Homebrew Hacks: The Art of the Blow Off Tube

Using A Blow Off TubeIf you’ve been homebrewing for a while, chances are you’ve had a foamy fermentation bubble up through your airlock, maybe even blow the lid right off your fermenter! This is the time you wished you used a blow off tube.

The foam on top of your fermenting beer is often called “krausen”. It’s a mix of very active yeast, gummy protein, and hoppy trub that rises and falls over the course of several days. Anytime you anticipate an extra vigorous fermentation, such as when brewing high-gravity beers or fermenting at higher temperatures, you might want to rig up a blow off tube setup.

If you’ve been on many brewery tours, you may have noticed the hoses that run from the fermenters into a big bucket of sanitizer solution. The bucket may or may not be actively bubbling. It may even be spilling over with yeasty trub! Below is some information that will show you how to make a blow off tube for the homebrew setup.

The mechanism is basically a large airlock system. It allows CO2 to escape from the carboy or bucket fermenter, while also providing an exit for any yeasty krausen, which will get pushed into the bucket of sanitizer.

 

To make a blow off tube setup, you will need:

  • a large jar or small bucket (a large mason jar or plastic milk jug works fine)

 

 

How to Make a Blow-Off Tube

  1. Prepare a sanitizer bath. Just a gallon or so should be sufficient.
  1. Clean and sanitize all parts. Reserve some of the diluted sanitizer.
  1. Fit one end of the hose over the inside of the airlock.
  1. Fill the bucket or jar about two-thirds full of sanitizer. Leave some space to give that foam a place to go.
  1. Attach the airlock end of the blow off tube to your fermenter and run the other end into the bucket of sanitizer.

 

More often than not, you’ll probably have to rig up a homebrew blow off tube as the Shop Carboysfoam is already flowing out of the airlock and all over the floor. Just keep your cool, clean the mess, and remember to sanitize. With all that stuff coming out of the fermenter, there’s probably not much that’s going to get in.

A homebrew blow off tube setup can be a lifesaver when fermentation gets out of control. To avoid a blow-off disaster, leave about a gallon worth of headspace during primary fermentation to give the krausen room to grow. Be sure to check on your fermentation over the first few days and have your blow off tube ready!

So that’s the basics of how to make a blow off tube. Do you use a homebrew blow off setup? Do you use it all the time or only when you need it? Share in the comments below!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Using Concentrated Grape Juice For Topping-Up

Topping Up Wine With ConcentrateOn the question of head space in the secondary fermenter–Can you add concentrate grape juice?

Gavin V. — GA
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Hello Gavin,

I’m assuming that you are referring to our resent blog post on ways to reduce head-space in a fermenter.

Certainly, topping up wine with concentrate is something that can be done, however realize that you are adding sugar. In fact, the concentrated grape juice is mostly sugar.

If the fermentation has completed, this will add more fuel for it to start up again. For this reason it is important that a wine stabilizer such a potassium sorbate also be added along with the concentrated grape juice. This will help to eliminate the chance of your wine having a re-fermentation.

If the fermentation has completed you do not want it starting up again. You will also need to take into consideration the more-obvious issue – that is – the concentrated grape juice will make the wine sweeter. If you want your wine to be dry, this would not be what you’d want to use top up your wine.

If the fermentation is still going, then adding the concentrated grape juice will increase the potential alcohol of the fermentation. There is always the possibility of Shop Potassium Sorbateraising the alcohol level too much, bringing the wine out of balance. Very seldom will you ever want the total potential alcohol of a wine to go over 13%, and only then if your wine has a lot of flavor. Wines with higher alcohol will have a tendency to taste hot and less flavorful.

It is also important to understand that topping up wine with concentrate will also add more acidity to the wine. Just like there is a lot of sugar in the concentrated grape juice, there is a lot of fruit acid. It is possible that using it to top up your wine could make it too tart or sharp tasting. This is the case regardless if the wine is still fermenting nor not.

So, if your wine must is low in acid and you like your wine’s off-dry or even sweet, then topping up your wine with a grape concentrate may be a good option. But, other than this scenario, I do not think this is a great option for you.

Regular grape juice would be a much better choice.

