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Day 96 Bottling Pole Vault Pale Ale

Well…this was fun. After having more trub than expected, I thought I would be bottling around 4-1/2 to 4-3/4 gallons. Unfortunately, I made a silly, rookie mistake. When I set up the bottling bucket, I didn’t check to make sure the valve was closed.

siphoning to bottling bucket.

siphoning to bottling bucket.

Oh, yes. That’s right. When the liquid reached the valve, it came pouring out. And worse, I didn’t notice it immediately.

Nice color...only one problem. See that spigot? It's open. Yeah.

Nice color…only one problem. See that spigot? It’s open. Yeah.

So, because of THAT mishap, my 4-3/8 oz of corn sugar is probably going to be too much. Great. Another over-carbonated beer. Well, we’ll see in a month. My yield was 39 twelve oz bottles. (3.656 gallons). What did get bottled, looks good…sample has good color and flavor.

sample, despite the mishap, is good!

sample, despite the mishap, is good!

I think the aroma is good, but Spring allergies are preventing an accurate read on that one. Overall, I’m pleased with my first all-grain effort. The mishap at the end was the only real problem.

I still have some clean-up work to do and it’s almost 10 p.m. I guess I better get to it.

The pineapple-mango mead is still going at a steady pace. About every 5 or 6 seconds, a bubble goes off in the airlock.

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Day 85 Busy! BIAB Class, Bottling Strawberry Blonde, Murray’s 1/2 Gallon

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

Strawberry Blonde Ale, secondary for clarification.

Yes, a busy day today! I had a class at my HBS today on BIAB–Brew in a Bag, all grain brewing. It’s like a partial mash extract brew, except the grain steep is MUCH bigger and there’s no liquid or powdered extract. A little more to it than that, but that’s the basic idea. I got a recipe kit for brewing a batch of pale ale using the BIAB method and bought the bag accessory. Also bought some Safale s-04 to use with ciders.

Tony from Atlantic Brew Supply: Lautering? Vaulof?

Tony from Atlantic Brew Supply: Lautering? Vaulof?

Back at home, I set to bottle the strawberry blonde. I siphoned it from the 6 gallon carboy  into a bottling bucket to clear for a few more hours. My siphon did not reach, so I need to look into another solution for that, but I managed the old fashioned way today…risky, but I sanitized the hose, put one end in the carboy and sanitized my mouth (!) and sucked on the other end to start the flow and drop that end of the hose into the bottling bucket.  Went out to dinner and gave it a couple of hours. Then I realized that I was going to have to stir to evenly distribute the priming sugar anyway! Oh well. As it turns out, the racking was very successful in clearing the beer anyway! (I would have racked onto the priming sugar to mix it, but I wasn’t quite ready to bottle and I wasn’t sure how the siphoning was going to go.) Surprisingly, the pinkish color seems to have gone away.

A sample of the strawberry blonde ale. Remarkably, the pinkish tint disappeared!

A sample of the strawberry blonde ale. Remarkably, the pinkish tint disappeared!

The flavor is a little weak maybe, but the strawberries are there. Maybe I should have tried dry hopping for the first time! It will be drinkable though.  The FG is 1.006@72F corrected to 1.007, resulting in an ABV of 4.46%.

Later, I finished getting ready and sanitizing everything for bottling. I mixed 3 oz corn sugar and 4 oz hot water to dissolve. I added that to the beer and stirred well. Note: my bottling instructions have all been calling for “3.93 oz” priming/corn sugar for bottling. I have done some research and discussed this with the HBS folks and found that I need to be taking charge of that particular specification and correcting it to style, thus the 3 oz for this batch. My stout will be bottled with 2 oz corn sugar. Back to business: Bottling went well. I had my younger daughter help with capping for the first time. It was nice to get her involved!

Camera shy, but a good helper!

Camera shy, but a good helper!

The batch of strawberry blonde ale yielded 2 cases of 12 oz bottles plus one 22 oz bomber. I’m considering naming it “Amy Adams Ale”…my favorite strawberry blonde.

After we got the strawberry blonde cases dated and stored, I showed my daughter how I do the 1/2 gallon carboy of Murray’s Cider.

Two Cases of strawberry blonde and a 1/2 gal. Murray's Super Easy Cider.

Two Cases of strawberry blonde and a 1/2 gal. Murray’s Super Easy Cider.

I call it Murray’s Super Easy Cider. Basically, it’s rehydrating 3 grams of Safale s-04 yeast in a couple ounces of 75F water, sanitizing around the cap and pitching the yeast. Shake the jug for a minute or two and then replace the cap with an airlock. Boom! Done! The refractometer put the OG at 1.053 @ 72F. (The refractometer is supposed to compensate for temperature.)

The next project is to rack the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout onto the Costa Rican cocoa nibs in secondary for a week or so.

Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout...about done with primary fermentation.

Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout…about done with primary fermentation.

I need to do a little more research on the treatment of the nibs for sanitizing and drawing out the flavors. Ideally, I could soak them for a few days in a little vodka, but I don’t have any and tomorrow is Sunday…maybe I can borrow a little from the in-laws and push the racking back a day. I’ve heard that heating the nibs in the oven briefly might bring out the flavor a little more…like toasting spices. more research!

