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Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:10 am
by Brewtrog
Zech wrote:OK, you really don't want to know what kind of yeast this started out as...

Bakers?

As for paying £1 if you're clever you only have to pay the pound once (and that isn't the most expensive you can get for yeast). You can culture the yeast and keep the live culture. The way you do that is when you get the sachet, instead of just launching it into the wine, activate it in a container (a sterilised milk bottle would do) by putting it into a solution of (not much) sugar and water (maybe a dash of marmite, or tom puree or, if you want to be really posh, yeast nutrient), leave it for a day, then pour maybe half of the stuff into your wine and top up the rest with more water and sugar. I'd have to check, but I think you may be able to freeze the culture, but it'll keep in the fridge more or less indefinitely. You can do the same thing with the yeast cake once you take the wine off it, but then you might get some flavours from the wine. I don't have a clue how you migt go about drying it.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:47 am
by Zech
Brewtrog wrote:
Zech wrote:OK, you really don't want to know what kind of yeast this started out as...

Bakers?

Indeed.

All my brewing last year was from one sachet of lager yeast (left over from a kit, having used the yeast cake from the previous kit beer in the lager), kept going in much the way you describe. I didn't put it in the fridge, which was probably a bit daft, but I was brewing frequently enough that it kept going quite happily from one brew to the next. This year I've had to restart twice due to souring (actually, the second time I wasn't sure, but didn't want to risk it).

As for yeast nutrients, I've noticed that yeast does much better in a brew than it does when fed plain sugar, even when the brew is something like oak leaf wine, in which the only addition to plain sugar is a 'tea' of leaves. Presumably the leaves are providing nutrients, which I find a bit surprising.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:54 am
by MKG
Zech wrote:
Brewtrog wrote:I'd be more worried about using a beer yeast for a wine (or a wine yeast for a beer if it's the other way round). Yeast has a major impact on flavour (just try a Belgian beer if you don't believe me). Also beer yeast has a lower alcohol tolerance than wine yeast.

OK, you really don't want to know what kind of yeast this started out as...

For the sake of scientific investigation, I might shell out a whole pound on a sachet of wine yeast, and use it in my next batch of blackberry wine. I'll have to be quick, though, otherwise the age of the blackberries will be a confounding variable.

A whole pound! Goes against the grain :?


That's what Camden tablets are for. Crush the blackberries and add a crushed tablet (in a covered container) and the stuff will stand there untouched by microbe hand or oxygen for a couple of days. Add two crushed tablets and it'll stand for a week perfectly well. Then add the wine yeast when you have it. Alternatively, start the whole thing off with bakers yeast and then add wine yeast later - it'll take over the fermentation as the bakers yeast gives up the ghost. However, it won't taste exacly the same - different yeasts do make a difference to flavour, even amongst strains of wine yeast.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:04 am
by Brewtrog
Zech wrote:As for yeast nutrients, I've noticed that yeast does much better in a brew than it does when fed plain sugar, even when the brew is something like oak leaf wine, in which the only addition to plain sugar is a 'tea' of leaves. Presumably the leaves are providing nutrients, which I find a bit surprising.


That'll be the oak giving nutrients. Try brewing just sugar, you'll soon see that some form of nutrient helps.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:04 am
by MKG
Yes, you certainly can use the yeast cake from a previous fermentation - but you can't keep that going indefinitely without a bit of playing around. The ratio of live yeast to dead cells (which will autolyse, giving you a Marmitey flavour) falls each time you do this without the playing around. A better method would be to take some of the cake, stick it into a bottle with water and sugar and a bit of acid (a squeeze of lemon juice will do), stick some cotton wool in the top and then allow it to ferment for a couple of days. It will form its own deposit which will be mostly dead cells, so if you carefully pour off a bit of the liquid at the top, you have a good source of live cells in suspension. Do the same thing again with this - water, sugar, acid (definitely make it a squeeze or real lemon or orange this time to get some nutrients in, or add some proper yeast nutrient) and in a couple of days you have a nice, fresh starter. If you were generous with your amounts - say, making a pint of the starter - you have enough there to start five or six separate gallons of wine.

Incidentally, if you add between 5 and 10 mg of Vit. B1 per gallon to your fermentations, they'll go like a rocket. I used to buy B1 for winemakers, but discovered that normal B1 from the health shop is 10 times cheaper. It's usually something like 25 gms or 50 gms per tablet, but they're easy to break. Don't overdo it, though, as the flavour can get through into the final product (dead yeast hulls, apart from being used to make Marmite, are also used to make B1 tablets). EDIT: Oh - crush it before you put it in.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:23 am
by MKG
dave45 wrote:so how if you find a yeast strain you'd like to keep - how do you turn it from sludge into dried granules so you can use it again later?


You invest in a microbiology lab. Alternatively, let the yeast breed by using the starter techniques described above, get some small sealable containers, put some of the liquid in each container and then freeze them. Much cheaper than that lab.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:37 am
by Zech
MKG wrote:That's what Camden tablets are for.

