Sparkolloid: When Do You Add It To Wine?

Sparkolloid Fining Powder Was Used On This WineAt what point do I add the Sparkolloid to my wine?

Jerre M. — TN
Hello Jerre,

Thank you for the great question about when to add Sparkolloid to a wine.

Technically, Sparkolloid fining can be added anytime after the wine has stopped fermenting. However, normally it is added after the wine has been treated with bentonite fining. Sparkolloid powder is kind of the left-hook to the bentonite’s right-jab. One works to take out what the other can’t. You will find all the instructions for its use on the side of the container we offer.

Bentonite takes the most particulate out of the wine, so it is typically used first. Once the fermentation stops, a winery will add a dose of bentonite to drop out the the bulk of the proteins. This is mostly made up of yeast cells and tannin. Most would drop out on its own, but the bentonite helps it drop out more quickly.

While bentonite is the best at dropping out large amounts, what it is not particularly the best at is adding a polish to the wine, or getting out that final, last bit of particles. While the wine will look somewhat clear after a bentonite treatment, there are fining agents that can add more polish to the wine. This is where Sparkolloid finings come in. Sparkolloid powder is able to take out finerShop Sparkolloid particles by neutralizing their electrical charge and allowing them to collect and drop out. This increases the luster or brilliance of the wine. For this reason, after a bentonite treatment is when to add Sparkolloid finings to a wine.

Sparkolloid powder is not good at taking out large volumes of particulate matter. For this reason, if you are only using Sparkolloid to fine your wine, then I would wait a month or two after the fermentation, to make sure that what can drop out on its own does so. Once the wine quits improving in clarity on its own, rack it off the sediment and add the Sparkolloid finings.

So, when to add Sparkolloid powder to a wine really depends on whether or not bentonite is being used beforehand. If so, wait about a week and then add it. If you are not using bentonite, then you may need to wait several weeks before the wine has cleared enough for Sparkolloid to be effective.

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.

Cleaning Your New Brew Kettle

Clean Brew Kettle PassivationYou’ve just purchased a new brew kettle for homebrewing and can’t wait to fire it up. But brewing right away with that new brew kettle may cause some issues with your beer. Before you make the first batch with your new gear, consider this two-step cleaning regimen to prepare your kettle for brewing.


1. Cleaning A New Brew Kettle.

A new brew kettle that just arrived on your doorstep needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Who knows where it’s been before you received it. If it was recently fabricated, there may be some machine oil residue on the kettle. A regular brewing grade cleaner will work well in most cases, but in a rare situation with stubborn residue, your standard kitchen dish soap may be needed. (Note: This is the only time I’ll recommend using dish soap on your brewing gear. The soap can harm the head retention properties of your beer.)

Wash your new brew kettle well. Rinse your kettle very well. Boil some water in the kettle for several minutes, and do a smell/taste test or the water to make sure it comes out clean without any oily or metallic tastes or aromas. Cleaning a new brew kettle is important to having a great-tasting, maiden-batch of homebrew.


2. Passivating A New Brew Kettle.

What? Never heard of passivating a brew kettle? Unfortunately, I didn’t know either until I experienced some strange off-flavors in a couple beers I brewed with a new stainless steel brew kettle. Shop Brew KettlesPassivation is a chemical process that forms a protective layer around the inside of the brew kettle. Stainless steel is primarily made of iron, and passivation is what makes the metal stainless. Iron, interestingly enough, can cause off-flavors, as well as contribute to haze. Passivating a new brew kettle is very necessary for brewing good homebrew beer.

If when you boil water (or beer) in your brew kettle and allow it to dry it out, then see black spots or rainbows, your kettle needs to be passivated. Luckily, this is a fairly straightforward process.

