Apart from Beer one, all my action so far has been getting things into the buckets. Only Beer one has made it out.

But no longer, finally after three weeks in the primary and a dose of Amylase Enzyme, Beer two (Black Rock Whispering Wheat kit with 1kg wheat spraymalt) settled down to around 1.012. While I didn’t check the hydrometer reading over several days to check the gravity is constant, I can tell by the lid of the bucket no longer expanding that little action is taking place now (when the lid swells, I push it down to purge excess CO2 – after the last purge the lid didn’t get close to swelling up again even after 24 hours).

Tasting from the hydrometer sample – before I managed to throw the rest of the sample all over my kitchen floor – it tastes much better now. It still tastes “kit like”, but it’s not as sweet as before and it has a bit of a wheat flavour.

But the kit taste is still there, and after bottling Beer one and not wanting to drink it, I didn’t want 40ish 500ml bottles of “kit” beer. So I decided to experiment. I bottled 5L in 10 x 500ml bottles with 3g of sugar in each bottle for carbonation. To the remaining 15L I added orange peel, coriander seeds, nutmeg (the ingredients in Hitachino Nest White Ale), and a little sugar and left it in the primary to dry hop.

I’ve no real idea of quantities to add for dry hopping these since I’ve only seen a few instances of people adding them after fermentation and generally they don’t say anything more than “I dry hopped with peel” – which always leaves me with questions not just about quantities, but about sanitising, method, etc. So I’m going to write down exactly what I did – keep in mind that as yet, I don’t know whether the quantities are good or the result tasty (if you’re finding this page via Google search after later April, check other posts here to see how it turned out!).

Hassaku

Hassaku

For the orange peel, I chose Japanese hassaku. Not only does this give the beer a Japanese theme, but the skin is aromatic and bitter. Supposedly bitter peel works best, so hopefully these will be a good match. I used the large holed part of a cheese grater (see here for a good pic) to take of the outer layer of rind of two hassaku, leaving the white pith behind. Weighing a bowl without the peel and a bowl with the peel, my scales told me the difference was 77g.

I took a teaspoon and poured coriander seeds on it until they started falling off – approx 3/4 of a teaspoon – and then crushed them with a rolling pin in a kitchen bag (like ziplock). I then put the crushed seeds, peel, and 3/4 of a teaspoon of nutmeg into a small pan (approx 10inch) with 3 tablespoons of sugar and added enough water to cover the peel. After 2-3 minutes boiling, I poured the mix into a sanitised jug with a sanitised thermometer in it to cool.

Why did I add the sugar? I’m adding these to my primary after taking out 5L of beer, which means there will be a large gap at the top. I doubt if there’s fermentable sugar in the peel, so adding a little extra will generate a layer of CO2 padding, replacing the oxygen. If I was racking to a secondary which was the exact size, I wouldn’t need to do this.

Is 2-3 minutes boiling enough for sanitation? According to Google searches, 10 minutes is required to sterilise water – but as brewers we tend to use water that has just been boiled in the kettle and regard that as clean. We don’t need full sterilisation, only sanitation. To be safe, you might want to leave for 10 minutes, but I didn’t. We’ll see whether it works. (Interestingly, I’ve heard people say that it’s OK just to add peel and fruit direct to the secondary because the alcohol would kill bacteria – if that’s the case, why do we bother to sanitise bottles etc?)

After cooling to about 35 degrees, I poured the mix into the primary (splashed a bit much for my liking – should have been more careful) and put on the lid. Maybe I should have waited until the mix was down at 20-25 degrees but I figured it would cool when it hit the beer and so wouldn’t harm the yeast. Within a few minutes the lid was expanding again – excellent.

I don’t know how long I’m going to leave this dry hopping. Once the lid stops expanding – hopefully tomorrow – I’ll take a sample and continue to sample daily until the flavour seems acceptable.

There are several risks trying this – the flavour may be too overpowering from the first sample; it’s been four weeks in the primary which I’ve heard isn’t good; etc – but I’d rather experiment and lose the batch than have another “kit tasting” beer. It might just turn out nice!

I should be bottling Beer three (All Centennial IPA) by the weekend. That’s the one I’m really excited about.

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