This syrupy mixture is a blend of sugar and potassium. Use it to stabilize finished wine as well as to reduce aging time. The sugar solution also sweetens the wine. Finishes up to 5 gallons.
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5/22/2007 -- What is the best type of sugar to put into the wort?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Corn sugar is better than table sugar, as table sugar tends to give the finished beer a cidery after taste. Honey is also a good sugar.
4/29/2007 -- I purchased a Muntons Gold Continental Pilsner kit. It does not contain a priming sugar. I can not find any corn sugar in my area but I have read where honey can be used instead. How much honey would I use to prime 5 gallons of beer? Would I disolve it in hot water just like the corn sugar? Does the type of honey make a difference...clover, orange blossom...?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, honey can be used and is in fact a great priming agent. It results in a creamier head with more head retention.
The type of honey really doesn't matter as you don't use enough for it to affect the flavor of the finished beer. However, I have a friend in Iowa who matches his honey to his batch (clover or wildflower for a wheat, buckwheat for a braggot, etc.) You can always experiment with it if you have an inclination to do so.
I recommend using 3/4 cup, dissolved in hot water and added to the bottling bucket just like you would with corn sugar. Honey will give you slightly more carbonation than corn sugar (thus the smaller amount), but it will take a little longer to carbonate properly since honey is a complex sugar. I would give it 1-1/2 times the conditioning time that you would for the same batch with corn sugar.
1/10/2007 -- Is there a maximum amount of time that you can let the wort sit? Will it ever go bad? Does it affect the taste by not bottling it after it is finished fermenting?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: If you're fermenting in a plastic bucket, we recommend no more than 4 weeks in the fermenter. This is because plastic will eventually allow an air exchange, and the wort can start to oxidize after about 30 days.
For glass or ceramic fermenters, we recommend no more than about 6 weeks in the primary and no more than another 6 weeks in the secondary (if used). This is because eventually the yeast that has dropped to the bootom will begin to break down into microscopic waste and come back into solution, giving the beer an off-flavor. This is called autolyzation.
12/29/2006 -- In my fermenter, the bubbling has ceased. I am just asking how long after is a good time to put it in the bottles?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Once the bubbles have ceased, and the liquid in the airlock does not show any indication that there is any pressure coming out of the carboy, you can bottle the beer at any time.
9/4/2006 -- If I am making wine from concentrate, is it recomended I add the bentonite at the pre-fermentation stage?
Secondly, should I add yeast nutrients at the same time I add the yeast?
Thirdly, should an acid blend always be added to help in the fermentation period?
Lastly, what should the brix level be at so that I know how much water to add to the concentrate?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Several manufacturers of 28-day or 6-week wine kits recommend adding the bentonite in pre-fermentation. However, I have found that I get a better result if I add the bentonite in the secondary.
You should dissolve the yeast nutrient in a small amount of warm water, and add it to the must prior to pitching the yeast.
Acid blend is not always necessary. If you are working from an established recipe, and it calls for some, then by all means add it. However, if you are building your own recipe or "winging it", you should do an acid test to determine if additional acid over and above that contained in the fruit is necessary.
The original specific gravity for a sweet wine should be around 1.120. For a dry wine, right around 1.090-1.095 works. I'm not certain what the brix equivalent is for those SGs.
8/22/2006 -- I was given a Muntons Pilsner kit and it calls for adding 2.2 pounds of sugar. I am new to brewing and want to know what kind of sugar to use and if I can use corn sugar.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, not only can you use corn sugar, but we encourage it. Using table sugar (cane or beet) tends to give a cidery taste to the finished beer, and using fructose or lactose will tend to sour it. Corn sugar will add the appropriate amount of fermentable to get the correct alcohol rating without altering flavor or body. You could also use 2.2 pounds of malt extract to give a richer, fuller bodied flavor if you prefer.
8/20/2006 -- This is my 1st attempt at homebrewing. I got the EDME red ale in two 4lb cans. Do I need some sort of sugar to add with the kit?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Each can of the Edme is balanced to produce 2.5 to 3 gallons of beer with no additional ingredients required. Most brewers will add three pounds of malt extract or corn sugar in order to produce a 5-gallon batch. With two cans of Edme Red Ale, you can do one of two things. You could either brew them together to make a 6-gallon batch, or you could brew them separately with additional malt extract added to each to make two 5-gallon batches.
