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Brew Day! National Homebrew Day! Big Brew Event!

Let's Brew!

Let’s Brew!

Today was National Homebrew Day and I celebrated by brewing at Atlantic Brew Supply’s “Big Brew” event in the Raleigh Brewing Company’s brewery. The recipe I chose is a Saison called Legends Never Die and the 1/2 price deal came up to just over $15 for a 5 gallon recipe. As has been usual for awhile now, I used the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method. The grain bill is North Carolina sourced, the yeast is Belle Saison, and the hops are an ounce of Cascade @20 minutes, a half ounce of Nugget @ 10 min and again @ 5 min. A final 1 ounce dry hop addition is done at secondary fermentation for 10 days.

Raleigh Brewing Company/Atlantic Brew Supply Big Brew

Raleigh Brewing Company/Atlantic Brew Supply Big Brew

The brewing process went pretty smoothly. The brewery hot water was already above 130F, so strike water reached temperature quickly. As usual, I went over my target temperature for mash in, but I added a little cold water and got it right within a few minutes.

My stuff.

My stuff

I did a mash-out this time to 172F for 10 minutes and sparged with 2 gallons of the brewery hot water.  When I was ready to boil, it seemed to be taking a little time, so I started making some notes…next thing I knew, I had a little boil-over. On the plus side, it provided a pretty clean break and I had a nice boil for the rest of the time.

Ready to boil

Ready to boil

I did get a little pop while stirring and got a mild burn on my right hand. It really only hurts when exposed to steam or warm water. I have found that stirring enough to create a whirlpool in the wort while it’s boiling, creates these pops of hot wort that can splash out of the kettle. I used my refractometer to check the specific gravity (SG) and is a little under the projected 1.063…I got 1.058. I’m good with that for my original gravity (OG). A friend had to add a pound of DME (Dry Malt Extract) to get to 1.060, so I don’t feel too bad.

After the boil, I used one of the brewery’s wort chillers and brought the temperature down to about 72F…took about 15 minutes or so. Then I siphoned the wort into my plastic carboy, aerated it with the oxygen cannister for about two minutes, and then pitched the yeast.

Done! Time for clean-up.

Done! Time for clean-up.

Clean up went pretty quickly and I strapped my carboy into my van for the trip home. Done! I arrived at the brewery at 9 a.m. and left right at 2 p.m. Five hours on the button.

Strapped in for the ride home. Click it or Tip it!

Strapped in for the ride home. Click it or Tip it!

I checked on the carboy around 7 p.m. and didn’t see much action, but it looked okay. An hour later, the krausen had literally created a layer on the top of the wort that was about a finger thick!

Belle Saison yeast is a monster!

Belle Saison yeast is a monster!

Time to install a blow-off set-up, before it fouls the airlock!

Blow-off set-up installed.

Blow-off set-up installed.

And it’s time for some Aleve. Happy National Homebrew Day!

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Belgo Paleo Moved to Secondary

BelgianPale

Tomorrow is a brewing event at my local homebrew shop (LHBS) and I’ve decided to participate and brew a saison with mostly North Carolina sourced ingredients.

North Carolina Water and Grain Bill. (A little harder to get NC yeaast and hops...this time.

North Carolina Water and Grain Bill. (A little harder to get NC yeast and hops…this time.)

So, I needed to rack the Belgo Paleo to secondary fermentation while I have an empty carboy. Then I needed to rack it back into the first carboy, so I could use the second one tomorrow. The reason is that the first carboy is glass and the second is plastic. The plastic one will be much easier to handle and transport.

Racking to plastic carboy. (Then back to glass, after cleaning.)

Racking to plastic carboy. (Then back to glass, after cleaning.)

I pulled a sample to check with the hydrometer and it looks like the same as my last sample: 1.017. I don’t think it’s going to go down anymore…1.009 is just not happening.

Hydrometer reading: 1.016? 1.017?

Hydrometer reading: 1.016? 1.017?

The taste is good, in my opinion, though. I will let it go a few days in secondary to see if fermenation kicks back up at all. Then I will go for the dry hop addition. Overall, I think we’re okay. The beer will be a bit lower ABV than projected, but that’s not a huge deal.

