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Day 74 American Wheat Still in Secondary, Tasting Murray’s

I still have my American Wheat with Citrus/Citra in secondary sitting on dried sweet orange peel and rum soaked lemon zest. I am planning on letting that go another week.

The highlight tonight is tasting Murray’s Super Easy Cider for the first time. I fermented a half gallon (in the glass carboy in came in) and got a 12 oz bottle and two 22 oz bottles out of it. The ABV is around 5-1/4%. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a little carb release upon opening the bottle! At this point, the cider has been in the bottle for about 3 weeks. The color is nice and golden, the clarity is great, and the flavor is fairly sweet with a bunch of apple flavor.

Murray's Super Easy Cider

Murray’s Super Easy Cider

The carb is light, but present and the cider is dangerously easy to drink! The aroma is straight apple cider and the flavor barely tastes fermented. I will be doing more of this and multiple jugs at a time!  It is literally about sanitizing equipment and pitching yeast. Add an airlock and a week and …boom! Rack for a couple days and bottle. Love it!

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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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