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.


Day 154 Brew Day! Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale

Samhain label...no artist to credit, but it's beautiful!    Not for sale, so I guess it's okay.

Samhain label…no artist to credit, but it’s beautiful! Not for sale, so I guess it’s okay.

After I picked up a new oxygen canister and some bags of ice, I set up for brewing my Scottish Pumpkin Ale that I’m calling “Samhain”, which is the Celtic version of Halloween and is pronounced “so-win”.

The recipe is a modification of a Scottish Ale recipe from a member at www.Homebrewtalk.com. I put the recipe together like this (but note the changes as I brewed!):

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale

Original Gravity: 1.068 Final Gravity: 1.019 ABV (standard): 6.49%

IBU (tinseth): 30.47 SRM (morey): 19.58


Amount Fermentable PPG °L Bill %

14 lb United Kingdom – Maris Otter Pale 38 3.75 73.7%

1 lb American – Caramel / Crystal 80L 33 80 5.3%

0.75 lb United Kingdom – Brown 32 65 3.9%

4 oz Molasses 36 80 1.3%

3 lb Dry Malt Extract – Light 42 4 15.8%***

19 lb Total


Amount Variety Type AA Use Time IBU

1 oz East Kent Goldings Pellet 5 Boil 60 min 19.79

0.5 oz Fuggles Pellet 4.5 Boil 60 min 8.91

0.5 oz Fuggles Pellet 4.5 Boil 5 min 1.78

Hops Summary

Amount Variety Type

1 oz East Kent Goldings Pellet 5

1 oz Fuggles Pellet 4.5

Mash Guidelines

Amount Description Type Temp Time

5.5 gal BIAB Infusion 158 F 60 min

2 gal modified sparge Fly Sparge 168 F —

Other Ingredients

Amount Name Type Use Time

29 oz Pumpkin, canned, roasted 30 minutes at 425F,  Boil 15 min

29 oz Pumpkin, canned, roasted Other Secondary 0 min

2 tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice Spice Boil 0 min

1 each Vanilla Bean, split Flavor Secondary —

2 oz Vodka, to soak vanilla bean Other Secondary —


White Labs – Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast WLP028

Attenuation (avg): 72.5% Flocculation: Medium

Optimum Temp: 65 – 70 °F Starter: Yes

Fermentation Temp: 70 °F Pitch Rate: 1.25 (M cells / ml / ° P)

393 B cells required (Guess…I have no experience calculating this.)


Method: Corn Sugar CO2 Level: 2.4 Volumes

Target Water Profile: Cary Town Water

Method: BIAB

Style: Holiday/Winter Special Spiced Beer

Boil Time: 60 min

Batch Size: 5 gallons (fermentor volume)

Boil Size: 7.5 gallons

Boil Gravity: 1.045 (recipe based estimate)

Efficiency: 35% (brew house)*** 

Source: Matt Miller

Non-grain fermentables added at 60 minutes.

Irish Moss added at 15 minutes.


***So, there were a couple of issues that required some changes. The efficiency that was the default in the recipe builder for Brew in a Bag (BIAB) brewing was 34%  and I evidently get double that.

Sparging...kind of.

Sparging…kind of.

Set up for a rigged "sparge". Seems to do the job.

Set up for a rigged “sparge”. Seems to do the job.

After the mash, I had an SG of 1.075, which was already better than projected and I had not yet added the 3 lbs of DME I thought I would need to add to the boil…so I omitted it entirely.

The process went smoothly. If anyone is interested, there are other posts that go through the process. The color is really nice!

Nice color!

Nice color!

Sorry the photos aren’t better…*someone* took my camera to use at a Demi Lovato concert and didn’t bring it back in time. I had to use my phone’s camera. I did chill the wort down to 76F, using an ice bath.

Ice bath chill

Ice bath chill

Then I pulled a sample, oxygenated the wort for 2 minutes using a sanitized oxygen canister and “oxygen stone” set-up and pitched my Edinburgh Ale Yeast (that I harvested from a previous batch of cider). I had prepared a starter for the yeast in advance and it was very active. I don’t have experience with “pitch rates”, but I believe I have plenty of yeast cells for the job. Since the volume I wound up with is about 6 gallons, in a standard fermentation bucket, and I have seen this yeast ferment very aggressively, I went ahead and set up a blow-off tube  to keep from fouling the airlock.  The yeast was pitched around 5:10 pm. As of 9:45 pm, I’m hearing a little action in the blow-off tube.

