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Racking Fluffernutter Sammie Stout to Secondary

Racking the Fluffernutter Sammie Stout.

Racking the Fluffernutter Sammie Stout.

It’s Memorial Day…respect to all who served. I racked my Fluffernutter Sammie Stout to secondary fermentation today. I began by cleaning and sanitizing a carboy and adding my Everclear-soaked vanilla beans to it. Then, I brought a gallon of water to boil and whisked in 2 packages of peanut butter powder, 6.5 oz each, JIF brand. I boiled the peanut water for 10 minutes and then cooled it in a water and ice bath. Once down to about 73 F, I poured it through a sanitized funnel, into the carboy. Next, using a siphon and tube, I racked the beer onto the peanut water and vanilla beans.

I left most of the original trub behind, and wound up with 5-1/2 gallons in the secondary carboy.

5-1/2 gallons into secondary fermentation.

5-1/2 gallons into secondary fermentation.

I took a hydrometer sample after racking and came up with a current SG of  1.031. (Adjusted for sample temperature of about 70 F.) I’m still guessing it may go down to 1.028, but we will see where it is after 10 more days and monitor it from there, to determine when it is ready to bottle.

Hydrometer sample, trub from primary fermentation.

Hydrometer sample,  trub left in primary fermentation.

The color looks nice. The flavor is obviously “in your face” peanut right now. Hopefully, the vanilla will bloom and the peanut will tone down, as anticipated. I may have to up the vanilla, though…possible some extract at bottling. I’ll have to make a judgement call later. So, back into the fermentation chamber…which has been working out very nicely!

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Brew Day: Fluffernutter Sammie Stout

Set up to brew.

Set up to brew.

 

Finally! For the first time in 7 months, I brewed some beer! I created this recipe months ago and tweaked it some, but just didn’t want to brew again until I was able to control my fermentation temperatures. I have had ongoing issues with over-carbonation and I have had some off-flavors, particularly with darker beers…some are metallic or just very one dimensional. I have addressed everything I can, except fermentation temperature and yeast selection. For this sweet stout, I decided to go with Wyeast 1968. Optimal temperature range is around 64 to 70F. So, instead of my normal household room temperature of around 72F, with wort temps reaching 75 to 78, I now have a small chest freezer with controls to regulate the temperature. I have it set at 63-64F. I’m hoping this will at least help the flavor of the beer. If it helps with the carbonation issue, too, then that would be awesome!

Small chest freezer. Perfect fit for a single carboy and a blow-off container.

Small chest freezer. Perfect fit for a single carboy and a blow-off container.

http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/view/295261/fluffernutter-sammie-stout

I did have to make some minor changes based on homebrew shop ingredients availability…nothing major. Brew day went very smoothly, except for mash temperature climbing to 160F, instead of 155F. With about 25 minutes left, I removed the insulation/lid and started stirring to lower the temperature. With 10 minutes left, it was down to 156-157.

Brew in a bag...the "mash in".

Brew in a bag…the “mash in”.

My understanding is that the effect would be less fermentable sugars and possibly a little sweeter finish. I also added lactose with 10 minutes left in the boil. The end of the boil was fine, except the OG was high. I have a feeling that the lactose is not figured into the refractometer/hydrometer readings, because otherwise, it looks fine.

The boil is done.

The boil is done.

As a result of being able to drop the temperature to 71-72F, pitch the yeast and drop the carboy in a 64F fermentation chamber, the “take-off” for the yeast was barely noticeable 20 hours later. There was just a ring of bubbles around the top inside of the carboy. Now, at about 26 hours, there is audible bubbling and more visible signs of fermentation.

Controls to convert the freezer to a fermentation chamber.

Controls to convert the freezer to a fermentation chamber.

