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Day 105 Bottling Tepache and Murray’s SEC #3

I got up this morning and decided to take care of racking and bottling the (pineapple) tepache. I racked into two 1/2 gallon carboys. One was full and the other was a very short partial. I went ahead and got a sample for checking the SG. It was 1.040 @74F, so correct to 1.041, down from an OG of 1.090. That calculates out to 6.43% ABV, with plenty of sugar left. I will call 1.041 my final gravity. I racked to 12 oz bottles and filled 7, a little more than I anticipated, but not more than I was prepared for!

Racking the tepache for bottling.

Racking the tepache for bottling.

From the sample, I also had a good taste and I like it. It has a nice sweet and tangy flavor…I don’t want to say “sweet and sour”, because it really isn’t sour. I think “tangy” is a closer description. The cinnamon and piloncillo (raw sugar) are very pronounced. I’m not really noticing the clove…may add a little more next time. So, this is where I have to decide when to pasteurize. I have only pasteurized once before and I’m a little concerned with getting the batch pasteurized with moderate carbonation, but not letting them go to being over-pressurized. I don’t want bottle bombs! I have seen cider build pressure more quickly than anticipated and with the amount of sugar left in the tepache, I think I may just give it one full day and check it by opening a bottle and pouring a tiny sample and then capping it with a fresh crown. So, will check back tomorrow morning.  ***Update 8:15 a.m. 5/6/14 :  Quick sample yields good carb, but needs just a little more. Fresh cap on the test bottle and will check again later today and pasteurize. Moving on…while I have the equipment out and sanitized, I went ahead and bottled the 1/2 gallon of Murray’s super Easy Cider.

Bottling Murray's Super Easy Cider #3.

Bottling Murray’s Super Easy Cider #3.

I was a bit short on 6 bottles, but I got 5 and a good SG/tasting sample. The FG on this batch comes out to 1.007, after temperature correction. I’m having trouble locating my notes with the OG for this batch. Maybe I didn’t include it in a journal entry? Oh well, I believe the OG was 1.053, so if that assumption is right, an ABV of 6.04% is what I come up with. There’s not too much residual sugar, so it may not carb. I’m not too concerned about it…pretty sure there’s no fear of bottle bombs, though. The color and flavor are nice. It still has apple flavor…not too dry. I’m happy with it. I found a good deal at the store today on a commercial apple juice product called “White’s Fresh Pressed”.  In 1/2 gallon plastic bottles, they were buy one, get one free. Ingredients are just apple juice, no additives. They say it’s not from concentrate and the apples are sourced from Virginia.  I bought one bottle for the kids and one for hard cider. I used the refractometer and got an SG of 1.048. That’s a tad low for my liking, so I added about a 1/4 cup of honey and bumped the FG  to about 1.056 and transferred the juice to a 1/2 gallon glass carboy into which I had pitched 5 to 6 grams of Safale s-04 yeast. I gave it a good shaking to dissolve the yeast and aerate the juice. Update: 8:15 a.m. 5/6/14 : Confirmed fermentation is active. Pineapple Tinker was started on Dec. 10, 2013  and bottled on Jan. 20, 2014. I stuck a bottle in the refrigerator a few days ago by mistake…so, I figured I might as well go ahead and try it.

Pineapple Tinker, about 4 months in the bottle.

Pineapple Tinker, about 4 months in the bottle.

So, it’s very fizzy on the pour and eventually settles to steady streams of Champagne-like bubbles rising through a clear, pale yellow liquid. The aroma is definitely pineapple and the flavor starts like a Champagne on the front end and transitions to an almost coconut taste briefly and then pineapple with a dry finish. The deceptive thing about this drink is that the ABV is 13.39%!!! It started at 1.112 OG and FG was 1.010, so it’s packing a velvet punch. Should be interesting to see if this changes in another 6 months or so.

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Day 102 Tepache at 48 Hours, Updates on Others

(Pineapple) Tepache at 48 hours.

(Pineapple) Tepache at 48 hours.

 

Okay, at 48 hours, I am just barely starting to see minimal signs of fermentation beginning in my tepache. The liquid is very sweet and dark from the piloncillo, raw Mexican sugar.

If I want this to be alcoholic at all, I need to let it go longer. I have been doing some reading and have heard others talk of allowing their tepache to ferment from a week to over a month. Some say that it will tern to a spiced pineapple vinegar if you leave it in the refrigerator for a long time. The home brewer that let his ferment for over a month, like a beer wort in primary fermentation, said his fermented out dry and tart. So, it sounds like the trick is to check it regularly until it is the flavor you prefer. For me, I’m guessing about a week.

