Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rose Hip Wine 2012

Rose Hips

Following along with a recipe from “Making Wild Wines & Meads” again, I harvested some rose hips that a family friend had available.  I was late getting to the hips apparently as quite a few were black & soft, or at least partially so.  I had to cull those out.  With the remaining hips, I cut them in half and ended up with 2 1/2 pounds.

With this weight of hips, I had enough to make 1 2/3 gallons of wine or so.  Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs Rose Hips
  • 3 3/4 lbs white sugar
  • 1 2/3 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Juice from 2 large oranges, about 1 cup
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 2/3 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 3 quarts water
  • Lavlin 71B-1122 yeast
  • 1 campden tablet

I sliced the hips in half, placed them in a bag in a sanitized bucket and tried to smash them as best I could.  They are fairly hard little things.  Next, I added the 3 3/4 lbs of sugar and water and dissolved the campden tablet.  After 24 hours I rehydrated the yeast at 104F per Lavlin, then added to the must.

Sliced Rose Hips

After 2 days I had no fermentation.  I worried that all the citrus and only part of the total water, that the pH was too low and giving the yeast issues.  I added boiled and cooled 3 more quarts of water, then repitched the same type of yeast.  Within 12 hours I had fermentation.

The flavor is supposedly ‘reminiscent’ of apple wine but more delicate.  Let’s hope.

I did find out from my mom that my great aunt Joy used to make very good rose hip wine. I have memories as a kid being at their house & everyone drinking a lot of wine, I guess rose hips could have been some of what they had.


I measured it out at 10B and estimate a 24B starting point giving it around 13.1% ABV.  It is too dry and tart so I plan to blend with the overly sweet Rhubarb wine – a Rhubarb Hip / or Rose Barb wine!

Rhubarb Wine 2012

Well, I collected about 12 lbs of rhubarb this summer.  That was cleaned, sliced, bagged and frozen 12 lbs.  There was a lot more I cut out / off from the ends.  My plan all along was to make a rhubarb wine, and the friend where we got most of the rhubarb was very interested in trying rhubarb wine.

Rhubarb 'must'Our friend, another Jackie (spelled differently than my wife), brought over another 4 lbs today, frozen for us to use.

I boiled a total of 2.5 gallons of water, added 12.5 lbs of sugar, and poured the hot sugar water over the 16 lbs of rhubarb and 1.5 lbs of chopped golden raisins   This left me with 110F ‘must’ which I then let cool down.

I then collected 1L of must, boiled it and cooled to room temperature.  I made a starter with this, putting on my stir-plate which worked sporadically.

After the must cooled to about 90F, I added 1 tsp tannin powder, 4 tsp pectic enzyme, and the zest from 2 large oranges, and finally I put in 4 campden tablets after my friend left (she didn’t want to do it since her sister back in Wales doesn’t use campden tablets).  I didn’t want the must hanging out for 1 day without killing whatever was in it.

Ingredients for 4 gallons of sweet rhubarb wine

  • 16 lbs sliced frozen rhubarb
  • 1.5 lbs chopped golden raisins
  • 12.5 lbs of sugar
  • 2.5 gallons water
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 4 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp tannin
  • 4 Campden tablets
  • 1 package wine yeast (I used Lavlin 71B)
  • 3 tsp yeast nutrient

My gravity came out to 29B, about 1.119 SG I believe.

The Lavlin 71-B is known as Narbonne and is apparently good at making blush, semi-sweet

Golden Raisins & Rhubarb

wines, just what I’m really looking for.  I was going to go more for the dry wine using only 9 lbs of sugar, my our friend really was looking for something a bit sweeter.  It worked well then planning the 71-B yeast.

That is it for the first day of this project, tomorrow evening I will pitch the yeast, place the lid & air lock on and let it go for the next two weeks.  I will be “punching” down the fruit daily and trying to get as much CO2 out of solution as I can.


Stirred, degassed and punched down the fruit for the second time today.  Fermentation is

De-gassing 2nd day

proceeding at full speed now, a lot of CO2 coming out of solution.  I measured only 25B tonight, so very little change.  The fruit is swelling up greatly and pushing up near the top of the 6 gallon bucket lid.  Will be interesting to see how this goes over the next few days.  Temp was 71F of the must.


Removed the fruit, what was left of it.  I added nutrients last night when I stirred, and measured 19B today.  Seems to be dropping slowly.  Temp was down to 62F, 2F warmer than the basement so I’ve moved back upstairs to 69F ambient to help finish this out.


I measured 1.040 with the hydrometer, 16B with the refractometer.  That tells me I started at 29B, 1.119 – a little higher than I wanted.  At 1.040 it still tastes significantly sweet, but there is a touch of alcohol taste as well, definitely a white wine flavor going on.  I’m pretty happy with this so far, and should add my final nutrient addition tonight.  I hope to get it down to a measured 13B on the refractometer, actual 1.003 before it is done, and hopefully within a week.


Measured out at 14B and this puts it around 14.7% ABV, the max for 71-B yeast.  The plan may be to blend with the Rose Hip Wine as it is pretty dry and tart.  It is still cloudy pink color so I will rack it and wait a bit longer.  I may use a fining agent if I don’t get it to drop out clear.

