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Update on Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry Citra Ale: Infection!

This is what infection looks like...damn it.

This is what infection looks like…damn it.

Well, I have my first confirmed infected beer. After racking the Mowing Mt. Ranier Cherry-Citra Ale, I noticed some patches on the surface the next day. Then, the following day, there was a complete film (a.k.a. “Pellicle”) covering the surface. I confirmed that it was on the small blackberry batch, as well.

What caused the infection? I don’t know. A fruit fly touching the beer during racking? A microscopic particle drifting in? Cherries weren’t properly sanitized? Sloppiness when transferring wort from kettle to fermenter? No way to know really. From what I understand, there are a few possible outcomes. I could put it in an out of the way place and let it go for a couple of years and hope that the infection is Brettanomyces strain and would slowly transform my beer into a mindblowing sour beer. It could be an acetobacter (commonly from fruit flies) that would basically turn the beer into vinegar. It could be something yucky than would just turn the beer into something disgusting. Finally, I could go ahead and try to siphon from under the pellicle and bottle the beer ASAP and cross my fingers. The eventual outcome could still be nasty, or it could be good initially and go downhill. Or it could get better with age. Again…no way to tell in advance. So, I’m going to bottle it. The next step, after that, will be replacing my siphon and tubing and bleaching the Hell out of my carboy and bottling bucket, and hoping to salvage them. Some say it should all be thrown away or only be used for sour beers. Others say bleaching works.

I was almost out of 12 oz bottles, but I have some 22 oz “bombers”, so I went ahead and bottled the little blackberry batch into 2 of those and one 12 oz. The beer seemed to taste okay still. Luckily, a brewer friend had a couple of cases of bottles that she gave to me…saving me a trip to the supply store and about $35 for 2 cases of bottles! So, bottling will be my project tonight. I’ll update later….

***Okay…it’s later. I bleached all my utensils and the bottling bucket, rinsed well and then sanitized again with Starsan. The bottles, I soaked in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda solution, rinsed well, and then sanitized with Starsan.I went transferred the beer to the bottling bucket with 3oz sugar dissolved in hot Culligan water. I collected 4 gallons to bottle. I tried to stop well before any of the stuff from the pellicle got too low. As the volume in the carboy dropped, the pellicle coated the sides.

The clarity and color were nice though...dang it!

The clarity and color were nice though…dang it!

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

Volume drops, pellicle coats sides.

I went through the bottling process and got 42 bottles (12oz). The beer is clear, the color is nice, the flavor is good. If it weren’t for the infection, I would have been really happy at this point! It is depressing though that the few bottles I did yesterday from the little blackberry variant were cloudy at the bottom and may have had some stuff floating at the top. It could be that it just had more crap in the smaller bucket and I wasn’t as careful getting it into the bottles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the main batch. I had intended to go light on the priming sugar, but I overestimated how much beer I would collect; so it turns out that I added the amount of sugar that would have been recommended anyway…though I was shooting for 2.2 atmospheres, which is a little under. I will have to watch for overcarbing.

Update 9/10/15: Refrigerated a bottle all day and opened it last night. Not carbed enough. I’m not sure it’s good enough to save, but I’ll give it a couple more weeks.

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Brief Update on Jackfruit Cider and Tepache

The Jackfruit Cider continues to ferment with steady, but not aggressive, bubbling in the airlock. I anticipate a long process for this one, because I really want to see where the flavor will go.  I opened the top (after sanitizing around it) and the fruit was floating on the top, but wasn’t dry or molding. The aroma was a sharp hit in the nose…after that, it was sweet, but still with that slightly odd componant. Lid back on and let it roll.

Jackfruit Cider fermenting.

Jackfruit Cider fermenting.

The tepache is nice and tangy. I wanted to go through the pellicle on top and siphon from under it, but it got sucked in, too. So, I had to run it through a strainer and into another container. I had about 2/3 to 3/4 of a gallon of tepache and I topped it off with water to a gallon. Popped that in the fridge to drop the temperature. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to bottle it or just keep it in the jug, refrigerated.

Kombucha on the right, tepache on the left.

Kombucha on the right, tepache on the left.

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Day 139 Making Ginger Beer, Bottling Tepache, Checking Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Tonight, I knocked out a couple little projects and checked up on one. My micro batch of Cherry Belle Citra Saison has a pretty color from the cherries and I think they’ve given up all they really have to offer. I’m going to rack this brew to tertiary tomorrow to settle for a few days before bottling.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

I went ahead and strained my peach-pineapple tepache…it had a bubbly pellicle covering the surface. I siphoned out from under the surface and through a few layers of cheesecloth. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I feel good about it. The flavor is really nice. It’s sweet and tangy and the spice is coming through nicely.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample...sweet. tangy, spiced...good stuff!

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample…sweet. tangy, spiced…good stuff!

The SG is 1.041 and I feel like it’s time for bottling. So I got that done and filled a soda bottle for carb testing. If it goes like I’m anticipating, I should be pasteurizing Monday morning (about 36 hours).

My other project for tonight was peeling a pound of fresh ginger,

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

 

shredding it in the food processor,

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Shredded fresh ginger.

and starting a non-alcoholic ginger beer for my brother in-law who is from Trinidad. I’m using a recipe from a cookbook he brought from Trinidad and it looks very similar to tepache, except it uses freshly grated ginger instead of pineapple skins. Here is the recipe:

Ginger Beer

1 lb fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a spoon, grated

8 cups water

Juice and zest from 1 lime

4 cups granulated sugar

1 stick cinnamon

4 to 6 cloves, whole

Directions: (I have adapted for my bottling procedure) Combine all ingredients in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket and stir to start sugar dissolving.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Seal lid and install an airlock. Place in direct sunlight for 1 day. (We are having rain, so I’m putting the bucket on a heating pad overnight and most of tomorrow.) Next day, strain. I assume that this would become alcoholic, if I allowed it to ferment longer, but that’s not the plan for this batch. Sweeten to taste, if necessary. Bottle. (I’m going to top off to a gallon with fresh bottled water to extend the batch a little.) Fill a soda bottle to use for judging carbonation progress. It should take a day or two. Pasteurize and store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate before opening. (Open over a sink or outside just to be safe!)

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