4 Tips For Losing Less Wine When Siphoning

Carboy of WineI generally wait until the stuff has settled out of the wine, and then I very slowly siphon my wine. I have set my wine outside when it is below 0 degrees and that clarifies it. I know there is a chemical I can use but I don’t like doing that. My biggest problem is the waste that occurs when I siphon. Is there a filtering method to save this wine? Thanks!

Name: Roger M.
State: WI
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Hello Roger,

Thanks for asking such a question about racking your homemade wine. Losing too much wine when racking is something that is concerning to many home winemakers.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to decrease the amount of wine you lose when racking (siphoning) your wine. These are simple little techniques that will allow you lose less wine. I’ll go over them one-by-one:

 

  1. Use An Actual Wine Yeast
    By using a wine yeast verses baker’s yeast, you will be able to get more wine with less sediment. Wine yeast is bred to pack more firmly to the bottom of the fermenter. This creates a sharper line between the wine and the sediment. This makes it easier for you to get all the wine.
  1. Tilt The Fermenter
    By tilting the fermenter towards the end of the siphoning you can cause the wine to roll off the yeast, into the corner, giving you a deeper area to siphon from. This is very helpful. Again, an actual wine yeast will help in this regard. If the yeast doesn’t pack firmly, this method is not nearly as effective.
  1. Save The Murky Stuff
    If you are in a situation where there is a lot of cloudy wine towards the bottom, save it in a separate container, like gallon jugs. Give it more time to clear up on its own. Then siphon off the sediment.
  1. Rack (Siphon) The Wine More Than Once
    Rack the wine right after the fermentation has completed. Wait a few weeks and then rack the wine again, right before bottling. And here’s the secret part. When you do the first racking, get as much of the wine as you can, even it if comes with some sediment. But when you get to the final racking, before bottling, do whatever it takes to leave all the sediment behind. What you will find by doing this is that you will have very little sediment at the last wine racking, maybe a dusting, causing you to loose hardly any wine at all.

Shop Bentonite

 

Additional Thoughts:
You mentioned that you did not want to add chemicals to your wine, but I would ask you to consider adding bentonite to your wine to help clear it out faster and pack more firmly on the bottom. Bentonite is a natural clay that attracts particles such as the wine yeast and fruit fiber, and drags it to the bottom. We sell it in a food-grade form. It does not permanently mix with the wine and does not affect the wine in any way other than to clear it. The bentonite settles out and is left behind, just like the particles. This will help you quite a bit.

I hope these tips on racking your wine helps you out. Another blog post that you might want to take a peek at is How Do I Get The Wine From The Sediment? This blog post may give you some clearer ideas on racking your wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Beer Recipe of the Week: Newcastle Brown Ale Clone

New Castle Brown AleConsidered by some to be the quintessential northern English brown ale, Newcastle was at one time the best-selling bottled beer in the UK. The beer, now ubiquitous throughout the US, was originally brewed in 1927 at Newcastle Upon Tyne. It’s a reddish-brown ale that highlights nutty malt flavor.

Though Newcastle is now brewed by the macro-brew powerhouse Heineken, many craft beer drinkers remember it fondly as a “gateway beer” to other traditional beer styles from around the world. Brew this Newcastle clone beer recipe and rediscover your love for brown ales!

 

Newcastle Brown Ale: Ingredients and Procedures

  • Malt – The key component in this brown ale is the crystal malt. The mid-range crystal 60°L malt is responsible for the nutty flavor in the beer. Small amounts of chocolate and black malt contribute color and a hint of dryness.
  • Hops – The classic English hop, East Kent Goldings, is used mostly for bitterness. Some hop flavor should be detectable, but will not overpower the malt.
  • Yeast – English ale yeast for this style of beer is essential. In the traditional brewing of this beer, the brewers would actually brew two separate beers, one high-gravity and one low-gravity. The high gravity beer would encourage the yeast to produce more fruity esters, which can then be blended down by the lower gravity beer. This is a lot of extra work for the homebrewer and is completely optional. It’s not impossible to do, but you’ll need an extra fermenter. It will be easiest if you’re using the all-grain method, taking the first runnings for a high-gravity boil, and the second runnings for the low-gravity boil. Then ferment the beers separately and blend them together at bottling time. (Again, this is completely optional.)

