Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finishing the Limecello

The limecello was ready to be finished up this weekend. 

The color in the peels was gone and the juice had become a very deep green.    --------->

So it was time to make the simple syrup.

To make the simple syrup, I used 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water.  Put them in a pot over medium heat and stirred until all of the sugar was dissolved. 

I let the simple syrup cool to about room temp while I was working on the next step.

I used a kitchen funnel and a coffee filter to strain the juice and to catch any bits of zest that were floating around.  Sometimes you have to lift the coffee filter up every once and a while because the juice will stop flowing through the funnel. 

I had an old amaretto bottle lying around so I cleaned/sanitized it and hoped everything would fit inside. 

<-----Here is the limecello in the bottle without the simple syrup.

And here is the final product, it just fit! ---->

I poured the simple syrup into the bottle with the funnel (no filter) and gave it a good shake.

It is drinkable now, but some say it will get more flavor in about a week.  So I've been sipping on it here and there to see if it changes.

This stuff is great chilled, I have the bottle in my fridge. 

It is a tiny bit bitter, I must have got some pith in there, but otherwise it is really really good.  It's pretty strong too!

So 10 limes, a little under 3 cups of everclear, and some simple syrup made about 375 ml  (like half a wine bottle).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Racking the "Smash"

Today I worked on whats left of the "Smash".  As you can see, there are lots of floaters and nasty stuff in there that you don't want to drink like: raisins, dead yeast, flour that seeped out of the wheat, etc. 

Last time I made this stuff, I had a hell of a hard time filtering all 2 gallons of it.  So this time I am trying something different. 

I figure I will strain all of the chunks out and put the Smash in a different bottle and wait for everything to settle down at the bottom.  Kind of like doing a secondary fermentation. 

So here's what I did

I set up a colander over top of a big (1 gal) Pyrex measuring bowl.
I poured some of the Smash into the colander but the raisins where clogging up the neck of the 2 liter bottle.  So I cut the top off of the bottle to eliminate the problem.  Then I dumped the rest of it into the colander

Here you can see all of the malted wheat straining.  The wheat has become rather soft and can be broken open just by squeezing it, revealing some bright white flour.  I let this sit for a little bit as it dripped into the measuring bowl.

Then, I grabbed a sanitized bottle and poured the Smash in.

It looks pretty nasty right now, kinda like a Yahoo or chocolate milk.  But when it clears, it will be a deep reddish brown and pack a kick.

I'm not sure how long this will take to clear up, since I didn't add any chemicals to it.  I will let it sit for a week or two and see how it is doing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

quick update

The Kiwi Melon Pinot Grigio is clearing up nicely and should be ready to bottle later next week.  I went to the homebrew haus (my local supply store) to pick up some corks this weekend to make sure I had enough to cover all of the bottles.  I think I might move the carboy up to the counter or on top of the table a few days before it is due to be bottled, instead of on the bottling day itself.  That way if I accidentally stir up any of the settling when I move it, I won't have to wait for it to clear up again.  You don't want to bottle wine that is not clear.

The limecello is looking and smelling pretty good.  I have been gently swirling the jug around to stir the mixture up a little once a day.  The Everclear is turning pretty green and the peels are losing their color.  I should be adding the simple syrup to it on saturday or sunday.  Im pretty excited, if it tastes half as good as it smells, it will be great. 

My brother has a some wine he's brewing right now.  I think it is a cabernet savignon/merlot mix.  Hopefully we can trade some bottles when we are all finished.

The only other thing I have brewing right now is the "smash".  It needs to be bottled, or at least racked so it can clear up a tad.  I think I will be working on that tomorrow or wednesday and I will have that process uploaded.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Making limecello

I started up the Limecello this afternoon.  First I started by cleaning/sanitizing/rinsing the jug I was going to be using.  Next, I washed and scrubbed the limes under cold water to get the wax and dirt off.

Then came the peeling.  I would highly recommend investing in a zester.  I thought I had one, but I guess I misplaced it.  I used an extra sharp peeler instead.  Make sure you don't get any of the white parts (pith) of the lime on your peels or it will have a very bitter flavor.  This took a bit longer than I expected because I didn't have a zester.

I went back through the peels before I put them in the jug and picked off whatever pith was remaining, to the best of my ability.

Then I put the peels in the clean jug and added the Everclear.  Now the jug will hang out in my cabinet until next week, when I will be adding the simple syrup.

