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Racking Half Gallon Super Easy Cider

Half gallon Super Easy Cider and a bottle of Caramel Apple Cider.

Half gallon Super Easy Cider and a bottle of Caramel Apple Cider.

Time to rack this little batch of cider. It’s a “Super Easy Cider”; my name for a commercial cider that basically just needs yeast and time. I am using White House brand “Fresh Pressed” Cider and harvested East Coast Ale yeast. What I have decided to do is rack the cider, take a hydrometer sample, and top off the cider with finished cider from a previous batch. In this case, I’m using a bottle of my Caramel Apple Cider.

I’m running short on half gallon carboys, so I racked to a gallon size carboy, cleaned the half gallon, sanitized it and siphoned the cider back into it.

After racking the cider and siphoning it back to the half gallon carboy.

After racking the cider and siphoning it back to the half gallon carboy.

The next step was to top off the current cider batch with the finished Caramel Apple Cider. It took about 3/4 of the bottle. I then replaced the airlock. I still saw some tiny bubbles rising before I started, so it needs a little more time. Plus, there was a little carb in the cider I topped with, so that will need to off-gas as well.

Super Easy Cider, topped off and needs a little more time. Plus a little drink.

Super Easy Cider, topped off and needs a little more time. Plus a little drink.

I did check the specific gravity at 1.003 and stuck the sample in the fridge for drinking later…waste not want not, right?! The flavor is a little bland and not very sweet. I’m thinking that I may prime with a little excess molasses at bottling, allow to carb, and then pasteurize. I have learned that East Coast Ale yeast is not the best choice for cider, if you like it to have a little residual sweetness. The apple flavor is still evident, but a little bland. Nice learning experience for very little money.

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Merry Christmas and Starting a Half Gallon of Cider

Some yeast and some cider.

Some yeast and some cider.

It’s been some time since I have brewed or fermented anything…holidays and vacation have taken so much of my time! I was grocery shopping today, however, and I bought a gallon of White House brand “Fresh Pressed” Apple Cider (not from concentrate, “all natural”, from whole apples, pasteurized, etc., etc.). My daughter likes unfermented apple cider, some I’m splitting this gallon and fermenting the other half. It cost $5 for the gallon, so I’m not too worried about this not working out. Here’s what I’m doing:

In one 1/2 gallon growler, I’m putting a 1/4 teaspoon each of pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient and a little under 1/2 gallon of the cider. In the other 1/2 gallon clear carboy, I had stored  in the refrigerator, some recovered East Coast Ale yeast. I had never gotten around to draining the wort off of it…but I don’t think it’s worth trying to ferment into beer. What I have done is removed it from the refrigerator and added a couple tablespoons of honey.

Tomorrow night, I’ll see what’s going on. If all goes well, the yeast will activate, I’ll pour off the wort, and add the yeast slurry to the cider. Another 24 hours will show me if it’s going to ferment. I’m not sure how the East Coast Ale yeast will do with cider…I hope it works and I find out!

As for other project updates, the East Coast Cascade American Amber is interesting. The initial taste was a little dank and had a slight astringency in the finish. The carb has come up nicely and the astringency is almost completely gone. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it’s very drinkable and tasty. The Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale IS amazing and has been well received by all who have tried it. Finally, the robust porter and it’s coffee version were not promising at first. Passable, but not really what I was hoping for. Another couple of weeks in the bottle and I was pleasantly surprized that it had turned out to be pretty darn good, after all. Cheers!

 

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Bottled East Coast Cascade Waterfall American Amber Ale

Bottled hop experiment, East Coast Cascade Waterfall American Amber Ale.

Bottled hop experiment, East Coast Cascade Waterfall American Amber Ale.

I’m running a little behind, but I finally knocked out bottling the East Coast Cascade Waterfall American Amber Ale. I estimated about 2.5 gallons and used Northern Brewer’s priming calculator for corn sugar and an American amber. I tried to check the temperature with my digital thermometer and the battery was dying. I had to use a dial thermometer. The temp was about 72F. The FG was 1.013 and the ABV is 5.51%. So the recommended amount of corn sugar was 2 oz  for 2.3 volumes. I mixed the corn sugar with some hot bottled Culligan water to dissolve and then added enough cold to top it to 12 oz. I used a sanitized long spoon and stirred it into the beer.  Bottling went smoothly and it yielded 28 twelve ounce bottles. That means I had 2.65 gallons, so my guess was pretty close. So, that’s the last thing I had fermenting. I have some cider in long term bulk conditioning that I’ll probably not bottle until sometime next year. I don’t anticipate brewing again until after the holidays…pretty full weekends through New Year’s Day. Aside from some tasting notes, this should be a wrap for a few weeks. Cheers!

 

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Day 170 Racking East Coast Cascade Waterfall Off of Dry Hops

 

Dry hop bag removed and opened...dried leaf Cascade used for dry hopping in secondary.

Dry hop bag removed and opened…dried leaf Cascade used for dry hopping in secondary.

I’m running a day behind on getting the East Coast Cascade Waterfall American Amber racked off of dry hop…but that never hurt anybody, right? I started at a little before midnight and finished up after midnight. So, I decided to have one of my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ales while I worked.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale...wet the whistle while you work!

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale…wet the whistle while you work!

Side note: The person whose recipe I used for the Scottish ale base, received a package from me with two bottles of the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale (along with a Cherry Belle Saison and a Hi-Nelson w/Hibiscus). I was very happy to see that he drank one of the Scottish Pumpkin Ales and said that he was genuinely impressed! He described it as “Very Scottish, nicely pumpkin. Aroma is almost like pumpkin pie and a fresh pretzel.” It has a …”sturdy backbone, body, and face for the spice to play with.”  Awesome!

Back to the East Coast Cascade Waterfall American Amber Ale: I just set up a tube on one bottling bucket and transferred the contents, after removing the nylon bag with the Cascade dried leaf hops.

Bucket to bucket for racking from secondary to tertiary to settle for a couple days.

Bucket to bucket for racking from secondary to tertiary to settle for a couple days. Hmmm…how did that blue ribbon from my crab apple jelly entry from the NC State Fair sneak into the photo?

All the indicators are positive…I believe this will be a nice, sessionable, easy-drinking brew, with a nice balance of hops and malt…not too bitter. I was pretty reserved with the bittering hops. For a partial mash, experimental small batch, I think this beer is going to be pretty good.

Small sample of East Coast Cascade Waterfall. Tasty!

Small sample of East Coast Cascade Waterfall. Tasty!

After transfer, I have about 2.75 gallons. I believe there will be about 2.5 gallons to bottle, which I should be able to do Monday. I took a small sample to taste, but I added it to the hydrometer sample after a tiny sip. The sample I took for a hydrometer reading was from the dregs and was pretty cloudy, but it came out to 1.014, after temperature correction. I refrigerated the sample to let it crash and settle. I’ll check it again tomorrow and get a better taste, as well.

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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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