Brewing BIAB for Brad Smith at NHC 2012

I’ve been sitting on this post for over 6 months, time to post it I think 🙂

The 2012 National Homebrewer’s Conference (NHC) was held in the Seattle Area.  The local clubs were heavily involved.  At some point I was asked if I could help out at NHC by brewing a Brew in the Bag (BIAB) beer for a talk being given on BIAB.  Without hesitation, I said yes!  I can whip out 5 gallons without a problem.  I was already going to do a keg or two for club night.

Then I found out they wanted me to brew a BIAB beer, and…  this is where writing or talking about this get interesting, what do you call a non-BIAB beer?  “Normal” seems pejorative to BIAB and “other” seems wrong, so I will say non-BIAB which is accurate, but flawed (see next paragraph).

So now they’ve asked for me to brew a BIAB and a non-BIAB beer.  The did offer to have someone else brew the non-BIAB beer, but  I knew that to have a good side by side test, 1 brewer really ought to do both.  Of course, I did not mention I had never brewed a non-BIAB, All Grain batch before… (see even “non-BIAB” is flawed since it could be partial or extract…).  Never one to shy from over-commitment, I thought it was high time to see what I was missing, and use this as a forcing function to use a mash tun.

I chose to brew my standard All Cascade APA since I had a bunch of Cascade Hops and it was my default experiment brew.  Also it a clear beer which should help show that BIAB beers are not cloudy.  And, and this become more important later, if it was not up to par, I could always drink it myself.

I needed to borrow a cooler or other mash tun.  As my deadline was looming I was failing to locate the tun.  Finally, after asking for help,  Steve Antoch came through and lent me his igloo converted cooler.  Now I was all set to brew 5 gallons of BIAB and non-BIAB beers.  I had recently bought a second turkey fryer and I was set to go side by side.

That’s when the email came in with a “ok you going to brew 10 gallons of each,” message. Gulp!  Around now I suddenly made the connection that the “guy” was I brewing for was Brad Smith of Beersmith.  Double Gulp!  I should really think about this stuff before saying  yes…

I considered,  the cooler was big enough for a 10 gallon batch; I just needed to plan for a longer day.  I had 4 large carboys, and I should have 3 kegs, plus 1 that was full of barrel brew, so I needed to buy an extra one or two.

I planned out the day.  I bought rice hulls since i tend to grind to flour and i had never ground for cracked grains (see my setup ). This is when I had to make a call… Do i grind both batches the same  or different?  I chose “same” which meant lower efficiency for BIAB than normal for me.

So I started with the BIAB batches by laying out hops.  That’s when I discovered that I do not have enough cascade hops for 4 batches….  So I had to modify the hop schedule.  I decided to add 1 oz. of  Amarillo to the brews.  Originally I had planned on no dry hopping but then I forgot the 1 min addition on the first batch, so dry hop it was for all!

WP_000014 (1)

Normally, I sparge/rinse my BIAB by pouring hot water as it sits in a strainer (see photo).  I basically heat water in a kettle until it is close to 170 and then pour it onto the bag and often get back many points of gravity.  To try to keep things simple, I did not do that.

I managed to hit both BIAB batches at 1040 (BTW here ‘s a hint, don’t start two batches at the same time, since I only have 1 chiller).

For the non-BIAB/cooler batch, I did an infusion mash while heating sparge water on the extra turkey fryer.  I dumped the wort in the main pot, added the 170 water  for 15 minutes, and then mixed the worts to get the OG the same.  I hit close to 1040 for both starts.  When I was done, one was 1042 and the other was 1047 so there was some boil off difference.

This means the cooler was more efficient than the BIAB which is unusual.  Normally I see 90% efficiency with the BIAB method (not 67%).  This is probably due to the coarser grind and lack of sparging/rinsing.

From there I added US-05 (hydrated) to each carboy and let them ferment.

After 2 days I got another email, turns out Brad Smith was giving two talks, and the conference was wondering if we had enough for both talks, which would be 20 gallons of each…  I had to say no finally.

