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
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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!
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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.

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?

Thank-you
Gary C.

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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
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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.

Awesome Terrapin Rye Pale Ale Clone Recipe

Terrapin Rye Pale AleJust like wheat and barley, rye is a cereal grain that can be used in making beer. It’s a huskless grain with an assertive, spicy flavor. To design a rye pale ale beer recipe, one could easily start with a good American pale ale recipe and add between one-half and one pound of rye malt to the mash. This will contribute the distinctive spicy flavor that rye is best known for adding to a brew. Most rye pale ale beer recipes will have at most 10-20% of the grain bill come from malted rye.

Because its protein content is higher than barley, rye can improve body and head retention, but it also tends to get sticky in a mash. If your system is prone to stuck mashes or if your beer recipe uses more than about 20% rye, consider adding some rice hulls to the mash to improve filterability.

There are several good commercial examples of rye pale ale on the market. Terrapin Beer Company from Alpharetta, GA, entered the market with their Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, which won a gold medal in the American Pale Ale category in its first year at the Great American Beer Festival, in 2002. The brewery is now approaching 50,000 barrels of beer a year in production. Below is a Terrapin rye pale ale clone recipe you can brew up.

E. C. Kraus carries a great Rye Pale Ale beer recipe kit from Brewerʼs Best, but feel free to use the tips below to develop your own beer recipe.

 

Types of Rye

Homebrewers typically work with either rye malt or flaked rye. Rye malt has been germinated and kilned, whereas flaked rye is pressed between hot rollers. Both contribute rye flavor, though the rye malt will be a little more toasty and sweet than the flakes. Both can be added directly to the mash. If brewing a partial mash recipe, combine the rye with some malted barley so the mash doesn’t stick.

Ready to brew a rye pale ale? Try this Terrapin rye pale ale clone or use it as a starting point for your own beer recipe!Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale Clone Recipe – Partial Mash 
Batch Size: 5 gallons

OG: 1.057
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 35

6 lbs. Light Malt Extract
1 lb. Rye Malt
1 lb. Munich Malt
8 oz. Victory Malt
6 oz. Honey Malt
1 tsp. Irish Moss @ 15 mins

.33 oz. Magnum hops @ 60 mins
(4.7 AAUs)
.33 oz. Fuggles hops @ 30 mins
(1.5 AAUs)
.33 oz. Kent Goldings hops @ 20 mins (1.7 AAUs)shop_brew_kettles
.33 oz. Kent Goldings hops @ 10 mins (1.7 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops @ 5 mins (7 AAUs)
1 oz. Amarillo dry hop for 10 days
Yeast: Wyeast American Ale II
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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 of the Local Beer Blog.

Adding Oak Chips During Fermentation Vs. After Fermentation

Oak Chip For Wine MakingThe wine kits I use often have a small packet of oak chips for adding during the fermentation. Your article on the use of toasted oak chips for wine making says to add them during the aging process, not during the primary fermentation. What is the difference?

Name: David F.
State: Illinois
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Hello David,

Thanks for the great question on adding oak chips during fermentation in the primary.

An important thing to know is that oak chips have an effect on the wine that is directly controlled by the amount of oak chips use and how long the chips are in the wine.

Wine kits that have been packaged with the pre-measured ingredients have been bench-tested. Trials of the wine has been made several times by the producer with variations of ingredients – such as the oak chips – to see which recipe combination produces the best wine. The goal is to produce a wine with the best overall balance and character. The producer of your wine kit knows how much oak chip to add to the fermentation to make an optimal wine because they bench-test.

By adding the oak chips during the fermentation, the wine is able to clear up more quickly and not have to go through the extra step of carefully bulk-aging with oak chips after the fermentation. This allows you to be able to bottle your wine in 4 to 6 weeks.Shop Toasted Oak Chips

The home winemaker who is making wine from fresh fruit does not have the luxury of knowing ahead of time the optimal amount of oak chips to put in the fermentation. The juice at hand is unique and has not been bench-tested.

Even for the home winemaker that makes the same wine from the same vines in their backyard every year, experiences variations in the profile of the juice from one year to the next. Adding oak chips during the fermentation in these situations would give the winemaker absolutely no control over the outcome. They could only take a wild guess as to home much oak to add to a primary fermentation.

