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Follow-Up on Day 160 Cider

Back on October 1, 2014, (Identified as “Day 160” in my journal, when I was still numbering my posts), I racked a cider that I made from crab apples, pears, Pink Cripps and Ginger Gold apples into four 1/2 gallon jugs for bulk aging/conditioning. The cider was nice and clear and I was confident that they were finished fermenting. I stuck them away in a corner and ignored them until today. I decided to pull a jug out and check it. I saw a little dark streak on the side of the bottle…could have been from a drip when I transferred the cider. It was obviously a drip that had dried and turned dark and sticky. There was a very fine covering one bottom of the jug. When I opened the screw cap, it was immediately apparent that additional fermenting had carbed the jug and I had a gusher!

I retrieved the other three jugs and bled off the excess carb from all 4 jugs and lightly screwed the caps back down, rinsed them off, and put them in the refrigerator.  One of the four didn’t really gush…not sure why. I poured a small amount into a glass to taste. It’s pretty dry, but the flavor is nice. Maybe I won’t bother bottling…just keep the jugs refrigerated and serve out of them. I did add a little sprinkle of Truvia to sweeten the glass I poured and I liked it better. Backsweeten or no? Maybe just sweeten to taste when poured, as suggested by some cider-makers. It seems a little trashy, but, hey, it works.

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Day 167 Bottling McQuinn’s Robust Porter & Bold Coffee Porter

Transferring the porter to a bottling bucket.

Transferring the porter to a bottling bucket.

Bottled my robust porter today. I prepared a little over 2 cases of bottles and corresponding caps. I attached a sanitized little nylon bag on the end of the tubing…there were a few floaters in the beer;  possibly some Irish Moss that didn’t fall out.

Nylon bag for a little filtration of floaters.

Nylon bag for a little filtration of floaters.

I racked the porter from the glass carboy to a bottling bucket and checked the volume and temperature(about 60F). I consulted  Northern Brewer’s online priming calculator, which I have come to trust over the last few brews. I dissolved 3.75 oz corn sugar in Culligan hot water and then added some cold to cool it down a little. Using a sanitized long-handled spoon, I stirred in the priming solution and made sure it was well distributed.

Next, I drew off 2 gallons of porter into a separate small fermentation bucket containing 2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee and stirred. That left about 3.5 gallons of regular porter.

2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee in the 2 gallon bucket for the McQuinn's Bold Coffee Porter.

2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee in the 2 gallon bucket for the McQuinn’s Bold Coffee Porter.

I filled bottles with the plain porter first and wound up with 39 bottles. I then bottled the coffee porter and filled 20 bottles. Actually, the last bottle of coffee porter was just a tad short of the neck, so I went ahead and capped it, but marked the cap with an “x”, to remind me to use this one as my first carb tester in about 10 days.

McQuinn's Bold Coffee Porter.

McQuinn’s Bold Coffee Porter.

McQuinn's Robust Porter.

McQuinn’s Robust Porter.

I did pull a hydrometer sample from the dregs of the glass carboy. It’s a little murky, but should still be accurate. After temperature correction, the FG is 1.013, so the ABV comes in at 6.56%…just a little over the 6.32 estimated in the recipe. Color looks good and a small sip I had from both plain and coffee versions were, in my opinion, quite good. I think I’m going to be happy with the final products. I stuck the rest of the sample(plain) in the refrigerator to chill and settle. I’ll get get a better taste of it later today. I’ll probably double check the FG again, just to be redundant.

Hydrometer sample from the bottom of the carboy. Cold-crashing to clear and will taste sample later.

Hydrometer sample from the bottom of the carboy. Cold-crashing to clear and will taste sample later.

Cleaned up after myself, as usual and updated my inventory list. Ta da!

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Day 140 Pasteurizing Tepache, Bottling Ginger Beer, Racking Cherry Belle Saison

Pasteurizing.

Pasteurizing.

 

I decided to go ahead and pasteurize the Peach-Pineapple Tepache. The test bottle was pretty hard. The sample I tasted was lightly carbonated, but I didn’t want to take a chance of overcarbing. I filled my pressure canner body, with the false bottom, with hot water. I used the bottles to be pasteurized as a measure of how much water to use. This served an additional purpose: warmed the bottles a little before pasteurization. I removed the bottles and put the pot on the stove. I brought the water up to 180F and removed the pot from the heat, placed the bottles in, partially covered with the lid, and set a timer for ten minutes.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

When time was up, I removed the bottles to a towel on the counter to cool.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

My next project was to bottle the non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

I strained the solids out through a cheesecloth and the used a siphon and bottle wand to fill cleaned/sanitized bottles and capped them. They will need to carb for at least 24 hours and then be pasteurized.I believe this batch is too sweet, but I followed the recipe. I put the ginger and spices back into the fermentation bucket. Since they only sat for 24 hours, I feel like there is more flavor to give. So, I’m making a “second runnings” ginger beer that I am going to allow to ferment and produce alcohol.

"Second Runnings"

“Second Runnings”

I added 4 cups of water and measured the OG at 1.062. I may reduce the sugar a little in future batches.  Anyway, I put the bucket back on the heating pad and wrapped it in the Space Blanket.