For red ales, my recommendation for additional malt would be 3-pounds of the liquid amber. Corn sugar will make for slightly less body in the finished product, but is also less expensive as an additive.
7/14/2006 -- I started a batch of mead for the first time today and I realized I have no idea how to bottle anything! Do I just need wine bottles, cork, and a corker?
I see you have a few different corkers. Do they all do the job the same, or do I need a particular one for this?
I wanted to add that I was very suprised when I got my kit from you today. I think that's the fastest I've ever recived something by mail! Many thanks!
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: First, thanks for the feedback. We like to hear when we do things right, and we love hearing that we've made a customer happy.
Bottling mead is actually a simple prospect. Since you specified that you want the mead to age, you will need to use corks. Both natural corks and Neocorks will allow the aging process to take place (Neocorks are nominally porous).
The cheapest option is to reuse commercial wine bottles with natural corks (I recommend #8 if the bottle is European and #9 if it's American) using the plastic plunger hand corker. As long as the commerical bottles have been washed and sanitized, you can continue to reuse them until they break. The only trouble with commercial bottles is that they hold nearly 26 ounces of liquid, so if you are a sipper rather than a drinker, and you aren't taking bottles to a party, they're a little inconvenient. If you can find the half-sized bottles (splits), they can also be used with the #7 natural cork.
Of course, new bottles are available through home brew shops like us, however they come in full cases and are expensive to ship; so if you are only brewing a gallon at a time, they're a little inconvenient.
As for other equipment, I would recommend the following:
1. Racking cane - this is a hard plastic tube that makes siphong from the fermenter a lot easier. It includes a hard plastic tip to limit the amount of sediment that gets sucked up
2. Siphon hose - about 4 feet
3. Bottle filler (also called a bottling wand) - this allows you to fill the bottles to exactly the right depth for proper aging and corking, and will also help hold the siphon when moving from one bottle to the other without having to use a clamp
If you start doing mead batches in larger amounts, you may also want to invest in a bottling bucket. You can bottle directly from the fermenter, but your last bottle will get more sediment that way. If you start working with 3-gallon or 5-gallon batches, a bottling bucket allows you to transfer the mead off the yeast sediment and allow it to settle again before transferring to the bottle.
7/5/2006 -- We have a recipe for making orange wine. It calls for wine yeast, grape tannin, and yeast nutrient. Which of your products do you suggest? And what quantities?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: For the grape tannin, we only have one choice: Stock number 7390 is powdered tannin from actual grape skins.
For the yeast nutrient, we have two options. Our basic nutrient (stock number 7357) is a compound called diammonium phosphate. It's a lab-produced clone of the chemical compound in dead yeast cells and works very well. We also have a product called servomyces (stock number WLN3200). This is produced by Dr. Chris White of White Labs - the largest producer of liquid brewing yeasts in the USA. Either of these products works very well, although I would probably recommend the first one if you are running a test batch.
For yeast, I highly recommend the Lalvin 71B-1122 strain (stock number 4919). This yeast works very well with fresh fruits and fruit juices, and is excellent for lighter colored fruits such as peaches, pears, apples, and citrus.
As for quantities of each ingredient, that depends on the batch size. Grape tannin is only used in very small amounts (roughly 1/8 tsp per gallon) so the smallest sized package would be plenty. The yeast nutrient requires between 1/2 and 1 tsp per gallon. There are about 2 tablespoons in a 2oz bag. One packet of yeast is sufficient for anywhere from 1 to 6 gallons.
5/15/2006 -- I have brewed a batch of your Honey Nut Cheerio recipe and am ready to bottle it. It does not come with bottling sugar, nor is any listed on the recipe. How much do you recommend? I usually use 3/4 cup. Also, if I use honey, how do I prepare it? I assume it should be boiled with some water first, as we do with bottling sugar?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Because of the honey option, we specifically do not have added priming sugar for the Honey Nut Cheerio. However, we should probably include priming instructions in the recipe. Thanks for bringing that shortfall to my attention, as I'm certain you're not the only one to run into the same issue.
That being said, if I were to use corn sugar, I would probably go with a full cup. However, as you mentioned, priming with honey actually enhances the flavor and head retention of honey-based beers more than any other. So, I would recommend using honey. Since honey is a little more volatile than sugar (due to the fructose content), I recommend using a little less - usually between 2/3 and 3/4 cup. I prepare it by steeping in a quart of hot water (just under boiling point) until completely dissolved, then pouring it into the bottling bucket and siphoning the beer in on top of it. The conditioning period will run about 1.5 times longer than it would for corn sugar... about 2 to 3 weeks or so to build up good carbonation.
