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Brief Update: Fluffernutter Sammie Stout and Railer’s Pale Ale

Railer's Pale Ale, floating whole Cascade hops.

Railer’s Pale Ale, floating whole Cascade hops.

Tried a bottle of the Fluffernutter Sammie Stout a couple of days ago. There was no head…like pouring a soda with no ice. It bubbled when pouring and immediately dissipated. The carbonation is better than last try, but could still be better. I’m hoping this isn’t the best it’s going to get, or I’m disappointed. Flavor is not bad, but would certainly be more enjoyable with head and a little more carb. Maybe I just need to try another established recipe, without doing anything “interesting” to it. I might just do better with an ESB.

The Railer’s Pale Ale is coming along nicely. The Wyeast II 1272 yeast has performed very well…nice krausen, but no need for a blow-off tube. At this point, I think fermentation is done; but I’m giving it a little more time. I may take a hydrometer sample soon to start the verification process. I’m hoping to be able to keg this beer, with equipment belonging to a friend, for the Railhawk’s Soktoberfest event September 10th. The whole Cascade hops are floating …at least some of them. I’m hoping they will drop, but either way, I’m planning to rack to another carboy, using a strainer bag on the siphon. I’m optimistic with this beer…as long as it isn’t too sweet…but it will be consumed.

I just wish I could pull off a good stout with a nice head.

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There Gose Sea Breeze

Brew Day!!! Adding the grain to the heated water. or "mashing in".

Brew Day!!! Adding the grain to the heated water. or “mashing in”.

So, two days ago (Thursday, October 24, 2015), my wife asked me, “If you brew a batch of beer tomorrow, will it be ready in time for Thanksgiving?” I figured it would, as long as it wasn’t something that needed a long time to ferment or bottle condition. Maybe an IPA? Well, she was going to be taking kids to the NC State Fair…all day…so I was authorized to brew. That night, I did some research for holiday beers and everything seemed to be porters and stouts. IPA’s were recommended by some sources, but so many hops and dry hopping…just didn’t feel it. Then I thought, “How about a refreshing gose style? That’ll cut through the heavy foods.” I brewed a gose before and, while mushroom was not the most successful flavor choice, it was technically very good.

Okay, so the next decision: how do I want to flavor it? I immediately thought about cranberries…tart, refreshing, a little citrusy. So, I did a little research on cranberries. It turns out that cranberries present a problem for brewing: they float. And raw, floating berries don’t ferment well or add much flavor. Even chopped, they don’t do much better. If you cook them, the flavor changes and the pectin comes out. That presents more problems. How about cranberry juice? I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find pure juice, without additives. Not for a reasonable price, anyway. In my research, someone recommended dried hibiscus flowers as an alternative…very similar to the flavor of cranberries and great color. I used them in a previous recipe very successfully and, in fact, still have a supply! Hibiscus it is.

Dried Hibiscus F;owers

Dried Hibiscus F;owers

I pulled out my previous gose recipe and began working on it. Substitute hibiscus for the mushrooms, up the salt from .75 oz to 1.25 oz, and add .25 oz ground coriander. The coriander is traditional, but needs to be restrained. I bought a fresh bottle and smelled it. Surprisingly, it reminded me of hops.

Hops. coriander, sea salt, and Irish moss additions.

Hops. coriander, sea salt, and Irish moss additions.

I also decided to go with a traditional hop choice: Saaz. As I was putting together the recipe, I happened to run across a cranberry cocktail called “Sea Breeze”. It is made with cranberry juice, vodka, grapefruit juice, salt and a lime garnish.

Sea Breeze Cocktail (Photo via Wikipedia)

Sea Breeze Cocktail (Photo via Wikipedia)

Well, since we are going to be drinking this at the beach, I figure…add some grapefruit zest, sanitized in vodka, and There Gose Sea Breeze!

Grapefruit zest from 3 grapefruits.

Grapefruit zest from 3 grapefruits.

Lime garnish optional. I got all the information plugged into the recipe and it looks good! You can get the recipe here: http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/view/289756/there-gose-sea-breeze

Before I could brew, I had a lot of cleaning, preparation, sanitizing, to do. Plus a run to the grocery store and local home brew shop. Then I had to organize and set up for the brew. I think I finally started brewing about 1:15 pm. Steps went fine. I overheated the strike water, but not too badly.  The special grain, the acidulated malt, is added after the first 60 minutes and takes an extra 45 minutes to mash…it adds a lightly sour component to the beer. After the mash, I added an additional gallon of water for the boil. Everything else went smoothly and I wound up with a carboy full of wort!

That's a full carboy!

That’s a full carboy!

Checkiing the Specific Gravity(SG) with a refractometer and a hydrometer, I determined the Original Gravity(OG) to be 1.063. The Final Gravity(FG) is anticipated to be around 1.014, which would put the ABV at 6.3%. I pitched the yeast, finally, at about 6:30 pm.

I put a blow tube on this morning, after having to do a little floor cleaning. The good news is that the yeast is alive and active!

