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Welch's Grape Juice Wine Recipe

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I still get a lot of hits for this recipe.  Is it because it tastes great?  Or is it because it is cheap and the ingredients are easy to get?  Anyways, here it is again.

1 Gal Batch, adjust as required

  • 2 cans (11.5 oz) Welch's 100% frozen grape concentrate
  • 1-1/4 lbs granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • water to make 1 gallon
  • wine yeast

As with ALL recipe's the canned or fresh ingredients you use will differ in there sugar content so you MUST check starting SG before adding sugar amounts listed. The goal is a starting SG of 1090 for alcohol content of 12%-13%. Bring 1 quart water to boil and dissolve the sugar in the water. Remove from heat and add frozen concentrate. Add additional water to make one gallon and pour into secondary. Add remaining ingredients except yeast. Cover with napkin fastened with rubber band and set aside 12 hours. Add activated wine yeast and recover with napkin. When active fermentation slows down (about 5 days), fit airlock. When clear, rack, top up and refit airlock. After additional 30 days, stabilize, sweeten if desired and rack into bottles.

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Arrogant Bastard Clone Recipe

Monday, February 27, 2006


11.5 pounds pale two-row malt
1.5 pounds crystal 120
1.25 oz chinook pellets (12.5 aa%) (15.6 AAUs) @ 90 min
1.0 oz chinook pellets (12.5 AAUs) @ 30 min
0.5 oz chinook pellets (6.25 AAUs) @ flame out
1 tsp Irish moss
White Labs WLP007 or WLP001 (English Ale Yeast)


Place crushed grains in water and steep at 155 degrees for 60 minutes. Boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops according to schedule. Add Irish Moss last 5 minutes of the boil. Cool wort and pitch yeast. Primary ferment at about 68 F for 7 to 10 days. Secondary fermentation optional.


Style Strong Ale

Recipe Type All Grain

Batch Size 5 gallons

Original Gravity 1.074

Final Gravity 1.018

Boiling Time 90 minutes

Primary Fermentation Glass, ~ 68 F, 7-10 days

Secondary Fermentation optional

Other Specifics 75 IBUs, about 7% abv.


Aging will mellow the Bastard so drink it young if you want to prove your worth.

Extract Brewers can substitute Light Malt Extract for the 11.5 pounds of pale malt. Should take about 2 three pound cans.

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Cleaning Up the Office

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Look at this mess !!!!  Looks like my office before I spent the past 3 days cleaning and reorganizing it.  So, I have had no time to do any posting, until now.  Should be back on track on Monday.

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Office after cleaning, or at least what it looks like to me.
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Cleaning Your Equipment

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Whether you are making beer or wine, one of the most critical steps that must be done is cleaning your equipment. Using the wrong cleaner on your equipment could be very costly. This article by John Palmer from How to Brew, explains in detail the best way to clean your equipment.

Cleaning Plastic
There are basically three kinds of plastic that you will be cleaning: opaque white polypropylene, hard clear polycarbonate and clear soft vinyl tubing. You will often hear the polypropylene referred to as "food grade plastic", though all three of these plastics are. Polypropylene is used for utensils, fermenting buckets and fittings. Polycarbonate is used for racking canes and measuring cups. The vinyl tubing is used for siphons and the like.

The main thing to keep in mind when cleaning plastics is that they may adsorb odors and stains from the cleaning products you use. Dish detergents are your best bet for general cleaning, but scented detergents should be avoided. Bleach is useful for heavy duty cleaning, but the odor can remain and bleach tends to cloud vinyl tubing. Percarbonate cleaners have the benefit of cleaning as well as bleach without the odor and clouding problems.

Dishwashers are a convenient way to clean plastic items providing that the water can get inside. Also, the heat might warp polycarbonate items.

Cleaning Glass
Glass has the advantage of being inert to everything you might use to clean it with. The only considerations are the danger of breakage and the potential for stubborn lime deposits when using bleach and TSP in hard water areas. When it comes to cleaning your glass bottles and carboys, you will probably want to use bottle and carboy brushes so you can effectively clean the insides.

Cleaning Copper
For routine cleaning of copper and other metals, percarbonate-based cleaners like PBW are the best choice. For heavily oxidized conditions, acetic acid is very effective, especially when hot. Acetic acid is available in grocery stores as white distilled vinegar at a standard concentration of 5% acetic acid by volume. It is important to use only white distilled vinegar as opposed to cider or wine vinegar because these other types may contain live acetobacteria cultures, which are the last thing you want in your beer.