Another option is to use dry malt extract, dissolved in boiling water the same way you would prep corn sugar. Since DME is only 70% to 80% efficient, I generally go a little more than I would with corn sugar... about 1-1/4 to 1-1/3 cup in a quart of water.
5/3/2006 -- Priming 5 gallons of beer with honey instead of corn sugar for better head sounds great, but how much honey would I use?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: A good rule of thumb when priming is 1-1/3 cup DME = 1 cup sugar = 3/4 cup honey. You can use that conversion and adjust your honey amount for whatever priming agent your recipe calls for. I generally recommend between 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup honey for most beers.
4/17/2006 -- When selecting a priming agent, why does honey give a better head retention than malt or corn sugar?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: There are a couple reasons. First, honey is made up of complex sugars that take the yeast a longer time to break down. As a result, the carbonation profcess is slower resulting in a more thoroughly absorbed CO2. Second, honey contains a large concentration of acids and proteins that are missing or available in smaller amounts from other priming agents. The protein content in particular provides more body when used as a fermentable, and consequently more body in the head when used to prime with. Finally, stir sugar or dry malt extract into water and see how thick it gets... then look at honey - the high viscosity translates directly to the quality of the head in the finished product.
3/19/2006 -- I received a Mr.Beer brewing kit as a gift and was wondering if I could use any type of sugar for bottling or if I need a special type. The sugar is the only thing that didn't come with the kit and they don't offer any on there web sight. I haven't found any in yours with the exception of your drops.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We highly recommend using corn sugar rather than table sugar as a priming agent. Table sugar is high in fruit sugars (fructose) and often lends a slightly cidery taste to beers. Corn sugar is cheap and easy for the yeast to convert into carbon dioxide. A Mr. Beer kit would need about 1/3-cup boiled down in about a pint of water to prime the 2-1/4 gallon batch.
You can find it in the "Honey and Sugar" section in one-pound (2K1) and three-pound (2K3) bags.
1/20/2006 -- I need a recipe for making a 6 gal carboy of Blueberry Mead.
How much Honey to Blueberries & does that stay the same if we use Raspberries, Blackberries, or Pears?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: When using fresh berries, I usually use a ratio of three to one. In other words, I would use three pounds of fresh berries to one gallon of finished mead. The amount of honey would depend on whether you prefer a light, dry, or sweet mead. With berries, some of the fermentable comes from the natural sugars in the fruit. Therefore, I would start with 2 pounds of honey per gallon of mead, and add honey as needed in the secondary fermentation. If you prefer a sweet mead, you would want to start with 2-1/2 to 3 pounds honey per gallon. The same would be true with any berry.
With pears, your pectin content is high. I would start with about 10 pounds of pears, possibly as high as 12 if they are small or hard, since you will get less juice. Definitely start pears with 2-1/2 pounds of honey per gallon. Also, use pectic enzyme to keep haze from forming in the finished mead.
In any melomel, I prefer to chop/mash my fruit and let the pre-boiled water sit on it for 5 to 7 days. Then siphon the juice off of the dregs, and add the honey water to bring the volume up to your batch size. You will also get a better product if you freeze and thaw the fruit twice before mashing.
10/24/2005 -- What does "overprimed" mean?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Priming is the addition of fermentable sugar (sugar, malt, or honey) to a finished beer prior to bottling or kegging. Residual yeast in the beer will feed on the sugar and put off small amounts of carbon dioxide. Since the bottle or keg is sealed, the carbon dioxide will be forced back into the solution, carbonating the beer.
We say that a beer is overprimed if too much sugar is added, or if the beer is bottled while it is still fermenting, resulting in an explosive event.
10/24/2005 -- What does OG, FG, SG mean?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: These are all acronyms referring to specific gravities (SG). Specific gravity refers to the density of liquid. The international standard is pure water which has a specific gravity of 1.000. Liquids that are more dense than water have a higher number. In brewing, we measure the amount of alcohol in a beverage by subtracting the final gravity (FG) from the original gravity (OG) and multiplying the result by a constant. Because sugars in the liquid make it more dense, the OG will be higher. Alcohol is less dense than water, and as alcohol replaces the sugar in the fermentation process, the gravity will drop.