Since the regular, un-concentrated, grape juice will have about the same acidity level as a wine, blending the two will not change the tartness of the wine to any noticeable degree.Shop Grape Concentrate

The sugar will still be a consideration. If you want your wine to stay dry as it would normally be after a fermentation, then grape juice – concentrated or not – would not be what you want to use. On the other hand, if you like your wines a off-dry or the wine is still fermenting, then grape juice might be something to consider.

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.

Fuller’s London Porter Clone Recipe (All-Grain and Extract)

Example Of A Fuller's London Porter CloneWhen I was living out of the country in 2012, I was desperate to find good beer. Luckily, the grocery store carried a good number of imports from Germany, Belgian, and Great Britain. This is where I discovered Fuller’s Brewery of London. The ESB and London Pride were both excellent, but I really fell in love Fuller’s London Porter. Paired with chocolate or grilled meats, it’s a real winner. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Fuller’s London Porter is one of the best porters I’ve had.

So I was happy to stumble upon these Fuller’s London porter clone recipes, both extract and all-grain, from Brew Your Own magazine.

 

Fuller’s London Porter Clone Recipe
(5 gallons, all-grain recipe)

Specs:
OG = 1.056
FG = 1.014
IBUs = 35
SRM = 62
ABV = 5.4%

Ingredients:
9 lb. 12 oz. British 2-row pale ale malt
14 oz. Crystal malt (60L)
7 oz. Chocolate malt
7 oz. Black patent malt
4 oz. Roasted barley
1.7 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 60 mins (8.5 AAU)
.25 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 15 mins (1.25 AAU)
.25 oz. Kent Goldings at 5 minsShop Steam Freak Kits
.25 oz. Kent Goldings 0 mins
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
Wyeast 1968: London ESB Yeast (w/ 1.5L yeast starter)
0.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)

Directions
Prepare a 1.5L yeast starter in advance of brew day. Using fairly hard water (something resembling the London water profile), mash crushed grains for 60 minutes at 152-156°F in 4-4.5 gallons of water. Sparge to collect ~6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule. Chill wort and transfer to fermenter. Pitch yeast and ferment at 70˚F.

 

Fuller’s London Porter Clone Recipe Shop Barley Grains
(5 gallons, extract w/grains)

Specs:
OG = 1.056
FG = 1.014
IBU = 35
SRM = 62
ABV = 5.4%

Ingredients:
1 lb. 10 oz. Light dried malt extract
4 lb. 5 oz. Light liquid malt extract (late addition)
1 lb. British 2-row pale ale malt
14 oz. Crystal malt (60L)
7 oz. Chocolate malt
7 oz. Black patent malt
4 oz. Roasted barley
1.7 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 60 mins (8.5 AAU)Shop Fermenter
.25 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 15 mins (1.25 AAU)
.25 oz. Kent Goldings at 5 mins
.25 oz. Kent Goldings 0 mins
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
Wyeast 1968: London ESB Yeast (w/ 1.5L yeast starter)
0.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)

Directions
Steep crushed grains in 1 gal. of 152-156˚F water for 45 minutes. Strain and rinse grains with hot water, collecting the wort in a brew kettle. Mix in DME and top off with enough water to make ~6.5 gallons of wort. (If brewing in a smaller kettle, I recommend increasing each of the hop additions by 25%.) Bring wort to a boil. Add 1.7 oz. of Kent Goldings hops and boil for 45 minutes. Remove kettle from heat and stir in LME. Bring back to a boil and add .25 oz. Kent Goldings hops and Irish Moss. Boil for ten minutes, then add .25 oz. Kent Goldings hops. Boil for five more minutes, turn off heat and immediately add remaining hops.

Do you have a killer porter recipe? What tips would you share for brewing a Fuller’s London Porter clone recipe, or any English Porter for that matter?
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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.

Why Rack Wine Into A Secondary Fermenter?

Why Rack WineI’m making a batch of your European Select Merlot using your wine making products. I have the wine brewing in a plastic fermenter and it should be reaching a specific gravity of 1.010 tomorrow according to my wine hydrometer. It’s still bubbling actively after 7 days. According to the directions that came with the wine kit I should be racking the wine into a secondary fermenter at this point. Why rack wine into a secondary for the rest of the fermentation? Can’t I just leave it fermenting for another 12 days in the same container….don’t understand why the transfer is necessary at this point.