I’ve also heard people debate adding beer to the mix. Several said they did not prefer it…some said it was too bitter. I still think I want to try it with my strawberry blonde. It isn’t too hoppy or bitter, but I think it might cut the sweetness a bit. I’m estimating Sunday or Monday will be in the range to take the next step. That will be to strain, add some water and a beer and then let it go until around Wednesday? Then, it’s into a pitcher in the fridge.

Moving on to my longer term projects. The pineapple-mango melomel is nice and clear and conditioning in a one gallon glass carboy with very little head space. I’m going to let that continue…I don’t know…another 6 or 7 weeks? My plan is to then bottle it and age until the Fall of 2016. That’s a looooong term little project.  The other in-process project is another Murray’s Super Easy Cider, 1/2 gallon. It seems to be going slowly, but it keeps going. I can still see little bubbles at the top of the cider and rising from the bottom. The liquid is pretty clear, so as soon as it stops with the bubbles, I’ll get it bottled.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (left) and Super Easy Murray's Cider (right)

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (left) and Super Easy Murray’s Cider (right)

I’m hoping to participate in the “Big Brew” this weekend, which will coincide with a national event. I plan on doing an all grain BIAB IPA (India Pale Ale). I’m looking forward to that!

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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 78 Update on Blondes, More Murray’s

Primary Fermentation Buckets: 6 gallon with blow off and strawberries; 1-1/2 gallons plain with airlock.

Primary Fermentation Buckets: 6 gallon with blow off and strawberries; 1-1/2 gallons plain with airlock.

The blonde ales are in primary fermentation, about 6 gals are fermenting with 6 lbs of whole, frozen strawberries with a smack pack of Denny’s Favorite #50 yeast.  The other 1-1/2 gals are plain and are pitched with an almost full package of Safale S-04. The strawberry blonde is still steadily putting off bubbles, though not as vigorously as before.

Blow off on strawberry blonde.

Blow off on strawberry blonde.

The plain blonde has been slow…a bubble every minute or so. I doubt that it could be that close to done, especially after the addition of the extra DME fortified wort. I’m hoping it doesn’t get stuck, but I’m keeping an eye on it and will probably need to do an SG check in a day or two.

I also did some grocery shopping today and picked up two 1/2 gallon containers of  Murray’s Apple Cider. I was so happy with my test batch of the Murray’s Super Easy Cider, that I want to make more!

Murray's Apple Cider...for super easy, delicious hard cider!

Murray’s Apple Cider…for super easy, delicious hard cider!

 

 

 

At $5.69 per 1/2 gallon, a 5 gallon batch would be about $60 and I don’t need ten 1/2 gallon glass carboys…even if they ARE free. So, I may have to research alternatives…bigger containers, case prices. Something. But it IS good and DO need to make some more!

UPDATE: 2/27: A quick note…not worthy of a separate “Day” entry…but I checked the SG on the plain blonde and it is 1.014. So it has had significant movement. Maybe it’ll go down more. ABV currently is a little over 3%. I could always move to a secondary and pitch a different yeast…but the batch is so small, I really don’t want to lose much more of it to testing and racking.

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Day 74 American Wheat Still in Secondary, Tasting Murray’s

I still have my American Wheat with Citrus/Citra in secondary sitting on dried sweet orange peel and rum soaked lemon zest. I am planning on letting that go another week.

The highlight tonight is tasting Murray’s Super Easy Cider for the first time. I fermented a half gallon (in the glass carboy in came in) and got a 12 oz bottle and two 22 oz bottles out of it. The ABV is around 5-1/4%. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a little carb release upon opening the bottle! At this point, the cider has been in the bottle for about 3 weeks. The color is nice and golden, the clarity is great, and the flavor is fairly sweet with a bunch of apple flavor.

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

The carb is light, but present and the cider is dangerously easy to drink! The aroma is straight apple cider and the flavor barely tastes fermented. I will be doing more of this and multiple jugs at a time!  It is literally about sanitizing equipment and pitching yeast. Add an airlock and a week and …boom! Rack for a couple days and bottle. Love it!

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Day 57 Murray’s Cider Quick & Easy

The Belgian Dark Strong continues to slow…may be bottling by Sunday. Pineapple Tinker is sitting and clearing…just going to let it go for awhile. The main event today is a Murray’s Cider Quick and Easy (Hopefully!).  Here’s how it goes: Buy 1/2 gallon carboy of Murray’s Cider at Harris Teeter for $5.99. Sanitize thief, hydrometer, airlock, and around the bottle cap. Open the bottle, check the OG with thief and hydrometer, pitch (pour in) Safale s-04 yeast and install airlock. Boom! Done!

