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Day 97 Sampling the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout

Last night, I decided to try a bottle of the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout. It has only been in the bottle for about 2 weeks, but temptation got the better of me! Unfortunately, I am battling Spring allergies and my sense of taste and smell are pretty dull right now. I really should have waited. From what I could tell though, this beer is on the right track.

Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout...first sample.

Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout…first sample.

The carb is too aggressive, but I’m hoping that will settle in over time. The aroma is a mystery at this point, but I think it’s good. The flavor…I get decent body and the mocha flavors, but I can’t sense just how good they are…or will be. I think I’ll try another one in about a month, when I’m healthy. I’m hopeful and encouraged, but I realize that neither I, nor the stout, were ready for this test.

I also checked the Pineapple-Mango Mead and didn’t see any airlock action. It is still in primary. It may have a little more to go before secondary…I didn’t stare at the airlock for more than a minute. There could very well be some slow action still going on. I don’t think it will hurt to let it go another week and then do a gravity check.

Tonight, I sampled another of the Plain Jane Blonde Ales and it continues to grow on me. I feel like it is MUCH better than the Strawberry Blonde of the same batch. While the color is a little dark from the DME/strawberry wort boil added the day after brewing to adjust the SG, the flavor is nice and the bittering hop still comes through.

Plain Jane Blonde Ale, in the bottle a month.

Plain Jane Blonde Ale, in the bottle a month.

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Day 89 Bottling Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout

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At this point, I’m not going to go into all the cleaning, bottle washing, setting up stuff. I’ve gone over all that before…don’t skip it, it’s important! Sample of the final product has an FG of 1.022 and is a nice deep cola color with good clarity. I calculate the ABV to be 5.38%.

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I used 2-1/2 oz of corn sugar in 8 oz of very hot water to the bottling bucket. (Trying to adjust the carb level to the beer style…I hope this turns out well!)  I topped that with 1 quart of cold brewed Kona blend coffee concentrate and then racked the beer from secondary off of the cocoa nibs and into the bottling bucket, blending well.

Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate and Corn Sugar in hot water.

Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate and Corn Sugar in hot water.

I decided to do half the batch in 22 oz “bombers” and the rest in regular 12 oz bottles. Unfortunately, my bench style capper messed up on my first bottle. I haven’t tried to figure it out yet. All my beer was in the bottles and I didn’t want to take too long and risk contamination, so I used the handheld capper. It wasn’t too bad. I wound up with 1 case of 12 oz bottles plus 2 extra bottles (26) and 1 case of 22 oz bottles plus one extra bottle (lucky 13).

To celebrate, I popped open a bottle of Troegs Java Head. Dayum, this stuff is good! My Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout will be sweeter and include chocolate with the coffee…and I think it will be very good; but let’s be honest, it’s not going to be Java Head good!

This is great stuff...what my brews dream of being!

This is great stuff…what my brews dream of being!

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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 83 Brew Day Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

Ingredients for Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

Ingredients for Costa Cocoa Milk Stout

Brew Day 3/8/14   I think I am far enough along to breeze through the basic details. The basic brew went well, except I added 1 lb of lactose instead of 8 oz. From what I have heard, that should not be a problem. Maybe a slightly higher gravity. I started the grain steep with 3 gallons of water @ 155 for 30 minutes. I did do my little mini sparge set up. I used a bottling bucket with hose and gravity drained 2 gallons of water @ 168F over the grain sock.

Mini sparge for the grain sock. Hey, why not?!

Mini sparge for the grain sock. Hey, why not?!

Creative little mini sparge

Creative little mini sparge

Boiled for 60 minutes following directions for additions. Ice bath chilled to 125F, added 1 gallon of cold water to top-off at 5-1/2 gallons. Temp was still at 100F. So I returned the bottling bucket that I’m fermenting in, to the ice bath.

The Boil

The Boil

When I got it to 75F, I pulled a sample for specific gravity check and pitched the yeast (I rehydrated the Safale s-04 yeast in 4 0z of 75F water). Popped on the lid and airlock and I aerated for 5 minutes. Finished shortly after 5 pm.

