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Day 90 Tasting Strawberry Blonde & Plain Jane

If you look back through the journal, you will see the lengths to which I went to try and make the Strawberry Blonde a successful brew. Alas, I believe it was all for naught. The Strawberry Blonde is lacking in hops, either in aroma or bittering. The strawberry flavor is best described as musky and muddled, hiding any hint of malt. But the extract sweetness is there. I don’t think aging will help, but I’ll give it a little more time. I compared with a commercially produced strawberry wheat beer produced by Lancaster Brewing Co. and, while I didn’t really like the commercial product either, it was generally better than mine. It did have a strawberry cream soda like flavor to it from the strawberry flavoring.

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A pleasant surprise, on the other hand, was the “Plain Jane Blonde”, small batch.

Plain John Blonde...surprisingly drinkable!

Plain John Blonde…surprisingly drinkable!

It has, by way of the attempt to up the OG, a little strawberry essence to it…just barely. While there are no hops in the aroma, they are there with a slight bitterness. The malt comes through and there is a little sweetness, but it isn’t cloying. It’s actually a pretty drinkable beer! Not my best offering, but not bad. If I were to attempt this recipe again, I would 1) Measure the water more accurately!, 2) Decrease the strawberries from 6 lbs to my original thought of around 2 to 3 pounds and, 3) Add the fruit in secondary, instead of after flameout at 170F.

I also used a free, simple beer label maker program to create a label for the Costa Kona Mocha Latte stout that I think looks passable. I kind of did a similar thing using a different program and printed it on plain paper, cut it out, moistened the back with milk and applied it to a bottle. Oddly enough, it works! Cheers!

BeerLabel Costa Kona

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Day 88 Bottling Murray’s Super Easy Cider, 1/2 gallon

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

After returning from a vacation, my Murray’s Super Easy Cider is ready to bottle. I don’t want to waste any by checking the FG…just have to guess. But it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t have a helper and starting the siphon was a pain in the butt and stirred up a small amount of lees…not too bad though. I got five 12 oz bottles out of the little 1/2 gallon batch.

Lees on the bottom, after siphoning cider into bottles.

Lees on the bottom, after siphoning cider into bottles.

A little ring in the neck, them fairly clear. Layer of lees on the bottom.

A little ring in the neck, them fairly clear. Layer of lees on the bottom.

It’s getting a little late in the day to bottle my Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout tonight. I’ll do it soon though…tomorrow or this weekend. I would like to do my first all-grain Brew in a Bag (BIAB), but I’m not sure if I’ll have time this weekend. We’ll see.

Meeting my brew-buddy to deliver some goodies she wanted, that I picked up while on vacation.

Swag!

Swag!

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Of course I picked up some for myself as well! The highlight and big deal is Nugget Nectar from Troeg…along with a few other bottles. Also a few bottles from Appalachian and Lancaster Brewing Companies.

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Day 87 Racked Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout to Secondary

End of primary fermentation for the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout.

End of primary fermentation for the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout.

It’s time. Racked the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout onto the Costa Rican cocoa nibs that I have had soaking in vodka for a few days, after I toasted them briefly to bring out the flavors. The primary bucket had a bunch of coagulated looking trub that looked like browned hamburger in grease.

Cocoa nibs in a sanitizing/extracting  soak in vodka

Cocoa nibs in a sanitizing/extracting
soak in vodka

Is that hamburger? Nope...that's some serious trub.

Is that hamburger? Nope…that’s some serious trub.

But the beer is coming along nicely, I believe. Secondary should go a week or so and then it will be on to bottling with the cold brewed Kona blend coffee concentrate (4 cups).

I’m a bit bugged by a little mystery. I keep an inventory of what I have on hand in brews. Last night, I pulled a few things to refrigerate and drink and I adjusted my inventory. I looked in the fridge tonight and found a bottle I thought I had drunk last night. I checked my inventory and it is accurate. What I  have left in the fridge is accurate, except for this extra bottle. So, what the heck was that bottle I drank? I have this single bottle of a strawberry lemon experiment that I did. I also did one that was just lemon. I didn’t even put them in the journal, because they were just single bottles. It was fresh lemon juice, water, sugar and a little yeast. I somehow had some small amount of strawberry for the second bottle…can’t even remember now. I thought I drank the strawberry one last night. It was weird because it was kinda crazy carbed…DSC04348

crazy carb on this mystery bottle.

crazy carb on this mystery bottle.

and heavier on the strawberry than I expected. I also thought I was getting some hops, which I did not use on this cider-like fermentation. If I didn’t know better, I would think that I had opened a strawberry blonde that I just bottled a couple of days before…but they’re all accounted for…unless I had a brain fart and stuck one in the fridge when I was bottling or put one back in the inventory stuff without counting it. Anyway, it’s a mystery…but I have the strawberry lemon experiment right here. It’s clear, light golden and lemony, but dry with a fairly strong sparkle. Clean and fresh.

