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Started by Hundredsand on Sep 12, 2013 10:09:05 AM
Bung an Airlock in the Demi-john

If you've got stuff brewing in the cupboard, are you doing it because it gets cheap result, or is a tasty little hobby which can cost more than buying a bottle of plonk?

Hundredsand - 15 Sep 2013 16:38:07 (#8 of 663)

I may have to use a non-fermentable sweetener when I rack to bottles. I used 2 kilos sugar.

djsuggz - 17 Oct 2013 16:46:59 (#9 of 663)

Just getting into this, for the first time. New gf's a fan and she's sort of given me the bug. She handles the whites and I'm on red.

Not really into the notion of big plastic bins full of the stuff - more a 5 bottles at a time with a little to taste from a Demijohn approach. Trialed my ability to do it right just by using a Wilcos red Cab Sauv kit and to my delight (and surprise) it turned out quite agreeable red wine in about 3 weeks.

I now have a second Demijohn and will shortly have a further pair of kit-based wines underway. I know you can do it from scratch with fruit, water, sugar and yeast, but I quite like the confidence of the concentrate forming the bulk of the product, and just monkeying with the taste a bit with some additionals at the stage where you fill up the Demijohn.

I have some frozen blackberries which I will pour the boiling water over tomorrow morning, together with the bottom half of my breakfast cafetiere. Let that cool and top her up once the water has cooled later on in the day.

Have found a local(ish) store that does a black cherry red wine kit, which I will have a go at in the second batch. I was going to fortify that a bit at the top-up stage with some tinned cherries (with the syrup washed off, so the extra sugar doesn't have a negative effect) and some crushed peppercorns in the boiling fill-up water. Be interested to see what comes of it.

Interested to hear of others' successes or failures, as well. I don't intend to become a pub bore on the subject, but it is rather fun.

tasselhoff - 17 Oct 2013 16:51:10 (#10 of 663)

I got into it as a teenager for beer. I even crushed my own malted barley, did my own hops and everything. The results were surprisingly good.

Hundredsand - 17 Oct 2013 18:15:50 (#11 of 663)

I'm new at this, so have already made mistakes, one of which has been straining my wine into a secondary instead of siphoning. I was slightly confused about exposing the wine to oxygen. Good for fermentation, but bad for ageing.

I've only got 1 gallon left of the blackberry, which I'd like to save for the holidays.The first gallon was welcomed and downed in a couple of days. It was medium-fruity, and drinkable despite newness. It also gave no ill effects, even after several large glassfuls. (I don't think the alcohol content was super-high, and I didn't add very much sulfite.)

The next 2 gallons I've got clearing consist of 2/5 elderberry, 2/5 white grape, & 1/5 apple; ingredients used because that's what was growing outside. I racked to secondary yesterday. It is very dry and can do with some more time in the jugs.

The next batch might be rhubarb. Been looking at recipes.

QuaintIrene - 17 Oct 2013 18:56:32 (#12 of 663)

Made a superb dry cider which was the easiest thing ever - cheap apple juice, yeast, sugar and patience.

djsuggz - 01 Nov 2013 12:26:58 (#13 of 663)


Finings and stabilisers went into the mixtures on Wednesday night. 24 hours of swooshing about and they'll now settle for nine days before bottling (need gf's help with the siphoning, otherwise it tends to kick up a load of sediment) on Sunday week, I reckon.

The blackberry and coffee-fortified wine based on a Wilko kit was the messier affair. It has a lovely dark colour and smells quite strong. The black cherry kit with tinned cherries and cracked peppercorns has a lighter colour and a very clean appearance already - smells nicer. That was a Youngs kit, from the brewing shop down the tram route from my place. I suspect I'll be using them again - the Wilko stuff is too lively to keep under control.

Trying to decide on the last two of the year. I am thinking about something more sholly and simply fruit-based. Possibly blueberry?

The other one is going to be my go at a 'Christmas wine'; going to try and create fortifying mixture that will generate a pre-spiced/mulled wine like they sell in the food court at IKEA. Cloves, orange peel, star anise, all that sort of stuff?

Hundredsand - 03 Nov 2013 02:02:34 (#14 of 663)

That the spicy Christmas wine idea sounds like it would be nice. There are loads of recipes online to get ideas from.

I have help from Mr100s to hold the siphoning tube. I think there is some sort of clip thing you can buy to hold it in place too, but buying lots of extra stuff sort of defeats the object.

Anchorman - 08 Nov 2013 17:28:17 (#15 of 663)

Rhubarb makes a lovely wine

Anchorman - 08 Nov 2013 17:28:41 (#16 of 663)

and tea wine is a bit like martini

djsuggz - 19 Nov 2013 12:40:11 (#17 of 663)

Quite forgot to mention I knocked up a batch of Turbo Cider, whilst in a gap in between wine kit-based experimentation.