The beer recipe below is modified from the American Homebrewers Association. It was original printed in Zymurgy Magazine.

 

Newcastle Brown Ale Clone Beer RecipeShop Dried Malt Extract
(5-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

Specs
OG: 1.049
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.8%
IBUs: 26
SRM: 15

Ingredients
5.5 lbs. light dry malt extract
12 oz. Crisp 60L crystal malt
4 oz. torrified wheat
1.5 oz. black malt
1.5 oz. Crisp chocolate maltShop Hops
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :90
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :30
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
Wyeast 1028: London Ale or Fermentis Safale S-04: English Ale Yeast
corn sugar for priming

Directions
Heat about 3 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water to 150˚F. Place crushed grains in a grain bag and steep for 30 minutes. Discard grains and bring wort to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in the malt extract. Return to a boil, taking care to avoid a boilover. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. At the end of the boil, chill wort to 70˚F or boil. Add enough cool, chlorine-free water to make five gallons of wort. Mix well with a sanitized spoon to aerate, then pitch yeast. Ferment at 65-70˚F. When fermentation in complete, bottle with priming sugar and cap. Beer will be ready to drink in 2-3 weeks.

All-Grain Substitution: To brew this beer all-grain, replace the malt extract with 8 lbs. Crisp Maris Otter malt and reduce each of the hop additions to .67 oz.

Do you have a Newcastle brown ale clone beer recipe you’d like to share? Just leave it in the comments below.

—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Did Using Distilled Water In My Wine Ruin It?

Distilled WaterI just started my first batch of home made wine. I didn’t use my tap water because it’s salt water from water softener. I used distilled water in this wine, instead. After coming to your site I found out that it’s not good to use distilled water in wine making. Is there anything I can do to save my homemade wine? Or would I be better of starting over?

Name: Rory
State: Michigan
—–
Hello Rory,

Let me start off by saying that using distilled water in a wine does not mean the wine is ruined. We do not recommend using distilled water because it may cause problems with the fermentation.

Distilled water is water that has been ran through a still, or rather, steamed from one vessel to the next. This process drives out all the free oxygen and leaves the trace minerals behind. This is significant to a fermentation.

The one thing that wine yeast needs is oxygen, particularly in the first stages of the fermentation. Oxygen is what helps wine yeast to multiply into a larger colony. Without a larger colony, you will have a sluggish, drawn-out fermentation.

The little packet of wine yeast that is typically added to a fermentation needs to multiply itself between 100 to 150 times to sustain a vigorous fermentation. Most of the sediment you will see at the bottom of the fermenter are all these yeast cells that were created during the fermentation.Shop Yeast Nutrients

If you’ve used distilled water in your wine, we recommend adding yeast nutrient, if you haven’t done so already. Yeast nutrient is a singular form of nitrogen – diammonium phosphate. The recommended dosage for this is 1 teaspoon per gallon of wine. This yeast nutrient will work in place of free oxygen to help start the wine yeast to multiply successfully.

In rare and extreme cases, it may also be necessary for you to aerate the wine. This can be done by splashing the wine to allow air to saturate into the wine must, or you can siphon the wine must from one vessel to the next, holding the siphon hose back so the the wine splashes.

Minerals make up part of the nutritional meal that wine yeast need to ferment sugar into alcohol. Minerals are needed for yeast to metabolize these sugars freely. Without minerals, wine yeast have a difficult time consuming the sugar that is right in front of them. For this reason, if you use distilled water in your wine making we recommend adding a little magnesium sulfate to your wine — 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons is more than enough.Shop Magnesium Sulfate

I would like to mention again that using distilled water in your wine making does not mean you have ruined your wine, but what it does mean is that you need to take some simple actions to mitigate the effects of the distilled water. By adding yeast nutrient and magnesium sulfate you can go on to have a great tasting wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

6 Tips For Fixing Your Home Brew Beer

Two Men Fixing Home BrewIf you spend a significant amount of time homebrewing, you’re bound to come across a batch or two that just didn’t turn out as good as you’d hoped. Maybe the flavor is off or your bottles aren’t carbonated enough. Before you throw in the towel and call it quits, there may be something you can do to fix your home brew beer.

