Award-Winning Munich Dunkel Lager Recipe (All-Grain)


Beer Made From Munich Dunkel Lager RecipeWe recently explored some famous German beer styles. The next one on my “to brew” list is a Munich Dunkel Lager. Here’s some of the basic characteristics of this German style beer.

A Munich Dunkel is a dark lager (dunkel = dark in German). But just because it’s a dark beer doesn’t mean that it’s heavy, bitter, and roasty. Munich Dunkels use little (if any) heavily roasted malt. That means no black malt and no roasted barley. Most of the color and flavor in this beer comes from mid-range malt, particularly Munich malt. (Extract and partial mash brewers may use Munich malt extract.) The Munich malt provides the somewhat sweet, bready, malty flavors that characterize this beer.

In terms of hops, only enough hops are used to provide balance to the beer. You don’t want to cover up the malt flavor. The BJCP Guidelines for the style call for 18-28 IBUs. In a five-gallon Munch Dunkel lager recipe this may only be an ounce or two of hops. For an accurate representation of the style, only German varieties of noble hops should be used.

When brewing a Munich Dunkel Lager recipe, fermentation temperature control will be imperative. The German lager yeast used in this beer prefers temperatures of about 50˚F or below. Before attempting to brew this beer (or any lager for that matter), read Controlling Homebrew Fermentation Temperatures.

The all-grain Munich Dunkel Lager recipe below comes from the American Homebrewers Association. It’s an award-winning beer recipeShop Liquid Malt Extract created by Shekhar and Paula Nimkar of Swampscott, MA. The beer won the Dark Lager category at the 2010 AHA National Homebrew Competition.

 

Tara’s Slam Dunkel
(five-gallon batch, all-grain recipe)

*Note: This beer recipe assumes a mash efficiency of ~86%. You may wish to have some DME on hand in case you undershoot your OG.

Specs
OG: 1.060
FG. 1.020
ABV: 5.25%Shop Steam Freak Kits
IBUs: 13
SRM: 17

Ingredients
8 lbs. Munich malt
2 lbs. Wheat malt
4 oz. Chocolate malt
.66 oz. Hallertau hops at :45
.33 oz. Hallertau hops at :15
2 packets Wyeast 2206: Bavarian lager yeast
1 tbsp. Irish moss at :20
.5 tsp. calcium carbonate (added to sparge water)

 

Directions: The day before brewing, prepare a 4L yeast starter. Mash grains in about 3.25 gallons of clean water at 122˚F for 30 minutes. Remove 1/3 of the mash and raise to 158˚F for 20 minutes. Bring it to a boil for 20 minutes. Return the decoction to the main mash vessel and raise temperature to 149˚F. Remove 1/3 of theShop Grain Mills mash and bring to a boil. Return it to the main mash and sparge with 167˚F water to collect seven gallons of wort. Do a 90-minute boil, adding hops according to schedule. Remove kettle from heat and cool wort to 65˚F. Aerate wort and pitch yeast. When fermentation activity begins, reduce temperature to 55˚F. Ferment for 14 days, then transfer to secondary and ferment at 41˚F for three weeks. Bottle or keg for 2.4 volumes CO2.

Do you have a solid Munich Dunkel Lager recipe you’d like to share with us? Share in the comments below!
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

My Homemade Wine Is Too Dry. Is There Anything I Can Do?

Zach Galifianakis who's homemade wine is too dry.I have a mustang grape wine that has been aging in a carboy. Last night I tried and it has a hydrometer reading of .992. When I tasted the wine, it was too dry for me. How can I sweeten up this wine to a semi sweet?

John
_____
Hello John,

One of the great things about making your own wine is that you get to drink it the way you want to – even if you want to drink it like our buddy Zach Galifianakis does. For me personally, this is the fun part of making homemade wine. Adjust it until you get the wine just the way you like it. This is something that can’t practically be done unless you are making the wine yourself. This is what makes this hobby so valuable.

Shop Wine ConditionerIn your case, you are not particularly happy with one of the basic features of the wine: the dryness or sweetness of the wine. You are saying that your homemade wine is too dry for your own personal taste. Fortunately, the solution is very simple. All you need to do is add sugar to the wine until it is at the sweetness you desire – custom made for you!

It is important to remember that you do not want to adjust the sweetness of a wine until it has completely cleared up and is ready to bottle, so make sure the wine is ready to be bottled before adding the sugar.