Right before the NHC I had to kill and clean my kegs (one of those is “work” 🙂 ).   As I only had three, I was going to have to scramble to borrow one (kegs get scarce right before the conference).  That’s when I remembered the spare from Tom Schmidlin from when we kegged the club barrel brew…  This was also one of my mistakes…

I brought all four kegs to the hotel, scrambled to find them right before the talk, and then tapped one of each type.  Except now one of them was just not the same.  So I tapped another one from the same type, and shared it during Brad’s talk.

There were differences between the beers, but they can be attributed to the efficiency issue.

We had enough beer for both talks and I took the weird keg home.  That’s when I remembered I had previously used that keg for barrel beer and planned on filling with more barrel brew, so I didn’t need to clean it, I had just purged it…  Lesson learned.  And while different, the blend was awesome, another lesson learned…

Overall we proved that brew in the bag made the same beer.  Brad gave a great talk, people enjoyed the beers, and I learned I have no need to invest in the mash tun.

And if people think I’m slack for taking a year to get this post up, Steve just picked as mash tun up last week… 🙂

Saving a Beer, One draft at a time

    I had a beer, which was made with just LME + cascade hops. The goal was a simple beer my buddy Dan could brew exactly the same. I targeted just LME and cascades. We brewed it when he was visiting after thanksgiving (http://hopville.com/recipe/1687073). Normally I would add Crystal 40 and Carapils (Dextrine) (http://hopville.com/recipe/154926) to an APA like that.

    The problem was the beer. It was not bad, just "Meh." The malt was missing in flavor, body and mouthfeel. After a while I decided I wanted to "fix it." My first thought was to mash/steep the crystal 40 and Carapils and just add it. Then I realized that might not work, since the malt would not be boiled fermented and the yeast does other things to it besides convert to alcohol. There I set out to test the idea, before I ruined a whole keg.  My plan was to add one pint’s worth of malt to a pint of beer, tweak, and then add the scaled amount to the whole keg.

    About that time I heard the Specialty Grains shows on Basic Brewing on Jan 17th 2013 with Darnelle Brawner (http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio). I decided to try a variety of grains and explore my grain library, and of course science ensued.

    Then I recorded a podcast with James Spencer for Basic Brewing which posted March 6th, 2013 (http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio).

    Caveats:

    This experiment does not really replicate adding grains to a mash, it is a bit closer to adding steeping grains to a boil. It does show you some of the flavors and colors you get from the grains.

    Technique:

    The basic technique was to steep 11g of grain, strain it, and add beer. The compare to the base beer.

    Requirements:

    1. Infrared thermometer
    2. Kettle and/microwave
    3. 2 glasses
    4. Small Strainer
    5. Small Scale (1-11 grams will be measured)
    6. Mediocre Beer
    7. Specialty Grains
    8. Notepad or other way to record results, say a brewers log book!

    Procedure

    1. Startup
      1. Start water boiling in a kettle, or microwave it to about 170.
      2. Get two glasses and a scale.
      3. Place one glass on the sale and tare it (zero it).
      4. Add 11g of grain to the glass (based off of what I would have added to 5 gallons of beer, and some very sketchy math)

    clip_image001

    1. Steeping the grains
      1. Add hot water just enough to go over the grains (in a nonic pint glass, it is about 1/2 inch)
      2. Measure the temp, this is where the infrared thermometer kicks butt, or just guess. If it is too low (normal) put it in a microwave for 15 seconds.  It will foam up! Check temp, repeat until about 170F.
      3. Wrap glass in beer cozy or towel, place second glass on top to hold in heat (stack the glasses). The following picture is two nonic glasses stacked with a 1/2 of water in he bottom glass with grains.

    clip_image002

    1. Strain
      1. After 30 minutes, remove top glass, smell the grain tea, write down notes
      2. Strain the water from the grain tea into the second glass.  I have a small tea strainer that was perfect.
      3. Rinse the first glass
    1. Pour
      1. Pour a full pint into the glass with grain tea in it. Get decent foam to help bring up the aromatics.
      2. Pour a half pint into the second glass.
  • Observe
    1. Run a judge sheet on the first beer, check appearance, aroma, taste and mouth feel.  Write down notes!
    2. Compare with the other glass (non-tea beer).
    1. Mix
      1. After drinking about 1/2 of the grain tea beer, if it too strong, pour
      2. the other half pint in, compare and take notes.
    1. Repeat
      1. Repeat with every specialty grain you have, borrow some from friends, get small amounts from your LBHS.
    2. Thoughts What would I do different?

