from Label Peelers:
Beer Kit of the Week
reg $31.03 now $22.34
Soon the trees will be budding and the flowers will be flowering and the memories of the cold winter months will be fading. Leave all those heavy winter brews in the past and make something you deserve to drink while sitting in the warm Spring sun. learn more…
Wine Kit of the Week
reg $60.23 now $43.37
Crisp, crunchy green apple flavor with a pleasant initial tartness, followed by a delicious juicy finish. A real thirst-quenching treat.
Riesling Is A White Grape Variety Which Originates In…read more
Five Most Common Mistakes When Making Wine From Fresh Grapes
- Harvesting your grapes too early, or late: Great wine starts with great starting materials. Picking your grapes at the wrong time will greatly reduce the quality of your wine. Too early and that nasty green pepper taste never leaves; too late and you get a flabby 15% ABV wine with a high pH. Use analysis (TA, pH and Brix) but more importantly use your taste buds.
- Inappropriately adjusting the Must: Acid, water, enzymes, nutrients, tannins, bentonite, sulfur dioxide. The list of things we can add to our freshly-crushed grapes is too long to list here. Don’t be pulled into the adjustment game; only make adjustments when it is necessary. What you really want is to start with is the best grapes you can get your hands on that require the least amount of adjusting.
- Underestimating oxygen and bad microbes: Once your wine has finished its primary fermentation it becomes more vulnerable to oxidation and bad microbes. During this honeymoon period the wine protects itself and little care and worry needs to be taken, but once the wine goes ‘still’ it is important to ward away the effects of oxygen and possible infection with proper techniques.
- Underestimating the good power of oxygen and microbes: Yes, oxygen can ruin your wine and can also make your wine great. Your little yeast buddies need oxygen to have a fruitful fermentation. So, making sure you have enough oxygen in the ‘must’ before fermentation is as important as keeping the oxygen out after fermentation.
- Keeping proper records: You made the best wine of your career! Too bad you didn’t keep proper records and will never be able to duplicate it. Keeping records is the only way you can adjust for agricultural variations from year to year, and also make corrections from last year’s mistakes. Document, document, document, and did I mention documenting?
reg $20.83 now $17.71
We just found a line on hundreds of pounds of Simcoe Hop Pellets in the 1 pound size from this year’s Hop Union harvest! Grab them while they are available. You know these go fast!
Growing Hops Part 2
You will see your hop vines flower then start to form hop cones. These flowers will not be ready for harvest until late August or early September, depending on the weather. So, how do you know when it is time to harvest? Take an average sized cone and squeeze it between your fingers. A hop cone that is ready to harvest will return almost to its original shape. If the cone is wet, very green and stays flattened when crushed you still have some waiting to do. Other signs they are ready to harvest is an increased amount of yellow lupulin and an increase in aroma.
For your next year’s growth, it is best to harvest your hop cones without cutting the vine from the roots. Letting the vine dry attached to the root system gives the roots the ultimate amount of growth during this year’s cycle and promotes more vigorous growth next year. Simply cut the twine down at the top and lay the hop vines on the ground, allowing you access to all of the cones. Leave the vines attached to the roots until they have dried.Harvest the hops by simply pull/pinching them off by hand.
Drying Home Grown HopsYou can use a food dehydrator to dry your hops, but we do not suggest doing so. Food dehydrators use heat and air movement to dry, exposing your hops to temperatures that can be over 170 degrees F! We just want to dry them not roast them, so we suggest using one of these methods.
- Box fan method: (also good for jerky) With a small amount of effort you can dry them with air movement only. Lay the fan down flat and place a furnace filter over the grate. Distribute hops on the filter making sure to leave some space between the hops. Place the second filter over the first and distribute more hops. Continue with this method until the last filter. Place the last filter, but do not put hops on it. Instead use bungee cords to strap the filters tight to the fan. Stand the fan up and turn the fan on, facing out the window, if you live with a significant other, or point it into your house if you live alone and love the aroma of hops 🙂
- Equipment list
- Box fan
- 4 Furnace filters the same dimensions as fan
- Bungee cords
- Equipment list
- If that seems too complex for you, simply lay your hops on a large sheet and spreading them out to a single layer, repositioning them every 6-12 hours will do the job.
Knowing when to stop the drying process is important. If you over dry your hops they will lose some of their hoppy quality and workability. You don’t want them so dry that they crumble at the slightest touch, and you also don’t want to lose any of the precious Alpha Acids. Your best test to know when they are dry enough is to compare them with commercially dried hop cones.Once you are happy with your dry hops, place them in an air tight container or even vacuum seal them. Put them in the back of the freezer for storage.
You still have time to pre-order hop rhizomes, click here to see our hop rhizome selection.