Blow-off tube.

Blow-off tube.

Now, aside from the process, let’s talk about the sights, smells, and flavors! I made my own pumpkin pie spice blend, using cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. I did freshly grate the nutmeg. Also, the ginger has been around along time, so I supplemented it with a little grated fresh ginger. I roasted a can of Libby’s Pumpkin, spread on some parchment paper, on a baking sheet, at 425F for about 30 minutes. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it picked up a few dark spots from caramelization and lost a lot of water. I kept the pumpkin in a sanitized storage container until I was ready for it.

Roasted, canned pumpkin

Roasted, canned pumpkin

The wort took on a great brown color with a dark orange-ish shade to it. Really nice! And the aroma and flavor from the pumpkin and spices are very good, too. I think this is going to be a VERY good beer.

Using the hydrometer sample, the OG came in at 1.083 and, if the attenuation rate is accurate, the ABV will be 7.91%; however, in my experience, the SG isn’t going to stop at 1.023…so, the ABV will likely be over 8%. And, this sample was also the basis for the flavor and color evaluations.

Hydrometer sample...settling a little.

Hydrometer sample…settling a little.

An update on the ciders and muscadine wine: the wine is basically bulk aging and clearing nicely. I’ll eventually rack it…maybe a couple more weeks, and let it go a few months, before I bottle it. The Caramel Cider made with crab apples and Cripps apples is pretty much bulk, aging as well. It did have a little airlock activity going on for a while after racking…not regular or often, though. It has almost stopped now, I think, so I’ll probably rack that a final time in about a week. Maybe bottling in two weeks. The crab apple, pear and Cripps apples cider…no name for it yet…is still bubbling pretty regularly in the airlock. It probably won’t be bottled for a month.

I think I’m learning that it pays to take a little extra time. Excess sediment in the bottom of bottles seems to be messing with my carbonation after bottles have been around for a couple of months. And I like my ciders to have very good clarity…not as huge a deal for all beers, but some. (For instance, wheat beers are actually supposed to be a little hazy.) So, slow down…get it right. Give it another week. It can only help!

Update: 9/15/14  Getting very good action in the blow-off on the Samhain Pumpkin Ale. It hasn’t fouled and it isn’t quite what I have heard some describe as “Rhino farts”, but it is almost constant bubbling.

Update:  9/15/14  Opened the test bottle of the caramel cider to see what it’s doing. No carb at all. The ABV is a hefty 10.89%, though and the flavor is nice. Color is good. Finished product will be more clear.  Alcohol may have pushed the Edinburgh Ale yeast past its tolerance…may have to explore options, if I want to carb.

Caramel Cider tester bottle...no carb; lots of alcohol.

Caramel Cider tester bottle…no carb; lots of alcohol.


Day 147 Bottling Fermented Ginger Beer, Picking Crab Apples, Wine & Cider Updates


10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

This little project has been a real pain in the butt! From the heating pad to off the heating pad. From adding Champagne yeast to moving it on the heating pad and overheating it and killing the yeast to pitching more yeast…yadda, yadda, yadda. And the SG doesn’t make sense…it’s went from 1.061 to 1.030 to 1.34 to 1.036…and then it reads 1.022 and starts floating up, slowly,  to 1.036. I even tried my back up hydrometer and it did the same. I’m tired of screwing around with it. I decided to bottle it and be done with it. My best guess is that the ABV is around 3.0 to 3.25%, but who knows?! Tomorrow night I’ll check the carb and pasteurize the bottles if they are ready. The gallon yielded 10 bottles and I may have to sacrifice one for the carb check.  Whew!

The wine continues to chug along very regularly. I opened the lid and stirred down the bag of crushed grapes. There was lots of sparkly effervescence and the color is a bright red, but not a deep, dark color and certainly not clear. It appears to be right on track, though.

Stirring the wine...snap, crackle, pop!

Stirring the wine…snap, crackle, pop!

My neighbor that has the remaining crab apple tree called and told me to come pick some more today, because they are having them pruned tomorrow and the ones that are easy to reach now will be gone. So I took a 5 gallon bucket over and almost filled it. Based on yesterday’s 2 gallon bucket weighing almost 13 pounds, I’m guesstimating that I have around 30 pounds…quite possibly more.

Big bucket o'crabs!

