My Wine Stopped Fermenting Too Early!

Wine That Stopped FermentingI am making a strawberry wine. I mixed everything together and the fermentation started the next day. But now my wine has stopped fermenting too early. It has only been fermenting for about 5 days. What should I do?

Name: Kelly F.
State: GA
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Hello Kelly,

It may very well be that you have a stuck fermentation, and need to figure out how to get it going again. But, more than likely the reason your wine is not fermenting is because the fermentation is simply done. Once all the available sugars have been turned into alcohol by the wine yeast, there is nothing else to do. No reason to add more yeast, etc.

While most fermentations will last anywhere from 7 days to 14 days, I have personally seen wine fermentations be completely done in less than 3 days. It’s all just a matter of how happy you make the wine yeast.

To determine if your wine stopped fermenting too early or if you have a stuck fermentation, you will need to test the wine with a hydrometer. If you do not have a hydrometer, I would strongly urge you to get one. A wine hydrometer is the single most valuable tool any winemaker can have, and it is quick and easy to use.Shop Hydrometer

 

  • If your wine has a specific gravity reading less than .998, then your fermentation is done. All that you need to do is to continue on with any wine recipe directions you are following. This would typically be to rack the wine into a secondary fermenter and allow it time to clear.
  • If your wine has a specific gravity reading more than .998, then you have a stuck fermentation on your hands and will need to figure out how to get the wine fermenting again.

 

There are a number of reasons why a wine might stop fermenting too early – too many to go over here – but fortunately you can go to our Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure. There you will find the mostly likely reasons why you have a stuck fermentation. The reasons are in order from the most to least likely reason. This list was culminated from our years and years of experience with helping home winemakers. Go over them and see if any of the top 10 reasons apply to this batch of wine.Shop Yeast Energizer

In short, if you have a wine that stopped fermenting too early, it does not necessarily mean you have a problem. In fact, it could mean the opposite – that you had a very good fermentation and it is done sooner than expected.

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.

Racking Beer Into A Secondary Fermenter? Doesn’t Hurt!

Racking Beer Into Secondary FermenterThis past month, I bought my brother, who just started homebrewing, a red ale beer recipe kit. Checking in on his progress, he asked me this question:

“My beer is in the process of fermenting. We started fermenting it in the bottling bucket because we plan on racking the beer into a secondary fermenter to do a secondary fermentation on the beer, but we never got around to racking it, so the beer is approaching three weeks of primary fermentation. Do you think it would be worth it to try a secondary fermentation for a week, or do you think we should just go straight to bottling the beer at this point?”

After three weeks in primary, it’s highly likely that your beer is done fermenting, and it’s probably safe to go ahead and bottle your beer. But you can’t just bottle straight from your primary fermenter: it’s full of yeast and other trub that you should try to keep out of your finished beer.

 

Here’s what I would do:

  • Shop FerMonsterRack the beer to your other (sanitized!) secondary fermenter and take a gravity reading with your hydrometer to see whether the fermentation is complete. It most likely will be at this point, but you want to be sure. Remember, if you take a reading directly in the bucket, your hydrometer should be sanitized beforehand.
  • You probably won’t need to plan for an extended secondary fermentation period, but in any case, go ahead and rack your beer from the primary to the secondary fermenter. This will give you the opportunity to free up your bottling bucket and discard the trub. Go ahead and clean out the bottling bucket so it will be ready for brew day.
  • After 2-3 days in secondary, you can go ahead and bottle, provided that you’ve reached somewhat close to your anticipated final gravity. Bottle as you would normally. You can mix in the priming sugar as it fills back into your bottling bucket.

 

Though the beer’s secondary fermentation probably won’t affect your gravity at this point, I’d recommend at least 2-3 days to allow the yeast, which will get stirred up when you’re racking, to settle again. This may also be a good time to add gelatin or isinglass if you find that your beer is especially cloudy. Racking beer into a secondary fermenter is never a bad thing.Shop Homebrew Starter Kit

Tip: Many aspects of homebrewing are made easier by thinking through the process in advance. Think backwards from the end of the brewing process to figure out your brew day or bottling day sequence so that racking and bottling, etc. are more convenient to your schedule. 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.

