Hennepin Clone by Brewery Ommegang

Hennepin BeerAmong the best Belgian-style brewers in America, Brewery Ommegang stands out as one of the first breweries of the modern craft beer movement to specialize in brewing Belgian beer. Founded in 1997 in Cooperstown, NY, it produces such amazing beers as Rare Vos and Three Philosophers, as well as a series of beers inspired by the hit HBO show Game of Thrones.

Named for the first European to “discover” Niagara Falls, Hennepin is a farmhouse saison, bright gold, dry, and spicy, with an alcohol content of 7.7% ABV. It uses Belgian candi sugar to increase the alcohol content while maintaining a dry finish, and exotic spices like ginger and orange peel to create a complexity that might cause one to compare it to a dry, floral, white wine.

If this sounds like something you’d like to brew, read on for a recipe!

 

Hennepin Clone Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch, extract)

OG: 1.070
FG: 1.008
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 24

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Muntons light malt extract syrup (use two 3.3 lb. cans)
0.5 lb. light malt extract powder
2 lbs. light candi sugar (use two 16 oz. packages)
1.25 oz. Styrian Gold hops at :60
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
1 oz. dried ginger root at :15
1 oz. bitter orange peel at :15Shop Beer Flavorings
0.5 oz Saaz hops at :2
Wyeast 1762: Belgian Abbey ale yeast or Mangrove Jack’s Belgian ale yeast
0.75 cups priming sugar

 

Directions

Dissolve the malt extract and candi sugar in three gallons of hot (not boiling) water. Bring to a boil, then add the Styrian Gold hops and Irish moss. Boil for 45 minutes, then add the ginger root and orange peel. Boil for 15 more minutes, adding the Saaz hops during the last two minutes of the boil.

Cool wort to 80˚F or below and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Add enough clean, filtered water to make 5.5 gallons. Stir well to mix and aerate, then pitch yeast when wort is about 70-75˚F. Ferment at 68-70˚F until complete. Optionally, transfer to a secondary fermenter after about 5-7 days.

On bottling day, dissolve priming sugar in two cups hot water, allow to cool to room temperature, and pour into a clean, sanitized bottling bucket. Transfer wort to bottling bucket, leaving behind any yeast sediment in the fermenter. Fill bottles and cap, then condition for 2-3 weeks. Serve in a stemmed goblet or chalice glass.

 

All-grain directions:

Substitute the malt extracts with 7 lbs. pilsner malt and 2 lbs. pale malt. When mashing, perform a step mash: 30 minutes at 122˚F and 60 minutes at 152˚F. Sparge and lauter, mixing candi sugar into the wort in the boil kettle. Reduce the first hop addition to one ounce, then proceed with recipe above.

 

What makes this Hennepin clone recipe so special is that it is a little off the beaten path. It a unique beer that is produced in a unique style. This makes it a fun brew to make. Oh, and did I mention it tastes outstanding!

—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, 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.

Bottling Homebrew with Flavored Liqueurs

Beer With Flavored LiqueurDid you know that you can bottle your homebrew beer with flavored liqueurs?

Adding liqueur at bottling time is one way of adding more flavors to your homebrew, especially when making a fruit beer. Liqueurs are lower-alcohol spirits flavored with fruit, herbs, spices, or nuts, and then sweetened. These concoctions are normally used for flavoring cocktails or coffee, but flavored liqueurs can be used for homebrewing, too.

