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Old 01-29-2011, 03:34 AM   #1
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Default Noob brewer- first time apfelwein + skeeter pee

Ok, I first got interested in brewing at the beginning of the summer when my roommate suggested it because of the heavy amounts of alcohol we consumed weekly. So I bought a winemaking kit and was planning on buying some recipe kits to make. Something came up, and (flash forward 8 months) I finally put the kit to use last month. I have been doing research and reading up on the basics of winemaking and decided to try apfelwein as my first Homebrew.

So on 1-7-11, I modified Edwort's recipe for a 6 gallon batch. The only thing different, as far as the instructions, i did was added Pectic Enzyme and started the wine in my primary (bucket). On 1-23-11, I noticed fermentation came to a halt. I watched the airlock for 2 minutes and saw no movement, so I assumed fermentation is complete. Because I could not find anything about people using buckets for primary with apfelwein, I got worried that the exposure to air in the bucket would hurt my wine. I figured that with fermentation being finished there should be no reason for not racking into my carboy. I did this but my apfelwein was still a bit cloudy (couldnt tell in the bucket) and by now it has cleared. My concern is the yeast that is laying at the bottom. Now if I'm correct most people leave the apfelwein in primary carboy for the entire process, so I shouldn't be concerned about aging the apfelwin with the yeast laying on the bottom. Should I rack again now that it has settled? I would have by now, but I'm real short on cash and dont have a second carboy. (is it bad to rack to bucket, wash and sanitize carboy real quick, then rack back into carboy?)

Because of my success so far (tastes great) with apfelwein, I now decided to start 5 gallons of skeeter pee. With no slurry available, I made a starter with ~32 oz of blueberry juice. Seeing that this is harder to get fermentation started, me being a beginner brewer, I thought I would surely fail to get fermentation started. Using the extra montrachet yeast i purchased for my apfelwein, I made the starter yesterday and pitched it at around noon today. I was very surprised to see quite active fermentation when I got home from work an hour ago. Now, I have a few questions about the pee. First, I read that the pee likes oxidization during fermentation. The recipe says to whip the must a couple times a day. Is this solely to help the fementation? It appears that my batch isn't having trouble so should I continue whipping? Basically, will the end product taste any better from whipping the must throughout fermentation? The biggest concern I have is not contaminating my batches so I dont want to open my fermenter unless I need to add things/ test S.G.

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this and help me.

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Old 01-29-2011, 03:57 AM   #2
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hind sight is 20/20 as they say, but the best idea would have been to start the skeeter pee on the apfelwein slurry when you first racked it from the bucket. As for the apfelwein you have started I would say YES to aeriate it during the first few days to make sure the yeast is very active and healthy. The lemon juice is a hard ferment to get going so better safe than sorry.

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Old 01-29-2011, 04:58 AM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. I would have used the apfelwein slurry but I just decided to try the skeeter pee a few days ago so the apfelwein slurry got dumped out on the 23rd. I'm seeing a strong burst through my airlock every 10 seconds, should I continue to whip? And if so when should I stop whipping?

Also, the other reason I dont want to keep whipping the must is because I'm going through a lot of sanitizer. Can I just let my whisk sit in boiling water for a few minutes to sanitize?

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Old 01-29-2011, 12:36 PM   #4
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Oxidation during "Primary" is not a problem with most wines. In fact when you have a fruit must, you have to continually punch down (get the fruit moist again with juice) I often give it a gentle stir as well. Most Wine recipes call for open primary's anyway. The Skeeter Pee benefits from this extra oxidation because it keeps the right kind of conditions to prevent Sulfur Dioxide production. I plan on starting my skeeter pee this weekend. Should be a good time.

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Old 01-29-2011, 12:38 PM   #5
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As for the Apfelwein... I would just leave it in the Carboy and start saving for another Carboy asap! I'm in need of a 3rd now myself and looking for used ones.

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Old 01-31-2011, 06:03 PM   #6
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If you have a nice active ferment, you really don't have to whip it twice a day. Whipping it once a day will be beneficial to the batch though. To save on sanitizer, you can use something other than a whip. Try using a regular old fork. Just put some sanitizing solution on a scrap of paper towel and wipe the fork down. Give it a few minutes and whip away. You really just need to break the surface and drive a few bubbles under the surface and bring some of the bottom juice up to the surface so it can get some fresh air.

Giving your yeast some oxygen will keep them happy. When they're happy, they'll ferment faster and your batch will finish quicker. A slow moving yeast is often this way because it is under stress. When yeast are under stress, they can produce nasty flavors or odors. Lemon juice is already a strike against the yeast, so do what you can to keep them happy.

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Old 01-31-2011, 06:16 PM   #7
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Some people make up a spray bottle of starsan to have on hand. Then you can just spray down your implement. On another note. With wine fermentation, sanitation isn't as strict as beer. You could probably just stir it with a non porous implement as long as it is clean.

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Old 02-01-2011, 09:17 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies guys. I' guess I will need the extra carboy anyways to rack the skeeter pee into. So i will rack the apfelwein into the new carboy, wash and sanitize the old one, then rack my skeeter pee into the old carboy. But Then I will still need another carboy come time to add sparkolloid and whatnot. But that won't be a bad thing! I hope to be making wine many many more times

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Old 02-02-2011, 04:50 AM   #9
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Also, anyone that has a lot of experience with apfelwein: Do you reccomend me racking or letting the apfelwein sit on the lees until bottling?

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Old 02-03-2011, 03:01 AM   #10
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Update: I just could not wait 6-8 months for my apfelwein to age. i bottled in less that 30 days and my opinion the apfelwein is great. Just like edwort said, reserve judgement until after 5 glasses. I'm trashed from 4 pints, love you edwort (no homo). The first couple glasses tasted like cheap white wine, now i'm slamming them like yuengling lagers! I can not wait to try the aged version , but looks like i need to wait a while until my next batch is done. I hope the 45 pints i bottled (with crown caps) will last me 6-8 months. If not, I will have some skeeter pee to sip until they are ready.

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