10 Homebrew Beer Recipe Kits To Get You Through The Summer!

Beer Recipe KitAs the weather gets warmer, many homebrewers turn towards beers that are relatively light and refreshing – Russian Imperial Stouts are a bit heavy this time of year. Here are ten suggestions from our catalog of beer recipe kits that are perfect for warm weather homebrewing. Each recipe kit comes with all of the ingredients you need for a five gallon batch: fermentables, hops, yeast – even bottle caps!

(Remember – order any two or more beer recipe kits and save 10% on each one! Plus, as always, get free shipping on orders over $50!)


American Ales

  • American Amber – Ambers tend to be a little sweeter than pale ales, but still have a decent amount of hops. This beer kit uses all amber malt extract plus a pound of Caramel 80°L malt for added color and flavor. Expect a well balanced beer at about 40 IBUs and 5% ABV.
  • American Light – Need a “lawnmower beer” for post-yard work refreshment? A bit of corn sugar and rice syrup lighten the body on this one. For an even smoother beer, try lagering it by doing a secondary fermentation at colder temps than usual (40°-50°F). IBUs 13-16, ABV 4-4.5%
  • Pacific NW Pale Ale – A “West Coast” style pale ale that uses Centennial hops for bittering, and Cascade for flavor and aroma – the classic combination for American Pale Ales.
  • Double IPA – Out of these 10 beer recipe kits this is the one for the hop heads! Despite its high gravity (OG: approx. 1.070), this is a very straightforward beer recipe that’s easy to brew. With and IBU approaching 100 and alcohol approaching 7%, you’ll want to savor every sip!
  • Rye Pale Ale – A unique combination of specialty grains will make this a fun one. This is a pale ale with a twist — flaked rye lends a spicy character, balanced by honey malt, Munich malt, and hops. Practice both partial mash and dry hopping!Shop Home Brew Starter Kit


German Ales

  • Kölsch – A Kölsch is an ale from Cologne, Germany. It’s very light in color and moderately hopped, making it comparable to a Pilsener. 25-28 IBUs, about 4.5% ABV
  • Weizenbier – A Weizen is a Bavarian style wheat beer featuring banana/clove character from the yeast and low hops bitterness. I’d recommend upgrading to the Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast from Wyeast. It’s the same strain of yeast used by the Weihenstephan brewery in Germany, where they’ve been making beer for nearly a thousand years!



These lager beer recipe kits will require more control over fermentation temperature than the ales. Fermentation should take place around 40° or 50°F, which for most people means a dedicated beer fridge. Also keep in mind that fermentation usually takes longer for lagers.

  • Munich Helles – “Helles” means “light” in German. This Munich lager is just a little lighter in color and a touch lower in IBUs than the Vienna Lager above.Shop Malt Extract Kits
  • German Pilsner – If you’re looking for something with a little body and still crisp you might take a look at this beer recipe kit. German Pilsners are known for their brilliant golden color and assertive bitterness that is accentuated by its dry finish.


You’ve got some choices ahead of you…what will you brew this summer? If these 10 don’t excite you then take a look at the other 70 or so beer recipe kits we offer!
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.

Using Wine Cork vs Screw Cap: What’s The Difference?

Wine Cork And Screw CapHere’s a great question from one of our customers about using wine cork vs screw cap wine bottles. I thought this would be great to share!
I live very close to a winery and use their used wine bottles for bottling my homemade wines. Sometimes they use cork wine bottles and screw cap wine bottles for the same wine. Do you know why this would be?

Name: William B.
State: Virginia
Hello William,

Thank you for such a great wine making question. I’ll see what I can do to clear up why you would see a winery use both wine cork and screw cap, and more specifically, why a winery would use both on the same batch of wine!

Here’s the basic pros and cons of using one over the other.

Using screw cap wine bottles will extend the life of a wine. The screw caps make a perfect seal, not allowing any air to seep into the wine. This perfect seal extends the wine’s shelf-life. You could have a screw cap wine be fantastic for 7 or 8 years that otherwise would have only been at its best for 4 or 5 years under cork.

