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Brief Update: Fluffernutter Sammie Stout and Railer’s Pale Ale

Railer's Pale Ale, floating whole Cascade hops.

Railer’s Pale Ale, floating whole Cascade hops.

Tried a bottle of the Fluffernutter Sammie Stout a couple of days ago. There was no head…like pouring a soda with no ice. It bubbled when pouring and immediately dissipated. The carbonation is better than last try, but could still be better. I’m hoping this isn’t the best it’s going to get, or I’m disappointed. Flavor is not bad, but would certainly be more enjoyable with head and a little more carb. Maybe I just need to try another established recipe, without doing anything “interesting” to it. I might just do better with an ESB.

The Railer’s Pale Ale is coming along nicely. The Wyeast II 1272 yeast has performed very well…nice krausen, but no need for a blow-off tube. At this point, I think fermentation is done; but I’m giving it a little more time. I may take a hydrometer sample soon to start the verification process. I’m hoping to be able to keg this beer, with equipment belonging to a friend, for the Railhawk’s Soktoberfest event September 10th. The whole Cascade hops are floating …at least some of them. I’m hoping they will drop, but either way, I’m planning to rack to another carboy, using a strainer bag on the siphon. I’m optimistic with this beer…as long as it isn’t too sweet…but it will be consumed.

I just wish I could pull off a good stout with a nice head.

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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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I’m a Grandpa! (And General Update on Brews)

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Let’s just get this out of the way: Yes, I’m a Grandpa! My grandson was born on April 17, 2015 @11:23 p.m. and weighed in at 7 lbs 13 oz. I’m as proud as I can be!

Okay, back to brewing and fermenting stuff. Three things: Steinpilz Gose, Belgo Paleo Pale Ale, and kombucha.

The Steinpilz Gose has been in the bottles for a couple of weeks now an my friend picked up the rest for kegging  a little over a week ago. I have opened a bottle and tried it and she has tried it from the keg. Unfortunately, she does NOT like mushrooms, so it isn’t really her “thing”, but she said that it is “technically” good. Haha…I’ll take it. I think the bottled version needs more carbonation, but it is not bad. There’s not much aroma, but what I get is that German wheat beer smell with the earthiness from the mushrooms. The flavor is good…definitely has the German character. As for the gose style, I thing the tartness is good, but it could use just a little more salt. The earthy mushroom flavor is very present, but not overpowering. I look forward to trying the kegged version and getting some feedback from some more people (that like mushrooms, hopefully!).

Steinpilz Gose from the bottle after about 2 weeks.

Steinpilz Gose from the bottle after about 2 weeks.

Belgo Paleo. This has been an odd start. The home brew shop guy said the yeast, Safbrew Abbaye, is the one some brewers use for Belgian trippels and quads, so to not let it go crazy…maybe put it in my spare shower and run some cold water into the tub to lower the temperature a little. The first two days, the yeast ripped into the wort…it actually seemed finished after three days. Late at night on day 2, I replaced the blow-off tube with an airlock and moved the carboy to the shower and added water to the tub. The initial temps were around 70-72F. The tub water slowly leaked out over the course of a week. Last night, I took a sample for hydrometer testing and the temp was 68.5F. The thing is, the SG is 1.020 and it is supposed to get down to 1.009. I reached out to my online brewing friends and it was suggested that I should have increased the temperature after the first day or two…exactly opposite of the advice from the LHBS guy. *steam* I have brought the carboy back into the kitchen and need to check it in another week.

Belgo Paleo at S.G. 1.020

Belgo Paleo at S.G. 1.020

Kombucha…I have SCOBY’s to spare and plenty to share! The 1 gallon jars with spigots are working out great for draining off the ready-to-drink kombucha.

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

SCOBY Hotel

SCOBY Hotel

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

Now I can add the tea, sugar, and water back without having to remove the SCOBY and extra starter kombucha to start the next batch. I am on a fairly regular staggered schedule 2 batches fermenting and 1 batch in the fridge to drink.

In the fridge to drink.

In the fridge to drink.

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Racking Steinpilz Gose to Secondary Fermentation

Time to rack the gose.

Time to rack the gose.

 

The Steinpilz Gose has slowed way down on the airlock bubbling. I don’t want the porcini mushrooms to rot, so I’m racking to secondary, to finish fermentation without the mushrooms and trub.

Chunk of floating 'shroom. Trub, Time to rack!

Chunk of floating ‘shroom. Trub, Time to rack!

The specific gravity is down to 1.015 and the target is 1.011, so it doesn’t have far to go, but, again, I’m not going to rush it. I still need to get my carbonation issues under control.

Speaking of the carbonation issues, I did my primary fermentation in my glass carboy, instead of my plastic bottling bucket. I also bought a new hose for the racking process and racked to a plastic carboy…a “Bubbler” by Northern Brewer, that was given to me by a brewer friend who doesn’t use it anymore.

Racked to a plastick Bubbler for secondary fermentation.

Racked to a plastick Bubbler for secondary fermentation.

Everything was well-washed and sanitized. I’m hoping for the best when I bottle, but my friend is going to keg a couple of gallons for comparison. I’ve never kegged before, so that’s kind of exciting!

Back to today’s process: everything went smoothly and I wound up with just under 5 gallons. I took a hydrometer sample, as mentioned above and it looked good. I tasted the sample and I think it’s good.IMG_20150228_170311015

1.014 @ 68F = 1.015 SG

1.014 @ 68F = 1.015 SG

I taste the mushroom, but it’s not overpowering. I don’t think the mushroom tea at bottling step will be necessary; but it might need more salt. The original gravity was 1.054 and the current SG of 1.015 puts the ABV at a little over 5%. It should finish around 5.25% ABV. I’m going to let the Gose go for at least 10 days in secondary…maybe 2 or 3 weeks. Maybe a week in tertiary…we’ll see. Right now, I’m feeling pretty good about it. Cheers!

