Uses for Your Empties

If you enjoy or brew your own beer chances are you may have some stray empties lying around the house, and while they can fetch a pretty penny down at the recycling plant empty beer bottles can also hold other useful purposes. The same thing goes for old wine bottles.

For instance, if you clean the bottle’s inside, fill it with a bit of water, and place a single flower inside you can give your sweetheart a fairly simple, yet charmingly unique wedding or birthday gift.

Another romantic gift idea is the wine bottle candle. You simply wash the bottle well and place a long, narrow candle in the neck of the bottle until it is snug. Wine bottle candles can help add a romantic atmosphere to any ordinary dinner table.

Empties can also be easily turned into Christmas decorations. Just look at the example below!

If you’re looking for a more artistic use for your empties, you could always try assembling broken bottle glass into a mosaic, or you could also set them up for a still-life painting.

Most importantly, if you are a home brewer or wine maker you can reuse your commercially purchased wine bottles and save a considerable amount of money. Don’t forget to re-label your recycled wine and beer bottles with your own, customized beer and wine labels. A variety of expertly designed bottle labels can be found at Labels on the Fly.

15 Summertime Recipes

Most of us don’t need an excuse to celebrate summer weather. Brewfests and competitions abound, family reunions are planned and backyard parties pop up — even wardrobes get the special treatment with short sleeves and sandals. So why not brew something that tastes great at the beach or barbecue, a thirst-quencher that goes down great after a day of gardening or while grilling?

Summer brewing doesn’t differ that much from brewing during the other seasons. You may slap a few more mosquitoes while mashing, but the biggest difference comes when it’s time to chill your wort and maintain your fermentation temperature.  When making a summer brew, make sure to check the temperature of your chilled wort (with a sanitized thermometer).  As your tap water is likely warmer in the summer, you may need to add a few more ice cubes to your water bath to cool your wort down to proper fermentation temperatures. Likewise, higher outside temperatures means your usual “cool spot” in the house may be too warm for fermenting.

Try one of these tried and true seasonal recipes from homebrew shops across the country. (BYO calculated the brewing statistics, such as OG and IBU.) Or, use them as inspiration for designing your own summer sipper. In this collection, we present a beach-ready golden ale from the U.S. Gulf Coast, a Mexican lager from California (lime optional), a crisp rye pale ale from Vancouver and many more. Feeling refreshed yet?

DeFalco’s Golden Ale
DeFalco’s Home Wine & Beer Supplies
Houston, Texas

http://www.defalcos.com
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.047  FG = 1.011
IBU = 23  SRM = 5  ABV = 4.6%
It’s so bloody hot on the Gulf Coast, this summer recipe is popular pretty much year ‘round.

Ingredients

6.0 lbs. (2.7 kg) Alexander’s Pale liquid malt extract
(or 5.0 lbs. (2.3 kg) Muntons Extra
Light dried malt extract)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) domestic two-row pale malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) CaraPils® malt
6 AAU Cascade hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 6% alpha acid)
2.25 AAU Liberty hops (10 mins)
(0.5 oz./14.2 g of 4.5% alpha acid)
2.25 AAU Liberty hops (0 mins)
(0.5 oz./14.2 g of 4.5% alpha acid)
1 pkg. Burton water salts
1 pkg. Nottingham Ale or Wyeast 1056
(American Ale), 1007 (German Ale), White Labs WLP001
(California Ale) or WLP 029 (German Ale) yeast.
1 pkg. Bru-Vigor
0.75 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Step by Step

In a small saucepan, bring a gallon (3.8 L) of water to 160–170 °F (71–77 °C). Add the bag of grains and water salts and steep 30 minutes. Now, gently sparge (rinse) the grains with hot tap water (ideal temperature 168 °F/76 °C) and bring the total volume up to two or more gallons in your brewpot. Bring to boil.

