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Racking Muscadine-Blueberry Wine

Racking wine to secondary fermentation.

Racking wine to secondary fermentation.

I’ve let the muscadine-blueberry wine go as long as I want now, so I racked it to a carboy tonight. It was in a bottling bucket for primary fermentation, so I tried to pull a sample from the spout to test the SG, but there was too much trub. To rack, I had to use a siphon and penetrate the fruit layer.

I added a crushed Campden Tablet to the carboy and started the racking process. The Campden will hopefully start knocking off the yeast that’s still active. I did get a sample and the SG is at 0.991 (0.990 @70.3F)…I would think the yeast would be done!

SG reading

SG reading

But there is still some airlock activity. After racking, it looks a little lower in volume than I thought, but there was about 14 pounds of fruit, so it shouldn’t be surprising.

A little below volume, but high on alcohol, so I added a gallon of bottled water.

A little below volume, but high on alcohol, so I added a gallon of bottled water. (This is before water addition.)

I decided to add another gallon of Culligan water with a crushed Campden Tablet to bump the volume a little. The ABV is 15.75%, prior to the water addition, so I’m not worried about diluting it a little! The color and flavor are nice, so a couple more months of racking and then a few more in the bottles and I think it will be pretty good.

Looking good...dry, but not bone dry.

Looking good…dry, but not bone dry.

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Update on Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry Citra Ale: Infection!

This is what infection looks like...damn it.

This is what infection looks like…damn it.

Well, I have my first confirmed infected beer. After racking the Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale, I noticed some patches on the surface the next day. Then, the following day, there was a complete film (a.k.a. “Pellicle”) covering the surface. I confirmed that it was on the small blackberry batch, as well.

What caused the infection? I don’t know. A fruit fly touching the beer during racking? A microscopic particle drifting in? Cherries weren’t properly sanitized? Sloppiness when transferring wort from kettle to fermenter? No way to know really. From what I understand, there are a few possible outcomes. I could put it in an out of the way place and let it go for a couple of years and hope that the infection is Brettanomyces strain and would slowly transform my beer into a mindblowing sour beer. It could be an acetobacter (commonly from fruit flies) that would basically turn the beer into vinegar. It could be something yucky than would just turn the beer into something disgusting. Finally, I could go ahead and try to siphon from under the pellicle and bottle the beer ASAP and cross my fingers. The eventual outcome could still be nasty, or it could be good initially and go downhill. Or it could get better with age. Again…no way to tell in advance. So, I’m going to bottle it. The next step, after that, will be replacing my siphon and tubing and bleaching the Hell out of my carboy and bottling bucket, and hoping to salvage them. Some say it should all be thrown away or only be used for sour beers. Others say bleaching works.

I was almost out of 12 oz bottles, but I have some 22 oz “bombers”, so I went ahead and bottled the little blackberry batch into 2 of those and one 12 oz. The beer seemed to taste okay still. Luckily, a brewer friend had a couple of cases of bottles that she gave to me…saving me a trip to the supply store and about $35 for 2 cases of bottles! So, bottling will be my project tonight. I’ll update later….

***Okay…it’s later. I bleached all my utensils and the bottling bucket, rinsed well and then sanitized again with Starsan. The bottles, I soaked in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda solution, rinsed well, and then sanitized with Starsan.I went transferred the beer to the bottling bucket with 3oz sugar dissolved in hot Culligan water. I collected 4 gallons to bottle. I tried to stop well before any of the stuff from the pellicle got too low. As the volume in the carboy dropped, the pellicle coated the sides.

The clarity and color were nice though...dang it!

The clarity and color were nice though…dang it!

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

I went through the bottling process and got 42 bottles (12oz). The beer is clear, the color is nice, the flavor is good. If it weren’t for the infection, I would have been really happy at this point! It is depressing though that the few bottles I did yesterday from the little blackberry variant were cloudy at the bottom and may have had some stuff floating at the top. It could be that it just had more crap in the smaller bucket and I wasn’t as careful getting it into the bottles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the main batch. I had intended to go light on the priming sugar, but I overestimated how much beer I would collect; so it turns out that I added the amount of sugar that would have been recommended anyway…though I was shooting for 2.2 atmospheres, which is a little under. I will have to watch for overcarbing.

Update 9/10/15: Refrigerated a bottle all day and opened it last night. Not carbed enough. I’m not sure it’s good enough to save, but I’ll give it a couple more weeks.

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Bottling Jackfruit Cider

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Time to bottle the jackfruit cider…or wine…or whatever it is. I started this project on June 2, 2015. I transferred the cider (for lack of better classification) to a small bucket, to combine from the 2-one gallon jugs and 1-half-full 1/2 gallon jug.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

To that, I added 2 oz of sugar…maybe it will have enough yeast in suspension to carbonate, with enough time.

The color is a nice, light golden. It’s nice and clear, too. The flavor is, well…interesting. It’s pretty dry. It will be fun to see what this is like in a couple more months. The FG wound up at 0.990, down from an OG of 1.083, so that gives it a 12.21% ABV. Wowza!

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

Checking the final gravity.

Checking the final gravity.

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Racking to Tertiary: Mowing Mt. Ranier

Racking to tertiary for clearing.

Racking to tertiary for clearing.

Looks like the Mowing Mt. Ranier Ale, Cherry-Citra “lawnmower beer” is done with secondary fermentation and dry hopping. I let it go a couple of extra days, just in case, because the cherries in secondary DID restart fermentation.

