To Airlock, Or Not To Airlock…

Airlock For Wine FermentationMy kit wine calls to immediately put the contents of the juice, wine yeast, etc. in an air-tight container with an airlock. However all over your site it says NOT to put it in an air-tight container for the first 5-7 days because it will inhibit the growth of the wine yeast. Can you clear this up for me?

Name: Dennis
State: North Carolina
Hello Dennis,

It is a matter of weighing all the pros and cons differently.

The reason you use an fermentation airlock is to protect the wine from contamination. If you leave the lid and airlock off the primary fermenter and the fermentation begins in a timely manner and ferments vigorously, there is very little chance of the wine becoming compromised in any way. Not only is the CO2 gas rapidly rising off the fermentation, protecting it from fall-out of airborne nasties, the vigorous activity of the wine yeast themselves are destroying any contaminants that my make their way to the liquid.

The harder the wine ferments, the more protected the wine will be, and the sooner your wine will have completed its fermenting.

Wine kit manufacturers say to themselves, “we do not know that everyone’s fermentation is going to start as it should. What if it doesn’t and the airlock is not being used? Then there is a possibility of the fermentation being taken over by a mold or bacteria. We would rather be safe, because we are not sure every single fermentation will start-off as intended.”

So it comes down to this:Shop Wine Airlocks

  • Leaving the lid and airlock off will allow the primary fermentation to start sooner and continue more rapidly, but it can also leave the fermentation susceptible to contamination should it not start in a timely fashion.
  • Leaving the lid and airlock on will keep the fermentation much more protect, but it will cause there primary fermentation to go more slowly.

I would like to point out that keeping an airlock off the primary fermentation is not something we made up. It is regularly practiced in the wine industry. It is also the typical way a fresh fruit wine is made by home winemakers.

Also, I would like to make it clear that we are only talking about the primary fermentation. As the fermentation starts to slow down, and it becomes time to rack the wine into a secondary fermenter, you should always be using an airlock. The same hold true if the fermentation is not starting out as strong or as quick as it should; put the lid and airlock on until you see the fermentation is going.Shop Fermenters

As a final point, whether or not you use an airlock during the primary fermentation, the wine will be made. It’s a matter of how fast and vigorous the fermentation proceeds, not a matter of whether or not your wine will turn out, so don’t feel that it is a critical decision because it’s not.

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.

Rye Porter Beer Recipe (All-Grain)

All-Grain Brew Kettle On Stove Brewing Rye PorterSometimes it’s fun to brew outside of the BJCP style guidelines and to combine different beer styles to make something new and different – a hybrid beer style if you will. Today’s all-grain, rye porter beer recipe combines the roasted malt flavors of a porter with the spicy, tangy rye flavors of a rye pale ale.

First, let’s review some tips for brewing with rye:

  • Homebrewers can use either malted rye or rye flakes in a beer recipe, or both.
  • Rye contributes a distinctive flavor, but also body and mouthfeel.
  • Many American-style rye beers use 10-20% rye in the grain bill.
  • If using more than about 15-20% rye, consider using rice hulls to prevent a stuck mash.
  • Rye will sometime contribute haze to a beer. Review these tips for brewing a clear beer.

The rye porter beer recipe below is modeled after Sly Rye Porter from Yazoo Brewing Company (Nashville, TN), a beer the brewery describes as “a rich, chocolatey English Porter with a clean finish. Using only the finest malts, a portion of malted rye gives a spicy, slightly dry finish.”

Good luck!Shop Barely Grains

Rye Porter Beer Recipe (All-Grain)
(5.5-gallon batch)

OG: 1.057
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 31

7.5 lbs. pale ale malt
1 lb. caramel 40L
1 lb. rye malt
Shop Hops1 lb. flaked rye
.75 lb. chocolate malt
.25 lb. carafa III malt .5 oz. Challenger hops at :60 (4 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops at :15 (7 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops at :5 (7 AAUs)
1 pack Safale US-05 American ale yeast or Wyeast 1272: American Ale II

Optionally, start with a protein rest at 122˚F for 20 minutes. Raise mash temperature to 152˚F and hold for 60 minutes. Raise temperature to 168˚F for mash out. Sparge with enough water at 168˚F to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort. Bring wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast when wort is at 70˚F or below. Ferment at 68˚F until complete.

