Is Wine Yeast And Baking Yeast The Same?

Wine Yeast Not Baking YeastI need you to help me settle a bet with a friend who also makes wine.  He says that wine yeast is no different than what you can get in the store to make bread with.  His quote “yeast is yeast”.  I say that it is different, although I can’t explain how.  Please help settle this and let us know who has to pay up, plus if there is a difference between wine yeast and baking yeast can you explain it to me.

Thanks,
Jamie
———-
Hello Jamie,

I’m going to be brutally honest, here. I hope this doesn’t break-up a good friendship.

To say that yeast is yeast is like saying a dog is a dog. Over the centuries dogs have been bred for various, specific tasks: hunting, herding, personal protection, attacking, protecting herds, companionship, etc. The same can be said for yeast. They have been bred over the decades to perform specific tasks: rising bread, making alcohol, bio-degrading oils, pharmaceutical production, etc.

So to bring this analogy full circle, when you’re making wine with a baking yeast, you’re hunting grizzlies with a chihuahua. Sorry friend, but wine yeast and baking yeast are not the same. In fact, they are very different. I would never recommend making wine with bread or baking yeast.Shop Yeast Nutrient

Wine yeast in particular is bred to obtain higher alcohol levels than baking yeast. On average, bread yeast will get you 9 or 10%. Anything higher than that is possible, but the baking yeast will have to struggle considerably.

Wine yeast are bred to thrive very well with the set of nutrients fruits naturally provide. Baking yeast, on the other hand, prefers the balance of nutrients found in grains or bread doughs.

Wine yeast clears more quickly from the wine than baking yeast. Wine yeast is bred to clump together as the fermentation activity slows – a process known as flocculation. The clumping allows the wine yeast to drop out and settle to the bottom more quickly. Baking yeast does not clump or flocculate. Instead, it slowly settles to the bottle as a fine haze. This process can take weeks instead of days.

Wine yeast foams less than baking yeast. This is because wine yeast are bred to produce less surface tension in the liquid than baking yeast.Shop Wine Making Kits

Wine yeast is also more tolerant to sulfites than baking yeast. The wine yeast has actually been acclimated to coexist with some residual sulfites such as Campden tablets in the wine. This means that wine yeast can ferment just fine with some sulfites in the wine must. Baking yeast is not as fortunate. Even small amounts of sulfites can stop a wine fermentation dead in its tracks.

Another issue is that bread yeast is only packaged under food-grade conditions. This is certainly suitable for baking. The yeast is only being utilized for a few hours, not days, so the perpetuation of any contaminating organisms do not have enough time to do any damage.

On the other hand, with wine yeast we are talking days if not weeks that the yeast is in play. This is plenty of time for stray organisms riding on the yeast to potentially breed into a full-fledged infestation spoiling the wine. For this reason, wine yeast is package under sterile conditions. This is far more stringent than food-grade packaging.Shop Wine Yeast

To sum all this up, you can certainly make wine with a baking yeast, but you will be sacrificing flavor and potentially alcohol. You are also increasing the likelihood of having a stuck fermentation. This is because of issues with nutrients and the use of sodium metabisulfite.

So, as I think you can see, wine yeast and baking yeast are not the same. In fact, there are many differences between the two. That combined with the fact that wine yeast is not all that expensive to buy, why wouldn’t you use it in your winemaking?

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.

 

4 Ways to Use Campden Tablets When Homebrewing

Campden Tablets To Be Used In HomebrewingAlthough Campden tablets are more commonly used in winemaking, they have their place in homebrewing as well. In fact, Campden tablets can be a useful tool in your arsenal of techniques used to make beer, cider, and mead. So, using Campden tablets in homebrewing should not be all that surprising.

Camden tablets are made of sodium or potassium metabisulfite, and release sulphur dioxide gas when they come in contact with a liquid. This gas is an effective sanitizer, usually used to stabilize raw fruit juices or to sanitize fermenters and barrels. Though you might be more likely to use Campden tablets when making cider than making beer, if you have a bottle of them you might be interested in finding additional ways to use them.