Stormed along and was ready in a remarkable eight days. Flat, dry, tastes strong-ish, but not super undrinkable strong. 5 x 1 litre boxes of cheap apple juice, a skoosh of honey, an extra 80g of sugar and some yeast I had knocking about. Just under 6 bottles, in the end. Enjoyed the first one lightly chilled with some paella and have bottled the rest to go in the garage for a while. Discounting store cupboard ingredients and having a demijohn to hand, it works out at under 70p for a bottle (75cl).

My pre-mulled red will be going into finings/stabiliser phase tomorrow morning, so should be just about ready in another week, in time for me to get help siphoning it before nipping up to Scotland for a bit. Quite excited to see how that's turned out. Smells okay but not inspiring.

Other demijohn now has a second batch of blackberry and coffee working away in it.

Going to move into beer, next year, and treat myself to all the makings required as a 40th pressie to myself.

Other little side projects? Made a baby bottle of homemade Cointreau for the freezer, using vodka, orange peel and a dab of sugar. Have also just begun a 6-month wait for some blackberry whisky, which will be ready for Summer cocktails next year.

All good fun, still.

Anchorman - 19 Nov 2013 12:47:38 (#18 of 663)

Sounds like we all need an invite to your house!

djsuggz - 19 Nov 2013 13:04:47 (#19 of 663)

Heh heh - yes, indeed.

Am planning an early-Summer bash at my place, next year, at which I intend to supply all of the drinks, made by my own methods (apart from mixers, of course).

My ciders, my beers, gf's ciders, white and fruit wines, my reds and a skoosh of played-around-with spirits if anyone's feeling brave enough!

Anchorman - 19 Nov 2013 19:35:45 (#20 of 663)

Have you ever made Cider direct from apples rather than from bought apple juice. If so was it any good and was it a pain to do.

I've got access to tons of free apples!

djsuggz - 19 Nov 2013 21:38:49 (#21 of 663)

Nah, don't really have the patience to do that, or a press or similar kit. My partner is finishing off some apple-based wine at the moment though, so I'll report in on how that goes.

Does anyone have a view on the best beer kits to buy? Am moving on to brewing next year.

Antimatter - 23 Nov 2013 02:01:17 (#22 of 663)

We have made a Corona style beer, and an Irish Cream style beer with great results. The only thing I would say is to leave it a week longer than they tell you to before drinking, it really makes a difference. And wit the Irish Cream style, if you are doing the final fermentation in the bottle, make sure to measure the sugar quantities accurately.

I am looking into possibly getting a Kegorator for MrA for Christmas. That could be fun.

SinnerBoy - 25 Nov 2013 20:39:23 (#23 of 663)

Anchorman - 1

Have you ever made Cider direct from apples rather than from bought apple juice.

Yes, many times.

If so was it any good

Yes; a tip if it gets too dry is 2 teaspoons of glycerine per litre.

and was it a pain to do.

Get a meat mallet to bash the apples up. Otherwise, you have to chop them up and try to mash them against the side of the bucket. With a rolling pin, or similar. Very tiring.

Anchorman - 25 Nov 2013 21:34:04 (#24 of 663)

Interesting. How long does it take for the initial fermentation?

SinnerBoy - 26 Nov 2013 15:14:49 (#25 of 663)

About 3 weeks before siphoning it off into bottles.

djsuggz - 26 Nov 2013 15:33:23 (#26 of 663)

Final two inventions of the year are slowing down and will be getting finings and stablisers added in the next 24 hours, before I head up to Scotland for a few days. The pre-mulled 'Christmas Cracker' has fermented for ages (and smells really nice), but the second run of 'Black Coffee' has come together in little more than a week. Bottling in another ten days or so, I reckon.

Two further subjects for conversation?

1) Once these two wines are stowed away in bottles, I will have two empty demijohns (once cleaned) and enough time to make some more Turbo drinks before Christmas (might make a gift of a bottle or two). Do we think that the same approach as one took to Turbo Cider (apple juice and wine yeast - 8 days) might work with orange juice? Surely the cheap stuff has a lot of sugar in it; might that work?

2) Anyone got any recommendations on corks? I am ditching the packet from Wilco. You soak them, use a hand corker to press them in, and they then dry out in the top of the bottle only to crumble annoyingly when you try and open the wine, necessitating passing it through a tea strainer into a carafe. Bit of a faff.

Have eBay'd for a packet of straight corks from a brewing shop, as it says they will go in dry, but if anyone's used some that definitely work properly, I'd like to know about it.

djsuggz - 26 Nov 2013 16:04:03 (#27 of 663)

Hmm.. one or two online forums indicate that a 50% orange juice and apple juice mix works.

I reckon I'll have a go at that in one, and a 'spiced' straight apple Turbo Cider in the other one.

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