For this reason, it is much better for the home winemaker to add the oak chips after the fermentation, while the wine is aging, instead during the fermentation. After the fermentation is done and has cleared, they can add in a reasonable amount of oak chips (we suggest 2 oz. to 4 oz. to 5 gallons); leave the oak chips in over time as the wine ages; sampling their effects along the way.

Being able to sample the wine over time is the key. Once the desired amount of oak character is achieved, the oak can be removed. Handling the oak chips in this way allows the winemaker to have exacting control over the amount of barrel-aged character the wine will have. Leave the oak chips in until it’s right; then take them out.Shop Oak Wood Extractive

I hope this information helps clear up the difference between adding oak chips during fermentation and after the fermentation. Unless you have a wine kit that includes oak chips, you will want to add the oak chips to the secondary fermentation not the primary.

Best Wishes,
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.

Hop Bursting Homebrew 101: Tips for BIG Hop Flavor and Aroma

Hop Bursting A Batch Of Homebrew BeerOver the past several years, IPAs and Double IPAs have been all the rage in the craft beer scene. Heady Topper, Pliny the Elder, and others have put hops in the spotlight. Though the term “hop bursting” has only just gained some notoriety, the technique could be the secret the success of these massively popular beers.

 

So what is hop bursting?

Hop bursting is simply adding massive amounts of late addition hops to the boil. Instead of early additions for the bulk of a beer’s bitterness. These late additions supply most of the IBUs.

Let me explain.

In a standard beer recipe, you may have an ounce of bittering hops, an ounce of flavor hops, and an ounce of aroma hops. Seems pretty balanced. However, since more bitterness is extracted the longer hops are boiled, the majority of the IBUs in this scenario come from the first addition. Just play around with an IBU calculator to see what I mean. With hop bursting, the first addition will be very small or even nonexistent, which means that most or all of the IBUs come from the later additions.

You’ll find that to achieve the same level of IBUs, hop bursting will require significantly more hops in total. However, this technique can help the brewer to achieve very intense hop flavor and aroma without overpowering bitterness.

If you’re a fan of massive hop flavor and aroma, try the hop bursting recipe below!

 

Hop Bursted Amarillo IPA
(partial mash recipe, five gallons)

Specifications
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 64
Boil time: 60 minutes

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Light LME
1 lb. Amber DME
1 lb. Caramel 20L malt
Shop Barley Crusher1 lb. Carapils malt
.5 oz. Amarillo hops at :30
1 oz. Amarillo hops at :15
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
2 oz. Amarillo hops at :10
1.5 oz. Amarillo hops at :5
Yeast: Safale US-05
3/4 cup priming sugar

 

Directions
Steep the crushed Caramel 20L and Carapils malts for 30 minutes in one gallon of water at 152°F. Strain the grains and rinse them with 1 gallon of water at 170°F, collecting the runoff in the boil kettle. Mix in the liquid malt extract and top off to 7 gallons of wort. (To get 64 IBUs, you will need a 7 gallon boil. If using a 5 gallon kettle, top off to 4 gallons and increase the first hop addition to 1.5 oz.)Shop Hops

Boil for 60 minutes, adding the hops according to the schedule. Add 1 teaspoon of Irish moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Whirlpool, chill, and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. If needed, top off with enough water to make five gallons. Ferment at 66°-70°F for seven days. Rack to secondary for ten days. Bottle or keg as you would normally.

Are you a fan of the hop bursting technique? What’s your strategy? Do you have a hop bursting recipe or schedule you’d like to share? Put 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.

Using A Blender To Crush Wine Making Fruit

Wine Making Fruit In BlenderJust started a blueberry wine. Ran the berries through a blender instead of crushing them (lazy I guess). I did not add Campden tablets to it in the beginning, not sure if this is a problem. There is a pulp crust forming on top right now, I stir this each day, should I remove it after 5 or 6 days before I transfer the wine to a carboy?

Name: Lee P.
State: TN
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Hello Lee,

The fact that you did not add Campden tablets before the fermentation is probably not going to be a problem in this case.

The big issue here is that fact that you are using a blender to crush your wine making fruit. What this typically does is cause the resulting wine to be bitter. The over chopping and destroy of the pulp and seeds releases too much tannin into the wine. In turn, the wine will have a lower pH from excessive tannic acid, giving it an unpleasant, bitter-dry, puckering taste.