This rye porter beer recipe has more of an American twist, using American ale beer yeast and Cascade finishing hops. It’s a tasty homebrew with a smooth body, a rich chocolate malt flavor, along with an intriguing hint of spicy, slightly tangy rye grain. This all-grain beer recipe has a touch more hop bitterness than the Sly Rye, with the Cascade finishing hops bringing in a spicy and citrusy hop character that work well with the rye.

Have you ever brewed a darker beer with rye? How did it go?
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the IBD and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Controlling Oxidation When Making Wine

Homemade Wine That Turned BrownLast fall I acquired some good wine grapes.. red and white not enough of either for 5 gals.. thought I could make a blush, so I added them together.. it turned a reddish color but cloudy. So I added bentonite three weeks later i have clear brown color,  what happened?

Thanks Art
Hello Art,

It sounds like your homemade wine has oxidized from excessive air exposure. Just like when an apple starts to turn brown after being bitten into, a wine can turn brown when it is exposed to too much air. This is called oxidation.

It was not necessarily caused by letting the wine be in touch with the open air, but in your case, probably had more to do with excessive splashing of the wine when you where using the bentonite. When you splash a wine air can saturate into it much more quickly than if the wine was just sitting still.

Unfortunately, there is no real effective way to reverse this browning effect of oxidation on a homemade wine. However, there are things you can do in the future to reduce its chances of happening again:

  • Keep Splashing To A Minimum: When stirring the wine, stir it in a way that blends the wine but does not splash it. When siphoning or racking the wine, have the end of the hose down into the wine in the fermenter you are filling up. Fill the vessel from the bottom up, so to speak.
  • Add Sulfites To The Wine After Racking: This should only be done to a wine that has completed its fermentation. You can use either Campden tablets or sodium metabisulfite to add sulfites to the wine. The sulfites will help to drive out any saturated oxygen that is in the wine before it has time to negatively affect the wine. You only need to add around 1/2 a standard dose. That would be either 2-1/2 Campden Tablets or one heaping 1/8 teaspoon to 5 gallons of wine.Shop Sodium Metabisulfite
  • Keep Out Of The Heat And Light: Both heat and light will increase a wines susceptibility to oxidation. By keeping the wine in a dark, cool place you are helping to protect the wine from the effects of oxidation.

Now that you are aware that a homemade wine can turn brown from oxidation, I think you can understand that controlling oxidation when making wine is important. Do the three simple thing above, and you will go a long ways oxidation to an unnoticeable level

Best Wishes,
Customer Service at E. C. 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.

How And Why To Chill Your Wort Quickly

Wort ChillerAfter boiling your homebrew beer for an hour, you may think that you’re done. Not quite. There are still a couple more steps that can go a long way towards improving the quality of your homebrew. One of these is chilling the wort after the boil, and there are several benefits for doing it quickly. Here’s some information on why you should chill your wort quickly and how to chill your wort quickly.

There are three main reasons why we chill the wort in the first place:

  1. To reach yeast pitching temperature – The ideal pitching temperature for your beer yeast will vary depending on the style of beer you’re brewing and the yeast strain itself, but in most cases it’s in the ballpark of 70°F. Pitching too warm could cause some strange off-flavors or even worse, kill the beer yeast. Just follow the instructions on the yeast package and you’ll be fine.
  1. To coagulate protein – This is an important reason as to why you should chill your wort – to produce a quick, sharp “cold break”. Chilling the wort quickly will help the protein in the wort clump together and settle out. This reduces the amount of protein in the final product and helps to achieve a clearer, better looking brew. The faster the change in the temperature, the better the cold break. The cold break can be aided by adding 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss during the last 10-15 minutes of the boil.
  1. To reduce the risk of contamination – Warm, sugary wort is the perfect place for wild bacteria and yeast to grow. The more quickly we can get the wort from the kettle to the fermenter, the better. But don’t let this make you panic! If you chill the wort quickly and do your best to reduce exposure to the air, your beer will turn out fine.