Without further ado, here are 4 ways to use Campden tablets when homebrewing beer:

 

  1. Use Campden tablets to sanitize equipment – A sanitizing solution can be made by mixing 16 crushed Campden tablets per gallon of water. It’s a great way to sanitize brewing fermenters and barrels. Simply pour a few inches of the sanitizer solution into the vessel, seal it up, and allow the sulfur dioxide gas about Shop Campden Tablets20 or 30 minutes to fill the vessel and sanitize it. You can place some of your other homebrewing equipment in the fermenter for convenience. Dispose of the solution, allow your equipment to air dry, and carry on with your brew day.
  1. Use Campden tablets to remove chlorine and chloramine from brewing water – Chlorine, a major component of bleach, is a common source of off-flavors in homebrewed beer. It contributes to something called chlorophenols, which can give your beer an unpleasant medicinal flavor. Some municipal water supplies use chlorine to make it safe to drink, others use chloramine. While chlorine can easily be boiled out of the water, chloramine is harder to remove. In either case, adding half of a crushed Campden tablet to 5 or 6 gallons brewing water will break down chlorine into chloride, sulfate, and ammonia, all of which tend to be beneficial to beer in small amounts. A few minutes is all it takes.
  1. Use Campden tablets to stabilize apple juice when making cider – Just like when making wine, Campden tablets can be used to kill off wild yeast and bacteria from raw apple juice. Use one crushed Campden tablet per gallon of apple juice, dissolving the tablet in a little water or juice before mixing it into the juice. Allow 24 hours for the sulfur dioxide to off-gas before pitching yeast.
  1. Use Campden tablets to stave off an infection – This is more commonly used in making cider and wine. If your cider has become infected, add one or two crushed Campden tablets per gallon of cider dissolved in a little water to a secondary fermenter. Rack the cider onto the Campden tablets, then bottle immediately. This will preserve the cider, at least in the short term.Shop SanitizersIf it tastes good, go ahead and drink the cider and don’t let it age lest the infection returns.

 

I have gotten into the habit of treating all my brewing water with Campden tablets. It just doesn’t make sense not to use Campden tablets when homebrewing. There is no downside to it.

Have you found any other uses for Campden tablets when you’re homebrewing?
—–
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 the founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Careful! Using Reverse Osmosis Water For Wine Making Can Be A Problem

Using Reverse Osmosis In Wine MakingYour newsletter states that using distilled water for making wine is not recommended but what about tap water filtered via reverse osmosis? Can I use reverse osmosis water for wine making?

Thank You
John
____
Hello John,

You are correct. We do not recommend using distilled water. Not only does the distilling process remove valuable, free oxygen from the water, but it also removes all the minerals. Both are much-needed commodities for the yeast during a fermentation. If either are missing, it can lead to a sluggish or stuck fermentation.

Likewise, we do not recommend using reverse osmosis water for wine making, either. While the free oxygen does remain in the water through osmosis filtering process, critical minerals are still being removed. Magnesium sulfate can be added back to the water in an attempt to restore it for fermentation, but this is more or less putting a band-aid on the issue.Shop Magnesium Sulfate

Your better option would be to purchase bottled drinking water. These bottled drinking water typically will either have the original, natural minerals in them, or the water has been completely purified and then had an optimal blend of minerals added back. Either way, this would be a better option than using distilled or reverse osmosis water in wine making.

It is also important to note that while free oxygen in the water is good for the fermentation, it is bad for the wine once the fermentation has completed. Having free oxygen in the wine after the fermentation can lead to oxidation or browning of the wine.

Fortunately, most all of the oxygen that is in the must before fermentation is either consumed by the yeast or quickly driven out by the CO2 gas from the fermentation. So, while we do recommend using water that isShop Aeration System saturated in oxygen before the fermentation, after the fermentation, we recommend using distilled water for making any necessary adjustments or for topping-up after the fermentation.

To sum it up, using reverse osmosis water for wine making is really not ideal, essentially because of that lack of trace minerals that are removed in the process. You would be better served in most cases by using tap water over reverse osmosis or maybe even bottle drinking water, if you are so inclined.

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.

10 “More” Brewing Spices For Your Creative Pleasure

Beer With SpicesAbout a month ago we outlined ten spices to try in your homebrew, but when it comes to using spices in beer, the world is quite broad and diverse. If you’re looking to exercise some creativity, here are ten more spices that you can use to give your homebrew a little something special.

