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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 69 Sampling Big Dark Stout

I bottled Big Dark Stout on 12/20/13 and I know I tried it sometime in the past, but I can’t find my notes at the moment. I do recall that I thought it had a sourness that I did not expect or like. I brewed this beer with grain and malt that was given to me…it was probably two years old but still sealed. I milled the grain (well, I cracked it up in a food processor) and everything looked pretty good. I figured the worst case scenario would be a second tier beer. So, it’s been about 5 weeks in the bottles now and I feel like the fruitiness has passed. I’m not sure how to describe it now…”meh” comes to mind. But it has improved. Decent head, nondescript aroma, good color. With more bottle time, it might make it just past “meh” to “hmmm”. In looking back through my notes, I did find that I used a half a vanilla bean in primary fermentation (this was a half batch of beer)…that might be the fruity flavor that has mellowed. Next time I use vanilla, I will probably either use it in the last 10 minutes of the boil or wait until secondary to add it. I’ll research more and get a consensus of when is best. I believe I was hoping it might help elevate this 2nd tier beer to something a little better than that…and it may yet succeed. Let’s see what another month does for it. By the way, I had also forgotten that this brew was one I had trouble getting a good OG reading on, but my best guess was that the beer was going to be in the 7.75 to 8% ABV range. So…22 ounces later…wee!

Bottling Big Dark Stout...with a little help!

Bottling Big Dark Stout…with a little help!

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Day 58 Bottling Belgian Strong Dark

Bottling day! The Belgian Strong Dark had slowed to the point that I felt it was time to bottle. I got all my equipment and supplies assembled and sanitized, including fourteen 22 oz bottles and some 12 oz bottles. I racked the beer from the bottling bucket into two primary fermentation buckets and I washed and sanitized the bottling bucket.

Ready to bottle my Belgian Strong Dark!

Ready to bottle my Belgian Strong Dark!

I prepared a solution of just over 2 oz of corn sugar with 12 oz hot water and added it to the bottling bucket. I checked the FG at an adjusted reading of 1.010. I racked the beer back into the bottling bucket and mixed it with the corn sugar solution. The OG was 1.073, so the ABV should be 8.14%. I can say that a sample I tasted seemed fairly strong.

Tasty sample!

Tasty sample!

However, unlike stout, this Belgian Strong Dark does not have the roasted/toasty flavor. It has a fruity component instead, yet I still get a nice little bitterness and malt. I think I’m going to really enjoy this beer!

I used my new bench capper and was generally impressed…I need more practice, but it went well. All in all, I got fourteen 22 oz bottles and three 12 oz bottles. Now, the agonizing wait!

To ease my anxiety, I decided to make some stout braised pork country ribs.

Dry Stout. bottled 12/09/13...getting good!

Dry Stout. bottled 12/09/13…getting good!

Conveniently, I decided the recipe should use about half of a bottle of my home brewed dry stout. It was bottled on 12/09/13, I believe. It is drinkable, but another week or two wouldn’t hurt. It made a terrific braising liquid!

Stout braising some country style pork ribs...Mmm!

Stout braising some country style pork ribs…Mmm!

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Day 47 Racking Big Dark, Checking Cider Batch #4

After a couple of days, I’m back! There’s still some bubbling going on in the Big Dark stout and the Pineapple Tinker melomel.

The pineapple still has a reduced fruit bits layer on the top, so I am going to give it a little more time before I make the decision to rack it. The stout, on the other hand, has slowed a bit more, so I decided to rack it to carboys for a secondary/clearing period.

Sanitized and ready to rack!

Sanitized and ready to rack!

I sanitized all my supplies and started racking. I filled two 1 gallon carboys and about half of a 1/2 gallon carboy.

2-1/2 gallons racked.

2-1/2 gallons racked.

I started to get a bit of lees in the bottling tube, so I stopped. The bottling bucket was pretty well-drained. I did rack a ounce or so into a little tasting glass.

Taster sample

Taster sample

The color is deep, living up to the name Big Dark! The aroma is malty and the flavor is a little sweet and malty up front with a little bitterness making a comeback. I think this batch shows promise! The current SG is 1.022 @70F. The digital thermometer reads 71F, but it’s a probe, not air, thermometer. It reads the beer temp at 74F.  All my readings to this point have been based on the air temp.,  as registered by the house thermostat though, so that’s what I’m going with, for consistency.

Bottom of the bucket.

Bottom of the bucket.

So, 1.022 adjusted to hydrometer calibration is 1.023. Now, I had some issues with getting the OG on this batch. The figure I’m going to go with is the 1.112 I got when I checked it the day after I brewed it. If that’s accurate, the current ABV is 11.68%…wow! I didn’t get an alcohol burn from the sample I tasted, but I guess it’s possible. The recipe projection called for an OG of 1.07 ish and the ABV would be in the 6-1/2 to 7% range. I’ll just have to drink one and see the effects to know which number is closer!

11:00 pm   Stuck the tester bottle of my cider batch #4 in the fridge earlier. It has been opened a few times and has served its purpose. I imagine it won’t build pressure equal to the capped bottles anymore. So I popped the top and there is still just a tiny bit of carbonation, but the color is a beautiful golden, the flavor is good and the sweetness level is great, but not overly sweet.

Golden and delicious! Still barely any carb, but it hardly matters!

Golden and delicious! Still barely any carb, but it hardly matters!

I’ll have to open a regular bottle in the near future to check their carb level and decide if they need to be pasteurized. So far, it’s not looking like it, but I’m happy with the cider as it is. It will absolutely be consumed!

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Day 44 Progress on Big Dark Stout and Pineapple Tinker

Looks like the Big Dark Stout is beginning to slow…I counted 78 between bubbles, but it still kind of “perks” when it does off. It lets out about 3 or 4 bubbles in rapid succession and then nothing for over a minute. It probably still needs a couple more days in primary.

The Pineapple Tinker is bubbling at about 10 second intervals and appears to no longer have a pronounced third layer on the bottom and shows signs of beginning to clear.

No more obvious third layer.

No more obvious third layer.

The layer of blended pineapple bits is thick at the top. I guess when I rack the juice, I’ll be penetrating the top layer and siphoning from the bottom…while the top layer descends. Hmmm…that’ll be different. (Unless the top layer falls out before time to rack…never done pineapple before, so I don’t really know the behaviors.)

Pineapple chunkies and vanilla seeds in the top layer

Pineapple chunkies and vanilla seeds in the top layer

3:00 pm   Is it my imagination or is the pineapple layer getting smaller? The yeast might actually be breaking it down?

Pineapple layer,,,breaking down?

Pineapple layer…breaking down?

Still getting a bubble about every 10 seconds. Surprisingly, the Big Dark Stout airlock is going off at about every 10 to 12 seconds again, but it isn’t perking like it had been; just a single bubble at a time.

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