Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wine batch #3

Acid notes 6-10-18
Acid test came in at 60%.

Second stage fermentation on 10-14-17

  • Transferred batch #2 to secondary rack
  • Reading 1.026
  • Added four campden tablets
  • No temperature control; sat on top of lagering frig
  • Sample taste: sweet, strong grape presence (worried that the yeast didn't get enough time to do it's job)

First stage fermentation on 10-8-17
  • Double batch
  • Reading: 1.048
  • Added 1/2 cup sugar
  • Added four campden tablets
  • Added 2 packet of Harvest BV7 yeast
  • No temperature control; sat on top of lagering frig
  • Approximately 60% California grapes, 39% Concord grapes, 1% water dew melon

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Wine batch #2

Bottle day 5-16-18

  • Final gravity: 1.003
  • Tastes rather sour, very little grape flavor
  • Liquid is rather clear but not perfectly clear
  • Mental note: double the sugar next time
  • Bottled 5 750ml bottles

Third state fermentation: 10-14-17

  • Transferred batch #2 to secondary rack
  • Reading: 1.005
  • Added two campden tablets
  • No temperature control; sat on top of lagering frig
  • Sample taste: dry, tart, little bit of grape presence

Second stage fermentation: 10-7-17

  • Transferred batch #2 to secondary rack
  • No reading taken
  • Added two campden tablets
  • No temperature control; sat on top of lagering frig

First stage fermentation on 9-30-17

  • No reading taken
  • No sugar added
  • Added two campden tablets
  • Added 1 packet of Harvest BV7 yeast
  • No temperature control; sat on top of lagering frig
  • Approximately 95% Concord and 5% California grapes

Wine batch #1

Bottle day 5-16-18

  • Final gravity: 1.006
  • Tastes very much like grapes, tiny taste of sweet but mostly sour
  • Liquid is kinda cloudy
  • Mental note: double the sugar next time
  • Bottled 14 750ml bottles

Third stage fermentation 10-29-17

  • Transferred batch #1 to secondary rack
  • Added two campden tablets
  • Placed in lagering frig at 65F
  • Reading: 1.000

Second stage fermentation: 9-23-17

  • Transferred batch #1 to secondary rack
  • Added two campden tablets
  • Placed in lagering frig at 65F

First stage fermentation on 9-17-17

  • First 1/2 gallon reading: 1.050
  • Added 1 cup of sugar
  • Second 1/2 gallon reading: 1.054
  • Added two crushed campden tablets
  • Added 1 packet of Harvest BV7 yeast
  • Placed in lagering frig at 65F
  • Approximately 80% Concord and 20% California grapes

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Grow Your Own Hops For Homemade Beer

As the home brewing scene sweeps the nation, there is a powerful quieter wave following it: growing your own hops. Die-hard home brewers are taking their hobby to the next level by getting into the cultivation of hops, one of the core elements of quality craft beer.
While growing hops isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s certainly not as hard as it’s made out to be by both brewers and gardeners alike. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most popular types of hops for brewing beer, how to cultivate hops at home from start to finish, and some of the signature flavors that different types of hops impart to a finished bottle of delicious craft brew.
While there are dozens of different types of hops, all with their own unique characteristics making them prized varieties for brewing, there are a few standout cultivars that brewers around the world use:


Amarillo hops are so popular that larger brewers actually buy up the production quotas for commercial hop growers years in advance to lock down a supply. Growing Amarillo hops yourself allows you to bypass the incredibly high commercial demand for this hop variety.
Amarillo hops are prized for their flowery aroma with light citrus notes. They have a medium bittering value, making them a versatile hop to use in many different styles of beer.


Cascade hops are a staple of American craft beer. They were developed in the mid-1950s by the OSU breeding program, perfected, and then released for wider cultivation in the early 1970s.
These hops have a similar aroma and flavor to Amarillo hops, but with the addition of spicy and grapefruit notes, which make them a popular and unique choice for home brewing.


Centennial hops are a relatively new cultivar, having been released in 1990 by a couple of breeders. They’re best described as a combination of Cascade hops and Chinook hops (covered below). The best way to describe the flavors and aromas of Centennial hops is to imagine Cascade hops “on steroids.” There’s a reason that Centennial hops are referred to as “Super Cascade,” after all!