So, now that we’ve learned reasons why to chill a wort and why it helps to do it quickly, what’s the best way to accomplish this? How do we chill a wort quickly? Homebrewers have a couple of options:

  • The wort chiller – The fastest and most effective way to chill wort quickly is with a wort chiller. An wort chiller is basically a coil of copper with a couple of hoses attached. One hose is the cold water inlet and attaches to a faucet. The other is the hot water outlet. By putting the wort chiller directly into the wort and running cold water through it, the water will pick up the heat from the wort on its way through the coil and out the other hose. This method can bring the wort to pitching temperature in as little as 20Shop Brew Kettles minutes, saving a lot of time and achieving a really good protein break. You’re likely to use a few gallons of water as you do this, so see if you can recover the hot water coming out of the wort chiller and use it for cleaning later on. There are also plate wort chillers. With these, the beer is being ran through a cold plate that is being cooled with running water.
  • The ice batch – Chilling a wort with an ice bath works best for homebrewers boiling three gallons or less (otherwise it takes too long). Simply submerge the kettle in a sink filled with ice, then fill the sink with cold water. A deep sink works best – see if you can get the top of the ice bath to be even with the top of the wort. You may need to change the water a few times to get down to pitching temperature. You can also cock the drain plug so that water is slowly draining, while water is running at the same rate from the faucet.


Now, you know how and why to chill a wort quickly. So the next time you brew, focus on making sure you chill your wort quickly. You’re likely to notice a difference in both appearance and taste.

What method do you use to chill your wort?
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 of the Local Beer Blog.

Buying Corks For Wine Bottles

Corks For Wine BottlesSo, your homemade wine is just about ready and you’re preparing to bottle! All the hard work creating your masterpiece is nearly complete and transitions into a more passive process of waiting for the wine to be ready to be shared and enjoyed!

But you must be careful and not get too lax about things, as the bottling process is just as important as every step up until now. Buying corks for your wine bottles is a critical step, as well. Not all corks are the same and the corks you buy must ensure the proper fit for the aging at hand.

Selecting the right wine cork can be an overwhelming process. There are countless sizes, and source materials used. How are you supposed to buy corks when there are so many types from which to choose?  It helps to have a elementary understanding of the basic differences between the different wine corks. And, this is were we will start…

Your first decision when buying corks for wine bottles is whether or not you want to use synthetic corks or natural corks.  The difference between the two is that natural cork allows more oxygen into the wine than synthetic. This is preferable if you want a wine to age more quickly. The downside, however, is that the wine will not keep as long. In other words, the wine will have a short life-cycle. Instead of being fresh in the bottle for 5 or 10 years, it may be necessary to consume the wine within 2 or 3. We have different natural wine corks with different densities for this reason.

Conversely, synthetic corks are great for aging and keeping wines for longer periods of time. The amount of oxygen that is allowed to pass a synthetic cork is very minimal. They are as oxygen restrictive as our best quality natural corks. So as you can start to see, when buying corks for your wine bottles, natural vs. synthetic become an important decision.

Now, you need to consider the size of the corks. You’ll be happy to know that all cork-finish wine bottles have the same opening. This is regardless if they are 375 mL or 750 mL in size. The bottle opening is 3/4 inch. So, this is not an issue. But, natural corks are sold in different diameters:

Which of these diameters you choose depend on two thing: 1) Whether or not you have a wine bottle corker to insert the corks, and 2) How quickly you would like the wine to age.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

If you do not have a wine bottle corker, then you will be limited to size #7 corks. Corks larger than this require that they be pressed into the wine bottle. They can not be put in by hand. Another option would be to use T-Corks instead of straight corks. These can be put in by hand as well.

If you would like the wine to age as quick as possible, then you would want to consider size #7 corks. If you would like the wine to keep as long as possible then #10’s may be an options. However, I would recommend staying away from these both these options when buying corks for your wine bottles. Remember, fast aging equals short keeping time. And the size #10’s are so hard to put in, you will need a professional floor-model corker to put them in. They are also hard to take out.

Most wine makers will either use size #8 or #9. This provide a nice balance of aging and shelf-life. It is also important to not that the standard size for the commercial wine industry is the size #9. All synthetic corks are size #9.

Buying corks for wine bottles doesn’t have to be stressful, and knowing what source material you’d like and the type of wine bottle you’ll be using will help you tremendously in narrowing down which you should ultimately purchase. You may want to take a look at another blog post, “Getting The Wine In The Bottle…“. It carries this subject a little further.
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.

10 Tips For Homebrew Cleaning And Sanitizing

Cleaning and sanitizing homebrew bottlesMany homebrewers will tell you that the first step to making good homebrew is to practice good cleaning and sanitizing habits. Without practicing good cleanliness, you run the risk of contamination by wild yeast and bacteria that could potentially ruin your batch of beer. While there are no known pathogens that can survive in beer, you certainly don’t want to throw a batch of homebrew down the drain because of spoilage!

But don’t worry! Cleaning and sanitation are easy to master. Before too long, it will become second nature, so invest some time and energy early in your homebrewing career to develop good habits.

Here are some homebrew cleaning and sanitizing tips to help you make sure your beer is clean, enjoyable, and free of contamination:

  1. Don’t rush through these important first steps! As tempting as it is to save time on brew or bottle day, cleaning and sanitation can make the difference between a great batch and one that gets thrown out. Also remember, it’s called cleaning and sanitation for a reason – it’s a two-step process. It’s important to clean away visible debris using a brewery specific cleaner, such as One Step Cleanser or Basic A. Follow package instructions to ensure effective sanitation.
  1. Making the most of ordinary household cleaning products may save you some money, but it’s important to know which products are transferable to the brewing world and which are not. Sanitizing homebrew equipment with unscented household bleach as an alternative sanitizer is a very effective, but it doesn’t take much – Charlie Papazian recommends using 1-2 ounces of regular, non-concentrated bleach per gallon of cold water, and soaking for about 30 minutes and allowing to dry. The biggest problem with using bleach to sanitize you equipment and bottles is that it does not rinse well. It likes to cling to surfaces. If you do use bleach, rinse thoroughly 3 times with hot water. NOTE: Do not mix bleach with other cleaners.Buy Basic A
  1. Do not use ordinary dish soap or detergent on your brewing equipment, as these can leave residues that will ruin your beer’s head retention. A good alternative is to us Five Star: Powdered Brewery Wash.
  1. Save a buck – and water – by reusing cleaning and sanitizing water when possible.
  1. Save more cash by filling a spray bottle with diluted sanitizer to spray down buckets and equipment. This uses less water than a soak, just make sure homebrew equipment gets enough contact time to ensure effective sanitation.
  1. Use non-abrasive scrubbers and brushes on plastic buckets and equipment. Scratches in the plastic are ideal hiding places for bacteria and wild yeast.


Tips for Homebrew Cleaning and Sanitizing on Bottling Day

  1. Be sure to remove the spigot from your bottling bucket before and after use and clean it well on the inside. By doing so you’re reducing the likelihood that significant “crud” will build up.
  1. If reusing beer bottles from the store or other homebrews, cleaning is much easier if you rinse well after drinking. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it can easily save a lot of time on bottling day!
  1. AShop Bottle Washer typical dishwashing machine set to the sanitize cycle can be used for sanitizing beer bottles. Make sure they are thoroughly rinsed BEFORE loading them up. A bottle washer can be attached to a standard kitchen faucet to make this process easier.
  1. Don’t forget to sanitize your bottle caps! Use the same method as you would for sanitizing other equipment.


As you brew more batches over time, you’re likely to develop your own homebrew cleaning and sanitizing tips and trick. What advice do you have for maintaining sanitation in the home brewery?

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 of the Local Beer Blog.

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
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
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)

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

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

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.