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2014 Muscadine Wine Tasting

Muscadine Wine, my first wine, bottled October 2014

Muscadine Wine, my first wine, bottled October 2014

My last taste of this wine was a little over a year ago, in February 2015. It was my first attempt at wine. I began the batch with foraged muscadine grapes in August of 2014 and was bottled about 2 months later. The ABV, if I read the hydrometer correctly, was right on 16%. It was fairly hot at bottling. I opened a bottle in February, 2015 when it was about 3-1/2 months in the bottle and the notes were basically that it was still kind of hot, but had a nice color, light body, and fairly dry flavor that I would not have guessed was muscadine.

It is now March 4, 2016, so the wine has been bottled for almost a year and a half. While still slightly warm with alcohol and a little tannin, the nose and color are still nice and the body light. The thing that really jumps out immediately, though, is that the flavor has very noticeably softened. It is definitely more drinkable now! I don’t expect muscadine wine to last a decade, but this one is improving and I think it may benefit from even a little more time…but I have no idea when it will “peak” or turn the corner and head downhill. Tonight, however, I’m having a glass of wine that I’m pretty happy with!

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Bottle Carbonated Kombucha

On 5/3/2015, I bottled a single bottle of Kombucha as a test, to see how it would do. A couple of days ago, I put the bottle into the refrigerator. This morning, I decided to open it up and check the results. Unfortunately. the bottle fogged with condensation when I removed it from the fridge. Otherwise, you would be able to see a small amount of cloudy, globby stuff in the bottom. It never really formed a SCOBY on the surface, though. I believe I added a teaspoon of sugar at bottling…have to go back and check notes to confirm.

Bottle conditioned kombucha

Bottle conditioned kombucha

I was able to easily avoid the stuff on the bottom by careful pouring. The result is a pale drink with nice clarity and a beatiful carbonation! Not too aggressive, like a soda…more like a sparkling wine.

Nice clarity, tiny bubbles!

Nice clarity, tiny bubbles!

The flavor is light and has a nice sweetness. Not syrupy, like a soda, but not too dry. The bubbles continue to rise in the glass, like champagne, long after pouring. Now I wish I had bottled a BUNCH!!! Because it does take much longer to carb than beer. This is at about 2-1/2 months.

Effervescing kombucha makes me happy.

Effervescing kombucha makes me happy.

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Bottled Belgo Paleo

Bottling!

Ready for bottling!

I just finished bottling the Belgo Paleo Belgian Pale Ale and I wound up with 42-12 oz bottles. I thought I had more corn sugar on hand to prime with, but I only had 3/4 oz. So, I primed with table sugar. The recommended amount for a Belgian Ale is 1.9 to 2.4 atmospheres.With my history of overcarbonating, I looked at the lower end of the scale and the amount of sugar recommended is 2-1/2 oz; I went with a scant 2-1/8 oz. Always feels like a bit of a crapshoot, but we’ll see how THAT works out.

Bottling bucket.

Bottling bucket.

I did get a hydrometer sample again and the FG is confirmed at 1.015. My OG was almost dead-on at 1.060 (recipe says 1.059), but I just couldn’t get to the projected 1.009 FG. So, instead of 6.56%, I wound up with a respectable 5.91% ABV.

Nice color.

Nice color.

Flash makes it hard to see the line is actually 1.014...with temp correction = 1.015 FG

Flash makes it hard to see the line is actually 1.014…with temp correction = 1.015 FG

In an attempt to lessen the chances of overcarbonation, I cleaned all my containers and equipment with a solution of super washing soda from Arm&Hammer, rinsed and sanitized with Starsan. I ran the bottles through the dishwasher AND sanitized with Starsan. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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Finally Bottled Bulk Aged Cider

Sample of cider...finally bottled!

Sample of cider…finally bottled!

