Home Brewing Beer Essay Example
It is no question that people would rather enjoy the fruits of their own labor as opposed to someone else’s if doing so is within reason. Because of this, more and more people are learning how to brew alcoholic beverages in their own home as it is often cheaper and more rewarding than the alternative. For quite some time, I have witnessed the benefits of home brewing through my mother, who likes to make wine. Recently, I asked her to walk me through the process and broaden my understanding on what is needed to make, what I like to call, Mom Wine. Excited to see I had an interest, she quickly broke it down to me into a few basic steps. To make Mom Wine, one must utilize proper ingredients and sanitized equipment, prepare the must and begin the fermentation process, rack the wine until it is clear, and bottle the finished product after killing the yeast and measuring the alcohol content.
The first step to take when making any wine, is to make sure all necessary materials are accounted for. For this example, I am going to focus on making apple Mom Wine, so, of course, apples are going to be a requirement. Around fifty to seventy pounds of cored apples to be more specific. According to the article “20 Things You Didn’t Know About … Wine”, “Wines made from other fruits [than grapes] typically contain added sugar and other ingredients for flavor and to balance out the fermentation process” (Tarlach 74). Because I am not using grapes, I need several other ingredients such as CosDeBlanc wine yeast, sugar, yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, tannin, and Campden tabs. These ingredients should all be available for purchase at your local vintner supply store. In order to prepare these apples for fermentation, specific pieces of equipment are used such as a fruit-juicer to create the must, at least two food-grade buckets with lids and an airlock to contain the must, sanitizer solution to disinfect equipment, a hydrometer for measuring specific gravity, and something to periodically stir the solution with. In addition, one will also need bottles with accompanying corks and a corker for storing the wine after fermentation is through. Before any wine is made, it is important to first sanitize the equipment thoroughly with the sanitizer solution. Sanitization is important because infections and microorganism growth can be problematic and can effectively taint the flavor of the wine. This can be devastating, as the wine-making process is lengthy and one only hopes not to accidentally waste all that time and materials on a bad batch. Once convinced that every surface of the equipment has been cleaned and accounted for, one can now prepare the ingredients and get started on the wine.
It is at this time the juicer is used to extract the must, or the pulpy, juice-like fluid, from the apples in order to begin the fermentation process. Simply plug in the juicer and grind up only small portions of the cored apples at a time until all of the apples are through. This should result in about six gallons of must, which is then put into the bucket where it will remain for the next few months. Then, two tablespoons of yeast nutrient are added to the solution, one tablespoon of pectic enzyme to clear the wine, and one and a half teaspoons of tannin to add dryness to the wine. Six Campden tablets crushed to a fine powder are added to kill the wild yeast and bacteria that naturally grows on fruits. After these ingredients have been added to the mixture, the hydrometer is used to measure the specific gravity while the sugar is added. For this wine, pour in steady amounts of sugar until the hydrometer reads 1.1 kilograms per meter squared. The solution should then sit covered for a day before adding one packet of CosDeBlanc wine yeast. According to the article “Vintage Home Wine Making”, “It is at this point the wine is made because yeast uses oxygen from the sugar and gives off alcohol and carbon dioxide as waste products” (Shafer 70). To contain this reaction, the wine needs to be sealed with an air-lock so that gasses from the yeast can escape but air cannot get in and oxidize the wine. After the yeast is added and the bucket has been sealed, the fermentation process has finally begun! The bucket should be stored in a cool, dry, dark environment until it is finished fermenting and ready to be racked.
Once fermentation is complete, which will be within five to seven days and will become apparent when the air-lock stops bubbling, the wine is ready for the next step. Carefully transfer the wine into another bucket to slow the rate of fermentation down and to leave the sediment on the bottom of the bucket behind. This is called racking, and will be done every two months until there is no sediment and the wine is clear. Here, patience is key as the sediment takes its time settling to the bottom. It should be noted that the racking process can take a minimum of six months or a maximum of two years for the wine to be completely cleared of solids. Once this is achieved, the wine is almost ready to be bottled. There are, however, a few things that still need to be taken care of, such as killing the yeast and determining the alcohol content.
Now that the yeast’s job is complete and is no longer needed, we can make our way to the bottling process. To rid our wine of any remaining yeast, half a teaspoon each of potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate is added. This is essential, as any remaining yeast will continue producing carbon monoxide and the buildup of pressure will cause bottles to explode. A second specific gravity reading is necessary to determine the alcohol content. If your first reading was indeed 1.1 kilograms per metric square as instructed, the second reading is subtracted from the initial reading. The difference is then divided by the constant of 7.46, and then .5 is added to the quotient. The number produced after this equation describes the percent alcohol by volume. With this completed, one can now begin the bottling process.
Fill the pre-sanitized bottles with the wine until there is about a quarter inch from where the bottom of the cork will sit. After that, the cork can be pressed using the corker, and will need to sit for two to three days in order to expand. Wine should be stored on its side in a cool, dry, dark environment for at least three to six months. The longer the wine sits, the better it will taste, so keep that in mind before chilling and enjoying a glass of delicious Mom Wine!
After gaining a familiarity for making one kind of wine, it is encouraged that one makes adjustments to the formula to achieve desired flavors. For example, one may wish to add more sugar if they decide they prefer a sweeter wine. On the contrary, adding more tannin will result in quite the opposite, as tannin increases the dry, bitter taste of the wine. And of course, using different fruits or combinations of fruits to ultimately make a different flavor of wine is a perfect way to hone one’s skills. Next time, perhaps try making peach wine, or apple-rhubarb. The possibilities are truly endless! However, while the wine-making process is a grand time on its own, many will agree that the most rewarding part of it is finally being able to share your creation with friends or family on the front porch together.