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Day 113 Brew Day!!! Something a Little Different. Rye PA?

The set-up.

The set-up.

It’s been a long brew day. I slept late and got a late start. After getting an idea about what I was going to brew, running to the local brew shop, topping of the propane tank and getting ice, I still had to organize, set-up and sanitize! I think I finally turned the burner on at about 2 p.m. I just finished…well, still have some more clean up to do…and it’s 7:45 p.m.

I was hoping to make a scotch ale; however, the recipes and comments I was hearing were all pretty much saying that I needed to be able to maintain a fermentation temperature of 68F for the first week and sometimes down in the 50’s for another 10 days. Since I don’t have anyway of temperature regulation, I decided I needed to go another way. In looking at styles that do better in warmer temperatures, I found a recipe for a wheat beer, with an option for rye, that sounded interesting. So, I started tweaking it and headed for the HBS to get further  input.  The original recipe I found is here:

http://thebrewhut.com/brewblog.php?page=recipeDetail&&filter=brewmaster&id=62&pg=2

I always like to give credit to originator! So, here’s what I did. First, I went with regular wheat, not red. Maybe some other time. I also decided to pick up some Citra hops, because I really liked what they did for a similar brew. I also remembered that I had a little Vanguard hops left in the freezer at home. And rather than go with a Weihenstephaner yeast, I decided to go US-05. This should help with my higher fermentation temperatures. For the honey in the recipe, I opted for orange blossom and instead of Lemon Zinger Tea, I’m going for Lemon zest soaked in vodka for the secondary…maybe some orange zest, too. Maybe I’ll call it “Rye Sense of Humor American RyePA”.

Gots all my pertinents and such.

Gots all my pertinents and such.

On to the brew: I pretty much followed the recipe. There are two hops varieties in addition to the hops I decided to add. Bittering hops at 60 minutes, Cascade. Aroma hops at 30 minutes and 5 minutes, Hallertau and again at 5 minutes.  I added the Vanguard at the 30 minute marks, as well and the citrus at flameout.

My BIAB process went pretty smoothly, except it is hard to nail down that target temperature and regulate it there. I heated the strike water to 168 (a tad higher than I anticipated). I let it come down a little  before adding the grains. The grains only got it down to around 158F. I left the lid off and stirred a lot to try to bring it down to 152F. I went through that a couple time before it was ready to mash out.

Boil in a Bag, all-grain.

Boil in a Bag, all-grain.

The mash out, on the other hand, went smoothly. I hit the temp and I was able to maintain it pretty steadily for 15 minutes. Then it was on to the boil. I started with 7 gallons and went through most of the process as planned.

Dunking and draining...no sparging.

Dunking and draining…no sparging.

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I did, however, have in my mind that the last two BIAB brews I did have a bunch of trub and tit really cut into the amount of beer I made. So, at the end, I added a gallon of  cold water which, of course, dropped my specific gravity reading.

I decided to pull a gallon of wort and re-boil it with another 1/2 pound of honey and a 1-3/8 oz chunk of piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar). I chilled that down and added it back. The refractometer was reading 1.047…I did a hydrometer check and it was reading 1.050 at 73F…that would be 1.051 corrected for temperature. Anyway,  I took one last refractometer reading and, low and behold, it matched the hydrometer at 1.051! I stuck the rest of the sample in the fridge to check the color later.

The Boil

The Boil

I had already rehydrated the yeast, so I went ahead and pitched it. Then I rocked the fermention bucket for 5 minutes to aerate. I’m going to go ahead and put a blow-off tube on this bucket, because it is pretty full. It would not take much krausen to foul an airlock!

Blow-off, in place and ready.

Blow-off, in place and ready.

Now it’s time to finish up a little cleaning before I yawn myself to sleep!

Update: Sample tube…clear separation. Lots of trub! I really like the flavor of this wort…this has great potential!

Wort hydrometer sample...checking for trub, color, aroma, flavor.

Wort hydrometer sample…checking for trub, color, aroma, flavor.

 

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Day 79 Birthday Brew Related Presents & First Taste of Citra Citrus Wheat

IMAG2698

My birthday was yesterday and I was not at home until today to celebrate with extended family. I received some excellent brew related gifts at our family gathering (thank you everyone!). There were some non-brew related gifts that were just as appreciated, but this is a brew journal, so that is what I’m going to talk about here!

