Some notes on my plum wine making for 2016 (learnings for next time) Fruit – picked approx 60kg of fruit – 4 times my harvest of 2012 (the last time I made plum wine). The tree was loaded this year. I picked the ripe plums between 5th and 12th Jan, that’s later than usual for… Continue reading »View full post
I used to strain out the trub with a sieve when transferring the wort from the kettle to the fermenter but on one brew I got lazy and just dumped it all into the fermenter, every last bit of trub – hot break, cold break, hops debris and every single drop of liquid and solid… Continue reading »View full post
I added permenant volume markings to the inside of my brew kettle using a simple electrolytic acid etching technique that I discovered on the Home Brew Talk forum. Here’s how I did it: 1. Mark 10 litre volume increments in the kettle using electrical tape. I measured the water volume accurately by weighing it (1L… Continue reading »View full post
I find it very helpful to use a checklist to make sure I don’t miss out any key steps in the brewing process and to track the important brewing data. This is the checklist I use:View full post
Inspired by some interesting posts on Brulosophy.com I tried out a new ‘express’ approach to brewing – short mash (30 min), short boil (25 min), short final hops stand (5 min). This resulted in a nice short brew night and I didn’t notice any downsides apart from a small loss in efficiency so I think I will be taking this approach again in the future.
Some notes on my plum wine making for 2016 (learnings for next time)
Fruit – picked approx 60kg of fruit – 4 times my harvest of 2012 (the last time I made plum wine). The tree was loaded this year. I picked the ripe plums between 5th and 12th Jan, that’s later than usual for the plums to ripen. I ended up discarding about 25% of the fruit due to being smushed, broken skin, not ripe enough – made jam and cordial with some of that.
Batch 1 (started 12 Jan)
- washed approx 20kg fruit in bath of warm water & washing soda (sodium carbonate) – not sure of ideal qty
- rinsed fruit in bath of cold water
- slit fruit with sharp knife to make easier for mashing
- mashed with potato masher
- added 4 campden tablets crushed and mixed in warm water
- let sit over night and added pectic enzyme next morning (best to wait at least 8 hours as SO2 retards action of pectic enzyme)
- separated juice from pulp – not easy! First tried my large BIAB bag but not easy to squeeze liquid out. So then did smaller batches in a muslin bag. Messy and time consuming – don’t recommend this approach again – just ferment on the whole fruit instead. Ended up with 13 L of pulpy juice.
- SG: 11.5 Brix
- PH 4 approx (litmus paper)
- Used chaptalization calculator to determine how much sugar to add. Added 1.4kg sugar dissolved in 1L of hot water. This brought Brix up to 18.5 but my desired Brix was 21. Added 400g more sugar which brought Brix up to 20 and left it at that.
- Added 12g yeast nutrient and 1 yeast activator tablet crushed. The latter was probably unnecessary but I had them on hand so why not.
- 13 Jan: Pitched 2 pks of Vintners Harvest VR21 Yeast. Pitched dry as recommended in the yeast instructions.
- Added more 2L plum juice after fermentation had kicked in
- Added 5L wine from batch 2 on 20th Jan
- 5 Feb (day 23) – racked to glass carboy
The approach used for batch 2 worked out less troublesome and quicker so recommend this method for next time – i.e. ferment on the whole fruit instead of trying to separate the juice from the fruit
- Prepped the rest of the fruit approx 30kg over 2 nights (14th and 15th Jan) and placed it into my 50L stainless steel brew kettle (with bazooka screen in place).
- Removed 2L juice from tap on kettle and added to batch 1. SG was 11 Brix.
- Added 2.3 kg sugar & 5L water. The Brix was now up to 20. Also attempted to check SG with hydrometer but too much solids to take a measurement.
- Pitched 2 packets of dried yeast ( VR21 – same as batch 1)
- Fermented for 5 days in ss kettle. On 2oth Jan transferred wine from kettle into fermenter – 24 L into batch 2 fermenter and 5L to top up batch 1 fermenter. The wine poured freely from the tap on the kettle leaving mostly solid fruit residue behind. Liquid losses were pretty low and it was a lot easier than trying to squeeze out the juices so I recommend this approach for next time I make plum wine.Measured SG at 1.012.
- My written notes were a little disorganised – I added 2.3 kg of sugar & 2 L water on 20th Jan when I transferred the wine from SS kettle to fermenters. I thought at the time that I had not added sugar to batch 2 but according to 3. above I had!
Update (April 2016)
Racked on 3rd April. Both batches very clear. Just a small amount of sediment/lees in both cases. Taste is ok but quite sharp – will need back-sweetening. Batch 2 is tasting the least sharp which is another tick in favour of fermenting directly on the fruit. Racked batch 1 into plastic fermenter, added oak staves. Racked batch 2 to glass carboy (full up so very little head-space).
