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Beer Brewing and Wine Making Blog

  • Take Back Your Yard With This Dandelion Wine Recipe

    Posted on April 25, 2015 by Ed Kraus

    Dandelion petals for making dandelion wine.Most of the changes that spring brings are well received, like: warmth, sunshine, longer days, but there are a few changes that are not as welcomed. For most, the dreaded dandelion falls into this latter category. That's why for some, making a bit of dandelion wine might feel strangely like a bit of revenge.

    Dandelion wine is one of those traditional wines that has long served as a symbol of country winemaking — that classic creation that comes from the little ol' winemaker everybody knows. Even though dandelion wine has a deep-rooted past, there are plenty of home winemakers still making it today and enjoying every bit of it.

    Dandelions makes a light-bodied wine with a beautiful yellow color. It's flavors are herbal and muddled with an incredible bouquet that is bright and full of herbs and flowers.

    The trick to making a good dandelion wine is to use the petals, only. Stay away from any of the green. The greens will add a vegetable-like character to the wine that will seem foreign and out of place.

    Spring is the perfect time to make some dandelion wine, so here's a 5 gallon dandelion wine recipe to get you going. It's not that different from other country wine recipes. The types of ingredients are basically the same. A double-shot of nutrient is needed to make up for the lack of nutrients that you would normal get when making a wine from fruit. Plenty of acid blend is need as well for the same reason. Dandelions are not high in nutrients or acid.

    You can vary the amount of dandelion petals quite a bit without affecting the rest of the recipe, but as a warning, adding to many petals could give you a wine the has a very hard time aging out into something you'd really want to drink. More petals is not necessarily better. While the wine recipe asks for 6 quarts, you could reasonably go up to 12 quarts.

    Dandelion Wine Recipe
    (Makes 5 Gallons)

    Making this wine is pretty straight-forward. You will want to be sure that the dandelions are herbicide and pesticide free. For this reason it is best to pick them from an area you are familiar with. Once you have petals together, you will want to wash them in cold water — remove any ants or other insects — then blanch them by pouring boiling water over them and letting them steep in the water for 5 minutes. Don't use any more boiling water then necessary. Be sure to use all the water from the blanching in the wine recipe, itself as part of the 5 gallons.

    Once you've gotten this far you can use the 7 Easy Steps To Making Wine as the instructions for making this dandelion wine recipe.

    Anyone else have a dandelion wine recipe they'd like to share? Just leave it in the comments below!
    -----------------------------------
    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.


    This post was posted in Wine Making Blog, Wine Making Recipes

  • Advanced Mash Techniques: Calibrating a pH Meter for All-Grain Brewing

    Posted on April 24, 2015 by David Ackley

    pH Meter with Beer and GrainsMeasuring pH is an important part of brewing for a number of reasons. pH influences starch conversion during the mash, the quality of fermentation, resistance to infection, and flavor. While it’s possible to make good beer without paying any attention to pH, being able to measure the acidity or alkalinity at different points in the brewing process gives you one more tool in your homebrewing toolbox to full control over the end result – the beer!

     

    Is measuring pH just for all-grain brewers?

    pH is most relevant when mashing, or mixing crushed malt with water. The enzymes that convert the complex sugars found in malt into fermentable sugar work best within a certain pH range (5.2-5.5). While it may be helpful for extract brewers to measure the pH of their wort or finished beer, it’s usually not a priority.

     

    Calibrating a pH Meter for Brewing

    To calibrate your digital pH meter, you will need:

    • your pH meter
    • 500mL distilled water
    • one or two beakers or glass jars (depending on how many buffer solutions you have)
    • pH buffer solution
    • a thermometer

    *Note: pH meters and testing procedures may vary. Follow the instructions that came with your pH meter.

     

    To calibrate your digital pH meter:

    1. Prepare buffer solution: If using a buffer powder, mix 250 mL water with buffer powder, and fully dissolve buffer powder in water. If using a solution, pour buffer solution into testing jar.
    2. Turn on pH meter.
    3. Submerge the electrode end of the pH meter into the buffer solution.
    4. Wait until reading stabilizes.
    5. Adjust pH meter as needed. Most entry-level pH meters can be calibrated with a small screwdriver. Turn the small screw on the pH meter until the reading matches the pH of the buffer solution.
    6. If using a second buffer solution, rinse the electrode on the pH meter with distilled water and repeat the steps above for the second solution.