I received a brew ingredients kit  for a chocolate stout that will be fun. It includes cocoa husks and nibs and some lactose…so I’ll be using some new things. Also, I received my first 6 gallon, glass carboy and a handle and carrier strap for it. I’m looking forward to trying it out! My last piece of hardware is a refractometer…woo hoo!!! The refractometer will give me a specific gravity reading with just a few drops of wort and I wont have to worry about the temperature so much. It will be easier to read than a hydrometer floating in a sample tube…and less wasteful. I tested it with some bottled Culligan water, not distilled, but it read zero, so calibration should be good. I tested a sample of some Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Hard Cider and it read 1.025…cool!

Nice, tart Granny Smith cider...tested the new refractometer with this...I wonder what the OG was?

Nice, tart Granny Smith cider…tested the new refractometer with this…I wonder what the OG was? About 1.063?

I’ll check my Strawberry Blonde Ale and Plain Jane Blonde Ale’s SG’s tomorrow…maybe rack them, depending on readings. Need to find my racking siphon pieces, if I’m going to use the big carboy.

My final brew-related gift is a brewing class on March 15 for “Brew in a Bag” (BIAB) brewing at Atlantic Brew Supply…includes brewing a batch in class too! Should be interesting.

Finally, at my birthday gathering, I tasted two of my brews. One was my Bavarian style Hefeweizen (the Great Weisse)…I had one in reserve that I didn’t give away to my friend for the Megalodon shark tooth. I really kept this one for my own benefit to see how it would taste this far out from bottling.

Great Weisse, Bavarian Style Hefeweizen

Great Weisse, Bavarian Style Hefeweizen

The head was aggressive, but died down to a nice soft one and the flavor/aroma/color were all nice and appropriate for the style…very pleased with the beer. The second beer I tasted tonight is my Citra Citrus Wheat …this beer is a-MAZE-ing!!! A home run. in my opinion. IMAG2694It was bottled one week ago and it is VERY drinkable. I can’t wait to show this one off and get some feedback! The family members that got a sip were all very impressed. Today has been a good day.

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Day 77 Goosing the Strawberry Blonde and Bottling the Wheat Citra Citrus

Opened strawberry blonde after 24 hours to inspect. (I drew off the gallon for DME addition from the spigot.)

Opened strawberry blonde to add DME wort. (I drew off the gallon for DME boil from the spigot.)

A busy day today. On the recommendation of some people on http://www.homebrewtalk.com, I decided to make a run back to the brew shop and get some dry malt extract (DME) to bump the specific gravity of the strawberry blonde and plain blonde brews that I did yesterday. The specific gravity was 1.034 at 75F (1.035)…well below the target of 1.053. I’ve done this enough now that I think I’m taking the measurement correctly and it could be due to the higher volume that I wound up with…a total of about 7-1/2 gallons. There’s 1-1/2 gallons of plain blonde ale and about 6 gallons of strawberry blonde (including the 6lbs of strawberries). As of late morning, the main bucket was gurgling nicely and the blow off is seeing some action, but not out of control. The plain blonde in the small bucket is just starting to see some action.

At the home brew shop, they crunched the number for me and concurred that 3 lbs of DME should put me back on target and, using some of the existing wort, will lover my yeast count a little, but will keep me from increasing the already high volume in the main bucket.

So, at home again, I sanitized a 1 quart measure and removed a gallon of wort form the strawberry blonde. I put the wort into a stock pot and brought it to a boil. I added the DME, while stirring, until it was dissolved and incorporated. Watching carefully for boil over, I boiled for 15 minutes.

Drew off 1 gallon of strawberry blonde wort. Added 3 lbs DME at boil.

Drew off 1 gallon of strawberry blonde wort. Added 3 lbs DME at boil.

I skimmed off a few suds and then chilled the DME wort to 75F in an ice bath in the kitchen sink.

Ice bath chill.

Ice bath chill.

