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Finally Bottled Bulk Aged Cider

Sample of cider...finally bottled!

Sample of cider…finally bottled!

I needed to free up some room in our refrigerator, so I finally bottled the cider that I made last Fall…September? October? Anyway, it bulk aged in 1/2 gallon carboys for months and I moved them into refrigeration when they started getting some carb/pressure in the carboys. I drank a few glasses, but it was kind of dry and boozie. It was made from a mix of crab apples, pears, Ginger Gold apples and Pink Cripps apples. I would have to go back and look in my notes to see what additional fermentables I added, but I do know that I bumped the OG up to 1.097 initially. The SG at bulk aging was 0.993, so the ABV was 13.65% at that point.

Once I combined all the 1/2 gallon jugs into a bottling bucket, I added a 1/2 cup of honey, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water. The OG is 1.000 and I’m not sure if that means the ABV went down and/or whether it will go up again as it carbs. Either way, it WILL be strong! I had enough left in the bottling bucket to taste and it is much nicer with a little sweetness. I hope that stays.

After bottling, I had 18 bottles and 1 tester that basically was the hydrometer sample, topped off with cider from the bottling bucket. In a couple days, I’ll check to see if I need to pasteurize. Glad to finally have this batch bottled!

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Day 140 Pasteurizing Tepache, Bottling Ginger Beer, Racking Cherry Belle Saison

Pasteurizing.

Pasteurizing.

 

I decided to go ahead and pasteurize the Peach-Pineapple Tepache. The test bottle was pretty hard. The sample I tasted was lightly carbonated, but I didn’t want to take a chance of overcarbing. I filled my pressure canner body, with the false bottom, with hot water. I used the bottles to be pasteurized as a measure of how much water to use. This served an additional purpose: warmed the bottles a little before pasteurization. I removed the bottles and put the pot on the stove. I brought the water up to 180F and removed the pot from the heat, placed the bottles in, partially covered with the lid, and set a timer for ten minutes.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

When time was up, I removed the bottles to a towel on the counter to cool.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

My next project was to bottle the non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

I strained the solids out through a cheesecloth and the used a siphon and bottle wand to fill cleaned/sanitized bottles and capped them. They will need to carb for at least 24 hours and then be pasteurized.I believe this batch is too sweet, but I followed the recipe. I put the ginger and spices back into the fermentation bucket. Since they only sat for 24 hours, I feel like there is more flavor to give. So, I’m making a “second runnings” ginger beer that I am going to allow to ferment and produce alcohol.

"Second Runnings"

“Second Runnings”

I added 4 cups of water and measured the OG at 1.062. I may reduce the sugar a little in future batches.  Anyway, I put the bucket back on the heating pad and wrapped it in the Space Blanket.

Next, I got a quart of Culligan bottled water and boiled it for ten minutes and, while it was boiling, I siphoned the the Cherry Belle Citra Saison into a 1 gallon glass carboy for a tertiary stage, leaving behind the cherries and a little sediment.

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

The color is really nice and the cherry flavor is good. I think this will benefit from a little aging. After the boiled water chilled in the refrigerator, I topped off the saison to a gallon. It didn’t take the whole quart…maybe a pint. I’ll let this settle for a couple of days and then bottle it.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

As for the main batch of Belle Citra Saison, I did an SG check and it was 1.000 at 83F. That’s 1.003, corrected for temperature. This should be ready to rack to secondary any time. When I do rack it, I’ll be dry hopping with an ounce of citra pellets.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

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Day 128 Gushers and Bottle Bomb!

Bottle shards from a bottle bomb during pasteurization.

Bottle shards from a bottle bomb during pasteurization.

After 24 hours, I felt confident that my 2 ginger-bug apple sodas (I used one as the tester) and 11 tepaches could go for another 24 hours of carbing. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. All were gushers. I guess 30 to 36 hours would have been better than 48! So, I decided to gently lift a small area on the crown caps to release the excess pressure and then use the bottle capper to try and re-tighten the caps. I should have reread the notes on pasteurizing…I heated water to 190F instead of 180F. I was using my pressure canner pot and, after removing from the heat and placing the bottles in the preheated water, I covered loosely with the lid.

After about 3 minutes, I had the crap scared out of me by an exploding bottle. Luckily, I was not standing right beside it and the lid was mostly covering the pot/ Some liquid came out and made a bit of a mess and a couple of nasty glass shards made it out of the pot. One of the two apple sodas had busted and I could see bubbles escaping from the second one, so I removed it. The tepache bottles appeared to be sealed, so I let them finish the pasteurization process.

