Winter Spiced Ale Recipe Just For The Holidays

Friends Drinking Winter Spiced Ale RecipeWho doesn’t love the holiday season? Time to brew this winter spiced ale recipe. Sure, family time is great, but how about all those big, flavorful beers that come out around the end of the year?! Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, a fresh-hop beer, is one of my all-time favorites.

We also start to see some usual ingredients show up in the beer aisle. Thinking about some of the foods that go on the table for the holidays brings some inspiration. Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company makes a Christmas Ale that’s extremely popular, brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon.

Brewing a winter spiced ale recipe for the holidays opens the door to using some fun fruits and spices. Go a little crazy with this one: apples, cranberries, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, chocolate, and cloves are all fair game. BJCP guidelines suggest that spices complement the base style rather than overwhelm it, so be judicious when it comes to herbs and spices.

A winter spice ale recipe can be based on any classic style (pale ale, porter, stout), but winter ales tend to be high-gravity and more full-bodied than the average beer. The extra punch of alcohol helps keep us all warm and merry in the colder months. Use additional malt extract and/or adjunct sugars to boost gravity. Try some extra caramel malt to help balance out the hodgepodge of wintery flavors.

Brewing a winter spiced ale recipe doesn’t have to be difficult! One method would be to take a beer recipe kit, such as the Barleywine Recipe Kit, then pick a handful of spices and flavorings to add to the boil or the secondary fermenter. Read Brew Your Own Herb Beers for some suggestions.

Here’s an idea – start a tradition! Brew your winter ale every year, cellaring a portion of the batch to open in subsequent holidays.Shop Steam Freak Beer Kits

 

Winter Spiced Ale Recipe

This extract recipe is adapted from Marty Nachel’s book, Homebrewing for Dummies. It was Philip Fleming’s first place award winner at the American Homebrewer’s Association national competition:

 

Anne’s Choice Christmas Ale

6.6 pounds Munton’s Amber Malt Extract
3.3 pounds Munton’s Dark Malt Extract
.5 oz. Hallertauer hops at :55
.5 oz. Hallertauer hops at :5
Wyeast #1007: German AleShop Beer Flavorings
.75 pound honey
5 three-inch cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
6 oz. grated ginger root
rinds from 6 medium oranges

Instructions: Simmer all the miscellaneous flavoring ingredients in the honey for 45 minutes; strain into the brew pot. (Proceed following the instructions for extract brewing.)

So, what’s your favorite winter spiced ale recipe, and what makes it special? Do you have a winter spiced ale beer recipe you’d like to share?
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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.

Aging Your Homemade Wine In A Refrigerator

Aging Wine Under RefrigerationI hope this finds you well and prospering. Is aging homemade wine in a refrigerator OK, say for several months? Also, what temperatures would be best for storing the wines long term? Would long, cool storage affect the aging of the wine? Thanks, and keep up the good work, we sure appreciate your help in many areas.

Name: N. Gerchak
State: Oregon
—–
Hello Mr. Gerchak,

Thanks for the kind words. We try very hard to answer your questions to the best of our ability.

It is perfectly fine, and preferable, that you age your wines for a few months. The need for aging your homemade wine is a given. I have found that with white wines 6 months will get the majority of the aging done. The typical white you find on the store shelf has been aged for about 18 months. Red wines could be aged anywhere from 2 to 5 years before they are sold.

Of coarse, the type of wine grape we are talking about enters into this equation, as well. For example, a Gamay will need much less aging than a Cabernet even though both are red grapes. This is because the make-up of each of these grapes are very different. Most notably, their tannin structure are on opposite ends of the scale – Gamay being low tannin, Cabernet being high tannin. This plays into how much aging is required for a wine to fully maturate and exude the maximum pleasantries that it can.

Just as the type of grape can affect the aging life of a wine, so can temperature, and this leads us back to answering your question about aging homemade wine in a refrigerator. Very simply: the cooler the storage temperature, the slower the wine will age. Although this is the general relationship between temperature and aging wines, there is still a optimal temperature range at which you would like to store your wines. This would be somewhere between 45°F. and 65°F. If you can’t store your homemade wine in this temperature range, then you want to get as close as you can.

