Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rhubarb Wine Rebrew, 2016

So, every year I make a batch of Rhubarb wine, with slight differences in the yeast and quantities.  This year, I hit an all time high, using almost 30 pounds of rhubarb--about double the suggested 3lb per gallon, hoping to finally get some strong rhubarb flavour.

About 27lb (5 gallons) of rhubarb
10lb sugar
Water to 4.5 gallons
49th State Brewing Saison Strain, and Cote des Blanc

While the process is pretty much the same as in prior years; harvest the rhubarb, clean and roughly chop, pour boiling water on and steep for several days before straining, pasteurizing, and adding the sugar--I did decide to use a two part fermentation as I did in 2014.

In this, I use a flavourful ale yeast to ferment for the first few days, then pitch a white wine strain to finish it.  This time around, I used the strain I harvested from a bottle of 49th State Brewing's Vagabond Saison, since I have been playing with it a lot--it is confirmed as being the primary strain by the company, since they don't bottle condition.  Based on my prior experience with the strain, I fermented it at warm temperatures--upwards of 85 degrees.

A starter (made of rhubarb water, sugar, and nutrients) of Cote des Blancs was added after a week of fermentation, and the temperature allowed to drop.

In the past, I've had serious issues with stuck fermentations in my rhubarb wine.  So this year, I'm trying something a bit different...regular degassing, plus more nutrients (small additions every few days for the first few weeks).   My theory was that the carbonic acid in solution was lowering the PH of the fermenting wine to the point that the yeast was becoming stressed.

6-11-16; OG 1.120, pitched the saison strain and fermented warm—in the 80s.

6-18-16; SG 1.090, and pitched cote des blanc in a rhubarb starter. I have been regularly adding small quantities of nutrients, and degassing (on the theory that the carbonic acid was lowering the PH to the point that the yeast was stressed).

8-4-16; SG 1.038. Flavour is amazing, and you can really taste the rhubarb. As sweet as it is, there is enough acid to finally balance it, and I would be happy as is.

9-10-16; Racked; SG unchaged.  Flavour is lovely, but not as acidic as it was.

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