Sunday, August 10, 2014

#28 Blackberry Wine - Process

Recipe     -     Process     -     Tasting

So as I mentioned before, my friend Kristin's house is backed against the Holy Grail of blackberries.  If milk and honey were blackberries, then this would be Canaan.  Not only were there more than enough ripe berries to supply the wine--with hundreds of pounds to spare--but they were the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious berries I've had.  We dragged several friends out there to help us pick and had 33 lbs of fresh berries in short order.  Thanks guys!

That night, I mixed up the ingredients (except the yeast), mashing the berries in a bag in the fermentation bucket with a wire potato masher.  Unfortunately I didn't measure the SG before adding the sugar so the next day when I pitched the yeast, the SG was off the charts!  Literally.  My hydrometer only goes up to 1.160, but this was probably closer to 1.180.  That translates to 24% potential alcohol, which is well above the tolerance of the Lalvin 71B yeast, and probably a lot stronger than anyone wants to drink.

I figured at this point the obvious option would be to dilute the must, but I was already at 5.5 gal in a 6 gal bucket, so that option was out.  On top of that, I didn't want to dilute the amazing blackberry flavor, just the sugar.  Instead I decided to just pitch the yeast and let the 71B attenuate as far as it could go, then ferment a second batch of wine to blend back in.  There will still be some residual sugar, so if the yeast doesn't wake up to finish it off I'll have to add some EC-1118 to do the job.

Anyway, after sitting for 24 hrs (8/10) to let the pectic enzyme and Campden tablets do their work, I pitched the yeast and let it ferment at 70F next to the wheat ale.  I had my sister Hope stir it everyday to mix the cap and a bit of oxygen back in.

4 Days: Pulled out the bag with the berries, skins, seeds, etc.

2 Weeks (8/23): Racked to secondary.  Gravity has dropped to 1.026.  Still way too much sugar, but it's already 20% alcohol!  Taste is super sweet, similar consistency to grape juice, somewhat sweet with mild carbonation.  It tastes amazing, no hint of alcohol, but I'm definitely feeling a buzz after just the gravity sample.  I added about half a gallon of water to top up to the neck of the carboy

At this point, we also mixed up the second batch of wine.  My sister and I picked 19 lbs of black berries and dropped the added sugar but otherwise kept the recipe the same.  This batch of berries was nowhere near as good as the last batch.  They're noticeably more tart, and not nearly as sweet.  To contrast with the first batch where the OG was 1.180, this one only 1.026.

1 Week: Racked to secondary.  SG at 1.004.  After removing the berries there's only about 3.5 gal left so I didn't bother to top up.  It tastes really tart but I guess it's not a surprise given the berries we used.  As soon as the wine was off the berries, I racked the saison onto it.  I'm excited to see how that little experiment comes out as well.  Meanwhile the original batch is still slowly fizzing as the yeast continue to nibble at the remaining sugar.

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