Monday, February 21, 2011

Racked My Cream Ale.....on Vanilla!!!

Saturday was the 7 day fermenting mark for the Liberty Cream Ale. It was looking good and my airlock was bubbling all week. I had an itch though.......and not the kind that burns! But an itch to change something with my brew. Something to make it mine. I wanted to add a little uniqueness that I've never tried before so I decided to add some vanilla to it.

I got 2 vanilla beans from a local store on Friday. I did some researching on some beer brewing forums about adding vanilla to beers and found a few topics where guys would add them to porters but not really anything else. I PM'd a guy for advice who had added vanilla to a couple different beers. After getting some hints and tips from him, I had my method planned out in my head and was ready to give it a shot.

Saturday morning I took both vanilla beans and split them open lengthwise. For those of you that have never messed with vanilla beans (like myself), on the inside is a paste-like substance. I scraped out the paste and put it in a small mason jar, then cut the beans into quarters and added those to the jar as well. I then added a couple ounces of vodka, put the lid on, and swirled it around ever once in a while. Some people suggested using vodka to help sterilize the beans, others claimed it isn't needed because the alcohol content of the beer is usually enough to kill off anything the beans might carry with them. I decided I'd rather be safe than sorry, so I soaked the vanilla for a couple hours before I put it the beer.

A couple hours later, I popped the lid on my bucket and took a gravity reading. I was sitting at a 1.009, estimated was between 1.010 and 1.014. It was a little low but I could still see some CO2 bubbles coming to the surface. I figured transferring it to my secondary at this time might be a good thing cause the CO2 that was still forming would purge any O2 that would occupy my head space. I then put the vanilla/vodka mix straight into the secondary and racked my beer right on top. I'm probably gonna give it another 2 weeks before I bottle and see how it turns out, but I'm pretty excited to see if this little experiment will turn out! Comment below if you've ever added vanilla to one of your brews to let me know how it turned out.

This Wednesday will be bottling day for my Fat Tire Clone! It's been sitting for almost 3 weeks untouched. I'm really excited for this one!

On a side note.....I bought some Miller Light this weekend. I know, I know.....but I had a good reason. Have you guys seen the new party kegs that Miller and Coors are making?

I picked one up because I read that they basically use the Tap-a-Draft system with a modified tap. In some forum posts, people have used the tap and empty containers with their existing tap-a-drafts. The only real difference is the Miller and Coors system uses a 16 gram CO2 cylinder and the TAD uses 2 - 8 grams cartridges. I have a bunch of TAD bottles but only 1 tap, which will be a bummer when I have 3 different beers in TAD bottles. I looked at getting another tap, but they are $50! I picked up the Miller system for $20 at the local liqueur store so I'll have an extra bottle and tap! All I have to do is suffer through the jug of Miller Lite! But anyone looking for a cheaper, smaller alternative to kegging, this could be your answer! FYI, each TAD bottle will hold approx. 1.5 gallons, so 3 will hold most of your batch with a couple bottles to spare. When I bottled my Dunkelweizen, I filled 2 TAD bottles and put the rest in 12 ounce bottles. Ended up with about 16 bottles.

Off little girl is now smiling!

Have a great week!

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