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Racking Muscadine Wine 2016

Time to make some wine.

Time to make some wine.

 

Well, I racked the muscadine wine. Unfortunately, one of my plastic carboys in missing in action, so I racked it into my glass one. I added one crushed Campden tablet to the new carboy and away we went…from the bottling bucket in which I did primary fermentation to the glass carboy.

Racking to the carboy.

Racking to the carboy.

My carboy is over 5-1/2 gallons and racking left me a little under 5 gallons. In order to prevent oxidation, I topped off with about 1.25 gallons of Culligan bottled water. I know it will drop the alcohol a bit and dilute the wine, but I actually want something lighter than the wine from last couple of years. I might even backsweeten a little after fermentation is complete and the wine is stabilized.

Nice color. Topped up with Culligan bottled water.

Nice color. Topped up with Culligan bottled water.

The color is nice…a kind of purple version of a rose’. The flavor still has a little muscadine flavor. I’m hoping when conditioning is done and I backsweeten and bottle, I will have an easy-drinking wine that will be a “half-sweet” wine that will be ready to drink in a year.

Update 10/18/16: Okay, I racked the wine off of the lees and it’s really nice and clear. I wound up with a little under a half of a gallon excess…might use it to experiment with backsweetening. Also took a hydrometer sample…looks like 1.001, after adjusting for temperature. So, it’s pretty dry, at the moment. Once I’m sure it’s stable and won’t start fermenting again, I’ll adjust the sweetness. I did add another crushed Campden tablet to hopefully achieve stabilization…it may take an overnight outside on a cold night…but there’s plenty of time. I’d just rather not add Campden after this point. A quick sip reveals that it doesn’t taste bone dry, which is good! And it’s a light body. This one may actually be ready to drink next Summer.

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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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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 112 IPA Sample and Soda Bug Progress

Major Nelson's IPA test bottle.

Major Nelson’s IPA test bottle.

I chilled my partial “tester” bottle of IPA earlier today. This evening, I opened it and poured it slowly through a cheesecloth lined sieve into a glass. I think that process pulled most of the carb into the head, because there was a big head and little carb. The reason for the filtered pour is because it looked like there were some floaters in the beer. Anyway, the aroma and flavor were both good. I’m looking forward to the final product!

The ginger starter for making soda seems to be coming along okay. I did add more water with the second ginger and sugar addition. I made a third ginger and sugar addition today.

Giving the "bug" a swirly every now and then.

Giving the “bug” a swirly every now and then.

Getting s few bubbles in the "Ginger-Mint Bug" for making soda.

Getting s few bubbles in the “Ginger-Mint Bug” for making soda.

The pineapple-mango melomel continues to carboy condition. All seems steady…nice and clear…pretty color. Maybe another month to bottling.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (Fruit mead). Look at that color!

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (Fruit mead). Look at that color!

I’m hoping to brew this weekend…maybe tomorrow. I’d like to do a Scotch Ale, but the fermentation temperature requirements may be too low for me to control. I’ll consult the home brew shop…maybe a rye of some kind?

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Day 100!!! Racking Pineapple-Mango Melomel for Bulk Conditioning

Clear pineapple-mango melomel...but concerned about head space.

Clear pineapple-mango melomel…but concerned about head space.

The Pineapple-Mango Melomel cleared quickly after the last racking, a few days ago. It looked like the right time to rack it off the rest of the sediment and begin the longer bulk conditioning in a one gallon glass carboy.

Sediment left after racking.

Sediment left after racking.

I was pretty careful to keep the racked melomel nice and clear. The issue, though, is that the volume in the carboy is down to the shoulder. I really don’t want to have that much head space for a long time. I did siphon off another pint and I covered it and stuck it in the refrigerator to see how it looks when it settles.

a pint that needs to settle and see if it's worth trying to salvage any to add to the carboy.

a pint that needs to settle and see if it’s worth trying to salvage any to add to the carboy.

If it looks worthwhile, I will try to carefully pour it off into another sanitized  container. If I’m successful with that, I’ll add it to the carboy through a sanitized funnel. That should reduce the head space considerably. If that does NOT work out, I’ll seek suggestions from some experienced mead makers online. Adding water is probably not a good idea. Maybe re-rack to a half gallon carboy and a smaller bottle or two? We’ll see in a day or two. The Murray’s Super Easy Cider #3 continues to slowly progress through primary fermentation. Update: evening, same day. The Pineapple-Mango Melomel the I had in a pint jar in the fridge cleared, so I poured it off and added it to the carboy.

Cleared a little more melomel.

Cleared a little more melomel.

I also did some reading and it sounds like adding a little water to close the head space is acceptable. I sanitized a glass measuring cup and used it for the transfer of the additional melomel…then I sanitized it again and used bottled water to top off the carboy. The amount of water added was only about a cup, so it shouldn’t really affect the SG/ABV much at all.DSC04560

Nice, close head space.

Nice, close head space.

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Day 84 Bottling Plain Jane Blonde, Small Batch

Plain Jane Blonde Ale, opening after secondary.

Plain Jane Blonde Ale, opening after secondary.

I had a little time this evening and decided to go ahead and get the bottling chores done for the Plain Jane Blonde Ale. There’s about a gallon and a half…looks nice and clear. When I got closer to the bottom, I could see that I could bottle just about every bit. There wound up being just a film of trub on the bottom of the bucket. Taste is pretty good, as far as I can tell…just had a very small taste. I didn’t want to waste any, since there is so little. Color is clear, but  a tad dark for the style, due to the late addition of extra DME to bump the weak OG, the day after brewing.

End of the batch in the bottling bucket, with flash, so you can see color

End of the batch in the bottling bucket, with flash, so you can see color

(This little plain blonde batch is the result of not measuring my water properly on brew day and I wound up with too much wort for the strawberry blonde that I had planned. So, it’s a bonus batch, but it weakened the OG. To review, I added 1 gallon of the strawberry blonde wort to 3lbs DME and boiled 15 minutes. Of the 17 cups that resulted, 13-1/2 cups went back to the strawberry batch and 3-1/2 cups went into the plain batch. The OG went up to about 1.041; still short of the target, but with a FG of 1.010, I got a decent session beer range of 4.07 % ABV.

I prepared 1.5 oz corn sugar dissolved in about 6 oz hot water, put that in my bottling bucket and racked onto it. I came up with the 1.5 oz amount using an online calculator. I hope it comes out right. Since this is a small batch and I anticipated very little sediment, I racked into another 2 gallon bucket, using a siphon.

Three six packs...not bad.

Three six packs…not bad.

Bottling went smoothly, using the siphon and bottling cane. I did have to quickly sanitize 3 more bottles/caps, because I had a little more than I anticipated. I finished up with eighteen 12 oz bottles.

The strawberry Blonde batch…almost 6 gallons…is in a glass carboy and clearing. It should be ready to bottle this weekend. The Costa Kona Mocha Latte stout should be ready to rack onto the cocoa nibs for secondary by Sunday.

Ingredients for Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout (except for the cold brewed coffee extract).

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

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