Brewers who use immersion wort chillers are always surprised how bright and shiny the chiller is the first time it comes out of the wort. If the chiller wasn't bright and shiny when it went into the wort, guess where the grime and oxides ended up? Yep, in your beer. The oxides of copper are more readily dissolved by the mildly acidic wort than is the copper itself. By cleaning copper tubing with acetic acid once before the first use and rinsing with water immediately after each use, the copper will remain clean with no oxide or wort deposits that could harbor bacteria. Cleaning copper with vinegar should only occasionally be necessary.

The best sanitizer for counterflow wort chillers is Star San'. It is acidic and can be used to clean copper as well as sanitize. Star San can be left in the chiller overnight to soak-clean the inside.

Cleaning and sanitizing copper with bleach solutions is not recommended. The chlorine and hypochlorites in bleach cause oxidation and blackening of copper and brass. If the oxides come in contact with the mildly acidic wort, the oxides will quickly dissolve, possibly exposing yeast to unhealthy levels of copper during fermentation.

Cleaning Brass
Some brewers use brass fittings in conjunction with their wort chillers or other brewing equipment and are concerned about the lead that is present in brass alloys. A solution of two parts white vinegar to one part hydrogen peroxide (common 3% solution) will remove tarnish and surface lead from brass parts when they are soaked for 15 minutes at room temperature. The brass will turn a buttery yellow color as it is cleaned. If the solution starts to turn green, then the parts have been soaking too long and the copper in the brass is beginning to dissolve. The solution has become contaminated and the part should be re-cleaned in a fresh solution.

Cleaning Stainless Steel and Aluminum
For general cleaning, mild detergents or percarbonate-based cleaners are best for steel and aluminum. Bleach should be avoided because the high pH of a bleach solution can cause corrosion of aluminum and to a lessor degree of stainless steel. Do not clean aluminum shiny bright or use bleach to clean an aluminum brewpot because this removes the protective oxides and can result in a metallic taste. This detectable level of aluminum is not hazardous. There is more aluminum in a common antacid tablet than would be present in a batch of beer made in an aluminum pot.

There are oxalic acid based cleansers available at the grocery store that are very effective for cleaning stubborn stains, deposits, and rust from stainless. They also work well for copper. One example is Revere Ware Copper and Stainless Cleanser and another is Kleen King Stainless Steel Cleanser. Use according to the manufacturer's directions and rinse thoroughly with water afterwards.

Beer, Homebrewing, Sanitation


Winemaking Chemicals for Natural Toothpaste

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Recently, I was in our local health food store and purchased some natural toothpaste.  When I got home, I began to read the ingredients and found that some of my wine making chemicals were part of this all natural toothpaste.  Bentonite and calcium carbonate are the two major ingredients that are used.  So, I got experimenting (small batch) and came up with this recipe using home wine making chemicals.
1/2 teaspoon bentonite
1 1/2 teaspoons calcium carbonate
4 eye dropper drops of flavoring ( I used Lorann flavorings)
1/2 teaspoon glycerin
4 teaspoons water
This made a really small batch, good for about 3 brushings, so if you want a week's worth, double the recipe.

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Banana Wine Recipe

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


4 1/2 lb. bananas

1/2 lb. chopped golden raisins

3 lb. granulated sugar

1 lemon (juice only)

1 orange (juice only)

1 gallon water

wine yeast and nutrient

Peel and chop bananas and their peels, placing both in grain-bag and tie closed. Place grain-bag in large pan or boiler with water and bring to boil, then gently simmer for 30 minutes. Pour the hot liquor over sugar and lemon/orange juice in primary fermentation vessel and stir to dissolve sugar. When cool enough to handle, squeeze grain-bag to extract as much liquid as possible and add to vessel. When liquor cools to 70 degrees F., add yeast and nutrient. Cover and set aside in warm place one week, stirring daily. Move to a cooler place (60-65 degrees F.) and allow to sit undisturbed for two months. Siphon liquor off sediment into secondary fermentation vessel, add chopped raisins, and fit airlock. Rack after four months and again in another four months. Bottle and sample after six months. Improves with age. 