  • Grind? Might work for 1 grain, but painful for mail grains, I think mortar and pestle would work.
  • Steep longer and colder? Seems like it is a time waster
  • Not brew a mediocre beer? Only in the name of science!
  • I am changing my base beer away from Crystal 40, towards 80
  • I will likely do something with bittering hops with my Xlite (1025 APA) Zythos hop beer. Tastes bit malt-flat and needs bittering, but mixing with Ninkasi IPA was very good.
  • Would I do it with Pilsners? YES! I would added darker malts to move in the BJCP spectrum, Alt, Schwartz, etc.
  • My Results

    1/22/2013 Crystal 40

    clip_image003

    Added 11gm of Crystal 40, did not crush,

  • Water about 140F after being microwave, just enough water to cover the seeds. Let sit for 30 minutes
  • Smells like mash, getting more flavors than I thought.
  • Strained and added to pint. Poured pint on top
  • Much darker than test beer
  • Malt aroma is overpowering, very bready
  • Head Retention less?
  • Might want to cold crash it, forgot that part
  • 1/23 Carapils:

    clip_image004

  • Not as much flavor
  • Not as much color
  • Not as much impact
  • Probably really need to crush this grain.
  • 1/24 Crystal 80

    clip_image005

  • Seems like same aroma as Crystal 40
  • Much darker
  • More balanced than the 40, expected otherwise
  • Still too much, or too soon. Liked it much better than expected.
  • Slight more water this time.
  • 1/25 Wheat malt

    clip_image006

    Great aroma

    Slightly acidic/sour, no matter what Jamil says (I was listening to his podcasts on wheat styles and he said people say it has an sour note, but he said it didn’t, I think people are tasting the grain…)

    Much better mouthfeel

    Victory

    clip_image007

  • Grainy/Bread aroma and flavor, strong like crystal 40, surprising, might be hard to tell them from flavor/aroma.
  • Maybe color is different?
  • 1/26 Dark Chocolate Malt

    clip_image008

  • Very roasty/coffee in the raw, black
  • Not as aromatic as I expected
  • Taste of coffee very apparent
  • Cut it in half, much more caramel than coffee, very well rounded, hops seems to pop better
  • 1/27 Carafa II

    clip_image009

  • Very roast, very black in glass
  • Very black mixed in, darkened head
  • Coffee taste high, when cold, less as it warmed up
  • 2/9 Special B

    clip_image010

  • Grain had rasiny smell, not present in beer
  • More deep copper than brown or black, pleasant aroma, went from grainy to fruity as it warmed
  • Vienna

    clip_image011

  • Very little impact, bit grainy aroma, no color difference
  • Slightly better aroma
  • Cherry Smoke

    clip_image012

  • Vienna doing nothing, so I added cherry smoke to it.
  • Not as much aroma as expected, lots of taste, too much
  • Added more body though
  • Mixed pint much better.
  • 2/10/2013 Pale Chocolate 250

    clip_image013

  • Smelled like old coffee, I had just brushed teeth, maybe that is affecting the taste?
  • Picking it up in beer, not as chocolate as I expected/hoped
  • killed keg!  Time to write this up

The Extra Sour Berliner Wiese #homebrew

UPDATE 2/21/2013 : pH measured 3.4, after being left out over night in a glass (i.e. no CO2)

I thought I did not like sour beers, until I had one, specifically a New Glarus.  It was awesome cherry with a sour to balance the sweet.  I then tried a Petrus Oaked Pale Ale which I really enjoyed  So, when, sometime later, I ordered “something like a Petrus, you know not too sour…”   was met with “Like Petrus, but not too sour?!!!!” I discovered I really like sours, apparently.  What I really discovered was that I like sour, but I m not fan of “funk.”  I think I just smell or taste it stronger  than many other people, so it overwhelms the beer.  Up until then most beers described as sour also had lots of funk (at least to me).

