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Bottling and Corking Muscadine-Blueberry Wine

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First bottle of blueberry-muscadine wine. (I adjusted it a little more after photo to be flush with top of bottle.)

I have 5 gallons of blueberry-muscadine wine that I started in late August of this year (2015). You can read through the previous posts for the process. My previous wine attempt was a straight muscadine wine that was about 2 gallons and just bottled it in beer bottles. So this is my second wine, but, since I had 5 gallons, I decided to go ahead and put it in actual wine bottles with corks!

5 gallon carboy of blueberry-muscadine wine.

5 gallon carboy of blueberry-muscadine wine.

First, since my brief trend is to make wine once a year, I really didn’t want to invest in a corker. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone that has one I could borrow, either. I do, however, have a friend that had the valuable knowledge that a local home brew shop rents a floor model corker for $5/day! I stopped by today and bought 2 cases of green wine bottles (total of 24 bottles), and a 30 count bag of corks.

Floor model wine bottle corker. Easy to use and adjust.

Floor model wine bottle corker. Easy to use and adjust.

I bought #9 corks, because they are for wines expected to be around something like 5 to 7 years. The #7 and #8 corks were for shorter term storage. The blueberry-muscadine wine is fairly light body and about medium on the dry scale…maybe a little more towards dry. I don’t expect it to last for many years, but there’s a chance a few bottles may wind up getting stashed and discovered sometime in the future…so, better to have a little excess time.

I pulled a sample of the wine for the hydrometer test. Checked the temperature. I got an FG (final gravity) of 0.993. The OG (original gravity) of 1.111 means that we have a wine with 15.49% ABV. Really? It’s hidden pretty well! Pretty color, too, by the way.

Hydrometer sample.

Hydrometer sample.

I went ahead and rinsed and sanitized the bottles and my tubing and bottling wand. I researched cork preparation a little and the consensus seems to be that the type of cork I’m using does not need any soaking, boiling, sanitizing, etc. I filled a test bottle and tried the corker. Very easy. And there is a little threaded washer that can fine-tune the depth that the cork is pushed. It was simple to adjust and get the cork flush. I got a yield of exactly 24 bottles,

First of two cases.

First of two cases.

with just a little extra for enjoying tonight.

Nice color...and little sample for the winemaker.

Nice color…and little sample for the winemaker.

I have to say, it’s very satisfying to see my wine in real deal, bona fide wine bottles! Now…how long before I start giving them away? Just a couple weeks until Christmas…maybe hang on to most of them for a year? Oh…and I need to look into labeling. I mean it IS my first wine in corked bottles, after all!

 

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Quickie Update on Little Cider Batch

A quick update: I racked my little half gallon batch of Super Easy Cider, made from White House brand “Fresh Pressed” commercial apple cider.After leaving the trub behind, I was down a cup or two in the jug, so I brought it back up with some additional cider (knowing that it will ferment some more). A very small taste was fairly light on flavor and the alcohol was low. Could be the harvested East Coast Ale Yeast was a little low? Considering additional options. Again, just a couple dollars invested, so who knows?

Just letting the Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout sit for awhile…not noticing any action, but I’m not going to rush this one at all.

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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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Day 136 Peach-Pineapple Tepache

Peach-Pineapple Tepache, ready to ferment.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache, ready to ferment.

I bought some fresh peaches on sale about a week ago and they have been tied in a plastic produce bag and sitting in a basket in the kitchen since then. I went shopping today and got a good price on a pineapple, so guess what? Peach-Pineapple Tepache! Oh yeah, I pretty much gave that away in the title, didn’t I? Oh well, anyway…one of my peaches had already started to rot. so I pulled the pit out and composted the rest. The other five peaches, I peeled. The pits and peels all went into my tepache bucket and all the peach slices went into a bowl of water with a little splash of vinegar and went into the fridge, to eat later. Then I peeled and cored the pineapple and put the peels in the bucket and the fruit into a covered bowl in the fridge for later.

