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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 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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Day 81 Racking the Blondes!

Racking from PFB to secondary glass carboy.

Racking from PFB to secondary glass carboy.

I started off the day with some cleaning and sanitizing chores and had my blondes racked to secondary before 10 a.m. I opened the box with my new 6 gallon glass carboy in it, took it out, washed it and sanitized it. Next, I fitted it with the nylon brew carrier and prepared an airlock.

For the strawberry blonde, I sanitized around the airlock and I prepared a hose to fit the spigot (primary fermentation was done in a bottling bucket). With the strawberry blonde on a table and the new carboy on the floor, I attached the hose to the spigot and dropped the other end down in the glass carboy. Next, I removed the airlock from the lid of the bottling bucket, so a vacuum would not be created. I opened the spigot and let the strawberry blonde flow into the carboy.

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I do like seeing the liquid in the glass…last time was with my little pineapple experiment, “Pineapple Tinker”…which is still bottle conditioning. The convenience of the spigot on the bottling bucket is nice, but siphoning isn’t so bad.

Strawberry blonde, racked to secondary for clarification.

Strawberry blonde, racked to secondary for clarification.

The strawberry blonde has an interesting pinkish color to it; however, it is very murky at this point. I am very interested in what the beer will look like when it (hopefully) clears. I did manage a sample to double check the SG and it is dead on 1.010 according to the hydrometer, so that should be an FG of 1.011 with adjustment for temperature, assuming no further fermentation in secondary.  Never one to pass the opportunity to taste a hydrometer sample, I indulged to further educate my beginner’s palate! The flavor is…interesting, at this point. I would not expect a burst of fresh strawberry flavor. It definitely tastes of fermented fruit…sort of  a musty, winey flavor. From what I have read from other’s experiences, I’m hopeful that this flavor will clean up and back down a little with clarification and bottle conditioning. I do get some hop bitterness, but not overpowering…it’s there right at the front and then again in the finish. I think I’m getting kind of a strawberry jam-like aroma…nice.

The trub in the strawberry blonde PFB looked nasty…but then, they always do. This batch with the strawberries, though, was weird…it was like a strawberry vampire had sucked the color out of them!

Mmm...fermented strawberries!

Mmm…fermented strawberries!

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After some cleaning chores to finish up the strawberry blonde process for today, I turned my attention to the “Plain Jane” blonde. For this one, I prepared and sanitized another 2 gallon primary fermentation bucket (PFB) and airlock. I also sanitized a hose and my siphon, since there is no spigot on the PFB’s. When I opened the bucket, the plain blonde was, not unexpectedly, more clear than the strawberry blonde.

Plain Jane Blonde in PFB

Plain Jane Blonde in PFB

I siphoned into the new PFB and noted that the color looked good. Being an extract brew, it is a dirty blonde…but who doesn’t like their blonde to be dirty? (Ahem) Moving along. I am missing my little racking tip that helps keep the end of the siphon tube off of the bottom of the bucket, so I had to be careful not to pick up any trub off the bottom. Thankfully, the trub (lees?) was pretty thick and settled. Would it be the correct use of the terminology to say that the trub had excellent “flocculation”? Anyway, siphoning was a snap and i was able to drag my finger through about 1/3 to 1/2 in sludge on the bottom without the path collapsing on itself for several seconds.

Plain Jane trub

Plain Jane trub

I did not want to waste any of this beer on hydrometer sampling, since it’s only about a gallon and a half, but it looked and smelled good. Sealed the lid and installed the airlock and finished my clean-up duties.

I’m betting that the strawberry blonde will take longer to clear than Plain Jane, but I will probably wait to bottle them both at the same time, for convenience. Stay tuned! Next brew will be a Chocolate Milk Stout with Costa Rican cocoa nibs and husks and lactose.

7:45 p.m.   Drinking a Citra Citrus American Wheat. This has got to be my greatest addition to the world of brewing to date! Everything is just right…aroma, color, bitterness, citrus …everything. This one MUST be done again. Soon.

Citra Citrus American Wheat...oh YES!!!

Citra Citrus American Wheat…oh YES!!!

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Day 77 Goosing the Strawberry Blonde and Bottling the Wheat Citra Citrus

Opened strawberry blonde after 24 hours to inspect. (I drew off the gallon for DME addition from the spigot.)

Opened strawberry blonde to add DME wort. (I drew off the gallon for DME boil from the spigot.)

A busy day today. On the recommendation of some people on http://www.homebrewtalk.com, I decided to make a run back to the brew shop and get some dry malt extract (DME) to bump the specific gravity of the strawberry blonde and plain blonde brews that I did yesterday. The specific gravity was 1.034 at 75F (1.035)…well below the target of 1.053. I’ve done this enough now that I think I’m taking the measurement correctly and it could be due to the higher volume that I wound up with…a total of about 7-1/2 gallons. There’s 1-1/2 gallons of plain blonde ale and about 6 gallons of strawberry blonde (including the 6lbs of strawberries). As of late morning, the main bucket was gurgling nicely and the blow off is seeing some action, but not out of control. The plain blonde in the small bucket is just starting to see some action.