Bottom of brew kettle that needs to be cleaned and passivated.First, you need an acid. Bar Keeper’s Friend is an oxalic acid cleaner that’s great for stainless steel. The acid reacts with the metal to form the protective layer inside the brew kettle. Simply sprinkle the Barkeeper’s Friend into the kettle with just enough water to make a thin paste. Spread it around the kettle with a washcloth. After several minutes, rinse the brew kettle very well, and wipe dry with a towel. If the towel comes out clean, you’re in good shape. Allow the new brew kettle to air dry for a few days. The combination of the acid treatment and the air will continue to passivate the kettle.Shop Stirring Paddle

Though the science of passivation is somewhat complicated, the process is pretty easy. Here is some further reading: Brewing Metallurgy, How to Brew, TLC for Stainless, Brew Your Own

Just remember, cleaning your new brew kettle and then passivating it are key treatments. Do these two things, and your kettle will reward you with many fine batches of homebrew!
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.

Oaking Wine With Oak Chips

Man Oaking Wine With Oak ChipsHow do you go about oaking wine with oak chips? What type of oak chip would you recommend using on muscadine wine? I’d like to do a little experimenting. My wine is a combination of red and white muscadine grapes yielding a blush/rose type wine. What type of oak chip, quantity per 6 gallon carboy and length of time to soak would you recommend? Thanks much!

Name: Ed P.
State: Illinois
Hello Ed,

Nothing wrong with a little experimenting. For me that’s part of what makes wine making so enormously fun.

One thing about oaking wine with oak chips, not all wines will benefit from it. Normally, the wines you would like to add oak chips to are wines with a lot of body. The tannins in the oak will help any excessive proteins in these full-bodied wines to clear out. This will give your wine a little more brilliant color.

The oak chips will also add their own smoothing affect to the wine’s character. A rounding-off of the rough corners, so to speak. Heavier wines tend to be harsher than lighter wine. Oak chips will also add some wood flavors to the wine. Some regard this as giving the wine more complexity. These heavy wines are the ones that you should be thinking about considering what wines to oak.

Looking at this from an experimental standpoint, your best option would be to take off a gallon of the wine and strongly oak it. This could be done by adding about 4 to 8 ounces of oak chips to the gallon for a two or three months. Once this is done you can blend a little/some/or all back into the other 5 gallons based on taste.Shop Toasted Oak Chips

Using this method for oaking your wine with oak chips would give you the most control over the final outcome. The downfall is that you would not want to store 5 gallons of wine in a 6 gallon carboy, so you would need to move the 5 gallons of wine to a 5 gallon carboy during this time. The same holds true for the one gallon sample you will be oaking. Also, you are risking loosing whatever portion of the gallon you do not wish to add back to the wine.

The other method for oaking a wine with oak chips would be add it to the entire 6 gallons of wine, and then taste it along the way to see how it’s doing. Usually, once every 3 or 4 weeks. While this is an easier method, you do run a better risk of ending up with a wine you might not care too much for.

How much of the oak chips you would want to add to the wine can vary. I personally like to use 2 ounces to 5 gallons and let it age out for many months. But others like adding 4 or 6 ounces and age the wine for a shorter period of time.

Without question, I would recommend using toasted oak ships. Plain oak chips are rarely used but still have their place. Whether you use Toasted French oak chips or Toasted American oak chips would not make an incredible difference. Shop Oak PowderEither can produce great results. The main difference between the two is that American oak will add sort of a coconut smoothness to the wine, whereas French oak chips will add more of a vanilla richness. One is not better than the other, it’s more of a matter of which one will work best with the wine at hand. Without tasting your wine, I would suspect you would want to use the American oak chips–just a guess.

Ed, I hope this information about oaking wine with oak chips is what you were looking for. Just realize that oaking a homemade wine with oak chips is something that does not happen overnight, so you will have time to sample the wine and make careful judgments as to when enough is enough.

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.

5 Hard Cider Recipe Variations

Apples For Making CiderA while back we introduced an easy way to make your own hard cider and shared a very basic hard cider recipe for making 5 gallons. However, this intro only scratches the surface. In fact, there is a wide variety of augmentations you can apply to a hard cider recipe to alter its flavor.

Fruits, spices, sugars, and yeasts: here are five ways to add some variation to your homemade hard cider recipe – and make yours stand out from the pack!