To help get your creative juices flowing, here are some of the common flavored liqueurs that have potential for adding to homebrew:

  • Amaro (herbal)
  • Amaretto (almond)
  • Chambord (raspberry)
  • Cointreau (orange)
  • Crème de cacao (chocolate)
  • Crème de menthe (mint)
  • Crème de mûre (blackberry)
  • Crème de cassis (black currant)
  • Curaçao/Triple Sec (bitter orange)
  • Fernet (herbal)
  • Frangelico (hazelnuts and herbs)
  • Grand Marnier (orange)

Try doing a taste test to see which flavors might work with different beer styles. In his book, Radical Brewing, Randy Mosher mentions having success with Triple Sec, crème de cacao, and Frangelico, among others.Shop Hydrometers

 

Tips for Adding Flavored Liqueurs to Homebrew

In Radical Brewing, Randy Mosher offers a number of tips for adding liqueur to homebrew:

  • Avoid creamy liqueurs – These will not have a good affect on your beer.
  • Add spices if desired – Optionally, add additional spice flavor by soaking the spices in the liqueur before mixing into the beer.
  • Do a taste test first – Measure out a small sample of beer and add the liqueur in .1 mL increments. Keep in mind that most of the sweetness in the liqueur will ferment out. Scale up when you find the right ratio. For example, if .1 mL liqueur per 1 ounce beer is the magic number, multiply by 128 (ounces in a gallon) then by 5 (gallons in a batch) to arrive at 64 mL of liqueur.
  • Plan for an increase in alcohol content – Two cups of a typical liqueur will add about 1% ABV to your five-gallon batch of homebrew. Plan your beer recipe accordingly.Shop Coffee Stout

 

How to Bottle Your Homebrew with Flavored Liqueurs

Since liqueurs are sweetened, we need to account for the added sugar. Mosher offers the following instructions for bottling homebrew with liqueur:

  1. Measure the specific gravity of the liqueur with your hydrometer and convert to degrees Plato (% sugar).
  1. Compensate for the specific gravity of the alcohol present, which is less than 1.000. Multiply the proof by .106 and add this to the specific gravity of the liqueur. This number will give the total percentage of sugar in the liqueur.
  1. Take the weight of the liqueur being added and multiply it by the sugar percentage from above. This will give you the weight in sugar being contributed by the liqueur.

Shop Root Beer Extract

Alternatively, you can take the weight needed for priming and divide by the sugar percentage (as a decimal) to arrive at how much liqueur to use for bottling. Just keep in mind that depending on the flavor of the liqueur, you may or may not want to use that much.

Let’s work through an example:

Say you’re brewing Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout, but instead of priming with coffee and sugar, you use eight ounces (by weight) of a 40 proof coffee liqueur.

  1. Measuring the specific gravity of the liqueur, you get 20˚ Plato.
  2. Multiply the proof (40) by .106 = 4.24˚P
  3. 20 + 4.24 = 24.24˚P
  4. 8 (weight of liqueur in ounces) * .2424 (percent sugar in liqueur) = 1.94 oz. sugar

In this example, the 8 ounces (by weight) of coffee liqueur contributes the equivalent of 1.94 oz. of priming sugar. Adjust your priming sugar addition accordingly.

Alternatively, if you want to prime with just liqueur, take the total amount of priming sugar and divide by the total sugar percentage from above:

5 oz. priming sugar / .2424 = 20.63 oz. liqueur (by weight)shop_liqueur_flavorings

Add 20.63 ounces (by weight, not volume) of the liqueur at bottling time.

You can also experiment with soda pop flavorings if you don’t want to worry about a change in alcohol content or calculating sugar content. These extracts don’t contain sugar, so either add them during secondary fermentation or mix with your priming sugar solution at bottling time to contribute unique flavors to your homebrew.

You can also play around with liqueur flavorings. These are flavorings designed to be added to a spirit to make a flavored liqueur. Instead of bottling homebrew with flavored liqueurs, you can add just the concentrated liqueur flavoring instead.
—–
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.

What’s The Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

Picture showing difference between Shiraz and Syrah.This is a story of two wines, Syrah and Shiraz, and how they both are the same, yet different. On the surface it seems to be somewhat of an exercise in semantics, with their names being the only difference, but after taking a closer look, it starts to become clear that there is much more to the story than just names.

The difference between Syrah and Shiraz teaches us a lesson, one that illustrates how a grape’s environment and the way in which it is processed can influence the outcome of a resulting wine.

