Uncategorized

Brew Day: Railer’s Pale Ale

Brew in a Bag set up (BIAB)...draining the grains

Brew in a Bag set up (BIAB)…draining the grains

A friend recently asked if I would be interested in joining her in providing a homebrew for an event. The event is just prior to the local soccer team’s game. The team is the Carolina Railhawks, so I’m making a beer I’m calling Railer’s Pale Ale. Hopefully, my friend will be able to get my beer into a keg and we will set up beside each other to serve our beers. If the keg doesn’t work out, I can always bottle.

I used an online recipe building program, armed with a basic idea that I wanted to use some frozen, vacuum sealed Cascade hops for the bittering/background “canvas”, with a combination of Mosaic and Citra hops for flavor and aroma. The Mosaic add a resinous flavor and the Citra are, surprise! citrusy.

Cascade whole hops that had been vacuum sealed and frozen.

Cascade whole hops that had been vacuum sealed and frozen.

Starting the 60 minute boil with the Cascade hops.

Starting the 60 minute boil with the Cascade hops.

The base grain is an American 2-row. In playing with other grains to get the right alcohol ABV and the right color, I picked a few specialty grains. Then, after a little research, Wyeast American Ale II 1272 “smack pack” for the yeast. At the lower recommended temperature range, it is supposed to produce a clean, crisp result that accentuates the citrus componants. I went ahead and took the yeast out and activated it early on.

I put my recipe out for some fellow brewers to look at, but didn’t get any feedback before I had to go pick-up the ingredients. After I milled the grains and came home, I see a note from an experienced brewer who said I had too much specialty grain (28% of the grain bill) and should cut them in half and make up the difference with more 2-row. Ugh. The comment is that the beer will be too sweet. Well, I’m kind of stuck now. I can’t waste the time or money on buying more grain for a beer that is going to be given away. Ah, well. I hope that the hop selections will help counteract some of the sweetness that I’m being told is going to be there. At the very least, it will be beer, and it should be drinkable. Mine may not be picked by the fans as the best one there, but I’m not expecting to be in that group anyway…I’m probably the novice of the group.

So, without going through all the individual brew steps here, I’ll hit just a few points. The brew went pretty well as far as the step go. The mash temperature was overshot, as I usually do, not matter how careful I try to be. I used a little Culligan water, cold, to bring the temperature down into my target range. And flies and bees started showing up to check out the wort. Really got to be irritating! Otherwise, no problem with my little modified sparge or the boil.

My little modified sparge set-up.

My little modified sparge set-up.

I do need to note, that being a Liberal Arts guy, “brewhouse efficiency” and some of the more technical calculations in the process are pretty much a guessing game for me. I had the efficiency at 63% in the recipe, based on a previous brew that seemed fairly accurate. When I checked the specific gravity (SG) between the mash and the boil, I got 1.054. The post boil gravity was only supposed to be 1.052, so my efficiency was more like 71%. I adjusted it in the recipe, and the end result will be just a little higher alcohol content,,,but not crazy. It will still only be (estimated at this point) 5.15% ABV. That should be fine.

I chilled with an immersion coil. The tap water temperature is 71F, so I knew I wouldn’t get the wort down into the low 70’s.

Stainless steel coil immersion chiller in use.

Stainless steel coil immersion chiller in use.

I managed 83F and transferred to the carboy…started off using siphon, but the whole hops were a challenge and I wound up having to hand-pour about 1/3. A bit messy, but couldn’t be helped.

Siphoning wort into the carboy (on top of my little chest freezer converted to fermentation chamber.

Siphoning wort into the carboy (on top of my little chest freezer converted to fermentation chamber).

I put the wort in my fermentation chamber with an airlock installed, and placed the package of yeast in as well. I let the wort continue to cool for a few hours and then pitched the yeast.

After a couple of hours, I realized the temperature was a little low, so I turned the thermostat up a few degrees and left the lid up on the box to bring the temperture up for awhile. Six hours later, I see the slightest indication that the yeast may be active. A few hours later, I closed the lid to keep the temperature in the range I want, which would be around 65-68F. Now we wait to see if it really takes off…and how it turns out.

Update: 7/23/16    Checked on the progress around noon and we have a good fermentation in progress!

Success!

Success!

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

Day 152 Started Another Batch of Cider

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs. Gotta use 'em!

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs. Gotta use ’em!

Realizing that I have a bunch of foraged crab apples left to use and the clock is ticking, I started another batch of cider today. I started with the juice from about 5 lbs of crab apples and then added juice from 5 pears, 3 Ginger Crisp apples and 4 Pink Cripps apples and a little bottled lemon juice to keep the apple and pear juices from browning too much. Altogether, I got about 3/4 gallon of juices.

Blend of juices from crab apple, pear, Pink Cripps apples and Ginger Gold apples

Blend of juices from crab apple, pear, Pink Cripps apples and Ginger Gold apples

I put that juice into a 5 gallon bottling bucket with the pommace from the crab apples, tied in a cheesecloth bag. I didn’t have enough cheesecloth on hand to fit the apple/pear pommace in, but that’s okay.