Blow off tube...should have put on at the start.

Blow off tube…should have put on at the start.

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Racking to Secondary: Mowing Mt. Ranier

 

Ready to rack to secondary

Ready to rack to secondary

A few days ago, I did a specific gravity test on the Mowing Mt. Ranier Ale with Cherries. It was down to 1.009 (the anticipated was 1.008) and hadn’t shown signs of activity in several days. To be safe, I waited a few more days before racking. I had some time this morning, so I went ahead and got it done. I removed the stems and pits from some regular red cherries and weighed out a pound.

One pound of pitted cherries, stems removed.

One pound of pitted cherries, stems removed.

I was not able to find Ranier cherries locally anymore and my brother in-law canceled an order for dried ones when I warned him not to get ones processed with sunflower oil. Unfortunately, that’s what he had ordered. So, I have decided to finish the beer with the regular, fresh, red cherries. I sanitized them in StarSan, since I didn’t have time to soak them in vodka and freeze them. I also have a small experimental batch that is just about a 1/2 gallon after racking. I have sanitized a pint of frozen blackberries and added them to that little batch.

Frozen blackberries for the little experimental batch.

Frozen blackberries for the little experimental batch.

After racking the main batch, I cleaned the carboy, sanitized it, and transferred the beer back into it, onto the cherries.

Racking

Racking

Sanitizing the carboy.

Sanitizing the carboy.

Cherries in secondary.

Cherries in secondary.

1/2 oz Citra hops pellets for dry hop addition.

1/2 oz Citra hops pellets for dry hop addition.

I have what appears to be right at 5 gallons. To this, I added a dry hop addition of 1/2 oz Citra hops pellets that I contained in a little sanitized fine mesh bag. Dropped that in and put the airlock back in place. There is a possibility that the yeast, suspended in the beer, could start fermentation back up with the sugar in the cherries. Ideally, the batch will be done in five days. If it takes longer, that’s okay. I’ll let it be ready when it’s ready. So far, everything looks and smells good. There isn’t a lot of cherry flavor, but I’m not looking for cherry soda. The cherries added to secondary should give me what I’m going for.

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Legends Never Die Saison Racked to Secondary

Racking Legengds Never Die Saison to secondary.

Racking Legengds Never Die Saison to secondary.

This is a very brief entry. I just need to document that I have racked the Legends Never Die Saison to Secondary. I racked it onto the vodka soaked zest of one grapefruit and the dry hop addition of 1 oz Nugget hops pellets in a little muslin bag.

Dry hop addition and grapefruit zest (and vodka.

Dry hop addition and grapefruit zest (and vodka.

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The hydrometer puts it at an SG of 1.006, so that’s past where it was estimated to go (1.011).  So, even though mt OG was a little low,  my ABV is now a little ahead @ 6.83%. The sample flavor is pretty tasty, even before the additions. I hope this turns out as good as I think it could be!

Looks like 1.005. Correcting for temp =1.006

Looks like 1.005. Correcting for temp =1.006

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Belgo Paleo After 5 Day Dry Hop

 

Trub in Secondary

Trub in Secondary

The Belgo Paleo Pale Ale has been in secondary for awhile now and dry hops were added 5 days ago. This has been a strange brew. I thought I had done a pretty good job of leaving behind most of the trub when I transferred from primary to secondary; however, fermentation appears to have renewed and a new layer of trub is on the bottom. The dry hop addition was contained in a bag.

Floating bag o' hops

Floating bag o’ hops

While some might have disintegrated enough to pass through the bag, it shouldn’t have created the amount of trub that I have now! So, I’m thinking of getting this beer into a tertiary phase and taking another hydrometer sample. I’ll give it a couple of days to settle down and make sure it’s done fermenting. If it still seems to be going, I may have to let it go longer and add some more hops.

Okay, back to the beer…I have now racked the Belgo Paleo again. It turns out that the additional trub was, indeed, dissolved hops from the dry hop bag. I’m down to 3.9 gallons now, but I left the trub behind and I filtered the beer back into the carboy through a small mesh strainer, lined with cheesecloth.

Not a very fine filter, but did well enough.

Not a very fine filter, but did well enough.

The SG did actually drop a *little* more…down to 1.014. Maybe I’ll get this bottled over the weekend. I’m not going to add more hops and lose more volume!

After temp correction, 1.014 SG

After temp correction, 1.014 SG

Made another batch of kombucha today and added another SCOBY to the hotel. I gave a couple to a friend about 10 days ago and she has completed her first batch and has a second going! I know the SCOBYs look weird, but this stuff is good and healthy, so I’m going to keep it rolling and pass on the sodas as much as possible.

Looks weird. but you don't drink the SCOBY!

Looks weird. but you don’t drink the SCOBY!

 

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Brew Day Belgo Paleo

Ready to Brew!

Ready to Brew!

Brew Day! I’m actually writing this on the day after, but it was a long day. I had to help prepare for my older daughter’s baby shower and, after brewing and planting several things in the garden, I had to go help with the clean up. I was sore and tired last night!