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Budweiser Clone Recipe

Monday, February 20, 2006

The reason I picked this is that it is usually really tough to make a yellow colored beer from malt extracts, unless you are using an extra light variety. The best that I was able to acheive, was a dark golden color.
This is a great, easy-to-make pilsner-style beer made with ale yeast — no lagering required. Comes close to many commercial light pilsners, with just a bit more flavor. (5 gallons)


• 2.5 lbs. extra light dry malt extract
• 1.5 lbs. light honey
• 1 oz. Cascade hops (6% alpha acid): 0.25 oz. for 60 min., 0.25 oz. for 30 min., 0.5 oz. for steeping
• 1 tsp. Irish moss for 15 min.
• 1 tsp. gypsum
• Wyeast 1056 (American ale) or Yeast Lab Canadian ale (AO7)
• 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming

Step by Step:

Bring 2 gal. water to boil.
Remove from heat and add dry malt, honey, and gypsum.
Return to boil. Total boil is 60 min.
Add 0.25 oz. Cascade and boil for 30 min. Add 0.25 oz. Cascade and boil for 15 min. more.
Add Irish moss and boil for 15 min. more.
Turn off heat, add 0.5oz. Cascade hops, and steep for 2 min.
Pour into fermenter and top up with cold, preboiled water. When cooled below 70° F pitch yeast.

Ferment seven to 10 days in primary at 70° F or below, then transfer to secondary and
ferment another seven days. Prime and bottle.


Recapping The Week

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hey guys, sorry for not posting a beer technique this past Thursday.  I was spending my time getting the color of the blog back from that awful white.  That white background was like staring into the sun.  Gave me a headache just looking at it.  A complete black background is just as bad, at least for me.
Found a couple of neat items while browsing at Bloglines.   For those of you that would rather listen than to read try these two websites.
Looking for something to do on a vacation?  Here's an idea.
Alsace Lorraine Region Boasts Rich Beer History

GREENVILLE, S.C., Feb. 17 -- While Europe's finest beers are often associated with the fields of southern Germany, a few connoisseurs have discovered that a remarkable collection of beers has flowed freely for hundreds of years in the Alsace Lorraine region of northeastern France. With a little planning and a thirst for beer-related knowledge, travelers can get their fill with Michelin's two-day "beer tour" of France's easternmost region

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And the last thing for this week.  This post from Vinography is for your reading pleasure.

Oh Thank Heavens. The Media Got It Wrong.

Filed under: Ramblings and Rants

Remember a few weeks ago when the sky was falling? Well it turns out that it was just a piece of roofing tile all along. Thanks to Michael Steinberger, all those panicking art gallery owners can safely return to serving cheese cubes with their wine at parties again. It turns out that the now infamous study at U.C. Davis that determined that wine and cheese were incompatible actually found nothing of the sort. It was just a big misunderstanding between scientists and the media, which we all know happens all the time. What the scientists actually said was that mixing wine with cheese diminishes the intensities of some flavors in wine. That's all. What the media heard on the other end of the telephone was "Wine and cheese don't go well together."

I don't know about you, but I'm seriously relieved, and I'm sure the rest of the world that depends on scientists to tell them what tastes good and what doesn't are as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your cheeses, there is no danger to your wine whatsoever. The situation is under control.

Read the full story.

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Kegging Wine

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

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Here's an idea that I have been advocating for the past couple of years.  Basically, because I usually don't have as much time as I would like to make or bottle wine.  Just think how easy it would be to just dump 5 gallons into a keg, slightly pressurize it, and voila.  Wine on tap.
This article if from Winemaker magazine.
Kegging Wine: Techniques
Feb, 2006
by Chris Colby
Tired of corking bottle after bottle? Learn about the 5-gallon (19-L) "bottle" that holds the equivalent of 25 standard (750 mL) wine bottles -- the Cornelius keg.
Sparkling wine usually comes packaged in either standard-sized wine bottles (750 mL), half-bottle-sized splits or Magnums, which hold the equivalent of two standard wine bottles. However, less common, larger bottle sizes include Jeroboams (which hold 4 standard bottles of wine), Methuselahs (8 bottles), Balthazars (16 bottles) Nebuchadnezzars (20 bottles), Melchiors (24 bottles) and Sovereigns (34 bottles). There is also a size between Melchior (18 L) and Sovereign (25.5 L) that you may never have heard of — the Cornelius (18.9 L).