Thanks,
Tony F.
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Dear Tony,

This is a question we get from time to time, and you’re right, it doesn’t seem to make sense, particularly when you are dealing with concentrated homemade wine kits. Why rack wine to a secondary fermenter when is seems to be fermenting perfectly fine?

When you make wine from fresh fruits, the juice is fermented with the skins and pulp for the first few days so that the juice can extract body, flavor and color. This is a process call maceration. Siphoning the wine after a few days seems logical in this situation. You need to get the skins and pulp out of the way; racking the juice to a clean fermenter seems like a good way to do it.Shop Auto Siphon

But there’s another reason why we rack wine into a secondary fermenter besides just getting skins and pulp out of the way, and it’s why you need to rack the wine now, even though it’s from concentrate with no skins or pulp involved. It’s called sediment or lees.

Whether or not there’s skin or pulp, a heavy layer of sediment will develop in the bottom of your wine fermenter. It’s primarily made up of yeast cells that were produced during the fermentation Having excessive amounts of this sediment in contact with the wine over extended periods of time can cause off-flavors to become noticeable in the resulting wine.

Most of the off-flavors stem from the fact that some of the active yeast cells will try to consume the dead yeast cells the lie at the bottom as the sugar starts to run out. This is a process known as autolysis. So for a clean tasting wine you need to get the wine off the bulk of this sediment. This is why you need to rack a wine into a secondary fermenter.Shop Carboys

Just as the wine instructions that came with your European Select wine kit imply, it’s usually around the 7th day that almost all of the fermentation has completed, and the activity begins to slow down. This makes it an opportune time to get the bulk of the sediment out of the way. There will be more sediment to follow as the wine clears up, but not nearly as much as the fermentation will have at this point in the process.

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.

Using High Alpha Hops For Bittering

High Alpha HopsWhile noble hops are revered for their delicate aromatic qualities and are lower in alpha acid content, high alpha hops (or “super alphas”) offer maximum bittering potential per ounce. Super high alpha hops will have 10% AA or higher, some into the high teens!

What this means for the budget-minded brewer (and who isn’t?), is that you can get the same amount of bitterness using less hops with a high alpha hop than with a lower alpha acid hop. This not only saves money, but also reduces the amount of trub in the kettle and the volume of beer lost in the trub. Here’s an example of how to do a hop substitution:

Hop A has an alpha acid content of 5%. The beer recipe calls for one ounce. Hop B has an alpha acid of 10%. You can use half an ounce of Hop B to end up with the same amount of bitterness and IBUs.

This being said, not all alpha acids are created equal. Cohumulone is a type of alpha acid that tends to present a harsher bitterness, so it’s important to key an eye on the percentage of cohumulone when switching out one type of hop for another. Otherwise, you may change the quality of the bitterness in your beer from something clean or soft into a bitterness that’s harsh or biting. A hop acid chart can be helpful in identifying typical cohumulone content, but the best thing to do is experiment and gauge for yourself what hops provide the qualities you enjoy.

A rule of thumb: these super high alpha hops seem to do best in bigger beers – beers with lots of flavor. For more delicate beers, use the lower alpha acid hops.

 

Without further ado, here are some of the most popular super high alpha hops used by homebrewers:

  • BravoShop HopsBravo is sometimes called a “super Cascade.” It’s a good bittering hop with desirable flavor and aroma characteristics described as fruity and floral. (14-17% AA)
  • Chinook – Chinook is a classic American bittering hop. When used in later hop additions, it gives an herbal, somewhat smoky character. (12-14% AA)
  • Citra – Citra is one of the more popular varieties of high alpha hops. In addition to the high alpha acid content, Citra offers flavors and aromas of grapefruit, melon, and tropical fruit. (11-13% AA)
  • Columbus – Columbus is one of the high alpha hops with flavor and aroma characteristics described as oniony, citrusy, and resiny. Sometimes called Tomahawk. (14-16% AA)
  • Galena – A clean bittering hop that’s well suited for a variety of styles. (10-14% AA)Shop Accurate Scales
  • Horizon – Good for hop-forward beers like pale ales and IPAs. When used for flavor and aroma additions, it lends herbal, earthy, and spicy characteristics. (11-13% AA)
  • Millenium – Released in 2000, Millenium is a cross of Nugget and Coumbus with floral, resiny, and spicy characteristics. (14.5-16.5% AA)
  • Simcoe® – Simcoe is another of the high alpha hops from the Cascade hop family. Its strong piney characteristics make is popular in IPAs and double IPAs. (12-14% AA)
  • Sorachi Ace – Sorachi Ace is a cross between Brewers Gold and Saaz. It has a distinct lemony quality. (10.5-12.2% AA)
  • Summit – Summit is one of the highest of all the alpha hops with citrus characteristics. (17.5-19% AA)Shop Steam Freak Kits
  • Warrior – Warrior is a newer bittering hop with very high alpha acid content. Flavor and aroma desribed as grapefruit, lemon, and pine. (14-16% AA)
  • Yakima Magnum – Yakima Magnum is a clean and versatile bittering hop derived from the German-grown Magnum hop. (12-14% AA)
  • Zythos – Zythos is a blend of popular American hops, featuring notes of pineapple, tropical fruit, and a touch of pine. (10-12% AA)