  1. Fruit
    As with beer, fruit can be added to any hard cider recipe for extra complexity, flavor, and sweetness. Peaches, raspberries, figs, strawberries, blueberries, watermelons… it’s all fair game! Crushed fruit is usually added to the fermenter. You can add crushed whole fruit or you can experiment with fruit flavoring. Some cider makers prefer to use frozen fruit. The freezing breaks down the fruit’s cell walls, making it easier to extract more flavor. When dealing with whole fruit, Shop FerMonsterconsider using some pectic enzyme to help break down haze-forming pectins.
  1. Spices
    Try adding whole spices to your hard cider recipe. Add cinnamon, ginger, and clove to the secondary fermenter. Alternatively, heat the spices in a mixture of honey or simply syrup and mix into the apple juice prior to or after primary fermentation. Remember, go easy the first time you add spices to your cider. You can always add more to your next batch. If you do accidentally add too much, just let the cider age until the spices mellow out.
  1. Sugars 
    A wide variety of sugars can be used to boost the gravity of your hard cider, from cane sugar or household brown sugar to Belgian candi sugar or honey. I recently tasted a cider back-sweetened with a brandy reduction. It was amazing!
  1. Yeast
    Ale yeasts like Fermentis Safale S-04 are clean fermenters – they don’t leave behind much in the way of yeasty esters or phenolics as long as they ferment within the recommended temperature range. You could however experiment with different yeast strains to try to bring out some yeast character. Farmhouse and Belgian beer yeasts are worth trying on an apple cider recipe, Shop Beer Flavoringsnot to mention a whole slew of wine yeasts. How would a hefeweizen yeast turn out, fermented at lower temperatures to accentuate the clove character? Could be interesting…
  1. Mix and Match 
    Once you’ve tried a few of these different hard cider recipe variations listed above, why not combine some of them? To play it safe (and if you have the spare fermentation capacity) try one variation at a time, then blend them together later on after you’ve had a chance to try each one. You may discover your new favorite drink!


What variations have you tried with your homemade hard cider?
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’s Too Much Tannin In My Homemade Wine!

Wine With Too Much TanninI have 3 five-gallon carboys of zinfandel with a low pH of 3.00, and what I identify as too much tannin. The wine has been “aging” for 18 mos. now and still unacceptable by my taste. Is it too late to doctor it to lower the tannin? It has been stored cool (I’m in N. California) and I can’t heat it. Too late for treating with egg whites or bentonite?

Name: Tony S.
State: CA
Hello Tony,

I see your wine is still a beautiful, young color, even after 18 months. That is probably partially due to the fact that it has such a low pH. This can help to keep a color fresh looking as well as keep any potential spoilage in check. The bad part is as you have stated, it doesn’t taste good. That is the primary issue when you have to much tannin in any wine.

You said that you tested the pH of your wine and thought it was too low because of too much tannin being in the wine as opposed to the other typical reason, which is having too much tartaric acid in the wine. This could be easily verified by testing the wine with an acid test kit. This would tell you very precisely if there was too much tartaric acid in the wine or not.

If you do not want to do this you can go by taste and experience, but this can only tell you what direction to take in solving this problem, not necessarily how sever it is. If there is too much tannin in this wine you would expect it to taste bitter and dry-puckering. If it is a tartaric acid problem you would expect a tart and sharp flavor.Shop Bentonite

If you do have too much tannin in the wine, just as you implied, bringing the temperature up would most likely drop some of it out. I would not hesitate to use artificial means of heat on the wine to heat stabilize the wine. Bring the wine up to about 80°F. for about a 3 days. Because the wine’s pH is so low oxidation will not be an issue.

You can use something as simple as an electric blanket it to warm it up. We also have a heating belt that can warm five gallons by about 20°F. Just be sure to use a thermometer of some type to monitor just how hot the wine is getting.

Once the wine has reach 80°F. (this could take a day or two) treat is with bentonite and let the wine sit for the rest of the week.

