Old Cherry

I just opened our last bottle of cherry wine, bottled in 2012. The time has been good to it. Any of the harsher flavors exhibited in previous bottles has mellowed. It simply rolls on the tongue begging to be savored. It is a lovely ruby, clear and clean.

I didn’t realize I had a bottle left until I browsed the “cellar” entering everything into an app which will help me keep track of what is available (I’m using Kellermeister in the Android store).

All in all, it makes me look forward to last year’s cherry, fermented with a little more wisdom and better ingredients…

Victory Storm King

Having just put my own first attempt at an Imperial Stout on to mash, I was reminded that I had yet to share my thoughts on an Imperial Stout I picked up the other day to try. Victory’s is good. Bitter, as expected of a stout, even more so of an Imperial Stout. There’s hardly any head, and what there is is a rich tan. Apparently, that is typical of stouts, since they use (unmalted) roasted barley as a distinctive element.

Overall, pretty good but not my favorite. I wish I could remember clearly the name of the Russian Imperial Stout I had the last time I was in Spokane…I think it was Rasputin. That was an exceedingly tasty beverage!

Uh Oh

Well…
I’m now just a little concerned. Having primed and bottled the Quadruple just the other day, I wasn’t expecting much anytime soon. However, one just blew its bottle. I suppose it could have just been a bad bottle. After all, these are all reused bottles. But it is still really early.
Another option might be uneven distribution of sugar. Or maybe extea matter not quit cleaned out causing something. Still, the speed concerns me.
Guess all I can do is wait and see.

Quatro de Maio, and the Quadruple Labeled

This afternoon we were invited to a “quatro de maio” celebration with a number of friends. Such is what happens when said friends (and us, too) have regularly scheduled Monday evening activities, not to mention the havoc potentially caused by May 5th being a school day. In any case, it was a blast, with an ample crowd of kids to entertain one another, a rousing game of Settlers of Catan for a few of us, some wonderful food and great beverages, and best of all the many conversations with old friends and new.

My favorite of the finger foods was, without doubt, the lime cookies. There was lime zest in the cookie itself, and this semi-liquid lime glaze on top. Oh, for a plate of them in front of me now! I have to figure out who brought those.

I brought a half-dozen bottles of my “Hefty Braggot” to share, which was received spectacularly, if I do say so myself. Noticeable honey in the end, an herbal quality, a not-so-in-your-face taste of alcohol (which says a lot, as the stuff runs 12.3%!), smooth, a smell that suggested “hoppiness” but was subdued in that sense on the taste buds: all of these were comments received. Always relieved when people enjoy.

After a long day of fun with friends, I finally got around to the labeling of the Belgian Quadruple. Calculating the percent alcohol using OG and FG gave me 7.22%, but factoring in the priming sugar (the D-180), I’m not so sure what the end result would actually be. Certainly higher, but not much. I’m sure I could calculate some reasonable value, since the SG for D-180 is a “known” entity. Instead, I am choosing to label as 8%. Close enough for my purposes.

Labels printed, labels applied, bottles boxed up and shifted downstairs. And now we say goodnight.

So, “Goodnight!”

Quadruple Bottling

It’s been a while, but things are still just proceeding as they have been. The braggots are still bubbling, the blueberries… still bubbling. The muscadine, still bubbling, and the plum – well, not bubbling, but still clearing the remaining haziness.

Only thing worth noting is that the quadruple is… not bubbling! Which means time to bottle! Thus, after work, I began the process of washing enough bottles for the roughly 6G batch: about 60 12 oz bottles. I sanitized them and placed them in the drying rack.

Near the end of this drying cycle, I began setting up for bottling. The recipe calls for 2 lbs of D-180 (dark Belgian candi syrup), and I realized too late that I only had one. Rather than try to make up more syrup from something else, I’m just going to go with the one. I poured it into the bottom of my sanitized bottling bucket.

I then proceeded to rack the quadruple onto the syrup. First, I took an SG reading (1.015), following that with a visual inspection of the quadruple itself. It is a red brown, and actually somewhat transparent. The smell is good. Nothing amiss. I started the racking, and finished without being too aggressive with the remnants. Any red brown is now hidden in a deep and dark black from the candi sugar, of course. I imagine it would be even darker if I had used the full amount.

The recipe also calls for bottle priming, and I had a yeast packet in the refrigerator just for this occasion. A packet of Muntons Active Brewing Yeast (6 grams worth) should do the trick. The directions call for rehydrating in 38-40C water for 15 minutes. My wife just the other day used the remainder of my purified water, so rather than wait for cooled boiled water, I elected to place the yeast in the fermentation bucket. Not optimal – hopefully I don’t shock the yeast too badly with all the newly available sugar – but I think it will be harmless enough.

About 15 minutes later, I mixed in the yeast, stirring up the candi sugar at the bottom of the bucket. I tried not to do it too vigorously, so as not to introduce lots of oxygen into the mix – that would be unfortunate. And with the mix done, I was ready to bottle.

An hour and more later, I have 63 bottles (57 12 oz. and 6 11.2 oz. bottles) of quadruple. Recipe says to cellar for  six months. Can’t help but wear a bit of a frown at that, but I understand the need. Just glad it finally finished fermenting! The recipe originally expected a 12 week fermentation…