Beer & Wine Hobby Blog

  • Wine Enzymes and Additives

    Taking your wine to the next level is as easy as adding Enzymes and/or Nutrients!

    Here's the list of options we have in-store for you.

    Tip: be sure to STIR in all additives so that they mix throughly.

    Ascorbic Acid: Also known as Vitamin C, ascorbic acid is used to prevent oxidation in wine post fermentation. Normally used before bottling.

    Biolees: a natural yeast derivative nutrient. Can be added during primary fermentation, or towards the end of malolactic fermentation to help eliminate harshness and improve the balance of the wine. Wine MUST be racked within two weeks of addition of biolees.

    Booster Blanc: a natural yeast derivative nutrient used as a fermentation activator for white or rose wines to improve aroma, decrease bitterness, and reduce chemical and vegetal tastes. Should be used at the beginning of fermentation since it will help reduce the production of sulfer and other off compounds.

    Booster Rouge: a natural yeast derivative nutrient used as a fermentation activator for red wines to help reduce sulfur compounds. Aids in malolactic fermentation and increases mouthfeel and fresh fruit flavors.

    Campden Tabs: use to prevent oxidation and growth of wild yeast and bacteria in must. Crush into a powder before using. 1/2 tablet for the first 30 day racking and 1/4 tablet for every 6-8 week racking after. See Also: Potassium Metabisulphite

    Fermaid K: a balanced yeast nutrient which provides for a cleaner and more complete fermentation. Reduces risk of sluggish/stuck fermentation. Added to must after 1/3 of sugar fermentation is complete. Prevents the growth of unwanted by-products such as acetic acid, acetaldehyde, and diacetyl.

    Fermaid-O: an organic version of Fermaid-K

    Fermax: acts as food for the yeast and promotes rapid and complete fermentation. Stimulates yeast growth and is an useful addition to yeast starters and wine lacking in natural nutrients such as white wines and meads.

    GoFerm: a yeast nutrient used to promote a strong fermentation in red or white wines. Add to yeast hydration water prior to adding the yeast. Provides high levels of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that the yeast requires for a healthy fermentation.

    Lallzyme EX: a specially formulated macerating enzyme preparation primarily used in red wines for improved color intensity and stability, greater mouthfeel and enhanced fruity, floral, and spicy flavors. May also be used in white wines for increased extraction. Be sure to add with other additions prior to the onset of fermentation.

    Malolactic Fermentation: the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid by bacteria from the lactic family. Lactic Acid is less acidic than malic acid which in turn decreases acidity and helps to soften and/or round out some of the flavors in wine. We recommend pairing with OptiMalo to ensure a great fermentation! We will be doing a large malo post in the near future, stay tuned for more!

    Noblesse: a natural yeast derivative nutrient for red and white wines. Can be used during fermentation or in finished wines. Helps to prevent the production of sulfur odors. It aids malolactic fermentation and its use yields wines that have a rounder, softer finish.

    Opti Red: certified organic, natural yeast derivative nutrient for red wines. Add at the beginning of fermentation to improve color, provide rounder mouthfeel and better tannin integration. Can also add at the end of fermentation to reduce harshness.

    Opti White: certified organic, natural yeast derivative nutrient for white wines. Add at the start of fermentation for round mouthfeel contribution, anti-oxidative color protection and aromatic freshness. You may also add at the end of fermentation to contribute mouthfeel and better integration of wood and alcohol.

    Pectic Enzyme: (liquid or powder) eliminates pectin haze from wines or ciders made from pectin rich fruits. Add to crushed fruit prior to fermentation to increase juice extraction and color. Enhances clarification when fermentation has finished by destroying suspended pectic particles.

    Potassium Meta: one of the MOST IMPORTANT additives in winemaking. Used to control spoilage during the crush by inhibiting bacteria and wild yeast. Also acts as a preservative during storage and by continuing to inhibit spoilage organisms and scavenge oxygen. Also used when sanitizing your wine equipment.

    Reduless: a natural, organic, yeast derivative used to reduce sulfur defects such as hydrogen sulfite and improve the overall quality of red and white wines.

    Tannin: naturally found in the grape skins and stems and adds astringency or zest to wine. Also aids in the clearing process.

    Tannin FT Rouge: composed of grape and wood tannins specifically formulated for use during red wine fermentation. Used in red wines to improve tannin structure, increase color stability, improve mid-palate structure, and help significantly reduce or eliminate vegatal/herbal characters. Add at crush or beginning of fermentation.

    chilaen grape

    Happy Grape Season!


  • Wet Hops, Wet Hops!

    When cooking, fresh is always best, and beer is no exception.

    Fresh ingredients are important for flavor and quality, and hops are among the most crucial. For homebrewers and beer lovers alike, the hop harvest is like Christmas. Using wet hops is a great way to impart different flavors and aromas into your beer that you cannot do any other time of the year. Now’s the time to experiment!