Any wine expert will tell you that Syrah and Shiraz are two varietal wines that are made from the exact same grape. If you analyze the DNA of each grape used to make these wines you will find that there is no difference between them.

 

Then Why The Two Names?

The French refer to the grape and the varietal wine they make from it as Syrah. In other notable regions such as: South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, the grape and the wine is referred to as Shiraz.

But there is something more than just a difference in name. There is a difference in style and character as well. While both wines are very assertive red wines, a Syrah tends to be a little more elegant and complex. It usually has more of a smokey, earthy character with flavors of plum and spicy pepper. Shop Wine KitsA Shiraz on the other hand is more crisp and fruity, less layered with slight, jammy flavors of berry as compared to a Syrah. This is a very wide generalization of each wine, but even so, it would be safe to say that if you tasted both wines side-by-side you would notice more differences than similarities between the two.

 

So, Why Is There A Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah VineyardWhile the grape remains the same, in each wine there is so much else that is different. The soil, the climate, the cultivation, and the fermentation all vary to make a Syrah, a Syrah, and a Shiraz, a Shiraz.

While different soils can not assert their own character onto a grape, they can guide the way in which a grape develops its own flavor. This is referred to as the terroir of the wine. The French vineyards are heavy in limestone which can hold moisture better and deeper than most soils. Shop Wine PressThis forces the vines to get more of their nutrients from deeper soils. The result is a wine with more layered, complex flavors.

The French are not allowed to use irrigation or fertilization on their vines, either. This stems from governmental laws designed to keep the grape production limited. This leads to stressed vines with fewer berries, but with each berry packing more flavor.

This is all in contrast to places like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand where Shiraz grapes are produced in sandy soils with plenty of fertilization and irrigation. The cultivation is abundant. This creates a wine with a more even character than a Syrah and with the ability to mature more quickly.

The Syrah is also grown in France’s cooler climate. This lends to the plum-like, smokey character of this wine. This is in comparison to Shiraz which is grown in warmer climates which makes the wine more jammy and berry-like.

Even the rate of fermentation plays some role in the flavor development of the wine. A Syrah is fermented more slowly so as to increase the time the pulp can stay on the fermentation. A Shiraz is fermented at a faster, more-normal rate which helps to make the wine, in general, more fruity.

Shop Wine Making Kits

In Summary:

So as you can see there is much more than just the grape when it comes to bringing a wine to fruition. While a wine’s character always begins with the grape, it ends upon many other factors, including the human touch. There are many other examples of how this is true, but most not quite as clear as the difference between the Shiraz and Syrah.
—–
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.

7 Home Brewing Tips For Beginners

Beginning Home BrewerWith over a million homebrewers in the US, making beer at home is more popular than ever. Who wouldn’t want to make their own beer?

If you are considering getting started in this incredible hobby, check out these seven home brewing tips for beginners to help you get the most out of your new hobby:

 