Juice, water, sugar, cinnamon, yeast nutrient, campden tablets and pectic enzyme.

Juice, water, sugar, cinnamon, yeast nutrient, campden tablets and pectic enzyme.

I stirred in 5 lbs of sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient, 2 crushed campden tablets and a 1/2 teaspoon of pectic enzyme. Then I added a gallon plus 6 cups of water and stirred. It was so close to 3 gallons that I decided to top up…just a couple of extra cups. I checked the SG and it’s around 1.110-ish. I’ll get the official OG tomorrow, before I pitch yeast. Sometimes the sugar isn’t completely dissolved at this point and the reading could be off. I sealed the bucket and set it aside.

My next step was to begin a yeast starter from my harvested Edinburgh yeast.

making starter wort for yeast.

making starter wort for yeast.

I boiled a 1.040 wort for 10 minutes made from light DME and chilled it to about 77 F.

Chilling the starter.

Chilling the starter.

I then added about half of the contents of my 1/2 pint jar of yeast slurry to the starter. I’m out of yeast nutrient, so I hope the yeast is healthy enough without it! I’ll see where the progress on the yeast starter is tomorrow morning.

Ready to build that yeast!

Ready to build that yeast!

Update: 9/8/14   Cold crashed the yeast starter early this evening. About 9 pm, I drained off the excess liquid, opened the lid on the cider, removed and squeezed the cider out of the cheesecloth bag of pommace  and drew off a hydrometer sample. The OG is 1.096 at 72.9 F, so corrected =1.097. I pitched the Edinburgh Ale yeast, stirred and resealed the lid. I refrigerated the hydrometer sample to sip later. Very sweet, as expected. As of midnight, no visual on airlock activity. I will check it in the morning. Pretty sure it will be rockin’ soon. Starter was vigorous, as was the batch I harvested it from.

Update: 9/9/14   Airlock bubbles in latest cider batch at 10 a.m. Not very aggressive yet, but it’s going. By the way, tasting the hydrometer sample that I had chilled leads me to believe that this is going to be a nice clean, crisp cider after the sugar is converted.

Refrigerated cider blend OG sample. Clean and bright! 1.096

Refrigerated cider blend OG sample. Clean and bright! 1.097

Standard
Uncategorized

Day 148 Pitching the Yeast in Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Edinburgh yeast starter…pulled from the fridge and decanted. Opened the cider bucket and removed the cheesecloth bag of apple/crab apples pulp and squeezed out the juice. I will compost this material.

Apple/Crab Apple "must"...pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

Apple/Crab Apple “must”…pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

I added the yeast slurry to the cider and stirred well. I did pull a hydrometer sample and it is very sweet and reads 1.100 at 78.2F, so that comes out to an OG of 1.102. I tossed in a couple cinnamon sticks and 8 whole cloves that I had sanitized with Star-San.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

I also added about 1/4 cup of molasses…just a touch. The time was about 9:15 a.m., so let’s see if the Edinburgh Ale Yeast  takes off and when.

I also checked on the muscadine wine. The aroma when I opened the bucket was less appealing than it has been.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Still a lot of effervescence and nice color. I stirred the bag under and mixed the liquid well. I took a small sample in the stirring spoon and resealed the lid. The sample did not have any off-odor, still tasted of muscadines and is sweet; however, the alcohol level is definitely rising!

Stirring things up.

Stirring things up.

By 2 pm, I noticed airlock action in the cider bucket, so I guess my revival technique was successful and the subsequent starter that I made worked. as well. Sweet! As of tonight, it’s a fairly regular slow heart beat type of bubbling.

The muscadine wine continues a fairly vigorous activity.

Update, morning 8/27/14: I opened and stirred down wine again…same as yesterday. No problem. I also opened the cider bucket and saw more krausen than I expected.

Stirred the krausen down.

Stirred the krausen down.

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider...quite a bit a krausen!

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider…quite a bit a krausen!

I stirred it down and resealed the lid. About an hour later, I found that the yeast had kicked in in big time! The airlock was fouled, so I immediately set up a blow off to remedy the situation.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Day 140 Pasteurizing Tepache, Bottling Ginger Beer, Racking Cherry Belle Saison

Pasteurizing.

Pasteurizing.

 

I decided to go ahead and pasteurize the Peach-Pineapple Tepache. The test bottle was pretty hard. The sample I tasted was lightly carbonated, but I didn’t want to take a chance of overcarbing. I filled my pressure canner body, with the false bottom, with hot water. I used the bottles to be pasteurized as a measure of how much water to use. This served an additional purpose: warmed the bottles a little before pasteurization. I removed the bottles and put the pot on the stove. I brought the water up to 180F and removed the pot from the heat, placed the bottles in, partially covered with the lid, and set a timer for ten minutes.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

When time was up, I removed the bottles to a towel on the counter to cool.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

My next project was to bottle the non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

I strained the solids out through a cheesecloth and the used a siphon and bottle wand to fill cleaned/sanitized bottles and capped them. They will need to carb for at least 24 hours and then be pasteurized.I believe this batch is too sweet, but I followed the recipe. I put the ginger and spices back into the fermentation bucket. Since they only sat for 24 hours, I feel like there is more flavor to give. So, I’m making a “second runnings” ginger beer that I am going to allow to ferment and produce alcohol.

