Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update:Holiday Cider

Lately I have been doing some reading on the Homebrew Talk Forums about Cider Making.

In the Cider forums there is a guy who has done a lot of experiments with different juices and yeasts...and I wish I had read the entire thread (Some 51 pages long) before starting my cider with the Belgian Saison yeast.  He posted that his experiment with this yeast was not very good and that the yeast quickly stripped the cider of the apple taste. 

Friday after work I stopped at the local homebrew store and purchased a 3 gallon carboy.  On Saturday I transferred the cider into the bottling bucket and did a taste test and specific gravity of 1.006 ...still a bit of apple notes to it so I decided to move forward with the batch.
3 gallon carboy
I then steamed some French Oak chips and put them in the cider

Next step was to attempt to cold crash it and make the yeast go dormant...this part is where I had to think like MacGyver since I don't have access to another fridge.  After much thought on the best way to do this with the materials I have on hand I opted to take this route...

Ice/Salt slurry bath...

While the first round of this has melted down the water bath is still cold...going to do this one more time then probably going to use some Potassium Sorbate to kill the yeast and prevent further fermintation. 

This is not a problem since this will end up a "still cider."  I will probably "back sweeten" with apple concentrate prior to bottling

hopefully this will turn out alright in the end.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Update: Rhubarb Raspberry Hefe and Cider Update

Just a couple things to update on the brewing front:

 Opened a bottle of the Rhubarb Raspberry Hefeweizen ... Yummy!
The first taste you get as you drink it is a nice tart taste from the rhubarb and then as it finishes and goes down the back of the throat you get the sweetness of the raspberries.  Pleased with the carbonation level on this one (4 tablets) still have to open a 3 and 5 tablet.  Anyway really pleased with the way this turned out in the end.

Added the yeasts to the carboys on Saturday.

In the the first carboy I used White Labs Belgian Saison yeast which is a classic Saison yeast from Wallonia. It produces earthy, peppery, and spicy notes. Slightly sweet.

 In the second carboy is White Labs Hefeweizen  IV yeast which has a large clove and phenolic aroma and flavor, with minimal banana. Refreshing citrus and apricot notes. Crisp, drinkable hefeweizen.

Currently both are bubbling away...and I am not sure if it is the light or what but the one on the right with the hefeweizen yeast looks like it is lighter in color...or it could just be my brain playing tricks on me...

Anyway I can't wait till these are ready to sample.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Holiday Brewing: The Tale of Two Ciders Part 1

Last year was my first time making hard cider. At the time it was a spur of the moment idea I got after I read an article in Zymurgy which is the magazine that is a part of my American Homebrewer's Assoc. membership. 

When I say "spur of the moment" I mean that I read the article the day I got the magazine and within a few days I had purchased the cider from one of the local apple orchards in the area.  According to the pictures of this first batch that I took, I started the batch in September which really didn't give it a lot of time to age since it was to be part of the "Brewathlon Holiday 5 pack."

This year I am starting a little sooner then last year and this year is going to be a bit more experimental.  The other night I stopped at the local food Co-op and purchased 6 gallons of cider.  When I got to the check out counter the lady running the registrar looked at the 6 jugs of cider and without missing a beat asked, "So let me are making Hard Cider?" Apparently she too is a homebrewer and maker of Hard Cider.

 So when I got back to the house I began cleaning and sanitizing my carboys...I say carboys because I am doing two 3 gallon batches (see previous post on Holiday Brew Plans).  One of the things I like about cider making is that it is a very simple process...pour cider in carboy, add pectin enzyme and let sit for a few days, add yeast, then add adjunts. 

Next came the pectin enzyme...
Pectin Enzyme helps get rid of the cloudiness and makes a clear sparkling cider.  Last year I added the pectin enzyme after I added the yeast and fermentation had already started...afterwards I read that the enzyme works best if used prior to adding the yeast because alcohol inhibits the clarification process.  So this year I hope that I get a clearer result in the end due to adding the pectin enzyme (not that last years batch was not clear but we shall see if there truly is a difference

Currently the two batches are sitting down in the basement and I hope to make it to the Homebrew store this weekend to pick up the yeast.  I think I am going with a hefewiezen for one and either a Belgian or Saison for the other but I am not sure. I think I will probably do some more research on the White Labs website and the Homebrew Talk Forums and see if there is some information on the use of these two strains.

Stay tuned for further updates..

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bottling the Rhubarb Raspberry Wheat

Well Summer is half over and at least I finally got around to bottling the Rhubarb Raspberry Wheat.  It sat in the secondary for just over a month because of a vacation home to WV, the extreme heat and humidity, and just general procrastination

My original plan for priming was to use two different priming methods: Priming Tabs and sugar cubes
Unfortunately I was unable to find sugar cubes at the store but did end up purchasing a new type of conditioning tabs that are supposed to allow you to have a bit more control the carbonation levels.

So as an experiment I did the following:

22oz Bottles - 8 conditioning tablets
12oz bottles with 3 conditioning tablets: 3
12oz bottles with 5 conditioning tablets: 3
12oz bottles with 4 conditioning tablets: 12

I also didn't get as many bottles as I usually do from a 5 gallon batch because some of the Rhubarb didn't get totally pureed and was clogging the tubing and bottling wand.   This  made it difficult to fill the bottles since the pieces Rhubarb were preventing the tip on the end of the wand from closing.  I ended up tossing the bottling wand (needed a new one anyway) along with the tubing

Overall my initial tasting of the beer is promising and I can't wait to try it once it is conditioned. This batch has also made me want to do 3 gallon batches and move to kegging as soon as possible.