     

    pH Meter FAQs:

    • What is pH? pH stands for potential hydrogen and it measures the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid on a scale of 0-14. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Measurements below 7.0 are acidic; above 7.0 are alkaline.
    • How often should I calibrate my pH meter for brewing? pH meters should not need to be calibrated for every brew, but will fall out of calibration over time. Calibrate before the first time you use it, and again every 3-6 months. When you recalibrate, make a note of the date and how far off the reading was. This will help you determine how often to recalibrate your pH meter.
    • Do I need to make adjustments for temperature? Some pH meters come with automatic temperature control (ATC), in which case you do not need to adjust for temperature. However, you will still need to make sure you’re using the meter within its operating temperature range. Check the manual before using the pH meter in very hot wort.

     

    Do you use a pH meter in your home brewery? How often do you calibrate your pH meter for brewing?

    -----------------------------------
    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.


    This post was posted in Beer Brewing Blog

  • Leigh Erwin: Last Siphoning For My Wine Ingredient Kit

    Posted on April 23, 2015 by Leigh Erwin

    Last time, IUsing auto siphon on wine ingredient kit. updated you all on the progress of the Rosso Fortissimo wine ingredient kit, I had just put it to bed for secondary fermentation. Things have been going well so far, and — fingers crossed — they continue to do so.

    According to the instructions that came with this kit, I was supposed to leave the wine in secondary fermentation until at least day 20. Well, I ended up leaving it until day 22, basically because that’s how it worked out for my schedule. I figured leaving it an extra day or two wouldn’t hurt it at all — at the very least, I’d be ensuring that secondary fermentation was complete!

    Checking the specific gravity with my hydrometer on day 22, it read 0.998. The instructions say secondary fermentation is complete and you’re ready to move on and siphon the wine into a clean carboy if the specific gravity is 0.998 or less, so I took that as the green light to go!

    Next, I added the packet of potassium metabisulfite that came with the wine kit and stirred vigorously for two minutes per the instructions. I then realized that I actually wanted to rack the wine into a different vessel BEFORE this step, but it was too late at this point to do much about that. Technically, the suggestion to rack the wine wasn’t in the instructions until after the potassium metabisulfite addition, but I would have felt better anyway if I had done it first, just in case I accidentally left some behind in the original vessel. Maybe this doesn’t even matter — we’ll see.

    Anyway, I then siphoned the wine immediately after the 2 minute stirring step for the potassium metabisulfite.

    At this point, the instructions said that if gas was still being released to go ahead and stir the wine over the next day or two. Well, it was hard to say if it was, because I’ll be honest I didn’t pay too close attention to it, but I decided better safe than sorry and I would go ahead and stir the wine a few times over the next two days.

    Two days later….

    Shop Wine Ingredient KitsI then added the potassium sorbate, and subsequently siphoned the wine again into a clean carboy so I could actually see if the wine was clearing or not. I know I know, I really should have racked the wine first prior to adding the potassium sorbate just in case I accidentally left some behind in the process, but like the last time, I just didn’t think about it. Here’s hoping I did it swiftly enough that none of it had a chance to settle.

    After siphoning the wine into a carboy that I could actually see through, I added the packet of kieselsol and stirred gently for two minutes.

    Then, I waited one hour.

    Next, I added the packet of chitosan and stirred gently for one minute.

    Then, I waited three hours.

    Finally, I stirred the wine again for two minutes, re-fit the airlock, and said goodbye until day 42.

    I realized I made a couple minor errors this time, but I’m hoping that this wine ingredient kit will be a little forgiving and it won’t really matter in the end. Here’s hoping for clear, tasty wine in the next couple weeks!
    -----------------------------------
    leigh_erwin_bioMy name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I'll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad — and the ugly.


