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Dan Nauman

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Hi all,

Got my first ever batch cooking, a one gallon strawberry from a recipe book. It called for 3 1/2 pounds of strawberries (I used four) 2lbs sugar, and the usual additives. Here are my questions:

It had a starting SG of 1.65 (8-9% PA), which seems low to me, but I wanted to follow the recipe. After one day it was 1.55, and now on day two it is 1.35. My recipe says to rack into glass at 1.30, which would be later today, way too early it seems. To my limited understanding, it seems like there's not enough sugar (?) Should I add some?

Also, the smell. Again, new to this, so I don't know what it's supposed to smell like. But it currently smells like fruit going bad. No sulfur/rotten egg smell, just rotting fruit. Is this normal?

Thanks in advance from a newbie!
 

sour_grapes

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Congrats on fermenting!

First of all, the SG values you report should be 1.065, 1.055, 1.035, etc.

Second, you do not need to rack at 1.030. You can safely let it go to something like 1.005 (which is where I usually rack).

Third, you could still add sugar, if you have changed your mind and have now decided that you want more than 9% ABV. However, there is no evident reason in what has transpired so far to suggest this change of course. In other words, do so if you want to, but you don't need to.

Fourth, yes, it smells like rotting fruit because that's what it is! Nothing to be alarmed about.
 

Dan Nauman

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Congrats on fermenting!

First of all, the SG values you report should be 1.065, 1.055, 1.035, etc.

Second, you do not need to rack at 1.030. You can safely let it go to something like 1.005 (which is where I usually rack).

Third, you could still add sugar, if you have changed your mind and have now decided that you want more than 9% ABV. However, there is no evident reason in what has transpired so far to suggest this change of course. In other words, do so if you want to, but you don't need to.

Fourth, yes, it smells like rotting fruit because that's what it is! Nothing to be alarmed about.
Great, thanks so much, very helpful.

And thanks for setting me straight on my SG values. Forgot the zeros.
 

Dan Nauman

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Congrats on fermenting!

First of all, the SG values you report should be 1.065, 1.055, 1.035, etc.

Second, you do not need to rack at 1.030. You can safely let it go to something like 1.005 (which is where I usually rack).

Third, you could still add sugar, if you have changed your mind and have now decided that you want more than 9% ABV. However, there is no evident reason in what has transpired so far to suggest this change of course. In other words, do so if you want to, but you don't need to.

Fourth, yes, it smells like rotting fruit because that's what it is! Nothing to be alarmed about.
Hypothetically, if I wanted to bump the ABV to, say 12%, how much sugar would I add, and is there a best time to do so?

I don't know if I will, just want the option.
 

sour_grapes

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Hypothetically, if I wanted to bump the ABV to, say 12%, how much sugar would I add, and is there a best time to do so?

I don't know if I will, just want the option.
I use a program called Fermcalc for these kinds of calculations: http://web2.airmail.net/sgross/fermcalc/fermcalc_applet.html

It seems to me that to get to 12%, you need to bump you SG up by about 0.023. Fermcalc says that you would need to add about 0.6 lbs to one gallon to achieve this bump.

As for timing, I'd say the sooner the better. No reason to wait.
 

Dan Nauman

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NorCal

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I’ve only made a few fruit wines and my biggest issue was getting the flavor to come through. I would imagine this would be the case with strawberries. My first mistake making wine was to add too much sugar (alcohol). The wine ended up tasting like a cheap mixed drink. It’s all about balance. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
 

Dan Nauman

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I use a program called Fermcalc for these kinds of calculations: http://web2.airmail.net/sgross/fermcalc/fermcalc_applet.html

It seems to me that to get to 12%, you need to bump you SG up by about 0.023. Fermcalc says that you would need to add about 0.6 lbs to one gallon to achieve this bump.

As for timing, I'd say the sooner the better. No reason to wait.
Quick follow-up:

I racked it last night, largely because the hydrometer said 0.995. It was only four days in primary. But now the airlock is going gangbusters compared to earlier (a bubble every two seconds). I was under the impression that as the SG gets closer to 1.000, fermentation is nearing completion. But according to the airlock it appears to be speeding up. Is my hydrometer lying to me?
 

meadmaker1

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Take a picture of the hydrometer floating in solution and post the picture here.
Four days to complete seems quick, and if the air lock has steady action its not done.
 

Dan Nauman

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Take a picture of the hydrometer floating in solution and post the picture here.
Four days to complete seems quick, and if the air lock has steady action its not done.
I'll have to wait until later this evening, but I will.
 

Dan Nauman

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Take a picture of the hydrometer floating in solution and post the picture here.
Four days to complete seems quick, and if the air lock has steady action its not done.
Sorry for the crappy picture quality.

It's barely floating at all now. And there's a fair amount of sediment building up on the bottom of the carboy already. Airlock still going strong.
 

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Johnd

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You’re pretty much done unless your hydrometer is way off, the lees starting to settle is another sure sign. Your airlock activity is probably largely attributable to the wine releasing the CO2.
 

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