I am also a sucker for odd and more “natural” brewing techniques, and the idea of doing a sour mash by using naturally found Lactobacillus was too tempting.  Note, I did not try the beer first, I decided brewed it first.  It happened that James over at www.basicbrewing.com was also doing this, and the ran a podcast on it, as well a video.  I have links at the bottom.

I then bought a bottle of Full Sail’s limited release and shared it my Sister when she visited.  That’s when I discover she likes sour beers too!

My plan was to BIAB and just add a cup of 2 row to get the bugs in there.  The main tricks are to cut off O2, and keep the temp close to 120F.  This should keep the Acetobacter or Clostridium out.

Recipe is at http://hopville.com/recipe/1669338  The following is my motes and a diary and links:

8/24/2012 Mash day

  • Shot over 150 by a ways
  • BIAB Mashed,  Did not get a sample afterward, added 1 cup of grain to water when it cooled to 120F
  • Put the whole kettle into blue cooler with a water bath at 120

WP_000475

  • I sealed the top of the pot with cellophane

WP_000476

8/25/2012

  • Added hot water to bring outside to 120 a few times.
  • Used the autosiphon as a bilge pump
  • Souring smell leaking out (which means air in) is very nice.
  • I then got smart and added CO2 to top.

WP_000479

8/26/2012

  • Water at 90 again, seems to be set point.  Drained most water, added tap water at 112, then 4 kettles full of boiling.  Temp was at 120 when I checked, expect that it will drop.
  • Souring smell is nice still.
  • You can see some white, but mostly grain near top.  I wonder if keeping so much water blocks O2 from getting there, or is there O2 in the water?  Maybe I should boil the water first.
  • Definitely will need to build a heat stick.

8/26/2012 9:49:20 PM :

  • Sour mash smelled sour and sweet, fellow homebrewer Jason says like Honey, dead on.

Brew Day!  ( I cannot now remember if I brewed at night or the next morning)

  • Boiled, added hops for 15 minutes.
  • 8 Brix on going into fermenter, 1032, oddly what I expected at mash.  Which is higher than I expected….
  • Tasted, sour is spot on, exactly what I expected from smell!  Very excited.  The honey taste is very much like a cough medicine mom used t make, 1/2 honey, 1/2 lemon and a shot of whiskey (honey coats the throat, lemon cuts the honey, whiskey opens the bronchial tubes, still more effective than anything else I have tried).

9/2/2012

  • Pulled a sample and a bottle for road trip to Denver added 2 carb drops to a 750ml bottle.
  • B1004 FG, lots of bubbles, moved carboy downstairs.  Was a bit warmer lately then I would like.

9/8/2012

  • Tasting with sister and mom:  WOW IS IT SOUR.  Honey taste is mostly gone, but comes back when it is flat.  At first I was like, this sip is nice, then ok I will try another, and push it away, and then, I was finishing my glass, the bottle and fighting my sister over Mom’s….

9/12/2012

  • Went to New Belgium brewery.  Tried La Folie for the first time.  Slightly less sour than my Berliner Weise…  But tastes a lot like it mixed with our barrel brew….  Hmmm…  I still have a keg at home….

9/16/2012

  • Brought it home brewers meeting, for some, too sour for the style, for sour lovers, there is no such thing…

12/18/2012

  • Mixed 1/3 and 1/4 with the barrel brew and brought it to the home brewers dinner, overall a huge ht.  We should have soured the barrel 🙂

Links to research:

Basic Brewing Video:

Basic Brewing Podcasts:

Cider Experiment #3–1 week Cider–1 day boom #homebrew

After bottling Cider Experiment #2 (still haven’t posted) Divide! commented that he liked the cider but hated the bottling (this was 100 bottles!).

I thought about it some more, and an experiment was born.

The Hypotheses

“could you make cider lazily, and  just bottle in the juice jugs themselves and be carbonated in a week?”

 

The steps:

My first experimental steps were:

  1. Buy 4 Jugs of cider
  2. Put yeast in all 4
  3. After 1 day, seal the lid for Jug 1
  4. 2 days in, seal Jug 2, do the same for Jugs 3 and 4 on days 3 and 4…
  5. At a week, bring them to a party and see what level of carbonation is best.