Read these tips below for some ideas on how to fix the occasional “off” home brew batch:

  1. Beer too flat? If you’ve bottled a batch of homebrew and found it’s too flat, you have several options to add more bubbles to your brew. First, move the bottles into a warmer area and give them some extra time to carbonate. If after a month or so they’re still not where you want them to be, you may be able to add some extra sugar to the bottles. Use your judgment to estimate how much additional priming sugar you need to add. Hopefully, you took notes on how you primed and can make an adjustment for next time.
  1. Beer too carbonated? Beer that gushes when you open it can be a nuisance – and it can be pretty embarrassing if you’re trying to impress some friends! The best way to try to fix this home brew problem is to try is to get the bottles extra cold before opening. Either stick them in the freezer for a few minutes or put them in an ice bath. Once they’re ice cold, carefully open the bottles over the sink. If you still get a gusher, you can pour the beer into a pitcher to allow the foam to settle down.
  1. Beer too bitter? If you’ve brewed a beer that’s too bitter, it may just need some time to age. Set it aside for a month or so. The extra time can go a long ways towards getting rid of the green beer taste. As a last resort, you can blend the beer with something less bitter to bring it into balance.
  1. Beer too sour?Shop Conical Fermenter Unless you’ve deliberately brewed a sour beer, there’s not much you can do to “fix” a home brew beer that’s gone sour from infection. If you catch it early enough though, you may be able to save it. If you catch it before bottling, you can easily dose the beer with Campden tablets. Otherwise cold crash the beer to slow any microbial growth and drink quickly. Or maybe just embrace the fact that you’ve brewed your first sour beer!
  1. Beer too sweet? First we need to identify why the beer is too sweet. Was it a stuck fermentation? Maybe you can add more yeast. Or was it a problem with recipe formulation? Maybe the beer has too much lactose or caramel malt? Blending the beer with a drier batch could help balance it out. Either brew a new batch of the same beer, or try blending the beer in the glass with a complementary beer style. (Black and tan, anyone?)
  1. If at first you don’t succeed… If after doing everything you can to save an “off” batch, the beer still doesn’t stack up to your expectations, it may just be time to scrap the batch and try a new one. Remember that each batch is a learning experience. You’re unlikely to repeat the same mistake again, so keep calm and brew on!

The point here is not to get too bent out of shape if your home brew doesn’t come out as planned. Take a deep breath is see if there is any way of fixing your home brew beer.

—–
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Is Grape Juice Quality the Key to Making Great Wine?

California Connoisseur With White WineThe art and science of winemaking has been around for millennia, though certainly the techniques and procedures have evolved throughout the course of winemaking history.  It takes a lot of time, practice, and patience to become an expert winemaker, and even then, a bad batch can come along despite all your best intentions and efforts.  With all that being said, one thing has always remained true over time:

“It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at making wine, if you don’t have quality grape juice, you are not going to make quality wine.”

How do you get quality grape juice for winemaking?  Well, there are several different sources, all of which can result in quality wine if you are careful and follow the instructions.

The first source for grape juice for winemaking is to simply buy a grape juice concentrate. There is an extremely wide selection of grapes varieties to choose from when shopping for a grape juice concentrate.  Some of the concentrate on the market are produced by using low-quality grapes. These are fine for drinking sweet, but not so much for making wine, so it is important to do some research into the overall quality of the grapes used to create the grape juice concentrate. There are a lot of products out there utilizing known vineyards and quality grapes, so do your research!

The next source for grape juice for winemaking is freshly pressed juice.  This may be a more expensive option, as you will need to work directly with a vineyard, which may or may not be charging higher prices than the easy-to-get grape juice concentrate.  Keep in mind that when purchasing freshly pressed grape juice for winemaking, you will only be able to attain the juice at a particular time during the year, and you will be bound to the grape variety that is being grown by that particular vineyard.  Grape juice concentrates stay perfectly fresh in the packaging for years.