  1. Start easy – Don’t make your first batch a barrel-aged, dry-hopped, sour triple bock. There are plenty of extra steps that can be incorporated into your home brewing process once you have a few batches under your belt. But, when you’re just starting out, I recommend you focus on the basics: cleaning and sanitation, avoiding a boil-over, chilling the wort, and regulating fermentation temperatures. It will probably take 2-3 batches just to get the fundamental procedures down and figure out the best way to home brew within your environment. Once the basics are ironed-out, then you can start experimenting with more adventurous beers.
  1. Brew the classics – As a novice homebrewer, you should start by brewing some of the classic beer styles that you know well. This will give you an easy frame of reference for evaluating your beer. Some good beers for your early batches are stouts, porters, and brown ales.Shop Steam Freak Kits
  1. Brew beers YOU like – This is my favorite of the home brewing tips for beginners, and I tell it to all the first time brewers I meet. Remember, homebrewing is supposed to be fun. Brew a beer that you will enjoy drinking, not something just because it sounds wild and crazy. Love Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? Try our Sahara Nevada Pale Ale kit and you’ll have a supply that will last for weeks.
  1. Be extra clean – I can’t stress enough how important it is to be clean with your homebrewing, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. Before brewing, clean all of your equipment with a brewing cleaner, then sanitize everything that will touch the wort after the boil, especially the fermenter and any transfer tubing. To make cleaning for your next batch even easier, clean your equipment again as soon as you’re done with it.
  1. Read a homebrew book – Books are a great investment forShop Homebrew Books someone who’s a beginning homebrewer. While there is a ton of information about homebrewing on the Internet, I find it’s easier to find what you’re looking for in a good homebrewing book. Homebrewing for Dummies is a great book for beginners. Also check out our free ebook, the Ultimate Jumpstart Guide to Homebrewing.
  1. Take notes – You might be surprised how easy it is to forget details from brew day. Just to be safe, write everything down. This will make it easy to repeat successful batches, and in the event that something goes wrong, will help you identify where you need to improve. I like to keep my notes in a spreadsheet, but a good old-fashioned notebook can be just as valuable. Taking notes is one of the easiest ways to make yourself a better home brewer more quickly.
  1. Brew with a friend – There’s a lot to juggle around on brew day, so it can really help to have an extra pair of hands available. Even better, brewingShop Home Brew Starter Kits with friends makes it more fun! Crack open a beer and learn about homebrewing together!

 

Are you a seasoned homebrewer? What home brewing tips for beginners would you add to the list?

—–
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.

Darn It! My Wine Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Homemade WineFor the first time ever I ordered juice concentrate, your merlot and blackberry, to try making a large batch of my favorite flavors. Well, I followed the directions to the letter and it all fermented nicely in the primary. After 5 days racked it to the secondary, 6 gallon glass carboy but for the first time left a little head space of a couple inches figuring that it would be ok since it it was still bubbling a little. It has been two weeks and I racked it again to get it off the sediment and OMG it smells of sulfur, or rotten eggs! Once the wine was in my plastic bucket the smell dissipated and the wine tasted ok but today I checked it and there is still a smell. What did I do wrong? I’ve heard of adding egg white to try to take away the smell…. what can I do? I really hope I don’t have to dump it. HELP!

Name: JoAnn S.
State: WI
—–
Hello JoAnn,

All fermentations put off some sulfur or rotten egg smells. Some much more than others. When a wine smells like rotten eggs, what you are actually smelling is hydrogen sulfide. There are many of reasons why one fermentation might produce more hydrogen sulfite than others, but here are the big four:

 

  1. Fermenting With Wild Yeast: Shop Wine Yeast
    In your case, we can rule this out because you are using a wine ingredient kit that comes with a domesticated wine yeast. But if you were relying on wild yeast to do your bidding, this would most likely be the reason why your wine smells like rotten eggs. Some wild yeast can produce tremendous amounts of hydrogen sulfide.
  1. Lack Of Nutrients:
    Not having enough nutrients in the fermentation is another cause of high hydrogen sulfide output. But again, you are using a wine ingredient kit that has been nutritionally balanced. The yeast nutrient is at its ideal level in the wine concentrate, so we can also rule this out for your particular situation.
  1. Fermenting At Too Warm Of Temperature:
    Fermenting your wine too warm is another common reason for a fermentation to produce and abundance of hydrogen sulfide. Temperatures that are above 75°F. are suspect, and anything over 80°F. are likely to be problematic to some degree.
  1. Overworked Yeast: Shop Yeast Nutrients
    This happens when there is too little wine yeast to do too much job. There have been many times when a winemaker will accidentally kill a significant portion of the wine yeast when rehydrating it in warm water. If the wine yeast is put in rehydrating water that is too hot, or the yeast is left in the water for too long, more yeast cells will be killed than anticipated by the wine yeast producer. This sets the stage for a fermentation with too little yeast, and in turn, produces too much hydrogen sulfide.

 

The Overall Theme:
It is important to point out that all the above reasons relate to allowing the yeast to ferment under stress. When a wine smells like rotten eggs, start look at thing that might be putting fermentation in a stressful situation.