The things that held me back was I did not have an event where I could bring 4 gallons of cider.  Then we started planning a party…

I had a big brewing day.  I was making a mild with 2nd runnings from brewing  at Tom Schmidling’s, and I was brewing 3 versions of a CDA with 3 smoked malts (future post).  The counters were full of brewing goodnesses.

    WP_000622

    The Test

    I went for a reduced experiment.

    1. 2 1 Gallon jugs of cider (same as previous).
    2. Put hydrated yeast in both,
    3. Just place the lids on loosely
    4. at 20 hours I closed the lid on #1.
    5. With in 2 hours it was puffing":
    6. WP_000624

      Hmmm, This is science so I should measure
      :WP_000625
      5 hours later, this is starting to look like a bad idea, and by bad idea, I mean explosively bad, and by that, I mean AWESOME.
       WP_000629
      I decided  to take a precaution and put the sealed jug in a pot:
      WP_000626
      Yeah, that is going to blow… I put a grocery bag over the top… Which was a great idea, when 2 hours later, it blew:WP_000631WP_000632WP_000634

    The sound was like a gunshot.  Amazingly, no one woke up for that…

    Since I still had a gallon of cider, or so, in the pot, I decided to pour it into a 2 liter bottle and put an airlock in the top.  Now when you write that sentence the fact that 2 litres is significantly less than 1 gallon seems obvious, but at the time it did not.  The problem was pouring from a large pot into a 2 litre bottle.  I did it in the sink, with the idea that any spills would go into the sink…

    It worked, for filling.  It was tricky, holding a funnel and bottle in one hand, and pouring from a 3 gallon pot in the other (2 liter bottles are not very tip proof).  I poured the cider in, suddenly realizing I has too much in the pot.  I then carefully put pot on the counter.  Did I mention the counter was full of brewing goodness, ginger bread houses, and other things?  Well I carefully set the pot on the counter, making sure it was stable, only to discover it was not.  The liquid in the pot has sloshed toward the middle of the counter letting me thing it was stable, and then sloshed back informing me it was not, by dropping to the floor.  The loud clatter was what woke people up, and made the floor sticky, not the explosion.  I mopped the floor 3 times that night, and it was still sticky the next day.

    Results/Observations

    The results are that you cannot carbonate in the juice jugs, they are not pressure worthy.

    Conclusion

    This was likely a known bad idea Smile had I thought about the jugs [insert joke here].  I could have test the pressure worthiness of the jug before hand.  However, using a 2 litre bottle as a back gave me a further idea, that I could just ferment the 2 gallons in 4 of those. 

    So the idea of just going to the store for cider and the LHBS for wine yeast and having cider in a week, now requires more equipment (bottles seem to hold up to 200PSI), but that can be found material.

    B-Day Label #11 Experimental Hop 946 #homebrew

    One of the members of my local home brew club, Tom Schmidlin  had a batch of “brewer’s cuts” in his deep freeze. These are samples (1 cubic foot or so) of hops that growers send to pro brewers to test the seasons hops.  These cuts were left over form 2009 or 2010.  Tom asked me what kind of hops I would like.  I rattled off a list of, oh, about 10.  He replied back to the effect, “Hey Jerk, this is for sharing, not for hogging, pick one!”  Then he admitted he had a cut of “experimental hops.”

    I was like, “why didn’t you say so in the first place?”  That had my name all over it.

    Each year, hop growers grow a number of experimental hops.  These are hybrids, or tweaks of existing hops.  Most never see a second season, and this is likely one of them.  All we know about the hops are the measurements written in sharpie on the wrapper.  Speaking of which, when Tom brought a bunch of the cuts to a meeting, it looked like a very poorly hidden drug deal, handing out brown paper satchels to other members…

    Tom indicated to expect that Alpha and Beta values had dropped by 25%.

    The measurements:

    alpha (5.4 less 25%)

    Beta (5.6 less 25%).

