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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

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    I'm workin on my third batch now (this one is a Lager, not a mead or wine) and I noticed that the instructions say to keep it away from sunlight (duh) AND fluorescent light (not so duh). My two batches of wine are in a room with fluorescent fixtures that get turned on a few times per day. Is this going to affect them, and is the fluorescent thing really a big deal?
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

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    Fluorescent lights definitely do emit in the wavelength that harms hopped beer. They don't have anywhere near the potency of the sun, but it's worth putting a t-shirt over the carboys IMO. Winers (er, ah, "winemakers") do say to keep wine in the dark, but I'm not familiar with the exact reactions they're concerned about. With beer, it's the isomerized (bittering) hop resins which further isomerize into mercaptans which taste and smell like skunk. For a sensory training exercise, try a Heiniken in the green bottle anywhere in the U.S. That skunky aspect ISN'T supposed to be there! Green glass doesn't filter out the harmful wavelenghts of light, only brown will. This defect is so pervasive, and Heiniken is so popular, that these mercaptans have become associated in American consumer taste panels with an "imported" flavor that is not recognized as a flaw. For laughs, get a twelver of Heinie bottles in the cardboard case. Set two on a bright sunny windowledge for a few days and compare.

    Even better, start with fresh homebrew that hasn't been mailed across the ocean and abused for weeks. Bottle a six-pack in Corona bottles. Set two out every two days in the sun (so you have six-day, four-day and two-day struck bottles) and do a triangle test including non-lightstruck bottles. You'll be blown away. People with trained and sensitive evaluation skills can detect it evolving over the course of each pint on a sunny patio here in CO where the sun at altitude can feel like a microwave.

    So I guess for my money, even for wine (I don't know why but it's good general practice), put a t-shirt over the carboy or a brown paper grocery bag with a hole for the airlock.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

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    Thanks ben, you're a huge help to a newbie. I've got another question for you... I'm planning on bottling in corona bottles, but can you get the labels off these darn things? Is it adhesive or actually painted on the glass? I can't tell, and it's driving me nuts!
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Eagle Creek, Oregon
    Posts
    289

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    Clear bottles have the same disadvantages as green bottles (see Ben's comments).
    The subject of removing Corona labels has come up dozens of times on rec.crafts.brewing and the consensus is that Corona labels are permanent.
    Clear/green bottles are bad; brown bottles are better; Cornys are best!
    George

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

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    Yeah, those "labels" are a baked-on enamel that is impervious to our efforts. Corona bottles are cool for meads though, I once bottles an entire batch of pyment in them so their great ruby color could be shown off. Note that if you think you'd ever enter a competition with the mead, entries need to be in unmarked brown crown bottles (beer/mead/cider competitions) or traditional wine bottles (wine comps).
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

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    Thanks for the idea, Ben. Maybe I'll bottle that blackberry melomel in them. That stuff has a great deep-purplish color, plus that way you wouldn't have to finish off a whole bottle at a time. Does having a cap instead of a cork affect the taste/aging of a mead or wine?
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

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    Yes it does to an extent. Natural cork closures allow gradual contact with oxygen over time. This breathing is part of the maturation process and can benefit big tannic meads/wines, though if I want to have that be part of the aging regimen I'll just rack a little nmore frequently myself. Caps are more (though not perfectly) impervious to O2 penetration.

    Caps do not lend any flavor. Cork will, and a small percentage of cork is infected with a microorganism than causes "corked" wine, a kind of musty and , well, corky flavor and aroma. It does not reflect on the quality of the cork, it's just a risk of using a natural bark closure. I think it's around seven percent average?

    For long-term aging of a tannic pyment or melomel, I consider using cork closures but I'm usually a crown guy. Many meads I make are around 11-14%, so splitting a 12-oz bottle makes for two six-ounce pours in wine glasses. They can also be entered in AHA competitions that way, though I'm rarely organized or ambitious enough to send any in.

    One more note is that for some, there's a bias against synthetic corks or any closure other than natural cork. It's unfounded, but there's an aesthetic consideration if you share your drink with more winers than winemakers, if you catch my drift. Same with wines in bags... as the bag is drained it collapses rather than exposing the wine to air. Synthetic closures are sterile and form a better seal. To some extent, except for the aging activity noted above, it's food science versus tradition and in some cases ignorance. More and more quality wineries are going to synthetics to avoid corked wine problems, and also to avoid the financial vagaries of harvesting a natural product. Those fires in Europe two summers ago threatened the cork oaks in Portugal; last I heard they anticipated serious losses. I've been outta the trade publications for almost a year, but I expect the synthetics made a big gain when natural prices jumped in response.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

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    Ben, I think there should be a library of all of your posts put together here. You've helped me a bunch. As far as appealing to "winers", if they don't like the way my product looks, I'll be happy to accept their criticism while drinking their half.
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

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    You're kind, thanks! Fortunately the accumulated wisdom of everyone on the board (and what passes for it in my long-winded posts) IS indexed by Barry's wonderful Search Tool. This is a great site, and I'm especially grateful to be able to contribute in this forum since I'm total baggage on all the others as a newbie with a bazillion questions.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  10. #10

    Post

    I have never noted an off flavor in my meads or beers. Most of them spend several months uncovered in glass carboys in our kitchen. There is plenty of indirect sunlight and our kitchen light is on a lot, it being flourescent.

    So I would say to not worry too much about light. If you have extra material to cover the carboys with it is a good idea. But I would not go out and buy anything extra just for the task. Better to buy more carboys...

    On the corona factor, I was glad to see a published consensus about those labels. I have tried many things. The bottles are great, nice and heavy and I love to use them. I prefer to age them in the corona box that came with the case, away from the light...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

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    For the doodad-lover with a little cash to burn, especially if you brew, there are these neoprene carriers for carboys. They're like the beer bottle cozies but carboy sized. They have webbing sewn on to make nice handles, zip around the cboy to insulate, and prevent light totally. I also (for primary ale ferments in the summer) put frozen gelpacks inside the stretchy neoprene to keep the ferment from warming out of the range I want; replace them as they melt and warm.

    You can find them at William's, B3, or many LHBSs. It's all about the toys...
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Well, I racked that batch of beer to secondary today (man it smelled good!!). We heat with corn, and because of some recent ventilation problems, we've been running the furnace the last few days... my brewroom temp is down between 65 and 70 rather than about 68 to 74 like before. Should I bother with a space heater or are these temps still ok?
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

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    Those are just fine for sure.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Eagle Creek, Oregon
    Posts
    289

    Post

    >my brewroom temp is down between 65 and 70 rather than about 68 to 74 like before. Should I bother with a space heater or are these temps still ok?

    Fermentation produces a little heat so your wort temperature is probably a few degrees higher than your brewroom temp already. Also, in your original post you said that you were brewing a lager; with lagers the bigger challenge is in keeping the fermenting wort cool enough. Check your yeast package to see if it is a lager yeast or an ale yeast. Either way your beer should be okay and probably even better at the slightly lower temps that you have now.
    George

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