3 Reasons Why You Should Be Making Wine!

why-you-should-be-making-wine2What motivates you to make your own homemade wine?  Is it for that feeling of knowing you’re participating in an ancient art that has been practiced for thousands of years?  Is it so you can control the aromas and flavors of your wine and not worry about whether or not you’ll like the wine when you pop that cork?  Or maybe you’re just trying to save a little money by making it yourself?  Whatever your motivation, making your own homemade wine is a time-honored hobby that is beneficial on so many levels!

Here’s three reasons why you should be making your own wine. These are the reasons that seem to stand out to most people.

 

  1. First, it’s cheaper to make your own wine than to continually have to restock your wine cellar through regular visits to the wine shop.  You can find inexpensive bottles of wine in the store, but their quality is hit or miss, and by making your own wine, you’ll know it’s good once you’ve got your rhythm down.  On average, actually good bottles of wine in the store are going to cost you between $15 and $30.  Again, you can get good wine for less than that, but it’s not as common and you really have to know your brands at that point.

    If you add up the cost of the wine making ingredients for your homemade wine and divide it up by the number of wine bottles it produces, you’re paying significantly less per bottle and per sip than you are the majority of the inexpensive good bottles of wine at the store. So, you should be making your own wine from a standpoint of cost, alone.

  1. The second reason as to why you should be making wine, you have total control over what the finished product becomes.  You have carte blanche over what your finished wine will taste like and over the style of wine it will become.

    And realize, commercial wines are not immune to possessing faults, so even if you make a mistake, be comforted in the fact that it is very possible you could have just as easily purchased a bad bottle from the store.  Once you get your winemaking technique down and you have all the right wine making ingredients, you can create a wine that you know you’ll enjoy every time you pop that cork.

  1. Shop Wine Making KitsFinally, making homemade wine can be really easy!  Sure, it’s scary to think about it if you’ve never done it before, but there are many great resources available to you for free.

    One great starting place is our How To Make Wine page. This page puts the whole wine making process in a nutshell. There’s also some great wine making recipes available to you. And, as if one couldn’t make it even easier, taking advantage of all the great winemaking kits out there will help making your own homemade wine a piece of cake! Currently, there are over 160 grape juice to choose from, collected from all over the world.

 

So as you can see there are many great reasons why you should be making wine. Not to mentions that your own homemade wine is a great thing to share with family and friends.

Do you make wine already? Share with others why you make wine in the comment section below!
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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 Beginner’s Guide To Home Brewing German Beer

Home Brewed German BeerToday we will explore the beers from one of the world’s top brewing regions: Germany. Many of the world’s popular styles of beer are derived from classic German styles. Home brewing German beer is no harder or easier than brewing other types of beer, and the array of flavors is nothing short of fulfilling.