    The package also said:

    Hops:  Burlotee, 0-313-30, Bale #6, 9-18-10, Exp, Lot 946 “RS”

    I decied made a pale ale, 100% from the hops, like my Cascade Ale, to explore the hop. However to get the IBUs up I used a lot of hops:  50gms at 60, 20, 5. That is a lot of hops!  The amount of wort/beer sucked into those hops was heartbreaking.

    The result:  to quote Mark:

    Subject: The beer is delicious!
    It’s great – perfect body and aroma, sweet flavor.

    For the label I wanted to capture the experimental nature of the hops:

     

    image

    Hopville.com recipe:  http://hopville.com/recipe/775581/american-pale-ale-recipes/experimental-hop-946

    Brewmate.net recipe:  http://www.brewmate.net/recipes/6esV1DqDoofNqmPyqPGz.xml

    7 C’s IPA Anniversary Beer

    7cs

    As with my Accidental Imperial Stout this is my Anniversary Beer for Microsoft.

    2 years ago, for 5 years, I brought 5 gallons of Nutcastle Brown, since it has chocolate malt in it.

    Last year I brought my Accidental Imperial Stout with 6 oz. of chocolate nibs in it.

    This time my MS voyage has hit 7 years, so I created this 7 c’s IPA.

    This has 7 different “C” hops in it.  I had tasted Lumpoc’s C-Note and really liked it.  Researching a 7 C beer was trickier than I thought.   I was surprised that not many other people had done something with a spin on the name. My version is an IPA, but not an over the top bitter one, these hops mix together to form a moving balance from bitter to floral to spicy to citrus, with a nice malt backbone as it washes down. 

    Finding all the C’s was tricky.  I have Cascade, I picked 3 more C’s (Centennial, Chinook, Cluster) of them at Larry’s Homebrew Supply on my way to Beerstock, and then 2 at Mountain Homebrew (Crystal, Columbus),   That left Citra or Challenger.  Before the brew weekend I was widowering and Working from home whilst my wife was running her fourth Ironman in 3 years, so running errands was tricky.  @beerymcgee had some Citra he was willing to share, but I found that Bob’s Homebrew had both Citra and Challenger in stock, and it was "on the way" to picking up Minion #4’s Bow from the Nock Point. 

    I still did not know what which hop I wanted.  Citra is more "US" but I already had plenty of citrus going in…  Anyway I gave myself an hour to get there by 7pm when the store closed.  First issue was loading Minions in the van, down to 45 minutes.  Then I got stopped by construction (one lane), then traffic ( l love the 520 bridge), then the friggin’ bridge was up at Montlake.  I got to the store at 7:00 exactly, and they still let me in (thanks!).  Clearly the choice was made for me, and I got Challenger.

    BTW that is not all of the homebrew stores in the Puget Sound region 🙂

    I spent of lot of time trying to figure out how I could figure out how to balance the hops.  Rather than trying to craft a plan for the hops, I chose to stay with the theme of 7. I bittered with 21g (7×3) of cascade and Chinook  and added 7 g of each hop at 20 and 5 minutes and then dry hopped the rest of each package. My weights of the rest (dry hop) are highly suspect.

    To say this had a bit of hop sludge would be like saying Germans drink a bit of beer.  I had to strain the wort to get all that goodness out.  I had pellets, whole hops, and plugs.  Each one of those has issues, I had them all.  On top of that I could not get a chance to rack before dry hopping, in the bucket they went.  On kegging day I racked to a carboy and I still got 2 inches of trub/hops at the bottom in an hour.

    Even after kegging, it was still “thick” so I added isinglass to the keg.  This is not surprising, you can look at the recipe, it took 45 minutes just to enter all of the hops into Hopville.com.

    I’ll be serving this tomorrow (10/7/2011) at work.

    Hopville Recipe.

    Alternative Priming Sugars in Cider experiment

    This is a combination of experiments.  The first is the BBR-BYO #9 experiment (Basic Brewing Podcast April 14, 2011 – New Experiments and Scandinavian Brewing) where you hydrate dry yeast for one batch, and then just sprinkle it on others.  I won’t go into the results of that one here (no spoilers). 