Turn off heat and add malt extract. Return to boil, add the hops at the times specified in the ingredient list. Add the last does of Liberty hops and immediately turn off heat. Let stand for 20-30 minutes in a cooling bath. Pour the cooled wort into the fermenter. Bring the volume up to five gallons (19 L). If the temperature is less than 80 °F (27 °C), pitch the yeast and the packet of Bru-Vigor (if using) into the wort and place the lid and airlock over the fermenter. Ferment at 65–70 °F (18–24 °C). After fermentation, check the specific gravity. The F.G. should be 1.011 or less. If it is higher than 1.016, allow to ferment and settle for a few more days. Prime and bottle. Allow beer to age at room temperature for at least two weeks. Peak flavor is reached after six weeks.

To read this full article, check out: 15 Summertime Recipes

Wine Bottle Ideas – 4 Wine Bottling Tips

So you’ve decided to invest in the world-wide trend of home wine making. And why not? Owning your own micro-winery equipment is cost effective and the actual hobby is fun and allows for lots of experimentation.  That, and it’s an opportunity to produce one of the world’s oldest and most beloved beverages.

Below are some tips for wine bottling that will help you take what you’ve produced and turn it into a full-on finished product.

1)      What type of bottle should you use?

There are a surprising number of different wine bottles to choose from, and you need to keep in mind what will be the best style and size for your wine. You should also consider whether or not your wine will be fermented before being placed into the bottle or afterward. Having said that, bottles can range in shape and size from narrow and tall (for Mosel and Alsace wines), to tall with sloping shoulders (usually used for Bugundies and Rhone varieties of wine), to thick-walled with sloping shoulders (most commonly used for sparkling wines and champagne). Most wine bottles come in brown (Rhine or Alsace), clear (used for sweet wines and white wines), dark green (red wines), and light green (dry white wines). There are no strict rules to bottling your wine – in fact many wineries experiment with color, shape and style to make their wines stand out- but, as stated earlier, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to bottling wine so make sure to research thoroughly before deciding on what type of bottle to use.

2)      Cork vs. Crown-cap

Deciding on whether or not to use a cork or a crown-cap depends mostly on two things; the style you’re going for, and what kind of impression you want to make. Wine corks can be made of either a single piece of cork, or composed of particles, as in champagne corks. The study “Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminum and Plastic Wine Closures,” commissioned by cork manufacturer Amorim and made public in December 2008, concluded that cork is the most environmentally responsible stopper.

However, a 2005 closure study showed that 45% of corks did not prevent gas leakage during pressure testing both from the sides of the cork as well as through the cork body itself. The majority of non-sparkling wine production now uses these caps as a cork alternative as it’s much cheaper. So, again, it all comes down to opinion. Whether you want to go with a more environmentally friendly cork that’s got that old-fashioned, traditional style to it, or the more practical crown-cap that’s slightly more reliable but less safe for the earth, well, it’s up to you. It’s the wine inside the bottle, not the cork plugging it, that counts.

3)      Labels and hang tags?

After you’ve chosen your bottle and bottle-stopper, it’s time to start thinking about packaging and labeling. A label is very crucial as it shows the type of wine and date of the wine (two things you’re customer will be interested in knowing). It also can help show your specific winery style.

Wine labels are often very affordable and can come in a variety of shapes and materials including transparent adhesive paper, foil paper, and top grade paper. If you want to avoid hand-labeling every bottle you produce, try going with the simpler, more decorative hang tag. A wide variety of expertly designed, customizable wine labels and hang tags can be found at Labels on the Fly.

4)      Where will it be stored when you’re done?

Most wines should be stored in a dark area as UV rays can cause wines to become ‘light struck’ and pick up an unpleasant smell. Darker bottles are better protected from this, but not enough to be stored in direct sunlight. If you’ve decided to cork your bottle you should store it on its side, as bottles kept upright for too long will dry out and spoil.

Make sure the temperature in the place of storage is kept constant – it should never go over 75 degrees F (24 degrees C).

