After Christmas Update on Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

Well, had a great Christmas! No wort chiller, though. I guess I’ll be doing ice baths until my birthday! I did get an attachment to my KitchenAid mixer that juices stuff, so maybe it will help with ciders? Definitely will be usefull for sauces and jams/jellies.

So, Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout chugged for a few days. It never hit the blow-off tube, but was working away nicely. It’s pretty quiet now, so I’m switching out the tube for a regular airlock. I’m thinking that this batch will be in primary another week and then I’ll go to secondary. I’ve started the supplies for the 2 gallon gingerbread  to get them in the refrigerator, so the gingerbread spices will have time to sanitize in the vodka and the vodka will have a chance to extract some of the flavors.  I have combined the following:

1 tsp. powdered cinnamon

1 tsp. powdered ginger

1/2 a fat Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean, split and scraped (seeds and pod added)

15 grams fresh ginger root, peeled, grated (weight after grated)

50 grams unsulfered molasses

1/2 cup vodka

Wow. Very definite gingerbread flavor! Now, if I guessed an appropriate amount for 2 gallons of beer, it should be really good!

Because I’ll be introducing a little molasses, the fermentation will likely start back up briefly and a small increase is alcohol will happen, between fermentation and the vodka. It probably won’t be much, but it will be interesting to see.

I also have a little 1/2 gallon batch of cider going. It has stopped fermenting and settled. I’ll rack that sometime in the next few days and let it finish clearing…or will I add something to flavor it? We’ll see. Only a couple of dollars in it.



Day 161 Bottling Caramel Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider…this little batch is going to be my best flavored cider ever. It will be still, rather than sparkling. I bottled 12 bottles from a gallon carboy plus a 22 oz bomber that have both been sitting in tertiary for a while to clear.

I racked the two containers both into a 2 gallon bucket, to combine and then racked from there into bottles.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

The color is beautiful and clear amber. The taste is smooth and sweet, but not cloying. This batch was made with a combination of Pink Cripps apples and crab apples with a little molasses, a couple sticks of cinnamon and several cloves. The OG was 1.102 and the FG is 1.014, and the ABV is 11.55%. I look forward to seeing what this little batch tastes like in a couple of months…I may even hold back a couple of bottles until this time next year! With the high ABV and being so smooth already, this could be a dangerous drink!


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


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


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 —


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.)


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.


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.







Day 147 Bottling Fermented Ginger Beer, Picking Crab Apples, Wine & Cider Updates


10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

This little project has been a real pain in the butt! From the heating pad to off the heating pad. From adding Champagne yeast to moving it on the heating pad and overheating it and killing the yeast to pitching more yeast…yadda, yadda, yadda. And the SG doesn’t make sense…it’s went from 1.061 to 1.030 to 1.34 to 1.036…and then it reads 1.022 and starts floating up, slowly,  to 1.036. I even tried my back up hydrometer and it did the same. I’m tired of screwing around with it. I decided to bottle it and be done with it. My best guess is that the ABV is around 3.0 to 3.25%, but who knows?! Tomorrow night I’ll check the carb and pasteurize the bottles if they are ready. The gallon yielded 10 bottles and I may have to sacrifice one for the carb check.  Whew!

The wine continues to chug along very regularly. I opened the lid and stirred down the bag of crushed grapes. There was lots of sparkly effervescence and the color is a bright red, but not a deep, dark color and certainly not clear. It appears to be right on track, though.

Stirring the wine...snap, crackle, pop!

Stirring the wine…snap, crackle, pop!

My neighbor that has the remaining crab apple tree called and told me to come pick some more today, because they are having them pruned tomorrow and the ones that are easy to reach now will be gone. So I took a 5 gallon bucket over and almost filled it. Based on yesterday’s 2 gallon bucket weighing almost 13 pounds, I’m guesstimating that I have around 30 pounds…quite possibly more.

Big bucket o'crabs!

Big bucket o’crabs!

Maybe I’ll get around to weighing them tomorrow. I may need to find a more efficient way to extract the juice…my little countertop extractor can only handle so much.

As for the batch of cider already underway…

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

…I’m waiting for the Edinburgh Ale Yeast starter to be ready. I stuck it in the refrigerator tonight and should be able to pour off the DME “wort” and pitch it in the morning. I’ll get the OG before adding the yeast, throw in some cinnamon and cloves…maybe a little molasses, if it can stand it. Pink Cripps and Crab Apples. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.


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,


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!)