My concerns, at this point, are whether or not I added enough peanut powder to be noticeable in the final product, and if the vanilla planned for secondary will give the marshmallow flavor. A couple little sips of the wort towards the end of the boil did not really convince me on the peanut powder…and what IS marshmallow flavor? Marshmallows are basically corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, and vanilla. I’ll investigate some more and see if peanut powder can be effectively added during primary or secondary fermentation, as well as exploring the marshmallow flavor a bit more. If I make changes, I will definitely update the recipe. For tonight, it’s reading, while the fermentation builds.

 

 

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Day 155 SG Check on Samhain Ale

Yesterday, I could see that the activity in the blow-off tube had slowed way down…in fact, it had slowed the day before. I decided to remove the blow-off tube and install an airlock. (And took a quick photo.)

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Last night and today, I haven’t seen any activity. I’m not convinced that it has finished fermenting yet, though, so I took a SG reading and it’s at 1.031 (corrected from 1.030 @ 74.3F). According to the recipe, it should make it to 1.023 to finish, so I’ll let it keep going. It’s only been 4 days since brewing. I don’t need to be terribly concerned with fermentation being quite done in primary, however, because it will go into secondary with more pumpkin, spice, and a vanilla bean (soaked in vodka). The sugar in the pumpkin could cause a little more fermentation, so I’m planning on giving it plenty of time. Then, I’ll probably do a tertiary for final clearing.

The hydrometer sample has gone into the refrigerator for a look at how it clears, color and flavor…later, but a small taste yielded a very nice flavor that I am quite pleased with, so far.

Hydrometer sample...nice color.

Hydrometer sample…nice color.

My ciders and muscadine wine continue to condition. The crab apple/pear/Cripps blend actually still has some airlock activity in primary, so another week? Probably.

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Day 69 Sampling Big Dark Stout

I bottled Big Dark Stout on 12/20/13 and I know I tried it sometime in the past, but I can’t find my notes at the moment. I do recall that I thought it had a sourness that I did not expect or like. I brewed this beer with grain and malt that was given to me…it was probably two years old but still sealed. I milled the grain (well, I cracked it up in a food processor) and everything looked pretty good. I figured the worst case scenario would be a second tier beer. So, it’s been about 5 weeks in the bottles now and I feel like the fruitiness has passed. I’m not sure how to describe it now…”meh” comes to mind. But it has improved. Decent head, nondescript aroma, good color. With more bottle time, it might make it just past “meh” to “hmmm”. In looking back through my notes, I did find that I used a half a vanilla bean in primary fermentation (this was a half batch of beer)…that might be the fruity flavor that has mellowed. Next time I use vanilla, I will probably either use it in the last 10 minutes of the boil or wait until secondary to add it. I’ll research more and get a consensus of when is best. I believe I was hoping it might help elevate this 2nd tier beer to something a little better than that…and it may yet succeed. Let’s see what another month does for it. By the way, I had also forgotten that this brew was one I had trouble getting a good OG reading on, but my best guess was that the beer was going to be in the 7.75 to 8% ABV range. So…22 ounces later…wee!

Bottling Big Dark Stout...with a little help!

Bottling Big Dark Stout…with a little help!

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Day 42 Sample from Cider Batch #4 and Another Stout Brew Started

I carefully opened a bottle of cider from batch #4 this morning. I poured maybe a 1/2 ounce and immediately re-capped with a sanitized, fresh cap. The sample has a nice, golden color. The flavor and level of sweetness are great! Surprisingly, however, the carbonation is just barely perceptable. Not so much as the sample flip-top bottle. I had guessed that there would be a little more, but these are 22 oz bottles and maybe they are a little behind the 16 oz flip-top tester, despite it having been opened a few times. I had a little overflow while bottling stout last night, so I took out the paper towel liner that I had in the bottom of the box and tossed it. I removed the divider piece and let it and the box dry overnight.

Stout, ready for a little bottle time.

Stout, ready for a little bottle time.