I have a bunch of limes that need to be juiced.  I'm thinking that I will freeze some of the juice and maybe make some marinades or salad dressing out the rest.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Limecello recipe

I was at the store the other day and limes are on sale, so I got 10 limes to make a test batch of Limecello.  There are not a ton of recipes for Limecello specifically, but there are plenty for limoncello.  So, I am drafting up my own by borrowing from different limecello and limoncello recipes. So here is what I plan to do:

SammyK's Limecello
10 limes
1 2/3 cups of Everclear
Simple syrup = 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, heated on stove until sugar is dissolved.

Zest (or peel) the limes ensuring not to get any pith (white fibers) at all, only green flesh.
Place the zest into a clean and sanitized glass jar or jug.
Add the Everclear
Set in a cool, dark place for 7-8 days or until peels lose the green color.

Prepare Simple Syrup and remove from heat to cool.
Strain the mixture of zest and Everclear to remove the lime zest.
When the Simple Syrup is cool, add it to the mixture and bottle
Let the bottle stand for a few weeks and serve, preferably chilled

I just realized I'm going to have a crap ton of limes to juice...
Maybe I will freeze the juice or use it for limeaid or something... Open to any suggestions!

I will probably start this up tomorrow because I have plans tonight.  Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Racking the Pinot

     The specific gravity of the the Pinot Grigio was at .1998 so I was good to go for racking the must into the secondary fermenter.

But first I had to clean and sanitize everything that was coming in contact with my wine, these 6 gallon carboys can be a pain to clean up

After cleaning, sanitizing, and rinsing, I was ready.  I needed to siphon off about 2 liters of the pinot grigio juice to make room for the kiwi/melon flavoring and to stir in the stabilizing and clearing chemicals.  Here is my makeshift siphoning set up, I don't have an auto siphon or anything fancy so I do it by mouth.  I managed to get a good siphon on the second try.  The wine does not taste good by any means at this point, it tastes like skunk beer.


I did lose suction towards the bottom but that is fine with me because you don't want to take any of this gunk along with the juice.  That is the settling called Lees.   It is made up of dead yeasts and sediments and it is important to get ride of as much of it as possible so you have a nice clean and fine wine.

The next step involved adding sulfite, potassium sorbate, and the kiwi/melon flavoring or finishing blend.  Then came the stirring.  The insane amount of stirring needed is called Degassing.  That is when you try to get as much Co2 out as you can without adding too much O2.  Most people do it with a drill and an attachment called a whip but alas, I'm broke so I used a spoon.  After a crap load of stirring and a few more chemical packets this is what it looked like:
Its much more clear now just after a few hours.  Now it will sit for at least 14 more days before bottling....So I need to find something else to brew up in the mean time!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

quick update

Gearing up for racking the Kiwi Melon Pinot Girio tomorrow, I'm going to get some of the cleaning out of the way so all I have to do is sanitize and get started.  Will upload pics and a write up.

I have a decent amount of everclear left over from when I made Apple Pie Moonshine and I am trying to decide what to make with the rest of it... maybe:
1.Limoncello  (an awesome italian drink I had in Florence, here's a link wikipedia)
2.Limecello  (similar to the above drink with limes)
3.Pearcello  (with pears)
4.Coffee Liquour  (I saw a recipe on instructables)

What do you think I should make? I will post the recipe, steps, pics, etc too
Please vote on the right!  Thanks!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Messing around

The fermentation of the kiwi melon pino grigio seems to be doing fine.  It looks like I will be racking it around the 18th into the secondary if all goes well.

The "Smash" is done and ready to be bottled.  Lucky helped me brew this batch when he was visiting.  Lucky and I call it Smash because well, it gets you smashed as we found out.  It is an old recipe from my great grandpa and is a type of wheat malt/wine.  It has a very deep brown color and it smells very sweet (and tastes absolutely amazing before you put the yeast in) until its fully fermented.  Then it smells more like a mild whiskey.  Basically, it consists of malted wheat (I used red malted wheat from Briess), white and brown sugar, raisins, and water. It takes about 7 weeks until you can bottle it up and drink it.  It also definitely changes flavor over time too, going from a lighter crispy flavor to a deep earthy flavor. 

It is great stuff and this time I had enough raisins (for tannin and a bit of color) so I am interested to see if it tastes any different than the last time I brewed up a batch.  I just have to go through with the filtering process, which is always sticky mess with this stuff for some reason.  I think I might try racking it and letting it clear up a bit before I bottle it.  Last time I still had a bit of murky stuff in the bottom of the bottles.