I measured the wort at 17 cups and divided that between a total of 7-1/2 gallons of wort (I just realized that I didn’t account for the gallon that I took out…dang. Shouldn’t matter too much, though.). I put 13-1/2 cups of the DME wort into the strawberry blonde fermentation bucket and 3-1/2 cups in the plain blonde bucket. The only problem is that the SG …what I will be using for my OG is still under what we worked out. It is just 1.040 @ 75F (1.041)…and I’m second guessing my abilities on the hydrometer reading thing. If I’m accurate though, and I attain the 1.010 that is estimated, then the ABV will be 4.07%. It’s not optimal, but it is acceptable. The sample looked and tasted pretty nice.

Strawberry blonde hydrometer sample

Strawberry blonde hydrometer sample

A little muddy at this point, but I think fermentation and the process will clear it up nicely.  Cleaned up and prepared for bottling my American Wheat Citra Citrus. The fermentation resumed pretty quickly on the blonde ales.

Blow off action.

Blow off action.

On to the bottling…all the usual bottle washing/sanitizing, equipment sanitizing. I’m using some of my newly acquired bottles.

Nice, clean bottles.

Nice, clean bottles.

Thankfully, they are in decent boxes with six-pack holders for dividers. The box flaps and handles are in a little rough shape on some, but not destroyed…definitely usable. I could use an empty bottle box or two for the loose bottles that I have. I should ask at the brew shop if they sell the boxes only, next time I go there.

Anyway, the bottling went smoothly. I filled a case and capped it and then did the second one and capped it. I did get a yield of exactly two cases…the last bottle was a struggle.

First case of the American Wheat Citra Citrus.

First case of the American Wheat Citra Citrus.

I marked it, just in case it had any trub in it. Because I racked pretty carefully a couple of days ago though, it was all rather clear.

Nice and clear American Wheat Citra Citrus...ready to bottle.

Nice and clear American Wheat Citra Citrus…ready to bottle.

The color looks good…a little dark, but it IS an extract recipe, so that’s expected. The flavor has a great citrus punch with a really nice hop bitterness…not overpowering, though.

Sample of American Wheat Citra Citrus...very encouraged!

Sample of American Wheat Citra Citrus…very encouraged!

And the aroma is a-maz-ing!!! The combination of the citra hops late additions and the citrus work very well together! I am VERY much looking forward to the first bottle of this batch! I didn’t check the SG before bottling, but I did check it at the final racking and I don’t think it would have changed since then. It was 1.010@72F (1.011) at that time. I’m going with that as the FG. The OG was 1.044@75F (1.045), so the ABV would be 4.46%, which is very close to the estimated 4.4% ABV.

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Day 75 American Wheat with Citrus & Citra…Final Racking

Racking from secondary to another bucket to settle for a couple of days before bottling.

Racking from secondary to another bucket to settle for a couple of days before bottling.

Today, I decided to rack the American “Breadbasket” Wheat with Citrus & Citra an additional racking. I wanted to get it off of the lees and let it settle for a day or two before I bottle it. Being a wheat beer, it’s not expected to be crystal clear; however, when I bottle it, I don’t want to have to worry about the sludge and the citrus peels and zest.

Drained

Drained

Dried (formerly) sweet orange peel and fresh lemon zest floating in secondary.

Dried (formerly) sweet orange peel and fresh lemon zest floating in secondary.

The aroma is floral and citrusy and has a little spice to it. The flavor is nice…good bitterness, lots of citrus and maybe a little clove? Whatever. It’s going to be really good when it has been bottle conditioned! I did a hydrometer check and the reading is 1.010 at 72F. Fermentation should be done. I haven’t seen any bubbles at all lately. I should be bottling this in two days.

Racked American Wheat with Citra and Citrus

Racked American Wheat with Citra and Citrus

Tomorrow is the monthly Big Brew at the Atlantic Brew Shop/Raleigh Brewery! This month, the special is a blonde ale. I’m thinking about making it a Strawberry Blond. I’ve done some research and I’ve read a lot of good experiences and a lot of bad. We will see. I need to go to a grocery store and see what is available.

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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 72 Moving American Wheat to Secondary

Nine days after brewing and my citrus infused American Wheat is ready to be transferred to secondary with some additional citrus.