    This post was posted in Wine Making Blog, Wine Making Kits

  • Dandelion Beer Recipes For Springtime

    Posted on April 22, 2015 by David Ackley

    Dandelion Beer Recipe You may have heard of dandelion wine, but have you ever made dandelion beer?

    Though most people consider the dandelion an obnoxious weed, the whole plant is actually edible: roots, leaves, and flowers. Dandelion is medicinal as well, sometimes taken in the form of tea for its detoxifying qualities.

    For those interested in traditional and rustic pseudo-beers, a dandelion beer may give a hint as to what an early American settler would have made in the absence of hops, using the ubiquitous dandelion to help provide bitterness and flavor.

    A number of American craft brewers have given dandelion new life by putting it in some of their specialty beers:

    • New Belgium made a Dandelion Ale as part of the Lips of Faith series. Their version used pilsner malt, dandelion greens, grains of paradise, and Belgian ale yeast.
    • Magic Hat recently release Pistil as a spring ale, their recipe produces a light, 4.5% pale ale brewed with flaked oats, Apollo hops, Northern Brewer hops, Cascade hops, and dandelion leaves.
    • Fonta Flora, a new brewery in Morganton, North Carolina, brewed a dandelion brettanomyces saison last summer.

    As you can see, there are many ways to interpret the style of dandelion beer. The key component, as with any beer, is balance.

    A Note on Harvesting Dandelion
    It should be easy enough to find dandelions. Just be sure that the location you’re pulling the dandelions from hasn’t been sprayed with pesticide or herbicide, is far enough away from any cars and pets so as to avoid contamination.

    A Traditional Dandelion Beer Recipe
    This recipe, from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, is a traditional dandelion beer recipe from 1931. Though the fermentable sugar in this case is from sugar, feel free to use malt extract instead for more body. Sugar beers tend to finish a little thin. The flavor is hard to describe: floral, yet not in the way hops can be floral. I served this beer at a homebrew festival a couple years ago – it’s strange, but some people really liked it. Be warned – the beer will stain a plastic fermenter, so I recommend a glass carboy.

    Ingredients (two-gallon batch)
    2 oz. dried dandelion
    2 oz. dried nettle
    1 oz. dried yellow dock root
    1 gal. water (plus 1 gallon preboiled and cooled for topping off)
    2 lbs. sugar
    2 tbsp. dried ginger
    yeast

    DirectionsShop Beer Flavorings
    Boil the dandelion, nettle, and yellow dock root in water for 15 minutes. Place the sugar and ginger in your glass fermenter, then strain the “tea” over the sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add enough preboiled, cooled water to bring the total volume to two gallons. Rehydrate your yeast (if using dried) and stir into the wort. Ferment til complete, then bottle.

    A Modern Dandelion Beer Recipe
    The Dandelion Bitter from the Homebrewer’s Garden offers a recipe a little closer to what most of us consider beer.

    Specs
    OG: 1.045 – 1.056
    FG: 1.014 – 1.018
    Color: orange-brown

    Ingredients (five-gallon batch)
    1/2 lb. toasted malt
    1/2 lb. 60L crystal malt
    1 can light liquid malt extract
    2 lbs. light dried malt extract
    1 lb. dandelions: leaves, blossoms, and roots at :60
    1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :15
    1/2 oz. Willamette hops at :2
    1/2 oz. Willamette hops (dry hops)
    Wyeast 1028: London Ale Yeast or Safale S-04
    2/3 c. corn sugar for priming

    Directions
    Clean the dandelions thoroughly. Steep crushed malts in 1.5 gallons water at 150-160˚F for 30 minutes. Strain into a brew kettle and rinse grains with 1/2 gallon of water at 170˚F. Stir in the malt extracts and bring to a boil. Boil for one hour, adding dandelions and hops according to schedule above. Pour 1.5 gallons of preboiled, prechilled water into a fermenter. Strain hot wort into the fermenter. Rinse hops with 1/2 gallon of boiled water. Top up to five gallons. When wort is 70˚F or below, pitch yeast. Ferment at 65-70˚F. At the end of primary fermentation, add the Willamette dry hops. After secondary fermentation, bottle with priming sugar and condition for two weeks.