But this “perfect seal” also extends the amount of time the wine needs to mature into a drinkable or – in the case of a winery – salable wine. In fact, it could take up to twice as long for the wine’s maturation process to plateau. This means more inventory sitting in the racks that can’t be sold.

On the other hand, wine corks facilitate the aging process a little more freely. A natural cork allows minuscule amounts of air to pass by it. Over time, this trace amount of air will facilitate the wine’s ability to age and become more drinkable sooner. The downside is that the entire life of the wine will be shortened. So while it will be ready for market sooner it will not last as long on the shelf.

Shop Wine BottlesIt is possible that the winery corked some of their wine to sell earlier and used screw caps on some to sell later. In effect, this would time out the aging of the wine so that there would be more wine reaching peak maturity over a longer period of time. However, this is only speculation on my part.

There used to be great debates over the use of screw caps. Whenever someone saw a wine under a screw cap they automatically thought: cheap or low-grade wine. That’s absolutely not the case today. Whether a winery uses wine cork vs screw cap is a matter of wine treatment, a calculation of sorts that has nothing to do the the aesthetics and everything to do with maximizing the quality of the wine.

In general, you will discover that lighter-colored wines with less body, such as a Zinfandel Blush or a Chablis are more likely to be under screw cap. This is not because the wines are of low quality, but rather, because the wines are anticipated to fully maturate more quickly than most and do not need the air seepage the natural wine corks provide. They need the air-tight, screw cap wine bottles to slow the process down.

This principal of controlling how a wine ages can be incorporated into home winemaking as well.

Whenever you are ready to bottle a wine, first think about how long the wine could potentially be shelved before it is all consumed: 1 year, 3 years, 3 months! Think about the color of the wine. Is it a white wine that is at risk of oxidation? Are the grapes used to produce the wine known for producing complex, rich wines that can take advantage of abundant aging, or are the grapes known for being crisp, fresh and quickly aging?

Shop Wine CorksWhen you consider such factors you can start to come up with your own plan and know how to handle the question of wine cork vs screw cap. If your wine’s do not sit around long, go with the wine corks so they can get some aging in. If your batches of wines tend to sit around for years before being consumed go with screw cap and so on with other considerations.

William, I hope this answers the question you had about wine cork vs screw cap. As you can see, there is definitely a reason for using one over the other.

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.

An Intro to the Infusion Mashing Process

Homebrewer Using Infusion Mashing ProcessAs many of you know, using the infusion mashing process is just one of the ways that grains can be used to make wort (which is then turned into beer by yeast). In this article, we will go over the basics of the infusion mashing process, followed by step-by-step instructions for a single infusion mash.


The Science of Infusion Mashing

For the starches in malted grain to be converted into fermentable sugar, they must be mixed with water and held under certain conditions. This process is called saccharification.

Four main variables affect how much of the available starches are converted during the infusion mashing process: time, pH, temperature, and mash thickness. The ideal values for each of these variables are as follows*:

Time: 30-60 minutes
pH (acidity): 5.4
Temperature: 149°F. (65C)
Thickness: 1.5 qts. water/lb. grain

In theory, it should only take about 30 minutes for saccharification to complete, but many brewers employ a 60-minute mash just to be safe. Conversion will take place at a pH between about 5 and 7, but 5.4 is the ideal target. Finally, conversion will happen at temperatures ranging from about 148°F. to 158°F., but if there isn’t enough heat the starches won’t convert. If there’s too much heat, the enzymes that are responsible for conversion will become less active and possibly denatured.

Further, brewers can raise or lower mash temperatures within a given range to control the amount of fermentable sugars in the wort. A mash around 148°-150°F. will create a more fermentable wort and result in a drier beer. A mash around 154°-158°F. will create a less fermentable wort. This will result in a higher proportion of unfermentable sugars in the wort, meaning a sweeter beer with a heavier mouthfeel and body.Shop All Grain System


Single vs. Step Infusion Mashing

Grains that have been “well-modified” (i.e. malted to maximize their conversion potential) usually just require a one step mash, which we call a single infusion mash. Grains that are less modified may require additional processing in the mash tun.

