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Beer Brewing and Wine Making 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)

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

    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)

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

    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) 

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

    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.
    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)

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

    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

    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!

    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

  • Leigh Erwin: Bottling My Gewurztraminer Wine Kit

    Posted on April 14, 2015 by Leigh Erwin

    Bottle homemade wine from a kit.It’s bottling day for the Gewurztraminer wine kit! I’m so excited about this one because so far, it’s been tasting really nice!

    One final specific gravity measurement with my hydrometer today and it looked to be somewhere between 0.994 and 0.995. I’ll just call it 0.995 to keep it simple.

    I wanted to know what the final alcohol content was of my wine, so I looked up an online alcohol content calculator that used the beginning and ending specific gravity levels to calculate that. The original specific gravity reading was about 1.113 and the final reading was about 0.995. Plugging that into the online calculator, that gives me a percent alcohol value of 16 with this wine kit. I don’t think I’ve ever had a 16% alcohol by volume Gewurztraminer, but hey, there’s always a first time for everything!

    Even though the alcohol seems kind of high, it still tastes pretty good if you ask me! In fact, I think this Gewurztraminer is probably the best wine I’ve made so far! I think part of it has to do with the fact that a good chunk of the time the wine was hanging out in glass instead of plastic, so it doesn’t have nearly as much (if any) of that plastic flavor that I kept getting on my first few wines.

    I ended up bottling this wine kit a little differently than in the past. First, I racked the wine into a clean and sterilized carboy that did not have a spigot on it. Then, instead of cleaning out the carboy that did have a spigot, I decided to just bottle the wine kit directly from the carboy without a spigot. That meant siphoning the wine directly into each wine bottle without the aid of an on/off “switch”, which at first I was kind of nervous about.

    Turns out, it’s easier than I thought. No extra messes were made! Once the wine bottle got full enough, I just stood up to stop the flow and slowly lower the bottle to add a little bit more wine if needed. A couple of times I put a little bit too much in the bottle, so I just poured the extra back into the carboy. No problems!Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

    Once I got down to the very bottom, I just poured the remaining wine into a bottle by lifting and dumping the entire carboy through a funnel. Since I had previously racked the wine into a clean carboy leaving all dregs behind, I wasn’t worried about pouring the remainder in like that. In fact, that’ll just be the first bottle we drink and we won’t give it to anyone else just in case.

    I ended up filling 21 bottles with wine kit, with the 21st bottle only actually filling up about ¾ of the way. The kit was supposed to make 30 bottles ideally — I remember I spilled some of the juice on the floor in the very beginning, so that probably had something to do with it. Oh well, 21 bottles is better than 0 bottles!

    All-and-all, bottling this wine kit went pretty well. The wine smells delicious and I can't wait for it to age a little. But I have to be honest... right now it's testing my patience!
    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

  • 6 Ways to Recharge Your Homebrewing Mojo

    Posted on April 13, 2015 by David Ackley

    Homebrewer With Mojo2I get it – we all get bogged down by the rhythms of modern life. Sometimes, it’s hard to make time for homebrewing, and before long, it’s been months since your last brew day.

    That’s when you remember, “but I love brewing!” and ask yourself, “how do I get back into it?” Well, here are six ideas to get back into the swing of homebrewing:

    1. Brew your favorite beer – What’s the best beer you’ve ever tasted? How would you like to have five gallons of that beer on hand? Whether it’s a commercial beer or a homebrew, chances are you can make a clone. Create your own clone recipe or choose from some of these awesome clone recipes or clone recipe homebrew kits.
    1. Make it social – Brewing’s more fun with others. Invite some homebrewers you know over for a brew day, or maybe introduce one of your friends to the hobby. Make a party of it. Serve some food, some beer, watch the big game. More hands on deck means less work and more fun.
    1. Go to an AHA Rally – The American Homebrewers Association has been hosting homebrew rallies at craft breweries all over the country. Take a little road trip, try some homebrews, make some friends. Want to take it a step further? Go to the National Homebrewers Conference.
    1. Try something different – If you’ve been stuck in a homebrewing rut, maybe it’s time to mix things up. If you’re an extract brewer, maybe it’s time to give all-grain a try. Or maybe experiment with brewing a lager, mead, sour beer – maybe even give winemaking a try. Try something different and you may revive that curiosity that got you into homebrewing in the first place.
    1. Get a new toyShop Stir Plate Nothing inspires quite like a new homebrewing gadget. Maybe it’s time you got yourself a propane burner, a stir plate, or a pH meter. Check out some of our new items to see what’s available for your to play with.
    1. Enter a competition – Sometimes, the best motivation is a deadline. Search for homebrew competitions in your area and sign up. Plan out how much time you’ll need to brew, ferment, and age the beer before sending it in. Read these tips for succeeding in homebrew competitions and put that brew date on the calendar!

    Have you ever found yourself in a homebrew funk? What did you do to get out of it?
    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, Home Beer Brewing

  • Spring Means Time To Make Some Cherry Wine!

