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Update on Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry Citra Ale: Infection!

This is what infection looks like...damn it.

This is what infection looks like…damn it.

Well, I have my first confirmed infected beer. After racking the Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale, I noticed some patches on the surface the next day. Then, the following day, there was a complete film (a.k.a. “Pellicle”) covering the surface. I confirmed that it was on the small blackberry batch, as well.

What caused the infection? I don’t know. A fruit fly touching the beer during racking? A microscopic particle drifting in? Cherries weren’t properly sanitized? Sloppiness when transferring wort from kettle to fermenter? No way to know really. From what I understand, there are a few possible outcomes. I could put it in an out of the way place and let it go for a couple of years and hope that the infection is Brettanomyces strain and would slowly transform my beer into a mindblowing sour beer. It could be an acetobacter (commonly from fruit flies) that would basically turn the beer into vinegar. It could be something yucky than would just turn the beer into something disgusting. Finally, I could go ahead and try to siphon from under the pellicle and bottle the beer ASAP and cross my fingers. The eventual outcome could still be nasty, or it could be good initially and go downhill. Or it could get better with age. Again…no way to tell in advance. So, I’m going to bottle it. The next step, after that, will be replacing my siphon and tubing and bleaching the Hell out of my carboy and bottling bucket, and hoping to salvage them. Some say it should all be thrown away or only be used for sour beers. Others say bleaching works.

I was almost out of 12 oz bottles, but I have some 22 oz “bombers”, so I went ahead and bottled the little blackberry batch into 2 of those and one 12 oz. The beer seemed to taste okay still. Luckily, a brewer friend had a couple of cases of bottles that she gave to me…saving me a trip to the supply store and about $35 for 2 cases of bottles! So, bottling will be my project tonight. I’ll update later….

***Okay…it’s later. I bleached all my utensils and the bottling bucket, rinsed well and then sanitized again with Starsan. The bottles, I soaked in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda solution, rinsed well, and then sanitized with Starsan.I went transferred the beer to the bottling bucket with 3oz sugar dissolved in hot Culligan water. I collected 4 gallons to bottle. I tried to stop well before any of the stuff from the pellicle got too low. As the volume in the carboy dropped, the pellicle coated the sides.

The clarity and color were nice though...dang it!

The clarity and color were nice though…dang it!

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

I went through the bottling process and got 42 bottles (12oz). The beer is clear, the color is nice, the flavor is good. If it weren’t for the infection, I would have been really happy at this point! It is depressing though that the few bottles I did yesterday from the little blackberry variant were cloudy at the bottom and may have had some stuff floating at the top. It could be that it just had more crap in the smaller bucket and I wasn’t as careful getting it into the bottles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the main batch. I had intended to go light on the priming sugar, but I overestimated how much beer I would collect; so it turns out that I added the amount of sugar that would have been recommended anyway…though I was shooting for 2.2 atmospheres, which is a little under. I will have to watch for overcarbing.

Update 9/10/15: Refrigerated a bottle all day and opened it last night. Not carbed enough. I’m not sure it’s good enough to save, but I’ll give it a couple more weeks.

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Bottling Jackfruit Cider

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Time to bottle the jackfruit cider…or wine…or whatever it is. I started this project on June 2, 2015. I transferred the cider (for lack of better classification) to a small bucket, to combine from the 2-one gallon jugs and 1-half-full 1/2 gallon jug.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

To that, I added 2 oz of sugar…maybe it will have enough yeast in suspension to carbonate, with enough time.

The color is a nice, light golden. It’s nice and clear, too. The flavor is, well…interesting. It’s pretty dry. It will be fun to see what this is like in a couple more months. The FG wound up at 0.990, down from an OG of 1.083, so that gives it a 12.21% ABV. Wowza!

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

Checking the final gravity.

Checking the final gravity.

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Racking Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout

Equipment for racking

Equipment for racking

Racking time for Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout. Because there is trub, grated ginger, spices and half a vanilla bean in the mix, I’m filtering out any bigger particles with a santized nylon mesh bag. I tied the bag onto the tip of the siphon’s tube.

Filter bag tied in place.

Filter bag tied in place.

The racking went smoothly. I was considering bottling today; however, I though I saw a bubble in the airlock after I finished racking and sealed the new container. I’m going to give it some more time, just because I don’t want to rush it.

I did take a hydrometer sample and the SG is actually below the regular stout that I already bottled. A little nervous about that, but there is more going on here that can account for it. The original version finished at 1.019 and the gingerbread version is at 1.016.

Hydrometer sample. 1.015 @ 70F=1.016

Hydrometer sample. 1.015 @ 70F=1.016

The color is a little light for the style, but not a problem for me…it’s not going into a competition. The clarity looks pretty good. Currently, the aroma is strong fresh ginger. The flavor is initially dominated by the fresh ginger, too. The flavor turns more gingerbread in the finish. It’s not sweet…which is good. I didn’t want to create a sweet beer. I believe there is potential for a nice brew here. I think the ginger will fall back with age and bottle conditioning and allow the vanilla and other spice notes to come through.