  • Bamberg Smoked Beers
    Bamberg, in the central region of Germany called Franconia, is the home of rauchbier (rauch = smoke in German). The smoked beers of Bamberg are mostly lagers, ranging from pale in color to amber or brown. The smokiness can be anywhere from mild to very assertive. Brew your own smoked beer using Briess Smoked Malt. As little as a pound will add noticeable smoke flavor to any beer style. A classic rauchbier should be similar to Märzen in appearance, and may use as much as 100% smoked malt.
  • Bavarian Wheat Beers (Weizen)
    The southern region of Germany is known as Bavaria, with Munich being the capital as far as brewing is concerned. Bavaria is home to weissbier (white beer), also known as weizenbier (wheat beer), to great German beer styles. Variations on the style include dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer) and hefeweizen, a wheat beer served cloudy with its own yeast (hefe = yeast). Some of the popular German brands include Erdinger, Schneider, and Paulaner. Bready, effervescent, with a hint of banana and clove, weizenbier is especially refreshing during the summer months. If this is your first time home brewing German beer, than this is a good style to start with.
  • Oktoberfest/Märzen Lagers
    These amber lagers have been made popular by the annual Oktoberfest celebrations in Bavaria. Only breweries within the Munich city limits are allowed to serve their beer at the main Oktoberfest festival. These include Spaten, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Staatliches Hofbräu-München. Check out our Oktoberfest blog post for more information and beer recipes for home brewing an Oktoberfest/Märzen lager. Anyone interested in home brewing German beer might best be served by giving this one a go.
  • Kölsch
    Born in the Western city of Cologne (Köln in German), the Kölsch is a very pale lager/ale hybrid. Though fermented with top-fermenting ale yeast, this beer is conditioned at colder lager temperatures, which helps give it a clean, crisp character. In fact, lager is a German word meaning “to keep” or “to lay down.” Read our Tips on How to Brew a Kölsch and check out the Brewers Best Kölsch Recipe Kit to brew your own Kölsch!Shop Beer Recipe Kits
  • Roggenbier
    Roggen is the German word for rye. Roggenbier is native to Regensberg, in Bavaria. It is similar to the German Dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer) except that malted rye is used in place of malted wheat. Rye can get sticky in a mash; rice hulls can help avoid a stuck mash. A classic roggenbier may use as much as 50-65% rye malt, with the rest of the grain bill coming from pale malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, and/or crystal malt. The weizen ale yeast should be used to achieve the banana/clove characteristics of this style.
  • Altbier
    Altbier literally means “old beer.” Not that the beer is especially old! The name just means that the beer is brewed in the old style. Northern German Altbier is defined as a moderately bitter brown lager. It’s a great beer to start with for someone thinking about home brewing German beer styles. Though they may be made with ale yeast, they should be fermented cool and lagered. Altbier is also popular in the German city of Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf Altbier differs from Northern German Altbier in that it tends to have a more robust (but not roasty) malt flavor and more assertive noble hop bitterness.
  • German Light Lagers
    Lumped together in this broad category are a number of notable styles, including Munich Helles, Dortmunder Export, and Pilsner. Helles means “light” in German, in reference to the color of these beers. These pale lagers are relatively new styles, since pale malts weren’t made until advances in technology during the Industrial Revolution. Each of these lagers are very clean and pale in color. The dominant flavor in the Munich Helles should be the light grain, often Pilsner malt. German Pilsner tends to feature more noble hop bitterness and flavor. The Dortmunder Export is a slightly stronger lager than the Helles or Pilsner, featuring more substantial body and a good balance between malt and hops.Shop Conical Fermenter
  • German Dark Lagers
    Prior to the mid-1800s, all German lagers were dark. Munich Dunkel (dunkel = dark) is a classic lager, featuring loads of rich Munich malt, as much as 100% of the grain bill. The color of a Munich Dunkel ranges from copper to dark brown. Even darker than the Dunkel is the Schwarzbier (Schwarz = black). Though it tends to be more brown than black, schwarzbier is chocolaty and full-bodied, often with a dry, tangy finish. Contrary to what a drinker might suspect, schwarzbier is exceptionally smooth and sessionable. For this reason, it is one of the better German beer styles for home brewing. Intrigued? Brew a schwarzbier with this malt extract schwarzbier recipe.
  • Berliner Weisse
    This is a very pale style of beer usually brewed with 30-50% malted wheat. The defining characteristic however is that the beer is fermented with a lactobacillus bacteria culture, which gives the beer a tart, sour acidity that’s actually quite refreshing. There was a time in Germany when Berliner Weisse was extremely popular and referred to as “the Champagne of the North.” Though it is not as popular today as it once was, the style has made a resurgence among craft brewers in the United States. This recipe for a Cranberry “Lambic” allows the homebrewer to replicate the tartness of the Berliner Weisse without the bacteria culture.
  • Bocks
    Bockbier was developed in Northern Germany. The name likely comes from the town of Einbeck, where bocks were first made as early as the 14th and 15th centuries. German bocks are very strong lagers, ideal for consumption during the colder months of winter and early spring. Bocks tend to be smooth and malty sweet. Doppelbocks are even stronger versions, usually at least 6.8% ABV, and often with the suffix –ator in the name. Paulaner Salvator is the classic example. Maibock or Helles Bock is lighter in color, though just as potent as a traditional bock.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

Home brewing German beer recipes is an excellent way to get you brewing “chops”. We have several beer recipe kits featuring German style beers. All the way from Kölsch to Bock, there is a favorite German beer style waiting for you. Which one will you brew first?
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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.

Adding Sulfites To Homemade Wine

Adding Sulfites To WineI started fruit wine making in May. Yesterday I came across reading something on your blog which caught my attention. Something that I haven’t read or was told before. That is to add Campden tablets and sorbate after each racking. Do I need to do this after each racking or is it OK with every other racking?… By me not adding any since I started and going on my 3 and 4th rackings am I in jeopardy of losing my wine?…

Eric — LA
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Hello Eric,

The fact that you haven’t been adding sulfites [Campden tablets] to your homemade wine doesn’t mean you have ruined it by any means. There are winemakers that never use sulfite and turn out good wines. But having said this, I would urge you to start adding sulfites to homemade wine.