Having a wild yeast that is fermenting out of its normal element is stressful; having any yeast ferment with a shortage of nutrients, or ferment in a temperature range that is uncomfortable to it is stressful; and having a little bit of wine yeastShop Potassium Bisulfite doing a lot of work are all stressful things that will lead to high hydrogen sulfide production. Having said this, the whole idea is to keep the wine yeast happy and you will keep the hydrogen sulfide production down.

 

What To Do Now:

— Give It Time: A lot of the hydrogen sulfide will release and dissipate on its own. It sounds like this may be the case with your wine currently. And, more will dissipate when you bottle the wine.

— Add Sufites: Also, adding a dose of sulfite to the wine will help to drive out the hydrogen sulfide. You can add the sulfite in the form of Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite. Just following the directions that are on the package and let the wine sit for a few days.Shop Wine Kits

— Use Copper: If the wine still smells like rotten eggs, you can pour the wine through a copper scouring pad. When the wine comes into contact with copper a reaction will occur the encourages the hydrogen sulfide to release as fumes. The reaction will cause the copper to corrode, so your may need to use more than on copper pad.

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.

Bell’s Two Hearted IPA Clone Recipe

Bells Two Hearted IPA BeerOne of the most popular IPAs on the market is Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, brewed by Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, MI. The beer scores a 95 on Beer Advocate, and if you’ve had it, you know the score is well deserved. In 2011, the American Homebrewers Association ranked Bell’s Two-Hearted IPA the second best beer in the country, second only to Pliny the Elder. All this makes this Bell’s Two Hearted IPA clone recipe a must-brew.

Two-Hearted is hopped with exclusively Centennial hops, an American hop variety that provides a piney, citrusy, and floral character, and is often called a “Super Cascade”. The Centennial hops are added both to the boil kettle and to the fermenter. Bell’s uses a house ale yeast, but California Ale Yeast will work just fine.

The extract beer recipe below comes from the American Homebrewers Association, originally publishing the AHA’s magazine, Zymurgy. I always enjoy seeing proof that simple clone recipes can make beautiful beer.

To brew this Bell’s Two Hearted IPA Clone recipe, you’ll need to review dry hopping techniques (don’t worry – it’s easy!). A full 3.5 oz. of Centennial hops are added to the fermenter for about a week, giving this Two-Hearted clone that spicy, citrusy, super-addictive hop aroma that makes the beer so popular. Give this partial mash clone recipe a try, or see the all-grain recipe below it.

Good luck!

 

Bell’s Two Hearted IPA Clone Recipe
(five-gallon batch, partial mash)Shop Steam Freak Kits

Specs
OG: 1.063
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 55
SRM: 10

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Steam Freak Light Malt
2.5 lbs. Light DME
8 oz. Briess Caramel 40L malt
2 grams gypsum
1.2 oz. Centennial hops at :45
1.2 oz. Centennial hops at :30
3.5 oz. Centennial hops dry-hopped Shop Grain Mills
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast

 

Directions:
Steep the crushed caramel malt in one gallon of water at 150˚F. After 20 minutes, strain grains from the wort, pouring the wort into a boil kettle. Add enough filtered water to make 6.6 gallons. Mix in malt extracts and gypsum and bring wort to a boil. Boil for 75 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. At the end of the boil, cool wort, transfer to a clean and sanitized fermenter, and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 66-70˚F. until fermentation slows. Dry hop the beer for one week, then rack to another fermenter and cold age for one week. Bottle or keg as you would normally.


All-Grain Version:

Replace the malt extracts with 10 lbs. two-row brewers malt and 2.83 lbs. pale ale malt. Increase the gypsum addition to 4 grams. Use a step mash procedure,Shop Home Brew Starter Kit starting with 4.5 gallons and holding at 150˚F for 45 minutes, then increasing to 170˚F by adding 2.5 gallons boiling water. Hold for 25 minutes, then mash out and sparge to collect 6.6 gallons of wort. Proceed with recipe as above.

