Did Ya Know...

BEER INGREDIENTS

The #1 brewing problem is fermenting at the wrong temperature.

The usual optimal Fermentation temperature for ale yeasts is between 65-75°F, lagers 50-60°F. Alwaysread up on yeast you haven't used before. Most home brewers start brewing using ale yeast becausethe temperature is usually easier to maintain especially in Fall, Winter & Spring. Some yeast strainsproduce better results at more specific temperatures in this range. Some new strains like to fermenteven cooler. If the wort is too cool your fermentation will be sluggish. If fermentation is too warm youcould get off-flavors and aromas (solvent like, very fruity or phenolic); the yeast growth will be toovigorous using up the nutrients. Remember that the fermentation process itself produces heat(exothermic) so keep an eye on the temperature.    

You can raise the alcohol in your beer.

Yeast eats the sugar and produces alcohol. The simple way to raise the alcohol in your beer is to addmore sugar. Although table sugar can do the job on raising the alcohol it will also add a cidery taste ifmore than 20% is used. Dry malt extract is the choice of most brewers. Be careful on the amount ofDME you use since yeast can only handle so much alcohol. Fermentation will slow down as the alcohollevel of the wort rises. Adding yeast nutrient helps strengthen the yeast cells. Another solution ifadding more sugar is to add a second yeast towards the end of fermentation that has a higher alcoholtolerance.

General rule of thumb: 1 lb. DME adds about .75% alcohol

Malt Extract (Dry or liquid) is produced from malted barley, the same malts that craft breweries use.

The malted barley is crushed, mashed, sparged, boiled and then concentrated for shipping.

LME (liquid malt extract) has about 20% water.

DME (dry malt extract) has about 4% water.

Why do Secondary Fermentation?

“Doing a Secondary” basically is transferring your fermented beer from the bucket to a carboy, usuallyglass or P.E.T. plastic for days or months of aging. So why do it? First, simply to get a clearer beer withless sediment in the bottle. Leaving your beer too long in the bucket might get you a clearer beer butyou risk oxidized flavors from the small amount of oxygen all buckets let in plus possible off flavors whenany living yeast cells left start eating the only available food, the dead yeast cells at the bottom. Second,is for a smoother, better tasting beer. Lagers require the longest time to do this. Third, and mostexciting reason is the opportunity to add more hops, aroma or other flavors into the smoother, greatbeer. Some brewers save secondary fermentation for only the “big” beers while others do it with everybeer. Secondary Fermentation is usually a must for producing a great IPA.

WINE INGREDIENTS

You can raise the alcohol in your wine.

Basically, by adding some form of additional sugar during fermentation you’ll raise the alcohol in yourwine. Specifically for the Island Mist Kits, by adding the fruit pack during fermentation instead of afterfermentation the alcohol will go up but the wine will be dryer unless you also add sugar when stabilizingbefore bottling.

You can sweeten your wine.

After fermentation is complete you can add sugar to sweeten your wine. Be sure to add Potassium Metbisulfate and Potassium Sorbate to stabilize your wine, and wait 3-7 days (10 days is even better) torack it before adding the sugar. Any suspended yeast left in the wine will die off after you addPotassium Sorbate and you want to give the dead yeast cells time to drop to the bottom of your carboyso you don’t end up with them in the bottom of your wine bottle. Choices in what to use to sweetenyour wine include table sugar, corn sugar, wine conditioner, white wine concentrate, or fruit juice.

Wine can bulk age in the carboy.

Opinions vary on whether wines aged in a carboy age better/faster than wine in bottles. One plus forbulk aging is if you don’t have the most temperature stable place to store the wine, there will be lessbad effect on the wine if it’s in a carboy. Also, if you’re trying to age/save your wine the temptation isless if it’s in the carboy. Opinions to the contrary are that if you bottle it will continue to age withoutany oxygen exposure. For bulk aging you should rack the wine every 3 months exposing the wine tooxygen each time and having to add Potassium Metabisulfate.