9/2/2005 -- Can you tell me how much and what type of sugar I need to make Pepsi Cola?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Cola extracts can be blended with any basic sugar and water to make cola. Table sugar (beet or sugar cane) work best. Corn sugar is an acceptable substitute. You would need one pound of sugar for each gallon of cola.
8/2/2005 -- Can I bottle my mead in flip-top Grolsch-style bottles? Will this have any negative effects?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, you can. In fact, the partners are both historical brewers, and like using the flip-top bottles to enhance presentation. There is no negative effect, although we recommend using fresh rubber grommets to ensure a tight seal. Also, if you use the clear flip-tops, you will want to keep the mead out of direct sunlight.
6/1/2005 -- Can you tell me the average concentration of potassium in merlot and/or other dry red wines?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: It's difficult to breakout the potassium content from the base wine for two reasons. First, there is potassium resident in the grapes prior to the winemaking process. Second, the amount of potassium added during winemaking is based on the ppm of sulphur dioxide (SO2) compounds in the metabisulphite solution rather than on the ppm of the potassium.
That being said, the concentration of potassium in grapevine leafstems is between 1% and 2.5%. The resulting concentration in grape juice from those healthy vines would be about 15 to 20 ppm. During the winemaking process, the addition of potassium in both the sterilization process (pot. mbsulph.) and the stabilization process (pot. sorbate) increases the innate concentration by 25 to 40 ppm.
4/22/2005 -- Do you have a kit for bottling soda pop? Do you have a 20-lb Co2 tank?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We do have the equipment necessary to bottle soda pop. There are two ways to do it - through bottle conditioning (using yeast to carbonate the soda in the bottle) or force carbonation (using co2 to carbonate soda pop in the keg and bottle from the keg.) Bottling equipment for the first method runs about $25-$30 (bottling bucket, plastic hose with bottling wand, capper.) The bottling equipment for force carbonation is exactly the same as for beer - a co2 tank, cornelius keg, counterpressure bottle filler, hoses and connectors, and capper - total for all would be near $300.
We currently only carry the 5-pound co2 tank. However, I can ask our supplier about the availability of a 20-pound tank. In the past, we have generally recommended using a tank-exchange service (available at most propane/natural gas dealers) due to the expense of maintaining the tanks.
3/24/2005 -- Does the flavored honey change the taste of beers significantly? How about meads?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I'll answer these in reverse order:
Yes, the flavored honeys make a significant difference in meads. in fact, if you can pair up a flavored honey with a complemetary fruit juice, the results are a richer flavor with a better/stronger aftertaste.
As for beers, it depends on the strength of the beer and the style of honey. For instance, an orange blossom honey in an amber ale provides a very strong and quite pleasant citrus flavor to the beer. However, a star thistle honey in a porter wouldn't allow the spicy qualities of the honey to really stand out significantly.
12/7/2004 -- I bought some caps from you a few months back that worked EXTREMELY WELL!!!! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am with them. Problem is that I need more, but I'm only seeing gold on your site and I bought silver and black before. Are you going to get more of them in or am I looking in the wrong spot? Thank you so much! Keep up the AWESOME work!!!!!
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I double checked on the bottle caps today. I have good news and bad. The good news is that our current supplier has 4 "designs" available besides the plain gold. The bad news is that none of them are the silver and black. We are limited to what our suppliers have, as different designs come and go.
The other good news is that with the exception of the "real beer" caps, they are all from the same manufacturer; so they should perform as well as the caps you bought previously. Oh - and we also have plain silver oxygen-barrier caps. These are caps with an oxygen-absorbing seal that help prevent oxidation in bottled beer.
7/29/2004 -- What are the other chemicals and tablets that you would recommend for us if there is a need of them?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: If you are starting with fresh fruit (rather than canned juices), I would recommend campden tablets. Allowing the juiced fruits to sit in a campden solution for 24 hours will kill off any wild yeasts that could spoil the ferment.
For honey or for some high pectin fruits (such as strawberries or plums), I would recommend yeast energizer for a quick start to the ferment.
I always recommend yeast nutrient, which is sort of a vitamin pill for the yeast. It helps to sustain the yeast through the critical first few weeks of the ferment cycle.
I recommend pectic enzyme for high pectin fruits as well. This helps break down the pectins and avoid hazy wine.