Shop Wine Bottle CorkersSlow, cold aging can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. As home winemakers we tend to want our wines to age quickly. We want the time between bottling and consumption to be very short. We want them to be at their best in a matter of weeks, not months or years, for no other reason than we are impatient. On the other hand, aging the wine too quickly could leave you with a rack of wine that has all passed its prime. Wines do not continue to improve indefinitely with more aging.

With that being said, the temperature at which you age your homemade wine should be taken into consideration. partially based on your consumption habits. Your adjustment could be something as simple as storing the wine upstairs instead of downstairs, in the cooler basement or vise versa. Or as you have mentioned, moving the wine from the basement into a refrigerator.

As you may have gathered by now, aging homemade wine in a refrigerator is okay to do, just expect it to take longer to fully mature. If you do not have a problem with this, no worries, however if you are wanting you wines to age as quickly as possible, this may not be the route you want to go.

Buy Temp ControllerThere are a couple of suggestions I could make that would help improve upon your desire to refrigerate your wine. One is to age the wine at more-convenient, warmer temperatures for a few month – say, 3 to 6 months. Then store the wine in the refrigerator at its maximum setting (usually around 45°F). This will suspend the life of the wine for many years.

You could also go a whole different route. You could purchase a external, power interrupt temperature controller thermostat. This would allow you to set the refrigerator at any cooler temperature you would like, even 65°F. You do this by setting the refrigerator to its coldest setting. Then use the temperature controller to run the refrigerator as needed. It acts as an external thermostat that turns the power to the refrigerator on and off as need to maintain the temperature you select.

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

Quick Guide To Belgian Beer Styles

One Of The Belgian Beer StylesBelgium has one of the oldest, most diverse, and vibrant beer cultures in the world, from the centuries-old Trappist breweries housed in monasteries to the multitude of artisanal farmhouse breweries littered throughout the countryside. There is a lot of history when it comes to Belgian beer styles.

It would take a very big book to list all of the varieties of beer made in Belgium, so for the purposes of this blog post, I will list some of the styles that are most iconic of the country and the ones you will most commonly find when home brewing Belgian style beers.

 

  • Belgian Pale Ale – A Belgian pale ale looks very similar to it’s American cousin, but the flavor profile is all its own. For one, Belgian pale ale is lower on the IBU scale and more malt focused. Pale malts form the base of the grain bill, with some medium-colored malts like Vienna, Munich, Biscuit, and Aromatic malt providing some color and complexity. Adjunct sugars may be used to increase gravity, add flavor, and impart a dry finish. Spices may be used for additional complexity, but Belgian yeast provides the signature fruity and spicy flavors that define this style.
  • Belgian Abbey-Style Beers (Singel, Dubbel, Tripel) – Abbey-style beers are made in the style of those crafted by the Trappist breweries, six of which are located in Belgium. These abbey beers are segregated by alcoholic strength and characterized by a range of malt flavors that may be described as toast, raisins, or dates. They may have a sweet, rum-like flavor from the use of Belgian candi sugar. An Abbey-style Belgian ale yeast provides dominant fruity and aromatic flavors. A singel may be low to moderate strength and golden in color,Shop Beer Flavorings with a dubbel often darker and closer to 7% ABV. Belgian tripel tends to be golden, dry, herbal or floral, and 7.5-10% ABV. Consider making this Westmalle Tripel clone recipe. It’s a great place to start when home brewing Belgian beer styles.
  • Belgian Witbier – Made popular among modern drinkers by the likes of Hoegaarden and Blue Moon, Belgian wit is one of the most well-known styles of Belgian beer. Witbier, or “white beer”, is very pale in color (2-4 SRM), cloudy, and somewhat sweet with a high proportion of unmalted wheat. Orange peel and spice may contribute a refreshing, fruity complexity, but should not dominate the flavor profile. A Belgian wheat yeast strain will provide the appropriate phenolics and esters for this style.
  • SaisonSaison is style of beer from the French-speaking part of Belgium. It’s a moderate strength pale ale brewed with a little more hops than a Belgian pale, often including adjunct grains like wheat, adjunct sugar such as cane sugar, and spices, especially coriander, orange peel, or a mix of “mystery spices”. Saison Dupont is considered one of the classics.
  • Lambic – Lambic is a type of sour ale that should only be attempted by seasoned homebrewers. It’s characterized by a dry, acidic taste and a range of complex flavors that may be smokey or earthy. A true lambic requires a culture of wild bacteria and yeast and aging of a year or longer to achieve the appropriate flavor profile. Young and old lambic may be blended to produce gueuze, while fruit lambic may be aged on raspberries or cherries.Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