Next, I got a quart of Culligan bottled water and boiled it for ten minutes and, while it was boiling, I siphoned the the Cherry Belle Citra Saison into a 1 gallon glass carboy for a tertiary stage, leaving behind the cherries and a little sediment.

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

The color is really nice and the cherry flavor is good. I think this will benefit from a little aging. After the boiled water chilled in the refrigerator, I topped off the saison to a gallon. It didn’t take the whole quart…maybe a pint. I’ll let this settle for a couple of days and then bottle it.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

As for the main batch of Belle Citra Saison, I did an SG check and it was 1.000 at 83F. That’s 1.003, corrected for temperature. This should be ready to rack to secondary any time. When I do rack it, I’ll be dry hopping with an ounce of citra pellets.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

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Day 139 Making Ginger Beer, Bottling Tepache, Checking Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Tonight, I knocked out a couple little projects and checked up on one. My micro batch of Cherry Belle Citra Saison has a pretty color from the cherries and I think they’ve given up all they really have to offer. I’m going to rack this brew to tertiary tomorrow to settle for a few days before bottling.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

I went ahead and strained my peach-pineapple tepache…it had a bubbly pellicle covering the surface. I siphoned out from under the surface and through a few layers of cheesecloth. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I feel good about it. The flavor is really nice. It’s sweet and tangy and the spice is coming through nicely.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample...sweet. tangy, spiced...good stuff!

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample…sweet. tangy, spiced…good stuff!

The SG is 1.041 and I feel like it’s time for bottling. So I got that done and filled a soda bottle for carb testing. If it goes like I’m anticipating, I should be pasteurizing Monday morning (about 36 hours).

My other project for tonight was peeling a pound of fresh ginger,

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

 

shredding it in the food processor,

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Shredded fresh ginger.

and starting a non-alcoholic ginger beer for my brother in-law who is from Trinidad. I’m using a recipe from a cookbook he brought from Trinidad and it looks very similar to tepache, except it uses freshly grated ginger instead of pineapple skins. Here is the recipe:

Ginger Beer

1 lb fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a spoon, grated

8 cups water

Juice and zest from 1 lime

4 cups granulated sugar

1 stick cinnamon

4 to 6 cloves, whole

Directions: (I have adapted for my bottling procedure) Combine all ingredients in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket and stir to start sugar dissolving.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Seal lid and install an airlock. Place in direct sunlight for 1 day. (We are having rain, so I’m putting the bucket on a heating pad overnight and most of tomorrow.) Next day, strain. I assume that this would become alcoholic, if I allowed it to ferment longer, but that’s not the plan for this batch. Sweeten to taste, if necessary. Bottle. (I’m going to top off to a gallon with fresh bottled water to extend the batch a little.) Fill a soda bottle to use for judging carbonation progress. It should take a day or two. Pasteurize and store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate before opening. (Open over a sink or outside just to be safe!)

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Day 36 Brewing Dry Stout

Extract, grains, oats and hops for Dry Stout

Extract, grains, oats and hops for Dry Stout

Spent grains and oats

Spent grains and oats

Wort, after grain steep

Wort, after grain steep

The boil was good…no problem with the malt extract and the only hop addition was at the beginning (60 minutes). I moved the wort to a sink with ice water and brought the temperature down to 90F. Poured the wort into a bottling bucket and topped off to 2-1/2 gallon…maybe a little over. I was making sure that I wasn’t measuring the foam, but I may have gone slightly more. The recipe estimated that the OG would be 1.043 and I got 1.036 @72F, adjusted to 1.037 for calibration. This should be a pretty low alcohol brew. The recipe came up with 4.1%. With my lower OG, mine would be 3.54%, if I reach the estimated 1.01 FG.

Last few minutes of the boil

Last few minutes of the boil

I am pleased with the color and the flavor. Now it’s up to the yeast to work its magic! I’m using Safale s-04 yeast. The recipe doesn’t specify and the guy at the brew shop said s-04 would be fine and it is also what I use for some ciders.

Just over 2-1/2 gallons fermenting, not counting foam.

Just over 2-1/2 gallons fermenting, not counting foam.

I pitched half of a packet of the yeast in and sealed it/airlocked. I should have 5 to 7 days in fermentation.

On another topic, I gave the bottles of cider batch #4 a tip upside down and a swirl. Thinking it might wake up the yeast, if there’s any left. That was yesterday. Today, I opened my test bottle. No sound. Poured a very small amount into a glass and resealed the flip top. Color looks good and taste/sweetness are great…but…no carbonation at all. I have read that sometimes it happens 4 or 5 weeks after bottling, so I’ll keep an eye on it. If it never carbs, it will be a nice still cider. I wonder if I could use it in a SodaStream? Hmmm.

Last night, I also opened my first test bottle (ever) of crabapple cider.

Tiny Bubbles!