 

What are some of your favorite super high alpha hops and why? Share in the comments below!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Is Older Wine Better?… Not Necessarily!

Is Older Wine Better?From the incredible prices being cried out at a Sotherby’s wine auction, to the fluffy articles that float around in today’s life-styles magazines, people are continuously being fed the notion that the older the wine is, the better it will be.

But is older wine better? Unfortunately, the answer is maybe – maybe not! The ol’ mantra: “the older the wine the better”, is just that – a mantra. It’s a generalization that is just as likely to be false as it is true. The reality with any wine is that there will always come a time when it would be best to drink up!

Wines don’t endlessly increase in quality like an investment fund or like a home increases in value. They have a life cycle, a beginning and an end, much like any living thing. At first, there is a steady rise in quality; then a flattening out, or plateauing; and eventually a slow decline.

The aging cycle of a today’s commercial wines are fairly well mapped and predictable. Some wines have very long life-cycles, involving many years, even decades. Then there’s other wines who’s aging potential is not so long. Based on the type of wine, how it was made, combined with an observation of its character at bottling, a timeline can be laid out by the winery that shows the optimum time to drink that particular wine. Once this theoretical point is reached, any additional aging is futile. In fact, too much aging beyond that point will result in a very slow decrease of the wine’s quality.

The very same holds true for homemade wines. There will come a point in each wine’s life when more aging will not be a good thing. Holding on to it will only provide you with less and less quality as time goes on – a direct mocking of the phrase, “the older the wine the better”.

Shop Wine Making KitsThe whole point of bringing this to light is that some home winemakers get into the game of saving their wines instead of drinking them, putting bottles away like heirlooms, thinking they’re going to become more exceptional as time goes by, saving them for their granddaughter’s wedding and all, but in reality this is little more than a waste of good wine.

By all means let the wine age. It my take 3 months. It might take 3 years. Every so often pull a bottle out and see how it is doing. Is it becoming more mellow? Is it developing any complexities or layers of flavors? If yes, then great, let the wine age a little longer. But when no improvement can be detected between samplings, then simply put, it’s time to start drinking.
—–
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.

Create Your Own Seasonal Beer Brewing Calendar

Beers To Put On A Beer Brewing CalendarAt certain times of the year, some styles of beers just taste better than others. An imperial stout in summer and a hefeweizen in winter seems equally out of place. But you can’t well wait til December to brew your imperial stout and hope that it will be ready by Christmas. Enter: a seasonal beer brewing calendar.

Due to the nature of brewing, it’s important to do some planning and scheduling if you want to drink your beer during a certain time period. Plan on at least a month or two of “production” time before your homebrew is ready to drink. With high gravity beers and lagers, you may need even longer. That means if you want to drink your Oktoberfest in October, you should start brewing by mid-August at the latest. A seasonal beer brewing calendar will help you to plan this out.

The information blow isn’t meant to be an end all resource – you’re welcome to brew and enjoy any style of beer any time of year! There will be a lot of overlapping of beer styles depending on your tastes and time constraints. But for the occasion when you want to pull off – for example – a summer ale for the summer, a seasonal beer brewing calendar can be very helpful to keep you beer styles on schedule.

 

Year Round Beers!

These beers seem to work well any time of year and are good options for year-round “house” beers. Consider them for any month on your beer brewing calendar.