If you’re in love with IPA’s, then this Bell’s Two Hearted IPA clone recipe should be your next brew. It’s an inviting brew with a judicial balance of malt and hops that make it pleasing to the palate.
—————
David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, 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.

How Long Does It Take To Make Wine?

Woman Wondering How Long Does It Take To Make WineOne of the more common questions we get asked by beginning winemakers is, how long does it take to make wine? And most often they begin to show signs of excitement after we explain to them that it does not take nearly as long to make as they think to make a good batch of wine. In fact, it is very possible to have a wine bottled within a month from the time you begin the wine making process.

Once the wine has been bottled there are some benefits to aging, but a remarkable amount of the improvement can be obtained within the first 30 to 60 days of bottle aging, so it is possible for you to have a very delectable wine within 2 to 3 months from the time you start making wine.

How long it actually takes to make wine depends on what you are using to make the wine. Are you making your wine from grapes? Are you making you wine from fruits? Are you making your wine from wine ingredient kits?

Packaged wine making juices tend to make wines faster than making wine Shop Wine Ingredient Kitsusing fresh fruits. This is primarily because there is no pulp or skins involved. The concentrated juices clear up much faster, allowing the wine to be bottled much sooner. Wine ingredient kit have there own wine making recipes included with them, so it makes it a good option for the first-time winemaker.

 

So, How Long Does It Take To Make Wine?
Here is an overview of what to expect based on what is being used to make the wine:

  • Winemaking Ingredient Kits:
    Shop Wine PressIf you are making a wine from one of our winemaking ingredient kits you will be bottling your wine in about 4 to 6 weeks, depending on which brand of wine making kit you are using.
  • Winemaking Caon Concentrates:
    When using winemaking can concentrates such as SunCal, Alexander or Country Fair,  you will be bottling your wine in 6 to 10 weeks.
  • Fresh Fruits:
    Because of the pulp involved, it takes longer to make wine using fresh fruits or grapes than it does using packaged juices. Aging can take a little more time as well because of the higher level of tannins and other proteins that are typically in the wine must from the fresh fruit. You can expect to be bottling your wine in about 8 to 12 weeks from the time you started the batch, and also anticipate needing to bottle age the wine at least 3 to 4 months, and sometimes up to a year, depending on the fruit.Shop Wine Making Kits

 

The amount of time it takes to make a batch of wine can vary somewhat based on the scenario, but all in all, the time needed is usually less than expected. Start off with one our California Connoisseur ingredient kits, and you’ll be drinking wine in 28 days. Or, maybe you have some fresh fruit growing out back. In that case you may want to get our Your Fruit! Necessities Box. Wine making recipes are included.
—–
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’s The Best Mash Tun Design For Homebrewing?

Grains Into Coller Mash TunMaking the switch to all-grain homebrewing involves making some important decisions around equipment. In particular, what kind of mash tun should you get? Which mash tun design is the best? In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the options, but first, what is a mash tun?

A mash tun is simply a vessel where crushed grains are mixed with hot water. During the mashing process, sugars are extracted from the grains and into the liquid, which is called wort. At the end of the mash, the wort is drawn out of the mash tun and into a boiling kettle. A perforated false bottom holds behind all of the spent grain.

Now let’s cover the options when deciding what kind of mash tun design to buy.

 

3 Basic Mash Tun Designs from Which to Choose: 

 

1. Brew in a Bag (BIAB)
OK, the first option isn’t exactly a mash tun, but for many homebrewers, it’s the easiest and most economical way to get into all-grain brewing.

The way it works is that a mesh straining bag (grain bag) is fitted into a brew kettle filled with water, then the crushed grains are added to the bag. After the mash (usually 60 minutes), just pull out the bag of grains.

For best results, the water in the brew kettle should be pre-heated before setting up the bag. You want to avoid the possibility of the grain bag coming in direct contact with the heat source, so some bungee cords might come in handy.Brew in a Bag

The bottom line: Brew in a Bag is an economical mash tun design for hombrewing, but requires some effort to keep the grain bag away from the kettle.

