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Raleigh Brewing Company Free Wort Giveaway; Railer’s Pale Update

 

Raleigh Brewing Company wort.

Raleigh Brewing Company wort.

I picked up 5 gallons of free wort from Raleigh Brewing Company today…was supposed toget some awhile back, but they ran out. They were nice enough to make more specifically for the people that missed out, so I got some today! The recipe is not exactly known, but it is basically 2-row malt and a little Crystal 10L, from what I was told, with 3 additions of Willamette hops. I’m using Wyeast American Pale Ale 1272 yeast again and fermenting in the mid to upper 60’s F range. Pitched the yeast at about 3;45 pm. I’m going to keep this one simple. No adjuncts, no racking until bottling. And back to corn sugar for priming, to make sure I’m getting it dissolved well…could be an issue with table sugar priming. I think I’ll boil water to dissolve it in first and rack onto it, just to be sure the primer is evenly dispersed.

Update on Railer’s Pale Ale: kegged for the event. I put it in a friend’s keg, who will be donating to the event as well, and helping me with mine…since I know nothing about kegging. The event is Sept 24, for the Carolina Railhawks Soccer fans. “Soktoberfest”. There is a small (I hope) issue…there was a thin “skin”on top of the beer that had just formed in the last couple of days…signs of infection. It tasted okay though, and after discussing it, my friend said she would go ahead and keg it. We will keep our fingers crossed. One possible cause is that the hose I racked with was too short and allowed too much oxygen into the beer at racking, which would encourage an infection. So, I bought some longer tubing at the home brew shop today.

Update 10/8/16: Railer’s Pale Ale: A.L.E. decided that, despite the fact that this event has been done for 3 years, this year they won’t allow it. “Homebrew beer is for at home.” So, now I have about 4-1/2 gallons of beer with no plans, and it’s kegged at a friend’s house. No idea what to do with it. Probably bottle a little bit from the keg and screw the rest. I have too much taking up space as it is. And, in the fermentation chamber, the wort I got two months ago from Raleigh Brewing Co., seems to be continuing to ferment. WTF?! Possible infection, but it tastes okay and there’s no pellicle…just some bubbles. It’s a little bitter for a pale ale, but otherwise okay. I wasn’t planning on messing with it, but it might benefit from some dry hopping with something like Citra, to cut that bitterness and give it a little more aroma and flavor. At some point, I may have to cold crash it…worried about priming/bottling and creating bottle bombs…Hell, I may just dump  it and skip brewing for awhile. Maybe get some new hardware and reduce the threat of infections via tubes, siphons, buckets, carboys, etc., that I’ve had for a few years now. I was excited to get the fermentation chamber set up, but nothing has really been successful in awhile. Kind of depressing. I feel a purge coming before I brew again.

Update 10/18/16: Free pale ale wort from Raleigh Brewing: Racked to new carboy. Not clear at all, but it’s at 1.002 SG, so it’s probably done…just not sure, since it took so long and still had bubbles on the surface. OG was 1.053, according to the brewer, so that would make the ABV 6.69%. Looks and smells okay. Still bitter and not very  “interesting”, so I’m going to let it sit for a week or two and then dry hop with some Citra and maybe some Cascade. Should I put some “holiday spice” in it? I don’t know….

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Brew Day: Railer’s Pale Ale

Brew in a Bag set up (BIAB)...draining the grains

Brew in a Bag set up (BIAB)…draining the grains

A friend recently asked if I would be interested in joining her in providing a homebrew for an event. The event is just prior to the local soccer team’s game. The team is the Carolina Railhawks, so I’m making a beer I’m calling Railer’s Pale Ale. Hopefully, my friend will be able to get my beer into a keg and we will set up beside each other to serve our beers. If the keg doesn’t work out, I can always bottle.

I used an online recipe building program, armed with a basic idea that I wanted to use some frozen, vacuum sealed Cascade hops for the bittering/background “canvas”, with a combination of Mosaic and Citra hops for flavor and aroma. The Mosaic add a resinous flavor and the Citra are, surprise! citrusy.

Cascade whole hops that had been vacuum sealed and frozen.

Cascade whole hops that had been vacuum sealed and frozen.

Starting the 60 minute boil with the Cascade hops.

Starting the 60 minute boil with the Cascade hops.

The base grain is an American 2-row. In playing with other grains to get the right alcohol ABV and the right color, I picked a few specialty grains. Then, after a little research, Wyeast American Ale II 1272 “smack pack” for the yeast. At the lower recommended temperature range, it is supposed to produce a clean, crisp result that accentuates the citrus componants. I went ahead and took the yeast out and activated it early on.

I put my recipe out for some fellow brewers to look at, but didn’t get any feedback before I had to go pick-up the ingredients. After I milled the grains and came home, I see a note from an experienced brewer who said I had too much specialty grain (28% of the grain bill) and should cut them in half and make up the difference with more 2-row. Ugh. The comment is that the beer will be too sweet. Well, I’m kind of stuck now. I can’t waste the time or money on buying more grain for a beer that is going to be given away. Ah, well. I hope that the hop selections will help counteract some of the sweetness that I’m being told is going to be there. At the very least, it will be beer, and it should be drinkable. Mine may not be picked by the fans as the best one there, but I’m not expecting to be in that group anyway…I’m probably the novice of the group.