  • Pale Ale
  • IPA
  • Amber ale
  • Pale lagers
  • Pilsner

 

Brew in the Winter (for Spring drinking)

Shop Steam Freak KitsIn anticipation of those long, final months of cold, brew a bock or an Irish stout. Irish stout (as well as Irish Red) will also come in handy on St. Patrick’s Day. Imperial stout and barleywine is often aged for 9-12 months, so this is a good time to get a start on next year’s vintage. Consider putting these beer styles on your beer brewing calendar for fall brewing. Get started on a spring ale or Maibock so they’ll be ready when the weather starts to warm.

  • Irish Red
  • Irish Stout
  • Bock
  • Barleywine (for next winter)
  • Imperial Stout (for next winter)
  • Spring Ale
  • Maibock

 

Brew in the Spring (for Summer drinking)

The summer season is high time for lighter colored ales and lagers, from pale ale and Kölsch to pilsner and witbier. Unlike the previous group, these beers do not need much , if any, aging at all, so they can be put on the beer brewing calendar closer to the time of anticipated consumption. The warmer weather also lends itself to brewing some Belgian ales that can tolerate higher fermentation temperatures, like saison and bière de mars.

  • Cream Ale
  • Pale Ale
  • IPA
  • Summer Ale
  • Kölsch
  • Hefeweizen
  • Witbier
  • Light Lager
  • Pilsner
  • Saison
  • Belgian Pale Ales
  • Bière de Mars
  • Gose

 

Brew in the Summer (for Fall/Winter drinking)Shop Conical Fermenter

Darker beers, such as brown ale, start to hit the spot in the fall. Pumpkin beers are popular around Halloween and Thanksgiving. To make sure it’s ready for Oktoberfest, plan on starting your Oktoberfestbier by mid-summer to allow for a long, cool lagering period. You can start an imperial stout or barleywine in the summer and still have several months of conditioning to make sure it’s ready for winter.

  • Brown ale
  • Pumpkin beer
  • Oktoberfestbier/Marzen
  • Vienna lager
  • Imperial stout
  • Barley wine

 

Fall (for winter drinking)

By fall, you should be enjoying your Oktoberfestbier and pumpkin ale. Get a jump on some darker beers to get you through the winter, such as stout, bock, and strong Scotch ale. Start some holiday spiced ales so they’ll be ready in time to give away as gifts. If started in the fall, you should be able to pull off a batch of imperial stout or barleywine by winter, though the longer they can age the better.

  • Strong porter
  • Stout
  • Bock
  • Dopplebock
  • Dunkelweizen Shop Brew Kettles
  • Strong Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
  • Imperial stout (last chance)
  • Barleywine (last chance)
  • Holiday spiced beers

 

Do you follow a seasonal beer brewing calendar, or do you just make whatever beer style you feel like brewing?
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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.

The Relationship Between Oxygen And Wine Aging

Oxygen And Wine AgingYou can’t read very long on the subject of wine making without running across the warnings of excessive air exposure and how oxygen can turn a great wine into a brown, caramelized mess through a process of oxidation. Books, websites and even this blog have expressed these cautions.

The reality is without some oxygen being available, the progression of a wine’s aging process can be brought to a near standstill. Wine needs oxygen to age. Without it a wine will not fully reach its aging potential. There is a solid relationship between oxygen and wine aging, it’s just a matter of finely controlling how much dissolved oxygen is in the wine.

Once the wine is bottled, it begins a series of changes. Tannins become less harsh, aromas tend to develop a richness, etc., but all of this can not take place without a slow – very slow – infusion of oxygen. Oxygen is the catalyst for all these changes during the wine’s maturation process.

But this oxygen needs to be given slowly. If too much oxygen is made available to the wine too quickly, it will develop symptoms of bottle shock. This basically means the aging process is out of balance. More oxygen is being dissolved into the wine than it can process for aging. The wine will taste flabby and lifeless with little bouquet, and worse yet, it could start to show signs of oxidation such a browning. So, while the wine need oxygen to age, it needs it in very small doses of long periods of time. This is the most important thing to understand about oxygen and wine aging.Shop Wine Corks

A wine bottle and its cork can be considered a wine preservation system. It’s job is to preserve the wine and allow it to develop steadily and evenly as time passes. How well the cork seals or how well it allows air to permeate, controls the rate of aging.