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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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First “Official” Taste of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

Test bottle of Yooper's Oatmeal Stout at 13 days.

Test bottle of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout at 13 days.

Yesterday, I opened the “tester” bottle of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout (the plain version). I bottled it 12 days previous, so this was basically a carbonation test and to see where things are. Obviously, the carb is going to develope more…I know, because I used too much priming sugar at bottling and it’s undercarbed currently…and no head, to speak of. There may be a little “twang” in the flavor. Otherwise, I think it’s pretty solid and I think another 3 or 4 weeks and it should be much better. Mouthfeel and body are very good …nice aroma.

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Day 168 Brew Day! Partial Mash with Cascade Hops Experiment

Ingredients for an experimental partial mash brew, with DME, grain steep and whole frozen hops and dried hops.

Ingredients for an experimental partial mash brew, with DME, grain steep and whole frozen hops and dried hops.

I have a friend whose son started planting Cascade hops in her garden four years ago. This year, he got a job at a brewery, out of town and wasn’t going to be around to harvest the hops. I was invited over to pick some. Fresh hops! What to do, what to do? I wasn’t ready to use them. I had never used fresh hops before and had no clue how to handle them. Thinking that the best thing was to have them as fresh as possible, I vacuum sealed them in canning jars and put them in the freezer.

Jar of whole hops that was vacuum sealed and frozen.

Jar of whole hops that was vacuum sealed and frozen.

I subsequently heard from a number of people that freezing fresh hops was not a good decision. They would likely become soft and slimey. Flavor was a  big question. One recommendation was to keep them frozen right up until putting them into the boil. So, that’s what I did…right into a little nylon bag and tossed right into the boil.

Some time later, my friend said I should come pick some more. When I arrived this time, instead of big, green cones, most of the hops were drying and turning brown. In addition, it was misty that morning and the “dry” hops were damp. I brought them home and put them in a large cardboard box and put them in the attic to finish drying. After several days, they were nice and dry, but I was concerned about the browning. They had plenty of appropriate aroma, though.

Since I have recently finished up some projects and had some Dry Malt Extract (DME) and a couple kinds of yeast on hand, I decided to try a smaller batch of beer and use some of each of the styles of Cascade hops, vacuum sealed frozen and vacuum sealed dried. I worked on a partial mash recipe and created an American Amber Ale that I’m calling Eastern Cascade Waterfall Ale. The yeast is a White Labs East Coast Ale yeast.

Boiling with the bags of hops...this is just after the 15 minute addition.

Boiling with the bags of hops…this is just after the 15 minute addition.

Eastern Cascade Waterfall Ale (American Amber, Single Hop, Partial Mash)

Batch size 3 gallons, 30 minute steep, 30 minute boil

Fermentables:

3 lb DME-Pilsen, boil 30 minutes

8 0z DME-Light, boil 30 minutes

1 lb American-Caramel/Crystal 60L, Grain sock steep 30 minutes @150F in 3.5 gallons strike water

Hops:

0.5 oz Cascade Fresh/Wet (Note: I used frozen, vacuum sealed in a jar.) Boil 30 minutes (in nylon bag)

1 oz Cascade Dried, Whole/Leaf,  Boil 15 minutes (in nylon bag)

1 oz Cascade Dried, Whole/Leaf, Dry hop (in nylon bag) in secondary, 5 days

Other:

Irish Moss (fining) Boil 15 minutes

Yeast: White Labs East Coast Ale Yeast, 1 vial, Optimum temp. 68-73F, 72.5% attenuation    (Note: I used harvested yeast and prepared a starter.)

Original Gravity: 1.053,      Final Gravity: 1.015,       ABV 5.04%     IBU (tinseth) 36.99     SRM (morey) 12.69

After the boil, I chilled to 68F in an ice water bath and tranferred to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation. I had a little under 3 gallons of wort, so I added enough Culligan bottled water to top it off to 3.25 gallons. The plan is to have 3 gallons to bottle after racking to secondary. I aerated with an oxygen stone for 2 minutes (or you could agitate/rock for 5 minutes).  Yeast pitched and fermentation bucket sealed and an airlock was installed at 1:05 pm.  As of 8:30 pm, signs of activity were evident in the airlock, though not aggressive. Unfortunately, I have no idea of the pitch rate. That’s one area (of several) that I have had no experience with figuring out.

Initial impression was positive…no weird or off flavors or aromas were noticeable. Color is a nice brown; perhaps a little darker than I anticipated, but all the indicators match the American Amber style, according to my recipe calculator. I did hit my Original Gravity (OG) number pretty closely. The recipe calls for 1.053 and I measured mine at 1.055 on my refractometer. Good brew day!

One update: the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale has been in the bottles for 11 days now. I opened one of my two test bottles, at room temperature, and poured a small sample. The sample looked clear and, frankly, the aroma and flavor are amazing.

Finshed the chilled bottle later.

Finshed the chilled bottle later.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale sample.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale sample.

I recapped the bottle and stuck it in the refrigerator for later. I did open and drink the rest of the bottle tonight and my assessment stands. It is low on the carbonation, though not flat.  I hope that the carb will continue to improve over the next few weeks.

Update on the Eastern Cascade Waterfall: By 8 pm, there was sign of action in the airlock, but it was slow. By the morning after brew day, the airlock is happily chugging away, so my yeast starter appears to be a success!

Update 10/30/14: Eastern Cascade Waterfall Amber airlock action is slowing to a crawl. Probably going into secondary Sunday. Might just get it bottled by middle or end of next week. Lots of choices for Thanksgiving this year!

 

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