Sanitize everything! I used a no-rinse solution.

Sanitize everything! I used a no-rinse solution.

Let’s hope this “Q&E Cider” goes as planned. If so, it is the easiest ferment EVER! Murray’s Cider comes in a 1/2 gallon, clear carboy and the cider is pasteurized, but contains no preservatives. So, no Campden tablets…no sulfites! I had a partial envelope of Safale s-04 yeast vacuum sealed  in the refrigerator. I didn’t measure it, but I seem to recall that this was about 1/4 envelope. It should be plenty for a half gallon of cider.

It's just that easy...I hope!

It’s just that easy…I hope!

The OG was 1.050 at 70F room temperature. Adjusting for hydrometer calibration would make it 1.051. I don’t know if I’m going to try and carb this one or not. I may just go as simple as possible for this first one, for the sake of seeing just how simple it can be. If the SG gets down to 1.010, then the ABV would be 5.38% and should be nice and clear, because the only thing added is a small amount of yeast to an already clear, golden cider.

Okay…wee hours and I should be sleeping. Hey, it’s Friday night and I caught a little nap after dinner! I opened a chilled 22 oz bottle of my Crabapple/Fuji Blend Cider and it is VERY drinkable.

Crabapple-Fuji Blend Cider...very drinkable!

Crabapple-Fuji Blend Cider…very drinkable!

As I have written before, I had hoped for more sparkle, but everything else about this cider is just what I wanted…the right color, the right level of sweetness. I can’t remember the ABV %, but I could look it up in my notes. Whatever it is, it’s not burning or harsh and otherwise isn’t important…but it’s in there. The slight carb doesn’t really present itself in the pour or the glass, but you can just sense it in the mouth. A small tweak next year could make this awesome, but it is very good as is!

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Day 40 Stout Racking, Checking Cider Batch #4

6:00 pm   Dry Stout batch SG is still reading 1.012 at 69F. Decided to rack to carboys.

From primary (bottling bucket) to carboys

From primary (bottling bucket) to carboys

I filled two 1 gallon carboys and partially filled an amber growler. The color is excellent!

2 gallons plus a growler up to the green pen cap.

2 gallons plus a growler up to the green pen cap.

Another few drops sampled after the hydrometer check was good. If the SG, after adjusting for hydrometer calibration, stays at 1.013 and the OG was 1.037, then the ABV will be 3.15%. If it drops to 1.010, it would be 3.54%. Low, either way, but satisfying and a good session brew. When I racked the stout, I saw an airlock bubble, but they were few and far between. The SG didn’t change since yesterday, so we’re probably going to stay at 1.013. I’m going to bottle either tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on when I have time. My big hope now is for appropriate carbonation, good body and a nice head. Lees were pretty thick. The partial growler amount may have a bit left in it. I’ll be careful when I rack for bottling.

Bottom of the primary

Bottom of the primary

10:30 pm   Drank some stout previously home brewed by an aquaintence.

Barely perceptible "stout 'stache". The real thing kind of masks it.

Barely perceptible “stout ‘stache”. The real thing kind of masks it.

He gave us 2 bottles last week and this was the second. It was good. From what I have tasted of my batch, I think it is going to be similar. I hope so! What we were given was brewed by a very experienced home brewer.

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Flip-top test bottle…not yet pasteurized. Just starting to detect some carb!

I just opened my flip-top test bottle of cider batch #4 and  checked on it. I heard a little “pfft” when I popped it. I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t get my hopes up. I poured a very small amount and tasted it and…woo hoo! There was a *little* detectable effervescence! The flavor is good…a little sweetness and apple flavor, but not yeasty. If this one carbs up some more, it will be the best yet! (This is the one that has mostly crabapple, but also has Fuji apple juice, commercial Murray’s Cider, a little brown sugar and a little honey in it.

Now, the trick is going to be figuring out if I need to pasteurize it or if it will ever carb enough to worry about it. The flip top has been de-pressurized about 3 times now for testing. The question is: are the capped bottles more carbed than the flip-top? The reasonable expectation is that they would be, but how much more? At some point, I’ll need to open one and see. They are 22 oz bottles, though and I don’t want to waste more than one, if possible. Well, okay, I won’t be wasting it. I will drink it! But you know what I mean. If these don’t get a lot of carbonation, I might just stick them in the refrigerator when I think they’re ready. Maybe outside overnight on a cold night to “cold crash” and then into the fridge. The headline of the story is that there’s a glimmer of sparkly hope!

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