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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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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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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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Happy New Year! Racking Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout and Washing Yeast

 

Racking Yooper's Oatmeal Stout

Racking Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

I have racked Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout into two separate buckets to finish. First I racked it all into a bottling bucket, leaving the trub behind. Then I racked 2 gallons of that onto the gingerbread flavoring…and that smelled AWESOME!!!

Racking 2 gallons onto the gingerbread flavoring.

Racking 2 gallons onto the gingerbread flavoring.

Gingerbread flavored vodka base.

Gingerbread flavored vodka base.

 

That left a little less than 3-1/2 gallons plain…I’m calling in 3.3 gallons. The hydromenter reading is 1.019, after correction for temperature, which is slightly higher than where it is projected to finish, but it started a little bit higher, as well.

Hydrometer reading.

Hydrometer reading.

Should be in good shape. The color and flavor seem to be good. Looking forward to the finished product!

I’m about to start the process to wash the yeast and harvest it. If the yeasts I’ve tried in my little cider project don’t do the job, I might use some of the yeast from this batch of stout. Otherwise, I store it in the refrigerator and see if I can find a use for it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update 1/2/15: I pitched the yeast from the little starter I was attempting into my 1/2 gallon batch of cider…waiting for signs of renewed fermentation. I might transfer to a larger container and add more cider…maybe.

Drained liquid from yeast washing project (British Ale II from Wyeast) and tranferred the yeast to my flask and added Culligan bottled water.

Update 1/3/15: Tonight, I poured off the liquid for the second time on the Wyeast British Ale II in the washing process. I also made a starter wort in my flask, 800 ml water and 1/4 cup of DME. The SG was only around 1.020, so I added some white sugar and bumped it up to around 1.040 (DME is messy, trying to get it into a flask opening). I chilled the wort to about 70F and poured the harvested yeast into the flask. I’m going to grow the volume on the yeast in the starter and then crash it and store it in the refrigerator until needed. I probably won’t have another brew day for  a few weeks and haven’t decided what it might be yet, much less what yeast I’ll be needing.

Anyway, the starter is pitched and underway.

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Brew Day! Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

"The Con"

“The Con”

I prepared yesterday by purchasing my ingredients, getting my propane tank refilled, and buying 7 bags of ice.  The first thing I did was activate the “smack pack” of yeast that I used in this batch. It’s recommended to do so, 3 hours in advance of pitching. I’m brewing Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout, a recipe highly rated by several brewers and created by a brewer and moderator at the Home Brew Talk website. The recipe can be found at:   http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f68/yoopers-oatmeal-stout-210376/

The yeast is Wyeast British Ale II (#1335) and my batch is dated Dec 10th, so it’s very fresh!

Wyeast British Ale II (#1335)

Wyeast British Ale II (#1335)

It is supposed to supply 100 billion cells. The next step was setting up “The Con”. Basically, a table, a chair, the propane, burner, strike water and all the supplies/equipment…and a cup of coffee.

My local home brew supply shop was able to pretty closely duplicate the ingredients for me. I used 10 oz of Thomas Faucette Pale Chocolate Malt in place of the “Crisp”, Bairds 70-80L for the Caramel/Crystal Malt 80L, and Breiss for the 350 SRM Chocolate Malt. I also upped my Maris Otter to 8 lbs to satisfy my recipe builder program’s efficiency number estimate. (Brewer’s Friend) One other thing: I split my hops into 1 oz at 60 minutes and 1 oz at 30 minutes. Brewer’s friend estimated the IBU’s would be too high if I did 2 oz at 60 minutes.

For the process, I used the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method that I have be doing since early last Spring. I heated my water to 159F and added my grains. I stirred to break up all the dry balls. My poor long plastic spoon needs to be replaced by a mash paddle! (Santa?) I turned off the burner and wrapped the pot with a blanket and a “space blanket” to try to maintain the temperature.

Wrapped for temperature retention.

Wrapped for temperature retention.

