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Day 167 Bottling McQuinn’s Robust Porter & Bold Coffee Porter

Transferring the porter to a bottling bucket.

Transferring the porter to a bottling bucket.

Bottled my robust porter today. I prepared a little over 2 cases of bottles and corresponding caps. I attached a sanitized little nylon bag on the end of the tubing…there were a few floaters in the beer;  possibly some Irish Moss that didn’t fall out.

Nylon bag for a little filtration of floaters.

Nylon bag for a little filtration of floaters.

I racked the porter from the glass carboy to a bottling bucket and checked the volume and temperature(about 60F). I consulted  Northern Brewer’s online priming calculator, which I have come to trust over the last few brews. I dissolved 3.75 oz corn sugar in Culligan hot water and then added some cold to cool it down a little. Using a sanitized long-handled spoon, I stirred in the priming solution and made sure it was well distributed.

Next, I drew off 2 gallons of porter into a separate small fermentation bucket containing 2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee and stirred. That left about 3.5 gallons of regular porter.

2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee in the 2 gallon bucket for the McQuinn's Bold Coffee Porter.

2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee in the 2 gallon bucket for the McQuinn’s Bold Coffee Porter.

I filled bottles with the plain porter first and wound up with 39 bottles. I then bottled the coffee porter and filled 20 bottles. Actually, the last bottle of coffee porter was just a tad short of the neck, so I went ahead and capped it, but marked the cap with an “x”, to remind me to use this one as my first carb tester in about 10 days.

McQuinn's Bold Coffee Porter.

McQuinn’s Bold Coffee Porter.

McQuinn's Robust Porter.

McQuinn’s Robust Porter.

I did pull a hydrometer sample from the dregs of the glass carboy. It’s a little murky, but should still be accurate. After temperature correction, the FG is 1.013, so the ABV comes in at 6.56%…just a little over the 6.32 estimated in the recipe. Color looks good and a small sip I had from both plain and coffee versions were, in my opinion, quite good. I think I’m going to be happy with the final products. I stuck the rest of the sample(plain) in the refrigerator to chill and settle. I’ll get get a better taste of it later today. I’ll probably double check the FG again, just to be redundant.

Hydrometer sample from the bottom of the carboy. Cold-crashing to clear and will taste sample later.

Hydrometer sample from the bottom of the carboy. Cold-crashing to clear and will taste sample later.

Cleaned up after myself, as usual and updated my inventory list. Ta da!

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Day 162 Brew Day! McQuinn’s Robust Porter

Becoming a porter.

Becoming a porter.

I got this recipe from my LHBS (Local Home Brew Shop) as a recipe of the month at 1/2 price! It came as a pumpkin porter, but since I already have a Scottish pumpkin ale in the works, I decided to “de-pumpkin-ni-fie” the recipe, add a little maltodextrin and just make a Robust Porter. The name McQuinn comes from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name…and it sounds good for a porter!

I’m trying to input my recipes and brewing sessions into Brewer’s Friend online, but they include some technical stuff that I’m not into yet. They also do not account for things like sugars or fermentables that aren’t part of the “mash” or grain steep. (I’m doing BIAB–brew in a bag–all grain brewing).

All set to brew, BIAB style.

All set to brew, BIAB style.

So, when going from end of mash specific gravity reading, to pre-boil, to end of boil, the calculations show my conversion of grain to sugar and mash efficiency to be over 100% I’m also getting confused on water volume, grain absorbtion, boil off rate, etc. I start with 6 gallons in the kettle to mash, I know the grain absorbs some and the calculations have a standard default. Then I do what I’m calling a modified “sparge” where I drain heated water over the grains to hopefully wash out some more sugars from the grains…so, I’m adding about 2 gallons back.

My "modified sparge" set-up. Hey...it seems to work!

My “modified sparge” set-up. Hey…it seems to work!

Starting at 6 gallons and adding 2 gallons, minus what the grains absorbed, should leave me with about 7 gallons, but I swear I had 8 for the start of my boil. Had to keep the boil slow for most of the hour, because of the volume. Then I wound up with a slam full fermentation bucket.

Pitching the yeast in a "slam full" bucket of aerated wort.

Pitching the yeast in a “slam full” bucket of aerated wort.

I had to actually pull out a gallon to process separately, after I pitched the yeast. I used an oxygen tank with an aeration stone to aerate the wort for two minutes. I’m using Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast. I was supposed to have 5.5 gallons after the boil.

The other thing that throws me off on all-grain brewing is the amount of trub. If you want a nice clear beer, you rack maybe 5.25 gallons off of 6 gallons and the rack again to 4-1/2 for bottling. I don’t care too much about getting a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) so much as I was a good beer and I want my 5 gallons! Ah well. C’est la biere!

