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Racking Half Gallon Super Easy Cider

Half gallon Super Easy Cider and a bottle of Caramel Apple Cider.

Half gallon Super Easy Cider and a bottle of Caramel Apple Cider.

Time to rack this little batch of cider. It’s a “Super Easy Cider”; my name for a commercial cider that basically just needs yeast and time. I am using White House brand “Fresh Pressed” Cider and harvested East Coast Ale yeast. What I have decided to do is rack the cider, take a hydrometer sample, and top off the cider with finished cider from a previous batch. In this case, I’m using a bottle of my Caramel Apple Cider.

I’m running short on half gallon carboys, so I racked to a gallon size carboy, cleaned the half gallon, sanitized it and siphoned the cider back into it.

After racking the cider and siphoning it back to the half gallon carboy.

After racking the cider and siphoning it back to the half gallon carboy.

The next step was to top off the current cider batch with the finished Caramel Apple Cider. It took about 3/4 of the bottle. I then replaced the airlock. I still saw some tiny bubbles rising before I started, so it needs a little more time. Plus, there was a little carb in the cider I topped with, so that will need to off-gas as well.

Super Easy Cider, topped off and needs a little more time. Plus a little drink.

Super Easy Cider, topped off and needs a little more time. Plus a little drink.

I did check the specific gravity at 1.003 and stuck the sample in the fridge for drinking later…waste not want not, right?! The flavor is a little bland and not very sweet. I’m thinking that I may prime with a little excess molasses at bottling, allow to carb, and then pasteurize. I have learned that East Coast Ale yeast is not the best choice for cider, if you like it to have a little residual sweetness. The apple flavor is still evident, but a little bland. Nice learning experience for very little money.

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After Christmas Update on Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

Well, had a great Christmas! No wort chiller, though. I guess I’ll be doing ice baths until my birthday! I did get an attachment to my KitchenAid mixer that juices stuff, so maybe it will help with ciders? Definitely will be usefull for sauces and jams/jellies.

So, Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout chugged for a few days. It never hit the blow-off tube, but was working away nicely. It’s pretty quiet now, so I’m switching out the tube for a regular airlock. I’m thinking that this batch will be in primary another week and then I’ll go to secondary. I’ve started the supplies for the 2 gallon gingerbread  to get them in the refrigerator, so the gingerbread spices will have time to sanitize in the vodka and the vodka will have a chance to extract some of the flavors.  I have combined the following:

1 tsp. powdered cinnamon

1 tsp. powdered ginger

1/2 a fat Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean, split and scraped (seeds and pod added)

15 grams fresh ginger root, peeled, grated (weight after grated)

50 grams unsulfered molasses

1/2 cup vodka

Wow. Very definite gingerbread flavor! Now, if I guessed an appropriate amount for 2 gallons of beer, it should be really good!

Because I’ll be introducing a little molasses, the fermentation will likely start back up briefly and a small increase is alcohol will happen, between fermentation and the vodka. It probably won’t be much, but it will be interesting to see.

I also have a little 1/2 gallon batch of cider going. It has stopped fermenting and settled. I’ll rack that sometime in the next few days and let it finish clearing…or will I add something to flavor it? We’ll see. Only a couple of dollars in it.

 

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Day 161 Bottling Caramel Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider…this little batch is going to be my best flavored cider ever. It will be still, rather than sparkling. I bottled 12 bottles from a gallon carboy plus a 22 oz bomber that have both been sitting in tertiary for a while to clear.

I racked the two containers both into a 2 gallon bucket, to combine and then racked from there into bottles.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

Bottling from a 2 gallon bucket.

The color is beautiful and clear amber. The taste is smooth and sweet, but not cloying. This batch was made with a combination of Pink Cripps apples and crab apples with a little molasses, a couple sticks of cinnamon and several cloves. The OG was 1.102 and the FG is 1.014, and the ABV is 11.55%. I look forward to seeing what this little batch tastes like in a couple of months…I may even hold back a couple of bottles until this time next year! With the high ABV and being so smooth already, this could be a dangerous drink!

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Day 156 Final Racking for Caramel Apple Cider (Probably)

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

This is what will probably be the last racking for the crab apple/Pink Cripps apple cider that I have decided to call Caramel Apple Cider, due to the small addition of molasses and a cinnamon stick. It’s nice and clear now and I think I’ve managed to leave the rest of the small amount of sediment behind.

I had hoped to bump up the volume to 1-1/2 gallons, by boiling, cooling and adding 800 ml of water. There’s plenty of alcohol and I just don’t want to lose anymore volume.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

I transferred the cider, by siphon, to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, racking off of the sediment and trying to minimize oxygenation. I added the boiled water, cleaned my containers and refilled them.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to fill the half gallon; so I wound up with the volume I started with, minus the sediment, plus enough for a hydrometer check and a nice sample for evaluation!