If brewing with a high proportion of less modified malt, the brewer may choose to add an additional step in the infusion mashing process. Before the saccharification step, they may want to do a “protein rest”. This simply means mashing the grains at a lower temperature (~122°F.) to help proteins break down and makes starches more accessible, then raising the mash temperature for the saccharification rest (~149°F.). Because modern malting practice has made most malt well modified, a single step infusion mash is usually sufficient.


Instructions for the Single Infusion Mashing Process

  1. Crush malted grains.Shop Barley Crusher
  2. Fill mash tun with 1.5 qts. of clean water at 165°F. for every pound of grain.
  3. Mix crushed grains with the water and stir.
  4. Hold mash temperature between 148°F. and 158°F. If too low, add hot water, if too high, add cold water.
  5. Check pH using a digital pH meter or pH test strips.
  6. If above 5.5 add ¼ teaspoon of gypsum and stir. If below 5.0, add ¼ teaspoon of calcium carbonate and stir.
  7. Hold mash for 60 minutes.
  8. Raise temperature to 170°F. and slowly begin to draw off wort into brew kettle. If needed, recirculate wort through the mash until it comes out clear.


When it comes down to it, the single infusion mashing process is very simple. It’s something that anyone can do if they have a mind to. Are you ready to give it a try?
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.

*Source: Institute of Brewing and Distilling

How To Stop A Wine Fermentation

Fermentation That Has StoppedI have several 2 1/2 gallon jugs of wine going at this time started in February. The problem is – I am satisfied with the taste and the alcohol content however they won’t stop working. It seems like in the past, when I have allowed the wine to stop fermenting on its own, the taste changes? I have read that potassium sorbate does not completely kill off the yeast? What can I do to stop the ferment at this time and how much alcohol (brandy?) would I have to add to stop the ferment. Thanks.

Name: Skip K.
State: MN
Hello Skip,

The first thing I’d like to point out is that stopping a wine fermentation is not normal. What is normal is letting the wine fermentation continue until all the sugars in the wine must have been consumed by the wine yeast. If you prefer your homemade wines sweet, you would add sugar to taste at bottling time, and then add potassium sorbate to eliminate a chance of re-fermentation in the wine bottle.

What also is not normal is having a wine fermentation continue on for months. A typical wine fermentation will last anywhere from 5 days to two weeks. The fact that yours has lasted for months tells me that there is something fundamentally wrong.

I would suggest taking a look at the Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure that is listed on our website. It runs through the most common reasons for a wine fermentation to either fail to start or to drag out, such as the case with yours. See if any of the top 10 reasons ring true to your situation. Now on to your question…


What can I do to stop a wine fermentation?
Well, what you can’t do is use either sulfites such as Campden tablets or use stabilizers such as potassium sorbate. Neither of these will stop a wine fermentation with any dependable success. Here’s why:


  • Sulfites (Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite):Shop Potassium Metabisulfite
    Wine yeast are bred in such a way as to be acclimated to sulfites. They can withstand the levels that are typically present after a dose has been added to a wine. It is true that if a wine fermentation is on the verge of stopping anyway – for whatever reason – that a dose of sulfite can hasten its ending, but not with any predictable consistency. If a dose of sulfite is added to a fully active wine fermentation, you may see it slow down, maybe even to a crawl, but it would then eventually recover and go on to completion, but usually at a annoyingly slower pace than before. What happens is the sulfite will kill a portion of the yeast cells, stunting the fermentation activity, but then the wine yeast would slowly begin to recolonize and continue on with the task at hand.
  • Potassium Sorbate:
    Shop Potassium SorbateAdding potassium sorbate to a wine fermentation will not hinder it in any way. What it will do is stop a wine yeast colony from regenerating itself. The potassium sorbate puts a coating on the yeast cells that make it incapable of reproducing itself. In other words, it makes the wine yeast sterile. This makes potassium sorbate an effective ingredient to add to a wine that is already clear but may have some trace amounts of wine yeast still in it. If you sweeten that wine before bottling, the potassium sorbate will eliminate any chance of these few yeast cells from growing into large enough numbers to create a fermentation within the wine bottles.