So, without going through all the individual brew steps here, I’ll hit just a few points. The brew went pretty well as far as the step go. The mash temperature was overshot, as I usually do, not matter how careful I try to be. I used a little Culligan water, cold, to bring the temperature down into my target range. And flies and bees started showing up to check out the wort. Really got to be irritating! Otherwise, no problem with my little modified sparge or the boil.

My little modified sparge set-up.

My little modified sparge set-up.

I do need to note, that being a Liberal Arts guy, “brewhouse efficiency” and some of the more technical calculations in the process are pretty much a guessing game for me. I had the efficiency at 63% in the recipe, based on a previous brew that seemed fairly accurate. When I checked the specific gravity (SG) between the mash and the boil, I got 1.054. The post boil gravity was only supposed to be 1.052, so my efficiency was more like 71%. I adjusted it in the recipe, and the end result will be just a little higher alcohol content,,,but not crazy. It will still only be (estimated at this point) 5.15% ABV. That should be fine.

I chilled with an immersion coil. The tap water temperature is 71F, so I knew I wouldn’t get the wort down into the low 70’s.

Stainless steel coil immersion chiller in use.

Stainless steel coil immersion chiller in use.

I managed 83F and transferred to the carboy…started off using siphon, but the whole hops were a challenge and I wound up having to hand-pour about 1/3. A bit messy, but couldn’t be helped.

Siphoning wort into the carboy (on top of my little chest freezer converted to fermentation chamber.

Siphoning wort into the carboy (on top of my little chest freezer converted to fermentation chamber).

I put the wort in my fermentation chamber with an airlock installed, and placed the package of yeast in as well. I let the wort continue to cool for a few hours and then pitched the yeast.

After a couple of hours, I realized the temperature was a little low, so I turned the thermostat up a few degrees and left the lid up on the box to bring the temperture up for awhile. Six hours later, I see the slightest indication that the yeast may be active. A few hours later, I closed the lid to keep the temperature in the range I want, which would be around 65-68F. Now we wait to see if it really takes off…and how it turns out.

Update: 7/23/16    Checked on the progress around noon and we have a good fermentation in progress!

Success!

Success!

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Bottled Belgo Paleo

Bottling!

Ready for bottling!

I just finished bottling the Belgo Paleo Belgian Pale Ale and I wound up with 42-12 oz bottles. I thought I had more corn sugar on hand to prime with, but I only had 3/4 oz. So, I primed with table sugar. The recommended amount for a Belgian Ale is 1.9 to 2.4 atmospheres.With my history of overcarbonating, I looked at the lower end of the scale and the amount of sugar recommended is 2-1/2 oz; I went with a scant 2-1/8 oz. Always feels like a bit of a crapshoot, but we’ll see how THAT works out.

Bottling bucket.

Bottling bucket.

I did get a hydrometer sample again and the FG is confirmed at 1.015. My OG was almost dead-on at 1.060 (recipe says 1.059), but I just couldn’t get to the projected 1.009 FG. So, instead of 6.56%, I wound up with a respectable 5.91% ABV.

Nice color.

Nice color.

Flash makes it hard to see the line is actually 1.014...with temp correction = 1.015 FG

Flash makes it hard to see the line is actually 1.014…with temp correction = 1.015 FG

In an attempt to lessen the chances of overcarbonation, I cleaned all my containers and equipment with a solution of super washing soda from Arm&Hammer, rinsed and sanitized with Starsan. I ran the bottles through the dishwasher AND sanitized with Starsan. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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Day 98 SG Check on the Melomel

Pineapple-Mango Melomel after 13 days in primary fermentation.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel after 13 days in primary fermentation.

 

I decided to check the SG on my pineapple-mango melomel (fruit mead), as I have not seen any activity in the airlock for several days. Yeast was pitched about 13 days ago. The hydrometer reads 0.994 @ 74F. With correction to 60F calibration, that puts it at 0.995. The OG was 1.110, so the alcohol content is at 15.09%. That is, by far, the highest ABV I have attained on any of my libations, so far. A tiny drop of a sample definitely had an alcohol “burn” to it.

Color, flavor and aroma are all very nice. The most surprising, is the flavor. Despite the burn, I still get a pretty fresh, tropical flavor. My last pineapple experiment smelled and tasted awful at this point, but improved later. I think this one is ready for secondary. This weekend, I’ll move it to a one gallon carboy, using a siphon with maybe a little filter bag attached to the end. With the fruit not all settling to the bottom, I think this will help the siphon to work without pulp clogs, as well as aiding clarification. I’m very encouraged at this point!

Later…decided to open a bottle of my first all-grain (BIAB) brew, a pale ale. It has been in the bottle for ten days…recipe calls for 30, but I couldn’t wait! It’s very good, I think. I may have overcompensated on the priming sugar reduction…it’s a little under-carbed. Let’s see what another 3 weeks do for it. I would still be happy, if this is it though. The flavor is very nice…bittering hops are very present, but not overpowering. The aroma is great. It’s nicely balanced. I’m happy. And checking back on it in a couple of more weeks.