Another source of grape juice for winemaking is to grow the grapes and press them yourself!  This, of course, is the most labor intensive and most expensive method, however, it can be very rewarding, particularly if you have a “green thumb” and would like to be a part of the entire winemaking process from vine-to-wine, as they say.  Similar to getting fresh grape juice from a vineyard, you will only be able to get the juice at a certain time of the year (harvest) and only the same variety year after year.

There are many sources for attaining winemaking juice: grape juice concentrate, local vineyard, or you own backyard. Any of these sources are fine. Just be certain you are getting quality juice from quality sources, otherwise you can end up with bad wine before you’ve even begun making it!

Another blog post that discusses the virtues of grape juice concentrate and fresh grapes is, Concentrate vs. Grapes.
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

What Is Malted Barley?

Maltster making malted barley.Malted barley is one of the four essential building blocks of beer. (The other three are water, hops, and yeast.) Most commercial beer is made with malted barley, though some beers are made with wheat malt, rye malt, and other cereal grains. So, what is malted barley?

Barley is a grass that comes in a 2-row or 6-row variety, which corresponds to way the grains are arranged around the barley stem. Barley grains (also called corns) are the seeds of the plant that in optimal conditions will grow into a plant. The corns store energy in the form of starch, a complex sugar, so that the plant can grow.

These sugars are what brewers use to make beer. The grain provides the sugar that feeds the yeast, which in turn converts the sugar into alcohol and CO2. But before these sugars can be used, they must be made accessible through a process called malting.

The Malting Process
Malting the barley is a three-step process carried out by a professional maltster. Using a variety of barley grown specifically for making beer, the maltster creates conditions that encourage the barley corns to grow, then kilns the barley corns before they have a chance to grow into plants:

  1. Steeping – The maltster soaks the barley in large steeping tanks, aerating the malt and maintaining a constant, cool temperature that discourages microbial growth. The water is periodically replaced, which gives the barley a chance to breathe.
  1. GerminationShop Home Brew Starter Kit – The barley is then moved to the floor where it is allowed to sprout. During this phase, enzymes are activated in the barley. The enzymes begin to break down the cellular structure of the grain, which makes the starches accessible for conversion into fermentable sugars. The barley will typically be turned regularly to prevent the rootlets, or “chits,” from getting tangled. The degree to which the barley is allowed to grow is called “modification.”
  1. Kilning –  The final step in malting the barley is the kilning. The maltster kilns the grain to stop the growing process, which preserves the starches and the enzymes for use in brewing. Depending on the style of malt produced, grains are kilned between 175-400°F. This step introduces color and flavor to the malt as the proteins and sugars are heated in the kiln.

 

Common Types of Malted Barley

Malted barley is generally categorized by color and given a Lovibond number rating between 1 and 500 to rate the color (1 being pale; 500 being black). These are several of the most common malted barleys:

  • Pilsen Malt – This very lightly kilned malted barley is ideal for lagers, but can also be used as base grain for ales. (1° Lovibond)
  • 2-Row Malt – A very common base malt for ales and lagers. 2-Row malt typically contains more fermentable sugar and less protein than 6-Row malt. (1.8° Lovibond)
  • 6-Row Malt – 6-Row is often used for lagers for its grainy flavor. 6-Row barley is primarily grown in the US. (1.8° Lovibond)
  • Vienna Maltshop_malted_grains – Vienna malt is kilned slightly more than Pilsen and 2-Row malts, but it still works well as a base malt. It is recommended for use in Pilsners and Vienna-style lagers. (3.5° Lovibond)
  • Munich Malt – Munich malt is a well-modified malt that lends a sweeter, maltier flavor than the lighter malts. It is ideal for amber ales, Märzen lagers, and dark lagers. (10° Lovibond)
  • Crystal Malt – A wide range of malted barleys are kilned at higher temperatures and called crystal, or caramel malts. They range from 10 to 120 degrees Lovibond, contributing significant color and sweet caramel flavor. (10-120° Lovibond)
  • Chocolate Malt – Chocolate malt is often used (in moderation) for brown ales, porters, and stouts. It contributes a chocolate-like flavor and aroma to beer; it is not actually made with chocolate. (350° Lovibond)
  • Black Malt – Black malt has been kilned nearly to the point of burning. It provides roasty, astringent bitterness and very dark color to stouts and other dark beers. Very little needs to be used to get the desired effect. (500° Lovibond)