As you suggested, you could add alcohol to the wine to stop the wine fermentation. This is known as fortifying the wine. But you would need to get the alcohol level up to about 20% for this purpose. Brandy is typically used for this purpose. It should be noted that this will dramatically change the wine’s flavor. The wine will seem less fruity as the alcohol level rises.


If you absolutely, positively, without question, must stop a wine fermentation in midstream, here’s how a winery would do it:


  1. Chill Down The Fermenting Wine:
    The cooler the better, but 50°F. is sufficient. This will stop the wine fermentation, and the wine yeast will slowly begin to settle to the bottom. You may also want to add bentonite while chilling the wine to help the wine yeast clear out faster and more thoroughly.
  1. Rack The Wine Off The Sediment:
    Give the wine plenty of time to clear up before racking it. Technically, it is possible to rack the wine in as soon as 5 days, but it is much better to wait a couple of weeks. You could get extra solids precipitating out of the wine during this extra time such as acid crystals. That would be a good thing.
  1. Filter The Wine:Shop Mini Jet Wine Filter
    When I say filter the wine, I do not mean to drip it through some cheese cloth or a coffee filter or something along this line. You need to be able to put it through an actual wine filter that will filter fine enough to remove any leftover yeast cells. This means filtering down to .5 microns in size. A coffee filter only filters down to about 20 to 25 microns. A .5 micron filter pad will remove over 99.9% of the wine yeast in a wine and is considered sterile. Depending on how much tannin is in the wine, you may need to put the wine through a more coarse filter pad first. I always filter through a 1 micron filter pad before attempting to run the wine through a .5 micron filter pad. This eliminates the chance of the filter pad being clogging up with wine solids.


So there you have it: how to stop a wine fermentation. My personal opinion is that the effort is not worth it from an individual winemaker’s perspective. It is much less work to let the wine fermentation complete on its own, then deal with adjusting the sweetness to your liking.

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.

Creating A Summer Ale Homebrew Recipe

Homebrewed Summer AleA summer ale is just that: a perfect ale to add to your summer brewing repertoire. That’s why I thought, now, would be a good time to put together a summer ale homebrew recipe.

Based on English ales, summer ales are light in color, not too heavy or alcoholic, and moderate in the hop department. Because it’s a well-balanced style, the summer ale still lets the drinker get a good sense of the malt character. And, because Summer ales are so well balanced, they are a great beer to brew as a SMaSH ale.

What is a SMaSH ale you say? I’m glad you asked.

SMaSH stands for Single-Malt and Single-Hop. Pick a malt, pick a hop, and brew! It’s a great way to learn about the characteristics of a particular ingredient, without a lot of background noise. You may also try brewing a single malt base beer, then choose several different hops or different beer yeasts for each one. Maybe you heard about the Single Hop series by Mikkeller? That’s exactly what we’re doing here.

According the BJCP, summer ales are part of the Blonde Ale (6B) category. Therefore, we should aim for these guidelines when creating a summer ale homebrew recipe:

  • OG: 1.038 – 1.054
  • IBUs: 15 – 28
  • FG: 1.008 – 1.013
  • SRM: 3 – 6
  • ABV: 3.8 – 5.5%


So here’s how we can build the recipe.

  1. Pick a malt. Now, we can’t just pick any malt. It has to be a good base malt, something with diastatic power, or the ability to break down starches in the malt. Two-row malt, Avangard ale malt, and Vienna malt are all good options. Anything that has been too highly kilned, like caramel malt, won’t contain enough enzymes for a successful mash. If brewing with extract malt, try a Alexander’s, Steam Freak, or Munton’s, all high quality liquid malt extracts.shop_liquid_malt_extract
  1. Pick a hop. For a summer ale recipe, I recommend Fuggles, Willamette, or Hallertau. The low alpha acids will ensure that the bitterness in the summer ale isn’t too overpowering. On the other hand, it’s your brew, so pick whatever hop you want!
  1. Pick a beer yeast. In this context, an English ale yeast would be most appropriate. Good dry yeasts include Safale-S04, Nottingham, Windsor, and Munton’s. There are a lot of choices in the liquid yeast department: Wyeast 1318 London Ale III, 1968 London ESB, 1098 British Ale are all good options. Remember, we’re experimenting here, so you pick one for this batch, then pick another for your next batch and then compare the results.
  1. Brew!


