeast ferment very aggressively, I went ahead and set up a blow-off tube  to keep from fouling the airlock.  The yeast was pitched around 5:10 pm. As of 9:45 pm, I’m hearing a little action in the blow-off tube.

Blow-off tube.

Blow-off tube.

Now, aside from the process, let’s talk about the sights, smells, and flavors! I made my own pumpkin pie spice blend, using cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. I did freshly grate the nutmeg. Also, the ginger has been around along time, so I supplemented it with a little grated fresh ginger. I roasted a can of Libby’s Pumpkin, spread on some parchment paper, on a baking sheet, at 425F for about 30 minutes. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it picked up a few dark spots from caramelization and lost a lot of water. I kept the pumpkin in a sanitized storage container until I was ready for it.

Roasted, canned pumpkin

Roasted, canned pumpkin

The wort took on a great brown color with a dark orange-ish shade to it. Really nice! And the aroma and flavor from the pumpkin and spices are very good, too. I think this is going to be a VERY good beer.

Using the hydrometer sample, the OG came in at 1.083 and, if the attenuation rate is accurate, the ABV will be 7.91%; however, in my experience, the SG isn’t going to stop at 1.023…so, the ABV will likely be over 8%. And, this sample was also the basis for the flavor and color evaluations.

Hydrometer sample...settling a little.

Hydrometer sample…settling a little.

An update on the ciders and muscadine wine: the wine is basically bulk aging and clearing nicely. I’ll eventually rack it…maybe a couple more weeks, and let it go a few months, before I bottle it. The Caramel Cider made with crab apples and Cripps apples is pretty much bulk, aging as well. It did have a little airlock activity going on for a while after racking…not regular or often, though. It has almost stopped now, I think, so I’ll probably rack that a final time in about a week. Maybe bottling in two weeks. The crab apple, pear and Cripps apples cider…no name for it yet…is still bubbling pretty regularly in the airlock. It probably won’t be bottled for a month.

I think I’m learning that it pays to take a little extra time. Excess sediment in the bottom of bottles seems to be messing with my carbonation after bottles have been around for a couple of months. And I like my ciders to have very good clarity…not as huge a deal for all beers, but some. (For instance, wheat beers are actually supposed to be a little hazy.) So, slow down…get it right. Give it another week. It can only help!

Update: 9/15/14  Getting very good action in the blow-off on the Samhain Pumpkin Ale. It hasn’t fouled and it isn’t quite what I have heard some describe as “Rhino farts”, but it is almost constant bubbling.

Update:  9/15/14  Opened the test bottle of the caramel cider to see what it’s doing. No carb at all. The ABV is a hefty 10.89%, though and the flavor is nice. Color is good. Finished product will be more clear.  Alcohol may have pushed the Edinburgh Ale yeast past its tolerance…may have to explore options, if I want to carb.

Caramel Cider tester bottle...no carb; lots of alcohol.

Caramel Cider tester bottle…no carb; lots of alcohol.

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Day 148 Pitching the Yeast in Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Edinburgh yeast starter…pulled from the fridge and decanted. Opened the cider bucket and removed the cheesecloth bag of apple/crab apples pulp and squeezed out the juice. I will compost this material.

Apple/Crab Apple "must"...pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

Apple/Crab Apple “must”…pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

I added the yeast slurry to the cider and stirred well. I did pull a hydrometer sample and it is very sweet and reads 1.100 at 78.2F, so that comes out to an OG of 1.102. I tossed in a couple cinnamon sticks and 8 whole cloves that I had sanitized with Star-San.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

I also added about 1/4 cup of molasses…just a touch. The time was about 9:15 a.m., so let’s see if the Edinburgh Ale Yeast  takes off and when.

I also checked on the muscadine wine. The aroma when I opened the bucket was less appealing than it has been.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Still a lot of effervescence and nice color. I stirred the bag under and mixed the liquid well. I took a small sample in the stirring spoon and resealed the lid. The sample did not have any off-odor, still tasted of muscadines and is sweet; however, the alcohol level is definitely rising!

Stirring things up.

Stirring things up.

By 2 pm, I noticed airlock action in the cider bucket, so I guess my revival technique was successful and the subsequent starter that I made worked. as well. Sweet! As of tonight, it’s a fairly regular slow heart beat type of bubbling.

