Ed Wort's Apfelwine Questions and Comments

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Scrow

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Well, I just opened my carboy to check on this Apfelwine (only been three weeks, but I can't wait!) and all I can say is WOW! I can't stand wine, normally, but this stuff is so amazingly tasty I am awestruck. I personally prefer it at room temperature (tastes more like apple and less like wine). I have some questions regarding this batch however:

1. Does light "skunk" wine the way it does beer? Do I need to keep it dark?
2. What is the best way to make it last without spoiling? Will it spoil rapidly after I opened the carboy?
3. What is the risk of "infection" ruining the flavor after fermentation is complete?
4. How does my decision to use plain table sugar instead of corn sugar affect the outcome? I don't know what it comes out like for those of you that made it the right way.

Thanks a ton guys! This stuff is amazing and very strong. Got a nice buzz on just a glass and a half. Will be drinking and brewing much much more in the future!!
 

llazy_llama

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1) No. Light skunks hops, not alcohol. There are no hops in apfelwein, so there is no skunking.

2) It seems to have a decent shelf life. I've stored it at room temperature in a decanter for about a month with no problems. I've also just filled a pitcher with it, and left that in the fridge for a few weeks without problem.

3) That depends totally on your situation. If you're fermenting in an open container in the middle of a landfill, it's probably pretty high. If you're using decent sanitation methods in a clean house, it's pretty low. After fermentation, there's enough alcohol in that stuff to fight off a little bacteria, so it's not a huge worry.

4) I've heard a few people say that they've used table sugar and it came out fine. I use corn sugar exclusively, but that's just personal preference.
 
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Scrow

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Well how does the different sugar change the characteristics? Does yours taste as strongly as apple, or does it taste more like a light wine? Does one create more alcohol than the other?

In any case, EXCELLENT stuff! I have converted a couple of friends already, and got them into homebrewing so they can make their own!

Edit: Also, is sanitizing everything necessary at this point? I only have Iodophor for sanitizer, and it doesn't keep for long, and I don't want to mix up a bottle of it every time I need to siphon some out of the carboy. If I thoroughly wash everything, is that ok, or should I be safe and sanitize?
 

nakros

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Well how does the different sugar change the characteristics?
Table sugar is supposed to inpart a more cidery type of flavour. Perhaps this isn't such a bad thing in apfelwein?

should I be safe and sanitize?
If you're worried about it, always be safe and sanitize.

That being said (and the llama will probably curse at me again), I only sanitize my instruments for everything before fermentation. After fermentation is complete, I assume the alcohol will do all my sanitizing for me and just rinse in really hot water.

Disclaimer: don't listen to me. But I haven't had a problem with the mantra that already-fermented products will not pick up an infection.
 
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Scrow

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Ok, sounds good. The only concern I have is that I don't have enough bottles to bottle all of this stuff at once, so I make a few bottles, and when they are gone, I refill them. So I am having to open and siphon frequently.
 

llazy_llama

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Disclaimer: don't listen to me. But I haven't had a problem with the mantra that already-fermented products will not pick up an infection.
I drink enough alcohol to qualify as an already-fermented product, and I get infections from time to time. :drunk:

As I mentioned earlier, I don't have a problem with people taking shortcuts and skipping out on sanitation. I just don't think it's a good idea to spread that kind of thing around to the new brewers. I'm sure there are people out there who do heroin for years, decades even, without overdosing. Then again, there are people who will OD their first time out. Safest to just skip the heroin altogether. ;)
 
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I have an apfelwine in the carboy as we speak as well - I think I'm at two weeks. Curious though - when you bottel are you carbonating as well. I didn't hear you mention it and if you are carbn it - how long is it taking for a bottel to carb?
 

llazy_llama

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I usually sweeten and carb about half of each batch. Two weeks is generally long enough with Apfelwein, since the added sweetness and cider taste isn't undesirable as it is with beer.
 

nakros

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In that case, personally, I'd sanitize the equipment (racking cane, etc...), but not the bottles (I'd just rinse them in ridiculously hot water). The bottles, I'd rinse out as soon as they're empty, and then re-rinse as soon as you're ready to fill them. My theory is that if you're drinking them that quick, then the sanitation in the bottles isn't quite as important as the sanitation of what you're sticking in the fermented product (since it'll sit there for another period of time before you touch it again).

But thats me, and once again, I will probably get cursed at for suggesting it. I have only made 14 batches of beer and 6 batches of wine (including an apfelwein). Nothing has become infected -- yet.

At the end of the day, more sanitation is always better than less. If you don't mind spending the time sanitizing everything, then do it. If the time is more important, then don't. If you get an infection then you know what the cause is and correct it in future batches.
 

llazy_llama

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nakros, I'm not cursing at you (I don't think). If it works for you, then great. I just want you to stop telling the newbies not to sanitize their stuff. :(
 

nakros

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Damn, you're quick.

I drink enough alcohol to qualify as an already-fermented product, and I get infections from time to time. :drunk:
I hear that! :mug:

As I mentioned earlier, I don't have a problem with people taking shortcuts and skipping out on sanitation. I just don't think it's a good idea to spread that kind of thing around to the new brewers.
I agree to a point. As I mentioned in my last post, I think the most important part of sanitation is pre-fermentation. Post-fermentation, there are many fewer baddies that can survive in the environment -- higher alchohol == fewer baddies (hence apfelwein at 7+%). The problem being the time taken to sanitize 30, 40, 50 bottles.