Peach peels and pineapple skins/core.

Peach peels and pineapple skins/core.

Recently, someone on a brewing site thread for tepache that I read, mentioned adding some other spices to his tepache, such as white pepper and coriander seed. I decided that peach might marry well with a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns and a pinch of ground allspice. I also threw in the usual stick of cinnamon and 3 whole cloves. I would have added some coriander, but I didn’t have  any. Also, I was short on the piloncillo raw sugar, so I used some brown sugar and some cinnamon flavored maple syrup.

Maple syrup, flavored with a cinnamon stick.

Maple syrup, flavored with a cinnamon stick.

Piloncillo(raw sugar), brown sugar and maple syrup added to fruit peels and spices.

Piloncillo(raw sugar), brown sugar and maple syrup added to fruit peels and spices.

 

Then it was 8 cups of water, a lid, an airlock and off to ferment! Original recipe said to ferment for 48 hours for this first step. I have learned that I like mine at about 72 hours or slightly longer.

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Day 101 Tepache, a Pineapple Cider/Beer Kind of Thing

Cutting up a pineapple.

Cutting up a pineapple.

I had an exchange awhile back with a guy on an online forum and he introduced me to the idea of making a Tepache. I had never heard of it before. It’s pretty rustic. You ferment pineapple with raw sugar, cinnamon, cloves  for a couple of days and then strain it and add water and a beer, ferment a couple of more days and then chill and serve. I grabbed a recipe off of Pinterest…I’m sure there are plenty of variations out there. This one called for:

1 fresh, ripe Pineapple, cut into chunks

8 cups of Water 20 oz Piloncillo (raw sugar). Brown Sugar is an acceptable substitute.

1 stick Cinnamon and 3 whole Cloves

Cover and leave in a warm place for 48 hours. Strain and add 1 cup of water and 1 beer. Let stand for 12 hours. Strain (Not sure why at this point…maybe it will become obvious or still seem redundant when I get to this point?). Add another cup of water and serve over ice. (I would chill it before putting it over ice.) Bottling? Probably not without pasteurizing it. Here’s the recipe  I started with, for reference…giving credit where due!  www.familyfoodandtravel.com/2013/12/tepache-pineapple-drink.html

 

I started into the recipe and cut up my pineapple. Since I have a fermentation bucket, I decided to use it, instead of a bowl or pitcher. And a lid with an airlock just seemed practical and safe.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

So I added the pineapple, water, cinnamon and cloves to the bucket and I headed to a local Mexican store for the Mexican raw sugar, Piloncillo.

Piloncillo...Mexican raw sugar.

Piloncillo…Mexican raw sugar.

When I went to check out, I spoke to the owner, who was working the register. He strongly advised using the pineapple skins and core only and to NOT use the flesh. “It’s no good.” he said. He was very helpful.   So, I came home and drained my pineapple, peeled the skin and cut off the core from each piece and returned them to the bucket and I put the fruit in the refrigerator to eat later.

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Pineapple skins only...use the flesh for something else!

Pineapple skins only…use the flesh for something else!

The cloves, cinnamon stick and water went back into the bucket. I weighed out and added the piloncillo and stirred it around. It’s going to take awhile to dissolve, I guess, so I popped on the lid and airlock and will check on it later to stir and see that the sugar dissolves.

Ready to ferment...just need to get that sugar dissolved.

Ready to ferment…just need to get that sugar dissolved.

In a couple of days, strain, add some water and a beer, another 12 hours and done. Note that there is no added yeast in the recipe. There is also no campden tablet to kill off anything, so the fermentation will occur with whatever is “resident”.  A little scary, but we are going to give it a shot. Now, for comparison, the Mexican store owner had a commercial bottled version on hand, so I bought a bottle. It isn’t alcoholic, but it should give me an idea of what I shooting for. I opened and poured the tepache into a beer glass. The flavor is pleasant and tastes of pineapple and brown sugar…no surprise there, I guess. It is, however, VERY sweet.