Big bucket o’crabs!

Maybe I’ll get around to weighing them tomorrow. I may need to find a more efficient way to extract the juice…my little countertop extractor can only handle so much.

As for the batch of cider already underway…

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

…I’m waiting for the Edinburgh Ale Yeast starter to be ready. I stuck it in the refrigerator tonight and should be able to pour off the DME “wort” and pitch it in the morning. I’ll get the OG before adding the yeast, throw in some cinnamon and cloves…maybe a little molasses, if it can stand it. Pink Cripps and Crab Apples. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.


Day 145 More Spent Grain Dog Treats, Ginger Beer Update

Spent Grain Dog Treats and a pile of "crumbles".

Spent Grain Dog Treats and a pile of “crumbles”.

Today, I removed a big bag of spent beer grains from the freezer and put the frozen block on a sheet pan in the oven at 250F. After awhile, I was able to scrape a bunch off of the block…enough to spread out an cover the pan with a good layer. The rest of the block went back in the freezer. I let the grain go for some time, but wasn’t really timing it. It still had some moisture, but it wasn’t very wet.  I let that cool before proceeding with the recipe.

Rather than locating my original recipe, I followed a similar one that I found, but I didn’t check my previous notes…or I would have seen the instructions to wring out excess moisture from the grain through cheesecloth. The recipe was the same otherwise, except for the addition of 1/3 cup honey. Here’s a link to my original post: https://mmmbrews.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/extra-edition-spent-grain-doggie-treats/

The recipe instructions I used today recommended a dough hook attachment to mix the ingredients…it turns out that the batter beater would have done a better job. Even with scraping the sides, there was a little unevenness in the mixing. Because I had baked out a little too much of the grain’s moisture, the “dough” was a little too dry. I pressed it into the pan on top of some parchment paper, scored it and baked at 350F for 45 minutes. It is then supposed to be broken apart and baked another hour or more at 200F until it’s dry. Again, because the grain was fairly dry already, this batch came out done! Unfortunately it’s a bit crumbly…I have a little pile of loose stuff. The honey addition and the crunchiness made it more granola-like…and, yes, I tasted it. A few times. Next time, I need to take the time to read my own notes! I wound up with 1lb 10 oz of treats, not counting the crumbles.

Updating the ginger beer “second runnings”, I’m finally getting some drop in the SG reading. It currently reads 1.039, which gives a current ABV of 3.o4%. It’s still pretty sweet, though, so I’m going to let it go another day or two, cold crash it in the refrigerator and then bottle it. I will probably need to pasteurize it. Anyway…glad to see a substantial movement!

8/23/14  8:00 am Pitched yeast in the muscadine wine this morning.

Rehydrated Montrachet yeast poured into muscadine (future) wine.

Rehydrated Montrachet yeast poured into muscadine (future) wine.

8/23/14  2:00 pm Ginger Beer update: ABV up to 3.68%!

Hard ginger beer sample.

Hard ginger beer sample.


Day 139 Making Ginger Beer, Bottling Tepache, Checking Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Tonight, I knocked out a couple little projects and checked up on one. My micro batch of Cherry Belle Citra Saison has a pretty color from the cherries and I think they’ve given up all they really have to offer. I’m going to rack this brew to tertiary tomorrow to settle for a few days before bottling.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

I went ahead and strained my peach-pineapple tepache…it had a bubbly pellicle covering the surface. I siphoned out from under the surface and through a few layers of cheesecloth. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I feel good about it. The flavor is really nice. It’s sweet and tangy and the spice is coming through nicely.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample...sweet. tangy, spiced...good stuff!

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample…sweet. tangy, spiced…good stuff!

The SG is 1.041 and I feel like it’s time for bottling. So I got that done and filled a soda bottle for carb testing. If it goes like I’m anticipating, I should be pasteurizing Monday morning (about 36 hours).

