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Day 134 Status Citra Saisons and Diet Root Beer

Switched back from blow-offs to airlocks

Switched back from blow-offs to airlocks

A quick update on my current projects: 1) Diet Root Beer. I prepared a replacement cap for my test bottle, I opened the tester and heard a slight CO2 escape. I poured a very small amount in a glass. There were very few bubbles. The soda was obviously undercarbed, but had some…hopefully, that will continue to increase! The flavor was strong on the root beer and not overly sweet, but it does have a little “diet” aftertaste. It’s okay, though, for the trade-off on sugar. I’m just hoping it carbs enough! Next time, maybe a little sweeter. I may have to find a way for a little more sweetness and a little less aftertaste without upping the sugar too much.

2) I switched back to regular airlocks for the Citra Saisons this afternoon. The action seemed to have relaxed sufficiently. Still on the heating pad on “low”  and wrapped in the Space Blanket. The main batch is bubbling about every 8-10 seconds and the little bonus gallon, that I’m going to rack onto vodka soaked cherries, is at about 18-20 second intervals. Looking good! A lot of trub…I’ll probably get 4-1/2 to 5 gallons out of the big carboy and 2/3 gallon on the small one, but they should be good!

3) Moving the Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus to storage. They were bottled on July 27th. Should be a couple of weeks before I open one and a month before I expect them to really be ready.

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Day 132 Bottling Hi-Nelson Saison, Diet Root Beer, Boosting Starter

Bottled Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus, Bottled Diet Root Beer, Harvested Belle Saison yeast starter, bag of grain for Citra Saison.

Bottled Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus, Bottled Diet Root Beer, Harvested Belle Saison yeast starter, bag of grain for Citra Saison.

Busy day today! Began by pulling the harvested Belle Saison starter from the refrigerator and made it better. Yeast class I attended showed me a couple of things I should fix. I made a new starter wort with DME, chilled down to mid 80’sF, added to my new flask, and oxygenated. Then I decanted the old wort and pitched the yeast slurry into the new wort. I also decanted another harvest jar and added it as well. Put a little sanitized foil over the flask and wrapped a heating pad around it, set on the lowest setting. The yeast really seemed to take off! I hope to cold crash it tonight and pitch it into a Citra Saison tomorrow! Brewing!

Keeping the yeast starter warm.

Keeping the yeast starter warm.

Moving along. Set everything up for bottling…sanitized everything. I”ve done enough photos on bottling before. Suffice it to say, I followed procedure and all went well. The biggest question was about how much corn sugar to add for priming. I wound up with about 5.25 gallons to bottle and used the 5.75oz recommended by Northern Brewer’s calculator. The hydrometer sample was a little foamy, but it looks like the FG is 1.004, after temperature correction. The OG was 1.068, so we wind up with the expected 8.40% ABV. (Woo!) I bottled 31 regular 12 oz bottles and a dozen 22 oz bombers.

This is the Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample after I cold crashed it.

This is the Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample after I cold crashed it.

Since I had everything out for bottling, I went ahead and tried my hand at root beer! I bought extract yesterday. I made a half gallon batch and it was pretty simple, so I did a second 1/2 gallon. Those yielded eleven 12 oz bottles. The last one was a little short, so I added a little water and marked the bottle. I’ll use it as the tester for carbonation. It took 1/2 tablespoon of extract, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 10 packets of Truvia, and 1/8 teaspoon of  Champagne yeast, rehydrated. Then, warm water to fill the half gallon carboy. Shake to blend well. I used my siphon and bottling cane to fill the bottles. Now we wait and see how it turns out!

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Day 131 Making My First Starter!

 

I’m planning on purchasing supplies tomorrow to make a Citra Saison and attend a “class” put on by SouthYeast Labs. So this evening, I’m trying to make a yeast starter from the Belle Saison yeast that I’m hoping to have successfully harvested recently. I prepared a small wort using a half cup of old liquid extra pale liquid malt and a quart of water. I boiled the wort for ten minutes. The SG is about 1.045. After the boil, I cooled the wort to about 85F and transferred it to a sanitized half gallon carboy, into which I had sprinkled about a half teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Of course, all utensils are sanitized.

Small batch of wort plus a little yeast nutrient.

Small batch of wort plus a little yeast nutrient.

The next step was to pour off much of the liquid from the jar of harvested yeast, give the remains a swirl, and add the yeast to the wort. I then used my oxygen tank to oxygenate the wort for about a minute. [Edit: I know know that I should oxygenate BEFORE adding the yeast to keep from breaking up the yeast buds. Thanks, SouthYeast guy! And the SG shouls be between 1.032 and 1.040…mine was a bit over.]