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Day 26 Two Gallon Stout After Thanksgiving, Pitching Cider #4

Went to Atlantic Brew Supply today. They are off of Hillsborough St. and closer to me than American Brewmaster. While I will take advantage of American Brewmaster when they open in Cary, Atlantic Brew Supply seems to be a much bigger operation. They also have their own brewery, an onsite brew thing for home brewers one Saturday a month and will loan a burner set-up and sell the “recipe of the month” ingredients for 1/2 price. The guy that helped me was laid back, but knowledgeable  and very friendly and helpful. The grains are bulk and priced by the pound…those and a grinder are self service (or they will help). I was pretty impressed.

I bought a small bottle of a no-rinse sanitizer to try, some Safale s-04 yeast and the ingredients and recipe for a Dry Stout. I’ll make the stout after Thanksgiving. Tonight, I’m going to add some honey to cider batch #4…maybe 1/2 cup…since I was a little short on sugar. I’m also going to add some water, maybe a gallon, since I had extra juice. I’m going to separate the cider into two primary fermentation tanks, each with about 1-1/2 gallons of cider, so I can eventually rack at least 2 full gallons. Once they are separated and the honey is added to both with the extra water (heated to dissolve), then I’ll pitch the s-04 yeast. More on that later.

8:00 pm     Followed my plan and opened the PFB on cider batch #4, removed the pommace bag and squeezed the juice out of it. I had sanitized a second PFB, an airlock, some measuring cups and a spoon. I put 4 cups of hot water in a measuring cup and added    4 oz of honey and stirred to dissolve it. I added the honey water mixture to the cider.  I then divided the cider equally between the two buckets. To each, I added another four cups of water. I checked the OG and it was 1.034 @ 70F. Adjusted is 1.035. That seems a little weak. Maybe I raised the volume of liquid too much. I think I’ll add some brown sugar. I did go ahead and pitch the           Safale s-04 yeast, 3 grams in each bucket.

Okay, I added 8 oz of brown sugar to each PFB and stirred well. Checked the OG again and Bucket #1 is 1.052 Bucket #2 is 1.048 at 70F. Adjusted for temp and hydrometer calibration to 1.053 and 1.049.  The flavor is now sweet, but the apple may be a little weak. We’ll have to see how it ferments. I haven’t liked the idea of adding apple juice concentrate (thawed from frozen), but it may be necessary to get some apple flavor back.

Tomorrow might be a good day to go ahead and bottle Cider Batch #2 and try out one of the bottling buckets. Prime with priming sugar…no tablets!!! I’ve done 1/2 teaspoon per bottle or 1 oz per gallon (so about 1-1/2 oz for this batch). Using the bottling bucket, I think I’ll use the option of adding the priming sugar to the bucket. Name…name…name…”TARDIS Cider. Bigger on the Inside.”  I like it.

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Day 17 Racking Beer, Pitching Yeast in Cider Batch #3

Racking the beer batch from a PFB (Primary Fermentation Bucket) and a growler to a single PFB to settle for another day before bottling.

Opening the beer batch to rack it.

Opening the beer batch to rack it.

The SG looked like 1.004 to 1.006. Assuming it’s 1.006 and adjusting for room temp at 69 degrees, I come up with 1.007. That would put me in a 4% alcohol by volume range. I can check the SG one more time before priming and bottling to see if the SG drops any lower.  The color looks good and I get the flavor…a mild bitterness. The alcohol is there. Overall, I think I’ll be happy with the results for a first attempt.

I poured off about an inch of liquid and here's the "bottom of the barrel".

I poured off about an inch of liquid and here’s the “bottom of the barrel”.

It *might* be a little weak, in general. I have bottled a single flip-top and primed it with CarTabs, so I can get an idea of the end product ahead of time. There might be a slight variation with an extra day or two to clarify and priming sugar instead of CarTabs at bottling, but it will be a good approximation.

Over a gallon in the PFB plus a test flip-top.

Over a gallon in the PFB plus a test flip-top.

Having combined the growler and 1st PFB worts (or is it technically beer at this point?), it will be interesting to see if airlock bubbles resume at an increased pace, since the yeast that went into the growler was “guesstimated” up front.  This evening, I will be pitching the yeast on Crabapple Cider Batch #3.

6:30 pm     Pulled the pommace bag and squeezed the juice from it. Pitched in about 3 grams of Dry Ale Yeast Safale s-04. Ready to go!

9:30 pm     Doing a little reading and I think the amount of Safale s-04 that I used is sufficient. However, it seems like I’m reading that it is a slower fermenting yeast than Champagne yeast. The PFB is not bubbling perceptably yet, but that may be because of the slower action of this yeast. (I don’t think there are any leaks.) I have read other people commenting that the primary fermentation may take weeks with this yeast. Another person recommended adding some Champagne yeast for peace of mind, but I don’t have any…that’s why I’m using the s-04. I don’t really have time to run to the brew shop, 15 miles away just for a packet of yeast and I have all the brewing going on that I need to keep track of between now and Thanksgiving! I’m not the most patient person, but I may just let Cider Batch # 3 take its time.

I do need to get a question answered though…maybe I’ll hit a forum and post it. What I need to know is: If I am not going to backsweeten my cider, can I just prime and bottle without pastuerizing or stopping the yeast some other way? I read comments about “bottle bombs” that explode because too much fermentable sugar is left in the cider at bottling. If my SG at bottling, before adding priming sugar (or, in my case, Munton’s CarTabs) is 0.990 to 1.000 and I add the recommended priming amount (4 tabs per bottle), then I shouldn’t have to do anything else, right? Age 4 weeks or more after bottling, at room temperature, and refrigerate before drinking? More on that later.

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