At bottling time you can make the wine sweeter tasting. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to use Wine Conditioner. This is basically a sweetener and stabilizer combined together into a syrup. The stabilizer (potassium sorbate) makes sure that your wine does not start fermenting the new sugars while in the wine bottle.

You can also use your own sugar, honey, etc. to sweeten your wine, but you will also need to add potassium sorbate separately to eliminate any Shop Potassium Sorbatechance of the wine re-fermentating. So, as I think you can start to see, if your homemade wine is too dry, it’s not that big of a deal to fix.

If the sugar you are using is granulated, I would also suggest that you pre-dissolve the sugar into a syrup before adding it to the wine. This will help to eliminate the need for excessive stirring when adding the sugar.

When actually sweetening your wine it is best to sweeten a portion of the batch, first. For example, take a measured sample of the wine – say, one gallon – and add measured amounts of sweetener to it to establish a dosage to your liking. Once the dosage is determined you can then do the same thing to the rest of the wine. This insures that you do not get the entire batch too sweet.

Shop HydrometersIf you do accidentally add too much sugar to the measured sample, just blend it back into the rest of the batch and start all over with a new gallon sample.

We also have an article on our website, Making Sweet Wines, that will have more information about what to do if your homemade wine is too dry. You may want to take a look at it as well.

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.

How Long Does It Take to Make Beer?

He Knows How Long It Takes To Make BeerWhen discussing how long it takes to make beer at home or the brewing timeline, we can separate the question into two parts: how much time is spent actively working on the beer vs. the time the beer is sitting in the fermenter or the beer bottles. While the beer will need weeks or months before it’s at it’s best to drink, the number of active hours actually spent brewing is relatively low.

 

Hands-on vs. Hands-off Time

My all-grain brew days usually take about six hours from start to finish, including cleaning, but a lot of that time is spent waiting for water to heat, for the mash to convert, and for the wort to boil. (During this time I’m able to multitask and do some chores around the house.) Add to that an hour or so for transferring to secondary and an hour or so for bottling, and the active time for making a batch of beer is about 8-10 hours, spread out over two or three days. You can shave off an hour or so if you’re brewing with malt extract or doing a partial mash. Here’s more information on these brewing methods.

The bulk of the time that it takes to make beer actually involves very little work on the part of the homebrewer. During fermentation and conditioning, it’s the yeast that does all the work of converting sugar into alcohol and developing flavor.Shop Homebrew Starter Kit

The question of how long it takes beer to ferment and condition is largely dependent on beer style. On the short end, a low-gravity ale can take as little as 2-3 weeks if you have a way to force carbonate the beer. However, homebrew almost always improves with some aging, and some beer styles simply take longer to ferment and condition than others.

 

Ales vs. Lagers

When we ask: how long does it take to make beer?, we can’t ignore the difference between ales and lagers. In general, ales are ready to drink sooner that lagers. It’s not unusual to open the first beer after 4-6 weeks of fermentation and conditioning. Lagers, on the other hand, ferment more slowly at cooler fermentation temperatures, and then go through a cold lagering phase, which may last 6-8 weeks or longer. A standard lager may take 2-3 months or longer from brew day to bottling.Shop Winemaking For Dummies

 

Amount of Fermentable Sugars

In general, the higher the gravity, or the amount of fermentable sugar in the wort, the longer it takes to ferment. High-gravity ales and lagers both benefit from extended conditioning, during which time the yeast cleans up some undesirable fermentation byproducts, harsh alcohols mellow out, and the different flavors in the beer meld together. Many brewers age barleywines and Russian imperial stouts for a year or longer.

One theory states that for every gravity point in the final gravity, age the beer for one week. This is a technical way of saying the more body your beer has, the more aging it will benefit from. In general, this theory would support aging your average beer for 2-3 months before drinking. Of course there are no absolute rules in brewing. Determining when a beer is ready to drink will come from experience and your ability to taste when a beer has reached its peak flavor.

Shop Steam Freak Kits

Conclusion

So, how long does it take to make beer at home? Though the amount of time from start to finish can be as little as a month, most of that time is spent allowing the beer to ferment and condition. In general, expect to spend 6-10 hours of hands-on time brewing, and 2-4 months between brew day and drinking. That said, you will often be rewarded for being patient and allowing your homebrew the time it needs to develop the best flavor.

—–
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.