Here’s the recipe I came up with:

SMaSH Summer Ale Homebrew Recipe
(5 Gallons)

Malt: 9 lbs. of Avangard Ale Malt
Hops: 3 oz. of Fuggles, one each at :60, :15, and :5Shop Steam Freak Kits
Yeast: Safale S-04

Est. OG: 1.050
Est. ABV: 4.8%
Est. IBUs: 25


Have you tried any SMaSH brews? How did it go? Do you have a summer ale homebrew recipe you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments below.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He is a graduate of the Oskar Blues Brew School in Brevard, NC and founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Can You Add More Yeast To Wine?

Wanting To Add More Yeast To This WineAfter the wine is done fermenting and it sits for a few days can I add more yeast and sugar to increase the alcohol level?

Name: Dennis
State: Missouri
Hello Dennis,

Once your wine has successfully fermented there is never any reason to add more yeast to the wine. The wine yeast you originally added at the beginning multiplies during the fermentation. If the fermentation went as it should, there should be about 100 to 150 times the amount of wine yeast you added, originally.

If the activity has stopped it does not mean that the yeast are dead. They have just gone dormant and are settling to the bottom. They ran out of sugar to consume, so they became inactive. When more sugar is added the yeast should pick up just fine on their own. There is absolutely no reason to add more yeast to the wine.

If you have racked the wine off the sediment this is still okay. There will still be plenty of wine yeast to get the fermentation up and running, again. Adding more yeast is not necessary.

Now that we have established that there is no reason to add more yeast to the wine, I would like to bring up a little twist that could put a wrench in the works.

There is a limit to how high of an alcohol level a wine yeast can produce. Most strains of wine yeast can make it up to 12% or 13% just fine. Some strains can even produce up to 16%, faithfully. But each strain of yeast does have its limits.

Shop Wine YeastThe point here being, is if you add more sugar than your wine yeast can handle, you could end up with a sweet wine – even one that is disgustingly sweet. It is important to understand this when making high alcohol wines.

So in summary, you can add more sugar to the wine to increase the alcohol level of the wine to a point, and to answer your specific question: Can you add more yeast to wine? There is absolutely no reason to do so, your wine will still have plenty of yeast in it.

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.

Choosing And Using A Homebrew Airlock

Homebrew Airlock Close UpAs homebrewers, we spend lots of time cleaning and sanitizing our home brewing equipment to make sure nothing will ruin our beer. I often joke that our job is essentially that of a glorified janitor.

But for all the effort we put into caring for our beer and the items it touches, it’s important to never overlook the small details that can ensure a well-made beer. Among the finishing touches of our brew days, as we push, pull or gently place our carboys and buckets into a resting spot for fermentation, is popping in that airlock.

It may seem trivial, but how we care for our beer’s ability to “breathe” during its fermentation can be the difference between beer in our glass or down the drain. That is essentially what an airlock does. For that reason here’s some info on choosing the right type of homebrew airlock and using a homebrew airlock.


Choosing the Right Home Brewing Airlock

Whether at your local store or online, you’ve probably noticed the array of airlocks available for brewing. Here at E.C. Kraus, there are six home brewing airlocks to choose from! They all perform the same essential job – acting as a barrier between the air and your beer – but they can also serve different purposes. Just make sure you’re filling your home brewing airlock up with sanitized water or a strong alcohol like vodka to act as a barrier against airborne nasties.

A three-piece airlock can be ideal because it’s easy to clean. Disassembling this type of airlock means rinsing or hand washing is simple. It’s also ideal for primary fermentation because if you’ve got an overly active brew during the first few days and some wort “overflows” into the airlock, you won’t have to worry about buying a new one. Different versions of these brewing airlocks are useful for batches all the way up to 50 gallons.