While it may be your instinct to try to age the wine as quickly as the wine will bare, you don’t want the wine to age-out too fast. This is because the wine will begin to slowly start to degrade after doing so. A bottle of wine has a beginning and an end – an aging life-cycle. There is a peak in flavor along this life-cycle. You don’t want the wine to take too long because you’ll end up drinking your wine when it has not yet reached its best.

For example, our Superior Grade Straight Corks work well for wines that you intend to consume in about 3 years time. Our Extra-First Grade Straight Corks are for wines you intend to consume over a 4 or 6 year period. Extra-First Grade is denser than the Superior Grade so less air gets through, slowing the aging process.

Then there’s Synthetic Corks. These corks are designed to allow the optimal amount of air to pass over time. They are ideal for wines that you intend to age for for than 18 month. They also work well for early aging wines such as Zinfandel where little oxygen is needed for the wine to come into fruition.

Shop Wine BarrelsFor these reasons, when you buy corks their density should be taken into consideration. By selecting the right grade of cork you can control the wine’s rate of aging to one that is appropriate for the needs of that particular style and to the needs of your consumption.

Wine needs oxygen to age. Oxygen and wine aging go hand-in-hand, but it’s all about controlling how much. The key is to not let the wine get too much too fast. Keep it slow any steady.
—–
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.

Create Your Own Barleywine Recipe! It’s Easy!

Barleywine RecipeBarleywine is an English style of high gravity ale. A typical barley wine recipe will have loads of malt and extra hops to create a full bodied beer that approaches wine in its alcohol content. Because of the high alcohol content, barleywines are often consumed in the cold weather. They also age well. Brew a barleywine recipe now and be sure to save some bottles for future winter holidays and special occasions!

Looking for a ready-to-brew barleywine recipe kit? Steam Freak Barnstormer Barleywine may be just what you’re looking for! If you’d like to create your own barleywine recipe, consider the tips below.

 

Creating a Barleywine Recipe: Vital Stats

First, think about whether you’d like to create an American or English barleywine recipe. Traditional English barleywines tend to be a little more malt forward than the American versions. English barleywines will still have a significant amount of bittering hops and will focus on English varieties (like Kent Goldings and Fuggles), while American barleywines tend to use American hop varieties (like Cascade) and will probably have more significant late boil hop additions.

Here are the BJCPs statistics for comparison:

English Barleywine Recipe Profile:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 35 – 70
FG: 1.018 – 1.030
SRM: 8 – 22
ABV: 8 – 12%

American Barleywine Recipe Profile:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 50 – 120
FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 10 – 19
ABV: 8 – 12%Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

Malt

Barleywine ale requires a significant amount of fermentable ingredients to achieve the higher levels of alcohol. Many all-grain brewers will supplement a normal volume of grain with additional malt extract and/or sugar in their barleywine recipes. This allows them to perform a mash that fits in their all-grain system and still collect a decent volume of wort of the appropriate gravity. Aim for an OG of at least 1.090.

All-grain brewers: Using a pale ale malt as a base, add up to 10-15% specialty malts for color and flavor complexity. A Munton’s mild ale malt would be a good choice of base malt for a traditional barley wine. To create a more fermentable wort, mash the grains at the low end of the range, at about 150°F.

Extract brewers: will need three cans of liquid malt extract to achieve the gravity needed for this brew. Try a combination of light, Munich, and amber LME and steep some crystal malt to get the malt complexity that’s characteristic of barleywines.Shop Liquid Malt Extract

 

Hops

To balance the enormous malt bill, barleywines are balanced by a generous dose of bittering hops. Higher alpha acids hops, such as Chinook, work well for this purpose. At least an ounce will be needed in the early part of the boil, probably two. If bittering with a lower alpha acid hop, such as East Kent Goldings (a traditional English variety), use at least three ounces for a five gallon recipe. Four or five ounces of bittering hops would be better.

In barleywines, hop flavor and aroma vary quite a bit. An American-style barley wine will likely have more hop flavor and aroma than an English one. Think about your taste preferences and add late addition hops accordingly. Centennial and Cascade are popular choices to add to an American barleywine recipe. Fuggles and Willamette are also good options.

Dry hopping isShop Hops common and traditional for English ales. Consider adding 1-2 oz. dry hops (or more based on your preference) up to a week in advance of bottling.