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Tomato Wine

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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It won't be long until August rolls around and tomatoes abound in your garden.  I've never tried this wine since I haven't grown tomatoes in about 10 years (switched to raspberries), but is something that I will probably try this summer. 
  • 3.5 lbs. Red Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Raisins
  • 6 pts. Water
  • 1.5 lbs. Sugar
  • 2.5 tsp. Acid Blend
  • 1/4 tsp. Tannin
  • 1 tsp. Nutrient
  • 1 ea. Campden Tablet
  • 1 pkg. Wine Yeast

Wash tomatoes. remove any bruised portions and cut into pieces. Using nylon straining bag, mash and squeeze out juice into primary fermenter. Keeping all pulp in straining bag tie top and place into primary. Stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT yeast and cover primary. After 24 hours add yeast and recover primary. Stir daily and press pulp lightly to aid in extraction. When ferment reaches 1.040 (3-5 days) lightly press juice from bag and remove. Siphon wine off sediment into glass secondary and attach stopper and airlock. When ferment is complete (S.G. has dropped to 1.000 or lower -- about 3 weeks) siphon off sediment into clean secondary (glass carboy). Reattach stopper and airlock and allow to clear. To aid in clearing siphon again in 2 months and again if necessary before bottling.

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Yuengling Amber Lager Clone

Monday, February 13, 2006

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This week's recipes is a Yuengling Clone. Yuengling calls itself America's oldest brewery and is located here in Pennsylvania. I had the pleasure of touring the brewery in 2001 and it was excellent. Yuengling makes several products and this recipe is from is for the Amber Lager.

Notes About The Recipe

This recipes calls for rice. I know for a fact that Yuengling uses corn grits. Yes, corn grits, the kind that you can buy at the grocery store. I have used corn grits it recipes and I know that they can cause boil overs. So, after the malt begins to boil, slowly add the corn grits and stir to keep them from settling to the bottom of the pot.

Name Yuengling Clone

Description Lager Clone

Added by bsummers12

Date Submitted Fri, 23 Nov 2001 01:07 PM (GMT)

  • 4.5 lbs Laaglander Light Malt Extract
  • 1 lb Rice
  • 1 lb Cara-pils
  • .5 lb Crystal Malt
  • 1 oz Northern Brewer hops (60 mins)
  • 1/3 oz Tettnanger (10 mins)
  • 1/5 oz Saaz (5 mins)
  • California Lager 2112 yeast
Steep grains in 1 gallon water at 158 degrees for 1/2 hour. Remove grains. Add DME and rice solids. Boil 1 hour adding hops at times listed above. Cool wort and pitch yeast.

Style Lager

Recipe Type Partial Mash

Batch Size 5 US gallons

Original Gravity 1.047

Final Gravity 1.012

Boiling Time 60 mins

Primary Fermentation Plastic, 7 days @ 68 degrees

Secondary Fermentation Glass, 14 days @ 65 degrees

Other Specifics 22 IBU's 4.7% AC

Best after aging in bottle in a cool place 1 month.


Blog Direction

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hey, I finally decided on a direction and format that I want this blog to follow. I've decided that I want to enjoy life a little more, actually, make more time for making beer and wine. There will be posts Monday through Friday. Weekends I'm off, to either make the beer or wine or consume large quantities.

The schedule for articles during the week:

Monday Beer Recipe

Tuesday Wine Recipe

Wednesday Wine Technique

Thursday Beer Technique

Friday Rants, Opinions, Reviews

I do want to make a few cosmetic changes to the appearance of the blog along with moving the feed links to the top. Still experimenting with different ads and how they work. So far, only adsense and adgenta have been the most productive.

Well that's enough for today, see you Monday.


Calibrating Thermometers

Thursday, February 09, 2006

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Calibrating Thermometers: Techniques

by Chris Colby
How hot was it? Without calibrating your thermometer, you have no idea. Learn how to use the physical propertes of water to get your thermometers properly adjusted.

Homebrewers make a variety of measurements every brewday. We weigh out our malt and hops and perhaps malt extract. We take the mash or steeping temperature. We either boil down to or top up to our target batch volume and then we take the original gravity. If you haven’t calibrated your measuring devices, however, all these measurements could be off, perhaps by a fairly large margin. In this installment of Techniques, I’ll show you how to calibrate your “master” brewing thermometer and your working thermometers.