You will likely see a number of Belgian beer styles beyond those listed above – remember this is just a quick guide to Belgian beer styles – including a mashup of other common styles: Belgian stout, Belgian IPA, Belgian amber, Belgian holiday beers, Belgian specialty beers. The list above is only the common ones you will run across when home brewing Belgian style beers.

What are some of your favorite Belgian beer styles to brew?
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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.

There Are Black Spots In My Wine

Black Spots In WineI have made a number of batches of fruit wine and consumed most of it. This is the first time I have used cherimoya in a persimmon blend. Cherimoya is a very sweet fruit, large amounts of sediment, and does not fully clear after racking it four times.

The bottled wine is stored on its side in a dark environment for 6 months. Placing a bottle on its side creates a small air bubble at the top most section of the bottle. A black spot appears on the inside of the bottle within the air bubble. Most of these black spot will merge with the wine after the bottle is turned upright for a day or so.

What is this black spot in my wine?

Name: Mark A.
State: Hawaii
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Hello Mark,

It’s hard to know precisely what these black spots in your wine are, but normally we associate having black spots in your wine with either a mold or bacteria growth. Combined with the fact that it is appearing where there is an air pocket in the wine bottle, I would say that it is more likely to be a growth of some sort. This is where you would typically see mold or bacteria to start to grow – next to the air.

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteIf you did not add a sulfite to your wine before bottling such as: Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite, this would strongly add to my belief that a mold or bacteria is trying to grow in your wine. Sulfites are needed to help protect the wine from spoilage while it is in the wine bottle.

In addition to bottling time, you should also be using Campden tablets in the wine must before the fermentation. This is to rid the wine must from contaminates that may have come along with the fruit. The sulfites are added 24 hours before the wine yeast. Leave the the fermenter uncovered during this 24 hours to allow the sulfites to dissipate, otherwise they can interfere with the fermentation.

If you did not sanitize your wine bottles in addition to cleaning them with soapy water, this would also make me think that you are dealing with a mold or bacteria and could easily be the reason you have black spots in your wine. Cleaning the grime from the wine bottles is not good enough. They need to be sanitize with something like: Basic A or B-Brite. Any of these will easily destroy the microscopic contaminants that can grow in your wine.Shop Basic A

If you have been doing all the above, it is still possible for a mold  or bacteria to contaminate a wine and cause these black spots to form in your wine. It’s just a little harder to know how it is happening. It could be from the corks, screw-caps or whatever you are using to close the wine bottle. It could be from a piece of equipment you are using that has a nook-or-cranny that is not getting sanitized sufficiently. It could also be something as blindsiding as the sulfites you are using are old and expired. Any and all things must be considered.

After having said all this, I would like to point out that if you had said the black spots where at the lower part of the wine bottle my answer would have been completely different. I would have attributed this to tannins dropping out of the wine. This is very common and expected with some wines. But the fact that you said the black spot were next to the air pocket makes all the difference in the world.

Shop Bottle TreeAny time there are black spots in your wine, there is reason for concern. At this point I would be very hesitant to drink the wine for fear of getting sick. It is possible to save the wine by putting it all back in a fermenter; add sulfites, and re-bottle. The sulfites will kill the mold or bacteria. However, I do not recommend doing this if there is any question to the smell of flavor of the wine. Adding sulfite at this point will only stop the wine from getting worse and make it safe to drink. It will not improve the wine’s flavor or aroma. So if the wine taste or smells bad now, don’t waist your time and effort. Dump it.

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.

 

A Quick Way To Learn Hop Aroma Profiles

Smelling Hop Aroma ProfilesOur friend Bryan Roth recently shared some of the reasons that experimenting is a good homebrewing habit. In that pioneering spirit, here’s an experiment that will help you learn about how different hop aroma profiles and how they affect your beer.