  1. Cardamom – This spice is popular in Indian cuisine. Its flavor is reminiscent of chocolate with a hint of citrus, so it could make an interesting addition to a porter, stout, or chocolate stout. Homebrew author, Randy Mosher, recommends adding the crushed pods to a raspberry beer.
  1. Coffee – Though used more often as a beverage than a spice, coffee makes a great addition to dark beers (and dry rubs for that matter). If you like coffee, a coffee stout may be in order. Choose a fresh, high-quality coffee (one you would enjoy drinking) and add the beans directly to the fermenter. For optimal coffee flavor, you can also do a cold brew, as coffee that has been heated may be too astringent.
  1. Grains of Paradise – Said to be the secret ingredient in Hoegaarden witbier, grains of paradise are native to West Africa and similar in flavor to cardamom, but more peppery and resinous. Though grains of paradise are most often found in witbier, you might also find them in Belgian ales or Faro.
  1. Juniper BerriesBuy Beer FlavoringsMost well known for flavoring gin, juniper can also be used in brewing beer. Juniper is commonly found in traditional Nordic beers such as Sahti and Gotlandsdrika. Use 1-2 tablespoons of fresh berries late in the boil. Sometimes juniper branches are used in place of, or together with, the berries.
  1. Licorice – When using spices in beer you can’t forget licorice. It has traditionally been used in brewing for its sweet, pungent flavor and head retention properties. A licorice extract may also be used to contribute color to darker beers. Add about 1/4 oz. of dried root at the beginning of the boil for dark beers like porters, stouts, and Belgian dark ales.
  1. Nutmeg – A complex and intense spice, nutmeg is most often used in combination with other spices like cinnamon and coriander in holiday spiced ales or pumpkin beer.
  1. Saffron – For a truly special beer, try one of the world’s most expensive spices: saffron. Dogfish Head uses saffron in their famous Midas Touch. Used in gourmet cooking, saffron comes from the dried stigmas of the flower Crocus sativus. According to herbalist author, Stephen Buhner, it takes 4,320 flowers to produce one ounce of the spice!Shop Burton Water Salts
  1. Salt – Though not technically a spice, salt lives in your kitchen among several of the other ingredients on this list. Various brewing salts can be used to adjust your brewing water, but other cooking salts like Kosher salt or sea salt (do not use iodized), can be used specifically for flavoring. Salt is most notoriously used in brewing German Gose, a pale, slightly sour beer brewed with wheat, coriander, and salt.
  1. Spruce – Spruce can give an interesting, piney touch to amber ales and holiday beers. Try using spruce essence or even the branches themselves. For a beer that features the spruce flavor, check out this spruce beer recipe.
  1. Star Anise/Anise – Don’t forget either of these with using spices in beer. Both of these spices contribute a flavor reminiscent of licorice, though star anise tends to be less intense. Use it as you would licorice, in darker beers like porters and stouts.

 

As I mentioned the previous post about using spices in beer, less is more. I find that subtlety is often the key in brewing with spices. Often times a 1/4 ounce is plenty of spice for your homebrew. You can also add more for your next batch.
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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 Your Starting Hydrometer Reading Is Wrong

His Starting Hydrometer Reading Is WrongTaking a starting hydrometer reading is one of the most important things you can do when making homemade wine. This is a reading that is taken with a wine hydrometer before the fermentation has started. It is usually taken at the same time the yeast is added to the wine must.

Having an accurate starting hydrometer reading will not only help you verify that you have an acceptable level of sugar in the wine must, it will allow you to determine the finished wine’s alcohol content. This can be done when the starting reading is compared to the finished reading.

The reading is taken on the Specific Gravity scale. This is a scale based on the weight of water. The weight of the wine is being compared to the weight of water. The more sugar in the wine must the heavier it will be. The more sugar in the wine, the more alcohol the yeast can make.

Keeping in mind its importance, here are the 3 reasons why your starting hydrometer reading is wrong. These are scenarios that I have run across more than once while helping beginning winemakers. In each of these 3 situations the hydrometer reading can be thrown off dramatically.