Sippin' sample!

Sippin’ sample!

A little more trub in the bucket than I expected…smell was amazing, though!

Trub, ginger, spices, vanilla bean half.

Trub, ginger, spices, vanilla bean half.

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Day 166 Bottling Muscadine Wine

Muscadine wine...nice and clear.

Muscadine wine…nice and clear.

Finally bottled my muscadine wine! I started with grapes that I foraged from wild vines and now I have my first wine in the bottles! The wine has been bulk aging  in two 1 gallon carboys and one 1/2 gallon carboy.

Bulk aging the wine.

Bulk aging the wine.

I combined them all into a bottling bucket to make sure the wine is all consistently blended and to facilitate the bottling.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

I used the Brewer’s Friend online bottling calculator to figure out how many bottles I would need…calculation is twenty-six 12 oz bottles, plus 8 oz left over, which would be good for a hydrometer reading and sample.  So, I sanitized 26 bottles and all the bottling equipment and supplies.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

I’m using oxygen absorbing caps for the wine bottling. I have read that a lot of homebrewers think they are useless for beer, but this is wine. Some mead makers think they are absolutely worthwhile. The thing is, the caps are recommended for things that are going to be bottled for 2 years or more. Most beers, other that barleywine, aren’t aged more than a year. There are a few exceptions. Anyway, I’ve decided to use them…several bottles of my wine may very well be around for a couple of years or more.

The clarity on the wine is beautiful and the color is a nice blush. The FG is 0.991 and the OG was 1.113, so we have a 16.01% ABV!

Taking the hydrometer reading.

Taking the hydrometer reading…look at the clarity!

The aroma and flavor are definitely that of a young red wine with a heavy amount of alcohol, but it certainly is not your typical North Carolina sweet muscadine wine.

Pretty!

Pretty!

I can definitely drink the sample, but I probably won’t open a bottle for at least a year and probably longer for most of them. The bottling calculator was spot-on, by the way. I filled exactly 26 bottles.

Filling the bottles.

Filling the bottles.

I’m hoping they will mellow and become something special with time. But this is my first real wine, so it’s pretty special to me already!

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine...ready for storage.

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine…ready for storage.

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Day 165 Bottling Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale…Finally!

Well, it took awhile…32 days to be exact. Yesterday, I finally got to bottle the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale and, if I got the priming sugar right and all goes well, this has the possibility of being pretty amazing! It just seemed to want to keep going…so I let it. And it did drop by another point over the last 10 days. The hydrometer sample looks nice and clear and wound up at 1.014.

Hydrometer reading.

Hydrometer reading.

Looks great!

Looks great!

That makes the ABV 9.06%…definitely in the “imperial” range. Or is it “wee heavy” for a Scottish Ale? Anyway, the aroma is nice and the flavor is terrific! Thanks goes to “Billy Klubb” at Homebrewtalk.com for the base recipe for his Scottish Ale…awesome recipe! I chilled the hydrometer sample to evaluate (a.k.a. DRINK!) later and it is really good.

Chilled sample for evaluation.

Chilled sample for evaluation.

I used 3.50 oz of corn sugar to prime for bottling. The priming sugar calculator that I have had the best luck put it at 3.40 oz for a Scottish Ale at 2.1 volumes or 3.66 oz for a Winter Ale at 2.2 volumes…so I just split the difference and crossed my fingers. I racked from the bottling bucket that I was using as tertiary to a second bottling bucket with the priming solution, so  it would mix thoroughly.

Racking onto the priming solution. Nice color and clarity.

Racking onto the priming solution. Nice color and clarity.

The bottling went smoothly. The calculation on my estimated 4.85 gallons said I would get 52 bottles and I actually filled 50 bottles, so I was pretty close. Now, the excruciating wait to see how it does in the bottle!

Fifty bottles of beer...not on the wall, but who bottle conditions their beer on the wall?! That's just silly.

Fifty bottles of beer…not on the wall, but who bottle conditions their beer on the wall?! That’s just silly.

Bottling the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale...finally!

Bottling the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale…finally!

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Day 164 Racking McQuinn’s Robust Porter to Secondary

 

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Setting up to rack 1 gallon jug plus about 6 gallons in the bucket to the big glass carboy.

It has been just past a week in primary fermentation for McQuinn’s Robust Porter. Activity really seemed to dive after just a few days, but I gave it a week anyway. It looks pretty good…nice color and decent clarity.

McQuinn's Robust Porter, ready to rack.

McQuinn’s Robust Porter, ready to rack.

I’ll see how it settles in Secondary. It may not need very long. The hydrometer sample I collected puts the SG at 1.010 at 73.6F, corrected=1.011; the recipe projected the final at 1.015, so I’m already beyond that.

Hydrometer sample

Hydrometer sample

A little taste is nice and roasty. I think it’s good, but I don’t have enough experience with porters to really know what I’ve got. It might just be mediocre. Eventually, I’ll get some reviews. For now, I’ll just keep on rolling.