I think I might mix up some more "Apple Pie" if I go to the store tomorrow.  I made a batch before Christmas and took most of it home with me over the holidays so it didn't last long.  Apple Pie is typically made with moonshine, but there is a legal way to do it with high ABV grain alcohols like Everclear.  It tastes so smooth and just like eating a piece of apple pie.  There are quite a few recipes for it online or you can get in touch with me if you need one. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First time with flavored wine...

I only have one bottle of wine left!  An old Malbec I made about 2 years ago... I find this to be unacceptable.  I went through my last batch pretty quick from cooking, gifting, drinking, etc. so it is definitely time to get to work.  Over the holidays I grabbed 2 wine kits, one red and one white and I still have a beer kit waiting as well.

Last night I stared one of the new wine kits, "Kiwi Melon Pinot Grigio" that my wife picked out.  A Cru - Orchard Breezin' Mist from RJ Spagnols.  I have used RJ Spagnols kits before but this is the first from the Cru orchard breezin mist line.  Its a 4 week kit and  I should end up with 25 - 28 bottles when all is said and done (most 6 gal. kits say 30 bottles, but when I rack the wine off the settling I steer clear of the murky stuff and lose a few bottles). 

-I went to the store and picked up some gallon jugs of distilled water.  I've had some really great results using distilled water in brewing, plus it's cheap.  The last two times I used tap water the wine took a extra long time to smooth out (I'm talking 9+ months after bottling) so I'm not screwing around with the tap water anymore.

-Next came cleaning and sanitizing.  All of the books and instructions about brewing tell you to be sure to clean and sanitize everything.They are right, everything that touches your brew (buckets, bottles, spoons, thermometer, everything) needs to be cleaned and sanitized otherwise you risk destroying the entire batch with bad bacteria or yeasts that could make you sick or turn your wine into a rancid vinegar.  I usually use a "no rinse" powder when I clean everything, the stuff is handy and works great, I just throw some of it in the sink and get to work with a wash cloth I use only for cleaning my brewing equipment.  After I get everything cleaned I empty the sink and put some sanitizer liquid in the sink.  I use Potassium Metabisulfite.  Its usually 3 tbsp per gallon of water to sanitize and you can get the stuff from a homebrew store or website on the cheap.  I usually mix a batch up and keep it in a glass jug like this old rum bottle

Make sure you mark it so no one thinks its clear rum hahaha, you don't want to drink this stuff. 

After the sanitizing, I waited for the stuff to dry a bit and then I rinsed it off.  Make sure you rinse everything off after sanitizing.

-Now I got started on mixing everything together.  It took me longer than usual because I had a bit of trouble getting the water warmed up between 68-86 degrees for the first steps of the kit.  The temperature dropped outside and the apartment was pretty cold too.  So I just put some of the jugs of water in the sink, in warm water.  I microwaved about a half gallon too, for the bentonite powder to dissolve well.  Then I added the juice, rinsed the bag out with hot water and added that, and stirred it up a bit.  Next, I put all of the water I needed into the bucket, to the 6 gallon mark.

-Next came checking the temperature and specific gravity.  The temp was in right range.  The specific gravity was .1060, which is at the very high end of the accepted range for this kit.  I was already at the 6 gallon level, and near the top of the bucket so I let it go and put the yeast in.  This kit did not require me to "pitch" the yeast before adding it to the must.  So I just sprinkled the yeast in, the yeast was lavin ec1118.

-I filled my airlock with half sanitizing solution and half water and set the whole rig up on a folding chair in my kitchen under the heater vent to keep it a little warmer for now.  I will put it by the kitchen door on the floor for the secondary most likely.

Now we wait.

This morning the brew was already showing signs of fermentation (air lock bubbling slowly) so the yeast must be working so far.

New Year

I've been brewing for a few years now and I figured a blog would help me keep track of the process (im bad at taking notes on paper) and also help anyone out that may be new to brewing or help someone who wants to get started. I plan on putting up my notes, recipes, pics, successes, and failures. 

Feel free to leave comments or email me if you have any questions or whatever about home brewing.

I've done a lot of wine, both from kits and from grapes, a few malts, and I'm venturing into the world of beers.

I just started another 6 gallon batch of wine last night and realized I didn't write down any notes so that will probably be the next post.