Short Boil Brewing: Put Time Back Into Your Day!

Short Boil Brewing Being Done By HomebrewerFor many, brew day is all about taking it easy. Setting up a chair and kicking back as the wort boils away can be as therapeutic as laying on the beach, listening to the tide come in.

But for me, when I’m home brewing I like to strike a balance between relaxing and being efficient with my day, even if that means rushing around like a mad cheetah at times. That’s where short boil brewing comes in…

One of the easiest ways I’m able to cut down on my brew day is focusing on the boil, especially since I brew extract batches. Instead of a normal 60-minute boil time, cutting down to 30 or even 20 minutes not only produces homebrew that’s still great to drink, but puts a little more time back in my day.

While not every beer style lends itself to short boil brewing (bocks, for example), it is easy to shave off minutes for lots of other kinds of beers, from stouts to IPAs. The key is using extract and some specialty grains for steeping, which can be placed in the water as it heats up. Since malt extract doesn’t need to be boiled for a specific amount of time, you’re simply mixing it in the hot water to sanitize the liquid as you create your wort.

My favorite use of short boil brewing is with IPAs because it forces me to use my favorite technique for the style: hop bursting. This process is exactly what it sounds like – you add a ton of hops, but boil them for a short period of time. This provides an intense burst of hop flavor and aroma.Shop Liquid Malt Extract

Hop bursting is perfect for short boil brewing because you’ll extract little bitterness from the isomerization of hops, but get left with all the flavor. The biggest catch for a shortened boil is that you’ll want to use a lot of hops to make sure you still get some hop bitterness to balance the sweet malt, but that can be a good thing, too.

Here’s an IPA recipe I call “Little Hop Monster” that I’ve developed through short boil home brewing. Try it out to get you started on your next (shortened) brew day. Feel free to substitute hops for whatever you like, but I enjoy the intense tropical fruits of these American hop varieties:


Little Hop Monster IPA
(five-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

Specs Shop Brew Kettles
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 48
SRM: 8

0.5 lb. Crystal 60
0.5 lb. Crystal 40
6 lb. light DME
2 oz. Amarillo hops at 10 minutes left in the boil
2 oz. Simcoe at 10 minutes
1 oz. Amarillo at 5 minutes Shop Hops
1 oz. Simcoe at 0 minutes
1 oz. Amarillo – dry hop
1 oz. Simcoe – dry hop
1 pack of Safale US-05 


In this short boil recipe the boil time can last from 20 to 30 minutes. Steep the grains as you bring the water up to boil, removing your grain bag once the water hits 170°F. to 175°F. Add the malt extract, bring the wort to a rolling boil, then add hops according to schedule above. Proceed with the rest of the brew as usual.

Shop Accurate ScalesShort boil brewing may not be a home brewing method for everyone, but it certainly has its place. With having time saved as its reward it may be something you’ll want to give a try.
Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his award-winning blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Wine Oxidation Prevention – Keeping This Destructive Process Under Control

Reason For Wine Oxidation PreventionYou don’t have to have a commercial winery to create excellent wines.  In fact, many home winemakers produce fantastic wines that are similar, if not better, than the wines you buy at your local wine shop.  However, as we’ve seen many times before on this blog, making top notch wine isn’t something that magically happens.  You need to take great care during the winemaking process, follow all instructions, and carefully guide the process through to the very end.

One of the more common faults plaguing home winemakers is wine oxidation.  At certain times during the winemaking process, particularly after the primary fermentation, it is important to be careful about the exposure of the wine to the air. Excessive air exposure is a catalyst for wine oxidation.

One way to prevent too much oxygen exposure is to top up the wine to ensure very little space is available for oxygen to set up camp and cause wine oxidation. Topping up is one of the most important things you can do in the way of wine oxidation prevention.Shop Carboys

In addition to topping up the wine, you should also be using air lock during the secondary fermentation.  There are many different types of air locks, though the most common type uses water as a way to minimize oxygen exposure and maximize ease of set-up and use. The water in the air lock basically acts to allow carbon dioxide from the fermentation to escape out of the vessel while keeping oxygen from entering inside and oxidizing your wine.

Another stage where you can inadvertently cause problems with wine oxidation in your wine is during the racking/siphoning and bottling processes.  Use can add fining agents to your wine to help minimize the effects oxidation, as well as use specific techniques such as positioning the exit end of the siphon hose down into the wine to reduce splashing. Minimizing splashing is another wine oxidation prevention technique.

Of course, if you exclude too much oxygen, you run into problems with reduction, which is a whole other topic on its own.  If you smell Shop Wine Clarifiershydrogen sulfide (H2S) or “rotten eggs”, you may have excluded too much oxygen and you should aerate your wine right away to get rid of the smell.

Just remember that for the wine oxidation process to take place you need air. The best way to manage your wine oxidation prevention efforts is to manage the air that comes into contact with the wine.
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.


5 Beer Recipe Kits For Home Brewing In Winter

Home Brewing In WinterIn a lot of ways, winter is high brewing season. For many, it’s time to get the brew kettles out and the beer recipe kits on the way. Not only do the lower temperatures encourage us to hibernate, they support more moderate fermentation temperatures and open up beer styles that are more suitable for home brewing in winter. If you have a cold basement, winter is the perfect time to take advantage of brewing lagers, steam beer, and other styles that require lower fermentation temperatures.

Winter is also a good time for brewing some hearty, high gravity beer styles. These more substantial styles give rise to the idea of a “winter warmer” – a beer with higher alcohol content that offers a warming nip in the colder months.

As you’re planning your seasonal brew calendar, consider one of these 5 beer recipe kits for home brewing in winter:


  1. BrewCraft Ultimate: Russian Imperial StoutA big, Shop Steam Freak Kitsroasty imperial stout is the perfect cold weather beverage, featuring notes of coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit. Some imperial stouts can be pretty hoppy, but generally the dark roasted malts take center stage. Some brewers like to brew an imperial stout in the winter, then let it age all year for consumption the following winter.
  1. Brewers Best Vienna LagerIf you’re unable to brew lagers during the warmer months, winter is a great opportunity to give it a try. You’ll need to be able to keep fermentation temperatures in the 40-50˚F range, so a cold basement might work out. This Vienna lager beer recipe kit is a great choice for home brewing in wine. It’s a smooth, malty lager, well worth the wait of an extended lager fermentation.
  1. Brewcraft Premium: Black IPABlack IPAs are one of the more robust styles of beer, combining the roasty flavors of a stout with the hop-forward bitterness and flavor of an IPA. This beer recipe kit offers a complex dark malt flavor and a range of spicy and citrusy American hop character, fairly stout at 7.3% ABV. Getting this beer recipe kit and home brew it in the winter will add a clean, crispness that bring out the citrus character, even more.
  1. Steam Freak Barnstormer Barleywine – Similar to with Shop Temp ControllerImperial Stouts, some brewers like to let their barleywines age for a before consuming (of course you’re welcome to open some bottles early!). This barleywine clocks in at 10% ABV and 96 IBUs – it’s definitely a sipper!
  1. Steam Freak Spring Loaded BockA bock is a high gravity German lager, rich and malt-forward, high gravity yet silky smooth. Expect a traditional bock to be in the ballpark of 7% ABV, with just enough hops to balance out the malt and the alcohol.


What are some of your favorite styles for home brewing in winter months? Have you brewed any of these beer recipe kits?
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.

Making Wine In Cold Weather

Making Wine In Cold WeatherI live in Louisiana in the south. Is it too late to make wine? Is there a problem making wine in cold weather? I have a lot of fruit left from the summer.

Mildred M. — LA
Hello Mildred,

You can make wine all throughout the year without any problems. The only real issue is that you need to control your fermentation temperature. For a wine fermentation to go as it should, the temperature range needs to be between 70° and 75°F. If you get out of this temperature range, issues can arise, but beyond this, there is nothing wrong with making wine in cold weather.

If the temperature gets below 70° the wine yeast will start to go dormant. They can slow down to the point of not being active at all. This is known as a stuck fermentation. Or, the wine yeast may not start up at all. Warm the fermentation up to 70°F., and you will start to see activity.

This temperature range is true for most wine yeast except for a few exceptions like Red Star Pasteur Blanc wine yeast which can ferment at cooler temperatures without stopping completely. However, it will ferment very slowly.Shop Thermometers

If the fermentation temperature starts to get over 75°F., then the wine yeast can start to produce funny off-flavors and aromas. The resulting wine will not have a clean taste.

Beyond these concerns, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be making wine in cold weather, even in the middle of winter. Just have a means of controlling the fermentation temperature.

If you are not sure that you can keep the fermentation in this range, you may want to look into tying an artificial source of heat. It needs to be a very gentle source of heat. Most items you find around the house such as heating blankets are too warm and will put the fermentation well over the 75°F. This is just as bad, if not worse, as having the fermentation too cool.

If a fermentation is too cool there is no permanent damage done to the wine. It’s just not fermenting. Warm it up and the fermentation will start up again. But, if the fermentation becomes overly heated, youShop Heating Belt can encourage bacteria growth and the production of unwanted enzymes in the wine. Nothing harmful, but it will make the wine taste off or fowl, and it will be irreversible.

You may want to consider getting a thermometer for monitoring temperature when making wine in cold weather. Putting your hands on the side of the fermenter and guessing is not good enough. If you are making temperature adjustments you should have a fermentation thermometer of some type.

A heating belt is one way to warm up your fermentation a few degrees. This works good for cold basement situations or when fermenting in some cold corner of the house. It’s basically a strap that goes around the fermenter and plugs into an outlet. The only downfall is that there is no way to adjust its temperature of this belt.

Something else you can do when making wine in cold weather is to get a thermostat power switch. This is a power-interrupt thermostat with a temperature sensor.Shop Temp Controller It plugs into an outlet and controls the power to a heating source – such as a heating blanket or the heating belt – base on the temperature to which it has been set.

Mildred, I say if you got the fruit, then go ahead and make the wine. The month doesn’t matter. Making wine in cold weather is easy to do. It’s simply a matter of taking control of the fermentation’s temperature.

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.

Tips For Home Brewing In Cold Weather

Home Brew In Cold WeatherMany homebrewers prefer to home brew in cold weather because it tends to be easier to keep beers within proper fermentation temperature range. Historically, the only way to brew lagers was to brew in the winter and store the beer in caves while it conditioned.

While in some ways home brewing in cold weather is preferred over brewing in the summer, it still offers its own challenges – but also some opportunities to try some different beer styles.


Home Brewing In Cold Weather: The Challenges

Challenge #1: Proper fermentation temperature
Hot or cold, proper fermentation temperature is always important. Determining the appropriate fermentation temperature begins with yeast selection. Lager yeasts by nature do better at 45°-60°F., so if you have a cellar that stays cool in the winter, this may be the best time for homebrewers to try making a lager. If brewing an ale, Wyeast 1007: German Ale, Wyeast 2565: Kolsch, and Wyeast 1028: London Ale all work as low as 55°-60°F.

Challenge #2: Maintain steady temperature Shop Heating Belt
Controlling fermentation temperature is always important. Only in the winter you run the risk of beer yeast going dormant if the temperature drops too low. Try to find an area of the home for your fermenters that won’t be too sensitive to big swings in outdoor temperature. A fermentation brew belt may be necessary in some cases.


Home Brewing In Cold Weather: The Opportunities

As mentioned earlier, winter is a great time to brew lagers. Here are four beer recipe kits to try when brewing in cold weather:


  • Brewer’s Best Vienna Lager – This traditional lager is in the style of Austrian amber lagers. This partial mash kit results in a smooth, toasty lager with a touch of caramel flavor, balanced hop bitterness, and just enough hop aroma for a little intrigue. (ABV: 4.5 – 5.0%, IBUs: 24-28)
  • Brewer’s Best Munich Helles – A golden lager in the south German style, marked by German hops for bittering and flavoring. (ABV: 4.75 – 5.25%, IBUs: 16 – 20
  • Steam Freak Spring Loaded Bock – A stronger, maltier lager utilizing nearly ten pounds of Steam Freak liquid malt extract. Traditional European hop varieties stand up to the higher gravity of this lager. (ABV: 7%, IBUs: 24)Shop Temp Controller
  • Brewcraft Premium Series Rocky Mountain Amber – This balanced American-style amber kit can be brewed as either an ale or a lager. The included Fermentis Saflager S-23 beer yeast works as low as 51F and as high as 75F, though lower temperatures are ideal.


What kind of changes do you make when home brewing in cold weather? Share 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.

Your Wine Might Be Suffering From Bottle Shock!

Splashing WineWhen you think about a wine you normally don’t think of it in terms of being in a good mood, humorous or even under-the-weather, but there is a term used by the wine making industry that might make you think that such terms are appropriate – bottle shock.


What Is Bottle Shock?

Bottle shock or bottle sickness is often used to describe a wine that has taken a plunge in quality. The overall impression of a wine going through shock can be described as flat or flabby, or just plain lacking in fruitiness and character.

In home wine making bottle shock usually happens right after bottling the wine. It can also happen again if an aging wine bottle is put through the tortures of shipping or transport.

It is referred to as a bottle shock because the effects are temporary and with a little rest the wine will come back to its good-ole self once again.


So, What Causes Bottle Shock, Anyway?

Bottle shock occurs when the wine absorbs too much oxygen in too little time. This is something that is likely to happen during bottling. It can also happen during shipping. Constant temperature changes and the sloshing of the wine in the bottle allows more air to pass through the cork than what is natural.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

Wines can handle the slow, gradual infusion of air that is naturally allowed by wine corks. In fact, most red wines will benefit from such a scenario, but when the oxygen comes too fast a build-up of an element called acetaldehyde starts to become prevalent in the wine.

Acetaldehyde is naturally found in any wine, at least in small, unnoticeable amounts, but in higher amounts its presence can be detected as an odor of rotting apples or nuts. This is what’s noticed in wines that are suffering from bottle shock. The normal chain of events that happens during aging is disrupted by the production of an abundance of acetaldehyde.


Don’t Worry! The Effects Of Bottle Shock Are Mostly Temporary.

Over the course of time the acetaldehyde will slowly convert to alcohol, bringing the wine back into line with something enjoyable to drink. How long this takes depends on the severity of the bottle sickness. It could be as little as a few days or as long as a few weeks.Shop Wine Corks

This is just one more reason why aging is so important in wine making. In theory, you could pick up a newly bottled wine from your cellar one week and wonder why it’s so lifeless or even bitter, then the next week be overwhelmed by its superb flavor. Bottle shock can come and go that quick.
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.

Winter Spiced Ale Recipe Just For The Holidays

Friends Drinking Winter Spiced Ale RecipeWho doesn’t love the holiday season? Time to brew this winter spiced ale recipe. Sure, family time is great, but how about all those big, flavorful beers that come out around the end of the year?! Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, a fresh-hop beer, is one of my all-time favorites.

We also start to see some usual ingredients show up in the beer aisle. Thinking about some of the foods that go on the table for the holidays brings some inspiration. Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company makes a Christmas Ale that’s extremely popular, brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon.

Brewing a winter spiced ale recipe for the holidays opens the door to using some fun fruits and spices. Go a little crazy with this one: apples, cranberries, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, chocolate, and cloves are all fair game. BJCP guidelines suggest that spices complement the base style rather than overwhelm it, so be judicious when it comes to herbs and spices.

A winter spice ale recipe can be based on any classic style (pale ale, porter, stout), but winter ales tend to be high-gravity and more full-bodied than the average beer. The extra punch of alcohol helps keep us all warm and merry in the colder months. Use additional malt extract and/or adjunct sugars to boost gravity. Try some extra caramel malt to help balance out the hodgepodge of wintery flavors.

Brewing a winter spiced ale recipe doesn’t have to be difficult! One method would be to take a beer recipe kit, such as the Barleywine Recipe Kit, then pick a handful of spices and flavorings to add to the boil or the secondary fermenter. Read Brew Your Own Herb Beers for some suggestions.

Here’s an idea – start a tradition! Brew your winter ale every year, cellaring a portion of the batch to open in subsequent holidays.Shop Steam Freak Beer Kits


Winter Spiced Ale Recipe

This extract recipe is adapted from Marty Nachel’s book, Homebrewing for Dummies. It was Philip Fleming’s first place award winner at the American Homebrewer’s Association national competition:


Anne’s Choice Christmas Ale

6.6 pounds Munton’s Amber Malt Extract
3.3 pounds Munton’s Dark Malt Extract
.5 oz. Hallertauer hops at :55
.5 oz. Hallertauer hops at :5
Wyeast #1007: German AleShop Beer Flavorings
.75 pound honey
5 three-inch cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
6 oz. grated ginger root
rinds from 6 medium oranges

Instructions: Simmer all the miscellaneous flavoring ingredients in the honey for 45 minutes; strain into the brew pot. (Proceed following the instructions for extract brewing.)

So, what’s your favorite winter spiced ale recipe, and what makes it special? Do you have a winter spiced ale beer recipe you’d like to share?
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.

Aging Your Homemade Wine In A Refrigerator

Aging Wine Under RefrigerationI hope this finds you well and prospering. Is aging homemade wine in a refrigerator OK, say for several months? Also, what temperatures would be best for storing the wines long term? Would long, cool storage affect the aging of the wine? Thanks, and keep up the good work, we sure appreciate your help in many areas.

Name: N. Gerchak
State: Oregon
Hello Mr. Gerchak,

Thanks for the kind words. We try very hard to answer your questions to the best of our ability.

It is perfectly fine, and preferable, that you age your wines for a few months. The need for aging your homemade wine is a given. I have found that with white wines 6 months will get the majority of the aging done. The typical white you find on the store shelf has been aged for about 18 months. Red wines could be aged anywhere from 2 to 5 years before they are sold.

Of coarse, the type of wine grape we are talking about enters into this equation, as well. For example, a Gamay will need much less aging than a Cabernet even though both are red grapes. This is because the make-up of each of these grapes are very different. Most notably, their tannin structure are on opposite ends of the scale – Gamay being low tannin, Cabernet being high tannin. This plays into how much aging is required for a wine to fully maturate and exude the maximum pleasantries that it can.

Just as the type of grape can affect the aging life of a wine, so can temperature, and this leads us back to answering your question about aging homemade wine in a refrigerator. Very simply: the cooler the storage temperature, the slower the wine will age. Although this is the general relationship between temperature and aging wines, there is still a optimal temperature range at which you would like to store your wines. This would be somewhere between 45°F. and 65°F. If you can’t store your homemade wine in this temperature range, then you want to get as close as you can.

Shop Wine Bottle CorkersSlow, cold aging can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. As home winemakers we tend to want our wines to age quickly. We want the time between bottling and consumption to be very short. We want them to be at their best in a matter of weeks, not months or years, for no other reason than we are impatient. On the other hand, aging the wine too quickly could leave you with a rack of wine that has all passed its prime. Wines do not continue to improve indefinitely with more aging.

With that being said, the temperature at which you age your homemade wine should be taken into consideration. partially based on your consumption habits. Your adjustment could be something as simple as storing the wine upstairs instead of downstairs, in the cooler basement or vise versa. Or as you have mentioned, moving the wine from the basement into a refrigerator.

As you may have gathered by now, aging homemade wine in a refrigerator is okay to do, just expect it to take longer to fully mature. If you do not have a problem with this, no worries, however if you are wanting you wines to age as quickly as possible, this may not be the route you want to go.

Buy Temp ControllerThere are a couple of suggestions I could make that would help improve upon your desire to refrigerate your wine. One is to age the wine at more-convenient, warmer temperatures for a few month – say, 3 to 6 months. Then store the wine in the refrigerator at its maximum setting (usually around 45°F). This will suspend the life of the wine for many years.

You could also go a whole different route. You could purchase a external, power interrupt temperature controller thermostat. This would allow you to set the refrigerator at any cooler temperature you would like, even 65°F. You do this by setting the refrigerator to its coldest setting. Then use the temperature controller to run the refrigerator as needed. It acts as an external thermostat that turns the power to the refrigerator on and off as need to maintain the temperature you select.

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.

Quick Guide To Belgian Beer Styles

One Of The Belgian Beer StylesBelgium has one of the oldest, most diverse, and vibrant beer cultures in the world, from the centuries-old Trappist breweries housed in monasteries to the multitude of artisanal farmhouse breweries littered throughout the countryside. There is a lot of history when it comes to Belgian beer styles.

It would take a very big book to list all of the varieties of beer made in Belgium, so for the purposes of this blog post, I will list some of the styles that are most iconic of the country and the ones you will most commonly find when home brewing Belgian style beers.


  • Belgian Pale Ale – A Belgian pale ale looks very similar to it’s American cousin, but the flavor profile is all its own. For one, Belgian pale ale is lower on the IBU scale and more malt focused. Pale malts form the base of the grain bill, with some medium-colored malts like Vienna, Munich, Biscuit, and Aromatic malt providing some color and complexity. Adjunct sugars may be used to increase gravity, add flavor, and impart a dry finish. Spices may be used for additional complexity, but Belgian yeast provides the signature fruity and spicy flavors that define this style.
  • Belgian Abbey-Style Beers (Singel, Dubbel, Tripel) – Abbey-style beers are made in the style of those crafted by the Trappist breweries, six of which are located in Belgium. These abbey beers are segregated by alcoholic strength and characterized by a range of malt flavors that may be described as toast, raisins, or dates. They may have a sweet, rum-like flavor from the use of Belgian candi sugar. An Abbey-style Belgian ale yeast provides dominant fruity and aromatic flavors. A singel may be low to moderate strength and golden in color,Shop Beer Flavorings with a dubbel often darker and closer to 7% ABV. Belgian tripel tends to be golden, dry, herbal or floral, and 7.5-10% ABV. Consider making this Westmalle Tripel clone recipe. It’s a great place to start when home brewing Belgian beer styles.
  • Belgian Witbier – Made popular among modern drinkers by the likes of Hoegaarden and Blue Moon, Belgian wit is one of the most well-known styles of Belgian beer. Witbier, or “white beer”, is very pale in color (2-4 SRM), cloudy, and somewhat sweet with a high proportion of unmalted wheat. Orange peel and spice may contribute a refreshing, fruity complexity, but should not dominate the flavor profile. A Belgian wheat yeast strain will provide the appropriate phenolics and esters for this style.
  • SaisonSaison is style of beer from the French-speaking part of Belgium. It’s a moderate strength pale ale brewed with a little more hops than a Belgian pale, often including adjunct grains like wheat, adjunct sugar such as cane sugar, and spices, especially coriander, orange peel, or a mix of “mystery spices”. Saison Dupont is considered one of the classics.
  • Lambic – Lambic is a type of sour ale that should only be attempted by seasoned homebrewers. It’s characterized by a dry, acidic taste and a range of complex flavors that may be smokey or earthy. A true lambic requires a culture of wild bacteria and yeast and aging of a year or longer to achieve the appropriate flavor profile. Young and old lambic may be blended to produce gueuze, while fruit lambic may be aged on raspberries or cherries.Shop Steam Freak Kits


You will likely see a number of Belgian beer styles beyond those listed above – remember this is just a quick guide to Belgian beer styles – including a mashup of other common styles: Belgian stout, Belgian IPA, Belgian amber, Belgian holiday beers, Belgian specialty beers. The list above is only the common ones you will run across when home brewing Belgian style beers.

What are some of your favorite Belgian beer styles to brew?
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.

There Are Black Spots In My Wine

Black Spots In WineI have made a number of batches of fruit wine and consumed most of it. This is the first time I have used cherimoya in a persimmon blend. Cherimoya is a very sweet fruit, large amounts of sediment, and does not fully clear after racking it four times.

The bottled wine is stored on its side in a dark environment for 6 months. Placing a bottle on its side creates a small air bubble at the top most section of the bottle. A black spot appears on the inside of the bottle within the air bubble. Most of these black spot will merge with the wine after the bottle is turned upright for a day or so.

What is this black spot in my wine?

Name: Mark A.
State: Hawaii
Hello Mark,

It’s hard to know precisely what these black spots in your wine are, but normally we associate having black spots in your wine with either a mold or bacteria growth. Combined with the fact that it is appearing where there is an air pocket in the wine bottle, I would say that it is more likely to be a growth of some sort. This is where you would typically see mold or bacteria to start to grow – next to the air.

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteIf you did not add a sulfite to your wine before bottling such as: Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite, this would strongly add to my belief that a mold or bacteria is trying to grow in your wine. Sulfites are needed to help protect the wine from spoilage while it is in the wine bottle.

In addition to bottling time, you should also be using Campden tablets in the wine must before the fermentation. This is to rid the wine must from contaminates that may have come along with the fruit. The sulfites are added 24 hours before the wine yeast. Leave the the fermenter uncovered during this 24 hours to allow the sulfites to dissipate, otherwise they can interfere with the fermentation.

If you did not sanitize your wine bottles in addition to cleaning them with soapy water, this would also make me think that you are dealing with a mold or bacteria and could easily be the reason you have black spots in your wine. Cleaning the grime from the wine bottles is not good enough. They need to be sanitize with something like: Basic A or B-Brite. Any of these will easily destroy the microscopic contaminants that can grow in your wine.Shop Basic A

If you have been doing all the above, it is still possible for a mold  or bacteria to contaminate a wine and cause these black spots to form in your wine. It’s just a little harder to know how it is happening. It could be from the corks, screw-caps or whatever you are using to close the wine bottle. It could be from a piece of equipment you are using that has a nook-or-cranny that is not getting sanitized sufficiently. It could also be something as blindsiding as the sulfites you are using are old and expired. Any and all things must be considered.

After having said all this, I would like to point out that if you had said the black spots where at the lower part of the wine bottle my answer would have been completely different. I would have attributed this to tannins dropping out of the wine. This is very common and expected with some wines. But the fact that you said the black spot were next to the air pocket makes all the difference in the world.

Shop Bottle TreeAny time there are black spots in your wine, there is reason for concern. At this point I would be very hesitant to drink the wine for fear of getting sick. It is possible to save the wine by putting it all back in a fermenter; add sulfites, and re-bottle. The sulfites will kill the mold or bacteria. However, I do not recommend doing this if there is any question to the smell of flavor of the wine. Adding sulfite at this point will only stop the wine from getting worse and make it safe to drink. It will not improve the wine’s flavor or aroma. So if the wine taste or smells bad now, don’t waist your time and effort. Dump it.

Best Wishes,
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.