Add a touch of grape tannin for wines made from fruits with low tannic acid.
Acid blend and/or the various types of acid should be added cautiously to balance the tartness in the wines and assist in a strong ferment. Certain fruits are high in one type of acid or another, so blindly adding acid blend without knowing the acid balance in the fruit you are using is not a good idea.
When the ferment is completed, a stabilizer such as potassium sorbate should be added prior to sweetening the wine, in order to prevent refermentation in the bottle. Also, some sort of sulphite is important for long-term storage to prevent spoilage and/or oxidation.
7/28/2004 -- Hey, it's been 3 days since I mixed up my batch of wine and the only thing I have done different from the instructions on the package was when I rehydrated the yeast I put a little bit of sugar in the warm water and left it in there for about 20 minutes instead of 15... but it's not fermenting and it's actually sucking water back up the hose... should I pour it out and start over????
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Never pour out a batch of homebrew until all options for fixing a problem have been exhausted. Many times, it's a simple fix. In this case, there are a couple of problems that may be the cause.
The first possibility is that the fruit juice you are using may have preservatives. You didn't specify if you used fresh fruit, juice from a homebrew store, or other commercial juice. Whenever you use commercial juice (from somewhere other than a homebrew shop), check the label for the words "potassium", "sulphite", "sorbate", or "to preserve freshness". Any of these indicate that a preservative has been added. Overcoming preservative is a long and arduous process, and if you write back and tell me that's the problem, I'll send a complete answer.
Another likely problem is that the yeast was no longer viable. Dry yeasts usually last about 3 to 6 months in room temperatures, up to a year or more when refrigerated. However, yeast is tricky and these timeframes are just estimates. Humidity, changes in temp, and other factors can shorten yeast life. If you have a slow start or a stuck ferment, always try a new yeast starter with a fresh packet of yeast.
A third factor could be residual cleanser or sanitizer on the equipment. In this case, thoroughly sterilize and rinse a new fermenter. Siphon the liquid into the new fermenter, being sure to oxygenate it thoroughly. Then start over with a fresh yeast starter.
10/14/2003 -- I am making scuppernong wine and it has a vinegary taste to it. Any suggestions as to why this happened and what I can do to eliminate the vinegary taste?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: There are a number of different reasons for why it would have a vinegary taste. First of all, do you have any sort of milky or egg-whitish film floating on top of the wine? If so, this is called a "mother of vinegar", and it indicates that the wine has actually turned. It's easy to identify because it's a little different from the meringue-like foam or carbonation-like foam layer that forms during fermentation, and it never goes away. The best thing to do in that case is to cultivate the vinegar, bottle it, and use it for cooking or as gifts. Homemade vinegar is very good.
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If there is no "mother" floating on top, then the taste can be for a number of other reasons. The most common is that some sort of bacteria escaped the sanitation process and has soured the wine. Another could be that a wild yeast strain got in before your cultured yeast got active (in some cases, people prefer to use the natural yeasts that reside on the grape skins... which is sort of a crap-shoot for flavor.) Wild yeasts tend to have a more vinegary or cidery flavor. Another cause could be that all the sugar was eaten up in the fermentation process. Scuppernong is a sourish grape to begin with, so it doesn't make a good dry wine.
In any of these cases, you can use a combination of refermentation, resweetening, and aging to mellow the flavor. Start by checking the viability of the current yeast. If your wine is still in the fermenter, dissolve a few tablespoons of sugar in warm water and add it to the fermenter. If you notice refermentation, then your yeast simply used up all the original sugar. At this point, you can continue to add sugar in small amounts until the yeast dies, or you can rack your wine into a new container and add a stabilizer (such as potassium sorbate) to prevent refermentation. Once you have done one of those things, then you can sweeten the wine to taste. Adding a touch of ascorbic acid (an anti-oxidant) can help.
Finally, after complete fermentation and sweetening, age is your friend. Let the wine age in the bottle (on its side) for at least 6 months before tasting again. You should notice the flavor mellowing a bit. I usually put 1/4 of my batch in a dark, cool place and leave it for two to three years, and those wind up being my best bottles.
If after 6 months to a year in the bottle, the vinegary taste is still strong, don't throw the wine away. Scuppernong grapes add an interesting flavor to foods, and the wine can be used in place of wine or cooking sherry in food recipes.
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