Update (July 2016)
I bottled batch 1 (the one I had in plastic fermenter with oak staves). I treated it with campden tablets potassium sorbate to kill off the yeast, left it for a day or 2 and back-sweetened it, then bottled it. It tastes pretty good, a bit sweet as it took quite a bit of sugar to balance the sharpness. (I need to find my notes and fill in amount used!) A little sediment made it into the bottles so appearance is a bit cloudy. Perhaps if I take more care when racking batch 2 I can end up with clearer result.
Batch 2 is left to bulk age for longer in the glass carboy.
Pitched this onto the yeast cake of the previous pilsner. Managed to chill the wort down to 12.5°C by pumping ice water through the immersion chiller. Due to pitching on yeast cake there was a very short lag time – obvious fermentation activity within 12 hours (at 12°C).
Result was just ok – tasted fine, slightly sweet/malty, not much bitterness and despite an extended lagering period quite a lot of sediment ended up in the bottles resulting in a cloudy appearance.
- Leaf hops caused a bit of trouble with transfer from kettle to fermenter, had to keep clearing blockage from ball valve.
- Didn’t account for the 90 min boil in water boil-off calculations so need to add 4 L top-up water. Add boiled cooled water after fermentation kicks off.
- Just used a single packet of Mangrove Jacks Bohemian Pilsner yeast, rehydrated at 25C, pitched at 18C, held at around 17 – 17.5 C overnight, then temperature slowy dropped to 12 C.
- Plan to follow Brulosophy’s fast lagering method.
I had planned to use S-04 yeast in this one but didn’t manage to pick up any on time so just made it with US-05 (hydrated this time). I also did a small split batch using Coopers yeast as I had more wort than would fit in the carboy. No hydrometer this time either so running blind on gravity numbers. I got a new hydrometer by bottling time so got a FG reading of 1.008 – a bit more attenuated than was calculated.
I used to strain out the trub with a sieve when transferring the wort from the kettle to the fermenter but on one brew I got lazy and just dumped it all into the fermenter, every last bit of trub – hot break, cold break, hops debris and every single drop of liquid and solid material that was in the kettle. The result? Great beer, nice and clear, no off-tastes that I could tell. After that I never went back to attempting to prevent trub from making it’s way into the fermenter. I’ve been getting good clear beer and have made some of my best beers since then.
So when I came accross a blog post detailing experiments done on this – The Great Trub exBEERiment – I read it great interest. The article refers to a reasearch study done on the impact of kettle trub on levels of isoamyl acetate (banana) and ethyl acetate (nail polish remover) compounds. Surprisingly, the study found the that wort with the most trub actually produced a beer with significantly lower levels of these compounds! The author details his own experiment and discovery that the beer fermented with the kettle trub actually came out significantly clearer than one that had the trub carefully removed.
So why do brewers go to the trouble of seperating out the trub by whirlpooling, straining etc? I guess most brewers would assume that doing so will improve the clarity and reduce off-tastes but now it seems that not only is it not the case, but the opposite may actually be true.
I’ll keep on doing it my way, trub and all, but now with the knowledge that it’s not just a lazy shortcut but something in my process that may actually be beneficial to my beer.
After a bit of a brewing absence (over 5 months since I last put down a brew) my stocks were running low so it was time to brew. I went for my favorite beer type, a good hoppy American style Pale Ale, but with all NZ hops so a New Zealand Pale Ale to be more precise. I used a little Pacific Gem for bittering addition and then 100g each of Waimea, Riwaka and Motueka for the flavour and aroma additions with some set aside for dry hopping. I targeted a 4.75% ABV as I’m finding the stronger beers that I’ve brewed recently a bit too much. I broke my hydrometer so running a bit blind on actual numbers but I’ve brewed enough to trust that it will come out pretty close to the calculated numbers. The addition of a ball valve to my brew kettle made transferring from kettle to fermenter a lot easier. Fermentation was a bit slower than usual to kick off – no action until second morning after. One theory, it could be due to lack of aeration of the wort, I relied on the splashing action of pouring the wort into the fermentor instead of giving it a good shake as usual.
I added permenant volume markings to the inside of my brew kettle using a simple electrolytic acid etching technique that I discovered on the Home Brew Talk forum. Here’s how I did it:
1. Mark 10 litre volume increments in the kettle using electrical tape. I measured the water volume accurately by weighing it (1L = 1Kg). The side of the kettle needs to be dry for the tape to stick so I carefully dried it to the water line with paper towel and then line up the electrical tape with the water line.