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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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Day 156 Final Racking for Caramel Apple Cider (Probably)

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

This is what will probably be the last racking for the crab apple/Pink Cripps apple cider that I have decided to call Caramel Apple Cider, due to the small addition of molasses and a cinnamon stick. It’s nice and clear now and I think I’ve managed to leave the rest of the small amount of sediment behind.

I had hoped to bump up the volume to 1-1/2 gallons, by boiling, cooling and adding 800 ml of water. There’s plenty of alcohol and I just don’t want to lose anymore volume.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

I transferred the cider, by siphon, to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, racking off of the sediment and trying to minimize oxygenation. I added the boiled water, cleaned my containers and refilled them.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to fill the half gallon; so I wound up with the volume I started with, minus the sediment, plus enough for a hydrometer check and a nice sample for evaluation!

I measured the SG at 1.013, down from an OG of 1.102…even after the small water addition. That makes the ABV 11.68%. Incredibly, the aroma is fresh apple juice. The flavor is deceptively smooth and sweet, with a nice touch of caramel. The finish is a tummy warmer, though! Really, very nice.

Look at that color!

Look at that color!

I have been trying to carb all of my ciders so far, but the ABV on this one has probably already overwhelmed the Edinburgh Ale Yeast and I don’t think carbonation would be an improvement in this case. I did have enough to fill a test bottle. The cider should be good for a couple of months, but I’ll check the tester in a couple of weeks.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Soon, it will be time to do the “final” racking for bulk aging on the muscadine wine and rack the crab apple/pear/Cripps apple cider to secondary.  And finally, my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale should be ready for secondary sometime next week. So many good things going on and they all take so much time!  The pumpkin ale should be ready before Halloween and should be good (maybe better) at Thanksgiving.

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Day 142 Ginger Beer and Citra Belle Saison updates

I drew just a couple of ounces from the Citra Belle Saison…the flavor has approved since I racked to secondary on an ounce of Citra hops. Needs a couple more days…should bottle Sunday or Monday.

The ginger beer that I bottled previously hasn’t really taken off in the carbing department. In fact, I considered dumping the bottles back into the “second runnings” batch and combining them. However, I checked a bottle yesterday and it had a small amount of carb. Not much, but enough that I have decided to leave the bottles and watch them to see if/when they need to be pasteurized.

The “second runnings” batch is taking a long time to really get fermentation going. I had it off the heating pad for awhile. When the weather cleared, I gave it some time in the sun for a couple of days, but then the temp dropped, so I put it back on the heating pad and covered it with the space blanket and the fermentation picked back up. It’s coming along slowly, but today was the first time that I believe I detected alcohol in the aroma when I opened the lid. So, while a longer process than I anticipated, the plan remains as originally envisioned: virgin batch is to be non-alcoholic and the “second runnings” batch will be fermented out for an alcoholic version. No photos for this update…nothing really interesting to see,  just an update.

Additional update 8/16 10:15pm : I guess I was wrong on my second runnings ginger beer. I just took a SG reading and it looked like 1.066 when corrected for temperature and the OG was 1.062. So, either the the sugar is increasing in this bucket (not likely) or one of the measurements was off. I’m betting tonight’s measurement could be a tad off, due to some bits of ginger solids in the hydrometer sample. Would that affect it? I don’t know…seems like it might. At any rate. I’m thinking that there is no fermentation really going at it here, so I’m making an executive decision to add 1/8 teaspoon of dry Champagne yeast to the mix, after I strained it through cheesecloth and made sure I have at least a gallon of liquid left, which I do. With Champagne yeast at work, I will have to keep a close eye after I bottle it and definitely pasteurize; otherwise, the yeast won’t stop until it is bone dry and bottle bombs!

8/18…I had seen some activity with the addition of Champagne yeast to my Second Runnings Ginger Beer, but it seems to have stopped. I checked the temperature and it was over 100F. I guess a two gallon plastic bucket heats a lot more on a heating pad and wrapped in a space blanket than a 6 gallon glass carboy and I’m sure the yeast must be dead. I Googled and found “This strain tolerates fermentation temperatures ranging from 50° to 86°F….”.  So the plan is to get the temperature down and pitch the yeast again…and no additional heat. The house is usually around 74F this time of year. Still trying! And I missed buying bottles yesterday and the home brew shop is closed today. I guess my Citra Belle Saison is going to dry hop a little longer that anticipated.

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Day 132 Bottling Hi-Nelson Saison, Diet Root Beer, Boosting Starter

Bottled Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus, Bottled Diet Root Beer, Harvested Belle Saison yeast starter, bag of grain for Citra Saison.

Bottled Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus, Bottled Diet Root Beer, Harvested Belle Saison yeast starter, bag of grain for Citra Saison.

Busy day today! Began by pulling the harvested Belle Saison starter from the refrigerator and made it better. Yeast class I attended showed me a couple of things I should fix. I made a new starter wort with DME, chilled down to mid 80’sF, added to my new flask, and oxygenated. Then I decanted the old wort and pitched the yeast slurry into the new wort. I also decanted another harvest jar and added it as well. Put a little sanitized foil over the flask and wrapped a heating pad around it, set on the lowest setting. The yeast really seemed to take off! I hope to cold crash it tonight and pitch it into a Citra Saison tomorrow! Brewing!

Keeping the yeast starter warm.

Keeping the yeast starter warm.

Moving along. Set everything up for bottling…sanitized everything. I”ve done enough photos on bottling before. Suffice it to say, I followed procedure and all went well. The biggest question was about how much corn sugar to add for priming. I wound up with about 5.25 gallons to bottle and used the 5.75oz recommended by Northern Brewer’s calculator. The hydrometer sample was a little foamy, but it looks like the FG is 1.004, after temperature correction. The OG was 1.068, so we wind up with the expected 8.40% ABV. (Woo!) I bottled 31 regular 12 oz bottles and a dozen 22 oz bombers.

This is the Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample after I cold crashed it.

This is the Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample after I cold crashed it.

Since I had everything out for bottling, I went ahead and tried my hand at root beer! I bought extract yesterday. I made a half gallon batch and it was pretty simple, so I did a second 1/2 gallon. Those yielded eleven 12 oz bottles. The last one was a little short, so I added a little water and marked the bottle. I’ll use it as the tester for carbonation. It took 1/2 tablespoon of extract, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 10 packets of Truvia, and 1/8 teaspoon of  Champagne yeast, rehydrated. Then, warm water to fill the half gallon carboy. Shake to blend well. I used my siphon and bottling cane to fill the bottles. Now we wait and see how it turns out!

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