Letting the temp drop below 54 degrees F won’t hurt it, mind you – it will just slow down the aging process. It’s also a good idea not to move the wine. Try to keep it isolated and make sure to store for an appropriate amount of time. And remember to adjust the temperature before serving.

There you have it! Bottling wine, while slightly less simple than switching the channel to the evening news, can be a fun way to make your wine more self-styled and personalized.

Good luck on bottling your new batch of home-made wine, and stay tuned for more wine making tips and recipes!

Home Wine Making – 5 Things You Ought to Know

Did you know there are almost 3000 vineyards in the US, with at least one winery in every state? Most US wine production occurs in the west, with the states of California, Washington and Oregon leading the way. In fact, Californian production alone is more than double of the production of the entire country of Australia.

With that having been said it’s easily understandable as to why so many Americans have begun bottling their own homemade wine. Being from upstate NY, one of America’s oldest commercial wine regions, I can safely say that homemade wine making requires hardly any intensive labor. Rather, the ease of home wine making is more or less equivalent to the benefits. It makes you wonder why everybody isn’t doing it.

If you yourself are considering becoming a home wine maker here are several things you ought to know about the process before you get started.

1)      First of all, making wine is ultimately a simple chemical process, using the natural process of fermentation to turn fruit juice into alcohol. Most people are drawn to it as a hobby because it allows you to experiment and be free with recipes.

2)      Home wine making is not at all intrusive. In fact, you can manage quite well even in a small 10 X 10 foot kitchen, and the equipment is easily stored away.

3)      A basic wine making equipment kit will cost approximately $100 to $140, and be used respectively. This means that home wine making is considerably cost effective, especially when you consider the difference between making it and purchasing expensive commercial bottles.

4)      Ingredient kits can cost $60 to $150, putting your cost per bottle in the $2 to $5 range. This means you’ll be able to present customers or friends at weddings, birthday parties or holiday events with high quality, delicious wine that’s personalized and economical.

5)      The  total time you’ll spend from starting a batch to carefully putting the last drop into the bottle will be approximately 4-5 hours, spread over a one month period. So it’s a fun hobby that won’t eat up most of your life but will still result in a fruitful award! Pun very much intended.

There you have it. Wine making can be a very fun, rewarding process that’s totally cost effective and non-time consuming. If you’re thinking about investing in the hobby you might want to begin researching kits and ingredients, as well as branding labels for afterward. In fact, the type of wine label you choose to brand your first batch with can make all the difference. Most professional wine brewers nitpick over their labels for this very reason: the label on the outside reflects the wine inside! So be sure to think about what you want.

A variety of expertly designed, affordable wine bottle labels can be found here at Labels on the Fly.

Good luck on beginning your new, fun hobby and stay tuned for more wine making tips and recipes!

Custom Beer Labels

Home Brewing has been a hobby of Americans since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Who could blame them when there are so many benefits to making your own beer?

Brewing your own beer can be much cheaper and more rewarding than purchasing inferior commercial brands, and it allows you to put a totally personal touch into your beverage by creating and adjusting your own recipes, and branding the finished batch.

Whether you are in the market to sell your tasty beverage, or want to give it as thoughtful gifts, branding your beer is one of the most important steps of home brewing.

The label you put on your beer can say as much about you as the beer itself. You’ll want to find just the right design for your label. You might even want to think about coasters that match all of their label designs if you’re looking to complete your bar ensemble.

Labels on the Fly is a great place to start. Their expert designers have come up with a huge selection of templates for you to choose from. Just add your text, and choose from a variety of sizes, colors and shapes for the label that you want printed, and they will expertly print your superior quality beer labels. You can even have a color photograph printed on your labels! And with low minimum orders, it’s perfect for the beer enthusiast who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on labels, but still wants a professional look for their home brew.

Impress everyone when you bring a six-pack of your finest beer sporting snazzy, personalized labels the next time you are invited to a wedding, birthday party or holiday event.

Whether you are an established micro-brewery or a new home brewer, having quality labels on the outside should reflect the superior beer inside!

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