EQUIPMENT

The advantages of a Conical Fermentor such as FastFerment.

Brew all stages of fermentation in one single vessel. Instead of transferring all the liquid to a secondaryyou simply remove the trub from the collection ball at the bottom of the fermentor. Oxidation,contamination and risk of off-flavors or infection are reduced. Sanitizing and cleaning are greatlyreduced. Eliminate 80% of sanitizing and cleaning with this all-in-one fermentor letting you complete allstages of fermentation in this single vessel. Remove the trub from the bottom of the fermentor insteadof transferring all your liquid to secondary. No siphons, no secondary fermentor to sanitize, no extrabungs and airlocks. A conical fermentor such as FastFerment is known to produce dramatically clearerand better beers.

The difference between a pin lock and ball lock keg.

The Pin Lock is also known as Coke Keg because this type of keg was exclusively used by Coca ColaCompany. Ball Lock Kegs were used by Pepsi plus a number of other businesses.

Pin Lock kegs are about 3” shorter and 1” wider than the Ball Lock.

Pin Lock has small pins around the perimeter of the posts. The disconnects are pressed on the post thenthe disconnect collar rotates to lock onto the pins. Ball Lock disconnects lock on by lifting up the collar,releasing 4 small balls, pushing it on the post and releasing the collar.

For most Pin Lock, to relieve pressure you just depress gas side post, center of the one with two pins.

For Ball Lock, the kegs usually have a relief valve in the center of the lid.

Both work. Biggest factor is what’s available. There are more reconditioned Pin Lock in circulation thanBall Lock although both will continue to get more difficult to find over time. Size does matter, it has to fitin your kegerator, fridge or converted freezer.

Size stopper for 5 and 6 gallon glass carboy.

For Glass Carboys the opening for 3, 5, 6 and 6.5 are all the same size and fit both Universal Small andRubber Stopper size #7.

For Better Bottle plastic carboys size 3 and 5 gallon the openings are all the same size and fit bothUniversal Medium and Rubber Stopper size #10.

DISTILLING

It is NOT legal to distill alcohol at home.

Home distillation of alcohol is illegal. Though federal law trumps state law, several states have movedtoward legalization.

COFFEE

The best way to brew coffee for making beer.

A cold steeped coffee works well when adding coffee to a beer recipe. For 6 oz of coffee, coarsely crushthe coffee with a home grinder or a rolling pin and place in a large pitcher with 4 cups of cold water andallow to steep in a refrigerator for 24-48hrs. The longer the steep time the stronger the coffee flavorwill be. Change the proportions to match your recipe.

The grind is critical for a good cup of coffee.

To brew the best cup of coffee the beans need to be ground to match your type of coffee maker. AFrench Press needs a coarse ground vs a home drip coffee makers need a medium ground. XtremeBrewing Supplies can grind your coffee at just the right setting you’ll need for your coffee maker.

All coffee beans are NOT available year-round.

Just like wine grapes and other crops, coffee beans are harvested in each country or region only acertain time of each year although for some countries the harvest period is longer than others. A lot ofcoffees are simply blends of different harvests and ages of beans. We think the best, pure coffees arereferred to as “single-origin” where all the beans in your coffee cup came from the same region andpossibly the same farm. We rotate our coffee offerings to bring you some of the most exciting freshbeans possible.

TEA

Herbal teas don’t actually have tea leaves.

A confusing attribute of tea is that many of the beverages that are called "tea" are actually not tea.

Herbal teas, which tea experts term Tisanes (a French word for "herbal infusion"), are usually driedflowers, fruits or herbs steeped in boiling water. No actual tea leaves are included. Virtually any flower,fruit or herb that can be steeped in water.

All teas – black, green, white and red - come from the same plant.

All tea comes from one plant. All tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The styles oftea are produced by altering the shape and chemistry of the leaf, rather unromantically called'processing' or 'manufacture.' Most people are familiar with traditional black teas and green teas butnew adventures in tea include white tea and red teas and a whole variety of new chais.