If you are dealing with  too much tannin in your wine, you will notice a remarkable change in the wine after doing this. You may want to test the pH again. If you do not notice any change, then I doubt you are dealing with a tannin problem and urge you to test the wine again with an acid testing kit. More than likely you will need to use acid reducing crystals on the wine.Shop Acid Reducing Crystals

Beyond this, if you do see improvement in the pH, it is possible to treat the wine a second time with bentonite, if you deem it necessary, but I would not heat it a second time. Once the pH rises above 3.2, you do need to be a little more cautions about oxidation. You will typically receive marginal improvement from a second treatment in such a potentially severe case.

Hope this information helps you out.

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

Start Homebrewing Beer: There’s Never Been A Better Time Than Now!

A Homebrewer Homebrewing Beer KitAt a time when there are more than 3,000 breweries across the country, the options of finding a unique, tasty brew are easier than ever.

But it may be just as easy to find something novel in our own backyards – literally.

While breweries get plenty of worthy attention, there are now about 1.2 million Americans homebrewing beer scattered across the U.S., the most ever identified by the American Homebrewers Association. As the hobby has grown, it’s clear that there’s never been a better time to start homebrewing beer, and the AHA’s annual homebrew supply shop survey proves it.

“Now it is relatively easy to consistently brew beers that are just as good – if not better – than what you find on the store shelf or at the brew pub down the road,” said Ed Kraus, owner of E.C. Kraus Home Wine and Beer Making Supplies.

Here are three reasons why it’s a good time to start homebrewing beer:


1. It’s more accessible than ever
Many individuals began homebrewing beer because they’ve got a friend or family member who has been actively brewing. With over a million homebrewers now, there are more people to learn from.

Even better, gaining experience and learning about the homebrewing hobby is simple. Along with helpful websites like HomeBrew Talk, magazines like Brew Your Own or blogs like this one, people have access to answers to just about any question on homebrewing beer.

Some of this shows up in their purchases, too. Over the last three years, homebrew store owners have noticed a decrease in purchases for extract batches with an increase in all-grain. What used to be a big plunge for the beginner is now a first step when the they start homebrewing beer.All-Grain Homebrewer

“All-grain is so much more fun than extract because you really get to dial in to every variable,” said Ashley Bower, a Columbia, South Carolina-based homebrewer who started with extract in 2010 and has made all-grain batches since November 2013. “Extract is a fantastic way to start homebrewing beer and you can make great beer as long as you have fresh extract.  But if you want to dive a little deeper into the hobby, all-grain is the way to go.”


2. All ages are getting involved
According to the survey, last year saw a 24 percent increase in beginner homebrewing beer kit sales, but it’s who’s buying them that stands out. Homebrewers under the age of 30 have begun to decrease, while those 40 years old and up have seen a 5 percent increase in the last three years. The largest age range is still 30 to 39, which makes up just over half of all homebrewers, but that’s also changing.

Older Homebrewer“The hobby has become more mature,” Ed said. “I feel that it is only natural for the age range to become wider over time. We are to a point where many of the home brewers in their 50s were in their 20s or 30s when they started or tried homebrewing beer for the first time.”

Ed noted that’s made an interesting challenge for shop owners, as the range of ages and experiences between individuals homebrewing beer means homebrew shops need to be flexible in what kind of ingredients they carry. He said younger brewers have a fun time creating all sorts of experimental homebrews these days, while older homebrewers may hone in on more “classic” styles like a Russian imperial stout or English bitter to keep it simple.


3. We’re pushed by peersHomebrewers At Homebrewer Club
Want to get better at homebrewing beer? You can get great feedback by entering local or national competitions, which homebrewers are now doing in droves. The most recent National Homebrew Competition was one of the most competitive fields of entries ever, with 8,172 homebrews judged in 2014 – a 45 percent increase in the number of competitors.