The muscadine wine continues a fairly vigorous activity.

Update, morning 8/27/14: I opened and stirred down wine again…same as yesterday. No problem. I also opened the cider bucket and saw more krausen than I expected.

Stirred the krausen down.

Stirred the krausen down.

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider...quite a bit a krausen!

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider…quite a bit a krausen!

I stirred it down and resealed the lid. About an hour later, I found that the yeast had kicked in in big time! The airlock was fouled, so I immediately set up a blow off to remedy the situation.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 134 Status Citra Saisons and Diet Root Beer

Switched back from blow-offs to airlocks

Switched back from blow-offs to airlocks

A quick update on my current projects: 1) Diet Root Beer. I prepared a replacement cap for my test bottle, I opened the tester and heard a slight CO2 escape. I poured a very small amount in a glass. There were very few bubbles. The soda was obviously undercarbed, but had some…hopefully, that will continue to increase! The flavor was strong on the root beer and not overly sweet, but it does have a little “diet” aftertaste. It’s okay, though, for the trade-off on sugar. I’m just hoping it carbs enough! Next time, maybe a little sweeter. I may have to find a way for a little more sweetness and a little less aftertaste without upping the sugar too much.

2) I switched back to regular airlocks for the Citra Saisons this afternoon. The action seemed to have relaxed sufficiently. Still on the heating pad on “low”  and wrapped in the Space Blanket. The main batch is bubbling about every 8-10 seconds and the little bonus gallon, that I’m going to rack onto vodka soaked cherries, is at about 18-20 second intervals. Looking good! A lot of trub…I’ll probably get 4-1/2 to 5 gallons out of the big carboy and 2/3 gallon on the small one, but they should be good!

3) Moving the Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus to storage. They were bottled on July 27th. Should be a couple of weeks before I open one and a month before I expect them to really be ready.

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Day 114 Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda, Tepache #2

The ginger-mint “bug” appears to be ready…nice and bubbly. I picked up a pineapple today and already had a couple of mangoes. I got some extra ginger while I was at it. So, tonight I used my little countertop extractor to juice the fruits and about a half ounce or so of ginger and wound up with about 32 oz of juice. I added 2 cups/16 oz of water for a total of 48 oz. Then I added 1/4 cup of strained “bug” and stirred well.

Little countertop juice extractor.

Little countertop juice extractor…before I cleaned the ginger out of it.

Next, I sanitized utensils and 4 bottles and caps. I bottled the juice and capped it and had a little left over, so I put it in a small canning jar with a lid. I’ll use that as a tester. Directions say to refrigerate when carbonated to desired amount…1 to 3 days. I know there’s a LOT of sugar in there, so I think I will pasteurize the bottles when ready, just to be safe. That’s a fair amount of work for four bottles of soda! But I’m hoping it will be worth it! I might try a commercial juice for the next batch, though.

Ginger bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a l;ittle tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Ginger-mint bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a little tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Since I was doing a pineapple for the soda, I went ahead and peeled and cored it for a batch of tepache. I only had a few ounces of the piloncillo Mexican raw sugar, so I made up the bulk of the sugar with regular old brown sugar. So, at least I’m multi-tasking and getting another product started for all my efforts! My American Wheat/RyePA was chugging along this morning. Later in the afternoon it had slowed quite a bit. It pretty slow tonight. I’ll probably go ahead and replace the blow-off tube with a regular airlock  in the morning. And, as ever, the pineapple-mango melomel continues to condition in a carboy and looks beautiful. Can’t wait to drink it…in November 2016.

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Day 113 Brew Day!!! Something a Little Different. Rye PA?

The set-up.

The set-up.

It’s been a long brew day. I slept late and got a late start. After getting an idea about what I was going to brew, running to the local brew shop, topping of the propane tank and getting ice, I still had to organize, set-up and sanitize! I think I finally turned the burner on at about 2 p.m. I just finished…well, still have some more clean up to do…and it’s 7:45 p.m.