The next day, I opened one of the tepache bottles and sampled it. I honestly think this is the best batch. I’m going to leave out the optional beer addition after straining, in the future, as I did on this batch. I did, however, open a bottle of Matt’s Summer Brew and did 1/2 and 1/2 with the tepache to make Mateo’s Tepache Shandy and it is the best yet! Great combination!

Mateo's Tepache Shandy, made with Matt's Summer Brew...delish!

Mateo’s Tepache Shandy, made with Matt’s Summer Brew…delish!

No significant change on the Hi-Nelson Saison…continues to gradually slow in primary fermentation, while set on top of our heating pad on the lowest setting.

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Day 127 Bottling Tepache #3 and Apple Ginger Bug Soda

I feel like the tepache has been going long enough. The FG is 1.035, but I didn’t take the OG. With the amount of piloncillo raw sugar, I assume 1.110, as I had in the first batch. That would make it around 9.84% ABV…I’m skeptical. The tiny sample I got from the bottom of the fermenter bucket didn’t have any alcohol heat at all. (But it was good!)

At this point, I’m not going through all the sanitizing steps  and bottling details in my journal; however, I AM still faithfully following procedures. If you happen to be reading my journal, welcome! If you need details on sanitary practices and bottling procedures, you can look through my early entries.

Based on past experience, I’m going back  to two days for carbing and then I’ll pasteurize at the same time as my apple ginger bug soda. The tepache yielded 10 bottles plus the last on, that I will use as a tester for carbonation, since it has a fair amount of sediment in it.  I marked the cap with an “X”.

For the apple ginger bug soda, I poured 48 oz of an all natural apple juice into a large measuring cup. Not that it really matters, but the Mott’s Natural SG is 1.05 (No sugar added, no preservatives) I strained and added 1/4 cup of the ginger bug starter and mixed them well. I divided that between four prepared 12 oz bottles and capped them. I then added 1/4 cup of water and 2 teaspoons of sugar back to the “bug” starter. The starter has been out of the refrigerator for a day. I’m going to leave it out overnight and then put it back in the fridge again. I marked the caps with “A”,  for apple. Late afternoon Thursday should be time to check my tepache tester and pasteurize the tepache and apple soda.

Note: 7 pm Wed.  Picked up one of the four Apple Ginger Bug Sodas and there’s a lot of stuff floating in it…I think it came with the “natural” apple juice. I decided to open one and pour it through a strainer into a glass.

Apple Ginger-Bug Soda. Cloudy, needs more carb, but tasty.

Apple Ginger-Bug Soda. Cloudy, needs more carb, but tasty.

It’s cloudy and, even through the strainer, it looks like stuff floating. But it has a nice little carb and a good flavor…for 1/4 cup added to 48 oz of juice, you can really taste the ginger. Interesting. It should easily handle another day to carb, though.

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Day 121 Pasteurizing Tepache and Checking Wheat RyePA

Mateo's Tepache, pasteurized.

Mateo’s Tepache, pasteurized.

Well, I had eight bottles of tepache, including one that I planned for testing. It had been two days carbing, so I opened the tester…and it was a gusher! The last batch was a bit undercarbed at one day, so…need to try the next batch at a day and a half, I guess. I stuck the tester in the fridge to drink later.

The SG looks like 1.061. I didn’t check the OG, but if it was about the same as last batch, that was 1.111. That would put the ABV at around 6.5% more or less.

I went ahead and pasteurized the other 7 bottles, but one of them started leaking bubbles, so I pulled that one out and continued with 6 bottles.

A six pack of Mateo's, ready!

A six pack of Mateo’s, ready!

I re-tightened the cap on the 7th bottle and pasteurized it separately. I have kept this one aside, as it has a little more gunk in the neck and, if the cap was loose or the bottle compromised for some reason, it could be infected and need to just be poured out. I’ll check it again later.

Did a little fishing this afternoon and came home hot and thirsty. I mixed my tester with a Fresca soda. It wasn’t my favorite blend, but it was cold and wet!

Drew off a sample of the American Wheat RyePA and did a hydrometer check. The reading was  1.011 @ 73.5F, which is 1.012 after adjustment. That’s pretty much spot on expectations. OG was 1.051, FG is 1.012 for a resulting 5.12% ABV. That’s a nice session brew. The color is pale.

