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Beer
The Wyeast package at my LHBS is slightly swollen. Is it still OK to use? - from on Monday November 3rd, 2014

Yes. Trace levels of fermentable carbohydrates or CO2 in yeast slurries at the time of packaging may cause a slight expansion in packages.   “Off gassing” is a result of a small amount of metabolism or simply CO2 being released from the media and can occur with proper storage.  This does not indicate the mishandling of the product or a decline in the health or purity of the culture.  Some strains, including 1056 and 1388, are more prone to “off gassing” than others. 

Wine
As a vegan I don't like to drink wine that has been fined or clarified with animal products. What product(s) do you use in your wine? - from Terry Griffiths on Monday July 7th, 2014

Terry,

Great question! Traditionally wines and for that matter most fermented beverages or fruit juice are fined/cleared with Chitosan, Gelatin, Isinglass, Kieselsol and/or Bentonite.

The Bentonite needs to be used in tandem with one of the other products for the best clearing effects. Bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate, essentially impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. The absorbent clay was given the name bentonite by Wilbur C. Knight in 1898, after the Cretaceous Benton Shale near Rock River, Wyoming. Bentonite has the property of adsorbing relatively large amounts of protein molecules from aqueous solutions. Consequently bentonite is uniquely useful in the process of winemaking, where it is used to remove excessive amounts of protein from white wines. Were it not for this use of bentonite, many or most white wines would precipitate undesirable flocculent clouds or hazes upon exposure to warmer temperatures, as these proteins denature. It also has the incidental use of inducing more rapid clarification of both red and white wines.

Chitosan /?ka?t?sæn/ is a linear polysaccharide composed of randomly distributed β-(1-4)-linked D-glucosamine (deacetylated unit) and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (acetylated unit). It is made by treating shrimp and other crustacean shells with the alkali sodium hydroxide. Chitosan has a long history for use as a fining agent in winemaking.[47][48] Fungal source chitosan has shown an increase in settling activity, reduction of oxidized polyphenolics in juice and wine, chelation and removal of copper (post-racking) and control of the spoilage yeast Brettanomyces.

Isinglass (/?a?z???læs/ or /?a?z???l??s/) is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. It is a form of collagen used mainly for the clarification of wine and beer. Isinglass binds with excess tannins, pulling them from overly harsh wines. Not usually recommended for clearing out heavy haze in wine, Isinglass is best known for its extremely gentle nature. It does not strip flavor or character from wine, and creates a final high quality polish to wine (especially whites and blush) that have already been cleared by other agents. It will produce a thin layer of fine sediment, as the last of the suspended solids precipitate to the bottom. Thus, Isinglass works best as a final touch, applied just before bottling. Isinglass is available in both liquid and powder.

Gelatine is an animal protein. Like Bentonite, gelatine can be applied as a clearing agent pre- and post-fermentation. Gelatine is recommended for red wines since its positive charge helps reduce excessive tannins (tannin carries a negative charge). It can also be used on white wine to remove the bitter taste of excessive tannins. But in white wine excess gelatine can create a protein instability and develop a haze of its own. To prevent over stripping of white wine, gelatine can be used with Kieselsol. Kieselsol’s negative charge works as a tannin substitute to neutralize excess gelatine in the wine. The two agents with different charges working together also have the potential to both reduce astringency, and collect a greater number of charged solids. Gelatine is available in powder, but some manufacturers offer it in liquid form. However, being an animal protein, it has a limited shelf life and the size of the liquid batch you purchase should be considered if you can’t use it all in one application. If gelatine is used to reduce astringency in wine, it is easier to regulate the required dosage if you use the powdered form of this fining agent.

Kieselsol (negative charge): Also known as silicon dioxide. Kieselsol works well with gelatine as a clearing agent, since it acts as a tannin substitute and works well to remove bitterness from white wines. When used with gelatine, the gelatine is added to the wine first, and then 24 to 48 hours later, a very small amount of Kieselsol is added, and should be racked off within 2 weeks. Kieselsol also works with chitosan (see the section on chitosan earlier).

While the base of most of these products is from some form of animal because of the them being fining agents very little if any of the agent remains in the wine itself. Understanding that as a vegan you still may wish to avoid some of these fining agents, time can be used instead for partial but acceptable results. The wine would need to sit a longer period of time for the particles to naturally fall out suspension. This will work with most particles but not with any proteins that may still be in the wine.

