Saturday, February 28, 2009

Removing Labels from Recycled Bottles

Soak . . . scrub . . . rinse . . . soak . . .

Yes, BlueStem Winery sells new wine and beer bottles as part of our inventory of wine making and beer brewing equipment inventory but we have also acquired many used (recycled as we call them) ones over the years and have spent spent a significant amount of time removing the labels so the bottles can be reused.

Some of them just darn near refuse to let you have your way!

Whether you are using new bottles or bottles with a little experience, the most important thing is that you get these bottles clean and sanitized. Inside! Outside! Period!!

The easy labels can be removed by simply filling a large sink or tub or basin with warm water and letting the bottles soak. Be sure to fill the bottles with water so that they will remain submerged.

Most labels will peal off fairly easily (or if necessary you can scrub them a little with a Scotch Brite pad).

The more difficult labels require a little persistence. If they are plastic you will need to get under them with a sharp knife and peal them off. If they are just stubborn you will need to soak them and then peal off the outer layer (sometimes this layer is metallic) and then soak them again. If a persistent glue residue remains use products such as Goo Gone (available in most hardware stores) to soften up the glue and then remove it. Read and follow the safety instructions for the product you are using as some will require the wearing of gloves or that you use the product in a well ventilated area.

Or . . . you can purchase new bottles from our inventory of beer making supplies and winemaking supplies. Our beer bottles are available in several sizes and styles, including the E-Z cap bottles (like a Grolsch bottle). Our wine bottles are available in several sizes, shapes and colors and with cork or screw top finishes.

Try out one of our BlueStems Best beer making kits which are available in many beer styles or if you are into wine making at home you can purchase ingredients for numerous fruit wines or try your favorite grape wine with one of our wine making kits from either WinExpert or Cellar Craft. The WinExpert wine kits produce world class wine if you have patience to wait through the aging process. The Cellar Craft wine kits are first rate with all of the Showcase Series reds featuring a 2-liter bag of crushed grape skins for on the skin wine making!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sanitation is Essential for Making Good Wine (or Beer!)

Wine (and beer) is created when yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The environment created when you mix sugar and water and put it in a warm place is perfect for beer brewing or winemaking but it is also a perfect place for the growth of bacteria.

The way to make sure that it is your brewer's or wine yeast that gets a good start and not a bacteria culture that can overwhelm your beer, make sure that you take extreme care to sanitize everything that comes in contact with your wort (beer before it is beer) or must (wine before it is wine).

Wash (with dish soap and water), then rinse with clear hot water and then soak your equipment in sanitizing solution for 10 minutes (or longer). Fill your fermenter with sanitizing solution and then place all of your equipment into the fermenter to soak.

When ready to use a piece of equipment remove it from the fermenter and rinse it with very hot water (unless you are using a no rinse sanitizer such as Easy Clean).

BlueStem Winery is a full service home brewing supply retailer located in Parkersburg, Iowa. In addition to stocking a complete line of beer brewing kits, supplies and equipment, BlueStem also stocks a large inventory of both WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits for the person who enjoys making wine at home.

Stop in the store in Northeast Iowa or visit the BlueStem Winery website for all your homebrew beer and winemaking equipment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What You Should Know About Acid Blend

BlueStem Winery opened for business in mid-2004 selling a complete line of beer brewing ingredients and supplies for making wine. One of the items we purchased from our wholesaler was their acid blend product.

Without the appropriate level of acid wines can taste stale (flat) so it is important during the winemaking process to check acid levels and adjust to the recommended level. There are typically three types of acid used to prepare the typical acid blend. Our wholesaler was using 50% Citric Acid, 40% Malic Acid and 10% Tartaric Acid.

I used this mix myself when doing some home wine making from fruit and thought that my wines tasted a little too much like a grapefruit or a lemon. I did some on-line investigation and discovered rather easily that acid blend has changed a little over the years. Years ago acid blend was typically made with a 50/50 mix of Tartaric and Malic Acids or a 40/40/20 blend of Tartaric, Malic and Citric Acids. Why the change?

In an effort to control costs the Acid Blend was made using a much larger amount of Citric Acid and less of the Tartaric Acid which is the more expensive of the three acids.

BlueStem Winery started blending its own mix of Acid Blend for wine making shortly after that. Our Acid Blend is a 50/40/10 blend of Tartaric, Malic and Citric acids. A little costlier to prepare but with the makings for a much better wine.

BlueStem Winery is a licensed and bonded winery with (at present) a total of six BlueStem label wines for sale: Once in a Blue Moon is our Riesling dessert wine, Red Crescent is our Cabernet Franc dessert wine, Dark Side is a dry Montepulciano, Prairie Fire is our off-dry Riesling, Feelin' Groovy is an off-dry Gruner Veltliner, and Crystal Moon is our Gewurztraminer dessert wine. We will have an off-dry Gewurztraminer, a Late Harvest Riesling and a Blush Zinfandel on the wine racks before summer's end.

BlueStem presently carries wine making kits from both Cellar Craft and WinExpert and a very nice line of beer making kits, brewing equipment and everything else you need for home beer brewing. We are looking to expand our line-up of wine kits by slightly expanding our line Cellar Craft wine kits, greatly expanding the number of Winexpert kits that we inventory plus possibly carrying the Mosti Mondiale line of 23 liter pure juice wine kits. We will also be expanding our line of brewing supplies later in 2009 as we finish our new warehouse.