The s-shape airlock or triple ripple airlock can’t be taken apart to be cleaned, but are still handy for small batches during primary fermentation and are ideal for secondary fermentation because of the decreased risk of heavy fermentation. Both these types of airlocks are also great for tracking slow-moving fermentations, so as your beer nears its final gravity, you’ll have an easy time following the escaping CO2 so you know when to pull a sample to see if your beer is done. For this reason I have both types of brewing airlocks on hand.Shop Airlocks


Protecting Your New Beer

One extra precaution I like to take after filling up my carboy with fresh wort is using a blow off tube for the first few days before using a homebrew airlock. It gives me peace of mind know that there’s very little risk of a strong fermentation causing an airlock to fly off the top of my carboy.

I sanitize my blow off tube just as I would any other airlock and after placing one end in the carboy, put the other end in a container of sanitized water. After the most active first few days of fermentation, I’ll take off the blow off tube and pop on an s-shape airlock until I move my beer to a secondary carboy.


Troubleshooting with Airlocks

One important step to remember when making homebrew is to cool your wort to its specified temperature after boiling. For lagers, that may initially be around 60° F. and around 70° F. for ales. If you don’t get the wort down to its correct temperature and slap a home brew airlock on your carboy, the difference between CO2 trying to escape, volume of liquid and temperature will create a pressure difference and cause reverse suction – meaning the carboy will start sucking liquid from your airlock into the wort.

Always make sure to cool your wort to its suggested temperature. This is one little tip on how to use an airlock that I learned the hard way.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

Another common issue when using a homebrew airlock is having an airlock or bung fall into a carboy. If this happens, don’t worry. As long things are sanitized correctly, your beer will end up just fine nearly every time. It’s one of those “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” moments which Charlie Papazian’s quote helps us get through.

If properly sanitized, just leave the airlock and/or bung in the carboy and fish it out after you’ve racked your homebrew out of the vessel.

This is the basics of choosing an airlock and the “how-to’s” of using a homebrew airlock. As you can see it’s fairly straight forward. There are different home brewing airlocks to use for different reasons, and keeping them sanitized is a must.
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 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.

The Straight-Talk On Acid Testing Wine

acid testing wineThis will be my 3rd season of making wine. I have had some that were excellent and some that weren’t. I have not done anything with acid testing wine. I believe if I do I will have more consistency. Can u explain in more detail the timing and amounts of acid testing. I have purchased the pH test strips to start with. I have read previous blogs and that has not given me enough info.

Name: Jon
State: Wisconsin
Hello Jon,

You will want to use the pH test strips to verify that the wine must is in the right range before starting the fermentation. When acid testing wine at this time you should expect a reading of 3.2. to 4.0 on the pH scale. If you are following a wine recipe this will normally be the case. A proper acid pH range is important for having a sound fermentation and to protect the wine from the growth of unwanted microbes.

If your wine is not in this pH range then you should make adjustments: either add water to lower the acidity or Acid Blend to raise the acidity. Remember: the pH scale work backwards – the lower the number the higher the acid. If your acid level is extremely high you may want to use more drastic measure such as adding Acid Reducing Crystals in the fermentation instead of dilution with water, but it would be unusual to have to go that far.

You should also acid testing the wine, again, before bottling. The acidity level will almost always change slightly during a fermentation, so expect a different pH reading than from before. From a taste perspective you would like the wine to be somewhere around 3.6, but the optimal reading can be different for each wine depending on the character of the wine.Shop pH Testing Strips

Before making any adjustments such as adding more Acid Blend, etc., taste the wine and make an evaluation yourself. Acidity has to do with the tartness of the wine as well as its stability. Is the wine too tart or too flat – regardless of what the pH strips say? The whole goal is to get it the way you like it.