Day 124 Starting Another Batch of Tepache

Tepache ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Tepache ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

I cut up a pineapple as part of some fruit that I was providing at a family gathering yesterday, so I kept the core and skin for another batch of tepache. Waste not, want not! I picked up the piloncillo Mexican raw sugar this evening and started my batch.

Of course, I sanitized my fermentation bucket. I then added the pineapple skins and core, 20 oz of piloncillo, eight cups of water, a stick of cinnamon, and five whole cloves (increased from the original 3). Let the fermentation begin!


If history is repeated, the fermentation will be evident in about 48 hours and I will allow it to continue to day 5 or 6 before the next step. At that point, it’s straining and adding a little more water. Adding a beer at that point is optional and I have done it in my previous batches. This time, I may skip it,  just to see the difference.


Day 105 Bottling Tepache and Murray’s SEC #3

I got up this morning and decided to take care of racking and bottling the (pineapple) tepache. I racked into two 1/2 gallon carboys. One was full and the other was a very short partial. I went ahead and got a sample for checking the SG. It was 1.040 @74F, so correct to 1.041, down from an OG of 1.090. That calculates out to 6.43% ABV, with plenty of sugar left. I will call 1.041 my final gravity. I racked to 12 oz bottles and filled 7, a little more than I anticipated, but not more than I was prepared for!

Racking the tepache for bottling.

Racking the tepache for bottling.

From the sample, I also had a good taste and I like it. It has a nice sweet and tangy flavor…I don’t want to say “sweet and sour”, because it really isn’t sour. I think “tangy” is a closer description. The cinnamon and piloncillo (raw sugar) are very pronounced. I’m not really noticing the clove…may add a little more next time. So, this is where I have to decide when to pasteurize. I have only pasteurized once before and I’m a little concerned with getting the batch pasteurized with moderate carbonation, but not letting them go to being over-pressurized. I don’t want bottle bombs! I have seen cider build pressure more quickly than anticipated and with the amount of sugar left in the tepache, I think I may just give it one full day and check it by opening a bottle and pouring a tiny sample and then capping it with a fresh crown. So, will check back tomorrow morning.  ***Update 8:15 a.m. 5/6/14 :  Quick sample yields good carb, but needs just a little more. Fresh cap on the test bottle and will check again later today and pasteurize. Moving on…while I have the equipment out and sanitized, I went ahead and bottled the 1/2 gallon of Murray’s super Easy Cider.

Bottling Murray's Super Easy Cider #3.

Bottling Murray’s Super Easy Cider #3.

I was a bit short on 6 bottles, but I got 5 and a good SG/tasting sample. The FG on this batch comes out to 1.007, after temperature correction. I’m having trouble locating my notes with the OG for this batch. Maybe I didn’t include it in a journal entry? Oh well, I believe the OG was 1.053, so if that assumption is right, an ABV of 6.04% is what I come up with. There’s not too much residual sugar, so it may not carb. I’m not too concerned about it…pretty sure there’s no fear of bottle bombs, though. The color and flavor are nice. It still has apple flavor…not too dry. I’m happy with it. I found a good deal at the store today on a commercial apple juice product called “White’s Fresh Pressed”.  In 1/2 gallon plastic bottles, they were buy one, get one free. Ingredients are just apple juice, no additives. They say it’s not from concentrate and the apples are sourced from Virginia.  I bought one bottle for the kids and one for hard cider. I used the refractometer and got an SG of 1.048. That’s a tad low for my liking, so I added about a 1/4 cup of honey and bumped the FG  to about 1.056 and transferred the juice to a 1/2 gallon glass carboy into which I had pitched 5 to 6 grams of Safale s-04 yeast. I gave it a good shaking to dissolve the yeast and aerate the juice. Update: 8:15 a.m. 5/6/14 : Confirmed fermentation is active. Pineapple Tinker was started on Dec. 10, 2013  and bottled on Jan. 20, 2014. I stuck a bottle in the refrigerator a few days ago by mistake…so, I figured I might as well go ahead and try it.

Pineapple Tinker, about 4 months in the bottle.

Pineapple Tinker, about 4 months in the bottle.

So, it’s very fizzy on the pour and eventually settles to steady streams of Champagne-like bubbles rising through a clear, pale yellow liquid. The aroma is definitely pineapple and the flavor starts like a Champagne on the front end and transitions to an almost coconut taste briefly and then pineapple with a dry finish. The deceptive thing about this drink is that the ABV is 13.39%!!! It started at 1.112 OG and FG was 1.010, so it’s packing a velvet punch. Should be interesting to see if this changes in another 6 months or so.