     

    For this experiment I chose to replicate the cider brew that was in the Basic Brewing Video   (Jan 30th, 2011, Simple Cider).  The simple steps were:

     

    1. Buy two jugs of Treehouse cider from Costco.  This is pasteurized and has no preservatives, and comes in a pack with two 1 gallon jugs.
    2. Add yeast (Red Star Pasteur Champagne ).
    3. Place airlock, tin foil, or just light screw the lid on.
    4. Wait (and beg forgiveness from your wife for leaving yet more crap on the counter).

     

    Photo of the jugs:

     

    clip_image001

     

     

    Now at the end of the experiment I had 2 gallons of cider which I needed to bottle.  Never satisfied to do things simply, I decided to play with alternative priming sugars.  I grabbed some sugars around the house, and using the method discussed in the Basic Brewing Podcast (October 28, 2010 – Alternate Priming Sugars) I tried to calculate the correct amounts to match the amount in 1 carb drop (take grams of sugar from nutrition label and make it  equal to that of a 12 oz, and I think I target 2.4 volumes for 12 oz. Using http://kotmf.com/tools/prime.php I targeted about 2g. There was a fair amount of guess work, and honestly on the honey, which was hand labeled "Blackberry," I just did a dollop.  All of the other sugars were unopened so I did not sanitize them.

     

    I added each sugar to one each of the batches, but because their FG was different, I did not taste batch vs. batch.  I actually labeled each with tape, then a paper label.  Each type of sugar priming had its own cap (which I kept a table of as well).  Here are the bottles complete:

     

    clip_image002

     

    Following is the table of the priming schedule, I managed 10 bottles per gallon: 6  sugars had 1 from each batch, I did 2 carb drops , 1 just still, and 1 with a campden tablet and apple juice to sweeten it.

     

    I tasted 2 of them with my friend Toby.  I then brought 6 bottles to the National Homebrewers Conference in June of 2011.  There I gather some friend, hornswoggled John Palmer, and met with the Basic Brewing crew and recorded a podcast.  Only James had a slight clue what I was up to, the tasting was blind.  Here are my notes from memory.

     

    Sugar

    Amount

    Tasting Notes

    Tasted with Toby

     

     

    Apple juice

    16 ml

    It was definitely more apple flavored than the honey, almost "concentrated."

    Honey

    Bit on fork

    Carbonated but drier than the Apple Juice.  No Honey flavor

     

     

     

    Tasted on Podcast

     

     

    Carb Drop

    1

    Control:  Good bubble, good flavor

    Muscovado

    2g

    Less carb, interest flavors

    Cinnamon Syrup

    2ml

    Less carb than expect, no cinnamon at all

    Mini marshmallow

    2

    Funniest, coated the tongue

    Light Agave

    4g

    Most carb, almost a gusher, different flavor than carb drop though

    Still

    0

    Did not like compared to carb’ed ones

    Mixed

    ?

    Mixed the remain, was actually quite good

     

     

     

    Not Tasted

     

     

    Camden Tablet and Apple Juice

    15ml

    Thought on this, and it  was a bad idea 🙂

     

    The details will be on the podcast which should air in late July.   It was a lot of fun and we finished with a Princess Peach Ale, which was enjoyed by all.

     

    My favorite line was from Steve who said "I thought you were going to do some thing like Glucose, Dextrose, Fructose."  Really he should have known better 🙂

     

    Conclusion:

     

    I was surprised how much the priming sugars added flavor.  Even the agave, which I expect to have little flavor impact, had an impact.  The Cinnamon Syrup was also the surprise in not imparting the expected flavor.  I was hoping for apple pie on that one.  I also was worried the mini-marshmallows were going to not dissolve and land in a  cup like a hot chocolate.

     

    In the future I would probably do a few more sugars:  maple syrup, brown sugars, different honeys, different juices, DME, among others.  I might also just add cinnamon to see what that comes out like.

     

    Most people felt they like the carb drops the best, but I think you could really tweak the final flavor of a cider like this.  I think I would recommend the apple juice.

     

    clip_image003

     

    http://twitpic.com/5d25kl

     

    Big thanks to the (starting on my right in the photos):   John Palmer, Andy Sparks, Nathaniel Muller, Steve Antoch, Michael Berta, Steve Wilkes, and  of course James Spencer who took the photo!

    %d bloggers like this: