Wine Myth #64: The Older The Wine, The Better The Wine.

Couple Shopping For WineLet’s clear some things up. In general, wine does improve with age… but only to a point. Like many facets of life, there always seems to be some misinformation that makes its way to the realm of common knowledge. This seems to be the case with the myth: the older the wine the better it tastes.

Different wines age differently. Some wines age gracefully for 10 or 15 years. Other wines show improvement for a year or two and then plateau. Then there’s that very small group where no aging at all is ever going to do any good: might as well drink it now, because it ain’t gettin’ any better.

While all wines do vary in the way they age, one thing that is common among them all is that they each wine has its own life cycle. This fact can be partially surmised just by taking notice of the descriptors used to describe the aging qualities of a wine.

For example, a newly bottled wine is called young. Then later after some aging characteristics become evident, the same wine might be called mature. Then if the wine is not drank and left to set beyond its prime, one might refer to it as fallen-over.

Words like: young, mature and fallen-over, should give you a good sense as to how a wine goes about progressing through life. It improves for a period of time, just like everyone expects. Then it peaks in quality. Then it eventually declines. It’s the “decline” part that fails to make it into the realm of “common knowledge.” With each passing year the wine is actually becoming worse instead of getting better.

A wine doesn’t necessarily fall-over over night, but it will do so slowly over an extend period of time. For a big wine that has taken 5 or 10 years to peak in quality, we may be talking about a decline over several decades. For a wine that has peaked in a matter of a few month, we may talking about a decline over 2 or 3 years. Regardless, it is good to understand that:

There comes a time in any wine’s life
when it is begging to be drank!

 

Shop Wine BarrelsThis older-the-wine-the better myth has partially been perpetuated by the wine industry itself, although not intentionally. Many wines go up in price as they become older. This gives the perception that it is worth more because it is becoming better. With each passing year you can see the price of many vintages going higher and higher. In reality, this has less to do with the wine becoming better and has more to do with the wine becoming rarer.

If a certain vintage has been deemed to have aging potential, wine collectors will gravitate towards it and deplete its inventory level on the open market. When this happens it then becomes a simple issue of supply-and-demand. The fewer bottles left, the higher the price that can be commanded for that particular vintage.

The point here is: don’t judge a wine by its age. While wines do get better with age, they can also get worse.
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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.

10 Fun Facts About Beer and Homebrewing

Happy Beer DrinkersYou’ve already impressed your friends with your homebrew – now impress them with your knowledge about beer!

Warning: Any sharing of these random beer facts at non-beer related events may cause you to be labeled a “beer geek.” Read on with caution!

  1. Homebrewing was illegal from Prohibition until Feb. 1, 1979, when it was legalized under President Jimmy Carter. However, it remained illegal in many states until 2013, when Mississippi and Alabama became the last states to officially legalize homebrewing.
  1. Many of the Founding Fathers were homebrewers. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin all dabbled in brewing. You can sample renditions of these brews from breweries like Yards and Starr Hill.
  1. There are 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States.[1] And these homebrewers collectively brew some 62 million gallons of beer a year! That’s almost half a billion pints!
  1. Beer is made with fungus! Yeast is added to sweet wort to start the fermentation process. Billions of yeast cells absorb sugar molecules and convert them into CO2 and alcohol. Yeast also produces a variety of flavor compounds, which have a significant impact on the flavor profile of a beer.
  1. Beer is made with flowers! Hops, the chief ingredient that makes beer bitter, is in fact the female flower of the humulus lupulus plant. (Making Flower Power a great name for an IPA!)
  1. Hops are closely related to marijuana. Both plants a members of the Cannabaceae
  1. Beer can be made with seaweed, fish, and just about anything else you can think of. Irish moss, a seaweed, and isinglass, made from fish swim bladders, are two common fining agents. In other words, they help clear your beer. Not to worry – both settle out before making it into your beer glass. Beyond that, just about everything else under the sun has been used to make beer at one time or another, from bull testicles to Count Chocula cereal.shop_home_brew_starter_kit
  1. The beer can was invented in 1935.[2] The iconic vessel that many of us consider to be a staple of the beer industry isn’t even 100 years old yet. The first versions of the beer can required a church key to puncture a whole into the “flat top” beer can.
  1. Nearly all of your favorite craft brewers got started with homebrewing. Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Jim Koch of Sam Adams, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head – each of these craft brewing pioneers got started with humble roots.
  1. Beer likely inspired civilization – and the pyramids.[3] I don’t know about you, but I find the promise of a cold pint at the end of the workday extremely motivating. Apparently, so did the thousands of workers who built the pyramids of Egypt. According to ancient fermented beverage expert Patrick McGovern, “The pyramids might not have been built if there hadn’t been enough beer.” Beer has also been presented as a key reason behind ancient cultures settling down and transitioning from a nomadic lifestyle to one based on agriculture.

 

What other random beer facts would you add to the list?
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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.

7 Tips For Using Your Acid Test Kit For Wine

Acid Test KitUsing a wine acid test kit is fairly straight forward. The instructions that come with the kit are easy to follow, and the process is somewhat simple. Where things can get confusing is learning how to interpret the readings. When using the acid test kit you are looking for a color change in the wine sample as you add solution to it. Determining when that color change occurs can take some practice.

With that in mind, here are 7 quick tips for using your acid test kit. These are tips on how to use an acid testing kit so that you can get the most accurate readings:

  1. Play Around With The Acid Test Kit Before You Actually Need It
    The acid test kit will provide you with about 50 tests, so you can afford to play around with it a bit and get use to how it works. If you don’t have a wine you want to test, you can test Welch’s concord grape juice. We already know from experience that you should be getting a reading of .67% with this juice.
  1. Use A White Background When Looking For A Color Change
    Look at the wine or wine sample with a white background behind it and in plenty of light. A sheet of paper or a white wall will work fine. Having a white background will help you to determine more clearly if the wine is experiencing a color change.
  1. Use A Second Sample As A Comparison
    Having a second test tube filled with the same wine sample will allow you to see more accurately if the wine is changing color or not by comparing the two. Only one test tube comes with the acid test kit, but we have additional glass test tubes you can order separately.
  1. Make Sure The Color Change Is Through The Entire Sample
    One common rooky-mistake when using the acid test kit is not waiting until the entire sample changes color. When you first add drops of the reagent you will get streaking. This is streaks of color changes that are noticeable in portions of the wine sample. This does not count as a color change. Agitate the sample until the streaking goes away. Then see if you can notice a color change in the entire wine sample.
  1. Heavily Colored Red Wines May Need To Be Diluted With Distilled Water
    Some wines are so darkly colored that you can’t tell if a color change has occurred or not when using the acid test kit. In these situations you will want to dilute the wine sample(s) with water. But not just any water. It needs to be distilled so that the alkalinity of the water does not affect your reading.
  1. Calculate The Acidity By The Amount Of Reagent Used, Not The Amount Left In The SyringeShop Refractometers
    This is a good one. Many times we have run across this error. The amount of acidity in the wine is calculated by how much reagent it took to change the wine’s color. This is measured by a graduated syringe. You slowly add regent to the wine sample until the color changes. Now you need to know how much reagent you used, but many first-timers will do their calculation based on the amount left in the syringe. Be sure you do your calculation based on the amount of reagent you used. Forget about what’s left in the syringe.
  1. Only Use The Acid Test Kit Either Before Fermentation Or Before Bottling
    This tip is pretty straight-forward. You do not want to test for acidity while there is CO2 from the fermentation still in the wine. Doing so will throw your reading off. The most convenient times for this is before the fermentation takes place, or before bottling the wine. It is important to de-gas the wine because some residual CO2 will stay saturated into the wine until it is persuaded to leave.

BONUS TIP!
Don’t Be Afraid To Test The Wine More Than Once

I have found that it is faster to do two tests than it is to do one. It can get pretty monotonous adding little drops of reagent to the wine and waiting for a color change. Yet, that’s what it takes to get an accurate acidity reading. It can take several minutes to get to the color change, and by then you might not even be paying that much attention.

So here’s what I do. I do a quick acid test, first. I put reagent in the sample fairly quickly and look for the color change. All I am trying to do with this first test is to find out ‘about‘ how much reagent it takes to get to the color change. Once I know the ‘about‘, I get a new wine sample and start all over again. I add reagent to just short of where I previously got my color change. Now I add a drop of reagent at a time, and wait for the color change.

There you have it: the 7+ tip on how to use an acid test kit for wine. They are basically some insight that I have learned the hard way of the years. Now you know them too!
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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.

Simple Style Guide: Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal StoutIn the world of stouts, Irish stouts are dry and milk stouts are sweet, but oatmeal stouts fall somewhere in the middle. The use of a small amount of oats in the grist give this roasty brew a smooth, somewhat creamy mouthfeel. This is, in essence, what you are looking for when making an oatmeal stout.

Topping Serious Eats’ list of Top 5 Oatmeal Stouts, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is a classic. Rich and luscious, flavors of toasted malt and chocolate combine with oats for a smooth finish. A similar beer is made by Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC, – an excellent oatmeal porter. Flaked oats give the beer a smooth, silky character. 5.9% ABV, 35 IBUs using American hops, Chinook, Willamette, and Cascade. These are two great examples to seek out when crafting your oatmeal stout recipe.

 

Brewing an Oatmeal Dry Stout

The key question when making an oatmeal stout is how to add the oats. Oats contribute a little extra body to the beer, but if overused can make the beer seem oily. 5-15% oats is ample for an oatmeal stout, but some grists may include up to 25% in the most extreme cases. As for the oats themselves, flaked oats will contribute the most fermentable sugar and can be added directly to the mash, while raw, steel-cut oats from the store must be cooked, boiled separately before being added to the mash. Some brewers even use a pack of oatmeal from the grocery store – just be sure to avoid those with flavorings – unless you’re going for a cinnamon oatmeal stout, of course!

 

Grain Bill and Fermentables

An oatmeal stout gets its dark color from specialty grains like chocolate malt and roasted barley. Roasted barley helps to impart the dry, bitter flavor of coffee that stouts are known for, but it must be used sparingly (a maximum of 5-7% of the grist). Reduce the roasted barley in favor of chocolate malt to avoid overly burnt or charcoal flavors.

To accentuate the oatmeal character, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer John recommend, “Toasting the oats in the oven at around 300°F (149°C) until they begin to slightly color up and give off a nutty oatmeal cookie character.”

These ingredients can be combined with a standard base malt or light malt extract to form of your grain bill. Your original gravity shouldn’t exceed about 1.065.Shop Dried Malt Extract

 

Hops

An oatmeal stout is an English creation, so English hops work best when making this beer style. Examples include Kent Goldings, Fuggles, and Target. Shoot for 25-40 IBUs. Hop aroma is low to none, so use restraint in the late hop additions.

 

Yeast

Oatmeal stouts typically have some mild fruity aromas, which are best delivered by the use of English ale yeast. Safale S-04 is a good dry yeast option. A number of liquid yeast strains will work as well. Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale Yeast is a fast-fermenting, high flocculating strain with relatively clean fermentation characteristics, especially at lower fermentation temperatures. Other strains, such as Wyeast 1318: London Ale III, will give a slight fruity character and may leave some residual sweetness. It’s generally recommended to rehydrate dry yeast, and if using liquid yeast, to prepare a yeast starter.

Now you’re ready to make your own oatmeal stout!

Do you have an excellent recipe for making oatmeal stout? Share it in the comments below. What kind of oats do you use, and for what percentage of the grain bill?

Sources: Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew (p. 168). Brewers Association.

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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.

Do Your SunCal Concentrates Make Sweet Wines?

SunCal Wine ConcentrateI was looking at your homemade wine kits and was wondering about using the SunCal concentrates to make a Chianti. I saw in the directions that for all the SunCal kits call for 6.5 pounds of sugar. Does this mean that these wine recipes are going to make a sweet wine? I have made wines in the past from buckets of juice and other wine making materials from a local supplier and never had to add sugar.

Barry H.
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Hello Barry,

This is a great question about an area of wine making that seems to cause a lot of confusion for some winemakers.

Alcohol is made when yeast consume sugar and turn it into alcohol. If the fermentation is successful there be no more than a residual amount of sugar left in the resulting wine – nothing that would make the wine sweet. All the sugar you add in the beginning is meant to be turned into alcohol leaving the wine dry.

With most homemade wine kits all the original sugars that the grapes provide are still in the concentrate. You are simply adding water to bring the concentrate back to a juice so that you can make wine with it. With the buckets of juice you got locally, all the original sugars were in them, as well, so no additional sugar was needed to achieve a reasonable alcohol level.

But in the case of SunCal Concentrates, not only is water taken out during the concentration process but some of the sugar is removed as well. This is why you need to add the 6-1/2 pounds of sugar. Without doing so you will not get enough alcohol from the fermentation.

Shop Grape ConcentrateBut what if you want a sweet wine, you say. This is something that is controlled after the fermentation has completed. It has nothing to do with the sugar added in the beginning; it as to do with the sugar added after the fermentation. If the fermentation goes as planned, you wine should always turn out dry.

If you want to sweeten your wine, the time to do it is right before you bottle. Just sweeten it to taste and then add a wine stabilizer (potassium sorbate) to eliminate any chance of re-fermentation, or you can use Wine Conditioner which has sweetener and wine stabilizer mixed together.

With this basic understanding of the role sugar plays in a wine you can make any of our wine recipes or homemade wine kits as sweet or as dry as you like. Make the wine the way you like!

Happy Wine Making,
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.

What Beer Should I Brew First?

Assortment Of Craft BeersAs a new homebrewer, choosing what beer you should brew first can be a daunting task. After all, there are so many different beer styles to choose from, how do you choose where to start?

Though there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to homebrewing, some of these guidelines may help you with selecting your first brew:

  • Start with a recipe kit. For your first batch, I recommend starting with a homebrew recipe kit, or at least a tried and true beer recipe. In homebrewing, the process is just as (if not more) important than the beer recipe, so maybe for the first homebrew beer let someone else handle the recipe formulation. The beer is more likely to turn out better, and you can focus on learning the process. Once you have the process down, you can start playing around with different ingredients.
  • Brew a beer you want to drink – every day. A batch of homebrew makes 45-50 bottles of beer. So with that in mind, choose a beer style that you drink a lot of. Many people enjoy pale ales as their go-to beer style. In that case, you might try a Sahara Nevada Recipe Kit. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to brew something more unusual, but that will only increase the odds of you having to pawn off five gallons of strange brew on your friends and co-workers. Save the chipotle smoked porter and chocolate stout for a little later in your brewing career. This might also eliminate high-gravity beers like barleywines and imperial stouts.
  • Ales are easier than lagers. Since lagers require temperature-controlled fermentation, it’s usually best to make your first home brew beer an ale. Ales include IPAs, porters, brown ales, and stouts. Once you build your own fermentation chamber, then you can go crazy with the lagers. (You can read more about the difference between ales and lagers on our blog.)shop_home_brew_starter_kit
  • Darker beers tend to be more forgiving. Many people recommend that beginners start with darker beer styles, as the roasted malts help round out a beer that’s rough around the edges. Consider brewing a brown ale, porter, or stout for your first batch of homebrew.

 

Some good options for your first batch:

  • Sahara Nevada Pale Ale – A clone of the ever popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.5% ABV).
  • Babbage Brown Porter – A dark beer that’s not too heavy (5.5% ABV)
  • Belgian Saison – If you like Belgian ales, this kit’s a great one to start with. Very bright, spicy, and aromatic (5.5% ABV)
  • English Brown Ale – A malty brown ale with a nutty, slightly fruity aroma (4.5% ABV).
  • Steam Stoker Stout – Dark brown, nearly black in color. Flavors of chocolate and coffee with a moderate hop character (6.5% ABV).

 

I hope this information helps you out when asking yourself, “what beer should I brew first?” It’s a decision to be made, for sure, but don’t let it stop you from getting started either. Jump right in, the water’s fine.

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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.

7 MORE Random Wine Making Facts…

Sharing Wine Making FactsA few weeks ago we posted the blog, “7 Random Wine Making Facts…”. It had such a great response we decided to put some more wine making facts into a post.

These are trivial little pieces of information that randomly shoot off into different areas of wine and winemaking. Some of them you may already know, but do you know them all?

  1. A single packet of wine yeast multiplies itself many times over during a fermentation. That little 5 gram packet of wine yeast you put into your fermentation will typically regenerate itself by 100 to 200 times. Most of the growth happens during the first 3 to 5 days of fermentation. This is what it takes to have a vigorous fermentation.
  1. All grape juice starts out clear. If you go out into the vineyard and lightly squeeze a wine grape of any color: red, blue, purple, black, green, yellow… you will get the same color grape juice, clear. Squeeze the same grape harder and roll it between your fingers, and you will notice that the juice coming from the grape is no longer clear. The color starts to release from the skin and join in with the grape juice. The color of the grape juice comes from the grape skin, not the grape juice itself.
  1. All wine contains vinegar. This wine making fact throws many for a loop, but no matter whose wine it is, who made it, or where you got or bought it, the wine has vinegar in it. This is because vinegar, also known as acetobacter, is a natural byproduct of a wine fermentation. The wine yeast actually produces low levels of vinegar while fermenting. Most wines have a level of vinegar on the order of .02% to .06%. Small indeed, but enough to contribute to the wine’s overall character in subtle ways.
  1. Here’s a handy piece of math that may interest you. Take your wine hydrometer and get the starting Specific Gravity (S.G) minus the ending Specific Gravity (before and after fermentation), and times it by 131. This equals the alcohol in the wine. As an example, let’s say your wine hydrometer reading at the beginning of fermentation is 1.100, and your ending hydrometer reading is 0.996. You take 1.100 minus 0.996. That equals 0.104. Times 0.104 by 131. That gives you an alcohol reading of 13.62%. Could be handy!
  1. Shop Wine Making KitsOne grape vine produces about a gallon of wine. This is a very general wine making fact, but gives you a good ballpark, rule-of-thumb to go by when thinking about planting some grape vines. Some variables that affect this amount are: the type of grapes planted, the climate, the soil, and how well you maintain the trellising and punning.
  1. Grape vines do not produce a full crop until their 4th year. This wine making fact relates to #5, above. When starting a vineyard, you need to plan ahead. The first two years will have no substantial harvest. During the third you will have enough grapes to do a test run of your wine making. It won’t be until your forth season that you will have a full-fledged, complete and usable harvest.
  1. You can freeze your wine making fruit. One problem with making garden fruit wine is getting enough of the fruit all at one time to make a complete batch. No worries. Just freeze the fruit until you do have enough. Freezing the fruit will help to break down its fiber. This makes it easier to extract the flavor into the wine.

There you have it, 7 ‘more’ random wine making facts. Can you think of anymore? We’d love to hear them and share them with other home winemakers. Just comment below and we’ll pass it along.
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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.

Why Didn’t I Start Reusing Yeast a Long Time Ago?

Yeast From Primary FermenterOne thing that has constantly surprised me about homebrewing is that once you peel back the mystery on a particular method or aspect of brewing, pretty much everything turns out to be pretty easy. Which is part of the reason it’s such a rewarding hobby.

My latest discovery is reusing homebrew yeast. I’ve known since I started homebrewing that people would reuse and even “wash” yeast cake, but after reading about it and watching videos, it seemed like a process, which was difficult and was prone to introducing infection.

In addition, when you have racked your fermenter into a bottling bucket or keg, let’s face it, the stuff that’s left over is pretty nasty.

Well, a few weeks ago, I realized I had quite a few partial bags of hop pellets leftover from previous brews, so I decided to make a “kitchen-sink” beer to use up as much of those as I could. As chance would have it, the ideal day for brewing that was the day after I was going to be bottling a different batch of beer in which had used US-05 yeast. So, I decided that as long as I wasn’t going to spend money on hops and this was a largely experimental beer, I might as well try reusing the yeast from the primary fermenter.

I had read about an experiment where the brewer had used a pint or so of the yeast slurry at the bottom of a primary fermenter, along with new homebrew yeast which had been made into a starter. He brewed a batch, and split it into two fermenters, pitching the different yeasts. To make a long story short, there wasn’t much noticeable difference in the finished beers.

Well, that was enough for me, so in this latest batch, I just grabbed a little over a pint of the yeast cake from the primary fermenter. I put it in a mason jar in the fridge over night. The next day I took it out of the fridge in the morning, and when ready to pitch, I decanted off the liquid on top and pitched the sludge into my experimental beer.

Shop Liquid Beer YeastThe reused homebrew yeast took off pretty fast, and within four hours, it was bubbling away in the airlock. A little faster starting, but otherwise really nothing different than usual. I will say I noticed a larger krausen ring than I normally see. I cleared with gelatin, bottled, and waited.

I’ve been drinking this batch for about a week now. It’s not a heavy beer, but was meant to be a lighter beer. Not hoppy, but very well balanced. Very enjoyable, and in fact, as much as I hate to admit, it’s a little better than the previous batch which is a beer I’ve brewed quite a few times.

I am very happy with my decision to reuse the homebrew yeast cake from the primary fermenter, and I would encourage everyone to give it a try.

 

Do you ever reuse homebrew yeast? Why or why not?
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John Torrance is a database developer, gadget lover, and avid home brewer living in Lafayette, Colorado. When he’s not actively brewing, he’s generally daydreaming about what he’s going to brew for his next batch.

Why Allowing Your Homemade Wines To Breathe Is Important…

Man Allowing Wine To BreatheI made my first wine and it came out great. I made a Cabernet Sauvignon from one of your homemade wine kits. I started it in January and aged it with oak chips for 6 month. Then bottled. It still tastes a little young. Something I do not understand is that it taste better after I let it sit out for a few hours. Why does it improve when left out?
Jason
—–
Hello Jason,

Thanks for the great question! I believe you have stumbled upon something that is, in large part, ignored by most home wine makers. What we are talking about is allowing the wine to breathe.

It is important to understand what is meant when we say breath in this context. We are not talking about taking breaths as a living thing would, but rather, we are talking about decanting the wine and allowing it to react to the air. The wine is being freed from the suffocating confines of a wine bottle and cork.

To let the wine breathe the bottle is normally poured into a carafe. The wine is simply allowed time to sit. But unlike the hours you mentioned, the wine only needs to be given maybe 10 or 15 minutes when using a carafe. If you are just popping the cork from the wine bottle the effect will take longer and not be quite as dramatic. Using a carafe significantly cuts down how long you need to let the wine breathe.

shop_wine_kitsWhen allowing a wine to breathe some chemistry takes place. First, fumes release from the wine. Any off, volatile gases that may have built up while in the wine bottle are given the time to release and dissipate. Also, the natural bouquet or aroma of the wine is also allowed time to develop and blossom.