I was hoping to make a scotch ale; however, the recipes and comments I was hearing were all pretty much saying that I needed to be able to maintain a fermentation temperature of 68F for the first week and sometimes down in the 50’s for another 10 days. Since I don’t have anyway of temperature regulation, I decided I needed to go another way. In looking at styles that do better in warmer temperatures, I found a recipe for a wheat beer, with an option for rye, that sounded interesting. So, I started tweaking it and headed for the HBS to get further  input.  The original recipe I found is here:

http://thebrewhut.com/brewblog.php?page=recipeDetail&&filter=brewmaster&id=62&pg=2

I always like to give credit to originator! So, here’s what I did. First, I went with regular wheat, not red. Maybe some other time. I also decided to pick up some Citra hops, because I really liked what they did for a similar brew. I also remembered that I had a little Vanguard hops left in the freezer at home. And rather than go with a Weihenstephaner yeast, I decided to go US-05. This should help with my higher fermentation temperatures. For the honey in the recipe, I opted for orange blossom and instead of Lemon Zinger Tea, I’m going for Lemon zest soaked in vodka for the secondary…maybe some orange zest, too. Maybe I’ll call it “Rye Sense of Humor American RyePA”.

Gots all my pertinents and such.

Gots all my pertinents and such.

On to the brew: I pretty much followed the recipe. There are two hops varieties in addition to the hops I decided to add. Bittering hops at 60 minutes, Cascade. Aroma hops at 30 minutes and 5 minutes, Hallertau and again at 5 minutes.  I added the Vanguard at the 30 minute marks, as well and the citrus at flameout.

My BIAB process went pretty smoothly, except it is hard to nail down that target temperature and regulate it there. I heated the strike water to 168 (a tad higher than I anticipated). I let it come down a little  before adding the grains. The grains only got it down to around 158F. I left the lid off and stirred a lot to try to bring it down to 152F. I went through that a couple time before it was ready to mash out.

Boil in a Bag, all-grain.

Boil in a Bag, all-grain.

The mash out, on the other hand, went smoothly. I hit the temp and I was able to maintain it pretty steadily for 15 minutes. Then it was on to the boil. I started with 7 gallons and went through most of the process as planned.

Dunking and draining...no sparging.

Dunking and draining…no sparging.

DSC04805

 

I did, however, have in my mind that the last two BIAB brews I did have a bunch of trub and tit really cut into the amount of beer I made. So, at the end, I added a gallon of  cold water which, of course, dropped my specific gravity reading.

I decided to pull a gallon of wort and re-boil it with another 1/2 pound of honey and a 1-3/8 oz chunk of piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar). I chilled that down and added it back. The refractometer was reading 1.047…I did a hydrometer check and it was reading 1.050 at 73F…that would be 1.051 corrected for temperature. Anyway,  I took one last refractometer reading and, low and behold, it matched the hydrometer at 1.051! I stuck the rest of the sample in the fridge to check the color later.

The Boil

The Boil

I had already rehydrated the yeast, so I went ahead and pitched it. Then I rocked the fermention bucket for 5 minutes to aerate. I’m going to go ahead and put a blow-off tube on this bucket, because it is pretty full. It would not take much krausen to foul an airlock!

Blow-off, in place and ready.

Blow-off, in place and ready.

Now it’s time to finish up a little cleaning before I yawn myself to sleep!

Update: Sample tube…clear separation. Lots of trub! I really like the flavor of this wort…this has great potential!

Wort hydrometer sample...checking for trub, color, aroma, flavor.

Wort hydrometer sample…checking for trub, color, aroma, flavor.

 

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Day 83 Brew Day Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

Ingredients for Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

Ingredients for Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

Brew Day 3/8/14   I think I am far enough along to breeze through the basic details. The basic brew went well, except I added 1 lb of lactose instead of 8 oz. From what I have heard, that should not be a problem. Maybe a slightly higher gravity. I started the grain steep with 3 gallons of water @ 155 for 30 minutes. I did do my little mini sparge set up. I used a bottling bucket with hose and gravity drained 2 gallons of water @ 168F over the grain sock.

Mini sparge for the grain sock. Hey, why not?!

Mini sparge for the grain sock. Hey, why not?!

Creative little mini sparge

Creative little mini sparge

Boiled for 60 minutes following directions for additions. Ice bath chilled to 125F, added 1 gallon of cold water to top-off at 5-1/2 gallons. Temp was still at 100F. So I returned the bottling bucket that I’m fermenting in, to the ice bath.