Preparing Your Corks When Bottling Homemade Wine

Wine corks waiting to be prepared for bottling wine.Correctly preparing corks for bottling wine is important. Not only should the wine corks be sanitary, but they should be softened just enough to allow your corker to put them in the wine bottle with ease.

There are two basic ways to go about sterilizing and softening wine corks: This first involves submerging the corks in a solution of sodium metabisulfite and cold water. The second, involves steaming the corks in water.

 

Cold Soaking The Wine Corks:

Sodium metabisulfite and cold water makes a solution that will sanitize the corks. This solution can also soften the corks if they are allowed to soak long enough, usually over night, and it’s very simple to do.

Shop Sodium MetabisulfiteMix 1/8 teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite to each pint of water and submerge the wine corks in the solution. Corks like to float. So I have found that using a container with a lid of some type will help you to get this accomplished. Use the lid to push down the corks into the solution.

Let the wine corks soak long enough to make them slightly soft. You do not want the them to be spongy. You want them to be firm, but still give just a little. Remove the wine corks from the sanitizing solution and allow them to drain for a few minutes in a colander, strainer or something similar.

 

Steaming The Wine Corks:

Preparing corks for bottling by steaming them is much quicker than just soaking them, but it does take some care. It is very easy to over-steam the wine corks making them very spongy and hard to press into the wine bottle without mangling them.

Also, too much heat on the wine corks for too long will cause them to become brittle and crumble later on when they are pulled from the wine bottle.  Excessive heat denatures the wine cork causing it to deteriorate while in the bottle.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

Bring a pot of water to a boil then turn the burner off. Put the corks on the steaming water and place a lid over them. In just a matter of 2 or 3 minutes the corks should show some signs of softening. Once you feel the corks firmness start to give – just a little – rinse them in cold water to cool them down. They are then ready to be used.

Under no circumstances would I recommend preparing the wine corks by steaming them for longer than 5 minutes.

Which method you use for preparing corks for bottling is up to you. I feel the preferred method is to cold soak them, but if you forget to start that the day before bottling the wine, I can understand you wanting to steam the wine corks instead.
—–
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.

Sweet! Home Brewing With Chocolate

Home Brewing With ChocolateAmong the many different herbs, spices, and flavor additives that can be used to make creative and intriguing homebrews, chocolate is one of the most tantalizing. Is it chocolate’s antioxidant power? Its aphrodisiac properties? Whatever the reason, millions of people around the world find chocolate irresistible, so why not put it in beer?

When home brewing with chocolate, it’s important to consider the balance between the chocolate and flavors of the base beer style. You would probably use a light hand if adding a note of chocolate to a pale ale, for example, but for a porter or a stout, you can be more liberal, as the chocolate will blend into the dark roasted flavors of the darker beer. Most people eat chocolate that has been sweetened, so you also consider supporting the chocolate flavors with some sweet caramel malt, unfermentable lactose sugar, or residual malt sugars derived from a higher mash temperature.

It’s also a good idea to think about the color impact of home brewing with chocolate. “Dry-hopping” your beer with cacao nibs will impart less color than boiling cocoa powder or baker’s chocolate. Again, brewing a chocolate porter or stout will leave more room for error than a paler beer style.

 

Below, find six of the best ways for home brewing with chocolate:Shop Beer Flavorings

  1. Chocolate malt – Before experimenting with adding actual chocolate to your beer, be sure to consider the possibilities of achieving the flavor your want with chocolate malt. No, chocolate malt isn’t made with chocolate. A skilled maltster is able to manipulate roasting temperatures to bring out chocolate flavors, yet keep the malted barley from tasting too burnt or bitter. Chocolate malt is roasted beyond the sweeter caramel malts, but shy of the more heavily roasted black patent malt or roasted barley. Use chocolate malt for as much as 10% of the grist in porter and stouts. In smaller amounts, it’s also an effective way to adjust beer color. Also consider experimenting with chocolate wheat and chocolate rye.
  1. Chocolate syrup – Chocolate syrup is a convenient and effective means of adding chocolate flavor to your homebrew. It can be adding directly to the boil or during secondary fermentation. Due to its sugar content, it can even be used for priming (1 cup per five-gallon batch). For best results, make sure the syrup is fat-free.
  1. Cocoa powder – Cocoa powder is the finely Shop Malted Grainsground, unsweetened beans of the cacao plant. Cocoa powder can be added to the mash or the boil, but contributes a fairly subtle flavor and may have problems dissolving. Double check to make sure your powder is made from pure cocoa, and start by using two to four ounces in a five-gallon batch.
  1. Chocolate bars/baker’s chocolate – Chocolate bars can also be added to the boil, but be careful what kind you use. Many of these bars have high fat content or other additives that can negatively affect your beer. For best results, melt the bars before mixing into the kettle. Use 2 oz. of baker’s chocolate as a starting point for a stout.
  1. Chocolate liqueur – Chocolate liqueur, often sold as crème de cacao, is a great way of adding chocolate to your homebrew. It’s sterile, and it offers the ability to add measured doses of chocolate flavor post fermentation. Read more about Bottling Homebrewing with Flavored Liqueur.
  1. Cocoa nibsCocoa nibs are roughly crushed cocoa beans. They’re great for “dry-hopping” your beer to give it a subtle, nutty chocolate flavor. Shop Steam Freak KitsWhen used this way, they impart little color to your beer. Three or four ounces of cocoa nibs is a good starting point for a five-gallon batch.

