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Day 142 Ginger Beer and Citra Belle Saison updates

I drew just a couple of ounces from the Citra Belle Saison…the flavor has approved since I racked to secondary on an ounce of Citra hops. Needs a couple more days…should bottle Sunday or Monday.

The ginger beer that I bottled previously hasn’t really taken off in the carbing department. In fact, I considered dumping the bottles back into the “second runnings” batch and combining them. However, I checked a bottle yesterday and it had a small amount of carb. Not much, but enough that I have decided to leave the bottles and watch them to see if/when they need to be pasteurized.

The “second runnings” batch is taking a long time to really get fermentation going. I had it off the heating pad for awhile. When the weather cleared, I gave it some time in the sun for a couple of days, but then the temp dropped, so I put it back on the heating pad and covered it with the space blanket and the fermentation picked back up. It’s coming along slowly, but today was the first time that I believe I detected alcohol in the aroma when I opened the lid. So, while a longer process than I anticipated, the plan remains as originally envisioned: virgin batch is to be non-alcoholic and the “second runnings” batch will be fermented out for an alcoholic version. No photos for this update…nothing really interesting to see,  just an update.

Additional update 8/16 10:15pm : I guess I was wrong on my second runnings ginger beer. I just took a SG reading and it looked like 1.066 when corrected for temperature and the OG was 1.062. So, either the the sugar is increasing in this bucket (not likely) or one of the measurements was off. I’m betting tonight’s measurement could be a tad off, due to some bits of ginger solids in the hydrometer sample. Would that affect it? I don’t know…seems like it might. At any rate. I’m thinking that there is no fermentation really going at it here, so I’m making an executive decision to add 1/8 teaspoon of dry Champagne yeast to the mix, after I strained it through cheesecloth and made sure I have at least a gallon of liquid left, which I do. With Champagne yeast at work, I will have to keep a close eye after I bottle it and definitely pasteurize; otherwise, the yeast won’t stop until it is bone dry and bottle bombs!

8/18…I had seen some activity with the addition of Champagne yeast to my Second Runnings Ginger Beer, but it seems to have stopped. I checked the temperature and it was over 100F. I guess a two gallon plastic bucket heats a lot more on a heating pad and wrapped in a space blanket than a 6 gallon glass carboy and I’m sure the yeast must be dead. I Googled and found “This strain tolerates fermentation temperatures ranging from 50° to 86°F….”.  So the plan is to get the temperature down and pitch the yeast again…and no additional heat. The house is usually around 74F this time of year. Still trying! And I missed buying bottles yesterday and the home brew shop is closed today. I guess my Citra Belle Saison is going to dry hop a little longer that anticipated.

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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 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 115 Pasteurizing Soda, First Taste Major Nelson’s IPA

Pasteurized Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda

Pasteurized Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda

I kept an eye on my soda bottles all day. There was a build-up of the more pulpy stuff in the necks of the bottles. Around noon, I carefully lifted each bottle and inverted to distribute the contents and put them back down. No explosions…good! I checked the little tester jar and it was getting carb over night, but not until afternoon did I feel it was getting carbed enough. Around 2 pm, I put the tester jar in the fridge and planned to pasteurize around 3 p.m.

I filled my pressure canner with hot water and put it on high heat, loosely covered. Using a digital thermometer, when the water got to 190F, I removed the pot from heat and carefully added the sodas. Covered loosely again, just in case a bottle were to pop. Set the timer for ten minutes. When the timer went off, I carefully removed the bottles to a kitchen towel on the kitchen counter to rest and cool. When cooled off, I’ll transfer the bottles to the refrigerator.

The little tester bottle was chilled at this point, so I gave it a swirl to mix the pulp and drank it. It wasn’t carbed like a Sprite or Ginger Ale, but it was nice and tingly. I definitely get the mango and ginger…really like the flavor. The texture is the part that would be hard to get some people into it, because of the pulp. But overall, it’s good!

I did go ahead and put an airlock on the Wheat RyePA today and moved it to a place to let it go for awhile. The tepache is not yet showing signs of life.

Update: Chilled the ginger-mint bug pineapple-mango sodas and pulled one out to try this evening. The carbonation is good…not too much, but good. The flavor is interesting and I like it. The only odd thing is the amount of pulp…so it’s kind of like a pulpy orange juice/soda hybrid.

Pulpy, but tasty pineapple-mango soda.

Pulpy, but tasty pineapple-mango soda.

Later that evening: Opened my first bottle of Major Nelson’s IPA and wow!!! Head poured creamy and slowly backed down, but never dissipated completely. The aroma was big with hops. The taste was citrus up front that quickly turned to bitter with a resin finish. I’m very happy with how this turned out! I think I finally got the carb right! Technically, this may be my best beer. It is a tad bitter for me, personally, but I think it is exactly where it is supposed to be for the style.  Another couple of weeks in the bottle won’t hurt it, but it is surprisingly good right now!

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Halfway through, the head is hanging on nicely.

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Nice head on the pour…soft, creamy.

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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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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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