Sulfites such as Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite make sure your wine does not spoil during the wine making process. After the wine has been made, sulfites help to insure that your wine will keep for many years and not just weeks or months in the wine bottle. Sulfites also help your wine to be free from the effects of oxidation. This is when the color of the wine darkens and the flavor taken on a little bitterness. Adding sulfites to homemade wine is not an absolute necessity, but it only makes sense to do so.

Potassium sorbate on the other hand is a different beast. It should only be used before bottling the wine – if at all. It is required if you are planning on back-sweetening your wine at bottling time. If it is not added along with the sweetening sugar, you stand a very strong chance of experiencing a re-fermentation of your wine while in the bottle. This can eventually result in popping corks and fizzy wine.

Shop Campden TabletsThere is no reason to add potassium sorbate at any other time than at bottling. In fact, if it is added before the fermentation has completed it will most likely result in a sluggish or stuck fermentation. I would not recommend adding it at bottling time if you are not making a sweet wine. It is not necessary.

If you are making wine from fresh fruit, I always recommend adding sulfite to homemade wine about 24 hours before adding the yeast. Leave the wine must uncovered during this 24 hours so that the sulfite gas may dissipate. Then add the wine yeast as you normally would. Doing this will easily destroy any wild molds, bacteria, etc. that may be coming along with the fruit.

I always recommend that sulfite be added before bottling, as well. This is the dose that keeps the wine fresh and free of oxidation while in the wine bottle. Before fermentation and before bottling are the two times I would never forgo.

I also suggest adding sulfites to wine after the fermentation has completed. This is with the understanding that the wine is going to sit for a while before clearing up. This will keep any airborne contaminants from growing on your wine while clearing.

Shop Potassium BisulfiteOnce the wine is clear and you have racked it off the sediment, I would also recommend adding a 1/2 dose of sulfites if you plan on bulk-aging the wine. If you plan on bottling within a few days don’t worry about it.

Eric, at this point I would add a dose of Campden tablets. Just on per gallon. If you are on your 3rd or 4th racking you shouldn’t need to rack your wine any more other than to bottle it, at which point I would add another dose of Campden tablets. No potassium sorbate should be added unless you are sweetening your wine.

Adding sulfites to homemade wine is important and highly recommended. It’s like buying insurance for making a wine that doesn’t spoil or oxidize. If you do not add sulfites you can make wine successfully, but most will find it hard for the wine to keep over extended periods of time without refrigeration.

Happy Winemaking,
Customer Service at E. C. 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.

3 Homebrew Beer Recipes You’ll Want To Brew Again!

Man Drinking Homebrew BeerAs a homebrewer, I love to experiment with a wide varieties of homebrew beer recipes: ginger beer, various SMaSH beer recipes, attempts at gluten-free beer for my girlfriend. Experimentation is a great way to learn about homebrewing ingredients and the processes, but it’s also important to make beer that is guaranteed you’ll like to drink. If all you do is experiment all the time, chances are that you’ll have to stomach your way through some very.…interesting beers.

There are thousands upon thousands of homebrew beer recipes that you could make: clone recipes, SMaSH recipes, extract recipes, all-grain recipes, IPA’s, double IPA’s, dark beers, light beers, hard recipes, recipes for beginners. It is truly and endless list. With all the chatter it’s hard to choose.

With that in mind, here are three homebrew beer recipes that I would recommend for the regular rotation.

 

Homebrew Beer Recipe #1
AMARILLO PALE ALE 

(five-gallon batch, extract partial mash recipe)

This recipe produces a solid American pale ale. Malted wheat and carapils give this beer some body and a solid white head, while the Amarillo hops give it a bright citrus character.