All-Grain Pale Ale (BIAB)...cheers!

All-Grain Pale Ale (BIAB)…cheers!

 

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Day 95 Racking the Pale Ale

Pole Vault Pale Ale racked to secondary.

Pole Vault Pale Ale racked to secondary.

The Pole Vault Pale Ale was ready to rack today. I tried to draw a sample off yesterday and I got sludge through the spigot, so I decided to rack through my siphon. Since I bought a longer siphon recently, I decided to go ahead and rack into the glass carboy. The trub in the bottom of the bottling bucket was definitely above the spigot…around the 1 gallon level!

Trub definitely above the spigot.

Trub definitely above the spigot.

A lot more trub than I'm used to seeing.

A lot more trub than I’m used to seeing.

 

I carefully racked off as much as I could, without getting into much sediment; however, there was a little that got through. The carboy is at, what I believe is, a little under the 5 gallon mark. Judging from the initial settling, I’ll probably lose another 1/4 gallon when racking at bottling time. So, I may not get my full two cases, but that’s okay.

On a side note, I tried my brew buddy’s all grain strawberry blonde  and compared it to my extract version. Mine was messed up in the beginning by too much water and a low OG. I added extra DME after the fact to raise the SG. By comparison, mine had a decent strawberry flavor…I added mine at 170F following flameout and she added hers to secondary. I think this plus the extra DME probably overpowered my hops bittering. I was also a little overcarbonated, but not drastically. Despite my minor flaws, it is drinkable if you like the strawberry flavor. While I love ripe strawberries, I think fermented strawberry flavor is not really my thing.

Brew buddy's all-grain strawberry blonde. (Right after pour)

Brew buddy’s all-grain strawberry blonde. (Right after pour)

 

My extract version of a strawberry blonde.

My extract version of a strawberry blonde. (After head dissipated)

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Day 93 Pitching the Yeast on the Mead

Pineapple Mango Melomel. ready for yeast.

Pineapple Mango Melomel. ready for yeast.

Smacked the yeast pack earlier this morning. It swelled appropriately. At about 11:15 a.m., I gave the yeast pack a shake and sanitized it and my equipment.

Ready to pitch.

Ready to pitch.

I used my refractometer and measured the OG at 1.110. (The must was a little thick and I didn’t want to waste any, since it’s just a one gallon batch, so I used the refractometer instead of the hydrometer.) I gave the must a stir, added the yeast and stirred again.

Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead Yeast.

Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead Yeast.

From the little bit of juice on the spoon, this stuff is very sweet and tasty…but a lot of that sweet is destined to become alcohol! This is going to be a long process, but it’s off to a good start.

Pole Vault Pale Ale update: the airlock has slowed. I haven’t timed it, but it has definitely not got the steady heartbeat anymore…probably 2 or 3 per minute.

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Day 92 Starting Pineapple Mango Mead (Melomel)

Pineapple Mango Melomel ingredients

Pineapple Mango Melomel ingredients

There were some big pineapples on sale at my local store and I already had a couple of mangos at home that were on sale, so…time for Pineapple Mango Mead! Or melomel, I guess. I think most fruit meads are called melomels. Some die-hards can get really technical, but I think that’s right. Anyway, I grabbed the pineapple and a 3 lb bottle of clover honey and checked out. The pineapple was $3 and the honey was $8.

So, this morning I juiced the fruit with my little countertop juice extractor and added the pulp back to the juice. I see no reason to waste the pulp, it was practically creamy. I did peel the fruit first, so it should all be good.

Pineapple juice and pulp.

Pineapple juice and pulp.

Prepping mango.

Prepping mango.

I had put together a tentative recipe and adjusted to reality as I went along. The pineapple and two mangoes yielded about 2 quarts. Then I added 1 campden tablet, crushed, 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient and 1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme. Next, I mixed the honey with equal parts hot water to dissolve and added that to the juice and came up to one gallon.

In the 2 gallon primary fermentation bucket, mixed well.

In the 2 gallon primary fermentation bucket, mixed well.

Equal parts clover honey and hot Culligan water.

Equal parts clover honey and hot Culligan water.

I decided to add another 48 oz hot water to allow for some of the loss in racking. Mixed well, snapped on lid and added airlock. This mixture will sit 24 hours .

About a gallon and a quarter in the bucket. Tomorrow: check the FG and pitch the yeast!

About a gallon and a quarter in the bucket. Tomorrow: check the FG and pitch the yeast!

Tomorrow, I will pitch the yeast. I bought a “smack pack” of  Wyeast’s Sweet Mead Yeast. I will check the FG just before I do the yeast. After that process is started, it will likely take several weeks in primary. Then another couple of months or longer to be in a secondary phase where there is as little headroom as possible…in a carboy, I guess. Finally, it will be bottled and I’ll likely hide it away another year to age. I’m thinking Fall of 2016 is a good target.

Update on the Pole Vault Pale Ale that I brewed for my first all-grain Brew in a Bag project: It started bubbling away on the next day sometime and continues at a good rapid heartbeat-like pace.

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