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Day 111 Ginger-Mint “Bug” for Soda Making

 

I was giving credit to the website where I found this recipe, but they seem to be spamming now, so no more!

Anyway, I thought this sounded interesting and I have ginger and sugar on hand, so…what the heck. It begins with what they are calling a “bug”…a starter that you use each time and reserve a 1/4 cup and keep feeding it. Like a sourdough. Then they have a recipe for a pineapple-ginger soda…sounds tasty! I also can see making a mango-ginger or pineapple-mango-ginger.

Sugar and grated ginger in jar with water...plus some chocolate mint.

Sugar and grated ginger in jar with water…plus some chocolate mint.

My little twist is adding some cleaned “chocolate” varietal fresh mint. I pinched back the plant and tossed the leaves/stems into the “bug” mixture. I’m thinking basil would be a good alternative to try in the future, too!

For the bug, I added a cup of lukewarm water to a mason jar. I added 3 tsp. grated fresh ginger, with the peel on. Then added 2 tsp. sugar and a heaping tablespoon of fresh mint. I secured the lid and shook vigorously for several seconds. Then I loosened the lid, so that it isn’t air tight. Every day, I’ll add more ginger and sugar and shake. After about 4 or 5 days, the bug should be fizzy.

Added mint, shake, shake shake! Loosen lid.

Added mint, shake, shake shake! Loosen lid.

The next step will be to draw off 1/4 cup of liquid and combine it with 48 oz of fruit juice. (The rest of the “bug” gets topped off and put back in the fridge.) I plan on extracting fresh pineapple and mango juices to make my soda. I’m also toying with the idea of coconut water. The recipe calls for the mixture to be divided into jars and tightly lidded for 1 to 3 days, until fizzy and then refrigerate. I think I’m going to try bottling it instead and, after carbed, pasteurizing it. Oh, and when I process the pineapple for the juice, I’ll save the skins and core to make another batch of tepache!

Speaking of tepache, I decided to open one of the three bottles I have left…I gave away a couple and drank a couple earlier. So, I poured the tepache to half fill a large pilsner style glass and tasted it. The carb is light, but pleasant and the flavor is very sweet, but nicely mellow with a little tang.

Part one: Tepache

Part one: Tepache

I then opened a strawberry blonde ale and topped it off. It’s not a sweet strawberry blonde, so it pairs well in making my awesome creation: Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

Part two: add a light ale of your choice and you have a Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Part two: add a light ale of your choice and you have a Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

 

This is really refreshing and I can TOTALLY see drinking this poolside or on the beach…or at a beach bar. I’m also thinking it would be great as a base for a shrimp or crab boil! I probably won’t get to try it anytime soon, because of severe allergies in the family, but I can imagine it!

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Day 103 The National Big Brew Day & Racking Tepache

 

National Big Brew group toast!

National Big Brew group toast!

The day started out early with getting to the local brewery by 9 a.m. to set up for The National Big Brew event. I did my second BIAB all-grain brew. This beer has some interesting hops: Cascade, Simcoe, Falconers Flight and dry hopping with Nelson Sauvin. There was not a name for this beer, so they had a naming contest. I think mine was the runner up, but I’m going with it anyway: Major Nelson IPA. I love the camaraderie and access to a wort chiller…easier than the ice bath! I was one of about 5 or 6 brewers set up inside the brewery. It was a nice day and  many brewed outside, but it was hot out there!

The Outsiders.

The Outsiders.

New for this brew, my brew buddy let me use her aerator gizmo to aerate at the end…much more effective than rocking and swirling. The process went smoothly…no surprises.

BIAB set up for Mashing in.

BIAB set up for Mashing in.

I started off with a little over 5 gallons of water and, after the saccharification step and mashout, I added 2 gallons for the boil. After the boil, my OG was 1.058 and I did not top off. I wound up with about 5-1/4 gallons anyway…sweet! The recipe estimate for the OG was 1.066 (but their actual was 1.046, so I’m happy with where I would up. I’m estimating that my FG will be around 1.010 with a 6.3% ABV.  Lets see how it turns out!

In line for using the wort chiller...I'm next!

In line for using the wort chiller…I’m next!

Boiling!

Boiling!

I pitched the yeast, a Mangrove Jack West Coast, at 3 p.m., when I arrived home. I did not rehydrate it first…I have been told that it doesn’t really do much other than maybe speed up the fermentation kick-off a little. As of 8 p.m., I’m not seeing any action yet, but I am confident it will happen; probably overnight.

Draining the pineapple (using my BIAB bag)

Draining the pineapple (using my BIAB bag)

After cleaning up from my beer equipment, I checked on my Tepache. The level of fermentation was looking pretty good, so I strained the pineapple skins and core out and I sanitized a one gallon carboy. I added a 12 oz bottle of room temperature Strawberry Blonde Ale to the carboy and added the tepache liquid to it.

Tepache, racked for a couple more days, with a beer.