For future reference, you only want to crush the fruit. Using a blender is way overkill. You only need to make sure that the outer structure of the fruit has been busted in some way. This is something that can quickly be done by hand when dealing with 10 lb. or 15 lb. of fruit such as blueberries. If you are dealing with more fruit than this, then you may want to invest in a fruit crusher, but never use a blender to crush any kind of wine making fruit.

Shop Wine PressWhen the fermentation starts the wine yeast will produce enzymes that will naturally break down the fruit in a more natural, gentler way. The pectic enzyme that is called for in most fruit wine recipes will also help in the regard. For this reason you do not need to do a lot; let the yeast do if for you.

With that being said, there are still some things you can do to counteract using a blender to crush wine making fruit:

 

  1. Shorten the amount of time you leave the fruit in the fermentation. The shorter the better. I would recommend 2, maybe 3 days at most. This will give less time for the bitterness to leach from the fruit.
  1. Treat the wine with bentonite after the fermentation has completed. This will help to drop out the excessive tannin and other proteins that where extracted from the fruit. You may even want to use the bentonite more than once.
  1. Age the wine longer than you normally would. Many of the flavor affects of having too much tannin in the wine can be resolved with additional aging. Instead of 3 to 6 months, think more along the lines of 9 to 15 months. Quite often this will be enough to bring the wine back into a flavorful balance.Shop Pectic Enzyme

 

I hope this helps you out, and I hope your wine turns out great, regardless. Just remember that using a blender to crush your wine making fruit is not the way to go.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus

—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

The Difference Between Stouts and Porters

Stout and PorterBeer blogger Bryan Roth explores the subtle differences between two classic beer styles: stouts vs. porters.
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Brewing up a variety of beer recipes is one of the reasons why many get into the hobby of homebrewing. While you may be excited about creating something experimental (watermelon wheat, anyone?) honing base beer recipes is important, especially if you want to better understand the beers we love so much.

You may enjoy extra hoppy IPAs, but porters and stouts can offer tons of complex, malt-forward flavors. But what exactly are the differences between the stouts and porters? Sure, they both look dark, but there are plenty of slight differences that go into each beer. But what makes both beer styles different. What is the difference in taste?

Here’s a helpful history lesson: stouts came into existence as a descriptor for a stronger version of a beer style. A “brown stout” in the 1700s was simply a porter with higher alcohol content. Changes to brewing and brewing laws over the next 200 years eventually made way to how we recognize these beers today.

The most important change from the 1700s? The use of roasted barley.

While the BJCP outlines various styles of porters and stouts, here are basic characteristics of what you should aim for when crafting your next version of either, courtesy of Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer. These are the basic characteristics that define the difference between stouts and porters:

 

 Porter  Stout
 Flavor Creamy roasty-toasty malt, hoppy or not Always roasty; may have caramel and hops too
 Aroma Roasty maltiness; usually little or no hop aroma Roasty malt; with or without hop aroma
 Balance Malt, hops, roast in various proportions Very dry to very sweet (depending on style)

 

These are slight differences, but important if you want to nail your next batch.

Shop LIquid Malt ExtractAnother tip to consider when creating your recipe is the success of others. According to Ray Daniels’ book, Designing Great Beers, the key difference between the winning porter and stout recipes from the National Homebrew Competition was – no surprise – the use of malt.

The average grain bill of well-performing homebrewed porter used 80 percent pale ale malt while stout beer recipes used an average of 61 percent. The other big difference was the use of roasted barley, which was twice as much in stouts (8 percent) compared to use in most porters (4 percent).

Generally speaking, pale ale malt would supply a beer with more “toasty” flavors. Roasted barley, of course, would impart flavors closely associated to coffee.

That is important, because roasted grains were widely used in successful competition homebrewed stouts (90+ percent) compared to porters, where roasted grains appeared in 30 to 60 percent of “robust” porters, but not at all in brown porters.

All those numbers are to say, for homebrewers, “roasted” is to stouts as “toasty” is to porters.

Shop Home Brew Starter KitIf you plan to enter a stout or porter into a judged homebrewing competition, these slight differences will be important to your success. But even if you’ll just be enjoying your creation at home, a better understanding of these two beer styles can help improve your palate, make you a better brewer and give you some extra tasty homebrew to drink! And, that is the difference between stouts and porters in a nutshell.
—–
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.