    Have you ever brewed a dandelion beer? Or, do you have a dandelion beer recipe you'd like to share with us? How did it turn out?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described "craft beer crusader." He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the IBD and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.


    This post was posted in Beer Brewing Blog, Beer Brewing Recipes

  • My Wine Is Too Dry For Me. Is There Anything I Can Do?

    Posted on April 21, 2015 by Ed Kraus

    Zach Galifianakis Drinking WineI have a mustang grape wine that has been aging in a carboy, and last night I tried and it has a hydrometer reading of .992. When I tasted the wine, it was too dry for me. How can I sweeten up this wine to a semi sweet?

    John
    _____
    Hello John,

    One of the great things about making your own wine is that you get to drink it the way you want to — even if you want to drink it like our buddy Zach Galifianakis does. For me personally, this is the fun part of making your own wine. Adjustment it until you get the wine just the way you like it. This is something that can't practically be done unless you are making the wine yourself. This is what makes this hobby so valuable.

    In your case, you are not particularly happy with one of the basic features of the wine: the dryness or sweetness of the wine. You are saying that your wine is too dry for your own personal taste. Fortunately, the solution is very simple. All you need to do is add sugar to the wine until it is the sweetness you desire — custom made for you!

    It is important to remember that you do not want to adjust the sweetness of a wine until it has completely cleared up and is ready to bottle, so make sure the wine is ready to be bottled before adding the sugar.

    At bottling time you can sweeten the wine to taste. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to use Wine Conditioner. This is basically a sweetener and stabilizer combined together into a syrup. The stabilizer (potassium sorbate) makes sure that your wine does not start fermenting the new sugars while in the wine bottle.

    You can also use your own sugar, honey, etc. to sweeten your wine, but you will also need to add potassium sorbate separately to eliminate any chance of the wine re-fermentating. So, as I think you can start to see, if your wine is too dry, it's not that big of a deal to fixShop Wine Conditioner.

    If the sugar you are using is granulated, I would also suggest that you pre-dissolve the sugar into a syrup before adding it to the wine. This will help to eliminate the need for excessive stirring when adding the sugar.

    When actually sweetening your wine it is best to sweeten a portion of the batch, first. For example, take a measured sample of the wine — say, one gallon — and add measured amounts of sweetener to it to establish a dosage to your liking. Once the dosage is determined you can then do the same thing to the rest of the wine. This insures that you do not get the entire batch too sweet. If you do accidentally add too much sugar to the measured sample, just blend it back into the rest of the batch and start all over with a new gallon sample.

    We also have an article on our website, Making Sweet Wines, that will have more information about what to do if your wine is too dry. You may want to take a look at it as well.

    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.


    This post was posted in Wine Making Blog

  • Preparing for a Black Lager Brew Day

    Posted on April 20, 2015 by David Ackley

    Beer made from black lager recipe.A few months ago I shared beer recipe for a German black lager: schwarzbier. I’ve decided to make this my next batch.

    To me, dark lagers represent the best of two worlds. With roasted malt, they offer the depth of flavor of some heavier beers while still being relatively light and smooth – qualities contributed by the lager side of the equation.

    As a lager, I find this to be a more challenging style to brew than say, a double IPA. With a relatively low amount of hops, there’s no hiding potential faults behind extreme hop bitterness or flavor. Paying particular attention to yeast pitching rates and fermentation temperatures will be critical towards making this a great beer.

    To gear up for my black lager brew day, I’m going to plan my water amendments and prepare a yeast starter.

     

    Water Amendments for a Munich Schwarzbier

    To calculate the water amendments for this beer recipe, I’m going to head over to the mash chemistry calculator over at Brewers Friend. First, I’ll input my local water profile.

    Black lager 1 - Source Water

    Then I’ll play around with the “Salt Additions” section until the “Actual” numbers for each of the main brewing minerals matches relatively closely to the profile for Munich Dark Lager. It’s not about getting a perfect match so much as getting in the ballpark.

    Black lager 2 - Water Target Salt Addtions

    So, I’ll add 14 grams of chalk and 3 gram of Epsom salt, which gets me pretty close to the Munich water profile.