I needed to free up some room in our refrigerator, so I finally bottled the cider that I made last Fall…September? October? Anyway, it bulk aged in 1/2 gallon carboys for months and I moved them into refrigeration when they started getting some carb/pressure in the carboys. I drank a few glasses, but it was kind of dry and boozie. It was made from a mix of crab apples, pears, Ginger Gold apples and Pink Cripps apples. I would have to go back and look in my notes to see what additional fermentables I added, but I do know that I bumped the OG up to 1.097 initially. The SG at bulk aging was 0.993, so the ABV was 13.65% at that point.

Once I combined all the 1/2 gallon jugs into a bottling bucket, I added a 1/2 cup of honey, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water. The OG is 1.000 and I’m not sure if that means the ABV went down and/or whether it will go up again as it carbs. Either way, it WILL be strong! I had enough left in the bottling bucket to taste and it is much nicer with a little sweetness. I hope that stays.

After bottling, I had 18 bottles and 1 tester that basically was the hydrometer sample, topped off with cider from the bottling bucket. In a couple days, I’ll check to see if I need to pasteurize. Glad to finally have this batch bottled!

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Bottling Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout

20 bottles of Yooper's Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout

20 bottles of Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout

Okay, so I finally got the gingerbread version of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout into bottles! The FG was 1.016 and a 5.25% ABV. The ginger has toned down a little already, since racking. The aroma is nice. The flavor feels a touch weak, as does the color, at this point, but I have hopes!

Hydrometer sample at 71F and 1.015, temp corrected to 1.016

Hydrometer sample at 71F and 1.015, temp corrected to 1.016

I primed the batch at a target of 1.90 gallons @70 degrees with 1-1/8 oz corn sugar…going for 1.8 vols. Should be lower carb than the regular batch…I hope! As with the regular batch, I have a tester bottle that didn’t quite fill. Not counting the testers, I have 28 bottles of regular and 20 bottles of gingerbread…so I was right on a 5 gallon yield.

I have also taken a tip from a friend and tried 3/4″ round Avery lables (#5408)  for identification. It needs work to get them all centered. They aren’t even off consistently in the same direction…going to need to do some tinkering.

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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 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 106 Pasteurizing Tepache

Let me just say, I’m not a huge fan of pasteurizing. I don’t like the added risk of blowing a bottle  or the possibility that it may affect the flavor of my beverage. I have heard it said that it doesn’t, but the one batch of cider that I pasteurized had a kind of soapy flavor. Might have been unrelated. My batch of Tepache, however, has a lot of residual sugar in in, so I pretty much have to pasteurize.

Bottles in the canner for pasteurization.

Bottles in the canner for pasteurization.

I used my pressure canner to pasteurize  my Tepache. I heated the water to 190F and moved it off the heat. I added the bottles and the temp only dropped about 1 degree. I set a timer for ten minutes. I put the lid on, just to be safe, in case one pops. No problems.

Covered for safety.

Covered for safety.

I’m going to let them rest on a kitchen towel until the reach room temperature. Then I can store or refrigerate. These aren’t meant for long-term storage though. It’s meant to be enjoyed fresh. I checked the water temperature when I removed the bottles and it was 170F.

I also put together a simple label for this rustic little batch…nice!

Mateo's Tepache!

Mateo’s Tepache!

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Day 74 American Wheat Still in Secondary, Tasting Murray’s

I still have my American Wheat with Citrus/Citra in secondary sitting on dried sweet orange peel and rum soaked lemon zest. I am planning on letting that go another week.

The highlight tonight is tasting Murray’s Super Easy Cider for the first time. I fermented a half gallon (in the glass carboy in came in) and got a 12 oz bottle and two 22 oz bottles out of it. The ABV is around 5-1/4%. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a little carb release upon opening the bottle! At this point, the cider has been in the bottle for about 3 weeks. The color is nice and golden, the clarity is great, and the flavor is fairly sweet with a bunch of apple flavor.

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

The carb is light, but present and the cider is dangerously easy to drink! The aroma is straight apple cider and the flavor barely tastes fermented. I will be doing more of this and multiple jugs at a time!  It is literally about sanitizing equipment and pitching yeast. Add an airlock and a week and …boom! Rack for a couple days and bottle. Love it!

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