Tepache, racked for a couple more days, with a beer.

The brewer/fermenter in me said,”Airlock that baby!” So I did. By 8 p.m., I had a nice foam on the top and it looks like a little action in the airlock. This doesn’t have to ferment way out…probably just another day or two. If I decide to bottle any (it would only be around 6 or 8 bottles for all of it), I would definitely need to pasteurize, to avoid bottle bombs There’s going to be a LOT of residual sugar. I’m really enjoying this little experiment!

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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 78 Update on Blondes, More Murray’s

Primary Fermentation Buckets: 6 gallon with blow off and strawberries; 1-1/2 gallons plain with airlock.

Primary Fermentation Buckets: 6 gallon with blow off and strawberries; 1-1/2 gallons plain with airlock.

The blonde ales are in primary fermentation, about 6 gals are fermenting with 6 lbs of whole, frozen strawberries with a smack pack of Denny’s Favorite #50 yeast.  The other 1-1/2 gals are plain and are pitched with an almost full package of Safale S-04. The strawberry blonde is still steadily putting off bubbles, though not as vigorously as before.

Blow off on strawberry blonde.

Blow off on strawberry blonde.

The plain blonde has been slow…a bubble every minute or so. I doubt that it could be that close to done, especially after the addition of the extra DME fortified wort. I’m hoping it doesn’t get stuck, but I’m keeping an eye on it and will probably need to do an SG check in a day or two.

I also did some grocery shopping today and picked up two 1/2 gallon containers of  Murray’s Apple Cider. I was so happy with my test batch of the Murray’s Super Easy Cider, that I want to make more!

Murray's Apple Cider...for super easy, delicious hard cider!

Murray’s Apple Cider…for super easy, delicious hard cider!

 

 

 

At $5.69 per 1/2 gallon, a 5 gallon batch would be about $60 and I don’t need ten 1/2 gallon glass carboys…even if they ARE free. So, I may have to research alternatives…bigger containers, case prices. Something. But it IS good and DO need to make some more!

UPDATE: 2/27: A quick note…not worthy of a separate “Day” entry…but I checked the SG on the plain blonde and it is 1.014. So it has had significant movement. Maybe it’ll go down more. ABV currently is a little over 3%. I could always move to a secondary and pitch a different yeast…but the batch is so small, I really don’t want to lose much more of it to testing and racking.

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Day 76 Brew Day! Strawberry Blonde @ Raleigh Big Brew!

Third saturday of the month at Raleigh Brewing Co. means Raleigh Big Brew day! Gathered my equipment and headed to the brewery.

Raleigh Big Brew Time!

Raleigh Big Brew Time!

I decided to use “Denny’s Favorite #50” yeast, on the  suggestion of a brew friend, as it is supposed to work well with fruit beers. It came in a “smack pack”…very handy! This was the first time I used one of those. I’m brewing a blonde ale and adding strawberries. My biggest mistake today was using too much water for my boil and not allowing room for the strawberries…6 lbs of whole, frozen strawberries.

Boiling the wort

Boiling the wort

I wound up drawing off 2 gallons and holding it until the last 5 minutes of my brew’s boil. I added it back in and boiled the next 5 minutes to sanitize and then I drew it back off to finish processing at home with Safale S-04 yeast that I have on hand. (Luckily, I had a bucket in the car and didn’t have to buy one!) The rest of the batch, I added some cold water to and got the temperature down to 170F. At this point I added the strawberries. Next, used the wort chiller at the brewery to bring the temperature down to 75F and pitched the yeast.  Then, I poured the wort into a bottling bucket that I’m using for primary fermentation.

6lbs of whole, frozen strawberries added to wort at 170F.

6lbs of whole, frozen strawberries added to wort at 170F.

Again…too much volume…couldn’t close the bottling bucket without fouling the airlock. So, I drained off enough to create some headspace and sealed back up and added a cleaned airlock. I forgot to check the OG, but I measured it at 1.034 @ 75F, once I got home. This is well below the recipe’s estimated 1.053 or the measured 1.046. I have messaged a friend to ask advice…I’m assuming I diluted my wort too much and wonder if I should add more sugar? The flavor and color seem okay, so I don’t think the beer will lack flavor…but it may be too weak on the alcohol. If the fermentation yields the expected FG of 1.010, the the ABV would be around 3.28%.

Once at home, I finished chilling the smaller fermentation bucket with the plain blonde ale and pitched the Safale S-04. I also set up a blow off on the main strawberry batch, since the volume is still rather high.

About 5 or 6 gallons of Strawberry Blonde and a little under 2 gallons of plain blonde ale.

About 5 or 6 gallons of Strawberry Blonde and a little under 2 gallons of plain blonde ale.

Note to self: it was a good idea to take my big bin of supplies. I was lucky to have the smaller fermentation bucket. For future brews, a stick lighter and a pair of hot pads or mitts would be good to have. A card table and a chair would be great to have!

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