Update 5/3/15: Dry hop addition of 1 oz Saaz hop pellets are in. I sanitized a small muslin bag for the hops to go in and worked it into the carboy.

Update 5/7/15: Okay…so, the Belgo Paleo is in secondary and off the trub. Dry hops added 4 days ago…everything sanitized. Now, we have signs of additional fermentation. Bubbling in the airlock…not strong or frequent, but fairly regular. Signs also on the surface. Good thing I’m not in a hurry, but I have a lot going on over the next couple of weeks, including a nose surgery and recovery, so I guess this won’t get bottled until late May, if not sometime in June.*sigh*

Sanitized hops bag, surface action...what?

Sanitized hops bag, surface action…what?

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Day 166 Bottling Muscadine Wine

Muscadine wine...nice and clear.

Muscadine wine…nice and clear.

Finally bottled my muscadine wine! I started with grapes that I foraged from wild vines and now I have my first wine in the bottles! The wine has been bulk aging  in two 1 gallon carboys and one 1/2 gallon carboy.

Bulk aging the wine.

Bulk aging the wine.

I combined them all into a bottling bucket to make sure the wine is all consistently blended and to facilitate the bottling.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

I used the Brewer’s Friend online bottling calculator to figure out how many bottles I would need…calculation is twenty-six 12 oz bottles, plus 8 oz left over, which would be good for a hydrometer reading and sample.  So, I sanitized 26 bottles and all the bottling equipment and supplies.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

I’m using oxygen absorbing caps for the wine bottling. I have read that a lot of homebrewers think they are useless for beer, but this is wine. Some mead makers think they are absolutely worthwhile. The thing is, the caps are recommended for things that are going to be bottled for 2 years or more. Most beers, other that barleywine, aren’t aged more than a year. There are a few exceptions. Anyway, I’ve decided to use them…several bottles of my wine may very well be around for a couple of years or more.

The clarity on the wine is beautiful and the color is a nice blush. The FG is 0.991 and the OG was 1.113, so we have a 16.01% ABV!

Taking the hydrometer reading.

Taking the hydrometer reading…look at the clarity!

The aroma and flavor are definitely that of a young red wine with a heavy amount of alcohol, but it certainly is not your typical North Carolina sweet muscadine wine.

Pretty!

Pretty!

I can definitely drink the sample, but I probably won’t open a bottle for at least a year and probably longer for most of them. The bottling calculator was spot-on, by the way. I filled exactly 26 bottles.

Filling the bottles.

Filling the bottles.

I’m hoping they will mellow and become something special with time. But this is my first real wine, so it’s pretty special to me already!

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine...ready for storage.

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine…ready for storage.

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Day 151 Racked the Cider and Wine Again, Washed Crab Apples

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Racked again.

The crab apples have been outside in a bucket for several days and it looks like some squirrels or raccoon nibbled a few.  I decided I better move them inside and go through them. I washed them and picked out a couple of handfuls of ones that were beginning to rot. While I was at it, I went ahead and weighed what I have and it’s a little under 21-1/2 lbs. That’s after a batch of jelly and a 2 gallon batch of  cider (half of which was Pink Cripps Apples).

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs.

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs.

After that, I went ahead and racked my muscadine wine and cider batches to continue on their quest for finishing fermentation and achieving clarity. The processes went smoothly and all seems to be on track. Colors are nice!

Pretty color of red for the wine!

Pretty color of red for the wine!

The Montrachet yeast appears to flocculate well.

Wine trub. Fairly stable.

Wine trub. Fairly stable.

Careful racking leaves the trub almost undisturbed. The Edinburgh Ale yeast I used in the cider is a little less settled and required a little more finesse, but I managed pretty well, I think.

Racked cider and empties.

Racked cider and empties.

Amazingly, shortly after racking, a new sediment layer was obvious, especially on the cider. I haven’t done cider in awhile and I’ve forgotten that they require racking so many times before their final clearing.  But they do eventually become beautifully clear and golden! Eventually, I’ll bottle carb and condition the cider. The muscadine wine should wind up beautiful as well. It will be bottled in 22 oz beer bombers, unless someone convinces me otherwise, and aged for a minimum of two years. Geez, the wait for wine is agonizing, isn’t it?

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