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How to Use an Acid Testing Kit

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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How to Measure Acidity Using a Titration Kit

One of the simplest and most effective ways to measure T.A. in wine is by the titration method, which uses an inexpensive titration or acid test kit. These test kits can be purchased for as little as $6.00 and can be used over and over again.

If you took chemistry in high school, you'll probably remember that titration is a process where you determine the concentration of an unknown substance in a liquid (in our case, we are looking for the amount of acid in must or wine) by slowly adding a small amount of reagent (a base called sodium hydroxide - NaOH - whose chemical concentration is known) until a change in color occurs due to the presence of an indicator (phenolphthalein).

To begin the test, you will draw a 15 cc sample (one cc equals one ml) of must into a test tube. Most test tubes that come with the acid test kits are marked with a line indicating this volume. If not, no sweat. Just use a small plastic syringe (provided) to precisely measure the desired amount into the test tube, and be sure to rinse the syringe afterwards.

Next, put about 3 drops of phenolphthalein indicating solution into the test tube. Swirl or shake the test tube so the indicator is mixed in with the must.

Using the syringe, draw out 10 cc of reagent (sodium hydroxide), making sure there are no bubbles in the liquid. Be careful to avoid contact with your skin or eyes. This NaOH stuff burns something awful!

Very carefully, add the sodium hydroxide to the test tube 0.5 cc at a time. After each addition, swirl or shake the test tube to mix the contents together. You'll notice that the color of the liquid will momentarily change upon the addition of reagent. If you are testing white wines, the color change will be pink; if testing reds, the color change will be gray. Just swirl and swirl until the color subsides. So long as the color of the must goes back to the original color, repeat this step until the color change is permanent.

When the color (either pink or gray) DOESN'T go away, stop and determine the amount of reagent used. From here, it is very simple to determine the acidity of your must. For each cc of reagent used, this equals 0.1 % TA.

For example, if you used 6 cc of sodium hydroxide to react with the must, the titratable acidity of your must is 0.6 %.

Pretty simple, eh? Just remember to throw away your sample, since this stuff is toxic. DO NOT add it back into your must or wine.

Lastly, wash and dry your test equipment before storing it away.

Article from Grapestompers

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Potato Wine

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

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Wine Recipe of the Week
Every year in September, a town about 15 miles from my house, has an annual potato fest. I always thought that it would be neat of one of the local wineries made and sold Potato Wine at this festival. Sadly, Pennsylvania laws prohibit that from happening, so I guess I'll have to make my own. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turned out.

2 lbs potatoes
1 lb raisins
3 oranges
3 lemons
4 ripe bananas
1/2 pint freshly made strong tea
2 1/4 to 2/34 lb sugar

Chop the raisins and put them in fermenting vessel. Thoroughly scrub the potatoes, peel, and discard the peel; cut up potatoes quite small. Put them in 5 pints of water and boil gently for 15 minutes: strain onto the raisins while simmering.
Allow this mixture to cool and add the tea, strained juice of oranges and lemons, yeast and nutrient. Cover as advised and leave to ferment for 5 days, stirring daily.
Boil half the sugar in 2 pints of water for 2 minutes and, when it has cooled, add it to the rest. Cover as before and leave to ferment for a further 5 days, stirring daily.
After this, strain and wring out tightly and return the strained wine to a cleaned fermenting vessel. Boil remaining sugar in 1/2 pint of water and the pulped bananas in 1 pint of water, both for 2 minutes and, when it has cooled, add it to the wine. Cover again and leave for a further 5 days.
The next step is to strain again, without letting too much of the deposit into the straining cloth. Then our the strained wine into a gallon jar, leaving as much of the deposit behind as you can. If the jar is not filled to where the neck begins, fill to this level with cooled boiled water, then fit a fermentation lock and leave until all fermentation has ceased. a teaspoon of citric acid can be used instead of the lemon juice. not recommend replacing the orange juice. To avoid all of the stirring and excess straining during fermentation, use a commercial amylase enzyme at the start to get rid of the starch. In _First steps in WineMaking_ C. J. J. Berry recommends 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons (or 20 lbs of fruit). This is fine for eliminating small amounts of starch in fruits, but for potatoes, recommend that 1/2 teaspoon be used for this 1 gallon recipe.
After the potatoes have been boiled, let the water cool to 110 F or below and add the amylase. Then cover the chopped raisins in 2 pints of water and heat just to 180 F and then allow to cool. Add 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme to this when cool. Put everything, including the potatoes and the raisins into a wide- mouthed primary fermenter. Add the sugar, tea (if you feel it is necessary) and nutrient. Re-hydrate your yeast and pitch it and allow primary fermentation to proceed. Rack into a secondary fermenter when fermentation slows and top up with cooled boiled water. Treat as you would any other wine from this point on.
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Scotch Ale Recipe