A quick refresher:

Hops have essential oils that contribute to beer aroma. When added at the end of the boil or to the secondary fermenter, these oils can develop aromas described as citrus, pine, spice, dark fruit, herbal, or floral, to name a few. A hop aroma wheel can be a useful tool for selecting appropriate hop varieties, but the best way to learn the different hop aroma profiles and what they can offer to your homebrew is to actually brew with them.

That said, with an endless number of hop varieties out there and more being released all the time, it could take years to brew all the beers it would take to get a complete understanding of different hop aroma profiles. In the experiment below, you can brew one batch of beer, then split it up after fermentation to dry hop with different hop varieties. This will expose you to different hop aroma profiles 5 times as fast as using a single hop variety.

 

The Experiment Shop Hops

You will need:

 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Brew one batch of beer, but only use the first bittering addition during the boil.
  2. After primary fermentation, divide the batch into five, 1-gallon jugs and dry hop each jug with about 1/4 to 1/2 oz. of each hop variety. The exact amount isn’t as important as making sure you use the same amount for each 1-gallon batch. A typical dry hopping period lasts about 5-7 days.
  3. Bottle the beers, being sure to identify which are which.Shop Hop Bags
  4. When the beer is ready, do a tasting session to identify the different hop aroma profiles and characteristics presented by each hop. Maybe try a blind tasting to figure out which is your favorite. Was it the one you expected?
  5. Share the beers with friends to see if they agree with your assessments. What seems like a pleasing citrus aroma for one person may be unpleasant for someone else.
  6. To take it a step further, try blending the beers to get a sense of what hop varieties work well together.

 

Learning the characteristics of your homebrewing ingredients is one of the best ways to become a better brewer. With experiments like this one, you can accelerate your way to becoming a true hop aficionado.

Have you tried some experiments with hops? Did you learn anything about hop aroma profiles?
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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.

Do Wine Ingredient Kits Need Adjusting?

Wine Ingredient Kit That Does Not Need AdjustingI purchased a California Connoisseur Merlot concentrate kit. Do wine ingredient kits need adjusting of any kind. Like does this concentrate consist of tannins?  If it does, would it hurt to add tannin to help it’s staying qualities? Should I have an acid testing kit?  If so, does the tannin have to be added during/before fermentation or can I put it in at any time? Are there any other adjustments that need to be made to these wine ingredient kits?

Doug B.
———-
Hello Doug,

Thank you for this great question about adjusting wine ingredient kits.

All of the wine ingredient kits we offer have been adjusted and bench-tested with sample batches to produce a balanced, stable wine with great flavor. Any attempts to make further adjustments with various wine making ingredients such as wine tannin, acid blend or flavorings are completely unnecessary and more likely to be counterproductive.

These wine ingredient kits come complete with all the additional packets of wine making ingredients you will need to add to the wine along the way. All that is required of you to make a perfectly balanced wine is to follow the instructions that are included with these wine ingredient kits.

TShop Wine Kitshe producers of these kits crush the grapes and allow the juice to sit on the pulp until the right amount of flavor, color and body components are extracted from the grape skins into the juice. After the extraction process, the pulp is removed and the grape juice is concentrated, and sample batches of wine are made. It is at this time that any necessary adjustments are made to the grape concentrate for the sake of flavor balance and stability.

You can go ahead and make adjustments by adding other wine making ingredients to the wine must, however you will be running the risk of upsetting the stability and flavor balance of the resulting wine. In the case of adding tannin to a wine ingredient kit, you could be adding more than the wine will be able to saturate or hold within the liquid. This could result in the development of dark, dusty deposits in your wine bottles over time.Shop Wine Making Kits

Doug, I hope this answers your question about adjusting wine ingredient kits. I hope you can start to see, a lot of care goes into the production process of these wine ingredient kits, so much so that they do not need any further adjusting of any kind. Once they are packaged they are ready to be made simply by following the directions that come with them. Add the additional packets as called for, and you will be making a stable wine with great balance and flavor.

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

Brewing An Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA Clone Beer Recipe

Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA CloneI was drinking one of my favorite beers last night and felt compelled to share a clone beer recipe for it. It was the Dubhe Imperial Black IPA from Uinta Brewing Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah. Uinta is one of may favorite American breweries and they make some fantastic beers. If you haven’t tried any of them yet, I highly encourage you to take a tour of their beer selection.