 

2. The Mash Tun Cooler
The mash tun cooler is a great option for all-grain home brewers. Mash tun design is still affordable, yet offers a setup that closely mimics the multi-vessel system used by professional brewers.

The ability to lauter, or shower the grain bed with hot water as you draw off the wort, can help improve mash efficiency over the BIAB method. The mash tun cooler setup also tends to be very efficient at holding heat.

There are just a couple drawbacks with the mash tun cooler system. For one, they’re easily scratched. As a result, they can be hard to clean. These issuesMash Tun can be remedied by being mindful of what you use to clean the mash tun (something non-abrasive – a cloth or rag is best.The other issue with this mash tun design is that you can’t apply direct heat to the plastic mash tun, making it a challenge to do step mashes. To raise the temperature of the mash, you have to add hot water. Dialing this in can be a challenge, but luckily there are online calculators and brewing software available to help you through the process.

The bottom line: A mash tun cooler system is a great middle-of-the-road option for all-grain homebrewing.

 

2. Stainless Steel Mash Tun
Not only does the stainless steel mash tun look cool, it’s also extremely durable and easy to clean. Most come with a build in thermometer.

The main advantage of the stainless steel mash tun is that you can apply heat directly to the kettle, making it easier to dial in your mash temperature to the degree.

The main drawback of a stainless steel mash tun is the price. But with that price tag you get quality construction that will last a lifetime. A stainless steel mash tun is an Stainless Steel Mash Tuninvestment for the long term, and if you ever want to sell it, you can probably get back most of what you paid for it.

The bottom line: A stainless steel mash tun design is the best option for serious brewers – if you can afford it. 

 

So what kind of mash tun design do you use? Is it working for you, or do you plan to upgrade?

—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, 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.

My Wine’s Starting Specific Gravity Is Too High

Starting Specific Gravity Is Too HighHi, I followed a recipe for blueberry wine that called for 15 pounds of sugar and 20 pounds of frozen blueberries for a 6 gallon batch. I just measured it with my wine hydrometer and got a reading of 1.148 ! I know this starting specific gravity is too high. Is there anything I can do other than hope for the best ? I am new to wine making and have no idea ?

Marshall S. – IA
—–
Hello Marshall,

Well, that’s an interesting wine recipe. The starting specific gravity reading you got on your hydrometer, does make since with that much fruit and sugar being added. The bad news is that the odds of a fermentation even starting at that high of a specific gravity reading is very low. When the concentration of sugar gets too high, it starts to act as a preservative, keeping the yeast from fermenting.

The good news is that I think we can fix it. Simply put, your wine’s starting specific gravity is too high, and we need to think about how we can lower it.

Shop Hydrometer JarsIn reality, there are two concerns. The first one is the most obvious: too much sugar for the yeast to start fermenting. That’s what the specific gravity reading is telling – how much sugar. But there is also a concern that there may be too much blueberry – enough to make the wine overly tart and astringent. With that being said, here’s what you can do:

 

  • Dilute the wine must with water until you get a reading of 1.100. If you like, you can use a Pearson square to calculate how much water to add to get from 1.148 to 1.100. (Water has a S.G. of 1.000) There will still be plenty of blueberry flavor to go around. Our blueberry wine recipe only calls for 13 lbs. to 5 gallons, so don’t worry about weakening the wine’s flavor too much. And besides, you really don’t have much choice when your wine’s starting specific gravity is too high. The yeast aren’t even beginning to think about fermenting with that much sugar.
  • Take an acid reading with an acid test kit. This will tell you if the blueberries are still providing enough tartness to make the resulting wine taste right. The directions in the acid test kit will tell you what range you are shooting for. My guess if that you will need to add a little Acid Blend after diluting with water to bring the acidity up a bit. But, if the acid level is still too high, Shop Acid Test Kityou will want to dilute the wine must with even more water. Just try to keep your wine’s starting specific gravity above 1.075.
  • Once you have the sugar level and acidity in a decent range, it’s all smooth sailing. If you haven’t added add yeast nutrient at this point, I most certainly would, now. The same goes for pectic enzyme, and wine tannin. If you got the ingredients from us, you will find recommend dosages on the side of each container.