Wound up with 5-1/2 gallons in secondary.

Wound up with 5-1/2 gallons in secondary.

Now I need to see if I want to try and harvest the Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast. It certainly seems to be a quick and effective bunch of critters!

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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!

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Day 157 Racking Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale to Secondary

Racking from the fermentation bucket to a glass carboy.

Racking from the fermentation bucket to a glass carboy.

The Scottish pumpkin ale has been transferred to secondary. I really need to mark my carboy, so I can be accurate with volumes, but it looks like I left a little less than a gallon in the primary bucket and I started with about six; so, I’m approximating 5.25 gallons in secondary. I added another can of pumpkin (roasted), a vodka soaked vanilla bean and another 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin pie spice blend to the carboy and racked the beer onto it.

Added the spice blend to the vodka and vanilla bean.

Added the spice blend to the vodka and vanilla bean.

Vanilla bean soaked in vodka for a week and pumpkin pie spice.

Vanilla bean soaked in vodka for a week and pumpkin pie spice.

It was a bit of a challenge getting the pumpkin into the carboy without making a mess. I put it into a Ziploc baggie and clipped on corner and squeezed it in.

Roasted canned pumpkin. Gathering it up to put in a baggie.

Roasted canned pumpkin. Gathering it up to put in a baggie.

Canned pumpkin, spread on parchment paper for roasting.

Canned pumpkin, spread on parchment paper for roasting.

With the volume of additions, once I’m done fermenting, I’ll probably come up a little under 5 gallons, but pretty close. There’s enough alcohol that I could top it off, if I want to.

I took a hydrometer sample and got a reading of 1.028 @ 76.4 F, which is 1.030 corrected for temperature.

Hydrometer sample.

Hydromter sample.

Currently 7.09% ABV, before secondary additions. Good color…seems like flavor is good, but I’m glad I’m adding more spices. I’ll taste the hydrometer sample again later (in the fridge) and see what the color looks like when it clears. The carboy has settled quite a bit already and looks nice.

Carboy secondary a few minutes after racking.

Carboy secondary a few minutes after racking.

I hope those flavors I added blend in well. Still pretty psyched about this beer!

Now that I’ve freed up a bucket, I may go ahead and rack the crab apple/Cripps& Ginger Gold apples, and pear cider to secondary. I’ll look into that tomorrow. I did take a small sample from the spigot on the bucket and it is very “green” tasting with a tannic astringency on the tongue. I’ll probably have to either back sweeten this on and pasteurize it after an extended bulk conditioning.

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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 153 Racking Caramel Cider and Muscadine Wine

Keep on racking! Muscadine wine.

Keep on racking! Muscadine wine.

Racking day! I decided to rack the caramel cider and muscadine wine again today. I had to spend some time cleaning the kitchen, assembling vessels and utensils, making a new batch of sanitizer, etc.

I started with boiling some water in my starter beaker for 10 minutes, in case I needed to top off anything. Covered it and put it in an ice bath. Then I racked the cider. I completely filled a gallon, but the half gallon went down considerably. I didn’t want to top off that much with water, so I sanitized a 22 oz bottle and filled it. I used what was left to fill a tester bottle  to see what it does for carbing. Just an experiment…I want the rest to clear quite a bit more and maybe just condition awhile. The SG is 1.020 at this point and, overall, it’s looking good.

Cider in a 1-gallon glass carboy, a 22 oz beer bottle and a little carb tester experiment. Wine on right. Crab apple, pear and apple blend cider in the middle.

Cider in a 1-gallon glass carboy, a 22 oz beer bottle and a little carb tester experiment. Wine on right. Crab apple, pear and apple blend cider in the middle.

For the muscadine wine, the clarity is looking quite good and the color is pretty. I racked to two 1-gallon carboys and about 2/3  filled a half gallon carboy.

Racking to all glass containers.

Racking to all glass containers.

I did go ahead and add some water to this one from the beaker that I boiled. I figure this will work out okay when I combine it back with the two gallons for bottling. In the meantime, I can bulk condition the wine without fear of oxidation…or at least the risk is greatly reduced. I think the wine is done fermenting. It’s got an SG reading at 0.990, which is about where it was when I racked it last time, I believe.

The more recent cider, a blend of crab apples, pears, Ginger Crisp apples and Pink Cripps apples just had yeast pitched last night. Airlock activity is continuing to slowly build this afternoon.

I’ve had a little sample glass of the muscadine wine in the refrigerator for the last few days, following the previous racking and I’m sipping on it as I’m writing this.

Muscadine wine sample.

Muscadine wine sample.

It’s really quite good…obviously young, but not too sweet. A little tannin on the tongue. It’s not as muscadine-y as I thought it would be. I think it actually has a better “real” wine flavor to it. It’s not heavy. We could probably easily drink a bottle of this next Spring or Summer. We’ll see. I’m planning on hanging on to most of it until maybe around Thanksgiving 2016.

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