 

Interested in trying your hand a home brewing with chocolate? Try this Chocolate Milk Stout!

—–
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.

Crazy! But Why Is My Wine Turning Orange?

What you see when a wine turning orange.I recently made KenRidge Pinot Grigio and bottled it at the end of December. While the taste of the wine is fine, any wine leftover in the bottle (re-corked) for two days starts turning orange. The wine fermented correctly, all directions were followed, and the wine was filtered prior to bottling. Why is my wine turning orange? Is this a health hazard?, and is there anything I can do now to prevent this colorization?

Terry – OH
—–
Dear Terry,

The reason why your wine is turning orange is very simple: your wine is oxidizing.

Oxidation is a process that occurs when a wine is exposed to excessive oxygen for too long of time. In your case, once the cork is pulled from a wine bottle, you are allowing air to enter with the wine. This allows the oxidative process to start.

This is no different that when an apple core turns brown. The first signs of your wine oxidizing will show itself as a light-orange tinge that will later turn to a light-amber, then dark-amber, then eventually brown. If you have ever seen a Shop Potassium BisulfiteSherry or a Port, these are examples of wines that are oxidized on purpose.

The wine is perfectly safe to drink. There is nothing going on that would make the wine harmful. However, you will probably notice some deterioration in the wine’s overall character. This is normally first noticeable as a loss of fruitiness and a collapse of any complexities the wine may have had. In other words, the wine will typically start to have a flat and lifeless impression. Then as the oxidation progress on you may start to notice a caramel or raisin smell, then in later stages, as a caramel or raisin taste.

There are some things you can do to help keep your wine from turning orange and experiencing the other effects of oxidation:

 

  • Add sulfites to the wine at bottling time. Shop Ascorbic AcidDoing this will delay the oxidative process once the bottle has been opened. It will also help the wine to keep better while aging in the wine bottle.
  • Add ascorbic acid to the wine at bottling time. This will help to slow the effects of oxidation by lowering the wine’s pH.
  • Keep partial bottles in the refrigerator. Cooler temperatures will slow down the oxidative process as well as keeping the wine out of direct UV rays such as sunlight.
  • Use a Vacuvin Wine Saver on partial bottles. The Vacuvin Wine Saver allows you to pump air out of the wine bottle. This will slow the oxidative process, dramatically. This is a very effective way for you to keep your wine from turning orange since you are dealing will partial bottles of wine.
  • And, then there’s the solution I find most effective of all… drink the whole bottle!Shop Vacuvin Wine Saver

 

If you want to read more about oxidation and why a wine will start turning orange you may also want to take a look at the article, “Controlling Oxidation In Your Homemade Wines.”

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.

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.

10 Random Wine Making Tips And Tricks

Learning Wine Making TipsHere is a collection of wine making tips and tricks for beginners and more-seasoned home winemakers. This is advice that has been published throughout our various newsletters over the years. They are just bits and pieces of information that have proven to be useful to home winemakers and help keep them from making mistakes.