The second process is the wine starts a subtle, oxidative exchange with the air. This reduces the harshness of the wine’s tannin structure. It rounds-off the rough edges of the wine’s flavor. This gives the wine a more mellow character.

Both of these processes can dramatically alter the character of the wine. The operative word here is “can”. Sometimes allowing a wine to breathe can cause just as much damage as it can help. In some cases, it may make no difference at all.

For example, older wines that have fully aged tend not to do to well when allowed to breathe. Their tannin structure is more fragile and more susceptible to collapsing. This will cause the wine to take on a flat or flabby character.

The better wine candidate is a younger, red wine. One with a lot of body and tannin, but has not yet had enough time to take fully advantage of aging. This brings us back to the Cabernet Sauvignon you made: a lot of tannic structure with layers of flavors waiting to be developed.

To sum up, allowing your wines to breathe is something I suggest you experiment with, but you don’t need to let your wine sit out all night. It’s not necessary. A half hour is the maximum amount of time I would recommend. And, don’t automatically allow all wines time to breath, only do so with fuller-bodied, red wines that can still use some aging.

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.

IPA Session Beer Recipe (All-Grain & Partial Mash)

Two men drinking a ipa session beer.“Session” beers are all the rage these days. Though super high-gravity beers have their place, beer drinkers seem to be trending back to beers that are easily drinkable – something you can enjoy a few pints of without necessarily getting a headache the next day. Such is the case with this IPA session beer recipe.

Homebrewing geeks may be familiar with the beer writer Ron Pattinson and his blog, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron dives deep into brewing history, going to great lengths to dig up old beer recipes and statistics on how beer was actually made many decades ago. Believe it or not, historical beer recipes didn’t always fit very snuggly into the BJCP Style Guidelines.

This was certainly the case when looking at beer recipes from during WWI and WWII. Such was a time when barley was rationed and brewing ingredients came at a premium. This certainly affected the brewing industry in the UK, where English barley malt was supplemented with imported malts and adjuncts like corn and sugar.

Today’s IPA session beer recipe is modeled after a beer from the Whitbread Brewery of London (Incidentally, Whitbread yeast is derived from that brewery. Safale S-04 is the dry yeast version). The beer has a much lower gravity than what we would normally consider for an IPA, with an ABV of just 4.7%. Still, it’s a bitter beer at 75 IBUs. The use of about 20% simple sugar should make this beer pretty dry on the finish.

Curious what kind of beer people were drinking nearly 100 years ago? Give this recipe a try!

Whitbread 1917 IPA Recipe
(5-gallon recipe, all-grain, via Shut Up About Barclay Perkins)

Specs 
OG: 1.047
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.7%
IBUs: 75
SRM: 6.2

Ingredients 
Shop Steam Freak Kits4.8 lbs. English pale malt
2 lbs. American six-row malt
1.78 lbs. light brown sugar
2.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :90 (12.75 AAUs)
1.25 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :20 (6.375 AAUs)
Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale Yeast or Safale S-04

All-Grain Directions: 
Mash the crushed grains in about 1.5 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water for two hours. Lauter and sparge, collecting about 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. Bring to a boil and boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Mix in the brown sugar at the end of the boil. Chill wort to fermentation temperature and ferment at 70˚F until complete. Bottle or keg and enjoy!

Partial-Mash Directions: Replace the English pale malt with 3.1 lbs. light dry malt extract. Mash the crushed six-row malt in 2 qts. of water, then sparge. Add enough water to make a 3-gallon boil and mix in the malt extract. Bring to a boil. Increase the 90-minute hop addition to 3.5 oz. and the 20-minute hop addition to 1.5 oz. Continue with the recipe above.

Do you have a IPA session beer recipe you’d like to share? Just post it in the comments section below.

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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.