My first Maple Wine – Grade B

This was a really difficult brew to do, not only because of the expense of maple syrup (we’re talking gallons here), but also how difficult it is to ferment–yeast does not like to process maple syrup (which makes it better for candida diets, but harder for making wines). I started this particular brew during cold weather, also, and had to coax it along with hot water baths, body heat, chanting to it, pure oxygen from the hospital–but the end result was well worth it, even though it was sweeter and lighter than I imagined it would turn out. It had a very strong maple flavor!

As you can see from reading the below, this brew took a YEAR in the carboy (shown on the left below).

Maple Wine in 5 gallon carboy

Ingredients:

3 gallons Love Creek spring water (high mineral content)

2 gallons Grade B maple syrup

5 gms Red Star Montrachet yeast (later switched to Lalvin 71-1122, then champagne yeast)

5 teaspoons yeast nutrient

OG: 1.142 PA: 18%

Started May 17, 2002 in plastic must bucket (temp in apt 70F, which dropped to 54 over the next few days)

pitched yeast May 18th (1am)

fermentation commenced May 21

June 1, 2002–racked to secondary glass carboy

subsequent hydrometer readings:

July 24, 2002 SG=10.56, 7% PT left

August 27, 2002 SG=1.050 6.5%PT left

tastes smooth, sweet, and has clarified

September 13, 2002 SG= 1.050 6.5%PT left

smooth, sweet, yet still carbonated, so it is still going. Advice is to let it go some months without disturbing (oops!)

October 15th, 2002 SG = 1.048 6%PT left

sweet, still going slightly, because when I put the water trap back on, the pressure went right up again. Had a new odd harsh taste that made me nervous. No buzz resulting from tasting.

October 17, 2002

Decided to rack again because fermentation going so slow and because of the “off” taste from the last SG reading. Added 10 gm of Lalvin 71-1122 Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast which Andy says should peter out at 16% alcohol, leaving some sweetness. I may have killed a bunch of the yeast, though, by topping it off with boiling water, washing down the sides…But I think enough survived to ferment the rest.

Oct 18th, finding that fermentation was going soooooo slowly still, and the temperature being around 60F in my apt, I decided to put the whole carboy in a bucket of warm/hot water, and came back an hour later to find that a small mt vesuvius starting, so took it right out again, and watched the wine receed a little from inside the water trap. Good thing I boiled the stopper! Only, I didn’t switch water traps from the last racking…

December 13th, 2002

Hydrometer reading STILL at 6% PT, and sweet. No off taste this time.  Mixture has clarified, meaning the yeast has attenuated and is no longer really active. Wrapped carboy in thick towel to conserve heat.

December 14th, reinnoculated with Lavlin 1122 yeast in a mixture with 1.5 teaspoons yeast energizer and 100F warm water (8 oz). This caused pressure to come back up in the water trap.

December 17th, 2002  Fermentation still not going swiftly so I brought the carboy upstairs into a vat of hot water, and about 15 minutes later I had Mt. Vesuvius. I had to short it a half cup and change out water traps a couple of times before it calmed down. I hope it’s got some momentum now. Also kept a heating pad on it and the other carboy of maple for a week, and kept it in the bathroom.

December 22nd, 2002 after one week of “babysitting” took another hydrometer reading at around 60F that read 1.038, which is about 4.5% PT left.

January 12, 2003 I don’t know what’s going on, because I took yet another hydrometer reading that said 1.046–about 5.5PT left. How can it go down, for heaven’s sake?!

Jan 21, 2003 S.G.= 1.046

Jan 22, 2003. Racked to another carboy and added 5 packs (25gr) of Red Star Champagne yeast hydrated in 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup maple syrup (grade A), as well as yeast energizer. Plunged the whole thing into a bath of boiler temperature water and hoped for the best. Doesn’t seem like too much fermentation likely at first…

Feb 1, 2003 S.G.= 1.042

Feb 8 SG= 1.040

Feb 23 SG=1.040

Feb 25 Poured the whole thing into the primary fermentation bucket, figuring the less stable environment of extra airspace would spur fermentation and added more yeast nutrient (about a teaspoon–all I had), yeast energizer (probably about a teaspoon), and two 5 gm packs of Red Star Champagne yeast. The temperature of the whole mix is above 80F, because it was on a heating pad for a month. I just had to get the dang thing out of my bathroom…

May 5, 2003 SG= 1.050 ?!!! It doesn’t TASTE sweeter, though. Temperature in my apartment around 63F. Ahh, later Andy of Asheville Brewers solved the mystery, though. The gravity is getting higher because the alcohol is evaporating out–and the brew is oxidizing, which he says is part of the toning process. I decided to bottle it today with a teaspoon of ascorbic acid to help it age well. Andy says it will be like port, has a “walnut” oxidation flavor, and that it will age very well.

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