Specs
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.016
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 6

Ingredients
1 lb. Carapils malt
1 lb. White wheat maltShop Steam Freak Kits
6.6 lbs. Light Malt Extract
4 oz. light brown sugar (late addition)
1 oz. Amarillo hops at 60 mins (8.6 AAUs)
.5 oz. Amarillo hops at 20 mins (4.3 AAUs)
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
.5 oz. Amarillo hops at 5 mins (4.3 AAUs)
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Fermentis Safale US-05

Directions
If using liquid yeast, prepare a yeast starter the day before brewing. On brew day, steep crushed grains in three quarts of water at 152˚F for 60 minutes. Strain out grains and rinse with hot water at 170˚F. Add liquid malt extract and enough water to make three gallons of wort and bring to a boil. Add hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. At end of boil, mix in brown sugar. Chill wort to 70˚F or below and mix in enough cool, clean water to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 65-70˚F. Bottle or force carbonate for ~2.5 vols CO2.

 

Homebrew Beer Recipe #2
BIG MIKE’S BIG BROWN ALE

(five-gallon batch, all-grain recipe)

This beer recipe makes a fairly stout American brown ale with a heavy dose of hops.

Specs
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.017
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 62
SRM: 30

Ingredients
9.5 lbs. Two-row brewer’s maltShop Home Brew Starter Kit
1.5 lbs. Caramel 60L malt
.75 lbs. Chocolate malt
.5 lb. Belgian aromatic malt
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 60 mins (7.5 AAUs)
1 oz. Willamette hops at 30 mins (4.5 AAUs)
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 10 mins (7.5 AAUs)
1 oz. Willamette hops at flameout (4.5 AAUs)
Fermentis Safale US-05 Ale Yeast

Directions
Mash crushed grains at 152˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect seven gallons of wort in the brew kettle. Bring to a boil and add hops according to schedule. Chill wort to 70˚F or below and ferment at 65-70˚F. Bottle or force carbonate for ~2.4 vols CO2.

 

Homebrew Beer Recipe #3
SUMMER SAISON

(five-gallon batch, all-grain recipe)

When temperatures start to rise, it’s time for saison. Not only can the saison yeast handle the higher temps, the citrus flavor and dry finish on this beer are very refreshing. This is a wonderful homebrew beer recipe that I’d wish every brewer would try.

Specs
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 6

Ingredients
8 lbs. Two-row brewer’s malt
1 lb. Caramel 20L malt
4 oz. Flaked oats
1.5 lbs. cane sugar (late addition)
.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops at 60 mins (3.9 AAUs)
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :30 (2.5 AAUs)
3 grams fresh ground coriander at :20
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :15 (2.5 AAUs)shop_brew_kettles
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
3 grams fresh ground coriander at :10
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops (dry hop)
Danstar Saison Yeast

Directions
Use relatively hard water for the mash. Mash grains in about 11 qts. of clean water at 148-150˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect 7 gallons in the brew kettle. Bring to a boil. Add hops, spices, and Irish moss according to schedule. At end of boil, mix in cane sugar. Chill wort to 70˚F and transfer to fermenter. Pitch yeast and ferment at 70-75˚F. Dry hop for five days at 68˚F. Bottle or force carbonate for ~2.4 vols CO2.

These are a few of my favorite go-to homebrew beer recipes that I brew on a regular basis. Which beer styles are part of your regular rotation? Feel free to share the recipe 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.

Can I Use Potassium Sorbate To Stop A Fermentation?

Wine Fermentation That Needs To Be StoppedAs the yeast eats the sugars, the sweet taste disappears as the sugar is eaten. I have heard you can’t stop the yeast from doing their job. But if I want a sweeter wine and my reading has reached an SG of 1.010, can I put potassium sorbate in the fermentation to stop it there for some sweetness instead of letting it ferment to the end at .998 and having to try and back sweeten a dry wine?

Byron J. — FL
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Hello Byron,

This is a great question because it covers a two wine making topics that often trip up home winemakers: using potassium sorbate and sweetening a wine.

Let me start off by saying that it is possible to stop a fermentation in progress, but it is much more difficult than just using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation and/or sulfites such as Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite. These wine making ingredients will give the fermentation a blow to the gut, but vary rarely will they permanently stop a fermentation. Not good enough for a homemade wine that is destined to be bottled. The last thing any winemaker wants is fermenting bottles of wine.

The potassium sorbate does not stop or inhibit the fermenting in any way. What it does do is stop the yeast from reproducing themselves. During a typical fermentation the wine yeast will go through several re-generations. By adding potassium sorbate to a wine you are making sure that the current generation of yeast is the last generation of yeast. Eventually, the wine yeast will begin to die, but not all at once. Some yeast will live longer than others always leaving a possibility of a re-fermentation occurring, even months down the road.