 

Beer Yeast

Be prepared for a long fermentation. Barleywines are also typically aged. If you want your barleywine to be ready for Christmas or New Year’s, plan to start your barley wine recipe at least two or three months in advance of when you plan to serve it. Many American and English ale yeasts will work. The best yeast for a barleywine recipe, I have found is Wyeast 1728: Scottish Ale. You may also want to consider Wyeast 1056: American Ale, or even a combination of the two.

For brewing a high gravity beer, it’s essential to pitch enough beer yeast to complete the fermentation. Be sure to prepare a yeast starter (you’ll probably need about three liters) and aerate the wort well prior to pitching. Alternatively, use three packs of liquid beer yeast in order to have enough yeast cells. It may be necessary to pitch a second yeast (possibly a different strain) when racking into secondary fermentation, so it might be a good idea to have some Safale-S04 or Safale-S05 on hand.Shop Liquid Beer Yeasat

Ray Daniels points out the traditionally, brewers would rouse, or stir up the yeast throughout the secondary fermentation to make sure that it remained active:

“One favored method of rousing was to take the large secondary fermentation casks for a “walk.” Periodically, each cask would be taken out and rolled around the brewery courtyard a few times to achieve the necessary awakening of the yeast.”

Sounds like a good way to get some exercise!

Do you have experience with brewing a barleywine recipe? What tips do you have to share? We’d love to hear them!
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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.

Is It Possible To Re-Bottle Homemade Wine?

Wine That Needs Re BottlingI bottled some wine in 2014-2015 when I first started wine making. Back then I skipped too many step. Well the wine taste good but some of the batches have sediment. Though this does not bother me when you are sharing it bothers some. My question is can I filter and re-bottle homemade wine. I thought it might be that easy.  If so, I would have a short bottle of wine after filtering that I would get to drink. 🙂 The picture is some Pumpkin wine I made that still has Pumpkin fibers in it.

Name: Marty
State: IL
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Hello Marty,

Yes, you can re-bottle wine, even at this late date, but you will need to be concerned with keeping air exposure to a minimum. Excessive air can cause your wine to oxidize. Oxidation will cause the wine to become darker and more brown in color. It will also cause the wine to be less fruity or more lifeless in character.

With that said, here’s the direction on how to re-bottle wine.

Getting the wine out of the bottle is where most of the oxygen exposure will occur. This is due to the glugging of the wine as it is being poured. This is the step where you will want to take care, and keep the glugging of the wine to minimum.

Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to counter the potential effects of oxidation when re-bottling wine:

 

  • First is to treat the wine with sulfites after it has been put into a common container. This would either be Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. Any of these will work. This will drive out most of the oxygen that was saturated into the wine during decanting.Shop Ascorbic Acid
  • Secondly, you can add a dose of ascorbic acid to the wine. This will help to lower the pH of the wine without affecting its flavor. Lower pH means oxygen will have a harder time oxidizing the phenolic compounds in the wine.

 

A carboy would be the ideal container in which to clear the wine when it is being re-bottled. This will allow you to eliminate any excessive airspace in with the wine due to the shape of the carboy’s neck. Keeping the airspace down to a minimum is important because it will take the wine several days, if not a couple weeks, to clear.

Filtering the wine is not a good option in this situation. Judging from the picture you provided, the wine is clear; it just needs to taken away from the solids collecting in the wine.

To help speed up the process and get the wine re-bottled, I would recommend using a fining agent or wine clarifier on the wine. Because this is a pumpkin wine, which is light in color and may have an abundance of protein in it, I would suggest using Sparkolloid as the choice for a fining agent. Sparkolloid will easily drop out the protein, or fiber as you called it. It is also helpful in stripping some of the browning affects of oxidation from a wine. This is an added bonus. Just follow the directions on the jar to treat the wine.Shop Sparkolloid

Once the wine has been treated and cleared you can then re-bottle the wine. Re-bottling this time will be no different than any other time. You will want to add sulfites, again, just before doing so, as most of the sulfite added earlier will have dissipated from the wine.

Many home winemakers have ask, “can I re-bottle homemade wine”, for a number of different reasons: from making the wine sweeter to, “I don’t like the color of the wine bottle”. Hopefully, this information will clear up how to re-bottle wine in a safe way that will not jeopardize the wine so much.

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