Winemaker (really) starting brewmeister from SW Michigan


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Oct 29, 2017
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Fennville, Michigan
Greeting all! I work at Fenn Valley Vineyards as an Associate Winemaker and have been there since moving from Nebraska to take the job in September of 1999. Very interesting seeing the changes and how the winery has grown, and now looking at making beer (better). I had made beer before but just sort of a hit and miss with it back in Nebraska. It was alcoholic and it would sneak up on you (ask my Cousin!), but I find in the few books I bought there is so much to brewing that I overlooked or did not undestand. Still trying to grasp some concepts, like cooking (boiling) for an hour. It is to marinate the flavors and cook in the flavor, like I like to do my roast in the oven. I can cook a nice tender roast in about 45 minutes in my Instant Pot pressure cooker, but just doesn't taste as good as a roast cooked in the over over 3 hours.

Anyway, I had some CBW Dark from Breiss and made up a batch tonight of about 3 gallons. I used water from work that has been through the water softener, so I added about a heaping Tbs of precipitated CaCo3 to the main batch before boiling. I wanted a target S.G. of 1.050 and the Breiss is 1.035 SG for every pound, and I had a 3.3 lb container. I also added 1 pound of dark DME to the mix. Put in 12 g of Cascade hops at the onset before boiling and then another 12 g Cascade pellet hops at about 15 minutes before stopping the boil and cooling with the SS cooling coil I just bought on Amazon. Really brought the temp down fast. VERY hot when first coming out of the hose at the beginning and then finally started getting a whole lot cooler.

I don't like too much bitterness in my beer and I like dark beers like Guiness Stout and New Holland Brewing (Holland MI) Oatmeal Stout. So I decided to keep the hops near minimum. I tastes the wort before pitching in the yeast and it has a mild bitterness to it.... anyway, just wanted to give it a try with concentrate, LME.

Grew up in farming/ ranching country in Nebraska and wheat was plentiful. Hard Red winter wheat. Years ago I got some 2 row barley from a grower in WY near Pine Bluffs WY that grew it for Coors. I germinted it and then dried it for beer making. That was back around 1984 ish. So here I am.
welcome sounds like you've already got bitten form the brewing bug and know a little more than most, ask away if you need to we love to help
Welcome welcome you just might like brewing beer more than wine :rolleyes: time will tell...
Thank you for the welcome. There is the similarity of yeast converting sugars to alcohol and CO2 and then there are ALL the differences and there are many. Winemakers don't pitch yeast we inoculate, we also work with Brix scales more than brewers. Never heard of the words Attenuation nor of Session beer before. Beer is a more involved beast, and does have it's own set of rules. We pick grapes according to the degree of brix and acid, but we can always add a bit more sugar and often we add acids if the pH is too high and the TA too low. With beer, you have grain and then you have additives of the grains (rice, corn, oats, etc) to which there are a myriad of possibilities. We can and do blend wines, but only after the wine is pretty much made. We blend a Pinot Gris with a Riesling and make a Pinot Rie, and also blend in red wine components to improve the overall of each contributors. So it is going to be a newbie learning curve for me. I do have access to some fine equipment that many home brewers do not have, which is nice, but not the absolute necessity. For example, I can read the final alcohol on our Ebulliometer and give you EtOH to 2 places past the decimal, but in most instances it is not important, unless you need to put it on a label.

Looking forward to insight and leaning beer making!
yes the difference between the two is the vast amount of different ingredients in beer vs wine, it is a very complex beverage if you dig deep enough, just read the new BJCP guidelines and you'll be wowed
Welcome! I would struggle with the patience needed for making wine. Heck, cider is pushing the limit for me.