Chilean Carmenere 2022

>> Tuesday, March 01, 2022

As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been busy since...I think December, working on some remodeling projects. This wasn't just a simple paint refresh.  We ended up taking out a bar and putting in a new one.  I moved a bunch of electrical, added new lighting, moved drain lines, etc. Our kitchen cabinets were long overdue for replacement and dogs and kids had taken a toll on our flooring, so all that was torn out as well. Long story short, lots of trips to the dump spread over lots of weekends. 

We're kind of at the end of all the destructive work and moving on to putting things back together. New flooring is going in this weekend (pretty much the only thing I'm paying someone to do for me) and I'll start installing new cabinets and appliances shortly after that. I feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, the point of my long-winded intro is to point out the probably obvious fact that I haven't had a chance to brew in a long time. Because the time commitment is so much less and because my wife likes wine, I'm about to start on my second batch of wine, a Chilean Carmenere.

This is another Wine Expert kit. For this one, I'm using the yeast supplied with the kit (EC-1118) and per my usual beer brewing process, I'm making a yeast starter to help ensure a healthy fermentation. For the yeast starter, I'm using 1 quart of Knudsen Concord Grape because it's 100% juice and it's preservative free. To this I added 1/2t of Fermax Yeast Nutrient and 4t of granulated table sugar. This was boiled to sanitize then allowed to cool overnight before pitching yeast. I'll let this go for a day or two before pitching.  

Update 3/3/2022
The krausen on the yeast starter (is it called krausen when making wine?) looked like it was starting to drop a little bit, so I decided to proceed today. I'm doing primary for this one in my SS Brew Bucket. Here's the process I followed today:
  1. I added 8 cups of hot water then bentonite to the fermenter and stirred well. I used RO water for this part and ask other water additions.
  2. I added the concentrated must from the kit then topped up to the 5.5 gallon mark. The instructions call for topping to 6 gallons, but I felt comfortable going to 5.5 since I'll be adding my yeast starter, and I suspect the bucket cone will do a good job containing sediment.
  3. Next, I added the granulated oak.  
  4. Lastly, I took a gravity reading: 21.3 (1.086).  I should end up with a wine around 12.1% ABV.
  5. I pitched the yeast and am fermenting at 63F.
Stay tuned for more updates.


Pinot Noir 2022

>> Monday, February 28, 2022

I’ve been busy working on some home projects, including a full kitchen remodel, so I haven’t had any time to brew in a while. I’d purchased a Wine Expert Pinot Noir wine kit way back in July of 2019 that I’ve been planning on making this wine and blending it with some of my barrel-aged sours for a beer-wine hybrid. I’ve never tried making wine before, but these kits seem pretty straightforward and the time commitment is substantially less than brewing an all-grain batch, so I was able to fit it in one evening after work.

For these wine kits, pretty much everything that you need is included, from finings to sulfites to yeast. The only things you need to provide is some basic equipment like a carboy, racking cane, etc. Since mine had been sitting in a dark corner of my basement for over two years, I opted to purchase a fresh pack of yeast. I went with Red Star Premier CuvĂ©e. I also picked up some Fermax Yeast Nutrient. The only other thing needed  is enough good quality water to bring the volume up to about 6 gallons. 

After doing a little Googling, it seems most wine makers ferment at warmer temps compared to your typical beer fermentation. I opted to ferment at room temp which ended up being about 68F-70F this time of year. Visible signs of fermentation wrapped up in a little over a week. Beer kit instructions are notoriously vague and often outdated compared to current best practices (e.g. no need to rack beer to secondary in most cases). The wine kit instructions seemed a little more detailed so I followed them fairly closely. The biggest difference was I left the wine in primary for about 3.5 weeks rather than the 2weeks in the instructions. The wine is currently sitting in secondary. The kit didn’t come with any oak, but I have a bunch of Medium+ French Oak, so I’m toying with the idea of aging it on an ounce-ish. Stay tuned for more updates.


Paloma Beer

>> Saturday, November 06, 2021

Today's brew is a group collab, kettle-soured Imperial Gose that will be aged in my newly acquired Desert Door Texas Sotol barrel. This is a 12 gallon batch that will need to be brewed at least twice in order to fill the Sotol barrel (~25 gallons). The inspiration for this beer is a Paloma cocktail. I haven't played around much with grapefruit zest, so I may need to add more and/or add some grapefruit juice to get the level of grapefruit that I'm after. 