The biggest issue I had when I started brewing was the amount of time it took to sanitize bottles. It frustrated me until my father-in-law said, "I made alot of beer for 15 or 20 years, and I never sanitized a single bottle -- just rinsed when I finished drinking and rinsed again before I bottled. I never had a bad bottle of beer either". After that (batch 2), I have not sanitized my bottles beyond making sure they are clean and have been rinsed in really hot water before I bottle. I cut my bottling time from 2hrs+ to 45 minutes, and haven't had a problem. If I ever have an infection, I promise to immediately post a message about the importance of sanitizing everything pre- and post-fermenation. However, now, I don't believe that sanitation post-fermentation is important.

Once again, I haven't had a problem, but anyone reading may have a different experience. This is what works for me -- Reading the rest of the threads here, most people sanitize their bottles somehow -- and you probably should too.
 
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Scrow

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Hmm, fair enough. I will continue santizing. I just wish I could make like a cup of Iodophor instead of like a gallon of it, but I don't have a pipette or anything.
 

llazy_llama

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I agree to a point. As I mentioned in my last post, I think the most important part of sanitation is pre-fermentation. Post-fermentation, there are many fewer baddies that can survive in the environment -- higher alchohol == fewer baddies (hence apfelwein at 7+%). The problem being the time taken to sanitize 30, 40, 50 bottles.
Absoloutely true. My only issue is that low risk /= 0 risk. Bottling day is a hassle at best, and a pure PITA at worst. Then again, with a vinator, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to sanitize a batch of bottles. Either way, different strokes for different folks. :mug:
 

nakros

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nakros, I'm not cursing at you (I don't think). If it works for you, then great. I just want you to stop telling the newbies not to sanitize their stuff. :(
For the record: You're too quick and post too much :) :) :).

The only reason why I have posted this (I have thought about it in depth) is for people who have the same personality as me. If bottling were to take me 2+ hours every time, I would stop brewing beer as I wouldn't have time for it. I am posting my experience... After you posted against my first post about bottling, I realized that you were right and that I should make sure I have a disclaimer of sorts saying "If you get an infected batch -- it's the bull**** advice that nakros gave you". However, I think the information should be available that you don't necessarily need to waste time and money sanitizing bottles for an already fermented product.

If you come back and say, "Fine -- then don't post on bottling threads", I will not and happily drink from my non-sanitized-delicious-tasting-bottles and shake my head at the amount of time that I see as being wasted.

Once again, all of this comes with the disclaimer that the next bottle I open may be my infected bottle. And once again, I promise to post that I had an infected bottle and I will sanitize all bottles from here on in.
 

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just pop the bottles into the dishwasher w/o any soap and make sure the heat dry is on. do it an hour before you start bottling and you're good to go.
 

chefmike

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One of the interesting comments on sanitizing that suprised me was the podcast with the star-san guy who talked extensively about bleach. He said (IIRC) that if bleach was not used at the proper pH (ie mixed with vinegar) that you were not sanitizing AT ALL, instead you were merely cleaning. This made me wonder if we all worry a little TOO much.

I think you can get away with a lot less than what is considered SOP in brewing (or in food service for that matter), but that the SOP is designed around known worst case. Hence RDWHAHB.... but I am still spraying with starSan.

SOP is the best thing to teach newcomers, but I think it should be known what people practically experience... it helps people relax.

my $.02
 

Tusch

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He said (IIRC) that if bleach was not used at the proper pH (ie mixed with vinegar) that you were not sanitizing AT ALL, instead you were merely cleaning.
I am curious if that is true. Been working in restaurants for 10 years and I gotta say, I have assumed that the bleach percentage mixes required by the health department were based on facts. Considering the old clean sink, rinse sink, sanitize sink system is based on the assumption that a 10% bleach solution sanitizes dishes. I would also think that if it was as easy as correcting ph with vinegar, since its readily available in most restaurants, that they would be requiring a vinegar/bleach mix.
 

chefmike

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I am curious if that is true. Been working in restaurants for 10 years and I gotta say, I have assumed that the bleach percentage mixes required by the health department were based on facts. Considering the old clean sink, rinse sink, sanitize sink system is based on the assumption that a 10% bleach solution sanitizes dishes. I would also think that if it was as easy as correcting ph with vinegar, since its readily available in most restaurants, that they would be requiring a vinegar/bleach mix.
My health inspector frowns on the use of bleach because of the inconsistencies it displays with regard to pH, detergent residues and ability to sanitize in the presence organics, particularly oils. There is an increasing preference toward more stable sanitizers such as Quaternary Ammonia.

It is "as easy" as correcting the pH with a product available in the location, but that involves testing the pH as well as the sanitizing solution. With all your experience in restaurants, I am sure you will agree that this is not likely to happen. The allowance for bleach is a coverage where something is better than nothing: much like Charlie Talley said: you may not be sanitizing, but you are cleaning well.

And I think Charlie was leaning more toward maximizing the effectiveness of the bleach at the level of dillution that makes it no rinse for brewing. If you are using 10% in your dish sinks... you are dissolving organics and corroding metal I think. We are talking about 80 ppm being used in a pH balanced solution... health inspectors are typically looking for close to the maximum concentration of 200 ppm, which is 1.5%.

In food service, we are striving to care for our consumers, manage our costs, respond to changing technology, provide adequate staffing, and negotiate a relationship with a health inspector who can personally interpret best practice for legislation made by a state government as blanket protection for a large population.

I still feel the same: we teach a standard operating procedure, but practical experience often shows that we (as home brewers) can relax.
 

Tusch

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Oooops on the typo, meant 1.0% haha. That is all very interesting, thanks for the info Chef.
 
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