Beer
What does Take Home pricing mean? Does that mean it will not be prepared on your premise and a person would have to have wine making equipment??? - from Cindy on Thursday March 13th, 2014

Yes take home is the price for some one to buy just the juice to take home and make it themselves. The on-premise price is for it to be made in the store.

Beer
I read a review you posted on the Avantco ic3500 induction hotplate being ued for homebrewing Are you still using it and happy with it ? - from Steve warren on Saturday February 15th, 2014

Steve,

Yes very happy with it. It works very well for keeping me dry and brewing!

Beer
What are the differences between an Ale and a Lager. - from Greg Cossey on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Ale vs. Lager – At A Glance

Ale

Lager

Thousands of years old Relatively new
Fermented warm Fermented cold
Top fermentation Bottom fermentation
Yeast – Saccharomyces cervisiae Yeast – Saccharomyces Uvarum
Quick brew cycle – as little as 7 days Longer brew cycle – up to several months
Usually brewed between 59 – 77 degrees F Usually brewed between 40 and 55 degrees F
Strong, assertive, and more robust in taste Smoother, crisper, and more subtle in taste and aroma
Served not too cool, usually 50-55 degrees F, 10-14 degrees C,  sometimes called  “cellar temperature”. Served cold, usually 40-45 degrees F, 4-7 degrees C.

For a more lengthy but very informative answer you can also read this article, What is the difference between an Ale and a Lager?

But overall the answer is Yeast!

Beer
What do I need to make beer? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Aside from a Brewer’s Best ingredient kit you’ll need some basic equipment: a primary fermenter, a carboy, siphon rod and hose, bung, airlock, a spoon, a thermometer and a hydrometer—which are all available packaged into one box so you don’t miss any items.
Other than that you’ll need to purchase some sanitizing agents and obtain a brewing pot of 12 litres (three gallons) or larger in size, which most people already have.
Depending on how much beer you want to make you could purchase extra carboys, or add a larger brew pot, and some people find a kegging system a wonderful way to enjoy their craft brewed beer, but you can start with the basics and get brewing right away!

Beer
How many bottles does it make? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Brewer’s best kits make 19 litres, or about five Imperial gallons of beer, which yields 4-dozen standard 330 ml bottles—eight six-packs.

Beer
Are there commercial craft beer’s that are similar? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

All of the Brewer’s Best styles are based on commercial equivalents, many of which you’ll already be familiar with. On the other hand, some are very specialized styles— while they are available in some areas, many people might not have not tried smoked beers or beers made with Rye!

Beer
Is it expensive to make craft beer? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Not at all! You’ll need to by the equipment and come up with a brewing pot, which should cost around $100 dollars or so, but that will pay for itself with your first batch. In fact, you’ll find that even a standard beer recipe will save you at least half off the commercial price, and when you start making bigger and bolder styles, you’ll cut your beer budget my more than two-thirds!

Beer
I have to use sanitizers on my equipment – Why and are they safe? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Cleanliness is next to goodliness: as with any food preparation, it’s important to keep your working areas and equipment both clean and sanitary. One of the reasons that beer ferments so well is the highly nutritious makeup of the wort (unfermented beer). Yeast grow well in beer, and so would other micro-organisms. Cleaning to remove soils, stains or other matter, followed by the use of a sanitizing treatment will ensure that only the yeast get a chance to act on the beer.

The sanitizers used in beer making are as safe and useful as any home cleaning product—in most cases they are actually much less harsh, as they are designed to be safe for use with food products. 

Beer
Is craft beer making popular? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

It’s no exaggeration to say that craft beer making has exploded in the last decade: tens of thousands of people now brew their own beer, with more starting every day, and interest in new styles and brewing techniques, beer festivals and beer clubs continues to grow. In fact it is so popular even US President Obama does it in the White House.

Beer
Do I have to age my beer before I can drink it? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Fresh beer is best! Once your Brewer’s Best beer has completed fermentation, you’ll have to wait two to three weeks for it to carbonate in the bottle, and then you can enjoy delicious fresh beer.

Beer
How long does it take? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Your first brew day will take a little bit longer as you sort your way through equipment and ingredients, but when you’ve got that under your belt you can make a fresh batch of Brewer’s Best beer in less than two hours, from start to finish.