So, I keep trying to tweak the brewing program and make notes that explain discrepancies, but it can be confusing. The main thing is that the actual brewing went well…except the temperature dropped in the mash at one point and I fired the burner to boost it and I over-shot from the 153 target, up to 157F. I stirred constantly for over 15 minutes to get it back down. Temperature control in the mash is the bane of my beer making! I’m not sure how it would do in an accurately judged competition, but my stuff still seems to come out pretty well, so I guess it’s okay. At the end of the brew, the color looks good and the OG reading is spot-on at 1.063 with an anticipated ABV of 6.32%.

Chilling the boiled wort in an ice bath...maybe a copper coil chiller for Christmas?

Chilling the boiled wort in an ice bath…maybe a copper coil chiller for Christmas?

Despite the brewing program confusion and water volume weirdness, this should be a pretty decent porter…and I have an extra gallon or so to experiment with. I’m using blow off tubes, since this is a dark beer and the volume is high.

Hit my numbers and still had more that I could fit in the fermentation bucket.

Hit my numbers and still had more that I could fit in the fermentation bucket.

I may wind up combining them at secondary and then dividing them again at bottling time and add cold brewed coffee to one half or one quarter.

If anyone would like the details of the recipe, I am happy to share…let’s see how it turns out, though!

Update: 10/6/14   The porter has been chugging away all day!

Update: 10/8/14   It has only been a couple of days since brewing and the porter has already gone through a quick chugging fermentation period and by yesterday afternoon, had already slowed substantially. I think I might go ahead and switch from blow off tubes to regular airlocks. I don’t know if this is normal for Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast…I have to assume so.

Day 3 after brewing, small jug...action substantially slowed.

Day 3 after brewing, small jug…action substantially slowed.

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Day 97 Sampling the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout

Last night, I decided to try a bottle of the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout. It has only been in the bottle for about 2 weeks, but temptation got the better of me! Unfortunately, I am battling Spring allergies and my sense of taste and smell are pretty dull right now. I really should have waited. From what I could tell though, this beer is on the right track.

Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout...first sample.

Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout…first sample.

The carb is too aggressive, but I’m hoping that will settle in over time. The aroma is a mystery at this point, but I think it’s good. The flavor…I get decent body and the mocha flavors, but I can’t sense just how good they are…or will be. I think I’ll try another one in about a month, when I’m healthy. I’m hopeful and encouraged, but I realize that neither I, nor the stout, were ready for this test.

I also checked the Pineapple-Mango Mead and didn’t see any airlock action. It is still in primary. It may have a little more to go before secondary…I didn’t stare at the airlock for more than a minute. There could very well be some slow action still going on. I don’t think it will hurt to let it go another week and then do a gravity check.

Tonight, I sampled another of the Plain Jane Blonde Ales and it continues to grow on me. I feel like it is MUCH better than the Strawberry Blonde of the same batch. While the color is a little dark from the DME/strawberry wort boil added the day after brewing to adjust the SG, the flavor is nice and the bittering hop still comes through.

Plain Jane Blonde Ale, in the bottle a month.

Plain Jane Blonde Ale, in the bottle a month.

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Day 87 Racked Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout to Secondary

End of primary fermentation for the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout.

End of primary fermentation for the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout.

It’s time. Racked the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout onto the Costa Rican cocoa nibs that I have had soaking in vodka for a few days, after I toasted them briefly to bring out the flavors. The primary bucket had a bunch of coagulated looking trub that looked like browned hamburger in grease.

Cocoa nibs in a sanitizing/extracting  soak in vodka

Cocoa nibs in a sanitizing/extracting
soak in vodka

Is that hamburger? Nope...that's some serious trub.

Is that hamburger? Nope…that’s some serious trub.

But the beer is coming along nicely, I believe. Secondary should go a week or so and then it will be on to bottling with the cold brewed Kona blend coffee concentrate (4 cups).

I’m a bit bugged by a little mystery. I keep an inventory of what I have on hand in brews. Last night, I pulled a few things to refrigerate and drink and I adjusted my inventory. I looked in the fridge tonight and found a bottle I thought I had drunk last night. I checked my inventory and it is accurate. What I  have left in the fridge is accurate, except for this extra bottle. So, what the heck was that bottle I drank? I have this single bottle of a strawberry lemon experiment that I did. I also did one that was just lemon. I didn’t even put them in the journal, because they were just single bottles. It was fresh lemon juice, water, sugar and a little yeast. I somehow had some small amount of strawberry for the second bottle…can’t even remember now. I thought I drank the strawberry one last night. It was weird because it was kinda crazy carbed…DSC04348

crazy carb on this mystery bottle.

crazy carb on this mystery bottle.

and heavier on the strawberry than I expected. I also thought I was getting some hops, which I did not use on this cider-like fermentation. If I didn’t know better, I would think that I had opened a strawberry blonde that I just bottled a couple of days before…but they’re all accounted for…unless I had a brain fart and stuck one in the fridge when I was bottling or put one back in the inventory stuff without counting it. Anyway, it’s a mystery…but I have the strawberry lemon experiment right here. It’s clear, light golden and lemony, but dry with a fairly strong sparkle. Clean and fresh.