Shop Potassium SorbateSulfites, like the Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite, will destroy some of the yeast cells but not all of them. Domesticated wine yeast are somewhat immune to the effects of sulfite. They are acclimated to the sulfites when they are being produced. This is done on purpose so that a fermentation can exist with some of the protective benefits of sulfites.

Since potassium sorbate won’t stop a fermentation, here is what a commercial winery does when they want to stop an active fermentation:

 

  1. Chill the fermentation tanks down to about 45°F. This causes the wine yeast to stop their activity and drop to the bottom. This can be done in a matter of 3 or 4 days depending on how fast the tanks chill. As a home winemaker, refrigeration should be done for at least a week.
  1. Rack the wine off the sediment. The sediment is mostly yeast cells at this stage of the winemaking process, so by racking or siphoning the wine, you are leaving most of the yeast behind.
  1. Filter the wine. It is vital that the wine be finely filtered at this point. While almost all of the wine yeast is gone, if some is left in the wine they can propagate themselves into larger numbers, regenerating a new colony of yeast that can ferment the wine after it has been bottled. Not a good thing. A winery will typically filter a wine down to .5 micron. This will require filtration under pressure with an actual wine filter system.

 

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteThis is how a winery controls the sweetness of a wine, but there is a much, much easier way available to the home winemaker. It doesn’t involve using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation, and it doesn’t involve going through all the steps laid out above.

 

  1. Allow the fermentation to finish. All the sugars will be gone and the wine yeast will start dropping out.
  1. Rack the wine off the sediment. Again, this will leave most of the yeast behind – well over 90%.
  1. Add sugar syrup to taste. The sugar syrup can be made by taking equal parts water and sugar and heating them in a sauce pan until completely clear. You may want to take a measured portion of the wine and add measured portions of the sugar syrup to establish a dosage, first, before committing the entire batch.
  1. Add potassium sorbate and sulfite to the wine. The dosage should be listed on the containers they come in, but you want to use 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon and 1/16 teaspoon per gallon of either: potassium metabisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, or 1 Campden tablet per gallon of wine.
  1. Bottle the wine right away. If the wine is allowed to sit, some of the sulfite will dissipate, so you will want to bottle the wine on the same day.

 

By allowing the wine to finish, you will have much greater control on the sweetness of the wine. Instead of saying I want the wine to finish at a specific gravity 1.010, as you have suggested, you can actually sweeten the wine to taste. This is important because some wines require more sugar than others to get the same effect of sweetness than others. Every wine is different.Shop Mini Jet Wine Filter

By operating in this way you can also bulk age the wine first. This is a great advantage, because it allows you to sweeten the wine after the harshness has been aged out. Often times when sweetening a young, too much sugar will be added. This is because the winemaker tries to cover up the harshness with sweetness — a harshness that won’t be there later.

Byron, I hope this information helps you out. Again, I’m glad you asked about using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation for the simple fact that it’s answer will help to clear up a lot of confusion among new winemakers.

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.

2 Sparging Techniques: Batch & Fly

Fly Sparging TechniquesFor all-grain brewers, sparging is the final step of the mash process when the grains are rinsed with hot water to remove the last remaining sugars from the mash. There are two sparging techniques: batch sparging and fly sparging. This article will explore the two methods and help you decide whether you should do a batch sparge or a fly sparge when homebrewing.

 

What is Fly Sparging?

Fly sparging is a sparging technique that is typical of the way many professional brewers rinse their grains. A rotating sparge arm or similar instrument delivers a shower of sparge water over the grain bed as wort is drawn from the bottom of the mash tun. The trick is to draw wort from the mash tun at the appropriate speed to “set” the grain bed so it can be used as a filter, and then start the flow of water from the sparge arm at a rate that does not flood the mash tun. Essentially, the liquid level inside the mash tun remains the same, with wort running out of the mash tun and water coming in through the sparge arm at roughly the same speed.

When trying to remember the difference between the two sparging techniques, I think of the sparge arm “flying” above the mash. If you’re into do-it-yourself projects, you may be interested in constructing your own rotating sparge arm. You can also simulate the fly sparging method by pouring your sparge water through a colander or screen over the mash. Though the fly sparge method is an efficient way of sparging your grains, a true fly sparge requires some additional equipment, time, and effort.