For those not familiar, Sotol is similar to Tequila but to me it comes across as a bit more fruity, floral, and slightly herbal. Kind of like a combo between tequila and gin with a little extra fruitiness thrown in. I'm hoping it'll work really well with the fruity character in the base beer. 

I really liked the results of the recent Catharina Sour, so this recipe is kind of based on that one; here's the recipe as we're brewing it today:

Target OG 1.074
14.4# Root Shoot Pilsner
14.4# Best Malz Spelt
Rice Hulls as needed
2.4ml Hopshot (60 min)
26.4g Pickling Salt (5 min)
33.6g Indian Coriander (5 min)
(3) Yakult Probiotic Drinks
Safale US-05
12oz Grapfruit peel ("Dry-hop" after fermenation slows)

Step Mash
122F for 5 min
153F for 70 min

Water Profile
0.31g/gallon Gypsum
0.36g/gallon Calcium Chloride

Brew Day 1 
Collect 13.75-14 gallons and raise to 170F for about 5-10 minutes to pasteurize. Chill to 100F then pitch Yakult to kettle sour for a couple days.

Brew Day 2

Update 11/14/2021
I went to proceed with the boil today. As soon as I started loosening the tri-clamp fitting, it was apparent that something was wrong; a ton of pressure had built up in the souring keg and it started in with a high pitch whistle. Sadly, the only cause is the wort must have been contaminated with yeast because this particular strain of lactobacillus does not produce CO2 during fermentation. I checked the pH (reading 3.19) then the gravity, and it had dropped significantly. Again, this is not characteristic of a 100% pure lactobacillus fermentation, so definitely a bad sign. Aroma-wise, it smelled “meaty”. Long story short, things didn’t go as planned and I decided to dump the unknown beer. I’ll start with a replacement batch shortly.

Update 11/17/2021
Today is batch #1 re-brew session. I’ve cleaned and sanitized the crap out of my souring keg, even running it through a steam session. Here are today’s readings:

Session 1 Re-brew Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.48
Ending mash pH 5.43
1st running gravity 25.6 (1.105)
Pre-sour gravity 14.9 (1.059)
Pre-sour pH 4.90
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour) 14.5 (1.057)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour) 3.34
Post-boil gravity 15 (1.068)
Post-boil pH 3.40

Update 11/20/2021
I pulled a sample to check pH and it was about 3.51, so I decided to let it ride a little longer. Thankfully this time there was no pressure on the keg, so no unintentionally introduced yeast.

Update 11/26/2021
I started round 2 yesterday. I threw in a little more Pilsner malt this time since gravity was a little lower than target on round 1. Also forgot to mention, I’ve been using a pound of rice hulls to prevent compacting the grain bed while recirculating. Here are the readings from the second session.

Session 2 Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.44
Ending mash pH 5.34
1st running gravity 25.6 (1.105)
Pre-sour gravity 16.2 (1.064)
Pre-sour pH 4.80
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour) 16.0 (1.064)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour) 3.36
Post-boil gravity 17.9 (1.072)
Post-boil pH 3.39

Update 11/30/2021
I checked the pH tonight and it's sitting at 3.41, so it will probably be ready for the boil in 24-48 hours max.

Update 12/3/2021
I did the boil today for session #2. No issues in this session.

Update 12/23/2021
I started round 3 today after work. The brew evening (after work) started off a little rough; my wireless bridge to my BCS-460 seemed to have died. Fortunately I was able to run an ethernet cable to it so that I could continue with the brew session. At the end of the sparge, it seemed like my pump (mash tun to boil kettle) had run out of wort and was pulling air. I shut it down and only collected a touch shy of 10 gallons. As a result, the pre-sour gravity was quite a bit higher compared to the two previous batches. I also got myself a new pH meter, so this was the first time trying it out. One other thing, I decided not to pre-acidify the wort before pitching the lactobacillus this time. Details below:

Session 3 Readings
Beginning mash pH5.34
Ending mash pH5.38
1st running gravity25.8 (1.106)
Pre-sour gravity19.6 (1.079)
Pre-sour pH5.38
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour)19.5 (1.078)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour)3.70
Post-boil gravity20.2 (1.081)
Post-boil pH3.73

Update 12/26/2021
I checked the pH of batch #3 today and it was down to 3.91. I won't have any time next weekend, so I plan on proceed with the boil tomorrow after work. Long story short, the pH probably won't get quite as low on this batch, but it'll still be decently sour; especially after blending with batch 1 and 2.

Update 12/27/2021
I finished up the boil tonight. No major issues. I’m planning on filling the barrel in a couple weeks.