Today being my birthday, we spent the weekend doing a lot of fun things – camping, some eating out, and – of course – a little bit of “yeast wrangling”. Let’s start with some pictures (some of these are from earlier in the month, but reflect on things touched this weekend):
Okay, so pictures out of the way, let’s take stock of the events and goings-on! For starters, we went camping. Had intended two nights, but one of the children came down with a fever before the end of the second evening, so we went home near dark. We camped at Cherry Hill Recreation Area, just north of Oconee State Park in the northwestern corner of South Carolina. We spent the first full day tending the fire, doing some hiking, with a short stop-over in Highlands, NC for lunch. I picked up a couple of high ball glasses at a little magasin de cadeaux (i.e. a gift-shop), and Kim found herself a pretty scarf.
With lunch at Old Edwards Inn, I tried two different Oktoberfest beers, the first, the Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier, a golden brew that was excellent. First beer of that color that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was likely not a corn lager, based on the flavor. The second was offered as the “darkest” of their Oktoberfest specialty beers, and was dubbed “Green Man Oktoberfest”. My guess before it arrived was that the green referred to a level of hoppiness, and I was not wrong. The hops stood out impressively, without being markedly bitter. And the beer, a light earthy brown, stood up well to the hops, combining malt and hops into a very satisfying lunch accompaniment. I’d never had the pleasure of trying an Oktoberfest beer. My first time was quite enjoyable.
It looked like a nice place for a future get-away for me and Kim, too.
Kids had the day off today for a teacher in-service, and I had taken the day off for camping, so back home this morning, I considered my options. I considered studying French (may yet do some of that), studying Japanese (again, may still do so), as well as some other reading or a puzzle. When it came down to it, there were a number of glass jugs demanding my attention, feeling neglected. So I got to checking up on things. And here is what I found, and the results of my day’s labor:
Batch #25 (Blueberry Wine) This is beyond ridiculous. It’s not that there is no activity. There’s a little. But not nearly what there should have been. Checking the SG I found a whopping 1.060. Which would be fine if this was a cider about to start or something like that. But two months ago it was at 1.064. No, this is ridiculous. So, I tossed in a 1/2 tsp. of yeast energizer, producing copious amounts of bubbly foam which quickly subsided. In its wake was a semi-regular cascade of bubbles, which hopefully signify more activity. Please?!
- Batch #26 (Blueberry Melomel) Compared to its sister, the wine, the Blueberry Melomel has fared much better. Measuring today at 1.011, and also still bubbling fitfully, I’m a little concerned by its lack of performance. I tossed in a 1/4 tsp. of yeast nutrient. Didn’t get as much foam as with the wine. We’ll just keep an eye on it.
- Batch #28 (Oatmeal Porter) Nothing really to “observe” here, as it was bottled earlier in the month. But checking the calendar, I’m just over two weeks since bottling – time to try one. I have a progressive schedule for taste-testing the porter which starts at around two weeks (for carbonation to set in) and goes to nine months. The introduction to the recipe had suggested 6 months before drinking. And having tasted the chilled brew alongside a delightful beef stew this evening, that is probably fair. The taste was not bad, but harsh and bit bitter. There is a lot of maltiness, and not much hoppy flavor, despite the bitterness from the hops. I enjoyed it, but it needs time to mellow. The color was spot on – very dark, but not quite black. The head was a creamy tan, though there wasn’t much of it; a good amount of carbonation, though. And holding it up to the light, you could make out the reddish undertones indicative of a porter, right below the foam. Otherwise it was fairly opaque.
- Batch #29 (Plum Wine) My four gallons of plum wine are quite inactive, with a significant bed of lees, but have not yet cleared. I checked the SG (0.995), and racked to another 3G carboy. Flavor is okay, but it will definitely require some back-sweetening. I did have to top up the 3G carboy with a bit of water (1/8th of a gallon?). The remainder in the 1 gallon jug required no topping up.
- Batch #30 (Belgian Quadruple) The five gallons of quadruple is also quite inactive. The SG checks out at 1.020, right where it was last time it was checked. So despite some bubbles restarting after moving it upstairs, not much in the way of activity. And it’s not that far off the FG that was expected. So I think this one will soon get primed and bottled.
- Batch #31 (Braggot IV) This dark wonder has a creamy head of micro-bubbles buoyed by a stream of micro-bubbles from below. I left it alone, to continue its progress.
- Batch #32 (Muscadine Wine) The Muscadine wine is looking good. Much like the plum wine it is inactive, and started the day with a sizable bed of lees. I went ahead and checked the SG (0.996) and racked it off the lees. After racking, it required topping up with about 1/5th of a gallon of water. As with the plum wine, it could stand to clear a bit before further work (adding chemicals, bottling, etc.).
- Batch #33 (Hard Cider) The hard cider continues to stream mid-sized bubbles, and is starting to lose some of its opacity. But it is still a deeply earthy yellow.
- Batch #34 (Fall’s Bounty Cyser) The cyser was racked to a 5G barboy on Saturday morning, just before heading off for camping. It has a thick foam of mid-sized bubbles streaming up from below. It’s opaque, but a similarly earthy yellow – maybe just a bit darker – compared with the hard cider.
Additionally, as we have set fruit fermenting, we have often soaked some in sugar and (either) vodka or gin. I drained the liqueur off the fruit today for two of these creations.
Dried Currant Liqueur; This is indistinguishable from a raisin-based liqueur. And it looks exactly as you might expect of a liqueur made from raisins, a rich brown. I suppose I will have to try with un-dried fruit sometime, though black currants are hard to come by in these parts. [Recipe: 1 lb. dried black currants, 1 cup sugar, enough vodka to fill the remainder of a 1 quart jar. Shake every couple days for a month, otherwise keeping shaded/out of the light. Then done.]
- Muscadine Liqueur; The liqueur from the muscadines is even better than that made last season, in my estimation. It tastes much more richly of the muscadines themselves. It is a light purplish-pink color. So pretty. [Recipe: Similar to that above, but a bigger batch. 2 cups sugar, 2,5 lbs of muscadines (some halved, some quartered, and enough vodka to fill the remainder of a 2 quart jar. Same process, shaking every couple days for a month, keeping it in the dark otherwise.]
- Etc. There are many more mason jars sitting, covered, waiting. I shake them every couple days to keep things in motion. I have two batches of Asian pear liqueur (one with cinnamon, one without) and one thing of Bartlett Pear with dates (I believe it is spiced with cinnamon and all spice, too). There are also another three batches of apple liqueur (those made with the trimmings from the apples pressed for cider). Oh, and one more batch of muscadine liqueur, but this one with a gin base. I shook them all.
Overall, a fun and busy birthday. Thanks to all the friends and family who wished me a happy birthday on facebook, or in person.