Monday, February 06, 2006

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Beer Recipe of the Week

I stopped into our local brewpub (Marzoni's) for a few beers and some fine grub. They make six beers that are the everyday beers and usually have 2 different ones on tap. During October, you can have an Octoberfest beer, Spring time was a Sassion, etc. Currently, they have a Scotch Ale and an Imperial Stout on tap. I tried the Scotch Ale and for those of you that do not like a lot of hops, then this beer is one to make. You can taste the malt in a Scotch Ale and is a nice drinking beer. My wife even liked it and she is not a beer drinker. So this week's recipe is a Scotch Ale.

This recipe has a variety of procedures that may be new to some beginners. Give it a try and see how well you do.

Read This Week's Recipe

Or, If you want to try an easier recipe, here is one to try.


  • 6.6 lb Ireks munich light LME
  • 2.0 lb Ireks munich malt (10L ?)
  • 0.5 lb M&F crystal malt (60L)
  • 0.5 lb Ireks crystal malt (20L)
  • 3.0 oz M&F chocolate malt (350L)
  • 4.0 oz white wheat malt (2L)
  • 2.0 oz Hugh Baird peat smoked malt (2L)
  • 1.0 oz East Kent Goldings (whole, 60 min boil)
  • 1.0 oz Fuggles (whole, 15 min boil)
  • 1 tsp Irish moss (rehydrated, 15 min boil)
  • Wyeast 1338 (european ale, 1 qt starter)
  • 4.5 oz corn sugar (primimg)


- mashed all the grains in 4 qts of 156F water for 1 hr
- sparged with 4 qts of 170F water
- SG of runnings: 1.036 in ~7 qts
- added LME, made volume up to 3 gal, boiled for 1 hr
- chilled with immersion chiller, aerated, made volume up to 5 gal, aerated some more, pitched 1 qt starter
- fermented at 65 - 68F

To do the mash on my stove, I just heat up the mash water to ~165F (in my kettle) then drop in the grain bag containing the crushed grains. Stir real well, let it sit for a minute, then check the temp. If its to low (which it will be) either add small amounts of boiling water (1 cup at a time, stir, let it sit for a minute, then check the temp) or add heat with the stove burner on medium heat while gently stirring constantly. After you hit the mash temp, cover it up and let it sit for 1 hour. At the end of the 1 hour, I lift the grain bag just above the surface of the wort and sparge by pouring the sparge water over the grains gently with a measuring cup.

As you can see, my mash setup/technique is pretty simple and doesn't require a lot of extra equipment. I'm not trying to get the max possible extraction from the grains, only the flavor/body that was missing before I started doing these partial mashes.

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Garlic Wine

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wine Recipe of The Week
Here's one recipe that I would love to try. I can just taste this along with basil on some shrimp or chicken.
12 large garlic bulbs
12 ounces (360 ml) apple juice concentrate
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons (10 g) lemon zest
1 Campden tablet (optional)
1 package (5-7 g) Montrachet wine yeast
1 teaspoon (5 g) pectic enzyme
1 teaspoon (5 g) yeast nutrient
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) orange juice, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 g) tannin
To make:
1. Divide garlic into two piles, one with 8 heads and the other with 4 heads. Separate and peel garlic cloves, discarding any with brown spots. Wrap the cloves from 4 garlic heads in a piece of aluminum foil and seal tightly. Bake in a 350-degrees F (177-degrees C) oven for 2 hours to caramelize the sugars.
2. Place the baked garlic and the cloves from the remaining 8 heads of garlic in a large pot with 2 quarts (1.9 L) of water. Boil for 45 minutes, replacing the evaporated water as needed. Strain out the cloves and return the garlic water to the pot. Add the apple juice concentrate and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and lemon zest. Let cool for 1 hour. Strain out the zest and transfer liquid to a 1-gallon (3.8 L) plastic bucket. Add a Campden tablet, if desired, and let the mixture sit, loosely covered, for 24 hours.
3. In a jar, make a yeast starter culture by combining the wine yeast, pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, and orange juice. Cover, shake vigorously, and let stand 1 to 3 hours, until bubbly; then add to the must.
4. Add the tannin and let the mixture sit, loosely covered, for seven days. Rack into a 1-gallon (3.8 L) airlocked fermentation vessel, topping off with water if necessary. Let the mixture ferment for three to four months, racking as needed to clear. Bottle, cork, and cellar the wine.
5. Wait six months before using this wine to make wonderful meat marinades. Yield: 1 gallon (3.8 L)