Your Wine Could Be Cloudy Because Of A Pectin Haze

Wine With HazeI am having some trouble getting some of my fruit wine to clear. The berry wines clear right away (black raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, raspberry, current) but some of the other fruit wines stay cloudy (apple, peach, pear, dogwood). Is there something different I should be doing with these wines to make them clear better?

Name: Charlene
State: New York
—–
Hello Charlene,

It might be a pectin haze that’s making your wine cloudy. Some fruits have more pectin in them than others. Pectin is the gel that holds the fruit’s fiber together. If the pectin is not completely broken down during the fermentation you can end up with what known as a pectin haze in your wine. This sounds like what is giving you a cloudy wine.

During the fermentation the yeast will produce pectic enzymes to breakdown the pectin cells. You may have also added pectic enzyme directly to the batch per your wine recipe. With most fruits this is sufficient, but even then you can sometimes end up with a pectin haze with the particular fruit wines you mentioned.

Apple, peach and pear all have significant levels of pectin, more so than most other fruits. The dogwood I’m not sure about. If you did not add pectic enzyme to your wine recipe, then most certainly a pectin haze is the issue at hand. But, even if you did add pectic enzyme, this is still what I suspect is going on because of the specific wines that are cloudy. Pectic enzyme is that important.

As for what you can do now…Shop Pectic Enzyme
Whether or not you have added pectic enzyme to your wine must, you can add more now, however it may take some time for the wine to clear… sometimes months. Of course, this is assuming you have not bottled the wine already. If you have, then that ship has already sailed, so to speak. You could decant the wine; treat the wine; and then re-bottle, however I would not do it if it were my wine, simply for the fact that this type of cloudiness dose not affect the flavor at all only appearance. Live-and-learn, and move on.

Even at that, one thing you could do for future reference is to take a bottle of the suspect wine; add it to a quart Mason jar, or similar; and treat it with a teaspoon of pectic enzyme. This would be an extremely strong dose, so if a pectin haze is the issue at hand, you should see it respond to the addition of pectic enzyme by clearing in a matter of days if not hours. This will let you know if you have found the problem in the form of a pectin haze for future reference and give you a little piece of mind.

As a home winemaker, pectin haze issues should always be in the back of one’s mind. It’s something that doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it can be very aggravating. Shop Wine ClarifiersKeep a particularly close eye when fermenting fruits high in pectin and always use pectic enzyme when fermenting fresh fruits.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Quick Guide To Brewing Beer With Herbs

The results of brewing beer with herbs.Brewing beer with herbs is not some new fad, a product of the recent craft beer boom. Before hops were popular (we’re talking hundreds of years ago), a wide variety of herbs and spices provided the bittering and flavoring characteristics to balance beer’s malty sweetness. Brewing beer with herbs was the norm. By adding herbs in your own homebrew, you can recreate ancient styles of beer (such as Sahti and Scottish Gruit) and also exercise your creative spirit to develop something entirely new. Below are just a short list of herbs, flowers, and other plants that can be used, alone or in combination, to contribute a unique flavor profile to your homebrew:

  • Basil
  • Betony
  • Birch
  • Borage
  • Chamomile
  • Coriander
  • Dandelion
  • Elderflowers
  • Ginger
  • Ginseng
  • Heather
  • Horehound
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Licorice
  • Mint
  • Nettles
  • Oregano
  • Rhubarb
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Thyme

 

 

 

 

 

When thinking about how to use herbs in homemade beer, add them in the same way as we do hops. These herbs may be added early or late in boil (depending on whether you’re looking for more bitterness, flavor, or aroma) or to the secondary fermenter, just like with dry hopping. One thing to keep in mind when brewing beer with herbs is that the herbs tend to be more delicate than hops. Many of them don’t need to be boiled as long as hops in order to extract bitterness and flavor.

You can pick these herbs from your own garden, or buy them from the store. Many herbs are available as tea blends, the tea bags making it east and convenient to strain out the herbs.

When developing an herb beer recipe, think about what flavor characteristics work well with the base beer. The herbs should complement the style characteristics, rather then dominate them. (Consult the BJCP guidelines for style 21A for more detailed information.) If brewing a gruit, forgo the hops. Other base beer styles, such as pale ale and wit, can be given an interesting twist by incorporating herbs in addition to the hops.Shop Beer Flavorings

To help start you out brewing beer with herbs, here is a pale ale recipe using oregano. Feel free to substitute basil, rosemary, and other herbs as desired.