    Now I can get to work on the yeast starter.

     

    Yeast Starter for a Munich Schwarzbier

    Of the two, this part is probably more important than the water amendments. Pitching enough yeast to fully ferment the lager is critical to getting a complete fermentation with a minimum of off-flavors. And since lagers require about twice as much yeast as ales, it’s extra important to build a yeast starter.

    For this calculation, I’ll use the Brewer’s Friend Yeast Pitch Calculator to make sure my yeast starter has enough cells to do the job.

    First, I’ll input the original gravity of the beer, the wort volume, and the number of yeast packs I’m using, and the manufacture date of the yeast. Unfortunately, I’ve been sitting on this yeast for a little while, so the “cells available” count falls well short of the target 386 billion yeast cells need for this beer. Clearly, we need a yeast starter.

    Black lager 3 - Yeast Pitch Rate

    Scroll down to the next section to continue. Hit the “Grab from Above” to pull in the info from the previous section. Then, using the defaults, choosing the appropriate growth model and aeration technique. I don’t have a stir plate yet, so I’ve chosen “C. White – Shaking.” This means I’ll give the starter swirl every now and then.

    Black lager 4 - Yeast Starter

    As you can see, the ending yeast cell count is still well short of the yeast count we need. To step up the starter again, we’ll check the box for step 2 and repeat the process.

    Black lager 5 - Starter

    In practice, all that’s required in stepping up a yeast starter is decanting some of the liquid from the starter and then transferring it onto an additional 2L of starter wort. After two steps, the yeast count is still a tiny bit short of the target (368 vs. 369 billion cells), but it’s close enough. On brew day, after the beer is chilled to pitching temperature, the whole starter can go right into the wort. Make sure there’s plenty of headspace in the primary fermenter – this one should get chugging right away!

    Check back soon to follow along with brewing this schwarzbier! Cheers!

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    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.


    This post was posted in Beer Brewing Blog

  • Blueberries Make Amazing Wine. Here's A Recipe...

    Posted on April 18, 2015 by Ed Kraus

    Homemade Blueberry WineIf you've never made wine before, I would submit to you that making a blueberry wine is a perfect place to start.

    For one, blueberry wine is any easy wine to make. And, it only requires the most elementary pieces of wine making equipment. Secondly, it makes an INCREDIBLE wine. Blueberries, quite frankly, are well suited to making wine. The flavors come through fruity and bright.

    Secondly, it's springtime and blueberry season is just around the corner, so what better time to get your ducks-in-a-row and everything squared-away, so that when they do come in you'll have exactly what you need and know what to do.

    The blueberry wine recipe below is very simple to use. All you need are the ingredients listed and to follow the basic wine making directions that's are on our website. The blueberries can be fresh or frozen. Either way will work equally well.

    To prepare the blueberries all that is required is that the berries be lightly crush. You can to this by hand, or you could use something like a potato masher. You do not want to crush the berries too much, and you definitely do not want to break any seeds. This could unnecessarily add a bitterness to the wine.

     

    Ed's Blueberry Wine Recipe
    (Makes 5 Gallons)

    13 lbs. Blueberries (lightly crushed)
    11 lbs. Cane Sugar (table sugar)
    1 tbsp. Yeast Energizer
    Pectic Enzyme (as directed on its package)
    2 tbsp. Acid Blend
    Red Star Montrachet Wine Yeast
    10 Campden Tablets (5 before to fermentation, 5 before bottling)

     

    Shop Wine Making KitsOne of the fun thing about making your own wine is that you get to make it as sweet or as dry as you like. If you do nothing more than follow the directions, you will end up with a dry blueberry wine. But if you want to make a sweet wine, you can sweeten the wine to taste just before bottling. Just remember if doing so to also add potassium sorbate along with the Campden tablets called for in the wine recipe.

    Now, doesn't that sound simple? I imagine the hardest part is keeping your patience in tact. Be sure the fermentation has completed and give it plenty of time to clear up before bottling. Once in the bottle, realize that aging the wine will dramatically improve its quality over the first couple of 3 months. After that drink up.