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Stuck Fermentation

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Weekly Troubleshooting Tip

I have had troubles in the past with different wines and beers not starting out as they should or stopping before being complete Most recently, a cherry concentrate took a couple of days to get started. I fiqured it was due to low temperature and took the steps to correct it.

This article from Grapestompers is a very good article and covers most of the problems with a stuck fermentation. It is a long post, but is really worth the time to read it.

Have you ever started a wine - and fermentation seems to start normally enough - but all of a sudden, the signs of fermentation (bubbles in your airlock, or falling Specific Gravity, for example) seem to slow down or stop too soon? If so, you've experienced what's known as a "stuck fermentation."

By definition, a stuck fermentation is a fermentation that has stopped before all the available sugar in the wine has been converted to alcohol and CO2. Were you to give up on the wine at this point, it would taste semi-sweet and pretty bad. That would be a shame, and what's more, a waste of good juice!

How did this situation occur? More importantly, what can you do to restart fermentation and salvage your wine?

Is It Really Stuck?
Before we dive into these questions, we should first make sure that our wine is stuck. Ask yourself these questions before you start dumping yeasts, additives, and chemicals willy-nilly into your carboy:

  1. What is the SG (specific gravity) of your wine? Do you have proof that the SG is no longer falling, or is tremendously sluggish? If you don't know (or aren't sure how to do this), we recommend you see our article on how to use the hydrometer. It explains the ins and outs of measuring your wine's SG.
  2. Do you have a good airtight seal at your airlock? Is your airlock firmly seated in the bung, and is the bung securely seated in the mouth of the carboy? If not, this might explain why you don't see bubbles in your airlock.
  3. Are you fermenting in hot weather or in a hot area? Yeast works faster under higher (yet tolerable) temperatures, so your wine may actually be finished fermenting before you realize it.

Luckily, stuck fermentations don't occur very often - but when they do, it's important to make corrections right away and get the fermentation going again.

Causes of Stuck Fermentations
More than likely, the cause of a stuck fermentation centers around the wine yeast. Either something in the wine environment is preventing the yeast from working properly, or there is a problem with the yeast itself.

Even if the proper yeast is used, most experienced vintners know that wine yeast is pretty particular when it comes to fermenting wine to dryness - the proper environmental conditions (such as cleanliness and temperature) must be met, and nutrients (such as a balanced source of DAP [diammonium phosphate], amino acids, minerals, and vitamins) need to be available for the yeast to continue their hard work.

Wine yeast is most happy when:

  • It's not too hot, and not too cold
  • There's lots of food to eat
  • No killer agents are present
  • They live in sanitary conditions
  • Oxygen is available (to kick off fermentation)

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Sounds a lot like humans, huh? Using a little common sense, then (which vintners seem to have a lot of!), we can easily extrapolate the major causes of a stuck fermentation:

  1. Extreme fermentation temperatures - too high or too low
  2. Using unsanitized equipment - dirty or unsanitary equipment increases the possibility that microbiological factors such as wild killer yeasts and bacteria will spoil your wine
  3. Using old yeast - weakened or expired/out-of-date
  4. Incorrect yeast used - match the proper yeast for your wine (in the case of buying wine concentrate kits from grapestompers, this is automatically done for you)
  5. Yeast not rehydrated before pitching - always rehydrate yeast according to manufacturer's suggestions
  6. Yeast rehydrated at too low or too high a temperature - this can kill a large percentage of yeast cell population
  7. Temperature shock when rehydrated yeast is introduced to must - try to allow no more than a 5-7° C differential between yeast mixture and must
  8. Sulfite levels too high - adding too much metabisulfite; failing to wait 24 hours after Campden applied to must before pitching yeast; or high must pH, which can lead to high fermentation rate
  9. Pesticide residue on the exterior surface of grapes or fruits - wash all grapes or fruits well before processing
  10. Lack of nutrients, including a lack of nitrogen or certain amino acids
  11. Extremely high starting SG - too much sugar in must at the outset
  12. Sugar has all been utilized - you don't want your starting SG to be too low either!
  13. Too much CO2 in your wine - don't forget to degas
  14. Naturally occurring sorbate in must - as in the case of blueberries

Prevention of Stuck Fermentations
Here are some things the home winemaker can do to prevent stuck fermentations:

  • Monitor and ensure proper fermentation temperatures
  • Ensure proper sanitation - learn how to sanitize equipment
  • Use fresh yeast
  • Use the proper yeast for the wine you're making - don't guess or use a packet of yeast just because it's handy
  • Properly rehydrate yeast before pitching
  • Pitch the yeast within 20 minutes of rehydrating it
  • Maintain proper free SO2 levels - the amount of metabisulfite to add to your wine depends on pH of wine
  • Add yeast nutrient before pitching yeast - Item # 2733
  • Keep your starting SG to reasonable levels (1.090 - 1.100 or lower). If you don't currently have a hydrometer, buy one (they're inexpensive - about $5) and learn how to use it.
  • Aerate the must properly by vigorous stirring, just before pitching the yeast. This will introduce the oxygen needed to "kick off" fermentation.

Treatment of Stuck Fermentations
And here's what to do if you get stuck... and remember - always start with the simplest things first. Resist the urge to add yeast or additives until you've tried the easy things.

  1. Adjust the temperature of your wine. In most cases we've seen, simply warming your wine to 70-75° F for a couple of days will get the ball rolling.
  2. Rouse the yeast by swishing or stirring the lees (trub) - sometimes moving the yeast around in the wine will get fermentation going again.
  3. WARNING: Although it may be tempting, don't add vitamins (yeast nutrient) during stuck fermentations. Leftover vitamins can stimulate spoilage microbes. Only add a yeast nutrient before or as you pitch your yeast. If you want to add a yeast energizer at this point (which is not the same thing as yeast nutrient), that's OK. Simply go to the local drug store and ask the pharmacist for some Thiamin HCL (thiamin hydrochloride). Add 25 mg. per gallon of wine and mix well.
  4. Remove the old yeast by racking the wine, then re-inoculate with fresh yeast, preferably a killer strain like Lalvin EC-1118 or Red Star Premier Cuvee. In a pinch, you could even use a Red Star Champagne yeast. We want to get rid of the old yeast because yeast cells seem able to detect the presence of other dying cells, and are more likely to get "lazy" themselves.
  5. If you detect there is a nitrogen deficiency (less than 200 mg/L fermentable nitrogen), addition of DAP (diammonium phosphate dibasic - commonly known in the winemaking industry as Fermaid*) is called for.

If none of the above seem to help restart your fermentation within a couple or three days, it's time to bring in the heavy hitters:

  1. Make a yeast starter by pulling off approximately 1/2 gallon of must, and add 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of yeast energizer (thiamin HCL) and 1 packet of "killer" or champagne yeast. Mix well, cover loosely and place in a warm spot. Once you have a vigorous fermentation you can add it back to the original must. OR...
  2. Make a different kind of starter: use about a 1/2 cup of warm water, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in the water, add some orange juice to this mix, make sure the temperature is about 90° F, before adding a packet of Red Star Premier Cuvee or Lalvin EC-1118 yeast to this mixture. Wait until it really gets working. Take about a gallon of your must and warm it up to about 68° to 70° F. Now add the yeast starter to the gallon of must, as it starts to work and gets going, SLOWLY add small portions of the stuck fermentation to that which is working. You should not add more than a quart, make sure the temperature of that which you are adding is at least 70° F. As the volume of the working must gets larger, you can add larger portions to the fermentation. Make sure the temperature is at least 70° F before you add it.

Using one of these methods should help get your fermentation restarted.

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