Want to learn more about malted barleys? This book is a great resource if you want to learn more about malts or homebrewing in general: Homebrewing for Dummies

Now that you know the answer to the question: “what is malted barley?”, what are some of your favorite malts for brewing beer at home? And, what brews do you use them in?
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Keeping Track Of Your Homemade Wines Without Wine Bottle Labels

Keeping Track Of Homemade WinesI would like to track my wine bottles without using wine bottle labels which can be difficult to remove for my next batch of wine. Is there an easy way to mark my bottles that can be removed the next time I use them?

Name: Curtis B.
State: CO
—–
Hello Curtis,

There are several ways you could go about tacking your homemade wines without using wine bottle labels. Most home winemakers will use a color code. Each batch of wine will be assigned a color. Then that color is used on the wine bottle.

The simplest way to get the color on the wine bottle is to use different colored heat-shrink neck capsules. We have nine different colors, which is enough for most home winemakers. These neck capsules are a PVC plastic that will shrink to the neck of the wine bottle when heated. They also help seal the bottle more tightly.

We also have assorted colors of sealing wax. You can do the same with them. Just heat the wax up in an old tin can. Then dip the neck of the wine bottle into the molten wax. Instead of dipping the wine bottles, you can inset the wine cork about an 1/8″ into the neck of the bottle and pour the colored wax in the inset to form a colored disk over the cork.

In either case, keeping track of your homemade wines is just a matter of keeping your colors straight. You can do this with a color chart or “legend” that keeps track of what batch of wine each color represents. You can put it on the wall near your wine rack and problem solved.

If you don’t like using colors to track your batches of homemade wine, you can use wine bottle ID tags. These can be picked up at any commercial wine shop. This is basically a tag that has some writing space and a hole big enough for the neck of the wine bottle to fit through. Write on the tag what the wine is, and hang it over the neck of the wine bottle.Shop Heat Shrink Capsules

The down fall with the ID tags is that you have to write on each one. With a typical batch of wine being 25 or 30 bottles, this can become cumbersome. The second issue is that they do not secure to the wine bottles. Shut a door to fast or blow across the wine rack with the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner and your tagging could be all blown off the bottles. And this doesn’t even take into consideration what little kids could do if they got a hold of them.

I hope this gave you some ideas for keeping track of your homemade wines. With a little imagination, I’m sure there’s other ways to track them without using wine bottle labels, but these are the best ways I have discovered.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

American Brown Ale Recipe (Extract & All-Grain)

Pouring A Brown Ale BeerToday I’d like to share with you a homebrew beer recipe I recently brewed with a friend. It’s a hoppy brown ale with deep chocolate malt flavors and a hint of spicy, citrusy hop flavor and aroma. We just doubled the ingredients for the five-gallon recipe (below) to make it a ten-gallon batch.

We modeled this American brown ale recipe after some of the popular American-style brown ales being made by our local craft breweries. It’s a little on the hoppy side for what some consider a brown ale, but for a lot of craft beer fans, that’s a good thing!

This beer recipe features some complex roasted malts to bring in a range of caramel, biscuit, and chocolate flavors along with some lower-alpha hops that work great as aroma hops and provide a clean bitterness. To further enhance the aroma and clean bitterness, we utilize a technique called “first wort hopping.” All that means is to add some of the hops before the wort comes to a boil, which helps keep more of the aromatic hop compounds in the beer.

We hope you’ll enjoy this American brown ale recipe! Both all-grain and extract versions are given below. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out!