First, I want to address the fact that I have had an ongoing problem with overcarbonation in several of my brews. Most have been darker beers…stout, porter, Scottish ale; but that may not necessarily have anything to do with it. I’ve tried backing down on priming sugar, extending the fermentation period, careful sanitizing procedures. I have been wondering if maybe the equipment I’m using or the bottles may need replacing or heavy duty cleaning, rather than rinsing and sanitizing. Before this brew, I soaked EVERYTHING in a solution of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda…carboy, buckets, utensils, hoses, siphon, airlocks and stoppers. Before I bottle, I will soak the bottles in the same solution, run them through the dishwasher (including heated drying cycle), and sanitizing. If this batch winds up overcarbing, I will have NO clue what to try next. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The recipe I brewed is a Belgian Pale Ale called Belgo Paleo and it sounds pretty good. It uses Green Bullet hops for buttering, Tettnang at 30 minutes and Saaz at 15 minutes and dry hop. The yeast is a packet of dry Safbrew Abbaye.

Pellet hops

Pellet hops

I followed my usual brew day procedures, with one exception: I used my new stainless steel wort chiller for the first time!

New stainless steel wort chiller

New stainless steel wort chiller

I didn’t have to buy 8 bags of ice this time! I set up the chiller with hoses and kept it in a bucket of sanitizer until ready to use. I put the chiller in the kettle for the last 15 minutes of the boil, to sanitize it.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to manage leak-proof connections and a little water sprayed into the wort. It was right after flame-out, and I’m hoping it didn’t ruin the batch. I wrapped the connection in paper towels and the dripping happened away from the kettle, instead of into it. The chiller worked like a champ and my wort was down to pitching temp in under twenty minutes.

Most difficult part of the day? Pouring the wort from the kettle (actually, a S/S stock pot) through a funnel into the glass carboy. Next time, I’ll use a siphon! Should have aerated it well, though! And it’s a good thing, because the oxygen tank I have connected to an aerating “stone” evidently had the valve knocked open somehow and the canister was empty.

Ready for fermentation to start.

Ready for fermentation to start.

So, pitched the yeast and put on the airlock. There was action late last night and I heard that the Abbaye yeast is aggressive, so I switch the airlock to a blow-off tube set-up …

After fermenting 24 hours.

After fermenting 24 hours.

Blow-off tube and wrapped to keep light out.

Blow-off tube and wrapped to keep light out.

…and wrapped the carboy with a blanket to keep out light. The wort chugged all day today and is doing well, I think. As of tonight, about 32 hours after pitching the yeast, the bubbling has slowed slightly to once every few seconds.

Update: Steinpilz Gose: my brewbuddy came by and got the balance of the gose into a keg and is going to force carbonate it. I’m going to stick a couple of bottles in the fridge and we’ll compare when ready. Looking forward to that!

 

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Bottling Day! Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout and a Little Cider

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Left: cider. Right: Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout.

 

Okay, so somehow I was thinking 3.8 gallons on the Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout (plain), instead of 2.8 gallons. So, I overestimated the number of bottles and caps I needed. More importantly, I overestimated the amount of corn sugar I needed for priming. Since I have had some overcarbonated batches in the past, I was hoping to go on the low side of the scale (1.7 vols) for this batch. Instead, I wound up in the mid-range (2.0 vols). Unfortunately, all the work and high hopes for this batch may have just been ruined by a mental fart. I’m sure it will be drinkable, but is much more likely to overcarb now, based on my history. I’ll try to get it right on the gingerbread flavored batch when I bottle it.

The 4.59% ABV is a little lower than the 4.85% expected, but no problem. The hydrometer came out at 1.021…a tad higher than anticipated, but it had not really changed in awhile, so it should be done. Looks good, smells good, and tastes good.

I wound up with 29 bottles and the last one was a ounce or so short. I marked that one with an “X”, so I would know to use it first. All bottles are marked “YOS”. Additionally, I have 9 bottles capped with “Oxygen Absorbing” caps. I was short on regular caps and my closest local home brew shop isn’t open today; plus, I was planning on cellaring a number of bottles anyway, to see how well they age.

Finally, I had a half gallon of cider to bottle. This is my little experimental batch of White House brand “Fresh Pressed” apple cider and East Coast Ale yeast. The color and clarity are good. Strangely, it appeared to be holding some carbonation in the carboy. Was my airlock stuck somehow? The last bottle was a little short, so I have 4 bottled and one uncapped and in the refrigerator. I may have to give this batch just a few days at room temperature and then refrigerate it. Not enough to mess with pasteurizing. The flavor is a little tart and a little sweet, but a tad bland, in general. I have heard of people dropping a pellet of hops in a bottle…hmmm. I think I’ll do that with the open one and try it!

So, I added a little fresh cider to top off the short bottle and dropped a couple Kent Golding pellets in the bottle and capped it. I’ll leave it at room temperature. Adding the cider should effectively prime and slightly sweeten the finished product.

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