My other project for tonight was peeling a pound of fresh ginger,

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.


shredding it in the food processor,


Shredded fresh ginger.

and starting a non-alcoholic ginger beer for my brother in-law who is from Trinidad. I’m using a recipe from a cookbook he brought from Trinidad and it looks very similar to tepache, except it uses freshly grated ginger instead of pineapple skins. Here is the recipe:

Ginger Beer

1 lb fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a spoon, grated

8 cups water

Juice and zest from 1 lime

4 cups granulated sugar

1 stick cinnamon

4 to 6 cloves, whole

Directions: (I have adapted for my bottling procedure) Combine all ingredients in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket and stir to start sugar dissolving.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Seal lid and install an airlock. Place in direct sunlight for 1 day. (We are having rain, so I’m putting the bucket on a heating pad overnight and most of tomorrow.) Next day, strain. I assume that this would become alcoholic, if I allowed it to ferment longer, but that’s not the plan for this batch. Sweeten to taste, if necessary. Bottle. (I’m going to top off to a gallon with fresh bottled water to extend the batch a little.) Fill a soda bottle to use for judging carbonation progress. It should take a day or two. Pasteurize and store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate before opening. (Open over a sink or outside just to be safe!)


Day 115 Pasteurizing Soda, First Taste Major Nelson’s IPA

Pasteurized Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda

Pasteurized Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda

I kept an eye on my soda bottles all day. There was a build-up of the more pulpy stuff in the necks of the bottles. Around noon, I carefully lifted each bottle and inverted to distribute the contents and put them back down. No explosions…good! I checked the little tester jar and it was getting carb over night, but not until afternoon did I feel it was getting carbed enough. Around 2 pm, I put the tester jar in the fridge and planned to pasteurize around 3 p.m.

I filled my pressure canner with hot water and put it on high heat, loosely covered. Using a digital thermometer, when the water got to 190F, I removed the pot from heat and carefully added the sodas. Covered loosely again, just in case a bottle were to pop. Set the timer for ten minutes. When the timer went off, I carefully removed the bottles to a kitchen towel on the kitchen counter to rest and cool. When cooled off, I’ll transfer the bottles to the refrigerator.

The little tester bottle was chilled at this point, so I gave it a swirl to mix the pulp and drank it. It wasn’t carbed like a Sprite or Ginger Ale, but it was nice and tingly. I definitely get the mango and ginger…really like the flavor. The texture is the part that would be hard to get some people into it, because of the pulp. But overall, it’s good!

I did go ahead and put an airlock on the Wheat RyePA today and moved it to a place to let it go for awhile. The tepache is not yet showing signs of life.

Update: Chilled the ginger-mint bug pineapple-mango sodas and pulled one out to try this evening. The carbonation is good…not too much, but good. The flavor is interesting and I like it. The only odd thing is the amount of pulp…so it’s kind of like a pulpy orange juice/soda hybrid.

Pulpy, but tasty pineapple-mango soda.

Pulpy, but tasty pineapple-mango soda.

Later that evening: Opened my first bottle of Major Nelson’s IPA and wow!!! Head poured creamy and slowly backed down, but never dissipated completely. The aroma was big with hops. The taste was citrus up front that quickly turned to bitter with a resin finish. I’m very happy with how this turned out! I think I finally got the carb right! Technically, this may be my best beer. It is a tad bitter for me, personally, but I think it is exactly where it is supposed to be for the style.  Another couple of weeks in the bottle won’t hurt it, but it is surprisingly good right now!


Halfway through, the head is hanging on nicely.


Nice head on the pour…soft, creamy.


Day 114 Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda, Tepache #2

The ginger-mint “bug” appears to be ready…nice and bubbly. I picked up a pineapple today and already had a couple of mangoes. I got some extra ginger while I was at it. So, tonight I used my little countertop extractor to juice the fruits and about a half ounce or so of ginger and wound up with about 32 oz of juice. I added 2 cups/16 oz of water for a total of 48 oz. Then I added 1/4 cup of strained “bug” and stirred well.

Little countertop juice extractor.

Little countertop juice extractor…before I cleaned the ginger out of it.

Next, I sanitized utensils and 4 bottles and caps. I bottled the juice and capped it and had a little left over, so I put it in a small canning jar with a lid. I’ll use that as a tester. Directions say to refrigerate when carbonated to desired amount…1 to 3 days. I know there’s a LOT of sugar in there, so I think I will pasteurize the bottles when ready, just to be safe. That’s a fair amount of work for four bottles of soda! But I’m hoping it will be worth it! I might try a commercial juice for the next batch, though.