You may also want to consider using a Acid Titration Kit at this stage for acid testing wine. It is easy to use and is quite helpful to take a titration reading at bottling time. A titration reads the actual strength of the acid in the wine, not the amount of acid like the pH test strips. The amount and strength of the acids do not directly correlated because some acids are stronger than others, and any wine has a mixture of acids varies from one wine to the next.

So, A titration reading relates to taste, whereas pH is more related to how many acid molecules there are in a sample of the wine. Different acids have different strengths or tartness, so you could have two wine’s with the same pH but with different perceived level of tartness. You can read more about the relation of these two readings in, In Plain English: The Difference Between pH And Titratable Acidity In Wine.Shop Acid Test Kit

I would also suggest taking a look at an article on our website titled, Getting A Handle On Wine Acidity. It goes into more detail on acid testing wine and how to actually control the acidity

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.

Why Is My Beer Not Carbonating?

Pouring Flat Homebrewed BeerI made a batch of Mexican beer that I primed with 1 tsp. per 16 oz. bottle. After 45 days, but the beer is flat. The taste is OK, but no bubbles. Can I reprime it? Why is my beer not carbonating?

Name: Bruce
State: Montana
Hi Bruce,

As you probably know, beer carbonates in the beer bottle when the yeast in the beer is given an extra dose of sugar (known as priming sugar). The yeast then converts the sugar into CO2. Since the beer bottle is sealed, the CO2 has nowhere to go besides into solution, thus carbonating your beer. This is called bottle conditioning.

If your homebrew beer is flat, it likely means one of three things:

  1. The beer yeast is not consuming the priming sugar due to lack of time or cold temperature,
  2. The beer yeast does not have enough sugar to convert into CO2, or
  3. The beer bottles are not thoroughly sealed.

If you used 1 tsp. of corn sugar per bottle, that should be sufficient. However, if you primed with dried malt extract, this may not be enough to produce the desired carbonation level.

Either way, before you re-prime the flat beer bottles, I would recommend troubleshooting this flat beer in the following order.

  • First, ensure that your flat beer bottles have been sitting in a room with a steady temperature of 70°-75°F. Temperatures lower than this could cause the beer to carbonate very slowly or not at all. Keep in mind that certain closets and storage areas may not be as warm as the rest of the house. If you suspect that the beer bottles were in a cooler storage room, move them somewhere warmer and wait another two-three weeks. By the way, when someone ask: “why is my beer not carbonating?” this is by far the most likely the solution to the problem.Shop Bottle Cappers
  • Second, check that all of the bottles of flat beer have been capped securely. If there’s any kind of leak, the CO2 pressure may be escaping. This could be happening if you’re using twist-off beer bottles instead of pop-off beer bottles. Maybe it was just the first bottle you opened that didn’t have a good seal?

If the first two actions didn’t fix the problem, then you can re-prime the bottles of flat beer. I would only do this if you are certain that the bottles have had at least six to eight weeks of conditioning time in a room at 70°-75°F.

Consider this carefully – if you add too much sugar to the bottles, you run the risk of bottle bombs. Keep in mind that beer bottles primed with honey or DME may require more time than bottles primed with corn sugar.

Here’s how to re-prime beer if you decide to do so: open each bottle and add half as much priming sugar as you did the first time and reseal with sanitized bottle caps. Move the bottles to a safe location where they won’t make a mess or hurt someone if they explode.

Shop Beer BottlesChances are high that all you need to do is give your bottles adequate time at the appropriate temperature. For more ideas about carbonating your homebrew, consider this blog post.

So, if your homebrew beer is flat can you re-prime? Yes. Should you? Maybe, but not likely. Remember re-priming a flat beer is a last resort. Troubleshooting flat beer can be tricky. Just remember, it is only after you have tried to keep the flat beer at a reasonable temperature first, that’s how to re-prime beer.

Thanks again for your question and good luck!
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.

The Virtues Of Adding More Fruit To A Wine Recipe

Bowl Of Wine Making FruitYour blueberry wine recipe on your website states you need 13lbs of blueberries for making 5 gals. Will adding more fruit to this wine recipe add more color and flavor to the finished wine?

Gary C.