Oxygenating the wort, after pitching the yeast.

Oxygenating the wort, after pitching the yeast.

I then installed an airlock and moved the carboy to a heating pad set on “low”…the same temperature at which the beer will be fermenting. This is supposed to help the yeast acclimate. A short time will tell if the yeast harvest was successful.

Ready for a little yeast building on the warm heating pad.

Ready for a little yeast building on the warm heating pad.

The day before I brew, I plan to cold crash (refrigerate) to get the yeast to flocculate (fall out of suspension), so I can pour off most of the starter wort and pitch mostly yeast (This limits the impact of the starter wort flavor on the beer). I hope this process is successful. I’m a bit anxious…new milestone!

1:00 a.m.  The starter bottle seemed a little cool to the touch, so I wrapped the heating pad around, it like a jacket, so it gets more surface area contact. I also drew off a sample of the Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus and ran it from the little sample glass to a 12 oz beer glass, back and forth a couple of times to open up the aroma. Nice color, good nose and it drinks like a nice wine in it’s uncarbed state.

Sample of Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus held to the light.

Sample of Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus held to the light.

8:30 a.m.   following morning. Encouraging sign…airlock activity on my starter! Now the question is: How do I determine the number of yeast and if I have enough to pitch a 5 gallon batch of beer? Sanitized my oxygen hose and gave the starter about a 30 second infusion.

7:15 p.m.    Sanitized a cap and around the top of the starter carboy and replaced the airlock with the cap, loosely. The starter went into the refrigerator to cold crash. The procedure is supposed to cause the yeast to flocculate (fall to the bottom). So, now the question is: Did enough additional yeast form or should I repeat this step tomorrow and push my brew day back?

12 Noon third day: decided to use some new knowledge from a yeast class and see if I can give my harvested Belle Saison yeast a stronger growth cycle. I have made a new starter wort, added a half teaspoon of yeast nutrient and chilled it down into the mid 80’s F. I oxygenated the new wort. Drained most of the previous starter wort and pitched the yeast into the new wort. I also grabbed a second washed yeast jar from the fridge and drained most of the water off of it, swirled and pitched that yeast. This new batch is in my new flask with sanitized foil on top and set on the heating pad on the lowest setting.

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Day 126 Quick updates on Hi-Nelson Saison, Tepache #3

This morning, I put the tepache fermentation bucket out in a sunny spot for the afternoon. I brought it back indie this evening and it is nice and frothy. Tonight, I strained the pineapple skins and core from the liquid and composted them. This time, instead of adding one cup of water and a 12 oz beer, I decided to do the option without adding beer. It calls for four cups of water…not sure why the difference in volume of the additions when adding beer versus not. But it was so close to 1 gallon, that I went ahead and bumped the water to about 7 cups to get it to the gallon mark. I’ll track the progress and decide when to bottle it.

Tepache bucket in back. Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample in front...settled under refrigeration.

Tepache bucket in back. Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample in front…settled under refrigeration.

The Hi-Nelson Saison is still bubbling away. It has slowed from the very aggressive bubbling to a regular, rhythmic bubble about every 4 seconds. I’ll probably replace the blow-off with a regular airlock sometime tomorrow. I saved the hydrometer sample in the refrigerator, so I could let it settle and see the color and also taste it. The color is nice. It will definitely change when I add the hibiscus tea, but it looks like a good base. The flavor…obviously pre-fermentation sweet…but a good foundation to build on, I think.

A friend has brewed this recipe locally and kegged it. I got a 22 oz bomber of it today to try! The color is like grape juice almost…not quite as dark. You expect a fruit juice kind of flavor from it, but it’s not sweet…more tart. There is a kind of fruit, citrus, earthy quality to the taste, but a carb tingle on the tongue turns to a dryness, like the tannins in a lighter red wine.

A friend's version of Hi-Nelson Saison. Hard to capture the color, but intense!

A friend’s version of Hi-Nelson Saison. Hard to capture the color, but intense!

The aroma is not powerful, but it’s interesting. The combination of dry hopping with Nelson-Sauvin hops and hibiscus tea makes for a hard to describe scent. Much like wine, but with a resinous componant. The alcohol seems to be evident in the nose, but not in the flavor (even though it is a fairly high ABV, in the 8% range). All in all, an interesting taste that grows on you and it’s refreshing! Nice!

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