Tiny Bubbles!

test bottle, cider batch #1

test bottle, cider batch #1

This one was the tester for cider batch #1…what eventually came to be known as Sherlock’s Cumber, Batch #1. This bottle was primed with Munton’s CarTabs, which I did not use on the full batch. This bottle was dry and had a little less carbed than I prefer. I would have liked it more if it had be a little more “crisp”. Not bad for a first batch though. We’ll try some more at New Year’s Eve and see if the bottles primed with priming sugar are any better.

10:15 pm Stout progress: there is pretty aggressive bubbling in the airlock. It goes of about every 9 seconds, but when it goes, it perks several times. This is only my second time brewing beer and first time using the bottling bucket for fermentation. Cider batches and other beer batch were fermented in a 2 gallon primary fermentation bucket and they all seemed to bubble at increasing, then decreasing intervals, but not with the vigor being experienced this time. Just single bubbles in the past. I guess it could be due to the size of the bucket or the type of beer. Whatever the reason, it seems to be fermenting nicely.

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Day 25 Pasteurizing Batch #3, Starting #4

Well, all the stuff I read said to let the cider go from 3 to 10 days after priming, checking carbonation until it’s “right”,  then pasteurize. It’s only been 2 days, and my test bottles gushed a bit when I opened them. May be a bit over-carbonated already. The taste is a little sharp. Hopefully, some time in the bottles will mellow them some. So, I’m into the pasteurizing process…going to 190 degrees, then removing from heat, cover and sit 10 minutes.

Using the pressure canner to pasteurize.

Using the pressure canner to pasteurize.

Right as I was reaching 190 degrees…BOOM! One of the bottles busted. I thought that gradually bringing the bottles up in temperature would be better for the glass, but maybe that builds too much pressure. Maybe I should have added the bottles when 190F was attained and pulled off the heat. It might have blown anyway. Could have been a defect in the glass, I don’t know. Anyway, ten minutes is up…have to go remove the bottles…CAREFULLY!!!

Bottle go BOOM!!! Cap stayed on, though.

Bottle go BOOM!!! Cap stayed on, though.

So far, so good. The bottles are on a kitchen towel, on the counter. Only that one bottle blew. Luckily, I was using my pressure canner that has a raised false bottom disk and I had the lid partially covering the pot. The bottle busted, but the cap stayed on! I ran my test 12 oz bottle through pasteurizing process and I put the soda bottle with the screw cap in the refrigerator. I think I’ll let these bottle condition for quite awhile…maybe until my birthday, March first. I’ll try the test bottle before then…maybe New Year’s Eve!

After they cooled to almost room temperature, I put the labels on the bottles. They look good, I think!

Watson's label.

Watson’s label.

Watson's Cyser. I know, no honey probably just makes it a sparkling cider. I'll fix the terminology before next labels are printed.

Watson’s Cyser. I know, no honey probably just makes it a sparkling cider. I’ll fix the terminology before next labels are printed.

Just have to remember to open them over a sink, in case they gush. (In the future, I’ll have to remember to go by taste and not by what is expected. The temperature has fluctuated in the house quite a bit over the last couple of days and at one point it got up to 75F…probably sped up the process. Had some of the test screw-cap soda bottle Watson’s this evening. Since it has been opened and had a slow gush, the carbonation level is way down. It isn’t entirely flat, though and I like the flavor and sweetness level.

10:30 pm     I picked some crabapples this afternoon…pretty sure this is the end of the crop. Have to pick through them carefully…some are rotting on the tree. Anyway, I picked about 5-1/2 lbs. Tonight, I cut off the stems and blossom ends and juiced them. I had 4 large Fuji apples on hand, so I juiced them as well. They probably weighed over 3 lbs. I thought I only had three and I had weighed them at over 2 lbs, before I spotted the fourth one. So, I got over 5 cups of juice (I usually have 4 cups.) I went ahead and put it all in primary with 6 quarts water, pectin enzyme, yeast nutrient, a capmden tablet (crushed), the apple pommace in a cheesecloth bag and   1 lb 9 oz  of white sugar. I would have done 1 lb 12 oz, but that’s all I had. I thought about adding some honey or brown sugar, but the OG is 1.050 @ 70F, so I think I’m ok. I can double check it tomorrow night and add some more sugar if I want to at that point.

Now, because I have a little over 2 gallons in one PFB, there is no way this isn’t going to foul the airlock. unless I divide it into 2 PFB’s before (or immediately after) I pitch the yeast. I’m afraid, by the way, that I may not have quite enough yeast. I only have about 2 grams of Safale s-04 yeast left. I think I’m going to run to the brew store tomorrow to get some supplies. In addition to yeast, I could use a no-rinse sanitizer to use in the bottle rack bottle sanitizer, maybe more beer brite, pectin enzyme and yeast nutrient. Maybe I’ll put together a kit for another batch of beer to save a trip after Thanksgiving. I know I won’t have time to brew it until then. ***YAAAAAAWN*** It’s getting late. I think I’ll go lie down and peruse some recipes. I was looking at stout recipes recently…hmmm. But my first taste of Guinness Stout from a bottle, many years ago, sucked. I like it draft, but not bottled. Maybe I’ll go another route. Who knows? Tomorrow is another day!

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