    Posted on April 11, 2015 by Ed Kraus

    Cherries for making cherry wine.One of the most rewarding wines I've ever made was a sweet cherry wine. In general, cherry wine tends to be rich and robust in its overall character. The tartness is mellow from the malic acid that dominates the cherry family. The tannins are firm giving the wines made with it a wonderful structure and body.

    The one I made a couple of years ago from the sweet cherry wine recipe below turned out exceptional. It took a few months to age, but once it came around, turns out, it was well worth the wait.

    The cherry flavor came through nice and fruity and lingered into a rich, earthy aftertaste. It had layers of flavor that you do not always expect in a fruit wine. Some of this I attribute to the brown sugar called for in the wine recipe. Some of it I attribute to the fruit acids. The Lalvin RC-212 that was used could have helped out in this department, as well.

    Since spring is here it won't be long before cherries will be in full-swing, so I thought this would be a great time to share it on the blog. The cherries you use can make a difference. As its name implies, you want to be sure to use sweet cherries as opposed to sour cherries. According to my notes, I used a mix of Bing and Lambert cherries, but there are many other varieties of cherries that I'm sure would work.


    Sweet Cherry Wine Recipe
    (Makes 5 Gallons)

    18 lbs. Sweet Cherries (pitted)
    9 lbs. Cane Sugar
    3 lbs. Brown Sugar
    1 tbsp. Yeast Energizer
    Pectic Enzyme (as directed on the package)
    2-1/2 tsp. Tartaric Acid
    2-1/2 tsp. Citric Acid
    1 Packet Lalvin RC-212 Wine Yeast
    10 Campden Tablets (5 before fermentation, 5 before bottling)


    Shop Fruit Wine BasesThis is a fairly straightforward sweet cherry wine recipe, so for the most part all you need to do is following the basic 7 wine making steps on our website. The only thing different that you should take note of is that the cherries need to be pitted. You do not want the pits in with the fermentation. Also, you do not want to over process the cherries. This can cause the wine to be too bitter. Cutting the cherries in half as you pit them is sufficient. If you are using a cherry pitter, all you need to do is lightly crush the cherries after they are pitted.

    I also like to pre-dissolve the brown sugar whenever it's called for in any wine recipe. This can easily be done by taking 2-parts water and 1-part brown sugar and heating it on the stove until liquid. You will need to stir continuously at first so that the sugar does not burn on the bottom of the pan.

    Even if you only make 2 or 3 batches of wine each year, I would urge you to give the sweet cherry wine recipe a go. It makes a remarkable wine that it hard not to like. It's also pretty easy to make. And as always, you can make it as sweet or as dry as you like, by back-sweetening the wine to taste.

    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.

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

  • Whole Leaf Hops vs. Pellet Hops – Which is Better?

    Posted on April 10, 2015 by David Ackley

    Leaf And Pelletized HopsAmong the “this or that” debates of homebrewing, the question of whether to use whole leaf hops or pellet hops is primarily a matter of personal preference. But, there are a few things to consider when deciding what kind of hops to use when brewing.


    Whole Leaf Hops vs. Pellet Hops

    The term "whole leaf” is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to talking about hops. Brewers use the flowering part of the hop plant, often called a cone or a strobile. When hops are harvested, the pinecone-shaped flowers are picked by hand or with a machine. Then the hops are dried in an oast. Next, if the hops are being processed into pellets, the hop cones get milled and pressed into pellets. Finally, the hops are pressed into bales, vacuum packaged, sealed, and stored cold.

    One of the main arguments against pellet hops is that heat generated during the pelletizing process can degrade the quality of the hops, but most any modern hops farm will take precautions against this. You can be confident that any of the major hop producers you buy from have taken care to prevent any degradation due to pelletizing.

    Without further delay, below are several of the pros and cons of both whole leaf hops and pellet hops.


    Pellet Hops: Pros

    • Less plant material means less wort gets lost in the kettle trub, improving brewhouse efficiency.
    • Pellet hops offer slightly higher hop utilization, meaning more IBU bang for your buck.
    • Pellet hops store well.
    • Pellet hops are readily available.


    Pellet Hops: Cons

    • The processing of the pellets may damage some of the aroma compounds in the hops. That said, with modern harvesting and processing techniques, actual damage is likely negligible. Hop pellets are used by brewers all over the world.
    • Since the hop material is shredded, it can sometimes clog spigots and tubing. A bazooka screen can be installed inside the brew kettle to protect against this.


    Leaf Hops: ProsShop Hops

    • Whole leaf hops can be used as a filter bed when drawing wort from the brew kettle.
    • Whole leaf hops are the best option if brewing a wet hop beer.
    • Some think whole leaf hops offer better flavor and aroma characteristics. Sierra Nevada uses exclusively whole leaf hops. Randy Mosher, author of Radical Brewing, also prefers whole leaf hops.


    Leaf Hops: Cons

    • Whole leaf hops take up more space in storage and in the brewing kettle.
    • Whole leaf hops offer slightly less hop utilization than pellet hops.
    • Whole leaf hops may not always be available or their selection may be more limited.