I checked the OG with my new refractometer: 1.063/1.064 (those numbers are SO small!) and hydrometer: 1.060 at 80F, adjusted to 1.062…so, pretty close to each other. The original specs called for 1.053. I imagine the difference can be accounted for with the extra lactose and maybe a little better efficiency on the grain steep resulting from the mini sparge technique(?).

The hydrometer OG check

The hydrometer OG check

Update 3/9/13   9 p.m.   The wort began to ferment late last night and became pretty strong by this morning. I was away from the house for several hours and returned to find a very small amount of krausen in the airlock. It may not be necessary, but I went ahead and set up a blow off. I have 1 quart of cold brewed Kona blend coffee in the refrigerator. That will be added at bottling, after a secondary on Costa Rican chocolate nibs. This brew will eventually be “Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout”. Did I mention that I love sitting here and writing and being able to hear the blow off chugging away in the next room? Yeah…love it. And having a glass of my homebrew Citra Citrus American Wheat doesn’t suck, either!

Citra Citrus American Wheat...Man, I love this beer!

Citra Citrus American Wheat…Man, I love this beer!

By the way, the strawberry blonde is continuing to clear in secondary. I’m thinking it should be ready to bottle by next weekend. The small batch of Plain Jane Blonde is in a plastic bucket, so I can’t see it; but I assume it is at least as clear as the strawberry. Maybe I’ll bottle that later this week, just to break things up a  bit. There’s about 6 gallons of strawberry, so that’s going to take awhile. The plain is only about a gallon and a half.

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

I hadn’t thought about it before now, but I’ll need to do some math on the corn sugar amount for bottling these blondes, since both are substantially off from the 5 gallon mark.

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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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Day 79 Birthday Brew Related Presents & First Taste of Citra Citrus Wheat

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My birthday was yesterday and I was not at home until today to celebrate with extended family. I received some excellent brew related gifts at our family gathering (thank you everyone!). There were some non-brew related gifts that were just as appreciated, but this is a brew journal, so that is what I’m going to talk about here!

I received a brew ingredients kit  for a chocolate stout that will be fun. It includes cocoa husks and nibs and some lactose…so I’ll be using some new things. Also, I received my first 6 gallon, glass carboy and a handle and carrier strap for it. I’m looking forward to trying it out! My last piece of hardware is a refractometer…woo hoo!!! The refractometer will give me a specific gravity reading with just a few drops of wort and I wont have to worry about the temperature so much. It will be easier to read than a hydrometer floating in a sample tube…and less wasteful. I tested it with some bottled Culligan water, not distilled, but it read zero, so calibration should be good. I tested a sample of some Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Hard Cider and it read 1.025…cool!

Nice, tart Granny Smith cider...tested the new refractometer with this...I wonder what the OG was?

Nice, tart Granny Smith cider…tested the new refractometer with this…I wonder what the OG was? About 1.063?

I’ll check my Strawberry Blonde Ale and Plain Jane Blonde Ale’s SG’s tomorrow…maybe rack them, depending on readings. Need to find my racking siphon pieces, if I’m going to use the big carboy.

My final brew-related gift is a brewing class on March 15 for “Brew in a Bag” (BIAB) brewing at Atlantic Brew Supply…includes brewing a batch in class too! Should be interesting.

Finally, at my birthday gathering, I tasted two of my brews. One was my Bavarian style Hefeweizen (the Great Weisse)…I had one in reserve that I didn’t give away to my friend for the Megalodon shark tooth. I really kept this one for my own benefit to see how it would taste this far out from bottling.

Great Weisse, Bavarian Style Hefeweizen

Great Weisse, Bavarian Style Hefeweizen

The head was aggressive, but died down to a nice soft one and the flavor/aroma/color were all nice and appropriate for the style…very pleased with the beer. The second beer I tasted tonight is my Citra Citrus Wheat …this beer is a-MAZE-ing!!! A home run. in my opinion. IMAG2694It was bottled one week ago and it is VERY drinkable. I can’t wait to show this one off and get some feedback! The family members that got a sip were all very impressed. Today has been a good day.

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