    If you need wine making equipment to make the wine, the "Your Fruit!" wine making kit is taylor-made for making this blueberry wine recipe. Not only does it have the equipment you'll need, but it also has plenty of the basic wine making ingredients for making many different kinds of wine — all at a discounted price.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    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.


    This post was posted in Wine Making Blog, Wine Making Recipes

  • Get Ready for the 2015 AHA Big Brew!

    Posted on April 17, 2015 by David Ackley

    Beer Fest MovieEvery year for National Homebrew Day, the American Homebrewers Association organizes a “Big Brew.” The idea is that homebrewers across the country – and even around the world – celebrate homebrewing by all brewing on the same day. In 2014, it’s estimated that over 8,000 homebrewers from 49 states and 14 countries brewed some 17,550 gallons of beer!

    Find a Big Brew Event Near You
    Register Your Own Big Brew Event

    Each year, the AHA selects a handful of recipes for the Big Brew, just to increase the sense of community among homebrewers. This year, the recipes come from Gordon Strong, President of the BJCP. The recipes are soon to be published in Gordon’s new book, Modern Homebrew Recipes.

     

    Columbus Pale Ale
    (5-gallon batch, all-grain)

    Specs 
    OG: 1.056
    FG: 1.012
    ABV: 5.8%
    IBUs: 43
    SRM: 6

    Ingredients
    8.5 lb. Pale two-row malt
    8 oz. Munich malt
    4 oz. Wheat malt
    8 oz. CaraVienne® malt
    4 oz. 20° L Crystal malt
    4 oz. Victory malt
    8 oz. Orange blossom honey (added during the boil)
    0.5 oz. Columbus whole hops at 60 min
    0.5 oz. Columbus whole hops at 15 minShop Barley Grains
    0.5 oz. Columbus whole hops at 5 min
    1 oz. Columbus whole hops at flameout
    1.5 oz. Centennial whole hops, dry-hopped for 9 days
    Wyeast: 1272 American Ale II or Safale US-05

    Directions: Mash crushed grains in about 4 gallons of clean water at 152˚F. Hold for 60 minutes, then raise to 168˚F for mash out. Sparge to collect 6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 75 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Add the honey during the last 5 minutes of the boil. Chill and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch at 68˚F and ferment at that temperature for 9 days, then transfer to a secondary fermenter and dry hop. After 9 days, bottle or keg.

    Extract option: Replace the 2-row, Munich, and wheat malts with 7.5 lbs. light LME. Reduce boil time to one hour.

     

    Old School Barleywine Shop Hops
    (5-gallon batch, extract with grains)

    Specs
    OG: 1.109
    FG: 1.033
    ABV: 10%
    IBUs: 95
    SRM: 13

    Ingredients 
    13 lbs. Light LME
    4 oz. Biscuit malt
    8 oz. CaraVienne® malt
    8 oz. Crystal 40˚L malt
    4 oz. Crystal 60˚L malt
    2 oz. Crystal 120˚L malt
    2 oz. Special B malt
    1 lb. orange blossom honey
    1 oz. Cascade whole cone hops (first wort hops)
    2 oz. Columbus hops at :60
    1 oz. Centennial hops at :15
    1 oz. Cascade hops at :5
    1 oz. Columbus hops at :2
    1 oz. Cascade hops at :0
    1 oz. Centennial hops at :0
    2 oz. Cascade hops, dry-hopped for nine days
    1 oz. Centennial hops, dry hopped for nine days
    Wyeast: 1272 American Ale II or Safale US-05

    Directions: Steep the specialty grains (in a grain bag) and the 1 oz. of Cascade first wort hops in two gallons of 160˚F water for 30 minutes. Remove the grain bag, allowing the wort to drip back into the pot. Mix in malt extract and bring to a boil. Boil for 75 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Add the honey during the last 5 minutes of the boi. At the end of the boil, strain the wort into a sanitized fermenter with about 2.5 gallons of pre-boiled, pre-chilled water. Top off to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 68˚F for nine days, then transfer to a secondary fermenter for dry hopping. After nine days, keg or bottle.

