I’ve just filled a 19 litre Cornelius keg to the brim and also 2 plastic PET 1 litres bottles, using usual gravity method without filters, but this time leaving the FV in the fridge and doing it in-situ to see if I end up with less trub in the brew. Also added half a crushed Campden tablet to combat oxidation.
Everything went well, even if I nearly forgot about the rapidly filling keg while having a conversation on the radio. Oops! Measuring the FG was nearly impossible due to the nearly spot-on carbonation (glad I stayed at 10 PSI) but I think I’m seeing 1.011 @ 13℃ which makes for 1.010 and therefore 5.1%. There’s a fair amount of cloudiness in there despite cold-crashing so I’m going to call that chill-haze, and some lovely hop flavours from the trial jar.
What’s not great is the ABV, which even allowing for FG inaccuracy is 1.5% above where I wanted it. Could we have done with another two litres fermenter top-up? Not sure. Maybe I’ll try adding an extra 5 litres sparge water to my next recipe.
Having gone in quite heavy on the hops for this recipe I want to make sure the flavour lasts as long as possible, and that means minimising cold-side oxidation. In addition to purging the keg before filling I’m going to have a go at adding Sodium Metabisulfite (SMB) to the keg since some people think it’s good at scrubbing oxygen. Surely worth a go? If I’m happy with the hop retention as I drain the keg over the coming weeks I may well carry out my own A/B test on a future brew. Today however I simply added 0.3g of SMB (crushed Campden tablet) to the purged keg before refitting the lid and purging it again, like the first time by slowly blowing 70/30 into the out-post with the PRV pulled for a couple of minutes.
Anyway, the beer was transferred from my Fermzilla to a 19 litre Cornelius keg using the floating dip tube coupled with my finest inline filter, because it’s a double dry hopped brew and there may still be some crud transferred as we get near the end, despite the cold crashing. The filter’s barbed connections coped happily with 12 PSI of pressure on transfer, but I did have to screw the bowl on extra tight as there was some evidence of sanitiser leakage during purging / pressure testing ahead of deployment. I think this is due to the mesh cartridge being slightly too tall for the housing, or the gasket being slightly too thin – either way she wants a good hard twist to make sure everything’s sealed.
Once the 19 litre keg was filled I wanted to put what looked like almost 4 litres of surplus into a mini keg via the post on the collection jar, but although I was fairly careful the trub became disturbed using this method, and went from being settled below the take-off post to getting fairly well mixed with the rest of the brew, which by now had also picked up much of the settled hops from the sloped sides of the vessel. I was going to transfer the murky solution anyway, thinking that I can always crash it out in the keg, but for some reason the flow stopped and I got barely 2 litres. Guessing that this was due to the filter finally being clogged I just binned the rest when I really should have switched to a straight transfer tube, but during clean-up the filter actually looked pretty clear, making me wonder again if it’s worth bothering with if kegging crashed beer. Let’s make a note:
#wisdom: stop using inline filter by default if kegging cold-crashed brew, at least until a concrete reason for doing so arises.
#wisdom: if transferring FV dregs to a mini keg rather than dumping them, use a straight tube (without filter) and don’t worry about trub, which can be cold-crashed out later.
While filling the first 19 litre keg I let it run a tad too long using condensation on the side as my fill guide, and ended up with some liquid coming back out of the gas post near the end. In order to recreate some head space and also give me a sample to measure, I fitted a small tap to the liquid post and filled my trial jar, setting it aside while cleaning up in order for the foam to settle. Even so it was difficult to get a decent reading, because dropping in the hydrometer caused more bubbles to rise in the carbonated brew. Maybe I should have chilled and wetted the hydrometer first? Anyway, I measured a FG of 1.008 (very approximately) at 16.9 ℃ which makes for 1.007, and 5.6% ABV. Happy with that, and extremely happy with the hoppy taste from the trial jar. Let’s hope the SMB does it’s job and we get to enjoy this one for weeks to come!
Dissolved two crushed Campden tablets in hot water and added them to the FV, which was already prepped and in the chiller. Tomorrow I’ll switch it on down to 1℃ for a couple of days to clear, then we’re sweetening and bottling.
Since getting more serious with our ciders these past couple of years I’ve been thinking about ‘killing off’ the natural yeast (along with any nasties) and using an external beastie to do all the heavy lifting, but I’ve always shied away from adding sulphides at the start of a brew because I couldn’t get my head around how that might affect the subsequently added yeast.
Well, the clever chaps over at Vigo Presses reckon that it’s OK to add Sodium Metasulphite as long as you leave at least 24 hours before pitching your yeast, as that “allows time for the free sulphur dioxide to disappear before the yeast is added so as not to inhibit the yeast”.
Sounds like a plan to me. I’ve ordered a couple of packs of Mangrove Jacks M02 cider yeast which should be here in 2 days or so, and this morning I added 2 crushed Campden tablets to each 23 litre bucket, first dissolved in a little warm water. The change in colour was immediate and very apparent, generating a light coloured swirl in the dark apple juice. There shouldn’t be any fermentation now but I fitted airlocks just in case.
Had a sneaky taste of the Runt today, supposedly 4.7% ABV by now and the curve is starting to flatten out. Smells nice and doesn’t taste strong, but could do with being slightly sweeter so let’s stop it now before the rest of the sugar disappears. Added one crushed Campden tablet to the 10 litre bucket, leaving it for a few more days to see if there’s a tangible effect on the curve.
Incidentally, the Tilt report SG as 0.997 but I forgot to measure using the traditional hydrometer. Will do that when kegging.
One demijohn taken home, 2 Campden tablets added 14:30 (crushed, diluted in small amount of hot water) then stored at 20 degrees. Colour began to change back to original shade as pressed a few hours after adding the tablets.