 

If you have already added the wine yeast you can still do all of the above. The yeast will be fine. If you have not, be sure to use and actual wine yeast. Don’t add a bread yeast.

Once you’ve got the specific gravity and acidity level ironed out, you will continue on like you normally would with any winemaking process. Here’s an wine making infographic that lays out the basic steps for you.

Hope this information helps you out. I urge you to do the above steps. Don’t dump it out. Nothing you have done or will do in the above steps will compromisedShop Wine Making Kits this wine in any way, so it will be well worth the effort. Believe me, you are not that only one that’s ran into this problem. Many home winemaker’s have gotten their wine’s starting specific gravity too high. Just take things a step at a time and your wine will be out of the woods.

I would like to welcome you to take a look at our wine recipes that are free for anyone to use. These a solid, time-tested wine recipes that will keep you out of trouble in your future wine making adventures.

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.

8 Killer Tips For Bottling Beer

Capper For Bottling BeerOf all the processes involved in making beer at home, the one that most often gets in people’s way of enjoying the hobby is bottling process. Why is this?

Maybe it’s the sheer number of beer bottles that have to be cleaned and sanitized. Maybe it’s all the labels that have to come off the beer bottles. Whatever the reason, chances are someone has come up with a way to make it less of a chore. Here are some tips that will help make bottling beer easier.

 

Tips for Bottling Beer

  1. Start with clean beer bottles without labels – This might not make financial sense for some people, but I believe that a lot of the frustration of bottling beer comes from having to remove labels from the beer bottles you recycle. If you dread the idea of peeling labels from 50+ beer bottles, just go ahead and buy a couple boxes of new beer bottles and save yourself the headache.
  1. Rinse beer bottles as soon as they’re empty – You’ll thank yourself later. This will prevent funk from growing inside the beer bottle, making it much easier to prep the beer bottles for filling. Soak them once in cleanser, soak again in sanitizer such as Basic A, and you’re ready to go. This is my favorite tip for bottling beer. It can save a lot of time!
  1. Use a bottle washer – For the bottles you forgot to rinse out, take advantage of the strong blast of water from a carboy and bottle washer. One oShop Bottle Washerf these will let you rapidly clean a batch of beer bottles in no time flat. Also works great for cleaning out your siphon tubing!
  1. Sanitize bottles in the dishwasher – This is my second favorite tip for bottling beer. Sanitizing your glass beer bottles in the dishwasher can save you a lot of work. Just load them in and set the dishwasher to the “sanitize” or “high heat” cycle. You’ll need to start them well in advance of when you plan to bottle, but at least you can do other tasks in the meantime. This works best if the labels are already removed.
  1. Clear your space ahead of time – This is a good tip for any stage of the homebrewing process, not just bottling beer. Keeping your workspace from getting cluttered will go a long way towards preventing mishaps and making things run smoothly. Take a few extra minutes before bottling to put everything in its place.
  1. Sit down while bottling your beer – I like to hook up my bottle filler to the bottling bucket with a 2-inch section of transfer tubing. Then I can have a seat while filling the beer bottles. It definitely helps to save the back! Also make it easier to grab a swig or two from previously bottled beer.
  1. Enlist a friend – Get a friend or significant other to help and cutShop Bottle Cappers your bottling time commitment in half. One person fills the beer bottles, the other caps the beer bottles. Just be sure to repay them with some homebrew!
  1. Switch to kegging! – OK, this tip for bottling beer is a bit of a cop-out, but if bottling really gets on your nerves, why not get yourself a homebrew draft system? Not only do you avoid bottling beer altogether, you get to drink your beer in three or four days instead of 14!

 

What tips to you have for bottling beer?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, 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.