 

Oregano Pale Ale Recipe (5 gal):
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.011
ABV: 5.6%
SRM: 11

All-grain:
8 lbs. Two Row Malt
1 lb. Munich Malt
1 lb. Caramel 40L

Partial Mash:
6 lbs. Golden Light Extract
1 lb. Munich Malt
1 lb. Caramel 40L

Hops:
1 oz. Northern Brewer @ :60
1 oz. Centennial @ :30
0.5 oz. Tettnanger @:15
0.5 oz Tettnanger @ :5

Other:
0.25-1 oz. of fresh oregano* @ :15
1 tsp. Irish Moss @ :15Shop Steam Freak Kits

Yeast:
Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast**
*The oregano can contribute a lot of bitterness and flavor. Up to a full ounce of fresh oregano may be used, but may need to be aged depending on your taste preferences.

**For best results, prepare a yeast starter.

Have you ever tried brewing beer with herbs before? How did it turn out? Do you have an herb beer recipe you’d like to share? Put it in the comments section below.
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He is a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology’s “Start Your Own Brewery” program and the Oskar Blues Brew School in Brevard, NC.

Why Is My Homemade Wine Fizzy?

Homemade Wine That Is FizzyI bottled some blackberry a few months ago. When I opened a bottle today it fizzed over and kept bubbling for a while. What did I do wrong, I followed a wine recipe?

Name: Ed W.
State: FL
—–
Hello Ed,

Sorry to hear that your wine has gotten a little out of control. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on. There are basically two ways a homemade wine can end up fizzy or bubbly. I’ll go over them here:

 

1. Re-Fermentation:
This is the most common way to get a fizzy wine. When a fermentation stops it usually means that it has finished. That means all the sugars in the wine must have been fermented into alcohol. There are no more sugars to ferment.

But on occasion a fermentation will stop before the sugars are all gone. This is known as a stuck fermentation. This can happen for a number of reasons: wrong fermentation temperature, using distilled water, etc. (see The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure) For this reason it is important that you check the must with a wine hydrometer to confirm that all the sugars have been fermented before moving on to the next step.

If you continue on with the wine recipe and end up bottling the wine with sugars still in it, then a fermentation could start up within any or all the wine bottles at any time in the future, even months down the road. It is important to remember that even the slightest amount of fermentation can cause a lot of fizzy within the wine.

Shop Potassium SorbateThe only exception to the above is if you have added potassium sorbate to the wine, also known as wine stabilizer. If you have added this before bottling, then the chance have having a re-fermentation within the wine bottles is greatly diminished. The same holds true if you have sweetened the wine before bottling. You need to add potassium sorbate along with the sugar to eliminate a potential for a re-fermentation within the wine bottle.

 

2. Bacterial Infection:
This is not as common of a reason for a homemade wine being fizzy as a re-fermentation, but it happens. If the fermenters, stirring spoons, hoses, wine bottles, corks and anything else the wine comes into contact with has not been sufficiently sanitized, then you run the risk of infecting your wine with a bacteria.

There are many excellent sanitizers on the market. We recommend Basic A because it is very safe and simple to use. You should also add sulfites directly to the wine after the fermentation, and again, right before bottling the wine. If you miss killing some bacteria, then adding sulfites such as Campden tablet or sodium metabisulfite to the wine will go a long way towards protecting it.

 

One thing you have mentioned is that the wine is fizzy instead of bubbly. If the wine has re-fermented, most people would describe it as bubbly and not fizzy. The CO2 bubbles from a fermentation are pretty good size. Fizzy sounds like the bubbles are smaller than that. That is what you would expect to find with a bacterial infection.

Shop Basic AYou also said that it fizzed for a long time. This is fairly definitive. When you get a fizzing that bubbles evenly for a period of time, that is also an indicator of a bacterial infection. Carbonation from a re-fermentation is more explosive and short-lived. A bacterial infection is not explosive. Once you open the bottle, it take a few seconds for it to build up a head of steam and get going.

I’m not sure, because I am not there, but I would guess the reason your homemade wine is fizzy is because of a bacterial infection. That being the case, sanitation of equipment and use of sulfites needs to be the focus when making future batches.

Best Wishes,
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.