 

  1. Shop HydrometersToo Much Water Was Added: This mostly applies to individuals that are making wine from a wine ingredient kit. These kits typically include around 2 to 4 gallons of concentrate to make 6 gallons. The idea is for the winemaker to add water to make up the difference of the 6 gallons. But on rare occasions a beginning winemaker will add a total 6 gallons of water by mistake giving them an 8, 9, 10… gallon batch of wine. This in turn will give them a very low starting sugar reading on their hydrometer.
    1. Sugars Are Not Mixing Evenly: Before taking a starting hydrometer reading it is important to have the sugars completely dissolved and evenly dispersed throughout the wine must. This is regardless if it is from a concentrate or granulated cane sugar. Not doing so can cause your hydrometer sample to be non-representative of the entire batch. The result is an erroneous reading. For example, if the sugars are not completely dissolved and still hanging towards the bottom of the fermenter, the reading you get from a sample take from the top will be very different from the reading you get when taking a sample through a spigot at the bottom of the fermenter.
  1. Hydrometer Jar Not Being Used: One of the requirements for taking a starting hydrometer reading, is the hydrometer needs to be able to float. If the container being used to hold the sample isn’t tall enough, the hydrometer will sit on the bottom. Again, this will give you a wrong reading. This normally happens when the winemaker is trying to use the plastic tube the hydrometer came in to take the reading. This is something I strongly urge against for the simple fact it is not always tall enough to float the hydrometer. Instead, you should be using a hydrometer jar that is designed specifically for this purpose. It is more than tall enough and has a sturdy base so you can keep the wine sample steady and vertical while taking the reading.Shop Hydrometer Jars

 

These are by far the 3 most common reasons. If you think you have a starting hydrometer reading that is wrong, it is probably because of one of these three. There are other reasons as to why a hydrometer reading might not be completely accurate, such as not having your eye-level even with the surface of the wine, but these are the 3 “big ones”. Avoid doing them and you’ll be sure to have dependable readings.
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

 

What Is Cold Stabilization?

Wine Going Through Cold StabilizationWe look forward to and enjoy your email newsletter and have learned a lot from your subscribers’ questions. Now one of our own…

On a stop on a recent Missouri winery tour was an area for cold aging, where wine coming off secondary fermentation was chilled in the fermenter to around 28 degrees to help dissolved chemicals and remaining suspended yeast cells to fall out of solution before the wine was siphoned off into oak barrels. We don’t see this step in home wine recipes. Is cold aging beneficial to small-batch wines? If so, should it be done in the secondary fermenter after yeast action has stopped, or can it be done after bottling?

Thanks as always.
Ed
_____
Hello Ed,

What you are referring to is something called cold stabilization in wine making. The wine is chilled down directly after fermentation to speed up the settling of wine yeast cells and other suspended proteins. The yeast cells will become inactive or dormant at lower temperatures allowing them to go to sleep, so to speak, and settle out.Shop Bentonite

Chilling a wine after fermentation also causes any excess acids in the wine to form into crystals and fall out. This is known as acid precipitation. If the grape harvest that year was too high in acid, or to tart, bringing the wines temperature down will cause this excess acids to crystallize and then drop out as sediment.

Cold stabilization is only done in wine making after the fermentation has completed and the wine has been given a day or two for the heavier particles to fall out on their own through gravity. It’s a way of making the wine temperature stable so that bad things don’t happen after the wine has been bottled.

If the wine was too high in acid the cold stabilization process were skipped, acid crystals could start to precipitate out later on in the bottle, even while sitting in someone’s wine rack. Acid precipitation would be an absolute disaster for a winery, but not so much for the home winemaker.Shop Wine Filters

Cold stabilization is beneficial if you are making wine from fresh fruits, and most beneficial when making wine from fresh grapes. If you are a home winemaker who is making wine from grapes every year, then yes, you might consider putting your wine through cold stabilization and chilling it down to for a few days before bottling or bulk-aging.

For most home winemakers though, this is not a process that can be practically accomplished. And that’s okay. Realize that there are many commercial wineries that never ever chill there wines. There are other ways of controlling excess acidity. And there are other ways to drop proteins out of a wine – time being one of them.

If you are making wine from wine concentrates or wine ingredient kits, then cold stabilization is pointless. This is because the acids have already been adjusted by the producer to make sure acid precipitation does not occur. There are no protein solids from any fruit to deal with either. When dealing with these packaged wineShop Temp Controller juices the only thing to be concerned about are the yeast cells, and these will easily drop out fine on their own or with a little help from a fining agent such a bentonite.