 

American Brown Ale Recipe
(5-gallon batch, all-grain)

Specs 
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 42
SRM: 23

Ingredients  
10 lbs. two-row malt Shop Steam Freak Kits
1 lb. caramel 60L malt
0.5 lb. chocolate malt
0.5 lb. crystal 77L malt
1 oz. Willamette hops (FWH)
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
0.5 oz. Willamette hops at :30
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 tsp. Irish moss at :10
1 packet Safale US-05 ale yeast

Directions 
Mash crushed grains at 152˚F for one hour. Sparge to collect 7.5 gallons in the brew kettle. Add first wort hops (1 oz. Willamette) to the wort and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Ferment at 68-70˚F.

 

American Brown Ale Recipe
(5-gallon batch, partial mash)

Specs 
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 42
SRM: 23

Ingredients 
6 lbs. light dry malt extract Shop Conical Fermenter
1 lb. six-row malt
1 lb. caramel 60L malt
0.5 lb. chocolate malt
0.5 lb. crystal 77L malt
1.5 oz. Willamette hops (FWH)
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
0.5 oz. Willamette hops at :30
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 tsp. Irish moss at :10
1 packet Safale US-05 ale yeast

Directions 
Steep crushed grains for 30 minutes at 152˚F in one gallon of water. Strain wort into brew kettle, then add enough water to make 3.5 gallons. Thoroughly mix in the dry malt extract, then add the first wort hops (1.5 oz. Willamette) to the wort and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Ferment at 68-70˚F.

—–
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

4 Reasons For Having A Cloudy Wine…

Drop of WineI have made this wine several times — has always turned out very well. However, this time (same recipe), the wine’s not clearing. I have changed the carboy 3 times since early November, still not clearing. (Did the flashlight test). The temperature in the room stays perfect for it — just don’t understand it… It smells wonderful! Any advice, would be greatly appreciated!

Name: Laura
State: MN
—–
Hello Laura,

Sorry you’re having such a stubborn time with a cloudy wine, but don’t give up on it just yet. Having a cloudy wine is usually not a catastrophic event, but more like to be just an annoyance with a solution.

But before we can solve the problem we have to identify the problem. The cloudiness is only a symptom. We need to know why the wine is still cloudy? Until we have the answer to that we don’t know what action to take.

 

  1. Your wine may still be fermenting.
    The first thing to look at is the specific gravity of the wine. This will tell us how much sugar is still left in the wine, if any. This is easily checked with a wine hydrometer. If the specific gravity indicates that there is still sugar in the wine, then the probable reason you have a cloudy wine is because your wine is still fermenting very slowly, but enough to keep things stirred up.It is important to note that the slightest amount of fermentation can cause a lot of cloudiness in a wine, so do not rule this reason out just because you have not seen any bubbles come out of the air-lock. If the hydrometer indicates that the fermentation has not completed, then this is most likely the reason you have a cloudy wine. The only way to solve this problem is to get the fermentation to complete… to make sure the wine yeast are happy and provided with the environment needed to finish the job. One article that you might want to take a look at is, “The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure“. You can go over these reasons and see if any of them ring true to your situation.
    Shop Hydrometers
  1. Your wine may have a pectin haze.
    This could be particularly true if your wine recipe does not call for a pectic enzyme to break down the pectin cells in the fruit. While the fermentation activity itself will quite often break down the pectin, there are many times it will not. This is why it is usually advisable to add pectic enzyme to any fruit wine recipe — whether it calls for it or not. There is no downside to doing so.One way to test for a pectin haze is to take a 4 ounce sample of the wine in question and add ¼ teaspoon of pectic enzyme to it. Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours or until  the wine has become clear. If the wine does not clear then you do not have a pectin haze. If the wine does clear, then pectin haze is why you have a cloudy wine.The only thing you can do to the wine at this point would be to add a double-dose of pectic enzyme to the entire batch of wine (use the dosage listed on the container it came in). Then give it several weeks time, if not months, to clear. Patience is crucial in the particular instance.
  1. Tannin falling out of the wine.
    Tannin is the bitter zest found mostly in the skin of a fruit. Any wine can only hold so much tannin before it will start to release it as a precipitate. One way to test for this is to heat a pint sample of the wine in a sauce pan and see if it clears. If it does then tannin is the issue. You can find more information on our website on the subject. You might want to look over the article: “Maintaining Temperature Stability In Your Wines“.
  1. Your wine has a bacterial infection.
    If you added sulfites such as Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite before and after the fermentation, this is not likely to be your problem. But if you didn’t, then there is a likelihood that a bacterial infection of sorts is the reason why you have a cloudy wine.Shop Campden TabletsYou mentioned that the wine smelled great, so I doubt that this is your problem. Wines with this type of fault will smell bad before they taste bad. A simple way to test for this is to smell the wine. If you notice a fingernail polish type smell or an odor of sauerkraut, then this is likely to be what’s going on.A bacterial infection has taken over the wine.Of all the the reasons for having a cloudy wine, this is the worst one. An uncontrolled bacterial infection means the wine is un-salvageable and that you should cut your losses and dispose of the wine. Hopefully, this is not the case.