At the home brew shop, they crunched the number for me and concurred that 3 lbs of DME should put me back on target and, using some of the existing wort, will lover my yeast count a little, but will keep me from increasing the already high volume in the main bucket.

So, at home again, I sanitized a 1 quart measure and removed a gallon of wort form the strawberry blonde. I put the wort into a stock pot and brought it to a boil. I added the DME, while stirring, until it was dissolved and incorporated. Watching carefully for boil over, I boiled for 15 minutes.

Drew off 1 gallon of strawberry blonde wort. Added 3 lbs DME at boil.

Drew off 1 gallon of strawberry blonde wort. Added 3 lbs DME at boil.

I skimmed off a few suds and then chilled the DME wort to 75F in an ice bath in the kitchen sink.

Ice bath chill.

Ice bath chill.

I measured the wort at 17 cups and divided that between a total of 7-1/2 gallons of wort (I just realized that I didn’t account for the gallon that I took out…dang. Shouldn’t matter too much, though.). I put 13-1/2 cups of the DME wort into the strawberry blonde fermentation bucket and 3-1/2 cups in the plain blonde bucket. The only problem is that the SG …what I will be using for my OG is still under what we worked out. It is just 1.040 @ 75F (1.041)…and I’m second guessing my abilities on the hydrometer reading thing. If I’m accurate though, and I attain the 1.010 that is estimated, then the ABV will be 4.07%. It’s not optimal, but it is acceptable. The sample looked and tasted pretty nice.

Strawberry blonde hydrometer sample

Strawberry blonde hydrometer sample

A little muddy at this point, but I think fermentation and the process will clear it up nicely.  Cleaned up and prepared for bottling my American Wheat Citra Citrus. The fermentation resumed pretty quickly on the blonde ales.

Blow off action.

Blow off action.

On to the bottling…all the usual bottle washing/sanitizing, equipment sanitizing. I’m using some of my newly acquired bottles.

Nice, clean bottles.

Nice, clean bottles.

Thankfully, they are in decent boxes with six-pack holders for dividers. The box flaps and handles are in a little rough shape on some, but not destroyed…definitely usable. I could use an empty bottle box or two for the loose bottles that I have. I should ask at the brew shop if they sell the boxes only, next time I go there.

Anyway, the bottling went smoothly. I filled a case and capped it and then did the second one and capped it. I did get a yield of exactly two cases…the last bottle was a struggle.

First case of the American Wheat Citra Citrus.

First case of the American Wheat Citra Citrus.

I marked it, just in case it had any trub in it. Because I racked pretty carefully a couple of days ago though, it was all rather clear.

Nice and clear American Wheat Citra Citrus...ready to bottle.

Nice and clear American Wheat Citra Citrus…ready to bottle.

The color looks good…a little dark, but it IS an extract recipe, so that’s expected. The flavor has a great citrus punch with a really nice hop bitterness…not overpowering, though.

Sample of American Wheat Citra Citrus...very encouraged!

Sample of American Wheat Citra Citrus…very encouraged!

And the aroma is a-maz-ing!!! The combination of the citra hops late additions and the citrus work very well together! I am VERY much looking forward to the first bottle of this batch! I didn’t check the SG before bottling, but I did check it at the final racking and I don’t think it would have changed since then. It was 1.010@72F (1.011) at that time. I’m going with that as the FG. The OG was 1.044@75F (1.045), so the ABV would be 4.46%, which is very close to the estimated 4.4% ABV.

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Day 72 Moving American Wheat to Secondary

Nine days after brewing and my citrus infused American Wheat is ready to be transferred to secondary with some additional citrus.

Opening after 9 days in primary

Opening after 9 days in primary

In addition to 1/2 oz of dried sweet orange peel at 2 mins. left in the boil, I’m going to add another 1/2 oz in secondary along with the zest from a large lemon that has been soaking in the refrigerator, in about 1/3 c. white Bacardi rum, for the last 9 days. The rum will also go in.

Racking onto the dries peel, lemon zest and rum.

Racking onto the dried peel, lemon zest and rum.

Dried sweet orange peel and zest from one lemon soaked in 1/3 c. bacardi white run.

Dried sweet orange peel and zest from one lemon soaked in 1/3 c. bacardi white run.

I checked the gravity and the FG is 1.010 at 65 F, so the ABV should be about 4.46%. The sample flavor is nice…I’m looking forward to this one!

Nice color!

Nice color!

Final Gravity is 1.010 and 4.46% ABV.

Final Gravity is 1.010 and 4.46% ABV.

The Cascade hops give a nice bite, but not overpowering. The Citra hops and orange are reinforcing each other in the aroma and flavor. A couple of weeks in secondary and another couple in the bottle and I’m hoping it’s all going to come together nicely for an awesome brew!

Nice color. A little bitter. A good amount of citrus in the aroma and flavor...and more on the way!

Nice color. A little bitter. A good amount of citrus in the aroma and flavor…and more on the way!

Racking...currently, just under 5 gallons.

Racking…currently, just under 5 gallons.

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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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