Beer
What styles of craft beer can I make? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

There are over fifty styles of beer available, from standards like American lager or English Pale Ale to Imperial India Pale Ale and Robust Porter: you could make a new beer every week and not repeat yourself for a year! You can make your favorite commercial style or try something new and delicious.

Beer
Is it hard to make? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

If you can successfully make a pot of tea or coffee, you already possess all the skills necessary to make your own craft beer. The only two things that are out of the ordinary for most people are sanitation—keeping everything clean and sanitized ensures good beer—and a small amount of patience you’ll need as you wait a few weeks until you can drink your beer. 

Beer
What will my craft beer taste like? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

The answer might surprise people who have never brewed before: it will taste excellent! Most non-brewers haven’t had the good fortune to taste really fresh beer, and fresher is better! The flavours are lush and bright, with rich maltiness, bright grainy notes, crisp hops and refreshing carbonation, all true to style, from dark, luscious stout to tangy German Hefeweizen.

Beer
Why should I get into craft beer making? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

People make their own beer for a variety of reasons. It can be cheaper than buying commercially equivalent beers; it allows people to adjust recipes according to their own tastes, creating unique beverages that aren’t available anywhere else; entering your own beers into competition is a wonderful challenge and gives great feedback. But mainly you should get into craft brewing for the same reasons you learned to prepare your own food: you can control the flavour and aroma of your beer, the ingredients that go into it and take pride in making a great beer—and sharing it with others.

Beer
What is craft beer making? - from on Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Craft beer making/ brewing is the brewing of beer and other beverages through fermentation on a small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons.

Brewing on a domestic level has been done for many thousands of years, but has been subject to regulation and prohibition during some time periods in certain places. Modern craft brewing is now convenient, easily accessible and yields excellent results from the very first batch.

Wine
What about Sulfites in wine? Do I need them? I think they give me a headache! - from on Friday June 25th, 2010

We will defer to a great article written by Mary Gorman:

“Contains Sulfites.” Just two little words — yet so frequently misunderstood! Words you see on almost every bottle of wine. What are sulfites? Are they really bad? Do they cause wine headaches or other related ills?

The term ‘sulfites’ is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2). SO2 is a preservative and widely used in winemaking (and indeed most food industries), because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays a very important role in maintaining a wine’s freshness.

Consumption of sulfites is generally harmless, unless you suffer from severe asthma or do not have the particular enzymes necessary to break down sulfites in your body. The amount of sulfites that a wine can contain is highly regulated around the world. Any wine containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur dioxide must affix to the label ‘contains sulfites’.

Myth #1: Red wine has extra sulfites, and therefore causes headaches

In the EU the maximum levels of sulfur dioxide that a wine can contain are 160 ppm for red wine, 210 ppm for white wine and 400 ppm for sweet wines. Quite similar levels apply in the US, Australia and around the world.

The fact that red wines typically contain less sulfites may seem surprising to people who blame sulfites for their red wine headaches!

Red wines contain tannin, which is a stabilizing agent. Additionally, almost all red wines go through malolactic fermentation. Therefore, less sulfur dioxide is needed to protect the wine during winemaking and maturation. So there goes myth #1.

Myth #2: Sulfites in wine cause headaches

Medical research is not definitive on the relationship between sulfites and headaches. There are many other compounds in wine such as histamines and tannins that are more likely connected to the headache effect (not to mention alcohol!).

Myth #3: Wine should be avoided, because of the sulfites it contains

Another surprising fact is that wine contains about ten times less sulfites than most dried fruits, which can have levels up to 1000 ppm. So if you regularly eat dried fruit and do not have any adverse reaction you are probably not allergic to sulfites.

While the figures I have stated are maximum SO2 levels, discussions with many winemakers over the years would lead me to believe that in practice, sulfite levels are generally well below the maximum permitted limits.

Myth #4: Sulfites are inherently unnatural

Apart from the potential allergic reaction, many people are against sulfites, because they feel they are an unnatural addition when making wine. While that view is valid, it is important to remember that sulfites are also a natural by-product of the yeast metabolism during fermentation. So even if you do not add any additional SO2, your wine will still contain sulfites.