With more than 1,700 registered homebrew clubs in the U.S., more people are getting into the hobby and becoming more creative with the homebrews, meaning everyone has the potential to learn and become better at homebrewing beer.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

“Meeting with other homebrewers who are homebrewing beer to taste and discuss your brews is a catalyst for competition participation,” Ed said. “Because of the clubs, homebrew competitions are easier to know about and easier to participate in than before, and the quality of ingredients and the availability of better brewing equipment has lent itself to the production of some outstanding homebrews.”


Now “is” a great time to start homebrewing beer, so why not celebrate? Find a new beer recipe, call a friend or two and raise a glass to the hobby of homebrewing!
Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

What’s The Difference Between A Whiskey Barrel And A Wine Barrel?

Toasting Oak BarrelsI was shopping the other day and found some oak chips, made from Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrels. They were being sold as flavor enhancers for barbecues. Could I use these to age my wine? Would they have to be toasted first, or would the fact that they had been used for whiskey aging offset that requirement?

Don — PA
Hello Don,

It is important to know that there are some differences between a whiskey barrel and a wine barrel. Whiskey barrels are process differently that wine barrels. The critical difference being that whiskey barrels are charred on the inside, whereas wine barrels are toasted. Doesn’t sound like much of a difference – I know – but the effects on the flavor are very different.

The reason a whiskey barrel is charred is so that the inside of the barrel staves turn into a charcoal. This charcoal’s purpose is to help take out the harshness of a raw whiskey. In a loose sense, the char acts in the same way a carbon filter works on water. It helps to remove the impurities. This char is also what adds the amber color to the whiskey.

Wine barrels are toasted. The reason they are toasted is so that when the wine is aged in the barrel, flavor is added, not taken out. Shop Wine BarrelsWhen the oak staves are toasted at the correct temperature for the right amount of time, various phenols, sugars and other compounds rise to the surface of the wood to interact with the wine while it ages. Flavors ranging from vanilla, to coconut, to caramel can be coaxed from the wood and into the wine by the degree of toasting the oak wood goes under.

Tannins from the wood also react with the tannins is the wine so as to precipitate them out of the wine as a sediment. This helps to mellow the wine, make it more stable and more clear.

There are some other differences between a whiskey barrel and a wine barrel that are not as critical, but we’ll save them for another time.

Don, going back to your question, you could use these whiskey barrel pieces in your wine, but the effects will be vary different from using actual toasted oak chips that are prepared specifically to be used in a wine.

One thing I would urge you to do is make a serious effort to sanitize these oak barrel pieces. There is no reason to assume they were stored in sanitary conditions if they are to be used for smoking.

shop_toasted_oak_chipsIf I where doing the sanitizing I would soak them in a very strong sulfite solution. I would find a container that could be sealed air-tight and kept full of the sulfite solution, so as to keep the floating pieces of wood submerged by the lid. I would use 2 teaspoons of sodium metabisulfite and 1/2 teaspoon of either citric acid or acid blend to every gallon of water. Let the wood soak for several days. The longer the better.

In short, I see not reason why you couldn’t play around with this wood. Just remember that there are differences between a whiskey barrel and a wine barrel that will result in a very different out come in your wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Customer Service at E. C. 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.

Maple Scotch Ale Recipe (Partial Mash & All-Grain)

Beer Made With This Maple Scotch Ale RecipeIf you like Scotch ales, then here’s a Scotch ale recipe that you will love! It’s a classic brew with an eclectic, maple twist that will have you reaching for another.

There are few flavors that are as unique and delicious as maple syrup. Whether it was pancakes, waffles, or French toast, you probably grew up with maple syrup along with your favorite Sunday breakfast. Lucky for you, maple syrup can also be used in your homebrew!

The high fermentability and unique flavor of maple syrup make it work well with a number of beer styles, especially those that feature malt flavors. A maple brown ale is a popular combination, but today’s beer recipe pairs it with a Scottish ale.

Scotch ales are known for being malt forward with notes of caramel. Generally, they have low IBUs, though a small amount of roasted barley may enhance the perception of bitterness. Rather than deriving caramel flavor from caramel malt, all-grain Scotch ale recipes often involve taking a portion of the first runnings from the mash and boiling them down to develop caramelization. As one might imagine, these caramel flavors work well with the maple syrup.