Chinook hops have the most earthy and natural aroma and flavor, imparting both spice and pine to the beers in which they’re used. They’re fast becoming a favorite of small-scale microbreweries and home brewers alike for their unique flavors and alpha acid content.
If you’re used to growing more traditional plants, starting to grow hops may be a shock to your system. Unlike many plants, hops are climbers and require extensive trellises for best results.
When planting hops, it’s important to plant in a south-facing area. Be sure to dig at least 12” deep before you plant them and leave ample space between each individual plant (about 5’ or so).
Because hops are climbing plants, you need to plant them near a fence or wall, or construct a trellis system so they can climb properly. Many growers have success with a trellis system that connects each trellis to the next by string, twine, or wire at the top of each individual trellis.
Hops do not like dry soil, so be sure to keep it moist as often as possible. For best results, mulch with organic matter for moisture retention and some added nutrition. Be sure to fertilize liberally throughout the season as well, as hops are relatively heavy feeders.
Hops are ready to harvest between August and September, when the vines begin to dry out.
To determine if your hops are ready to harvest, pick a few of the cones off your plants and rub them between your fingers. If they feel dry and papery, they’re probably good to go. Another marker of ripeness is when your hop cones have a classic hoppy aroma as opposed to a more grassy scent.
If you have determined your hops are ready to harvest, go ahead and cut them down off your trellises and lay the vines out. Let the vines dry and then pick off the hop cones by hand. This can take some time, but it’s worth it – hops take a lot of effort to grow, so harvesting them correctly is important!
Hops must be dry before they’re stored, otherwise mold and bacteria can run rampant on your crop and decimate it. After you’re sure your hop cones are completely dry, you can store them in airtight plastic bags and freeze them. For best results, use a vacuum sealer to be sure that as little air as possible is in the bags. Tape the bags shut, label them with the cultivar and harvest date, and then store them in the freezer.
While we covered the four most popular types of hops and their aromas, we haven’t talked about the types of flavors that these hops (and more) impart when used to brew a batch of beer. Here’s a quick flavor guide you can use to determine which hop cultivar you want to grow, based on the flavors it will add to your home brew:
Amarillo – Flowery, citrus smell. Medium bitter. Used in quite a few IPAs and pale ales.
Cascade – Flowery, spicy, with a grapefruit note. The quintessential American hop. Can be used in just about any type of beer you want to brew.
Centennial – Flowery, spicy, but stronger than Cascade. Can be used in many different styles, but is especially favored in IPAs due to the strength of its flavors.
Chinook – Mild spice and heavy pine flavors. A versatile hop used in some of the most popular craft beers in America, from Stone to Sierra Nevada.
Crystal – Spicy, reminiscent of cinnamon or nutmeg. Used in red ales and IPAs primarily.
Simcoe – Passionfruit, pine, earthy. Very bitter. Used for a classic hoppy flavor in IPAs, American Ales, and Double IPAs.
Cluster – Sweet fruit, earthy, light floral notes. Fantastic for heavy beers like porters and stouts, though it can also be used if you want to brew a lighter ale.
Fuggle – Light, minty, grassy. A good choice for porters, nut browns, and bitters. It’s an exceptionally popular hop for English style ales as well.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge to both select the right type of hop for your brew and grow it successfully, why not give growing hops a try? A successful crop of hops can take your craft brewing hobby to an entirely new level and give you an appreciation of all the little elements that go into making this delicious drink we call beer.
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

All in one brewing systems

This entry is meant to collect information about all in one brewing systems. I'm in the market to purchase one and if I could find a system that is completely self contained (one piece solid construction), easy cleaning, and easy to setup and use, that would be ideal system.

Here is what I found so far (in no particular order):


Name Price Volume Personal Rating Notes
Homebrewery BIAC $3,114 (small, base) / $5,895 (medium, decked out) 3-5 / 5-15 gallons 8/10 Kinda big but still small? Automation, easy to clean (according to their website), conical design, and lots of documentation. Good for mashing, boiling, and fermenting. Very high price point.
The Grainfather $899 8 gallon 6/10 Cylinder design. Total brew and cleanup time (according to a review): 6 hours. This due to the 120v electric heating system taking 70 minutes to get from 168 to boil.
Brew Boss $1,299 10 gallon 5/10 According to their website, 3.5 hours for a 10 gallon batch including clean-up! However, I believe this is for the 240v version and not the 120v. Couldn't find any brew times for the 120v version.
Picobrew Zymatic $1,999 < 5 gallons 3/10 Batch sizes ~2.5 gallons. Fairly easy clean-up. Very high price for such a small batch yield.
Speidel Braumeister V2 $1,800+ 5.2 gallons Uses European electrical system. Small batches.
Unibräu Pro 45L 120V Brew System $2,399 11.89 gallons 8/10 Website says you can brew in as little as 4 hours but doesn't give details on the setup for this duration.
Blichmann BrewEasy $1,785.91 10 gallons x/10 2-Vessel system configuration with 10 gallon capacity. For price point and footprint (compared to Homebrewery BIAC), this seems like a decent deal. Although, I'd like to view a few videos of setup, cleanup, and the system in use before making any final considerations. Con: needs a 240v outlet.
Other resources to consider:

I may want to also consider a 10 gallon electric HERMS system.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Old Style Testing of Bitterness of Home Grown Hops

If you're not sure how to measure the bitterness of your home grown hops, try this technique that I discovered in April of 2014.

"...Take one ounce of your hops.

Boil two cups of water for 15 minutes with 1 scant Tbsp of sugar (utilization).
Add your hops and boil for 10 minutes.

Strain the hops and take your tea to dilute

1/4 of a cup of water to 1/4 cup of tea= one %.
So dump the first mixture retaining 1/4 cup and then add 1/4 cup water
Continue with dilute 1/4 cup of your tea until the bitterness is not distinguishable by taste.

Now if you have diluted 6 times and only have the slightest barely there bitterness -- you think about 6.1 or 6.3 %

It is a rough estimate: 5% to 6% for example, but it means you can brew with some idea of AA and you get to taste the hop tea too to get a flavor profile."

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