A better understanding of how sulfur dioxide breaks down and binds during winemaking, better winery hygiene, and more careful viticultural practices to ensure healthy grapes (i.e no rot) have all greatly helped to reduce the need for SO2 additions during winemaking. Today, there are many winemakers who refrain from adding any SO2 until after the fermentation is complete.

Why sulfites are necessary

There are really very few wines that are made without some use of SO2. This is because wine is perishable, prone to oxidation and the development of aldehyde off-odors. SO2, particularly for white wines, is important for freshness. Wines without any SO2 generally have a shorter shelf life – about six months, and need to be kept in perfect storage conditions. Given that a winemaker has very little control over the wine’s storage conditions from the time the wine leaves the winery until it is consumed, it is little wonder that SO2 is so widely used to help guarantee that the bottle of wine you open will be fresh and clean, and taste as the winemaker intended.

Additionally, one of the reasons that you see more wines labeled ‘made from organically grown grapes’ than labeled ‘organic wine’ is because in the US organic wine must not have any added SO2.

Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She hold the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.

Link to original article: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/wine/sulfites-in-wine-necessary-or-not--100878

Wine
Can I make wine that is as good as store bought brands? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Yes. It may help to allow the wine to age after taking it home. The juice we receive is the same juice Wineries are using to produce commercial store bought wines. The big differnce is when you buy a wine in a store it has aged at least a year or two. So if you can get into the habit of cellaring some of your wine to build a supply of aged wine you will find the wine is far better than it was young. 

Wine
Is it expensive? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Not at all. The prices for our most popular wine kits range from $125 to $225 for 30 bottles if made in store less if you want to make it at home. This means you can have a bottle of quality wine for approximately $5.00.

Wine
I've never done any wine making on premise, what do I need to know and how much work is required of me. - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

The process of making wine on premise starts with choosing the type of wine you want to make and what quality of wine kit you want to use. The LCB requires that the customer own the ingredients and begin by sprinkling the yeast on the juice to begin fermentation. We assist you at all times to whatever extent required. After the batch is started the customer has no further obligations until the wine is ready to be bottled. When you arrive for your bottling appointment you need to sanitize your bottles, fill & cork them and finish by applying labels and shrink caps. We provide all the necessary equipment and assistance for you to accomplish this with ease.

Wine
How long will it take? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

We offer you the choice of 5-week, 7-week and 8-week wine kits. Our 5-week wines are made from the finest blend of grape juice and concentrate. They are usually ready to drink in a few weeks after bottling. Our 7-week wines are made from premium quality grape juice blends. They are fuller bodied and require a longer aging time (at least 2 to 3 months). Our 8-week wine kits, with 100% varietal grape juice from country-specific vineyards,  the Eclipse Series has re-defined the quality expectations of the advanced winemaker and the wine kit industry alike.

Wine
What kinds of wines are available? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Please see our Products page.

Wine
What is the alcohol content? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

The alcohol level in our wines range from 11% to 14.5%.

Wine
Are Winexpert wine kits dry or sweet? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Our wine menu has sweetness indicators next to the wine names. Most of our wines have a dry finish, but we can adjust the levels to your taste. Just ask.

Wine
Can I clean my bottles when I come in to bottle? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

No, your bottles should already be clean as we provide time and equipment for sanitizing already clean bottles. Thoroughly rinsing a wine bottle very soon after it is empty, soaking it for a few minutes to remove the label and draining it completely eliminates the need to spend much more time cleaning bottles that are left to the last minute. HINT! Store the clean bottles upside down to avoid contamination by foreign objects, dust, insects etc.

Wine
Can I store my wine at Beyond The Grape? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Sorry, once your wine is ready to be bottled you need to bottle and remove it to your home within a reasonable length of time (30 days). This is required by law as well as by the availability of containers and space to put them in.

Wine
What are Tannins? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Tannin comes from the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes, and also from wood. It gives wine its longevity and character. Tannin is also found in strong tea.

Wine
What about wine with food? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

The fuller flavoured the food, the more full-bodied the wine should be. A simply prepared chicken can match well with a light bodied white wine. If you add a rich cream sauce, then a medium to full-bodied white may be preferred. You can also find more specific pairings on our wine pairing page.

Wine
What about wine with cheese? - from on Friday June 18th, 2010

Similar to how milk softens tea, cheese serves to round the tannic tastes of wine. Brie with sparkling wine is a good combination. Blue cheese overpowers most wines except dessert wines.

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