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Old 03-01-2011, 05:31 PM   #1
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Default Currently making my first batch ever, questions

Okay I am new to the whole home brewing of anything, but my friend made some so I decided to give it a try.

My first batch is a strawberry wine (sweet), and I got the recipe from the book "Alaskan Bootleggers Bible" which basically tells you how to make alcoholic beverages in the cheapest way possible. So my instruction and recipe from that book may not be ideal when it comes to quality or process. So this is why I have some questions to ask here.

First the recipe was:
3.5 pounds of strawberries
2 pounds sugar
1 gallon water
1 packet red star champagne yeast

That was all mixed in a fermentation bucket sealed with a bubbler, it started fermenting pretty quickly so I know I at least did that much right, but now I have some questions.

1. Based on what I have in there, am I suppose to take off the lid and stir it up? There is a good amount of foam and whatever at the top right now.

2. Is there any way you could tell me how long this should stay in the primary fermenter, or how long it will take altogether to be "done"? I know that is probably a stupid question, but I don't have a hydrometer and am a little lost as to know when its done or ready to settle in a secondary (the book I got the recipe from doesn't even mention a secondary, if that tells you anything).
I started it on Friday (2/25)

As of now I was just gonna wait 10 days or so, or until it seems like fermentation has slowed a great deal, move it to a secondary (mainly to get out large solids), then wait another 5-7 days or so. Does that sound like a reasonable timeline?

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Old 03-01-2011, 07:04 PM   #2
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I'd stir it every day or so, and make sure to keep the fruit from drying out sitting on top or getting moldy. I normally leave all my stuff in primary for at least a month before racking it. That gives the yeast more time to completely finish and then drop out to the bottom. For secondary I'd leave it in there as long as you can, for clearing and mellowing of flavors, immediately following fermentation it will taste quite "hot" from the alcohol, but will mellow. If you plan on sweetening it, I'd check into getting some kind of a stabilizer like Potassium Sorbate and Metabisulfite so you'll be able to add more sugar without the yeast starting up with another round of fermentation.

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Old 03-02-2011, 04:19 PM   #3
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I stirred my Strawberry daily and racked it after 8 days into a secondary after the bubbles slowed way down.

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Old 03-02-2011, 04:53 PM   #4
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I always rack my fruit wines to secondary at about day 5-7, or when the SG is 1.010 to 1.020. If you're not using a hydrometer, just do it when fermentation slows down a bit and is bubbling less.

You want to stir in primary, to keep the fruit "cap" down and to keep the fruit from drying out, but within a week that fruit will start getting nasty and you want to get the wine off of it.

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Old 03-02-2011, 08:24 PM   #5
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Like I said, I started it Friday, and stirred it for the first time yesterday (Tuesday).

All the fruit pieces floating at the top looked okay (no mold or anything odd), though they had lost most of their color.

When I stirred it, it fizzed and bubbled like crazy, but since then there has been substantially less action. Am I right in assuming that I basically knocked most of the CO2 out when stirring so it wasn't there to bubble up later?

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Old 03-03-2011, 12:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billcom6 View Post
Like I said, I started it Friday, and stirred it for the first time yesterday (Tuesday).

All the fruit pieces floating at the top looked okay (no mold or anything odd), though they had lost most of their color.

When I stirred it, it fizzed and bubbled like crazy, but since then there has been substantially less action. Am I right in assuming that I basically knocked most of the CO2 out when stirring so it wasn't there to bubble up later?
Maybe, but most likely, the primary is close to done. Friday to Tuesday is 4 days and most activity is during the first 5 days.
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:35 PM   #7
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okay, my fermentation has basically stopped completely so tomorrow (after I pick up some tubing) I will move it to my secondary
I just have one question, am I suppose to add more sugar to it after I move it to the secondary (to give any leftover yeast something to do)? Or am I just suppose to put it in the seconary as is and leave it?

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Old 03-03-2011, 07:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billcom6 View Post
okay, my fermentation has basically stopped completely so tomorrow (after I pick up some tubing) I will move it to my secondary
I just have one question, am I suppose to add more sugar to it after I move it to the secondary (to give any leftover yeast something to do)? Or am I just suppose to put it in the seconary as is and leave it?
If you are making a sweet wine, you can overpower the yeast by adding sugar and allowing it to ferment and doing it again until the yeast's alcohol tolerance is reached. That usually makes sweet rocket fuel, though, as many wine yeast strains can go upwards of 16-18% ABV or higher.

Most of us don't add sugar, unless it's a special recipe where some of the sugar was held back for a purpose as to not overwhelm the fermentation. If you didn't hold back some of the sugar to add later, don't add any now. The yeast have plenty to do without abusing them with more sugar.
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:56 PM   #9
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I am about to move it to a secondary, but I have a question.
If fermentation has basically stopped, what is the point of moving it to a secondary?
Will moving it kick in a little fermentation left to happen? Or is it mainly to increase flavor?

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Old 03-04-2011, 07:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billcom6 View Post
I am about to move it to a secondary, but I have a question.
If fermentation has basically stopped, what is the point of moving it to a secondary?
Will moving it kick in a little fermentation left to happen? Or is it mainly to increase flavor?
Moving it to a secondary will get the wine off of the lees. I primary in a bucket, to make it easier to stir, and then it needs to be racked (siphoned) to a secondary which is a carboy. You top it up to withing an inch or two of the bung, so that you don't have any headspace. That protects it from oxidation which will ruin the wine. That's the point of moving it.

In primary, the yeast use oxygen to reproduce. After fermentation has slowed, and the wine is no longer producing co2 to protect it, the wine is racked to the carboy to protect it from oxygen.
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