 

Another blog post that may help you with your cloudy wine is “Clearing A Cloudy Wine…“. This is about another fellow winemaker with similar problems to what your are describing.

Hope this information helped you out. Best wishes and happy wine making,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

A Simple Guide To Brewing With Adjunct Grains

Rolled Brewing AdjunctsIn 1516, Reinheitsgebot, also known as the German Beer Purity Law, was put into effect. To alleviate competition between producers of barley, wheat, and rye, it limited beer ingredients to only barley, water, and hops (yeast hadn’t been discovered yet!). Though some brewers choose to brew within these strict guidelines, many prefer to experiment and use more than just barley in their brews.

There are many styles of beer that require grains other than malted barley, including certain styles of Belgian Ale, English Ale, and yes, even German beers. The grains used in these beers are often referred to as adjunct grains:

  • Wheat – Wheat is mandatory brewing adjunct if you want to brew your own Hefeweizen or American Wheat Beer. E.C. Kraus carries Red Wheat Malt, White Wheat Malt, and Wheat Malt Extract to lend your homebrew wheat flavor and body. Use 50-75% wheat malt in your grain bill for Weizenbier, or 1-2% to help head retention in any beer style.
  • Rye – Want to brew your own Rye Pale Ale or German Roggenbier? Briess Rye Malt contributes a unique, spicy and grainy flavor reminiscent of bourbon. You’ll want to use this brewing adjunct grain sparingly, as rye has a tendency to stick together in the mash kettle. You’ll rarely see more than 10-20% of malted rye in a grain bill (3.7° Lovibond). Another option is Flaked Rye, which gives the crisp, dry rye flavor, but with more body and more extractable sugar than malted rye.
  • OatsShop Brewing Kettles –  If you want to brew an Oatmeal Porter or Oatmeal Stout, you have to use oats! Regular, unmalted, whole-grain oats contribute flavor and head retention to your brew, but not much fermentable sugar. Flaked Oats are pre-gelatinized to make their starches accessible as fermentable sugar, but they’ll also do wonders for head retention and body. Oats are often included in some Belgian beers, such as the ever popular Witbier.
  • Corn – Corn, or maize, when used as a brewing adjunct must be cooked, then mashed with barley malt to extract fermentable sugars. Flaked Corn is pre-gelatinized, making starches accessible, and can be added directly to the mash. Corn adds essentially no color to beer, but contributes some sweet, corn flavor. It’s primarily used in American Light Lagers, certain Pre-Prohibition style beers, and traditional South American chicha.
  • Rice – Rice, usually in the form of rice syrup, is often added to American Light Lagers in place of malted barley because it’s cheap and doesn’t contribute much flavor or color. Flaked Rice accomplishes the same task, resulting in a dry, crisp beer. Rice Hulls are often added to brews made with a lot of wheat or rye to avoid a stuck mash.

Certainly, there are other brewing adjunct grains that you could play around with and put in their beer, but this list comprises the majority of what you’ll find called for in home brewing recipes.

What is your favorite adjunct grain you like to use in your beers?
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.