One major advantage of home brew over shop bought booze is that it never gives me asthma. Not all commercial stuff does, but some make me uncomfortably wheezy. Thanks to the relative secrecy (in the EU) regarding ingredients of alcoholic drinks, I don't really know what's in any of them, but I assume it's the additives rather than the fruit that affects me. Therefore, I don't use any additives at all. It's not the most nuanced approach, but it works, and has the added advantage of not having to pay for Camden tablets.

As for the experiment, I'm going into town later today, so I can pick up some yeast then. I hope it stops raining so I can pick some more berries this afternoon. I meant age on the plant - I'm not leaving blackberries sitting around. In my experience, they go mouldy overnight, quite reliably. I think two days apart should be close enough to 'picked at the same time', don't you? If I was being really fussy, I'd pick from the same two locations to get the same terroir, but I don't think I'll go quite that far.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:44 am
by Zech
MKG wrote:Incidentally, if you add between 5 and 10 mg of Vit. B1 per gallon to your fermentations, they'll go like a rocket. I used to buy B1 for winemakers, but discovered that normal B1 from the health shop is 10 times cheaper. It's usually something like 25 gms or 50 gms per tablet, but they're easy to break. Don't overdo it, though, as the flavour can get through into the final product (dead yeast hulls, apart from being used to make Marmite, are also used to make B1 tablets). EDIT: Oh - crush it before you put it in.

I might add those tablets to my shopping list. I'm a bit confused, though. Are dead yeast cells a source of Vit. B1, which is a nutrient for yeast? Cannibal yeast? If so, why do we need to add more?

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:47 am
by Zech
I just contradicted myself, didn't I, saying I won't use any additives at all, then I might use Vit. B1. OK, maybe my approach is slightly nuanced - that does seem a different type of thing from Campden tablets.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:14 am
by MKG
Nuanced correctly, probably - a lot of people are very sensitive to sulphur dioxide, which is what those tablets stick into your wine as a bactericide and a preservative. I'm one of the lucky ones - I seem not to have adverse reactions to anything apart from hard work.

And yes - you're absolutely correct about cannibal yeast. The dead hulls break down and provide Vit B1, which is a yeast nutrient. The problem is that the yeast you put into the wine has to wait quite a while for the dead cells to autolyse and release those nutrients (so the B1 is there anyway in the finished product). Adding it at the beginning gives all those nice yeasty things a head start.

EDIT: It's also why Marmite - made from yeast - can be used CAREFULLY as a yeast nutrient in an emergency.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 4:54 pm
by benner
Starting to worry about the sugar issue...

This is the recipe I followed (ish)

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle ... ningadvice

Decided to add another 7 pints of water. Keeping fingers crossed.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:02 pm
by MKG
Stop worrying. Adjustments can be made easily at most stages of a fermentation - including when it's recently finished. Give it a chance - you may love it, so I hope you've kept the precise recipe.

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:14 pm
by Zech
My blackberry wine yeast comparison experiment has now started. I have two buckets on the go, each containing eight pounds of berries and two kilos of sugar, filled up to a little over two gallons. To the first, I added a couple of spoonfuls of sludgy yeast left over from the mugwort ale, originally sold for baking. To the second, I added half a sachet of Young's red wine yeast. (One pound and nine pence that was. That more than doubles the cost of this batch of wine! OK, nearly doubles, if I only count half the sachet).

Any predictions?

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:57 pm
by MKG
Right - adding your kilo per gallon of sugar to the 5% sugar in blackberries, you're looking at a potential ABV of 13%, which is respectable for a blackberry wine. Your Youngs yeast will achieve that with no problem and you'll end up with a very dry wine which you may wish to sweeten after fermentation ends.
The bakers yeast sludge should struggle to achieve complete dryness. It can do 12% or even 12.5% if you're kind to it, but there's probably going to be a little residual sugar left over - certainly enough to avoid the very harsh taste of a young but absolutely dry wine. On the other hand, it will also produce a "bready" flavour and, because you're stressing it in getting so much alcohol, there may be other off flavours. The two should certainly taste very different.
That's the theory. I'll be very interested to hear if that theory holds up.

(Note: One level teaspoonful of wine yeast is plenty to ferment a gallon of wine (or even 5 gallons if it's all in a single fermentation vessel). You don't need to be so profligate unless Youngs are tightwads who don't give you much in a sachet).

Re: Blackberry wine

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:19 am
by Zech
Youngs are indeed tightwads; there's only 5g in the sachet. I doubt I used more than a teaspoonful.

My guess is that I'm going to prefer the bread yeast wine. 12% is fine, and last year's blackberry wine (lager yeast) was slightly sweet and very delicious. If I add sugar to a fermentation that's stopped because the yeast ran out of sugar, won't it just start fermenting again? I'm not going to add anything to kill the yeast. Alternatively, if it's very dry, is it likely to improve with age?