Chilling a wine down, aka cold stabilization, does have a place in winemaking, however as I think you can see, it’s a far cry from being an absolute must-have. Great wines can – and are – being made without such treatment.  But with that being said, if you have a spare refrigerator and a bucket of wine, go for it!

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.

Rochefort 8 Clone Beer Recipe (All-Grain)


Rochefort 8 Clone BeerBelow you will find a Rochefort 8 clone beer recipe for all-grain. It has all the information you need for brewing the Rochefort 8 from scratch. A worthy project to take on.

 

About Rochefort 8

The Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy in Belgium houses one of the world’s most highly regarded Trappist breweries – Rochefort. This isn’t your typical microbrewery. The Cistercian monks of Rochefort have been brewing beer there since long before the term “microbrewery” was born – 1595 to be exact. The brewery at Rochefort produces three beers of varying alcohol content:

 

  • Rochefort 6 – Rochefort 6 is extremely rare, brewed just once a year. It has a light brown color with complex sweet, floral, and fruity flavors. 7.5% ABV.
  • Rochefort 8 – Rochefort 8 is a deeper brown color at about 9.2% ABV, brewed year round since about 1960. It has a drier and richer flavor than 6, sometimes described as fig-like.
  • Rochefort 10 – Rochefort 10 is the strongest of the three at 11.3% ABV, with spicy, earthy, and chocolate flavors.

 

All three beers consistently receive exceptional marks. (Just check BeerAdvocate and RateBeer.) Draft Magazine reviewed Rochefort 8 and had this to say:Shop Steam Freak Kits

A playfully bubbly head and heavy aroma of alcohol spice, black currant and sourdough belie this brew’s murky brown appearance. Dark fruits invigorate the taste buds: Plum, figs and raisins pool in the middle of the tongue over a solid bread crust foundation. Black licorice and pepper add sharp edges to the fruity sweetness while alcohol warms the back of the throat. Rochefort’s dry finish cuts through the rich flavors, and leaves dark fruit notes on the tongue long after the swallow. 94 points.

Sounds enticing, right?

After digging around for some clone recipes I stumbled across a site in which a number of European homebrewers collaborated to develop a Rochefort 8 clone beer recipe. They then tasted each of the brews and compared them to the actual Rochefort 8. I’ve scaled the winning clone recipe to a five-gallon batch, converted the measurements to English units, and made some minor adjustments based on the brewers’ feedback.Shop Barley Grains

Be sure to prepare a healthy yeast starter to get the level of attenuation needed for this brew.

Good luck!

 

Rochefort 8 Clone Beer Recipe (All-Grain)
(5-gallon batch)

Specs
OG: 1.080
FG: 1.010
ABV: 9.2%
IBU: 23
SRM: 35Shop Hops

Ingredients
10.5 lbs. Pilsner malt
1 lb. 9 oz. Caramunich malt (type II)
1 lb. 3 oz. Dark candi sugar
8.4 oz. Special B malt
8.4 oz. Flaked corn
2.5 oz. Carafa III
1 oz. Styrian Goldings hops at :75 (4.2 AAUs)
.67 oz. Hallertau hops at :30 (2.35 AAUs)
.33 oz. Hallertau hops at :5 (1.16 AAUs)
.33 oz. crushed coriander seed at :5
2 packs Wyeast 1762: Belgian Abbey II ale yeast
Corn Sugar For Priming

 

Directions Shop Beer Flavorings
At least 12 hours before brewing, pitch two packs of Wyeast 1762 into a 2L yeast starter. On brew day, mash grains in 3.5 gallons of water. Hold at 140-144°F for 30 minutes, then raise to 154°F for 60 minutes. Raise to 167°F for mash out, then sparge with 172°F water to collect about seven gallons of wort. Stir in Belgian candi sugar and boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and crushed coriander seeds according to schedule. Cool wort to 70°F and ferment at 69-74°F. Prime with corn sugar and bottle condition for 2-4 months or longer.

Do you have a Rochefort 8 clone beer recipe you’d like to share? Are you a fan of Trappist beers? Also consider brewing this Westmalle Tripel clone.
—-
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.

How To Use Bottle Sealing Wax

Man Using Sealing WaxDear Mr. Kraus,

Did not receive any instructions on how to use the bottle sealing wax beads I ordered . What is the best method to melt the wax beads. Have never used this wax before. Do you sell some type of melter. If you would please let me know how to use.