Their Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA is a BIG beer: pitch black, 9.2% ABV, 109 IBUs. As dark as it is, it’s surprisingly not very heavy on the roasted flavors. Hops are a major factor, with huge spicy and citrus characteristics throwing themselves across the palate. There’s some light toasty and nutty character, which could come from the use of toasted hemp seeds. At 9.2% alcohol by volume, this beer is definitely a sipper.

Scouring the internet for tips and advice, I came across the Jamil Show on the Brewing Network. Jamil Zainasheff is something of a rockstar in the homebrewing world. He’s the author of two books about brewing, he writes the style guide section of Brew Your Own magazine, and has brewed dozens (maybe even hundreds) of award-winning homebrew beer recipes.

In one episode of the show, they interview a brewer from Uinta Brewing Co. to get the details on Dubhe. Here are some key points from the episode for brewing an all-grain version:

 

  • Shop GypsumUinta Dubhe uses a single step infusion mash at 152˚F. (To make enough beer for their 120-barrel batch, they have to mash twice and boil three times – a 22-hour brew day!)
  • The brewer recommends using calcium sulfate (a.k.a. gypsum) for water hardness (can help accentuate the hop character).
  • The brewer goes into a lot of detail about grain and hop ratios. I’ve scaled them down for a 5.5-gallon batch in the clone beer recipe below.
  • The brewer recommends using yeast nutrient since this is such a high gravity beer (normally added in the last 15 minutes of the boil).
  • Ferment at 68˚F.
  • Dry hop with Falconer’s Flight hops for about three weeks.
  • Uinta Dubhe uses a proprietary yeast strain, but the brewer recommends California ale yeast or German ale yeast.

 

Though the brewer admitted that a craft beer this big is “not a very efficient use of raw ingredients,” I highly recommend giving it a shot – especially if you love hops!Shop Yeast Energizer

Here are some additional tips for brewing this Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA clone:

 

  • The clone beer recipe below assumes a 75% mash efficiency. It can be difficult to get a good efficiency with such a high gravity beer, so you may want to increase the grain bill by 10% or so to make sure you hit your numbers.
  • Assume a fair amount of volume will be lost in the trub, both at the end of the boil and after fermentation.
  • Also, boil-off volume should be adjusted to accommodate the longer, two-hour boil.
  • Hemp seeds can be found at a specialty grocery or health food store. I’d suggest toasting them in a dry skillet for several minutes to increase the toasty flavor and reduce the likelihood of them getting too soggy and clogging the mash.

 

This is a great beer for drinking year-round, but it’s also a strong beer, so it should age well. Don’t feel like you need to drink it all at once!

Ready to give it a shot? Check out the clone beer recipe below!Shop Barley Grains

 

Black as Night DIPA (Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA Clone) 
(all-grain recipe, 5.5 gallon batch)

Specs 
OG: 1.093
FG: 1.023
ABV: 9.2%
IBUs: 120+
SRM: 40+

Ingredients 
16.2 lbs. Pale 2-Row malt
2 lbs. Munich 10L malt
2 lb. Crystal 60L malt
1 lbs. Chocolate malt
.25 lb. Roasted barley Shop Hops
.25 lb Carafa III
.25 lb. toasted hemp seeds added to last 15 mins. of mash (use a grain bag)
1.5 oz. Chinook hops at :60 left in boil
2.5 oz. Columbus hops at :30 left in boil
2 tsp. Yeast nutrient at :15 left in boil
1.4 oz. Bravo hops at :5 left in boil
1.4 oz. Columbus hops at :5 left in boil
1.4 oz. Bravo hops during 60-minute whirlpool
3 oz Falconer’s Flight hops dry-hopped for 21 days
3 packets Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Wyeast 1007: German Ale Yeast (into a 2L yeast starter)

 

Directions: Mash crushed grains at 152˚F for 60 minutes. Add toasted hemp seeds during last 15 minutes of mash. Sparge to collect a total of roughly 9 Shop Steam Freak Kitsgallons of wort in the brew kettle. Boil for 120 minutes. Add hops according to schedule above. Whirlpool for one hour. Chill wort to 65-70˚F and oxygenate. Ferment at 68˚F. Add dry hops to secondary fermenter and allow for 3 weeks in secondary. Cold crash prior to kegging or bottling to help dry hops settle out.