    There you have it. There are some of the differences between whole leaf hops and pellet hops. As you can see they are somewhat minor, even thought there is a minority who believe whole leaf is the only way to go. In the end, both can be used to make excellent beer.

    So what’s your preference – whole leaf or pellet hops?

    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 Ingredients

  • Why On Earth Is My Wine Turning Orange?

    Posted on April 9, 2015 by Ed Kraus

    Wine that has turned orangeI recently made KenRidge Australian Chardonnay and bottled it at the end of December. While the taste of the wine is fine, any wine left in the bottle (re-corked) for two days starts turning orange. The wine fermented correctly, all directions were followed, and the wine was filtered prior to bottling. What is the cause of the wine turning orange in color? Is this a health hazard?, and is there anything I can do now to prevent this colorization?

    Terry — OH

    Dear Terry,

    The reason why your wine is turning orange is very simple: your wine is oxidizing.

    Oxidation is a process that occurs when a wine is exposed to excessive oxygen for too long of time. In your case, once the cork is pulled from a wine bottle, you are allowing air to enter with the wine. This allows the oxidative process to start.

    This is no different that when an apple core turns brown. The first signs of your wine oxidizing will show itself as a light-orange tinge that will later turn to a light-amber, then dark-amber, then eventually brown. If you have ever seen a Sherry or a Port, these are examples of wines that are oxidized on purpose.

    The wine is perfectly safe to drink, however you will probably notice some deterioration in the wine's overall character. This is normally first noticeable as a caramel or raisin smell, then in later stages, as a caramel or raisin taste.

    There are some things you can do to help reduce the occurrence of oxidation:Shop Vacuvin Wine Saver

    • Add sulfites to the wine at bottling time. Doing this will delay the oxidative process once the bottle is opened. It will also help the wine to keep better while in storage.
    • Add ascorbic acid to the wine at bottling time. This will help to slow the effects of oxidation by lowering the wine's pH.
    • Keep partial bottles in the refrigerator. Cooler temperatures will slow down the oxidative process.
    • Use a Vacuvin Wine Saver on partial bottles. The Vacuvin Wine Saver allows you to pump the air out of the bottle, which will slow the oxidative process, dramatically. Very effective.
    • And, then there's the most effective solution of all... drink the whole bottle!

    If you want to read more about oxidation and why a wine will start turning orange you may want to take a look at the article, "Controlling Oxidation In Your Homemade Wines."

    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.

    This post was posted in Wine Making Blog

  • Best Beer Styles for Spring Homebrewing

    Posted on April 8, 2015 by David Ackley

    Beer For The SpringAfter a long, dreary winter, I for one as a homebrewers can’t wait to get out of the house in the spring time and fire up the brew kettle. What do homebrewers brew this time of year? Generally some lighter-bodied beers that exemplify the qualities of the spring season. As if to salute the growing season, these beers tend to showcase the lively flavors of floral hops and fruity yeast varieties.
    Below are some of the best beer styles for brewing this spring:

    • SaisonSaison is a dry, Belgian-style farmhouse ale typically characterized by fruity and spicy flavors from the use of estery Belgian ale yeast and spices like coriander. Many versions use specialty grains, like oats, wheat, and rye, and can range from a sessionable 4.5% ABV up to 7% or higher. Sometimes honey or sugar are added to help achieve a dry finish. High carbonation and sprightly acidity make saison a supremely refreshing beer for warmer weather.
    • Bière de Mars – It’s not too late to pull off this high-gravity cousin of the saison this spring. Bière de Mars is a malt-forward Franco-Belgian ale with notes of toffee, dry, fruity flavors, and minimal hop aroma. Like saison, Bière de Mars may utilize adjunct grains, sugar, and spices to achieve the appropriate style characteristics.
    • Maibock – Maibock, or “May bock”, is Germany’s answer to spring weather. It’s a higher-gravity lager just like traditional bock, but paler and a little more bitter. Check out Growler Magazine for a wonderfully simple maibock recipe.
    • Rye Pale Ale – Like barley, rye is a cereal grain that can be used in making beer. It’s often added in smaller doses to contribute a subtle spicy notes to pale ales, IPAs, and sometimes Beglian-style beers. Try this clone of Terrapin Brewing Company’s Rye Pale Ale.
    • Tripel – Belgian Tripels are the true champagne of beer. Bright, golden, effervescent, with notes of fruit and spice, triples are high-gravity Trappist-style beers that showcase the complexity of Belgian ale yeast. Brew a Belgian Tripel recipe kit or try this Westmalle Tripel clone this spring.
    • Belgian Witbiershop_beer_recipe_kitsBelgian wit, or white beer, is the perfect beer for drinking the spring sunshine. Brewed in the style of Hoegaarden or Allagash White, witbier is a sessionable beer at just 4-5% ABV. The color is very pale, often cloudy and creamy due to the use of oats and wheat. Citrus peel and coriander make the beer bright, fragrant, and refreshing. Try the Brewer’s Best Witbier kit or Blue Noon, a clone of the ever-popular Blue Moon.

     These are some of my favorite beers for brewing in the spring – what will you be 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, Beer Brewing Kits

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