Thursday, September 26, 2013

Labeling your bottles

 Once you've brewed a few batches you may find you have bottles building up in your supply.  Often I've had one that was significantly darker than the other so I would identify the bottles in that way, but then when was which brewed?  A sharpie with a small mark on the caps will help but it's not very visually appealing.

 This was working for me, but then one time a friend sent me a couple of bottles of an IPA she brewed, which she also had made labels for.  I was really impressed.  I always thought it wasn't so important but I was really surprised at how much a label improved the presenation.  Some people might be unsure if they want to drink something with no label, maybe even with small pieces of the original label still stuck on the bottle.  Having your own label on the bottle makes your brew look like a legitimate product that you could have on the shelves of your local beer shop.

Here are the lables on my Long December brew:

 There are many ways to make your own labels.  I've even seen a site that will sell you caps with custom words on them.  Since I got those two IPA bottles I've been labeling my bottles as well.  It gives me a place to put the date I bottled my beer, and lets me know what is in the bottle at a quick glance without holding it up to the light and take a guess.

 What I've been doing is going to and creating my label there.  It's free to create a lable there and if you want you can have them print and ship the labels.  Once I have one I like I save the image and print it out.  I go to a copy store and make color copies of the print out, take them home, cut out the labels and I'm ready to go.  To attach them I use a strange trick that I like.  I take the cut out label and I brush milk on the back and then attach the label.  Once the milk dries the label is stuck and when I want to reuse the bottle the label comes off easily.  Try with a test piece of paper and any bottle.  Once you brush the milk on the paper should curl up a little, then apply it to the glass, wipe any excess milk and let it dry.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Concord grape Wine

Kitchen Brewery started out (in my mind) as a beer blog, but I've been following the fruit. When the dandelions came up I made dandelion wine. My mother in law happens to have some grapes growing in her yard and we decided to make wine from them this year. I went into this brew with almost no idea about how to make wine from grapes. My plan was to mash them up, hope there was enough juice, and pitch some yeast.

I went to the homebrew shop, got some corks, sanatizer, a corker, and asked what kind of yeast would be good with concord grapes. They told me people have bad results with concord grapes because they don't have enough sugar and they have a musty flavor. For the flavor they said champagne yeast was good because it neutralizes off flavors. I got my equipment and then asked around about it on the home made wine making community on google+ and found a recipe thanks to Benjamin Hansen. I also looked around and found this from Jack Keller:

 I used the first recipe which is much like the one I got on google+ and it makes up for the low sugar in concord grapes. I also leaned that red wines need to age 2 years in the bottle. I am sure this is why I hear stories about people who say wines from wild grapes taste bad. Beer brewers just are not used to waiting so long. I know I'm going to have a hard time with it.

Rinsing the grapes 

 I followed the recipe and found that concord grapes really do need the added sugar.  My gravity reading before pitching the yeast was 1.100 and to prevent any intrusions the fermentor is being guarded closely.