    All-Grain option: Replace the LME with 12 lbs. two-row pale malt and 6 lbs. Maris Otter malt. Mash these grains at 152˚F for 90 minutes, then mix in the specialty grains listed above during the vorlauf and sparge. Collect 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle and proceed with recipe above.

     

    Killer Kolsch
    (5-gallon batch, all-grain) 

    Specs 
    OG: 1.046
    FG: 1.011
    ABV: 4.6%
    IBUs: 16
    SRM: 3

    Ingredients
    8.5 lb. Pilsner malt
    3.1 oz. Vienna malt
    3.1 oz. CaraVienne® malt
    0.3 oz. Liberty hops (first wort hops)
    1 oz. Hallertauer hops at 30 min
    0.3 oz. Crystal hops at 5 min
    Wyeast 2565: Kolsch yeast

    Directions: Implement a step mash as follows: 10 minutes at 131˚F, 45 minutes at 145˚F, 20 minutes at 158˚F, 10 minutes at 168˚F for mash out. Sparge to collect 6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Chill and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast at 58˚F and ferment allowing temperature to rise to 68˚F after 4 days. Lager for two months at 40˚F, then bottle or keg.

    Extract option: Replace the pilsner malt and 0.8 oz. each of the Vienna and Caravienne malts with 6.5 lbs. pilsen LME. Reduce the 30-minute hop addition to 0.8 oz.

    All of the recipes can be found in their original form, both extract and all-grain, here, along with more information about Big Brew 2015.

    We’ll be homebrewing for the Big Brew – will you?

    -----------------------------------
    David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.


    This post was posted in Beer Brewing Blog, Beer News

  • What's The Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

    Posted on April 16, 2015 by Ed Kraus

    Shiraz VineyardThis is a story of two wines, Syrah and Shiraz, and how they both are the same, yet different. On the surface it seems to be somewhat of an exercise in semantics, with their names being the only difference, but after taking a closer look, it starts to become clear that there is much more to the story than just names.

    The difference between Syrah and Shiraz teaches us a lesson, one that illustrates how a grape's environment and the way in which it is processed can influence the outcome of a resulting wine.

    Any wine expert will tell you that Syrah and Shiraz are two varietal wines that are made from the exact same grape. If you analyze the DNA of each of the grapes used to make these wines you will find that there is no difference between them.

     

    Then Why The Two Names?

    The French refer to the grape and the varietal wine they make from it as Syrah. Other parts of the world such as: South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States refer to the grape and the wine as Shiraz.

    But there is something more than just a difference in name. There is a difference in style as well. While both wines are very assertive red wines, a Syrah tends to be a little more elegant and complex. It usually has more of a smokey, earthy character with flavors of plum and spicy pepper. A Shiraz on the other hand is more crisp and fruity, less layered with slight, jammy flavors of berry as compared to a Syrah. This is a very wide generalization of each wine, but even so, it would be safe to say that if you tasted both wines side-by-side you would notice more differences than similarities between the two.

     

    So, Why Is There A Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

    Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah VineyardWhile the grape remains the same, in each wine there is so much else that is different. The soil, the climate, the cultivation, and the fermentation all vary to make a Syrah a Syrah and a Shiraz a Shiraz.

    While different soils can not assert their own character onto a grape, they can guide the way in which a grape develops its own flavor. This is referred to as the terroir. The French vineyards are heavy in limestone which can hold moisture better and deeper than most soils. This forces the vines to get more of their nutrients from deeper soils. The result is a wine with more layered, complex flavors.

    The French are not allowed to use irrigation or fertilization on their vines, either. This stems from governmental laws designed to keep the grape production limited. This leads to stressed vines with fewer berries, but with each berry packing more flavor.

    This is all in contrast to places like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand where Shiraz grapes are produced in sandy soils with plenty of fertilization and irrigation. The cultivation is abundant. This creates a wine with a more even character than a Syrah and with the ability to mature more quickly.Shop Wine Making Ingredient Kits

    The Syrah is also grown in France's cooler climate. This lends to the plum-like, smokey character of this wine. This is in comparison to Shiraz which is grown in warmer climates which makes the wine more jammy and berry-like.

