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Quick Update on Mixed Fruit Cider

Mixed fruit cider, topped off. Ready for some time to rest.

Mixed fruit cider, topped off. Ready for some time to rest.

The mixed fruit cider looked like it was ready to rack off the last of the sediment…may get a tiny bit more over the next few months, while it bulk ages, but it should be pretty much done. I topped off with a little Culligan bottled water. It didn’t need much, but I didn’t want to leave much headspace in the carboy, for oxidation. Because the racking created a little oxygenation, I went ahead and put an airlock back on, for now.

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Update Kombucha and Fruit Cider/Wine

Kombucha getting started.

Kombucha getting started.

Following up on the two little side fermentation projects that I have going on: kombucha and a mixed fruit cider/wine thing….

First, on the kombucha, I have reached out to some folks online regarding my progress, because I don’t really know how this is supposed to look. I’m using 1 gallon of green tea, a cup of sugar, and the dregs from a bottle of kombucha soda. After a couple of days, I have some bubbles around the perimeter of the carboy, a small “island” in the middle, and a few floaters that appear to be dark green and hang down like a “beard”.

perimeter bubbles and "beard" floater.

perimeter bubbles and “beard” floater.

There’s a little more sediment at the bottom than I started with, too. The little floaters are my biggest concern…all the pictures that I’ve seen online show the “SCOBY” (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) are off-white to tan in color. A little further research shows the floaters to be common…need to watch out for mold growing on top. That would be mean throwing out the batch. Also, it sounds like I may need to make a “baby” SCOBY and start another batch to grow a “mother” SCOBY? It’s a learning experience, that’s for sure!

Moving on to my mixed fruit little experiment: I racked the juice and it was still pretty thick on the bottom. After racking, I have just a little under a gallon.

Ready for first racking.

Ready for first racking.

I may only get a half gallon by the time this batch is racked and aged enough. So, I took some juice from the dregs and strained it to use for a hydrometer sample…I hope any “body” in the juice isn’t affecting the hydrometer’s measurement.

Taking hydrometer and temperature reading.

Taking hydrometer and temperature reading.

The hydrometer reading is 0.998 at 70F, so that is 0.999 corrected. With the OG of 1.073, that puts it at 9.71% ABV. It’s still on the border between cider and wine…not sure what will end up being. (Other than delicious, I hope!)

Update 1/19/15:

Racking with a little mesh bag on siphon.

Racking with a little mesh bag on siphon.

Racked the mixed fruit cider to a 1 gallon glass carboy. I strained the dregs and took a hydrometer reading of 0.996@69F.

Transferring

Transferring

I’m thinking I may top off with Culligan bottled water next time I rack, so I have a gallon. Currently, it’s a little under a gallon…maybe 10% short? Looks good though and over 9% ABV, so a top-off won’t hurt it.

A little under a gallon of mixed fruit cider.

A little under a gallon of mixed fruit cider.

The Kombucha is coming along…looks like a pretty decent skin is forming…almost covering the surface. Now.let’s see if it thickens. The jug has a small neck, so I’ll need to figure out removing the SCOBY and find a new, more appropriate container.

Early SCOBY signs! Day 11.

Early SCOBY signs! Day 11.

Probably one of those 1 gallonlemonade/iced tea dispensers with the spigot. The smell is a little tangy…haven’t attempted a taste yet. I’m not sure whether this first batch is supposed to be drinkable or not. We’ll see when I remove the SCOBY…somehow.

Update 2/24/15:  Okay, so, I’ve been been saving some of a hydrometer sample of the mixed fruit cider, in the refrigerator. I’ve been taking a little sip every couple of days. It has settled nicely and the flavor is not agressive, but it IS distinct from straight apple cider. The jug is looking good…still needs more clearing. I’ll let it go another week and rack it onto just enough clean water to top it off…should only take about 2-3 cups.

Now for the kombucha: pretty much “Wow”. I sanitized a turkey baster to retrieve a sample. (I need a new wine thief!) I had  to nudge the SCOBY aside…it is definitely holding together as a solid raft. I may go ahead and go to the next batch soon! The sample that I removed was tart and tasted “lemony”. I’m not a huge tea fan, but this stuff is really good! Not much tea flavor…just a little. I’m glad I used green tea. So, thumbs up! Let’s see if it will continue with the next round.

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Day 156 Final Racking for Caramel Apple Cider (Probably)

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

Should be the final racking for bulk conditioning of my Caramel Apple Cider.

This is what will probably be the last racking for the crab apple/Pink Cripps apple cider that I have decided to call Caramel Apple Cider, due to the small addition of molasses and a cinnamon stick. It’s nice and clear now and I think I’ve managed to leave the rest of the small amount of sediment behind.

I had hoped to bump up the volume to 1-1/2 gallons, by boiling, cooling and adding 800 ml of water. There’s plenty of alcohol and I just don’t want to lose anymore volume.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

Top-off water, boiled to sanitize.

I transferred the cider, by siphon, to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, racking off of the sediment and trying to minimize oxygenation. I added the boiled water, cleaned my containers and refilled them.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Original gallon and bomber containers, along with the half gallon I had hoped to fill instead of the bomber.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Siphoned cider with boiled/cooled water added.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to fill the half gallon; so I wound up with the volume I started with, minus the sediment, plus enough for a hydrometer check and a nice sample for evaluation!

I measured the SG at 1.013, down from an OG of 1.102…even after the small water addition. That makes the ABV 11.68%. Incredibly, the aroma is fresh apple juice. The flavor is deceptively smooth and sweet, with a nice touch of caramel. The finish is a tummy warmer, though! Really, very nice.

Look at that color!