I measured the SG at 1.013, down from an OG of 1.102…even after the small water addition. That makes the ABV 11.68%. Incredibly, the aroma is fresh apple juice. The flavor is deceptively smooth and sweet, with a nice touch of caramel. The finish is a tummy warmer, though! Really, very nice.

Look at that color!

Look at that color!

I have been trying to carb all of my ciders so far, but the ABV on this one has probably already overwhelmed the Edinburgh Ale Yeast and I don’t think carbonation would be an improvement in this case. I did have enough to fill a test bottle. The cider should be good for a couple of months, but I’ll check the tester in a couple of weeks.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Soon, it will be time to do the “final” racking for bulk aging on the muscadine wine and rack the crab apple/pear/Cripps apple cider to secondary.  And finally, my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale should be ready for secondary sometime next week. So many good things going on and they all take so much time!  The pumpkin ale should be ready before Halloween and should be good (maybe better) at Thanksgiving.

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Day 148 Pitching the Yeast in Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Edinburgh yeast starter…pulled from the fridge and decanted. Opened the cider bucket and removed the cheesecloth bag of apple/crab apples pulp and squeezed out the juice. I will compost this material.

Apple/Crab Apple "must"...pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

Apple/Crab Apple “must”…pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

I added the yeast slurry to the cider and stirred well. I did pull a hydrometer sample and it is very sweet and reads 1.100 at 78.2F, so that comes out to an OG of 1.102. I tossed in a couple cinnamon sticks and 8 whole cloves that I had sanitized with Star-San.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

I also added about 1/4 cup of molasses…just a touch. The time was about 9:15 a.m., so let’s see if the Edinburgh Ale Yeast  takes off and when.

I also checked on the muscadine wine. The aroma when I opened the bucket was less appealing than it has been.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Still a lot of effervescence and nice color. I stirred the bag under and mixed the liquid well. I took a small sample in the stirring spoon and resealed the lid. The sample did not have any off-odor, still tasted of muscadines and is sweet; however, the alcohol level is definitely rising!

Stirring things up.

Stirring things up.

By 2 pm, I noticed airlock action in the cider bucket, so I guess my revival technique was successful and the subsequent starter that I made worked. as well. Sweet! As of tonight, it’s a fairly regular slow heart beat type of bubbling.

The muscadine wine continues a fairly vigorous activity.

Update, morning 8/27/14: I opened and stirred down wine again…same as yesterday. No problem. I also opened the cider bucket and saw more krausen than I expected.

Stirred the krausen down.

Stirred the krausen down.

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider...quite a bit a krausen!

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider…quite a bit a krausen!

I stirred it down and resealed the lid. About an hour later, I found that the yeast had kicked in in big time! The airlock was fouled, so I immediately set up a blow off to remedy the situation.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 147 Bottling Fermented Ginger Beer, Picking Crab Apples, Wine & Cider Updates

 

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

This little project has been a real pain in the butt! From the heating pad to off the heating pad. From adding Champagne yeast to moving it on the heating pad and overheating it and killing the yeast to pitching more yeast…yadda, yadda, yadda. And the SG doesn’t make sense…it’s went from 1.061 to 1.030 to 1.34 to 1.036…and then it reads 1.022 and starts floating up, slowly,  to 1.036. I even tried my back up hydrometer and it did the same. I’m tired of screwing around with it. I decided to bottle it and be done with it. My best guess is that the ABV is around 3.0 to 3.25%, but who knows?! Tomorrow night I’ll check the carb and pasteurize the bottles if they are ready. The gallon yielded 10 bottles and I may have to sacrifice one for the carb check.  Whew!

The wine continues to chug along very regularly. I opened the lid and stirred down the bag of crushed grapes. There was lots of sparkly effervescence and the color is a bright red, but not a deep, dark color and certainly not clear. It appears to be right on track, though.

Stirring the wine...snap, crackle, pop!

Stirring the wine…snap, crackle, pop!

My neighbor that has the remaining crab apple tree called and told me to come pick some more today, because they are having them pruned tomorrow and the ones that are easy to reach now will be gone. So I took a 5 gallon bucket over and almost filled it. Based on yesterday’s 2 gallon bucket weighing almost 13 pounds, I’m guesstimating that I have around 30 pounds…quite possibly more.

Big bucket o'crabs!

Big bucket o’crabs!

Maybe I’ll get around to weighing them tomorrow. I may need to find a more efficient way to extract the juice…my little countertop extractor can only handle so much.

As for the batch of cider already underway…

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

…I’m waiting for the Edinburgh Ale Yeast starter to be ready. I stuck it in the refrigerator tonight and should be able to pour off the DME “wort” and pitch it in the morning. I’ll get the OG before adding the yeast, throw in some cinnamon and cloves…maybe a little molasses, if it can stand it. Pink Cripps and Crab Apples. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

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