 

  1. I’ll put the most important of wine making tips, first. Control your fermentation temperatures. The number one reason for a failed fermentation is temperature. The ideal temperatures for a healthy fermentation is between 70° and 75°F. If the fermentation is cooler than this, the wine yeast will start to go dormant and become inactive. If the fermentation becomes warmer than this, you will be increasing the ability of mold and bacteria to take over the wine.
  1. It is possible to temporarily cut back the amount of water called for in a wine recipe in order to accommodate a fermenter that’s not quite large enough. For example, if you have a wine making kit that makes 6 gallons, Shop Wine Kit Tips Bookbut your primary fermenter will only hold 6 gallons to the brim, you can cut back on the water called for by 1/2 gallon to allow for the foaming until it is time to transfer it to your secondary fermenter. At that time the shorted water can be added to the batch. The water should be distilled water when added at this point. The maximum amount I recommend shorting the water in a given batch is 1 gallon to every 5 or 6 gallons. This is assuming that the shortage will be promptly made up when the wine is transferred to a secondary container.
  1. Don’t have time to make wine when your fruits are ready? That’s okay. Just put your wine making fruits in the freezer. Fruits that have been frozen tend to break down more readily when fermented anyway. This will allow more of the fruits character to be release into your wine must. Of all the wine making tips, I particularly like this one the best. It has afforded me ability to have time to make more wine throughout the year.
  1. If you have ever picked elderberries before you know that it can be a very time consuming task. Not only are the number of berries required to make a batch of homemade wine quite high, the amount of stems that are involve are just as bad. You can categorize this one under time saving wine making tips… Shop Wine YeastWhen collecting the elderberries simply cut them off in clusters, stems and all. A tile knife works great for this. Put them all in a plastic trash bag or similar and freeze them for at least 2 days. Once the elderberry clusters have been frozen, inflate the trash bag with air, tie off its opening. Then violently shake or beat the bag against the ground. This will break most of the elderberries lose from the stems. Once this has been done sufficiently, clip a bottom corner of the plastic bag and the elderberries will come rolling out. You won’t get 100% of the berries out, so there will be some waste in the process. But, it is well worth the time that you will save.
  1. By storing your packets of fresh wine yeast in the refrigerator, you can double their shelf-life. Yeast stored in this way will always be good for at least two years after purchasing. If yeast is just stored at room temperature it is usually only good for about a year. It is important to note here that you never want to freeze yeast. Freezing yeast damages their cell walls making budding or reproducing very difficult during the fermentation.
  1. One easy way to warm up your fermenters during the cooler months is to use an old lamp with an old style 100 watt light bulb. If you place the bulb 12 inches off to the side of a 5 gallon batch, it will warm the liquid’s temperature by about 8 to 10 degrees. Wrap the vessel in a dark trash bag to protect the wine from the excessive light the bulb causes. If 8 or 10 degrees is too much of an increase, just back off the bulb another 1 or 2 inches away from your fermentation vessel. Use a stick-on thermometer on the opposite side the the fermenter to track the temperature.Shop Temp Probe
  1. When taking a hydrometer reading, give the hydrometer a quick spin in the liquid to be tested, first. This is to dislodge any air bubbles that may be clinging to the side of the wine hydrometer. These bubbles can slightly throw off your reading.
  1. To increase the body of a finished wine without making it sweeter, add 2 to 4 ounces of glycerine to each 5 gallon batch. Glycerine is a natural byproduct of a fermentation. It increases the viscosity or mouth-feel of a wine. Heavier red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are known for their body. With these wines the fuller body helps their flavor to linger on the taste buds a bit longer while also helping to reduce the wines rough edges.
  1. Of all the wine making tips I’ve seen or heard of, I believe this one has saved more wine than any other: When doing your first one or two rackings, Shop Potassium Sorbatedon’t leave any wine behind – get it all. Even if it comes along with some of the sediment. With the earlier rackings all you need to be concerned about is getting rid of “most” of the sediment, not “all” of it. And particularly, not at the expense of loosing your precious wine. It is when you get down to the final racking, that it becomes important to leave all of the sediment behind – even at the expense of loosing a little wine. The last racking is the one that really counts. Heeding this wine making tip has saved me more wine than you’ll ever know.
  1. Instead of using cane sugar to sweeten your wines, try sweetening your wine with honey. Honey will enhance the complexity of the wine’s finish (aftertaste) and sweeten it at the same time. Remember to always add a wine stabilizer such as potassium sorbate when sweetening your wine with any type of sugar.

 

There you have it: 10 wine making tips to help your wine making efforts go a little smoother. I’ll go through the files and see if I can come up with any more. When I do, I’ll be sure to post them here.

—–
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.

photo credit: MTSOfan wine making 01 via photopin (license)

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.
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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.

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.

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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.
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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.