After 15 minutes, I checked the temperature and it had dropped to 154F. I gave the mash a burner boost, but overshot it up to 162F…rats!

Steeping grains, BIAB.

Steeping grains, BIAB.

I stirred constantly for a few minutes, but the temp wasn’t dropping very fast, so I added approx. 24oz of cold Culligan bottled water. I had the mash temp back down to just above the target 156F with 25 minutes to go in the mash. I wrapped it all back up again and it finished right on target. I hope the variation didn’t hurt too much.

I “tea bag” dunked & drained the grains a couple of times.

Tea bag dunk and drain.

Tea bag dunk and drain.

I also do a “modified sparge” that I have pictured in my journal before…I missed taking a photo this time. Basically, it’s a bottling bucket and tubing set up on a tall recycle container and I drain the water, in this case 1 gallon water at 167F, over the grains. The idea is to rinse additional sugars from the grains. Then I made sure the grains were well drained and squeezed out as best as I could, without burning myself. (I later added the grains to my compost container…I still have some in the freezer for making doggie treats.)

I checked the pre-boil specific gravity with my refractometer and it was 1.041…on target. I transferred the wort to the bottling bucket to measure the volume. It was right to the rim, which is 7 gallons.

measuring the pre-boil wort in a bottling bucket.

measuring the pre-boil wort in a bottling bucket.

I poured the wort back into the brew pot and re-lit the burner.

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The boil was good…added 1oz of Willamette hops pellets at 60 minutes got a vigorous boil going.

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I missed my 30 minute hop (also 1oz Willamette )addition by 5 minutes, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. Post boil SG was 1.066 amd the volume looked a little low, so I added 1/2 gallon cold Culligan bottled water and immersed the brew pot into an ice water bath.

Ice water bath to chill.

Ice water bath to chill.

I used 6 bags of ice and managed to get the temperature down to 72F in less than 25 minutes. A copper coiled wort chiller would be nice, though. (Uh…Santa?!) I checked the OG with both a hydrometer and refractometer. The hydrometer sample was 69F and the reading was 1.055. The refractometer was 1.056. After correcting the hydrometer reading for the sample temperature, the readings agreed at 1.056. I transferred the wort to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation and aerated it with oxygen for two minutes…

Hydrometer sample and oxygen stone aerator.

Hydrometer sample and oxygen stone aerator.

…and then pitched the yeast and sealed the lid.  The volume in the bucket appears to be about 6-1/2 gallons and is close enough to the top that I decided to go ahead and set up a blow-off tube, just in case. Now we wait for the yeast to start partying! According to the estimates, I’m almost dead-on the numbers. I should finish within about .05 of the ABV percentage projection.

Wort aerated and yeast pitched.

Wort aerated and yeast pitched.

When primary fermentation is done, I plan to split the wort and use 2 gallons to make a gingerbread version. Need to research those additions. I do plan to include some freshly grated ginger root. It really made a difference in my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale, evidently. I had some guys at the local home brew shop taste it and the one I think has the most experience picked up on it right away. I assume the other componants will be ground ginger, ground cinnamon, vanilla (bean or extract?) … maybe some molasses? Not too much, though. It is fermentable and I found that a small amount really made a nice difference in a cider that I did earlier this year. Okay…updates as needed to follow!

Update: As of the next morning, there was no noticable activity. I sanitized around the lid and opened just enough that I heard some fizziness. I resealed the lid. By a few hours later, I could hear a regular chugging in the overflow liquid. So…things are good!

 

 

 

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Day 167 Bottling McQuinn’s Robust Porter & Bold Coffee Porter

Transferring the porter to a bottling bucket.

Transferring the porter to a bottling bucket.

Bottled my robust porter today. I prepared a little over 2 cases of bottles and corresponding caps. I attached a sanitized little nylon bag on the end of the tubing…there were a few floaters in the beer;  possibly some Irish Moss that didn’t fall out.

Nylon bag for a little filtration of floaters.

Nylon bag for a little filtration of floaters.