Opening after 9 days in primary

Opening after 9 days in primary

In addition to 1/2 oz of dried sweet orange peel at 2 mins. left in the boil, I’m going to add another 1/2 oz in secondary along with the zest from a large lemon that has been soaking in the refrigerator, in about 1/3 c. white Bacardi rum, for the last 9 days. The rum will also go in.

Racking onto the dries peel, lemon zest and rum.

Racking onto the dried peel, lemon zest and rum.

Dried sweet orange peel and zest from one lemon soaked in 1/3 c. bacardi white run.

Dried sweet orange peel and zest from one lemon soaked in 1/3 c. bacardi white run.

I checked the gravity and the FG is 1.010 at 65 F, so the ABV should be about 4.46%. The sample flavor is nice…I’m looking forward to this one!

Nice color!

Nice color!

Final Gravity is 1.010 and 4.46% ABV.

Final Gravity is 1.010 and 4.46% ABV.

The Cascade hops give a nice bite, but not overpowering. The Citra hops and orange are reinforcing each other in the aroma and flavor. A couple of weeks in secondary and another couple in the bottle and I’m hoping it’s all going to come together nicely for an awesome brew!

Nice color. A little bitter. A good amount of citrus in the aroma and flavor...and more on the way!

Nice color. A little bitter. A good amount of citrus in the aroma and flavor…and more on the way!

Racking...currently, just under 5 gallons.

Racking…currently, just under 5 gallons.

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Day 71 American Wheat Fermenting, Hefe sample

First of all, let me say that have long enjoyed German beers. Ever since I spent six weeks there in the summer of 1983 and two weeks for my honeymoon in 1985. Last night, I drank a  German Hefe Weissbier to get my palate prepared for these wheat beers that I’m brewing. And I did not like it. I have heard others describe wheat beers as having aromas and flavors with a lot of clove and banana. I got the clove…big time. LOTS of clove. It was just overpowering! Banana? Maybe…if you could completely remove the sugar from a banana and still describe it as “banana”. And this beer was Weihenstephaner, from “The World’s Oldest Brewery”. All I can say is that I hope neither of my brews turn out like this! I did not get this flavor from my worts. I hope it doesn’t develope.

World's oldest brewery makes some nasty hefe weissbier! (In my opinion, of course.)

World’s oldest brewery makes some nasty hefe weissbier! (In my opinion, of course.)

As for the beer that I have in fermentation, that I brewed yesterday, it is showing signs of life today! The airlock has a regular heartbeat…I wouldn’t say it’s rigorously chugging, but it is good and regular.

Also, it’s Super Bowl Sunday and I have chilled some beer and cider to take to my in-law’s house, where I will be watching Seattle beat Denver…hopefully! Not that I really care, but Seattle has a few former NC State University players on the team. Nothing against the Broncos…as usual, it’s more about the commercials than anything else. And some food and beer!

Update: Seattle Seahawks beat the SNOT out of Denver. The commercials were a little lackluster this year. Luckily, the food was good and the beer was…mine! And delicious. I almost feel asleep just before the end of the first half! Got my second wind for the halftime show and the rest of the game. I’m having one last stout as I finish this entry and then head off  to bed. Congratulations Seahawks!

Past when I should be up, but I got an urge to sample the Great Weisse Shark Hefe Weizen. Earlier, I stuck a sample bottle in the fridge. From the bottle, it looks clear. There’s a pretty substantial amount of sediment in the sample’s bottom, though, so it will need to be poured carefully, if this holds true for the whole batch. It will hopefully develop a little more head and carb, but it is quite good already.

Nice color!

Nice color!

Great Weisse Shark Hefe Weizen

Great Weisse Shark Hefe Weizen

The color is really quite beautiful. The flavor…this is so confounding! I taste the same kind of clove in this beer as I did the Weihenstephaner, but it isn’t offensive here at all. What the…? And I get the banana. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s really good! I hope my friend that I brewed it for likes it…I’m not sure if this is quite what he is used to in a wheat beer, but we will find out, one day soon! If he isn’t loving this one, I’ll bring it home and trade him the American wheat. Heck, by the time I arrange to take it to him, the American may be ready, too. I might just take both, just in case. And, if he likes them both, he can have half of each!

This is just another shot, lit up with flash for another perspective on the color.

This is just another shot, lit up with flash for another perspective on the color.

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