Racking and Racking

This morning was a fruitful one as far as racking various brews into kegs and such.

Batch 1: Miss Jiwaku’s Oatmeal Stout

Miss Jiwaku and I started by racking her oatmeal stout to a keg, along the way taking a small taste that was, I must admit, very impressive — a smooth mouthfeel even when not carbonated, and a wonderful taste from the little I got to try! We were in a hurry, as she had somewhere she had to get this morning, so I didn’t take a gravity reading, but I plan to do so a bit later and will update this post with the information, as well as more comments on the flavor and other details.

UPDATE: Well, this is pretty astonishing to me: I’ve never had something finish so high, and the interesting thing is, I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was the lower fermentation temperature, maybe the yeast, but this brew, which started just shy of 1.060, fermented down to 1.020 and stopped. We’ll be leaving it in the keg for a few weeks, and maybe racking it allowed the yeast to be roused a little. But I don’t expect it will ferment any lower than it is now.

The result is much less sweet than you might imagine, so I guess the sweetness ends up balancing out the roasty and burnt flavors of the darker malts. There’s an interesting, nourishing aftertaste, as well as hints from the molasses and date honey. I think next time, I’m going to make sure to get a lot more molasses, though: I think as much as 600-700 grams would have a really nice effect on the flavor.

Batch 2: Abigyuhwan Golden Strong Ale:

This is a Belgian-styled Golden Strong Ale I’ve had sitting in a keg for a few months now, but which I fermented all the way back last year. This time, I made sure to pull a sample for taste and for gravity reading. This is what it looks like at the moment:

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Obviously, I haven’t cleared it yet, and this was brewed before I had a good handle on slow sparging and was even a little lazy with the vorlauf process, so there’s a definite amount of stuff in suspension. A Golden Strong Ale is supposed to be clear, so I’m definitely going to use some gelatin finings.

While I hadn’t intended to do so — I figured I would just put gelatin in the keg I first racked it into — I ended up having to rack it over because there’s something with the dip tube in the keg, and it won’t serve. That’s fine, this brew needed to sit a while anyway, and if it were in a keg where it could be served, I’d have been tempted to sample it more than I should have — which is not cool when what you have is 2.5 or 3 gallons.

As for the quality of the beer, it remains very fruity, and flavorful, but it also has a definite alcohol bite at 8.9% (finishing at 1.008, from a 1.075 starting gravity). I’m thinking of adding some vodka infused with both bitter and fresh orange peel, as well as putting a little toasted oak into the keg briefly before racking it to the final serving keg.

Batch 3: Wonmisan Shiktakju (“Table Beer”)

This is my attempt at a Belgian Singel, which I didn’t get to taste, but about which I am hopeful. Once I get my picnic tap out, I’ll probably pour some into a sampling tube and get a reading for the gravity, but I’m considering this a “secondary” in the keg. I may even rack it over into another keg when one finally gets tapped out. It’s supposed to be a light, dry, flavorful table beer, something suitable to have with meals or to sip while chatting with friends.

I’ll take a sample when the keg is on tap, and see what the final gravity is. It’s missing a lot of the distinctive character that this same yeast gave the beer above, the Abigyuhwan Golden Strong Ale. Still, it should be a fine session beer. It was distinctly full of CO2 which makes me wonder whether fermentation was complete, so I’m going to leave it in the keg for a few weeks at least (likely more) before tapping it.

Batch 4: Gord’s Birthday Cyser

That leaves only one batch to go, my Birthday Cyser, which I will rack after finishing posting this. I left it a bit too long on the yeast, but I don’t taste anything like what autolysis is supposed to taste like, so, hey, whatever. With mead, there’s a substantial clearing process anyway. I need to get some bentonite as well as using gelatin finings on both of my meads, but the thing that struck me as most remarkable about the cyser is the gravity reading I just took:

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I’m not quite sure how to read that (click to see a bigger version of the image on Flickr), but it looks pretty close to 0.090, or maybe 0.092. This is, officially, the lowest I’ve every seen anything go, but, hooray, is also the target gravity for the batch, as I noted in my post months ago. Looking at that post, I’m startled find out that this was a 15.4% batch… compared to the __% Golden Strong Ale I also kegged and sampled today, you cannot taste the alcohol, and it is incredibly smooth and light, with a bright, acidic flavor tinged with more than a hint of fruit (including apple) and — surprisingly — a lot of residual CO2. Perhaps some further fermentation will happen in the keg, I’m not sure.

In any case, I’m very pleased with its progress so far, so I’m going to rack it into a keg and then clear it, chill it, run off a pint or two, and finally run it through a jumper into a second keg where it should be beautifully clear. Then I’ll carb it up and fill up some bottles with it… though, of course, with meads, I think bulk aging always helps move things along faster, so I will only probably bottle it at the beginning of January.

I have one more thing to post about, but I’ll save that for a post of its own…

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