Some brewers recommend using grade-B maple syrup, which has a stronger maple flavor, but typical grade-A syrup you might use on your pancakes will work too. Just be sure to use all-natural, 100% maple syrup if you want to avoid putting artificial colorings, flavors, and preservatives in your brew. Due to the high sugar content of maple syrup, it will ferment out almost completely, leaving behind a hint of that sweet maple flavor. Enjoy!


Maple Scotch Ale Recipe
(5.5-gallon batch, partial mash)

OG: 1.046
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.7%
IBUs: 15.5Shop Steam Freak Kits
SRM: 12

7 oz. German Munich malt
4 oz. Caramel 20L malt
2 oz. Roasted barley
3.3 lbs. light LME
2 lbs. amber DME
.5 oz. Magnum pellet hops at :60 (6.1 AAUs)
3 cups maple syrup
1 pack Mangrove Jack’s US West Coast Yeast

Partial Mash Directions: 
In a small stockpot, mash crushed grains at 156°F. in 1.25 qts. of clean, chlorine-free water for 60 minutes. Strain mash through a colander into boil kettle to remove grains, then rinse them with 1 qt. water at 170˚F, collecting runoff in the kettle. Add malt extract and enough water to make three gallons. Bring to a boil. Add Magnum hops and boil for 60 minutes. At end of boil, turn off the heat, mix in maple syrup, then whirlpool and chill wort to 60˚F or below. Pour wort into a clean, sanitized fermenter with enough cool, clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.5 gallons. Stir well to aerate. Pitch yeast and ferment at 58˚F for at least two weeks. Bottle or keg and carbonate for about 2.5 volumes CO2.

All-grain option:   Shop Home Brew Starter Kit
Replace the malt extract with 7.2 lbs. pale ale malt. Mash grains at 156˚F for one hour. Halfway through the mash, remove two gallons of wort and boil it to condense into one gallon. This will develop caramelization. Sparge to collect a total of 7 gallons of wort, including the one gallon of caramelized wort. Boil for 30 minutes, then add Magnum hops. Boil for 60 minutes and proceed with recipe above.

Do you have a favorite Scotch ale recipe you’d like to share with us. We love to see what other homebrewer’s got cookin’.

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.

Making A Basic Apple Cyser Recipe

Apple CyserWhich one of your wine making kits would I buy to make a basic Apple Cyser recipe? And a list of other ingredients needed. Thank you Janet

Name: Janet N.
State: CA
Hello Janet,

Out of the different wine making kits we carry, without a doubt you will want to get the “Your Fruit!” Wine Making Kit for making apple Cyser. This wine making kit has been designed for beginning winemakers that will be using their own fruit instead of a wine concentrate – in your case, the apple juice. It works great for making wines from strawberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, watermelon… the list is endless. And yes, it will work great for making an apple Cyser recipe.

This starter wine making kit includes all the essential wine making ingredients you will need to make almost any fruit wine. The wine yeast, nutrients, sanitizers, etc. It also comes with two wine making books. One of them containing 100 wine making recipes; the other contains great insights to making homemade wine. A complete list of what’s in the wine making kit is on our website.

Coming up with an basic apple Cyser recipe is easy. Sense apple Cyser is basically an apple mead, essentially what you are doing is making an apple wine recipe, but instead of adding the sugar it will call for, you will be adding honey in its place. So basically, you can take any apple wine recipe and turn it into an apple Cyser recipe.