 

What is Batch Sparging?

By comparison, batch sparging is a sparging technique that is faster and simpler process. Instead of a constant rain of water over the grain bed, a batch sparge involves adding all of the sparge water at once – in one batch.Shop All Grain System

Typically, the homebrewer will first drain all of the wort from the mash into the brew kettle. These may be called the “first runnings”. Depending on your beer recipe, this may yield 50-70% of the total wort needed for the boil. Then the remaining volume of sparge water is added to the mash tun (some brewers will stir the grains) and drained into the brew kettle. If more wort is needed, you can always do another batch sparging.

For example, let’s say you’re brewing a five-gallon batch. You know that you want 5.5 gallons in the fermenter (the extra half-gallon to account for trub). From experience, you know that you boil off 1.5 gallons of wort during a sixty-minute boil, so you need to start with 7 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. After your mash, you’ve collected 3.5 gallons of wort in your brew kettle. Batch sparge with an additional 3.5 gallons of water (usually with the temperature in the ballpark of 165-170˚F) to reach your desired pre-boil volume.

 

So which sparging technique is better?

Neither the batch sparging method nor fly sparging method is inherently betterShop Brew Kettles than the other. It all comes down to what you prefer as a homebrewer. Fly sparging tends to get a slightly better brewhouse efficiency, but it requires extra time and equipment. Batch sparging is faster, but there’s a higher risk of losing efficiency.

Both of these sparging techniques will ultimately get the job done. Try them both and choose for yourself the method that works best for you.

Are you an all-grain homebrewer? Do you prefer a batch sparge or fly sparge?
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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.

A Wine Hydrometer Isn’t Going To Bite You!

Wine Hydrometer In HandThe one piece of winemaking equipment most often missing in the beginning winemaker’s arsenal is the wine hydrometer. Yet, it is probably the most valuable piece of equipment they could have. A wine hydrometer can tell you:

 

  • How much sugar you need to add to your wine, if any
  • How much alcohol your wine will have when it’s done
  • How far along your wine’s fermentation has gotten
  • If your wine’s fermentation is progressing, or if it’s stuck
  • If your fermentation has finished or only looks like it has
  • And above all, a wine hydrometer can give you piece of mind

 

If you’re not sure what your wine’s doing, take a reading with a wine hydrometer, and you’ll know. To sum it up, the hydrometer is just as important to the winemaker as the compass is to the sea captain. Without it you’re just guessing as to where your fermentation’s at, and more importantly, you’re guessing as to where it’s going.

After helping countless home winemakers, we’ve found that the #1 reason that a beginning winemaker does not use a wine hydrometer is because it either looks too complicated, or it’s too intimidating.

 

Just like when some people’s eye glaze-over at the mere mentioning
of math, some beginning winemakers shudder at the
thought of using a wine hydrometer.

 

This is really a shame, and I’ll tell you why. A wine hydrometer is no more complicated to use than an everyday thermometer, and it’s even quicker. Shop Wine HydrometersWith a wine hydrometer, you can take a reading instantly by seeing how high or low it floats in your wine. That’s it! No waiting around for it to react or to come up with a reading. Wherever the surface of the wine crosses the scale on the gravity hydrometer is how you determine your reading. Here more on taking wine hydrometer readings.

I think if more beginning winemakers understood that that’s all there is to using a wine hydrometer, more of them would use one. With so much information to gain about a wine by its use, it almost seems silly not to use it.

If you would like to read a little more about the wine hydrometer there’s a short, straight-forward article on our website titled, “Getting To Know Your Hydrometer.” It covers the use of the wine hydrometer in a little more detail.
—–
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.

Dried Malt Extract vs Liquid: Which is Better?

Dried Malt Extract vs Liquid 2There are a number of “this vs. that” debates in homebrewing: dry vs. liquid yeast, single vs. two-stage fermentation, extract vs. all-grain brewing. On both sides of the argument you will hear supporters of their chosen method insist that theirs is better. But often times the answer depends on the brewer, their equipment, their skill level, their time availability, and a number of other factors. It all boils down to personal preference.

The same can be said for dried malt extract vs liquid malt extract. Neither is necessarily better than the other. Both forms of malt extract have their merit, and both have their drawbacks. Let’s break down the difference between both types of malts to determine when you might prefer dried malt extract or liquid syrup in your homebrew.

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