I racked the porter from the glass carboy to a bottling bucket and checked the volume and temperature(about 60F). I consulted  Northern Brewer’s online priming calculator, which I have come to trust over the last few brews. I dissolved 3.75 oz corn sugar in Culligan hot water and then added some cold to cool it down a little. Using a sanitized long-handled spoon, I stirred in the priming solution and made sure it was well distributed.

Next, I drew off 2 gallons of porter into a separate small fermentation bucket containing 2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee and stirred. That left about 3.5 gallons of regular porter.

2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee in the 2 gallon bucket for the McQuinn's Bold Coffee Porter.

2 cups of cold brewed Kenya AA coffee in the 2 gallon bucket for the McQuinn’s Bold Coffee Porter.

I filled bottles with the plain porter first and wound up with 39 bottles. I then bottled the coffee porter and filled 20 bottles. Actually, the last bottle of coffee porter was just a tad short of the neck, so I went ahead and capped it, but marked the cap with an “x”, to remind me to use this one as my first carb tester in about 10 days.

McQuinn's Bold Coffee Porter.

McQuinn’s Bold Coffee Porter.

McQuinn's Robust Porter.

McQuinn’s Robust Porter.

I did pull a hydrometer sample from the dregs of the glass carboy. It’s a little murky, but should still be accurate. After temperature correction, the FG is 1.013, so the ABV comes in at 6.56%…just a little over the 6.32 estimated in the recipe. Color looks good and a small sip I had from both plain and coffee versions were, in my opinion, quite good. I think I’m going to be happy with the final products. I stuck the rest of the sample(plain) in the refrigerator to chill and settle. I’ll get get a better taste of it later today. I’ll probably double check the FG again, just to be redundant.

Hydrometer sample from the bottom of the carboy. Cold-crashing to clear and will taste sample later.

Hydrometer sample from the bottom of the carboy. Cold-crashing to clear and will taste sample later.

Cleaned up after myself, as usual and updated my inventory list. Ta da!

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Day 166 Bottling Muscadine Wine

Muscadine wine...nice and clear.

Muscadine wine…nice and clear.

Finally bottled my muscadine wine! I started with grapes that I foraged from wild vines and now I have my first wine in the bottles! The wine has been bulk aging  in two 1 gallon carboys and one 1/2 gallon carboy.

Bulk aging the wine.

Bulk aging the wine.

I combined them all into a bottling bucket to make sure the wine is all consistently blended and to facilitate the bottling.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

I used the Brewer’s Friend online bottling calculator to figure out how many bottles I would need…calculation is twenty-six 12 oz bottles, plus 8 oz left over, which would be good for a hydrometer reading and sample.  So, I sanitized 26 bottles and all the bottling equipment and supplies.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

I’m using oxygen absorbing caps for the wine bottling. I have read that a lot of homebrewers think they are useless for beer, but this is wine. Some mead makers think they are absolutely worthwhile. The thing is, the caps are recommended for things that are going to be bottled for 2 years or more. Most beers, other that barleywine, aren’t aged more than a year. There are a few exceptions. Anyway, I’ve decided to use them…several bottles of my wine may very well be around for a couple of years or more.

The clarity on the wine is beautiful and the color is a nice blush. The FG is 0.991 and the OG was 1.113, so we have a 16.01% ABV!

Taking the hydrometer reading.

Taking the hydrometer reading…look at the clarity!

The aroma and flavor are definitely that of a young red wine with a heavy amount of alcohol, but it certainly is not your typical North Carolina sweet muscadine wine.

Pretty!

Pretty!

I can definitely drink the sample, but I probably won’t open a bottle for at least a year and probably longer for most of them. The bottling calculator was spot-on, by the way. I filled exactly 26 bottles.

Filling the bottles.

Filling the bottles.

I’m hoping they will mellow and become something special with time. But this is my first real wine, so it’s pretty special to me already!

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine...ready for storage.

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine…ready for storage.

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