Sample of the Summer Brew for evaluation.

Sample of the Summer Brew for evaluation.

The aroma of this sample is pretty light, as is the flavor. I do get an understated citrus. The bittering hops are coming through mildly, but the aroma hops do not seem to be very present. I’m thinking a dry hop addition might have been desirable.  This isn’t an IPA though, so I guess it’s okay. (May have to rethink that RyePA name and just call it a Summer Ale.) It will certainly be an easy drinking brew for the hot weather we’re getting into. This was day four in secondary and bottling should happen tomorrow, but I’m sure it will be okay any time this weekend.

Update 6/06/14:   I have a 1/2 oz of Citra hops pellets in the freezer, vacuum sealed. I’m throwing those into the Summer Ale and letting it go a few more days. I’m using a nylon mesh bag to put the pellets in to keep the trub factor down. I may buy another ounce tomorrow and throw those in…thinking about it.

Summer Ale after 5 days on citrus zests

Summer Ale after 5 days on citrus zests

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Citra pellets in sanitized nylon mesh bag.

Dry hopping...and hoping!

Dry hopping…and hoping!

Update: On 6/8/2014,  I pulled the bottle of tepache out of the fridge that was suspect when I bottled it. I opened it and there was no carb at all. I dumped the bottle and cleaned the gunk out of the neck. After using a bottle brush and golding the bottle up to a light, I could see a crack in the bottle, between the lip and the next indention below that. I couldn’t feel it on the surface, inside or out, but I assume it was the culprit. I went ahead and dropped it in the recycle bin.

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Day 114 Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda, Tepache #2

The ginger-mint “bug” appears to be ready…nice and bubbly. I picked up a pineapple today and already had a couple of mangoes. I got some extra ginger while I was at it. So, tonight I used my little countertop extractor to juice the fruits and about a half ounce or so of ginger and wound up with about 32 oz of juice. I added 2 cups/16 oz of water for a total of 48 oz. Then I added 1/4 cup of strained “bug” and stirred well.

Little countertop juice extractor.

Little countertop juice extractor…before I cleaned the ginger out of it.

Next, I sanitized utensils and 4 bottles and caps. I bottled the juice and capped it and had a little left over, so I put it in a small canning jar with a lid. I’ll use that as a tester. Directions say to refrigerate when carbonated to desired amount…1 to 3 days. I know there’s a LOT of sugar in there, so I think I will pasteurize the bottles when ready, just to be safe. That’s a fair amount of work for four bottles of soda! But I’m hoping it will be worth it! I might try a commercial juice for the next batch, though.

Ginger bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a l;ittle tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Ginger-mint bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a little tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Since I was doing a pineapple for the soda, I went ahead and peeled and cored it for a batch of tepache. I only had a few ounces of the piloncillo Mexican raw sugar, so I made up the bulk of the sugar with regular old brown sugar. So, at least I’m multi-tasking and getting another product started for all my efforts! My American Wheat/RyePA was chugging along this morning. Later in the afternoon it had slowed quite a bit. It pretty slow tonight. I’ll probably go ahead and replace the blow-off tube with a regular airlock  in the morning. And, as ever, the pineapple-mango melomel continues to condition in a carboy and looks beautiful. Can’t wait to drink it…in November 2016.

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Day 106 Pasteurizing Tepache

Let me just say, I’m not a huge fan of pasteurizing. I don’t like the added risk of blowing a bottle  or the possibility that it may affect the flavor of my beverage. I have heard it said that it doesn’t, but the one batch of cider that I pasteurized had a kind of soapy flavor. Might have been unrelated. My batch of Tepache, however, has a lot of residual sugar in in, so I pretty much have to pasteurize.

Bottles in the canner for pasteurization.

Bottles in the canner for pasteurization.

I used my pressure canner to pasteurize  my Tepache. I heated the water to 190F and moved it off the heat. I added the bottles and the temp only dropped about 1 degree. I set a timer for ten minutes. I put the lid on, just to be safe, in case one pops. No problems.

Covered for safety.

Covered for safety.

I’m going to let them rest on a kitchen towel until the reach room temperature. Then I can store or refrigerate. These aren’t meant for long-term storage though. It’s meant to be enjoyed fresh. I checked the water temperature when I removed the bottles and it was 170F.

I also put together a simple label for this rustic little batch…nice!

Mateo's Tepache!

Mateo’s Tepache!

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