Phew, that is a lot of beer and mead to update on. Honestly, mostly all I did was rack them from one container to another. There is a little more than that to some, though.
Maggie Moo’s Cocoa Cream Stout was the first thing I racked on March 10. This was already later than I originally planned, as it was brewed on February 25, all but two weeks before. The chocolate in this beer made it look very strange in the fermentor and I was not sure how active the fermentation was. The chocolate formed a layer on top, which sort of resembled fermentation activity.
After racking the beer, the empty fermentor looked like it was going to be huge pain to clean. Chocolate everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised when it all came off with my quick, normal carboy rinse. Phew. Fermentation activity started again in the new carboy, which is good because the gravity was still in the mid 1.030’s. The terminal gravity for this beer should be high, around 1.020-1.024, but 1.030+ is extreme. I’m not sure if the chocolate coating was suppressing activity or what, but I was happy to see it start up again. There is more chocolate on top now, though not nearly as much. I wasn’t planning to rack again, but I am going to check the gravity when it settles and decide if it may be worthwhile. The sample tasted good, a bit more bitter than I planned on. It is more chocolate bitterness than hops. I’m still debating if I want to add more chocolate or not. This is going well but it looks like it’s going to be in the carboy for quite a bit longer than I originally planned on. It should be worth the wait in a couple months.
The other three rackings all happened on the same day, March 16. The first up was Mount Hoodie. If you read about the issues I had with this beer, you know that I added some extract and water after fermentation was already underway. As a result, it looked a bit ugly. There was a hop ring around the carboy, which is normal, but because of the added volume, the hop ring was below the level of the beer. Ugly. Luckily, I took a gravity sample, which was right on target, and it tasted fantastic. I was worried about this beer and now I’m excited. Phew. I will be dry hopping with an ounce of Mount Hood hops a week before bottling, which is planned for early April.
Next, I racked Wyld Cyser. I recently acquired a bunch of wine bottles from a relative of my girlfriend. The Wyld Cyser has been sitting for quite a while and now that I have bottles, it won’t have to wait much longer. I plan to continue aging it in the bottle, but I’m still not quite ready for that. This has fermented completely dry and I want to back sweeten it a bit. How much is the question. I’ve considered spicing it as well, probably only cinnamon, but I’m leaning towards skipping that all together. I’m going to hit it with potassium sorbate to kill the yeast and sweeten it with more wildflower honey, which is where most of the alcohol came from. When that happens is just going to come down to when I get a chance. I hope to drink this in the Fall, so I’m not in a big hurry, but it will be nice to get the carboy back. This time, I racked it into the only glass carboy I still own. The cyser is now in it’s third fermentation vessel. It tastes good, just a little harsh. There is a lot of apple flavor, which I was hoping for and I don’t think I’m going to sweeten it much. This is something I plan to have around foryears and I think the flavors will meld and evolve through that time.
Finally, Amy and I racked our anniversary mead. The strawberries, which were in a five gallon paint strainer that was bursting at the seams when we put them in were down to a small pile of off white mush. The volume of the mead, which was a little over five gallons before adding the fruit was now over six gallons. We had to rack the last bit into a growler when the six gallon carboy got full. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with that bit, but considering how much of the strawberries the mead seemed to take up, I was surprised how clear it looked. There is definitely some berry in there that will settle out before the mead is crystal clear, but I was expecting a milky mess.
There is still some sweetness in the mead. I’m going to give it another couple of weeks and then check the gravity again and see if I need to add some more yeast. I added one packet of yeast and a dose of nutrient when we first made it, then another dose of nutrient when we added the strawberries. This will get racked at least one more time, I think maybe two to make sure it gets as clear as possible before we start drinking it on our third anniversary in December.
That covers every batch I have going now except the Old Ale (which is aging quietly), the N.E. Maibock (which will be getting bottled soon) and the Elkland Golden Lager (which is just getting started in primary fermentation). Phew.