Have you brewed a Black IPA before? What tips do you have about brewing a Black IPA? Share in the comments 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.

Do You Have An Ice Wine Recipe?

Grapes Used In Ice Wine RecipeMy friend came from Canada and would like me to make ice wine. Is there a particular grape to use. I make scuppernong wine quite well in NC. Do you have an ice wine recipe you could provide me with.

Sue – NC
—–
Hello Sue,

I’m not sure if I can answer your question directly. That’s because making ice wine is more of a process. It’s really not made using an ice wine recipe, per se.

Ice wine is traditionally made from grapes that have been kept on the vine on into the colder winter months. The grapes are crushed and presses while they are frozen. Since it is only the water in the grapes, not the sugar and flavors, that are frozen, what releases during pressing is a concentrated juice with plenty of sugar and flavor. A majority of the water in the grapes is left behind in the wine press along with the pulp and skins. The result is a wine with lots of flavor and aroma.

As you might expect, ice wines normally come from the cooler regions of the world: Germany, British Columbia, etc. where this freezing occurs early and readily, but in North Carolina you can simulate this to some degree by freezing grape in a freezer and then crushing and pressing them very quickly, before the water in them has time to thaw and incorporate back into the juice. For example, you could try doing this outside on one of your coldest days. Pull the grapes out of the freezer and work quickly. This is what is at the heart of this wine, not an ice wine recipe.

Ice wine is made from a variety of different wine grapes such as: Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, even Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. All these grapes are wine varietals where 100% of the juice is used with no sugar or water added, regardless if it is made as an ice wine or not. That is one of there reasons there’s really not an ice wine recipe.Shop Ice Wine Kit

In the case of Scuppernong grapes where sugar and water is often added to cut the tartness of the grape, coming up with an ice wine recipe using them can be a little tricky.

If I were to approach a Scuppernong ice wine for the first time, I would freeze, crush and press as discussed before. Then I would add a sugar/water mixture to the wine must until I knew the acidity was diluted to a decent range. This can be done with an Acid Test Kit. Take an acid reading of your freshly pressed ice juice. The directions that come with the Acid Test Kit will give you the optimal acid level for your wine.

The water/sugar mixture should be made up of 2.5 pounds of sugar (5 cups) for every gallon of water. Hopefully, you do not need to add too much, since this is counterproductive to having the grapes frozen in the first place.

Once you have the wine must set up, the process is just as you have done in the past when you’ve made your grape wine. Add wine yeast, yeast nutrient and let the fermenting begin. No acid blend or wine tannin are need since plenty of both are coming from the ice-ed grape juice.

Realize that if you have some other grapes available to you besides Scupernong Shop Wine Making Kits– some grape varietals, the icing process would be a lot more effect since no water would need to be added back to cut the acidity of the juice. This is as close as I can get for you to an ice wine recipe.

You may also want to consider making wine from an ice wine ingredient kit. These kits have already had the freezing, crushing and pressing all taken care of for you. You do not need to worry about adjusting the acidity, or anything like that, either. Just follow the directions that comes with the ingredient kit, add the additional packets when called for, and you will have an ice wine with plenty of flavor and a big bouquet.

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.

Use Alternative Priming Sugars For A New Twist

Brewer Using Alternative Priming SugarsAfter fermentation is done, but before the beer hits my glass, my brew sits away in a corner of a small closet – dozens of sudsy brothers and sisters conditioning away.

Depending on the style of beer I’ve brewed and its ABV, the wait time for all those bottles to fully prime can vary. So can your method for adding priming sugar to your brews.

The sugar you use for priming your beer is not chiseled in stone. For homebrewers like me, priming a batch of beer before bottling offers some variation in what to use if you want to step away from regular, old corn sugar or DME. Here are a few alternative priming sugars to consider for your next bottled batch:

 

Carbonation Tabs

For sake of ease, these small, pill-like drops are my go-to option for bottling my homebrew. I love carbonation tabs because they are as easy as placing one drop into each bottle right before I transfer my finished beer to its final vessel. The best part: it takes the worry out of the conditioning process as I’ve never had a problem with an under or over-carbonated beer when I’ve used these. That makes these one of the better alternative priming sugars.Shop Bottling Bucket

Some brands of carbonation tablets will have small drops the size of an aspirin and others will be oblong like a tiny football. They all work the same, but some brands may simply require one drop for ideal carbonation levels while you can use multiple small pills to adjust carbonation with other brands.