The Boil

The Boil

When I got it to 75F, I pulled a sample for specific gravity check and pitched the yeast (I rehydrated the Safale s-04 yeast in 4 0z of 75F water). Popped on the lid and airlock and I aerated for 5 minutes. Finished shortly after 5 pm.

I checked the OG with my new refractometer: 1.063/1.064 (those numbers are SO small!) and hydrometer: 1.060 at 80F, adjusted to 1.062…so, pretty close to each other. The original specs called for 1.053. I imagine the difference can be accounted for with the extra lactose and maybe a little better efficiency on the grain steep resulting from the mini sparge technique(?).

The hydrometer OG check

The hydrometer OG check

Update 3/9/13   9 p.m.   The wort began to ferment late last night and became pretty strong by this morning. I was away from the house for several hours and returned to find a very small amount of krausen in the airlock. It may not be necessary, but I went ahead and set up a blow off. I have 1 quart of cold brewed Kona blend coffee in the refrigerator. That will be added at bottling, after a secondary on Costa Rican chocolate nibs. This brew will eventually be “Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout”. Did I mention that I love sitting here and writing and being able to hear the blow off chugging away in the next room? Yeah…love it. And having a glass of my homebrew Citra Citrus American Wheat doesn’t suck, either!

Citra Citrus American Wheat...Man, I love this beer!

Citra Citrus American Wheat…Man, I love this beer!

By the way, the strawberry blonde is continuing to clear in secondary. I’m thinking it should be ready to bottle by next weekend. The small batch of Plain Jane Blonde is in a plastic bucket, so I can’t see it; but I assume it is at least as clear as the strawberry. Maybe I’ll bottle that later this week, just to break things up a  bit. There’s about 6 gallons of strawberry, so that’s going to take awhile. The plain is only about a gallon and a half.

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

I hadn’t thought about it before now, but I’ll need to do some math on the corn sugar amount for bottling these blondes, since both are substantially off from the 5 gallon mark.

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Day 78 Update on Blondes, More Murray’s

Primary Fermentation Buckets: 6 gallon with blow off and strawberries; 1-1/2 gallons plain with airlock.

Primary Fermentation Buckets: 6 gallon with blow off and strawberries; 1-1/2 gallons plain with airlock.

The blonde ales are in primary fermentation, about 6 gals are fermenting with 6 lbs of whole, frozen strawberries with a smack pack of Denny’s Favorite #50 yeast.  The other 1-1/2 gals are plain and are pitched with an almost full package of Safale S-04. The strawberry blonde is still steadily putting off bubbles, though not as vigorously as before.

Blow off on strawberry blonde.

Blow off on strawberry blonde.

The plain blonde has been slow…a bubble every minute or so. I doubt that it could be that close to done, especially after the addition of the extra DME fortified wort. I’m hoping it doesn’t get stuck, but I’m keeping an eye on it and will probably need to do an SG check in a day or two.

I also did some grocery shopping today and picked up two 1/2 gallon containers of  Murray’s Apple Cider. I was so happy with my test batch of the Murray’s Super Easy Cider, that I want to make more!

Murray's Apple Cider...for super easy, delicious hard cider!

Murray’s Apple Cider…for super easy, delicious hard cider!

 

 

 

At $5.69 per 1/2 gallon, a 5 gallon batch would be about $60 and I don’t need ten 1/2 gallon glass carboys…even if they ARE free. So, I may have to research alternatives…bigger containers, case prices. Something. But it IS good and DO need to make some more!

UPDATE: 2/27: A quick note…not worthy of a separate “Day” entry…but I checked the SG on the plain blonde and it is 1.014. So it has had significant movement. Maybe it’ll go down more. ABV currently is a little over 3%. I could always move to a secondary and pitch a different yeast…but the batch is so small, I really don’t want to lose much more of it to testing and racking.

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Day 77 Goosing the Strawberry Blonde and Bottling the Wheat Citra Citrus

Opened strawberry blonde after 24 hours to inspect. (I drew off the gallon for DME addition from the spigot.)

Opened strawberry blonde to add DME wort. (I drew off the gallon for DME boil from the spigot.)