Strawberry Lemon Experiment

Strawberry Lemon Experiment

Not getting the strawberry, but it doesn’t really suffer without it. I really should have documented this, even though it was a tiny experiment. Ah well…live and learn. Relax…and have a home brew (or ferment)!

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Day 86 Update Murray’s SEC (Super Easy Cider) and Mocha Latte Stout

The Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout seems to still me sending some gas up and pushing the lid a little. It’s not coming out the airlock, though, unless I press on the lid. I figure it’s not going to hurt it to sit another day or two in Primary. I found some vodka…an old bottle of kinda cheap stuff…but it will work for soaking the Costa Rican cocoa nibs. I slowly heated a saute pan on the stove with the cocoa nibs, over low heat until I could smell the chocolate and they had changed to a shiny, dark brown color.

Putting a little heat to the Costa Rican cocoa nibs to bring out the flavor.

Putting a little heat to the Costa Rican cocoa nibs to bring out the flavor.

I dropped them into a little storage container with about a cup of vodka, covered and I’m allowing them to steep at room temperature.

Doing a sanitizing/extracting  soak in vodka

Doing a sanitizing/extracting
soak in vodka

The SG is at about 1.023 @72F; so  1.024  corrected for temperature.(I actually measured 1.022 on 3/12 and I know it isn’t going up, so let’s go with that.) Still, another day won’t hurt. The estimated FG for the recipe is 1.015, but since I added 1 lb of lactose instead of 8 oz, that could account for the difference. If 1.022 winds up being the FG and the beginning was 1.062, then the ABV will be 5.25%. If it’s the higher FG, then the ABV would be right at 5%. That’s good, either way. The flavor, based on the sample, is very good. I already taste the chocolate, just from the husks. After the secondary on the nibs and the cold brewed coffee concentrate at bottling, this beer has great potential!

Sampling for hydrometer (and tasting!).

Sampling for hydrometer (and tasting!).

The Murray’s SEC 1/2 gallon has a nice, slow bubble happening in the airlock. I think it was about the same last time, so that should be good.

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Day 82 Working Out Details on Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

I got this kit for my birthday. I’ve never used a couple of the ingredients in this recipe before…Costa Rican cocoa husks & cocoa nibs, and lactose (milk sugar). Sounds good, though! While doing some reading, I came across information regarding hazelnut extract…I’m thinking Nutella Stout. After mulling it over a bit, I decided to skip the trip to the brew shop for the extract because I thought it might just get to be too sweet and might not taste natural.

After some more thought…and realizing that I had a bunch of whole bean coffee on hand that I got on sale…I started looking into using coffee as an additional ingredient. Natural, not adding more sweetness, adding caffeine and making this recipe a “mocha”. Yup. That’ll do! So, I sent a message to some local brewery people for advice. They suggested making a cold brew coffee concentrate and using about an 8% by volume at bottling. I never would have thought of that! I’m actually going to go about 4 cups of concentrate, rather than 6 cups…I can always add more, but I want the chocolate to still come through.

Everthing sanitized! Coarsely ground Kona blend coffee going into Culligan water for 15 hours.

Everthing sanitized! Coarsely ground Kona blend coffee going into Culligan water for 15 hours.

I found a cold brew coffee recipe online from Bon Apetite  (giving credit, where due!). I adapted it to brew in a gallon carboy with an airlock, instead of some other container covered with cheesecloth. I coarsely ground 12 oz of Kona blend coffee and added it to a sanitized carboy and capped it.

Ready to cap it and swirl it.

Ready to cap it and swirl it.

Shook it up and swirled to get as much of the grounds off of the bottle as I could and then replaced the cap with a sanitized  airlock. After 15 hours at room temperature, I’ll strain out the grounds and then filter the liquid through multiple layers of cheesecloth. (If I were concerned about it being crystal clear, I would filter it through a coffee filter…slowly. I think going through a sieve and then through thick cheesecloth will be fine.) I am going to use a teaspoon of Irish moss in the boil, just to help the beer clear a little, but I’m not expecting to see through it…it IS stout, after all.

Brewing...of a different kind!

Brewing…of a different kind!

So, what I’ll be brewing will be a “Costa Kona Mocha Milk Stout”. I’m sure I’ll be sampling it as soon as I can, but I think this one might need to age until next December-ish. I think the caps that came with the kit are the “oxygen absorbing” kind…good for longer storage. Brew Day tomorrow, if I can fit it in!

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