 

Honey

Some alternative priming sugars, like honey, offer the chance to add a little extra layer of flavor to your beer. Curious to see what it may offer your next brew? Try it with a wheat beer, which might work nice if you’ve added fruit during fermentation, too.

To add a little extra sweetness to your homebrew at bottling time, use 1 cup of honey per 5 gallons. Mix the honey with a little warm water to thin it out to make sure it blends in with your beer.

 

Maple Syrup Shop Bottle Washer

Making a brown ale? Consider experimenting with maple syrup for your priming sugar to mash up flavors perfect for a cold fall or winter night. Whether it’s grade A or B, use 1 1/4 cup for a 5-gallon batch and again, mix it with some water to dilute the syrup. As with any of these alternative priming sugars, it’s easy to over-carbonate if you add too much. Also check out this Maple Scotch Ale homebrew recipe.

 

Brown Sugar/Molasses

When talking about alternative priming sugars, one cannot leave these two out. Both of these options would work great for a porter or stout. Imagine that little extra bit of deep, earthy sweetness mixing with the roasted and chocolate flavors of those styles – a great mix for a holiday beer!

Shop Bottle CappersThe benefit of brown sugar as a priming sugar is it can be used in the same fashion as cane sugar – boil 2/3 of a cup with two cups of water for a 5-gallon batch, then mix it in before bottling.

If you’re using molasses, use 1 cup with boiled water per 5 gallons and make sure this super-thick liquid breaks down a bit. You don’t want a mess on your hands.

 

Priming Sugar Calculator

If you’re ready to change up your priming routine, one great resource is this priming sugar calculator from HomebrewDad.com. It has a variety of sugars listed that you can choose when using alternative priming sugars . This calculator will offer up specific amounts depending on your exact volume of beer, desired carbonation levels, and more.Shop Fridge Monkey

Happy Brewing!
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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 award-winning 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.

Starting And Final Specific Gravity Readings For Wine

Taking Final Specific Gravity ReadingI am in the process of making my first batch of Scuppernong Wine. The SG [specific gravity] at the beginning was 1.116… The process has been going on for about 8 weeks now. The SG now is 1.030… I still see activity. What should the final specific gravity reading be when the wine is complete?

Name: Charles P.
State: South Carolina
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Hello Charles,

To answer your question, you should expect a final specific gravity for wine somewhere between .992 and .996 on your hydrometer.

Your starting specific gravity reading was a little high, so your wine yeast has a lot of work to do. Normally you would want a starting specific gravity between 1.070 and 1.100 for wine. Yours was 1.116. This may be more than the wine yeast can handle.

 

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Shop HydrometersSugar acts as a preservative. If the concentrate of sugar becomes too high, it can actually interfere with the wine yeast from even starting. Your fermentation started, so obviously this is not an issue for this fermentation.
  1. Wine yeast has a limited tolerance to alcohol. As the alcohol level rises in the wine must, the wine yeast finds it harder and harder to ferment, sometimes to the point of not being able to ferment at all. This would be known as a stuck fermentation.

 

Your starting potential alcohol level was between 15% and 16%. A majority of wine yeast will have a hard time fermenting to this level of alcohol.

My guess is that your fermentation will become very slow as it ferments the last few percentage points of sugar. If this is the case, just be patient and give it plenty of time to do its thing. As long as you can see some slight progress, you are okay.

However, depending on the wine yeast you used, the fermentation may not be able to finish at all – a stuck fermentation. If this is the case, you may be forced into a situation to where you need to dilute the wine must with water to cut its alcohol level. This will help the yeast to start up again and finish the fermentation.

Shop Hydrometer JarsSince the starting specific gravity for your wine was so high, I would recommend that you also take a look at the Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure. By doing this you may discover other things that can be done to help the fermentation along and get the final specific gravity for your wine where it needs to be.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus

 

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