"Second Runnings"

“Second Runnings”

I added 4 cups of water and measured the OG at 1.062. I may reduce the sugar a little in future batches.  Anyway, I put the bucket back on the heating pad and wrapped it in the Space Blanket.

Next, I got a quart of Culligan bottled water and boiled it for ten minutes and, while it was boiling, I siphoned the the Cherry Belle Citra Saison into a 1 gallon glass carboy for a tertiary stage, leaving behind the cherries and a little sediment.

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

The color is really nice and the cherry flavor is good. I think this will benefit from a little aging. After the boiled water chilled in the refrigerator, I topped off the saison to a gallon. It didn’t take the whole quart…maybe a pint. I’ll let this settle for a couple of days and then bottle it.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

As for the main batch of Belle Citra Saison, I did an SG check and it was 1.000 at 83F. That’s 1.003, corrected for temperature. This should be ready to rack to secondary any time. When I do rack it, I’ll be dry hopping with an ounce of citra pellets.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

Standard
Uncategorized

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,

DSC05243

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!)

Standard
Uncategorized

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!

Standard
Uncategorized

Day 101 Tepache, a Pineapple Cider/Beer Kind of Thing

Cutting up a pineapple.

Cutting up a pineapple.

I had an exchange awhile back with a guy on an online forum and he introduced me to the idea of making a Tepache. I had never heard of it before. It’s pretty rustic. You ferment pineapple with raw sugar, cinnamon, cloves  for a couple of days and then strain it and add water and a beer, ferment a couple of more days and then chill and serve. I grabbed a recipe off of Pinterest…I’m sure there are plenty of variations out there. This one called for:

1 fresh, ripe Pineapple, cut into chunks

8 cups of Water 20 oz Piloncillo (raw sugar). Brown Sugar is an acceptable substitute.

1 stick Cinnamon and 3 whole Cloves

Cover and leave in a warm place for 48 hours. Strain and add 1 cup of water and 1 beer. Let stand for 12 hours. Strain (Not sure why at this point…maybe it will become obvious or still seem redundant when I get to this point?). Add another cup of water and serve over ice. (I would chill it before putting it over ice.) Bottling? Probably not without pasteurizing it. Here’s the recipe  I started with, for reference…giving credit where due!  www.familyfoodandtravel.com/2013/12/tepache-pineapple-drink.html

 

I started into the recipe and cut up my pineapple. Since I have a fermentation bucket, I decided to use it, instead of a bowl or pitcher. And a lid with an airlock just seemed practical and safe.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

So I added the pineapple, water, cinnamon and cloves to the bucket and I headed to a local Mexican store for the Mexican raw sugar, Piloncillo.

Piloncillo...Mexican raw sugar.

Piloncillo…Mexican raw sugar.

When I went to check out, I spoke to the owner, who was working the register. He strongly advised using the pineapple skins and core only and to NOT use the flesh. “It’s no good.” he said. He was very helpful.   So, I came home and drained my pineapple, peeled the skin and cut off the core from each piece and returned them to the bucket and I put the fruit in the refrigerator to eat later.

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Pineapple skins only...use the flesh for something else!

Pineapple skins only…use the flesh for something else!

The cloves, cinnamon stick and water went back into the bucket. I weighed out and added the piloncillo and stirred it around. It’s going to take awhile to dissolve, I guess, so I popped on the lid and airlock and will check on it later to stir and see that the sugar dissolves.

Ready to ferment...just need to get that sugar dissolved.

Ready to ferment…just need to get that sugar dissolved.

In a couple of days, strain, add some water and a beer, another 12 hours and done. Note that there is no added yeast in the recipe. There is also no campden tablet to kill off anything, so the fermentation will occur with whatever is “resident”.  A little scary, but we are going to give it a shot. Now, for comparison, the Mexican store owner had a commercial bottled version on hand, so I bought a bottle. It isn’t alcoholic, but it should give me an idea of what I shooting for. I opened and poured the tepache into a beer glass. The flavor is pleasant and tastes of pineapple and brown sugar…no surprise there, I guess. It is, however, VERY sweet.

So sweet...needs beer!

So sweet…needs beer!

A commercial version, "Tepachito", non-alcoholic.

A commercial version, “Tepachito”, non-alcoholic.

So, I drank half of it, grabbed a bottle of my American Wheat Citra Citrus and I topped off the glass. Voila!…did I just create Mateo’s Tepache Shandy? Why yes…yes I did!  Anyway, still a tad sweet, but it’s much better. That’s it for tonight…now for the wait. But this is a shorter process than I’m used to. I should be drinking this batch this weekend!

Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

Standard