Thanks,
Sammy L.
—–
Hello Sammy,

How you use the bottle sealing wax can vary somewhat. There is not a specific way it has to be used.

We recommend melting the sealing wax in a tin of the appropriate size. This can be something as small as a soup can if you are only doing 5 bottles. If you are doing 50 bottles you may want to use something as large as an old 2 pound coffee can tin. Sit the tin in a pan of water to make a double boiler on the stove. This will help the wax to heat more evenly over a period of time.

Once the sealing wax is melted you will want it to stay in that tin, permanently. The wax if very hard to remove once in a container, so don’t actually put the bottle sealing wax in any good pots or pans, themselves.

How to use the bottle sealing wax is something that can be approached from a couple of different angles:Shop Sealing Wax

 

  • Dip the whole neck of the wine bottle into the sealing wax.
    Not only will the wax be sealing the wine bottle air-tight, but it will also become part of the wine bottle’s decorative decor. The colors look incredible against the glass and can work together with the wine label to a bottle of wine worth sharing.The downside is that this method can use up quite a bit of bottle sealing wax. One pound of wax will do about 40 to 80 bottles depending on how far you dip the neck into the wax. You may also need more sealing wax than this to create a reservoir deep enough to coat the amount of the bottle neck you want. This is dependent on the profile of the tin you select.
  • Pour the sealing wax directly onto the cork itself.
    The second way to use the sealing wax is more efficient but not as decorative. Inset the cork by an eighth to a quarter of an inch into the neck of the wine bottle. Then pour a disk of wax into the inset. You will want to pinch a spout onto the tin you are using. Heat protective gloves will be needed for this method, as well. Just like dipping the bottle into the wax, the cork is sealed air-tight, but will use much less sealing wax per wine bottle. You will usually get about 150 bottles per pound done with this method.Shop Heat Shrink Capsules

 

As you can see, how to use bottle sealing wax beads is open to some interpretation. If you are looking for full decorative value, dip the bottle neck into the sealing wax. If you are only wanting to make a better seal then use the second method and add a layer of sealing wax on top of the cork, itself.

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 Homebrew Keep?

Example Of How Long Homebrew Will KeepThe question: how long does homebrew keep, depends on a number of factors: the style of beer, the alcohol content, storage conditions, whether the beer was bottled with good sanitation.

I think what we really want to know is this – does the beer still taste good? Is it safe to drink? Does the homebrew last in the bottle? Discovering a stash of homebrew at my parent’s house over the holidays brought me to explore these questions.

The short answer is this: it depends. Most commercial brews have a best by date of about three months from the bottling date. Some beers lend themselves to aging more than others, but whatever the case, drinking old bottles of beer is safe, even if it doesn’t taste very good. The beer will last, but sometimes, not the flavor.

So how long does homebrew keep? To guide you through how long you should let your homebrew age, if at all, here are some general guidelines…Shop Bottle Cappers

 

 

General Rules for Aging Homebrew

  • Once bottles have conditioned for a few weeks, most homebrewed ales are best enjoyed within a few months. That said, sometimes they still taste good after six months or longer. Lagers usually require a cold conditioning period of a few weeks to a few months before consuming.
  • Hoppy beers should be enjoyed fresh – don’t age them! You generally don’t age your pale ales and IPAs so that you can enjoy their lively hop flavors and aromas at their peak. This freshness does not last long in these beers.
  • Some of the best beers for aging are high-gravity beers like barleywine and Russian imperial stout. If brewed and bottled with good sanitation, these beers can keep for a year or longer! This bigger the beer the longer it will last.
  • When aging homebrews, maintain a steady temperature and avoid exposure to UV light. UV light can degrade the hops in beer and “skunk” your homebrew. Try in the corner of a basement, on the floor, to help your homebrew last longer.Shop Beer Bottles

 

 

Aging Homebrew: An Experiment

To illustrate, I have a few examples. When I went home for the holidays, I found a stash of homebrew from a year ago.