This morning they were already nice and dry, so I replaced the paper towel layer on the bottom, replaced the bottle divider loaded the box with stout! Next, I decided to see if I could use some of the ingredients that I acquired for free. The grains should be ok, they are whole and sealed. The malt is sealed and shouldn’t be contaminated. They just have a little age on them. As one person said, if nothing else, it should be an okay “2nd beer”…something you drink after a first, higher quality beer. I used “Brewer’s Friend” and put together a stout recipe. I used the food processor to bust up the grains, but not make powder out of them. Many grains remained whole.

Processor chopped grains

Processor chopped grains

Grains in the food processor

Grains in the food processor

I’m calling this one Big Dark…the estimate is to come in around 6.8% ABV. I Just finished getting the wort into the primary fermentation bucket (PFB) and cleaning up. The OG was 1.046 @ 69F. Adjusting for the hydrometer, that should be 1.047. That’s way under the estimate of 1.072…I don’t know if it’s the hydrometer or something I did. Maybe I should have ground the grains more? Maybe the wort temperature was a little higher when I checked the SG? If I assume the hydrometer is accurate, then the next thing is to look at the estimated FG on the recipe. That projection is 1.020. That would would make the projected ABV 3.41%. Maybe the OG is off. I’ll check it again tomorrow. I really expected more alcohol in this one. If I have to, I’ll add some corn sugar tomorrow.

Grain bag steeping

Grain bag steeping

I also added a split vanilla bean to this one, in the PFB, I’m probably going to go a little longer bottle conditioning this beer to blend and mellow the flavors. I think it was a little bitter when I tasted it going between the brew pot and the PFB.

Ready for a few days of fermenting

Ready for a few days of fermenting

9:00 pm  Opened a bottle of the TARDIS Cider ( Bigger on the Inside) tonight. It was in a cooler part of the house for storage, so it felt chilled, but not refrigerated. The color was pale and the carbonation was very strong on the pour. The flavor was crisp and almost dry.

TARDIS Cider (Bigger on the Inside)

TARDIS Cider (Bigger on the Inside)

Very Champagne-like. I’m thinking that this will be a good choice for New Year’s Eve and possibly our Christmas food/drink celebration  with the In-laws. Very pleased with this crabapple cider!

Pale and crisp!

Pale and crisp!

10:30 pm   I couldn’t help myself. I had a fresh pineapple that needed to be used and I had just cleaned a 1/2 gallon carboy, a freebie from Murray’s Cider!  So, I started a pineapple experiment. I guess it’s going to be kind of a Pineapple Melomel (Mead), but it will have brown sugar and white sugar in addition to some honey. Right now, I have it going with 1/2 a campden tablet for 24 hours.

Beginnings of a my pineapple experiment

Beginnings of a my pineapple experiment

Blended and half a vanilla bean added

Blended and half a vanilla bean added

I put the recipe through a mead calculator and I need to add more sugar to get the projected ABV% higher. I bumped it up with white sugar, but I’ll use as much honey as I can and make up any difference with white sugar, instead. I’ll take an OG reading and then pitch the yeast. I think I’ll also add more water and move to a gallon carboy for the primary fermentation so 1) I don’t blow the airlock and 2) so that when the must settles, I can rack a full half gallon. Whew! Whatta day!

No flash

No flash

Using the flash really shows the pineapple must layer.

Using the flash really shows the pineapple must layer.

So, tomorrow, I’ll mix what honey I have left and enough white sugar to total 8 oz with an equal part of hot water to dissolve. I’ll add that to a 1 gallon carboy and transfer the contents of the 1/2 gallon carboy to the 1 gallon carboy and top with more water to compensate for leaving the must behind after fermentation. Tomorrow night, I’ll pitch the yeast. Then, I’ll need to decide how long to leave it in secondary and possibly a third racking for clarification and conditioning before bottling. After that, how long in the bottles? I think this will be fun! But it does take patience for a good result!

Oh, I checked on the pineapple batch before calling it a night and there are three distinct layers now. Interesting!

Three layers! Racking should be interesting.

Three layers! Racking should be interesting.

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