Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chew with Incysers (it's a Cyser, get it?)

So I've made mead... but cyser is a specific kind of mead that uses apple juice as a base instead of water.

Think of it as mead & cider's offspring, if you will.

I decided to make a half batch (recipe was 6 gallons) and it looks like I might have exceeded even that.  Here's the ingredients and the process I used...

2.5 gallons apple cider (no preservatives - I used generic Albertson's apple cider)
6 lbs honey (I used 4 lb Albertson's Clover and 2 lb local unfiltered)
1/2 gallon water
3 lb brown sugar (I used 2 lb light and 1 lb golden brown)
1.5 lb golden raisins (I used Sun-Maid)
3 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1.5 tsp Yeast Energizer
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp pectic enzyme
2 pkgs - Pasteur Champagne Yeast (Red Star)

OK, so first I dumped a gallon of apple cider in the carboy.  Meanwhile I boiled the half gallon of water on the stove.

Then I proceeded to pour in the honey, jar after jar, and shake the carboy around to mix the honey with the cider.

Then, using some of the cider, I poured it in the honey jars, sealed them, and shook them vigorously to get all the honey out, pouring that in.

Dissolve brown sugar in the boiling water - use some ice or apple cider to cool it, then funnel it into the carboy.

Chop the raisins in the food processor - they become this big globby ball, so you have to work a bit to force them through the funnel in small chunks into the fermenter.

Drop in the cinnamon stick.  Add the remaining apple cider.  Shake again.

Add Yeast Nutrient and Yeast Energizer.  Shake again.

*Note:  This is where I am right now.  Following steps to be completed tomorrow.

Wait at least 12 hours and add Pectic Enzyme.

Wait at least 12 more hours and pitch yeast (I will do this dry) into the fermenter.

Let it ferment for 3 or more weeks, swirling every day or two to keep the raisins in mixture.

Rack to secondary.

Let sit for up to 3 months before bottling.  (I plan to bottle in November)

Bottle and let age in bottles - try one new, wait 3 months on most, and save some for a year.

We will see if I have the patience for that.

Psycho triple brew day - again! again! again!

So I'm at it again - trying to make three different "fermentable beverages" in a single day.  This is how to wisely spend a vacation day, I tell you!

Today is running a little different than last time, though, partially because I had to stay outside the whole time, so I couldn't use the stove for a mash water heater which delayed my ability to get the extract brew on.

For those of you playing along at home, I've found that I can get three brews in pretty easily so long as they follow a certain pattern: one all-grain 10 gallon batch, one extract 5 gallon batch, and one no-boil (mead or cider or perry or something) batch.  I also can build my water for the all grain batch, but I tend to use tap water for the extract batch.  Today I added an RV carbon filter to that line to remove some excess chlorine or other bad flavors - the water tasted great coming out the other end of the (drinking water) hose.  Total cost for that was under $20.  Today, I'm throwing a half-batch of cyser in there today (only 2.5 gallons) so I will be targeting 17.5 gallons total, but still using all my carboy capacity.  The cyser may rest a while longer, though, so that limits me to probably single 10 gallon brews or maybe a 2-batch day for the rest of the year or so...

So - what's in the lineup for today?

1- Kolsch - I won about 10 lbs of pilsner malt in a raffle so what do I do with that?  Make a nice easy-drinking kolsch for Oktoberfest time!  It is a 10 gallon all-grain batch with a simple grain bill.
2- Porter (plus something extra) - have been wondering for a while if there is a way to incorporate bacon into beer.  Found a recipe and a commercial example, so I am guessing the answer is yes.  So, here goes - Porker Porter - five gallon extract batch (grains steeping above in picture), bacon (cooked and dried of as much grease as possible) added to the secondary.
3 - Cyser - I was pleasantly surprised with my cider creation last time - so decided to spice it up a bit.  Making a cyser with honey, white raisins, apple cider, and cinnamon.  Sounds like a fall or winter treat.  I will probably try to bottle it in November, I think - maybe earlier - and enjoy some young this fall, to see how it goes.  I'll save some for next year, perhaps.

Now, here's the tricky part (to be figured out next week some time).  I only have 4 carboys.  I am using all 4.  I want all three with beer in them (porter and two with kolsch) to be secondary fermented.  Where I sit right now is either racking one to a sanitized bottling bucket, then holding while I clean and rack the other 2 carboys then return the bottle batch to a clean and sanitized carboy, OR saying forget it, bottling one of the batches of Kolsch, and daisy-chaining from there.  I do think the Kolsch would benefit clarity-wise from a secondary rest, though.  We will see (and by that I mean we will see how lazy I am).  I also need to get some bottles cleared out to hold all this beer!

Will post recipes shortly.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Empty Carboys

Bottled up the cider Sunday, half sweetened/half dry, which leaves me with only one empty case of bottles, but another problem - four empty carboys.

I am not sure I'm going to pull off another 20 gallon brew day again, but I could very well pull off 15.  We will see how it goes.

For now, though, I just have to figure out WHAT to brew.  Probably something that can sit in a carboy a while as I clear out more bottles (time to get to work on that, eh?), so maybe something that has to age, alongside some drinkable beer that I can bottle up when it is ready.  I'll go back to my planning board, while you all wait with bated breath.

In the meantime, what are you brewing?