Saturday, December 01, 2012

Brewsgiving: Part 2

   There are news links at the bottom of this post!

   A week passed without any beersplosions in the house, which is good news for everyone.  The airlock had slowed to about 1 bubble every 20 seconds which was my queue to rerack to a secondary fermenter and add the chocolate and vanilla.  A number of sources suggested using vodka as a disinfectant in case there are any nasty yeast or bacteria strains lingering on your vanilla.
   I'm not much one for vodka though, so i thought i'd mix it up a bit and use white rum instead.  Here's where i didn't really think my process through enough.  Two ounces of chocolate turns out to be about 4 tablespoons, and mixing that much cocoa powder into rum requires almost half a cup of rum.  Even so, it was a chocolatey goop by the time i put the split vanilla bean in.  It did smell delicious, though.
   I discovered when i got ready to set up this whole process that i'd accidentally forgotten to clean my tubing after the last time i bottled.  There was no way i was going to be able to clean the inside of 7/16" tubing ten feet long, so i went out to buy another length.  You've got to be careful when you're using new tubing though.  That new-plastic smell is chlorine off-gassing from the PVC tubing, which is not something you want in your food.  Washing in hot water doesn't help either, as the heat can release even more chemicals.  I spent probably ten minutes washing this tube in lukewarm water and running cool water through the inside of the tube.  I'm sure i won't forget to clean these tubes out sufficiently next time.

   Siphons are crazy.
   Successful fermenter transfer in a single try!  The forums suggest tasting the brew every other day to make sure the vanilla flavor doesn't overpower the brew, but since i only added a single bean and because i'm worried about contamination, i plan to taste it a bit less frequently than that.
   After a bit of sticker-shock when i purchased my last container of yeast, i've decided to save this strain for reuse in my next beer.  I haven't tried this in the past, but i intend to follow the advice of my brew books and only use yeast strains for one additional, higher gravity beer to prevent off-flavors and strain mutation.

   In news from elsewhere in the alcoholic beverages industry, here's what's going on with whiskey!  There's also some quite interesting commentary on the difference between whiskey, vodka, and neutral spirits.


  1. How are you maintaining your yeast culture until your next use? Are you worried about bacterial contamination?

    I thought the whiskey post you linked to was interesting and funny that the guy was so outraged by the legal business of naming the unaged rye ... spirit. I guess everybody has their niche; we certainly have ours.

  2. Well, in retrospect i discovered that i missed a few steps in properly preparing my yeast wash, so i'm going to have to try this again in after my next batch. Preferably with a less heavy beer anyway, so i'll have fewer off-flavors to wash.
    Bottling is complete, however! I used some of the saved yeast from the primary in a starter to liven up the yeast after the (fairly short) conditioning in the secondary. I would have left the beer to condition for longer, but after the first try of the uncarbonated beer i felt that the vanilla flavor was sufficient. I suppose that's not totally unexpected, since i used a fairly large and fresh vanilla bean.

  3. This editorial was practical for me; I'll certainly tell it my boyfriend