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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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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 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 46. Fawlty Brown Ale is just right!

It has been 1 month and 1 day since bottling the Fawlty Brown Ale and its carb level is perfect! Too bad I only have a couple of bottles left! My family isn’t a bunch of drinkers and they drink even less as time goes on. I didn’t have many helpers drinking my first brew at Thanksgiving…but I drank several over the course of the week. I think I’ve had one or two since then. Anyway, I’m down to four bottles just as it really hits its prime! It was tasty, but a little undercarbonated at Thanksgiving. Now, it’s just right on the carb. I’m not the educated palate that many brewers are, but I’m very pleased with this English Nut Brown Ale! I will definitely be making this one again and forcing myself to leave it alone for a month.

A month and a day since bottling is just right for this beer!

A month and a day since bottling is just right for this beer!

Oh yeah…the fruity bits layer on the Pineapple Tinker is starting to fall and create a layer on the bottom again. I’m assuming that this will continue and in a couple of days I will be racking for secondary. Fermenting in glass has been really interesting!

Having another Watson’s Cider…love the sweetness level and carbonation, but I really should have allowed another day or two to clarify. I was just too scared that it would ferment too dry. Instead, I’ve got more sediment in the bottles than I should and there’s a yeasty flavor in the cider. Not enough so that I won’t drink it, though!

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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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Day 43 Fermentation Beginning for Big Dark, Pineapple Tinker

Funny, I just decided I should call my pineapple melomel “Pineapple Tinker”. I have added an additional 5 oz of honey and 3 oz of white sugar mixed with 8 oz of hot water to dissolve. I added that to a 1 gallon carboy, then shook the existing juice mix and funneled it into the 1 gallon carboy. I then added another 4 cups of water, shook that and topped with the airlock.

Sized up to a 1 gallon carboy for fermentation.

Sized up to a 1 gallon carboy for fermentation.

When this ferments and is ready for racking, I should get a little more that 1/2 gallon. I’m hoping to bottle a 1/2 gallon after perhaps a 3rd racking for clarity. This will also be my first experience with fermenting in glass, so I’ll be able to view the process. I’ll be pitching the yeast tonight. The OG is now 1.110 @69F  room temp, more like what I was expecting for this melomel. I took a digital temperature of the juice and it is currently 76F. I’m not sure if that is more accurate for figuring the OG? It doesn’t make a huge difference. The ABV calculator comes up with either 11.29% or 11.42%, if the projected FG of 1.025 is attained. I’m going to go back to my recipe builder and adjust for the fermentables that I added and see if it changes much. I added 8 oz of white sugar to the recipe calculation last night, but it was actually 3 oz sugar and 5 oz honey. Same volume, just different make-up.

Starting to settle in the 1 gallon carboy

Starting to settle in the 1 gallon carboy

Oh! And the Big Dark is fermenting! I saw bubbles at about 12 second intervals. I’m going to need some bottles soon!

12:00 Checked the SG on the Big Dark stout and got a reading of 1.111 adjusted to 1.112! Holy crap!!! What happened yesterday that I got 1.047 and today, I get 1.112?! Yesterday, the wort had a good bitterness. Today, it isn’t bitter at all and is very malty sweet. I don’t know what happened, but it will be interesting to see how this ferments out and where the ABV settles. Maybe a long bottle conditioning period will be in order?

Sample of Big Dark...very sweet currently.

Sample of Big Dark…very sweet currently.

8:00 pm   Checked the SG on the Pineapple melomel at 1.142, after a good mix. Pitched just shy of 3 grams of Safale s-04 yeast that was bloomed in a little warm water.

Blooming the yeast

Blooming the yeast

Shook up again and replaced the airlock. Let the ferment begin!

Yeast pitched, contents shaken, not stirred.

Yeast pitched, contents shaken, not stirred.

The Big Dark in PFB is bubbling vigorously. The interval is irregular, but when it goes, 3 or 4 bubbles go at once.

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