Yes, adding more fruit to any wine recipe is going to intensify the flavor and add more color. But, before you take this bit of information and go running with it, here are some considerations that you may want to think over first.


Do You Really Want More Flavor?

Almost all of the wine recipes on our website are shooting for a pleasant, medium-bodied wine. If you follow the amounts called for and follow the homemade wine instructions, you will end up with a wine that everyone can enjoy, wine drinkers and non-wine drinkers alike – a wine perfect for passing out as personal wine making gifts at parties, family gatherings, etc.

If you over-do the intensifying of the flavor by adding more fruit, it has been my experience that non-wine drinkers will not be as appreciative of what you’ve made. The flavors that will come forward will be very foreign and challenging for non-drinkers to like.


What About The Fruit Acid?

When you add more fruit to a wine recipe, you are obviously adding more fruit acid as well. A wine’s acidity needs to be in a certain range to have any chance of tasting right. By adding more fruit to a wine recipe, you are potentially taking the wine out of this range. This could lead to your wine tasting either too sharp or tart.

Fortunately, you can overcome this by reducing one of the other wine making products called for in the recipe, Acid Blend. This is a blend of the acids that are naturally found in fruit. In the case of the blueberry wine recipe, it calls for 2 tablespoons of Acid Blend. When adding more blueberries you would reduce this amount to compensate.Shop Acid Test Kit

Now comes the question, “By how much does the Acid Blend need to be reduced?” This can only be answered with the aid of an Acid Testing Kit. Once all other ingredients – besides the Acid Blend – have been added to the wine must, you would use the Acid Testing Kit to determine how much Acid Blend, if any, is actually needed for the wine to taste in balance – not too sharp, or not too flat. Our acid testing kit comes with directions that will tell you how to get the wine acidity into the right range.


The Alcohol Level Needs To Kept In Balance.

In general, the fuller the flavor of a wine, the higher the alcohol level must be to keep it in balance. Wines that do not have enough alcohol as compared to their flavor intensity, will taste harsher. The astringent characters of the wine will be highlighted in the wine’s final flavor profile.

To help put this into better perspective, lighter white wines tend to be around 10% alcohol, while the heaviest of reds tend to be around 14%. The particular blueberry wine recipe you are considering is shooting for around 11.5% to 12%, that is, if you follow the homemade wine instructions.

This alcohol level is based on both the amount of sugar and fruit called for in the wine recipe. Both of these ingredients are wine making materials that provide food for the wine yeast to turn into alcohol.

If you decide to add more fruit to your wine recipe, then you should probably shoot for more alcohol. Not necessarily 14%, but maybe somewhere around 12.5% or 13%. There is no exact amount that is correct. This is where art, finesse and experience come into play.

To control the finished alcohol level of a wine, you need to control the beginning sugar level. This is done with the “potential alcohol” scale on the wine hydrometer. Once the crushed fruit and water are mixed together, instead of adding 11 pounds of sugar as directed by the wine recipe on our website, just keep dissolving sugar into the wine must until the potential alcohol scale on the wine hydrometer reads 13%.Shop Hydrometers


More Flavor Means More Aging.

Another consideration that must be thought through before increasing the amount of fruit is the amount of aging that will be required before the wine is considered mature and ready for consumption.

Here again, the more fruit you add to a wine recipe, the more aging the wine will need before it comes into its own. With the original 13 pounds of blueberries, maximum aging would be around 6 to 9 months. With 20 pounds it may take as long as 12 to 18 months before the improvement brought by aging is fully realized.

This does not mean that you can not drink the wine before this; it just means that you can expect the wine to continue improving with even more time. Again, neither I nor wine making books can tell you when the wine has reached full maturation, this is for you to learn how to determine on your own as you sample the wine through out the aging process.


As You May Begin To See…

There are a lot of factors that go into putting together a solid wine recipe: picking out the various wine making products; determining their amounts, etc.

Shop Wine Making KitsAll the wine recipes we offer on our website have been bench tested and used many, many times. While you can alter them as you like, realize that any changes you make to any one ingredient, usually means that you will need to change another ingredient to keep things in line.

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.