    Even the rate of fermentation plays some role in the flavor development of the wine. A Syrah is fermented more slowly so as to increase the time the pulp can stay on the fermentation. A Shiraz is fermented at a faster, more-normal rate which helps to make the wine, in general, more fruity.

     

    In Summary:

    So as you can see there is much more than just the grape when it comes to bringing a wine to fruition. While a wine's character always begins with the grape, it ends upon many other factors, including the human touch. There are many other examples of how this is true, but most not quite as clear as the difference between the Shiraz and Syrah.
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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.


    This post was posted in Wine Making Blog

  • The Perfect Beer Recipe for Spring: Honey Blonde Ale (Partial Mash)

    Posted on April 15, 2015 by David Ackley

    Homebrew made from a Honey Blonde Ale recipe.With spring already here, it’s time yet again to start thinking about the summer brew schedule. Want that homebrew ready for the canoe trip in June? Better start brewing by the end of April or early May. One good candidate for a warm weather beer is a honey blonde ale.

    A blonde ale is simply that – a beer that’s golden straw in color, and for BJCP purposes, includes such styles as Kölsch and cream ale. Blonde ales are typically low to moderate in gravity, often resulting in an ABV of about 4% to 5.5%. Bitterness is usually on the low end, around 15-25 IBUs. Flavor wise, blonde ales feature notes of pilsner malt, often serving as a good backdrop for flavor additions. I’ve had a few good strawberry blonde ales, but in this case, honey offers the suggestion of sweet floral character, while the beer remains crisp and dry — perfect for warm weather.

    The honey blond ale recipe below yields a brew that’s very pale in color, light in body, yet supported by malty flavor and notes of honey. Bitterness is fairly low at just 20 IBUs, with just a little hop flavor and aroma from the English classic, East Kent Goldings hops. This is a low alcohol brew that will be perfect for lounging outdoors or enjoying on the boat. (If you’re looking for something a little stronger, you might try this imperial blonde ale recipe kit.)

    As for the honey, the best thing to do is to add at the end of the boil. The idea is to preserve some of the delicate aromatics and flavor components in the honey (same idea as adding hops in at the whirlpool). The honey flavor is supported with half a pound of honey malt in the mini-mash. Feel free to also use honey for priming.

    Be sure to ferment this one within the temperature range of the yeast, maybe giving the beer a little extra time at cooler temperatures to help it clean up. Kölsch yeast is a good alternative to the Ringwood ale yeast in this particular beer recipe.

    Ready to brew? Go get ‘em!

     

    Honey Blonde Ale Recipe (Partial Mash)
    (5-gallon batch)

    Specs
    OG: 1.044
    FG: 1.013
    ABV: 4%
    IBUs: 20
    SRM: 5

    Ingredients
    3.3 lbs. light liquid malt extract
    2 lbs. pilsner malt
    .5 lb. honey malt
    .5 lb. wheat malt
    1 lb. honey (added post boil)
    1 oz. East Kent Goldings hops at :60
    .5 oz. East Kent Goldings hops at :15
    .5 oz. East Kent Goldings hops at :0
    Wyeast 1187: Ringwood Ale Yeast

    Directions 
    shop_home_brew_starter_kitThis is a partial-mash recipe, so start off my mashing the crushed grains in about 4 qts. of clean water for 60 minutes at 148˚F. Strain wort into the brew kettle and sparge with about half a gallon of 170˚F water. Add enough clean water to make about 3 gallons. Bring wort to a boil, remove kettle from heat, and mix in the liquid malt extract. Return to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. At end of boil, turn off heat and mix in the honey. Cool wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket. Mix in enough clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.25 gallons. Pitch yeast when wort is at 65-70˚F. Ferment at 65-70˚F for about three weeks, then bottle or keg.

    Do you have a favorite beer recipe you like to brew in the spring? Do you have a Honey Blonde Ale recipe? Share them in the comments below!

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    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.


    This post was posted in Beer Brewing Blog, Beer Brewing Recipes

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