A busy day today. On the recommendation of some people on http://www.homebrewtalk.com, I decided to make a run back to the brew shop and get some dry malt extract (DME) to bump the specific gravity of the strawberry blonde and plain blonde brews that I did yesterday. The specific gravity was 1.034 at 75F (1.035)…well below the target of 1.053. I’ve done this enough now that I think I’m taking the measurement correctly and it could be due to the higher volume that I wound up with…a total of about 7-1/2 gallons. There’s 1-1/2 gallons of plain blonde ale and about 6 gallons of strawberry blonde (including the 6lbs of strawberries). As of late morning, the main bucket was gurgling nicely and the blow off is seeing some action, but not out of control. The plain blonde in the small bucket is just starting to see some action.

At the home brew shop, they crunched the number for me and concurred that 3 lbs of DME should put me back on target and, using some of the existing wort, will lover my yeast count a little, but will keep me from increasing the already high volume in the main bucket.

So, at home again, I sanitized a 1 quart measure and removed a gallon of wort form the strawberry blonde. I put the wort into a stock pot and brought it to a boil. I added the DME, while stirring, until it was dissolved and incorporated. Watching carefully for boil over, I boiled for 15 minutes.

Drew off 1 gallon of strawberry blonde wort. Added 3 lbs DME at boil.

Drew off 1 gallon of strawberry blonde wort. Added 3 lbs DME at boil.

I skimmed off a few suds and then chilled the DME wort to 75F in an ice bath in the kitchen sink.

Ice bath chill.

Ice bath chill.

I measured the wort at 17 cups and divided that between a total of 7-1/2 gallons of wort (I just realized that I didn’t account for the gallon that I took out…dang. Shouldn’t matter too much, though.). I put 13-1/2 cups of the DME wort into the strawberry blonde fermentation bucket and 3-1/2 cups in the plain blonde bucket. The only problem is that the SG …what I will be using for my OG is still under what we worked out. It is just 1.040 @ 75F (1.041)…and I’m second guessing my abilities on the hydrometer reading thing. If I’m accurate though, and I attain the 1.010 that is estimated, then the ABV will be 4.07%. It’s not optimal, but it is acceptable. The sample looked and tasted pretty nice.

Strawberry blonde hydrometer sample

Strawberry blonde hydrometer sample

A little muddy at this point, but I think fermentation and the process will clear it up nicely.  Cleaned up and prepared for bottling my American Wheat Citra Citrus. The fermentation resumed pretty quickly on the blonde ales.

Blow off action.

Blow off action.

On to the bottling…all the usual bottle washing/sanitizing, equipment sanitizing. I’m using some of my newly acquired bottles.

Nice, clean bottles.

Nice, clean bottles.

Thankfully, they are in decent boxes with six-pack holders for dividers. The box flaps and handles are in a little rough shape on some, but not destroyed…definitely usable. I could use an empty bottle box or two for the loose bottles that I have. I should ask at the brew shop if they sell the boxes only, next time I go there.

Anyway, the bottling went smoothly. I filled a case and capped it and then did the second one and capped it. I did get a yield of exactly two cases…the last bottle was a struggle.

First case of the American Wheat Citra Citrus.

First case of the American Wheat Citra Citrus.

I marked it, just in case it had any trub in it. Because I racked pretty carefully a couple of days ago though, it was all rather clear.

Nice and clear American Wheat Citra Citrus...ready to bottle.

Nice and clear American Wheat Citra Citrus…ready to bottle.

The color looks good…a little dark, but it IS an extract recipe, so that’s expected. The flavor has a great citrus punch with a really nice hop bitterness…not overpowering, though.

Sample of American Wheat Citra Citrus...very encouraged!

Sample of American Wheat Citra Citrus…very encouraged!

And the aroma is a-maz-ing!!! The combination of the citra hops late additions and the citrus work very well together! I am VERY much looking forward to the first bottle of this batch! I didn’t check the SG before bottling, but I did check it at the final racking and I don’t think it would have changed since then. It was 1.010@72F (1.011) at that time. I’m going with that as the FG. The OG was 1.044@75F (1.045), so the ABV would be 4.46%, which is very close to the estimated 4.4% ABV.

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