So sweet...needs beer!

So sweet…needs beer!

A commercial version, "Tepachito", non-alcoholic.

A commercial version, “Tepachito”, non-alcoholic.

So, I drank half of it, grabbed a bottle of my American Wheat Citra Citrus and I topped off the glass. Voila!…did I just create Mateo’s Tepache Shandy? Why yes…yes I did!  Anyway, still a tad sweet, but it’s much better. That’s it for tonight…now for the wait. But this is a shorter process than I’m used to. I should be drinking this batch this weekend!

Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

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Day 74 American Wheat Still in Secondary, Tasting Murray’s

I still have my American Wheat with Citrus/Citra in secondary sitting on dried sweet orange peel and rum soaked lemon zest. I am planning on letting that go another week.

The highlight tonight is tasting Murray’s Super Easy Cider for the first time. I fermented a half gallon (in the glass carboy in came in) and got a 12 oz bottle and two 22 oz bottles out of it. The ABV is around 5-1/4%. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a little carb release upon opening the bottle! At this point, the cider has been in the bottle for about 3 weeks. The color is nice and golden, the clarity is great, and the flavor is fairly sweet with a bunch of apple flavor.

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

The carb is light, but present and the cider is dangerously easy to drink! The aroma is straight apple cider and the flavor barely tastes fermented. I will be doing more of this and multiple jugs at a time!  It is literally about sanitizing equipment and pitching yeast. Add an airlock and a week and …boom! Rack for a couple days and bottle. Love it!

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Day 57 Murray’s Cider Quick & Easy

The Belgian Dark Strong continues to slow…may be bottling by Sunday. Pineapple Tinker is sitting and clearing…just going to let it go for awhile. The main event today is a Murray’s Cider Quick and Easy (Hopefully!).  Here’s how it goes: Buy 1/2 gallon carboy of Murray’s Cider at Harris Teeter for $5.99. Sanitize thief, hydrometer, airlock, and around the bottle cap. Open the bottle, check the OG with thief and hydrometer, pitch (pour in) Safale s-04 yeast and install airlock. Boom! Done!

Sanitize everything! I used a no-rinse solution.

Sanitize everything! I used a no-rinse solution.

Let’s hope this “Q&E Cider” goes as planned. If so, it is the easiest ferment EVER! Murray’s Cider comes in a 1/2 gallon, clear carboy and the cider is pasteurized, but contains no preservatives. So, no Campden tablets…no sulfites! I had a partial envelope of Safale s-04 yeast vacuum sealed  in the refrigerator. I didn’t measure it, but I seem to recall that this was about 1/4 envelope. It should be plenty for a half gallon of cider.

It's just that easy...I hope!

It’s just that easy…I hope!

The OG was 1.050 at 70F room temperature. Adjusting for hydrometer calibration would make it 1.051. I don’t know if I’m going to try and carb this one or not. I may just go as simple as possible for this first one, for the sake of seeing just how simple it can be. If the SG gets down to 1.010, then the ABV would be 5.38% and should be nice and clear, because the only thing added is a small amount of yeast to an already clear, golden cider.

Okay…wee hours and I should be sleeping. Hey, it’s Friday night and I caught a little nap after dinner! I opened a chilled 22 oz bottle of my Crabapple/Fuji Blend Cider and it is VERY drinkable.

Crabapple-Fuji Blend Cider...very drinkable!

Crabapple-Fuji Blend Cider…very drinkable!

As I have written before, I had hoped for more sparkle, but everything else about this cider is just what I wanted…the right color, the right level of sweetness. I can’t remember the ABV %, but I could look it up in my notes. Whatever it is, it’s not burning or harsh and otherwise isn’t important…but it’s in there. The slight carb doesn’t really present itself in the pour or the glass, but you can just sense it in the mouth. A small tweak next year could make this awesome, but it is very good as is!

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