Ginger bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a l;ittle tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Ginger-mint bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a little tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Since I was doing a pineapple for the soda, I went ahead and peeled and cored it for a batch of tepache. I only had a few ounces of the piloncillo Mexican raw sugar, so I made up the bulk of the sugar with regular old brown sugar. So, at least I’m multi-tasking and getting another product started for all my efforts! My American Wheat/RyePA was chugging along this morning. Later in the afternoon it had slowed quite a bit. It pretty slow tonight. I’ll probably go ahead and replace the blow-off tube with a regular airlock  in the morning. And, as ever, the pineapple-mango melomel continues to condition in a carboy and looks beautiful. Can’t wait to drink it…in November 2016.


Day 112 IPA Sample and Soda Bug Progress

Major Nelson's IPA test bottle.

Major Nelson’s IPA test bottle.

I chilled my partial “tester” bottle of IPA earlier today. This evening, I opened it and poured it slowly through a cheesecloth lined sieve into a glass. I think that process pulled most of the carb into the head, because there was a big head and little carb. The reason for the filtered pour is because it looked like there were some floaters in the beer. Anyway, the aroma and flavor were both good. I’m looking forward to the final product!

The ginger starter for making soda seems to be coming along okay. I did add more water with the second ginger and sugar addition. I made a third ginger and sugar addition today.

Giving the "bug" a swirly every now and then.

Giving the “bug” a swirly every now and then.

Getting s few bubbles in the "Ginger-Mint Bug" for making soda.

Getting s few bubbles in the “Ginger-Mint Bug” for making soda.

The pineapple-mango melomel continues to carboy condition. All seems steady…nice and clear…pretty color. Maybe another month to bottling.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (Fruit mead). Look at that color!

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (Fruit mead). Look at that color!

I’m hoping to brew this weekend…maybe tomorrow. I’d like to do a Scotch Ale, but the fermentation temperature requirements may be too low for me to control. I’ll consult the home brew shop…maybe a rye of some kind?


Day 111 Ginger-Mint “Bug” for Soda Making


I was giving credit to the website where I found this recipe, but they seem to be spamming now, so no more!

Anyway, I thought this sounded interesting and I have ginger and sugar on hand, so…what the heck. It begins with what they are calling a “bug”…a starter that you use each time and reserve a 1/4 cup and keep feeding it. Like a sourdough. Then they have a recipe for a pineapple-ginger soda…sounds tasty! I also can see making a mango-ginger or pineapple-mango-ginger.

Sugar and grated ginger in jar with water...plus some chocolate mint.

Sugar and grated ginger in jar with water…plus some chocolate mint.

My little twist is adding some cleaned “chocolate” varietal fresh mint. I pinched back the plant and tossed the leaves/stems into the “bug” mixture. I’m thinking basil would be a good alternative to try in the future, too!

For the bug, I added a cup of lukewarm water to a mason jar. I added 3 tsp. grated fresh ginger, with the peel on. Then added 2 tsp. sugar and a heaping tablespoon of fresh mint. I secured the lid and shook vigorously for several seconds. Then I loosened the lid, so that it isn’t air tight. Every day, I’ll add more ginger and sugar and shake. After about 4 or 5 days, the bug should be fizzy.

Added mint, shake, shake shake! Loosen lid.

Added mint, shake, shake shake! Loosen lid.

The next step will be to draw off 1/4 cup of liquid and combine it with 48 oz of fruit juice. (The rest of the “bug” gets topped off and put back in the fridge.) I plan on extracting fresh pineapple and mango juices to make my soda. I’m also toying with the idea of coconut water. The recipe calls for the mixture to be divided into jars and tightly lidded for 1 to 3 days, until fizzy and then refrigerate. I think I’m going to try bottling it instead and, after carbed, pasteurizing it. Oh, and when I process the pineapple for the juice, I’ll save the skins and core to make another batch of tepache!

Speaking of tepache, I decided to open one of the three bottles I have left…I gave away a couple and drank a couple earlier. So, I poured the tepache to half fill a large pilsner style glass and tasted it. The carb is light, but pleasant and the flavor is very sweet, but nicely mellow with a little tang.

Part one: Tepache

Part one: Tepache

I then opened a strawberry blonde ale and topped it off. It’s not a sweet strawberry blonde, so it pairs well in making my awesome creation: Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

Part two: add a light ale of your choice and you have a Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Part two: add a light ale of your choice and you have a Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!


This is really refreshing and I can TOTALLY see drinking this poolside or on the beach…or at a beach bar. I’m also thinking it would be great as a base for a shrimp or crab boil! I probably won’t get to try it anytime soon, because of severe allergies in the family, but I can imagine it!