Because honey is not all sugar – it has some moisture or water in it – you will need to add more honey by weight than the wine recipe calls for in sugar – usually about 20% more. In the case of our apple wine recipe, you would want to take out the 5 pounds of sugar called for, and replace it with 6 pounds of honey. This is all that is needed to turn it into an apple Cyser recipe. Apple blossom spun honey would be idea but is usually cost prohibitive at 6 pounds. Barring this, clover or wild flower honey will work fine.Shop Wine Making Kits


Apple Cyser Recipe
(Makes 5 Gallons)


You can follow the wine making directions on our website or the directions that come with the starter wine making kit.Shop Wine Presses

And that’s how to make apple Cyser. Get the “Your Fruit!” Wine Making Kit; convert the apple recipe into a basic apple Cyser recipe and follow the wine making directions. Also realize that you will have some left over wine making ingredients for making future batches of wine. This could be use to make another apple Cyser recipe or some other fruit.

Best wishes, and 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.


Avoiding The Green Beer Taste: Conditioning & Aging

Conditioned Homebrew With No Green Beer TastePatience. It’s one of a homebrewer’s many virtues, and a necessity for avoiding a green beer taste.

After bottling or kegging a batch of homebrew, it’s very difficult to resist sampling the beer before it’s ready. But your patience will be rewarded by giving the beer the time it needs to improve before you drink it. This waiting period – usually two or three weeks at a minimum – is referred to as conditioning or maturation. Beer that is too young is called green beer because of the way it tastes.


What is green beer? What is the green beer taste?

Green beer is beer that isn’t ready to drink yet. Though beer almost always gets better with time, tasting the beer early can be a good exercise to learn just how drastically time can change the beer. If you’ve ever tasted your original gravity wort sample, that’s pretty close to the green beer taste. The bitterness is very strong. The flavors just don’t blend together very well. What may be perceived as a fault or an infection may just be an indicator that the beer needs more time to condition. Aging will help to make the beer taste better!


What happens during conditioning?

Conditioning is really just a fancy word for aging. What we call green beer needs time before it’s ready to drink. Some conditioning takes place during secondary fermentation. Yeast consumes some byproducts of fermentation (like diacetyl), which removes some undesirable flavors from the homebrew, making the beer taste better. The yeast and other particles settle out of suspension, resulting in a clearer beer. Other flavors from the malt, hops, and yeast have time to meld together.

Conditioning also takes place in the bottle or keg. The beer carbonates and flavors continue to develop. If you’ve used priming sugar, the yeast will float around eating it up and producing carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide not only create bubbles in the beer, it helps to drive off oxygen, which has the potential of making your beer go stale. The yeast will settle out in time.


At what temperature should I condition my homebrew?Shop Conical Fermenter

Many beers go through a warm conditioning period and cold conditioning period. “Warm” or “cold” is relative to the beer style being made. Secondary fermentation, what might be considered a warm conditioning period, usually happens at or near the normal fermentation temperature for the homebrew. For lagers, a diacetyl rest (a couple days at about 55-60˚F) can be used to reduce buttery diacetyl flavors in the beer. After bottling, beer should be held at room temperature for about two to three weeks to allow the yeast the carbonate the beer.

The green beer taste is often improved by a cold conditioning period. During cold conditioning, flavor and clarity continues to get better. Cold conditioning can happen at temperatures as low as freezing, though I find that giving bottles several days in the refrigerator can make a big difference. Sometimes it’s easier said than done!


How long should beer be conditioned and aged?

That depends on the beer style. Most ales of moderate gravity only require a couple weeks of conditioning to remove the green beer taste. Hoppy beers are generally best consumed fresh. High gravity beers on the other hand tend to get better with some age. Barley wine, imperial stouts, doppelbocks, and other beers with high alcohol content may continue to improve over the course of a year or longer. Try saving a few bottles of each batch to sample three, six, or twelve months down the road to learn what time can do you your homebrew.


What’s the best environment for conditioning?

Shop Home Brew Starter KitThe keys to reducing the green beer taste in your homebrew are a steady, moderate temperature during warm conditioning (so the yeast can carbonate the beer) and steady, cold temperature for cold conditioning. It’s also important that it’s dark during the conditioning phase, otherwise beer can become light-struck or skunked.



Proper conditioning makes all the difference between delicious homebrew and one with an icky green beer taste. The next time you break into your batch early, remember, it will likely get better with age.

How do you condition your homebrew?
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.