Strawberry Lemon Experiment

Strawberry Lemon Experiment

Not getting the strawberry, but it doesn’t really suffer without it. I really should have documented this, even though it was a tiny experiment. Ah well…live and learn. Relax…and have a home brew (or ferment)!

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Day 86 Update Murray’s SEC (Super Easy Cider) and Mocha Latte Stout

The Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout seems to still me sending some gas up and pushing the lid a little. It’s not coming out the airlock, though, unless I press on the lid. I figure it’s not going to hurt it to sit another day or two in Primary. I found some vodka…an old bottle of kinda cheap stuff…but it will work for soaking the Costa Rican cocoa nibs. I slowly heated a saute pan on the stove with the cocoa nibs, over low heat until I could smell the chocolate and they had changed to a shiny, dark brown color.

Putting a little heat to the Costa Rican cocoa nibs to bring out the flavor.

Putting a little heat to the Costa Rican cocoa nibs to bring out the flavor.

I dropped them into a little storage container with about a cup of vodka, covered and I’m allowing them to steep at room temperature.

Doing a sanitizing/extracting  soak in vodka

Doing a sanitizing/extracting
soak in vodka

The SG is at about 1.023 @72F; so  1.024  corrected for temperature.(I actually measured 1.022 on 3/12 and I know it isn’t going up, so let’s go with that.) Still, another day won’t hurt. The estimated FG for the recipe is 1.015, but since I added 1 lb of lactose instead of 8 oz, that could account for the difference. If 1.022 winds up being the FG and the beginning was 1.062, then the ABV will be 5.25%. If it’s the higher FG, then the ABV would be right at 5%. That’s good, either way. The flavor, based on the sample, is very good. I already taste the chocolate, just from the husks. After the secondary on the nibs and the cold brewed coffee concentrate at bottling, this beer has great potential!

Sampling for hydrometer (and tasting!).

Sampling for hydrometer (and tasting!).

The Murray’s SEC 1/2 gallon has a nice, slow bubble happening in the airlock. I think it was about the same last time, so that should be good.

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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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Day 82 Working Out Details on Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

I got this kit for my birthday. I’ve never used a couple of the ingredients in this recipe before…Costa Rican cocoa husks & cocoa nibs, and lactose (milk sugar). Sounds good, though! While doing some reading, I came across information regarding hazelnut extract…I’m thinking Nutella Stout. After mulling it over a bit, I decided to skip the trip to the brew shop for the extract because I thought it might just get to be too sweet and might not taste natural.

After some more thought…and realizing that I had a bunch of whole bean coffee on hand that I got on sale…I started looking into using coffee as an additional ingredient. Natural, not adding more sweetness, adding caffeine and making this recipe a “mocha”. Yup. That’ll do! So, I sent a message to some local brewery people for advice. They suggested making a cold brew coffee concentrate and using about an 8% by volume at bottling. I never would have thought of that! I’m actually going to go about 4 cups of concentrate, rather than 6 cups…I can always add more, but I want the chocolate to still come through.

Everthing sanitized! Coarsely ground Kona blend coffee going into Culligan water for 15 hours.

Everthing sanitized! Coarsely ground Kona blend coffee going into Culligan water for 15 hours.

I found a cold brew coffee recipe online from Bon Apetite  (giving credit, where due!). I adapted it to brew in a gallon carboy with an airlock, instead of some other container covered with cheesecloth. I coarsely ground 12 oz of Kona blend coffee and added it to a sanitized carboy and capped it.

Ready to cap it and swirl it.

Ready to cap it and swirl it.

Shook it up and swirled to get as much of the grounds off of the bottle as I could and then replaced the cap with a sanitized  airlock. After 15 hours at room temperature, I’ll strain out the grounds and then filter the liquid through multiple layers of cheesecloth. (If I were concerned about it being crystal clear, I would filter it through a coffee filter…slowly. I think going through a sieve and then through thick cheesecloth will be fine.) I am going to use a teaspoon of Irish moss in the boil, just to help the beer clear a little, but I’m not expecting to see through it…it IS stout, after all.

Brewing...of a different kind!

Brewing…of a different kind!

So, what I’ll be brewing will be a “Costa Kona Mocha Milk Stout”. I’m sure I’ll be sampling it as soon as I can, but I think this one might need to age until next December-ish. I think the caps that came with the kit are the “oxygen absorbing” kind…good for longer storage. Brew Day tomorrow, if I can fit it in!

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