Look at that color!

I have been trying to carb all of my ciders so far, but the ABV on this one has probably already overwhelmed the Edinburgh Ale Yeast and I don’t think carbonation would be an improvement in this case. I did have enough to fill a test bottle. The cider should be good for a couple of months, but I’ll check the tester in a couple of weeks.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Racked off the sediment and maintained volume for bulk aging. Again, look at the color! And the clarity.

Soon, it will be time to do the “final” racking for bulk aging on the muscadine wine and rack the crab apple/pear/Cripps apple cider to secondary.  And finally, my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale should be ready for secondary sometime next week. So many good things going on and they all take so much time!  The pumpkin ale should be ready before Halloween and should be good (maybe better) at Thanksgiving.

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Day 99 Racking the Pineapple-Mango Melomel

Pineapple-Mango Melomel, ready to rack out of primary fermentation.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel, ready to rack out of primary fermentation.

I racked the Pineapple-Mango Melomel today. Because there was so much pulp in the liquid, I put a small, fine-meshed bag over the siphon tip.

Siphon tip with mesh bag.

Siphon tip with mesh bag.

This worked well, to a point. Unfortunately, when I got about 2/3 down, the siphoning practically stopped and there was obviously quite a bit of liquid left.

Siphoning with the bag.

Siphoning with the bag.

So, I sanitized a bowl and a grain sock and strained the rest. I then siphoned the rest into the carboy.

I wound up with a nice, full gallon.

One gallon of strained Pineapple-Mango Melomel.

One gallon of strained Pineapple-Mango Melomel.

It’s cloudy, but it should clear eventually. I did get a small sample and stuck it in the refrigerator to clear and chill…I’ll taste it later.

Chilled sample...nice flavor. Good pineapple color.

Chilled sample…nice flavor. Good pineapple color.

I put an airlock on the carboy and I labeled it with the name and today’s date. I was thinking I would be leaving it for several weeks, but after a couple of hours, there are clear layers forming on the bottom. It might be that I let it clear for a week and then rack it again for the longer term.

Sediment layers forming quickly.

Sediment layers forming quickly.

I also checked on the Murray’s Super Easy Cider (third 1/2 gal batch) and it is still seeing action in the airlock, as well as visible action in the bottle. I can see effervescence at the top of the liquid and bits rising from the bottom and falling from the top.  I guess  the cider has several more days to go.

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Day 94 Pole Vault Pale Ale SG Check

First, I will mention that the pineapple mead is progressing with a fairly steady airlock bubbling action.

Now, I carefully pulled a sample from the pale ale bucket, using sanitized equipment. The bottom was a little too thick with trub to flow through the spigot, so I had to siphon a sample from the top into a hydrometer sample beaker.

Hydrometer reading, Pole Vault Psale Ale.

Hydrometer reading, Pole Vault Pale Ale.

The SG reading of 1.053, after temperature correction, is right on for the recipe target! So, the FG, is likely to be right on target, giving an ABV of 5.64%.

As you can see from the photo, the color is quite nice.

Pole Vault Pale Ale, nice color.

Pole Vault Pale Ale, nice color.

The sample has an interesting flavor with an aggressive hoppiness and bittering. Seems to be a good one. I’ll rack it tomorrow, from the top, and let it settle another day before bottling.

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Day 95 Racking the Pale Ale

Pole Vault Pale Ale racked to secondary.

Pole Vault Pale Ale racked to secondary.

The Pole Vault Pale Ale was ready to rack today. I tried to draw a sample off yesterday and I got sludge through the spigot, so I decided to rack through my siphon. Since I bought a longer siphon recently, I decided to go ahead and rack into the glass carboy. The trub in the bottom of the bottling bucket was definitely above the spigot…around the 1 gallon level!

Trub definitely above the spigot.

Trub definitely above the spigot.

A lot more trub than I'm used to seeing.

A lot more trub than I’m used to seeing.

 

I carefully racked off as much as I could, without getting into much sediment; however, there was a little that got through. The carboy is at, what I believe is, a little under the 5 gallon mark. Judging from the initial settling, I’ll probably lose another 1/4 gallon when racking at bottling time. So, I may not get my full two cases, but that’s okay.

On a side note, I tried my brew buddy’s all grain strawberry blonde  and compared it to my extract version. Mine was messed up in the beginning by too much water and a low OG. I added extra DME after the fact to raise the SG. By comparison, mine had a decent strawberry flavor…I added mine at 170F following flameout and she added hers to secondary. I think this plus the extra DME probably overpowered my hops bittering. I was also a little overcarbonated, but not drastically. Despite my minor flaws, it is drinkable if you like the strawberry flavor. While I love ripe strawberries, I think fermented strawberry flavor is not really my thing.

Brew buddy's all-grain strawberry blonde. (Right after pour)

Brew buddy’s all-grain strawberry blonde. (Right after pour)

 

My extract version of a strawberry blonde.

My extract version of a strawberry blonde. (After head dissipated)

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Day 39 Stout Airlock Very Slow

3:00 pm   The dry stout fermentation bucket has slowed to very infrequent bubbles. I sanitized the hydrometer & thief and the outside of the bucket; then I checked the SG. It was 1.012 @ 69F. Adjusting for calibration makes it 1.013. The recipe estimated 1.011 and measured 1.010. I think I’ll let it go until tomorrow. Then I’ll rack to carboys for a few hours to settle additional sediment and then back to a bottling bucket for bottling  tomorrow night or Monday.

I did get (literally) just a few drops from the thief to taste. There was definitely an appropriate bitterness and beer flavor. The color was very dark. I’m encouraged, but can’t really make a judgement call on a few drops.

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