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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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Day 144 Muscadine Wine

Crushing foraged wild grapes.

Crushing foraged wild grapes.

I foraged a little over four pounds of wild muscadine grapes yesterday. I have decided to try my hand at wine making this year, instead of jelly…at least with this first round. After a little research on the internet, I am combining a couple of different recipes to adapt to what I have to work with. I have put together 2 quarts of crushed muscadine grapes, skins and all.

Crushed grapes.

Crushed grapes.

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I am going to have to run to the home brew shop for some supplies…a mesh bag and yeast. I may need more sugar from the grocery store. The plan is to combine the fruit (in mesh bag) with 6 quarts of water in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, add enough sugar syrup to boost the SG to at least 1.090 and then add 2 crushed campden tablets, 1/2 t. pectic enzyme (scant), and 2 t. yeast nutrient. That will be covered with cheesecloth and sit for 24 hours. I guess I’m not supposed to seal the bucket yet, as the campden tablets cause a sulfur gas to be released and it needs to be allowed to dissipate. Yeast is to be pitched tomorrow…instructions say to leave covered with cheesecloth again, for 5 to 7 days, stirring daily. After that, it is strained and sealed with an airlock in place and given around 6 weeks to ferment out. Then it gets racked, probably a few times, to clear. Then it gets bottled and ages for at least two years! I’ll probably bottle in beer bombers…I don’t anticipate making enough wine to justify buying a corker and wine bottles/corks. I haven’t seen anyone express concerns with beer bottles. I might want to use the special oxygen absorbing caps, to reduce the risk of oxidation.

So far, I have boiled 3 cups of sugar with enough water to dissolve it…boiled until clear and set aside to cool…we’ll see if that’s enough to get me to 1.090 or better. The first quart of grapes that I crushed have a natural SG of about 1.048, according to my spectrometer. I’ll discuss yeast at the brew shop. The most likely candidates are Champagne yeast or Montrachet, but I’m open to suggestions.

Okay, after a trip to the brew shop and the grocery store, I was ready to proceed. I got a mesh bag, a packet of Montrachet yeast and a 10 pound bag of sugar. I sanitized the bag and a string and added the grape skins/pulp/juice to the bucket and tied off the bag.

Crushed grapes in the bag.

Crushed grapes in the bag.

Next I added the sugar syrup that I had prepared and I was still way low on the SG. I also realized that I was running out of room in the 2 gallon bucket, so I prepared a 5 gallon bottling bucket and transferred the grape mixture into it. Then, I weighed out five pounds of sugar and added enough water for it to dissolve into and brought that to a boil, removed it from the heat.

Making sugar syrup

Making sugar syrup

I tried adding in a couple of steps and it wasn’t getting close to SG 1.090 very quickly…but the final addition bumped it up to OG 1.113…oops. Oh well. And my volume is up to almost three gallons…I probably should add more grapes, but I’m out.

Volume at almost 3 gallons. Need to find more grapes? We'll see if I get a chance to pick more.

Volume at almost 3 gallons. Need to find more grapes? We’ll see if I get a chance to pick more.

I’ll see what it looks like later…I could add more grapes and another campden tablet tomorrow. That would push back the yeast pitch a day, but in a minimum 2 year process, another day is nothing and could make a huge difference in the finished product. Anyway, I put the lid on and sealed it and popped on an airlock. The brew shop guy thought it would be fine to seal and airlock the bucket rather than do the covering with cheesecloth thing…just seemed more risky.

Ginger beer note: the SG dropped to 1.057, so it’s moving…slowly. I thought all the Champagne yeast that I added to it would start it really chugging. It’s popping the airlock about every 10 seconds, but it’s not very aggressive. I guess it’s just going to take more time and patience than I was anticipating for this little side project.

Update 8/22/14,  10:00 a.m.: I went and foraged another 1 pound and 9 ounces of wild muscadine grapes this morning. After crushing them, there was a little less than a full quart jar.

Added additional crushed grapes and Campden tablet.

Added additional crushed grapes and Campden tablet.

I crushed an additional campden tablet and threw it in with the grapes. I opened the fermentation bucket, untied the bag and poured in the grapes and crushed campden. I re-tied the bag and gave a good stir. Refractometer reading gives a 1.109 updated OG, with a volume now of just over 3 gallons.

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Day 99 Racking the Pineapple-Mango Melomel

Pineapple-Mango Melomel, ready to rack out of primary fermentation.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel, ready to rack out of primary fermentation.

I racked the Pineapple-Mango Melomel today. Because there was so much pulp in the liquid, I put a small, fine-meshed bag over the siphon tip.

Siphon tip with mesh bag.

Siphon tip with mesh bag.

This worked well, to a point. Unfortunately, when I got about 2/3 down, the siphoning practically stopped and there was obviously quite a bit of liquid left.

Siphoning with the bag.

Siphoning with the bag.

So, I sanitized a bowl and a grain sock and strained the rest. I then siphoned the rest into the carboy.

I wound up with a nice, full gallon.

One gallon of strained Pineapple-Mango Melomel.

One gallon of strained Pineapple-Mango Melomel.

It’s cloudy, but it should clear eventually. I did get a small sample and stuck it in the refrigerator to clear and chill…I’ll taste it later.

Chilled sample...nice flavor. Good pineapple color.

Chilled sample…nice flavor. Good pineapple color.

I put an airlock on the carboy and I labeled it with the name and today’s date. I was thinking I would be leaving it for several weeks, but after a couple of hours, there are clear layers forming on the bottom. It might be that I let it clear for a week and then rack it again for the longer term.

Sediment layers forming quickly.

Sediment layers forming quickly.

I also checked on the Murray’s Super Easy Cider (third 1/2 gal batch) and it is still seeing action in the airlock, as well as visible action in the bottle. I can see effervescence at the top of the liquid and bits rising from the bottom and falling from the top.  I guess  the cider has several more days to go.

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