Secondary-fermented red cherries...giving up flavor and color.

Secondary-fermented red cherries…giving up flavor and color.

Once the small amount of krausen worked itself out, much of it precipitated to the bottom, just leaving the cherries floating. (Note: my little 1/2 gallon blackberry recipe looks good, too and I racked it as well. Not as much color imparted by the blackberries, but the flavor is interesting…good.)

After settling under refrigeration, the blackberry sample.

After settling under refrigeration, the blackberry sample.

Racked my little blackberry batch, too.

Racked my little blackberry batch, too.

The red cherries did impart some color that I would not have gotten if I had used all Mt. Ranier cherries; however, it IS a nice color. I removed a sample for tasting and to get an SG reading. The color, as I said, is nice. The flavor has pronounced cherry and citra, without being sweet or heavy.

Transferred back to clean carboy to clear for a couple of days.

Transferred back to clean carboy to clear for a couple of days.

Sample of Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale

Sample of Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale

The SG got down to 1.007, so the alcohol should be 4.73% ABV. That’s actually a little lower than the recipe estimated, but I’m actually very happy with that.

I cleaned and sanitized a bottling bucket and racked into it. I dumped the cherries, hops bag, and the small amount of trub that made it through the last racking. I washed, rinsed, and sanitized the carboy again and transferred the beer back into it. Looks good…pretty clear. I’ll give it a couple of days to settle and then it should be good to bottle.

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First “Official” Taste of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

Test bottle of Yooper's Oatmeal Stout at 13 days.

Test bottle of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout at 13 days.

Yesterday, I opened the “tester” bottle of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout (the plain version). I bottled it 12 days previous, so this was basically a carbonation test and to see where things are. Obviously, the carb is going to develope more…I know, because I used too much priming sugar at bottling and it’s undercarbed currently…and no head, to speak of. There may be a little “twang” in the flavor. Otherwise, I think it’s pretty solid and I think another 3 or 4 weeks and it should be much better. Mouthfeel and body are very good …nice aroma.

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Racking Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout

Equipment for racking

Equipment for racking

Racking time for Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout. Because there is trub, grated ginger, spices and half a vanilla bean in the mix, I’m filtering out any bigger particles with a santized nylon mesh bag. I tied the bag onto the tip of the siphon’s tube.

Filter bag tied in place.

Filter bag tied in place.

The racking went smoothly. I was considering bottling today; however, I though I saw a bubble in the airlock after I finished racking and sealed the new container. I’m going to give it some more time, just because I don’t want to rush it.

I did take a hydrometer sample and the SG is actually below the regular stout that I already bottled. A little nervous about that, but there is more going on here that can account for it. The original version finished at 1.019 and the gingerbread version is at 1.016.

Hydrometer sample. 1.015 @ 70F=1.016

Hydrometer sample. 1.015 @ 70F=1.016

The color is a little light for the style, but not a problem for me…it’s not going into a competition. The clarity looks pretty good. Currently, the aroma is strong fresh ginger. The flavor is initially dominated by the fresh ginger, too. The flavor turns more gingerbread in the finish. It’s not sweet…which is good. I didn’t want to create a sweet beer. I believe there is potential for a nice brew here. I think the ginger will fall back with age and bottle conditioning and allow the vanilla and other spice notes to come through.

Sippin' sample!

Sippin’ sample!

A little more trub in the bucket than I expected…smell was amazing, though!

Trub, ginger, spices, vanilla bean half.

Trub, ginger, spices, vanilla bean half.

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Racking Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

Racking between bottling buckets that I use for fermentation.

Racking between bottling buckets that I use for fermentation.

I racked my 3 .25 gallons of Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout today (the plain portion of the batch, not the gingerbread flavored portion). After racking, I have a little under 3 gallons…I’ll call it 2.9 gallons, for the sake of argument. I could have gotten 3 gallons, but I wanted to be safe and avoid any seditment. So, I wound up with enough for a good hydrometer sample to check the specific gravity and a nice glass to stick in the refrigerator to sample for evaluation.

Hydrometer reading.

Hydrometer reading.

Glass of uncarbed beer to evaluate.

Glass of uncarbed beer to evaluate.

The color seems like it may more of a very dark brown, rather than black. I think the aroma and flavor are good; however, I have a bit of a sinus problem at the moment and my senses of taste and smell are somewhat muted. The body seems good. What I can tell about the flavor seems pretty smooth.

The hydrometer is reading 1.020 and the thermometer is at 73F. Unfortunately, my digital thermometer stopped working recently.

Dial thermometer reading of the hydrometer sample.

Dial thermometer reading of the hydrometer sample.

According to this readng, the SG is 1.021, however, the last reading was 1.019 and I’m pretty sure it didn’t actually go up! I tested the thermometer accuracy using a glass of mostly ice and a little water and it looked like it was right on 33F, so it should be good. Maybe I just didn’t check it as carefully last time…or I might have used another dial thermometer that I didn’t test.

I’m thinking I will bottle this over the weekend. I think I will go a little under the recommended amount of corn sugar on this batch. I have had some batches that over carbed and I don’t want that to happen to my stout!  I’m planning to rack the gingerbread flavored portion then and letting it go for another week…maybe two. I’m not going to rush it, but I am looking forward to it! Because of the bits of ginger in the beer, I think I’ll put a little mesh bag on the end of the racking cane to filter the beer.

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