Cheap DIY Stir-plate

Stir-plate in action

I was inspired by a post on Homebrewtalk about a $12 Do It Yourself stir plate.  A couple of things.

Generally, one has to shell out a few $ to buy a pre-made stir plate and ones home made are typically good enough for home use.  It’s never been terribly difficult using the various methods posted on the internet, but most required ‘wiring’ of some sort.  Some easier than others.

I have a background in electrical work, so that didn’t bother me.  What did bother me was gathering up the myriad parts and components.  Also, I ‘thought’ I was doing good enough with no starter, or more recently, just shaking and swirling a ‘starter’ occasionally.  Nope.

I’ve come to realize that lately I’ve had fermentation’s ‘stick’, end without quite finishing up the beer.  They haven’t been overly sweet, but they haven’t been completely clean either.  I can attribute it to one or two things.  Not enough O2 for the yeast, and/or not enough yeast.

I shake the sh*t out of my wort when I pitch, so I’m getting close to 8ppm O2, which can be too low in some cases.  But on further review using and JZ’s yeast book, I’ve come to realize I have really been under pitching.  Well, the pitching issue is easy to fix, and now that I’ve dug a little bit, cheap to fix as well.
I give you CS223 answer at homebrewtalk to a cheap and super easy stir plate.


Parts for Stir Plate
The key to this build, and the genius of it, is the USB powered computer cooling fan with variable speed control.  The USB powered & already built in rheostat for speed control makes this one of the easiest projects for the home brewery.
The only thing you need besides this is a plug to go from USB to outlet and some magnet / magnets (plus something to put it in- optional)I purchased the USB/outlet on Amazon for $3, and the magnets from Harbor Freight for $2.99 (for 10 total).

This took all of 30 minutes to put together, the reason for so much time is realizing I needed to stack 2 magnets on top of each other (for a total of 4).

Now?  Can’t wait for my next brew (in about 1 week) & eye balling the O2 system at Williams Brewing – I’m going to pull the trigger, just not sure when.

Software Review: Brew Pal (for iOS)

In my constant search for an all-in-one brew calculating program that can work across Linux, Windows, & a smart phone, I’m constantly disappointed.  So, I’ve decided to search out for the best of each platform that can utilize the standard BeerXML format and import / export easily.

With that said, there are ten’s of different programs out there, but my requirements are simple.
1) Import / Export BeerXML
2) Fairly cheap / reasonably priced

So my first foray into an app for my smartphone (iPhone) was with Beer Pal.  Priced at $1.99 it met the second goal, and it stated on the website that it would fulfill goal #1.

On with the review.

The first thing you see is the ‘splash screen’ of course, and, here it is.

This is Brew Pals main screen and from here you generally can reach out to all the other screens you need.

Brew Pal main screen

The first thing I wanted to do was to import one of my BeerXML recipes that I already had.  This would save typing on the iPhone, and just makes more sense generally.
The important part of this is to have your BeerXML recipe available somewhere on the web or in iTunes.  I did not use iTunes, as intuitively seems more cumbersome.
I did have this website, so I went to a recipe on this site on the phone, copied the web address for the file, and pasted into the box that opens up when you press “From URL”.
It worked like a champ and immediately I had the recipe.


Grain bill

Hop bill

Next, I wanted to view my grain bill & hop bill.  An example would be at the home brew shop as you are picking up supplies.


Something I REALLY need and is included in Brew Pal is a hop substitution ‘chart’.  How many times have I been at the home brew shop and they didn’t have the specific hop I needed.  I will confer with a chart they have posted from 1985 it seems, which has few of the hops that they actually carry.  This helps to solve that.

Another nice feature is a comparison of your recipe to the style guidelines from BJCP 2008, as well as the full entry for each style.I already have an app for the BJCP 2008 descriptions and likely will keep it even though it is on Brew Pal as well, just because if I want to browse the different styles, it seems easier on the stand alone app.  This is still nice to have in Brew Pal though.


BJCP Style Descriptions


Recipe export screen
Well, once you have worked on a recipe, taken notes, etc you may want to export so you can access on another platform.
I know that other commercial programs out there give you this, but they charge an extra fee to ‘store’ your recipes in the cloud.
With Brew Pal, you are able to email a BeerXML file, a printable html file, or both, to yourself, or anyone you wish.  Nice!
One improvement would be the ability to export the files to dropbox.

Some nice touches to Brew Pal are a color chart and a flavor wheel.  I kind of dig the flavor wheel as I just suck coming up with descriptors as I am reviewing beers I am sampling.


Flavor wheel

Overall, I think this is a great use of $1.99 and is highly recommended by me.  I like the portability of having my recipes with me, either for reference when getting all geeky with other home brewers, or at the home brew shop buying my latest supplies.Another feature included is the ability to use timers when you are in the brew day.  It will use your recipe and time your mash & boil for you.  This I used on my last brew day and love it.
If you are a home brewer with an iPhone and were contemplating something as robust as iBrewMaster, give this a look first.  It is simpler to use, and does 100% of what I need, likely for you as well.