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Home Brewing Wine - small batch

bilby

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plus its illegal. wine and beer isn't.

That depends on your jurisdiction.

Lots of people here distil their own spirits, and as far as I am aware, it's completely legal as long as it's not done commercially (in which case a licence is required). My local homebrew shop stocks lots of distilling equipment, additives, etc.

It's an odd oversight, as in this part of the world there is very little freedom from the law - most things that are not prohibited are mandatory (a hangover from the time when this was a penal colony).
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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The third batch is still fermenting and has a way to go on account of the cold weather, but all is well. It is 36 degrees F in the cellar right now. Not sure how good that much chill is for wine after racking but that's what it is.

It is not likely that much yeast is still awake in that temperature. I am not that familiar with wine yeast.. I know all about Ales and Lagers.. but it is a very rare yeast that can stand such low temperature and still attenuate at all... even slowly.

One thing is for sure, though, you will definitely have complete flocculation and a beautifully clear final product... but maybe a little too sweet, due to that low temp stopping the final fermentation.

I should have said after final racking, meaning bottling. Indeed, the first two batches are comfortably cool in the cellar. The third batch is still fermenting in warmer environs.

The yeast I am using is actually a champagne yeast that ferments up to 18% alcohol and ferments down to 49 degrees F, which means I should come out with very dry wines, which on initial tasting is exactly what happened on the first two batches.

The experts say to siphon into a secondary fermenter after no more than a week if using fruit to make the must. But because the fermentation is still so strong I don't want to do that. I want it to be fizzled out or almost fizzled out. So I'm letting it work. The first two batches were basically done at this point but the cooler temps in the house must be prolonging things.
 

Malintent

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Cool.. Experimentation is what it is all about... that, and having a repeatable process.. in case you make something you ever want to make again, heh.

Regarding distilling... distilling and brewing are extremely different. The worse thing that can happen to you when a fermentation goes as bad as possible, is you end up tasting something that smells and tastes like puke. The worse thing that can happen to you when a distillation goes bad is you die.

I do not believe there are any states in the US where home distilling is legal. There are only two states in the US where homebrewing is illegal.. .and in one of them (Kentucky) it is because there is a huge Moonshine (distilling) "problem"... and brewing a corn-based mash mixed with plain sugar is the first step of distilling... so they made everything about it illegal there. the other state where it is illegal is Alabama... nuff said there.
 

ZiprHead

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Cool.. Experimentation is what it is all about... that, and having a repeatable process.. in case you make something you ever want to make again, heh.

Regarding distilling... distilling and brewing are extremely different. The worse thing that can happen to you when a fermentation goes as bad as possible, is you end up tasting something that smells and tastes like puke. The worse thing that can happen to you when a distillation goes bad is you die.

I do not believe there are any states in the US where home distilling is legal. There are only two states in the US where homebrewing is illegal.. .and in one of them (Kentucky) it is because there is a huge Moonshine (distilling) "problem"... and brewing a corn-based mash mixed with plain sugar is the first step of distilling... so they made everything about it illegal there. the other state where it is illegal is Alabama... nuff said there.

I know a guy that winters in Alabama. Every spring, he brings back fifty gallons of 'shine.
 

Malintent

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I have had some shine in my time... and every time I have had it, I immediately appreciated why Whiskey must be aged. "white whiskey", "young whiskey"... "moonshine"... all words for the same thing - Whiskey that isn't done yet. In my opinion, Moonshine is to Whiskey as grape juice that has gone bad is to wine.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Cool.. Experimentation is what it is all about... that, and having a repeatable process.. in case you make something you ever want to make again, heh.

Regarding distilling... distilling and brewing are extremely different. The worse thing that can happen to you when a fermentation goes as bad as possible, is you end up tasting something that smells and tastes like puke. The worse thing that can happen to you when a distillation goes bad is you die.

I do not believe there are any states in the US where home distilling is legal. There are only two states in the US where homebrewing is illegal.. .and in one of them (Kentucky) it is because there is a huge Moonshine (distilling) "problem"... and brewing a corn-based mash mixed with plain sugar is the first step of distilling... so they made everything about it illegal there. the other state where it is illegal is Alabama... nuff said there.

No distiller am I. But the fermentation process seems pretty straightforward, and I've kept a sourdough culture for bread making for many years. That's taught me a lot about what smells right and what's rotten, and how much sanitation is necessary. People overdo the sanitation thing.

Had one culture go bad on me only because I left it out too long in the warm summer after it had fermented out. "Puke" is being kind. Interestingly, starting a wild sourdough culture smells pretty "pukey" at first until the lactobacilli take over. If you don't know what you're doing you'll toss a good starter before it's finished making. Wine making is similar but it should never smell off at any point, not even at startup.

This morning I mixed up a new batch with apple juice and frozen pawpaw from last fall. Potential alcohol is 11% so it should be a winner. Have never worked with apple before so we'll see how that goes.

I think I've got your repeatable process down at this point, and have kept decent notes so far. If I happen upon a really good batch I should be able to do a repeat.

This should also be another good year in the orchard so there won't be a lack of raw materials to work with. But it doesn't look like I'll ever exceed the 100 gallons per family member that is the law for home wine making.

One thing I'm considering is using yeast from the previous batch to start the next batch. Supposedly yeast acclimates to the locality. If for example I bought some San Francisco sourdough starter, after some time it would become a local strain, same as if I started a wild culture. Just something to think about.
 

Malintent

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The way brewers keep their yeast is on "slants" in a refrigerator, which is essentially a small petri dish you make yourself from test tubes and agar gelatin. I have a decent yeast bank of various White Labs brand yeasts. To use, you just inoculate a small starter pitch and build it up to 2 - 4 billion before pitching it to the batch... but yeast is so affordable and available, it really isn't worth keeping a bank unless you are breeding a new strain, like you mentioned about a local version...

pretty cool stuff.
 

bilby

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The way brewers keep their yeast is on "slants" in a refrigerator, which is essentially a small petri dish you make yourself from test tubes and agar gelatin. I have a decent yeast bank of various White Labs brand yeasts. To use, you just inoculate a small starter pitch and build it up to 2 - 4 billion before pitching it to the batch... but yeast is so affordable and available, it really isn't worth keeping a bank unless you are breeding a new strain, like you mentioned about a local version...

pretty cool stuff.

I have thought about keeping yeast in this way; and every time I do, I conclude '... or I could just buy a smack-pack and use that'.

Perhaps if there was some major supply chain disruption and I could no longer pick it up cheaply from the brew shop.
 

Malintent

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The way brewers keep their yeast is on "slants" in a refrigerator, which is essentially a small petri dish you make yourself from test tubes and agar gelatin. I have a decent yeast bank of various White Labs brand yeasts. To use, you just inoculate a small starter pitch and build it up to 2 - 4 billion before pitching it to the batch... but yeast is so affordable and available, it really isn't worth keeping a bank unless you are breeding a new strain, like you mentioned about a local version...

pretty cool stuff.

I have thought about keeping yeast in this way; and every time I do, I conclude '... or I could just buy a smack-pack and use that'.

Perhaps if there was some major supply chain disruption and I could no longer pick it up cheaply from the brew shop.

ya, I'm with you on that... its not very expensive and those smack packs work great... you're pitchable in a few hours rather than it taking a few days to build up the cell count.
 

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But it's always nice to know how to do things the old-fashioned way, JIC
 
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