  • Spiced Cherry Dubbel – This beer, inspired by the book Radical Brewing, came out to 7.7% ABV. It was brewed with tart cherry and black cherry juice added to the fermenter. My notes indicate that the beer was a little strong on the cherry flavors, but still enjoyable, with little cinnamon flavor, if any.
  • Winter Wassail – This is a winter spiced ale made with cranberries and green apples, and it’s become something of an annual brew for me. The recipe can be found in the book the Homebrewer’s Garden. This particular batch came out to 7.4% ABV, with a fairly assertive acidity from the cranberries and green apples. It turned out almost like a sour beer, which in my opinion is a good thing, even though I might dial it down next time around.
  • Braggot”/Brown IPA Experiment – Shop Temp ControllerThis beer was a partigyle from the Winter Wassail above. That means I took the low gravity final runnings from the mash of that beer to make a different beer. To boost the gravity, I added honey, and just for the hell of it, some hops to a gallon of wort just to see what would happen. This was one of those “why not?” experiments. I remember the result being rather cidery and unimpressive.

 

So how did these beers keep over time?

Surprisingly, the Winter Wassail and Spiced Cherry Dubbel hardly changed at all. They both kept very well. If anything, they became a little more balanced, but for the most part, they were exactly like I remembered them. I was kind of shocked that the fruit flavors lasted at all, but I was pleased to discover no evidence of oxidation or infection.

On the other hand, the “braggot” concoction was unrecognizable. I actually had to go back to my notes to identify what it was. The beer was kind of bland, with a sort of spicy, sort of cheesy hop character, which just wasn’t pleasing at all. I Shop Fridge Monkeysuspect that the low alcohol content didn’t preserve the beer very well, and the hops, being the main flavor feature, degraded quite a bit. This homebrew did not keep at all, so I dumped it.

The conclusion here is when you ask, “how long does homebrew keep?”, you have to know what homebrew you’re talking about. All don’t keep the same. Some homebrews to last long at all, while some keep quite well.

What’s the longest that you’ve ever aged a homebrew? How did it hold up?
—–
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.

Batch-Saving Tips For Re-Bottling Wine

Re-Bottled Wine In CellarWe bottled Lambrusco wine in February. We tasted 2 months later and decided it was just not going to be sweet enough. Is it ok to remove the corks-put back into clean container and sweeten more with the wine conditioner and then re-bottle the wine?

Name: Barbara
State: Kentucky
—–
Hello Barbara,

Unfortunately, we get asked this question quite often. I’ll start off by giving you the short answer, “yes, re-bottling wine is possible”.

What you are asking to do may sound simple in principal, but there are some considerations that need to be thought through first:

 

  • It is important to know that you will not be able to reuse the wine corks that you’re are pulling out of the wine bottles. There is no way to sanitize the wine corks completely after wine has saturated into them. Also, the corks have been put through a corking once so they would be more difficult to press into the wine bottle without destroying them. For these reasons when re-bottling wine you will need to consider the original wine corks a loss and use new ones.
  • The wine bottles will need to be cleaned and and sanitized again, so this will be extra work beyond just decanting and re-bottling the wine. I recommend using Basic A for this purpose. The amount of time it will take you to empty all the wine bottles, sweeten the wine and then bottle the wine back up is too long to leave them sitting, exposed to air with the residue of wine in them.
  • Shop Wine CorksAfter stirring in the Wine Conditioner to sweeten the wine, you will also need to add a sulfite back into it, just as you did the first time you bottled the wine. You can use either Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite. Both the glugging of the wine as it pours out of the bottle into a bucket and the stirring of the wine as the Wine Conditioner is being blended will saturate air into the wine. This is something that can cause your wine to oxidize. Oxidation can potentially cause the wine to turn brown or orange in color and give it a smell and taste that resembles raisins or caramel. By adding the sulfites you will easily drive the oxygen back out of the wine.
  • One last thing: when re-bottling wine I would also recommend adding a dose of ascorbic acid to this wine in such a situation. Ascorbic acid is good for raising the acidity level of a wine without raising the acid taste or tartness. The ascorbic acid will help by consuming free oxygen they may still be left in the wine. This will also help to hinder any oxidation of the wine.

 

Shop Wine Bottle CorkersHaving considered all the above, you can also sweeten the wine as you drink it. I realize that the esthetics of sweetening a wine in a carafe or a glass as-you-go is not all that sophisticated nor satisfying, but it will save you a lot of work and still get you your sweet wine. A bottle of honey works well for such an occasion.

Regardless of what path you decide to take, just realize the re-bottling wine is something that can be done. Just be sure to follow the precautions listed above.

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.