    Wet Hops Are Wet... sort of

    Well they’re not soaking wet, "wet" implies hops that are never dried. Whole leaf wet hops contain about 80% water compared to the 8-10% when dried. When brewing you’ll need to use more wet hops than normal dry pellet brews. In general, four to six times as many wet hops are needed as dry hops. For example, one ounce of dried pellet hops would be the equivalent of four to six ounces of wet hops.

    Wet hops take up more room in the kettle, enough where you may want to reduce your batch size depending on the overall hop amount and the size of your system. They’ll also add water that needs to be considered when calculating your original and final gravity.

    Once harvested, hops literally begin to rot because the cones contain a high percentage of water, which is why it’s important to use wet hops within a matter of days of picking, preferably within one day, lest you risk spoiling and ruining your hops.

    Everything in Moderation

    Like all enjoyable things, wet hops should be used in moderation. You can easily reach a breaking point at which a desirable “grassy” aroma and flavor starts to overwhelm your pallet like being behind a riding lawnmower. Undesirable notes of tobacco and chlorophyll (that grassy taste) are things that could show in your finished brew to name a few.

    Using dry hops for bitterness also reduces hop matter in the kettle and lets you work with hops of known alpha acids. When using your own homegrown hops you don’t really know how much bitterness they may hold, and using them near the beginning of the boil can yield unpredictable beer.

    An obvious note: you’re adding a huge amount of green matter to your homebrew resulting in green flavors. Acceptable in wet-hopped beers to an extent but there must be a balance and an awareness of the style. For this reason it is sometimes best to use dried hops for bittering and wet hops for the aroma and flavor. By driving up bitterness with wet hops, you risk losing their nuances.

    Four Star Farms Hops

    The Cycle of Hops

    Hops Before the Kettle: Hops’ desirability lies in the essential oils they produce, which constitute up to 4 percent of the hop cone. These oils increase during the weeks before harvest and continue to change after the hops are dried and stored. Which is why you should experiment with fresh vs. dried hop brews.

    Hops in the Boil: Hops are used during the boil because the high temperatures activate its components like those essential oils we all crave. Brewers concerned with preserving oils, such as linalool and gernaniol, should add wet hops towards the end of boil, at flameout, or during the whirlpool.

    Hops in the Fermenter: The effect of adding wet hops during fermentation is somewhat inconclusive. However, we know something happens due to the obvious flavor changes. All you need to do is taste the beer over time. 24 hours into fermentation, some get a very green taste, but over time, the beer starts to open up, and the oils come through in the aroma and flavor.

    Hops in the Bottle: Like any bottled IPA, the aromatics will dissipate over time, losing much of what you loved about your beer in the first place. I suggest drinking your wet-hopped beer ASAP. Look for the more famous Sierra Nevada “Harvest Ale” for a friendly comparison of your homebrewed version of fresh ale.




    Wet hops

    Interested in experimenting with some wet hops?

    We'll be selling wet hops from Four Star Farms of Deerfield, MA. A family owned and operated farm that over the last 4 years has planted and expanded into more hop acreage.  They provide us our MA Grown pellets and some of our raw unmalted grains for your brewing enjoyment.  Be on the lookout for more of their products to be available here and feel free to try them in your next brew!

    What can you expect this year?

    Harvest will run from late August to mid September and each variety will be picked, one at a time, across that window. Centennial and Magnum always vie to be the first one’s harvested, Rakau is always last (typically ready after the first week in September), while Cascade, Pépite, Mt. Rainier, Chaos and Crystal hang tight in the middle.

    Learn more and Order your Wet Hops here!

  • Wine Equipment Kits

    Wine Kits

    You want to try your hand at making wine? We have just the thing for you!

    We offer three wine equipment kits. Plus, with a purchase of a Complete or Deluxe equipment kit, you get a free Intro to Winemaking (in-store) class. You probably wont have any of this equipment or ingredients at home so a kit is really the best place to start. If you've inherited some equipment bring them into the store and we can go over them together to make sure everything is still in an usable condition.

    Be cautious of second hand equipment. Rule of thumb; is it plastic, does it smell, is it sticky/moldy? If you answer yes to a few of these then you need to replace them, and remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Tubing and buckets are usually the first to go and need replacing.  Stainless Steel will last forever so don't throw it away if it's dirty! Just soak it in some cleaner (PBW) for a day or until clean.  Once you've gone through all your inherited equipment, make a list of what you need, and stop by the store. We'll help you find everything you need!

    Every kit starts with a Basic and then adds additional items.

    Beginner Winemaking Starter Kit ($150)  Complete Winemaking Starter Kit ($179.99)  Deluxe Winemaking Starter Kit ($259.99)

    • Sodium Metabisulfate                                      Corks                                                                Fizz X Agitator Rod
    • B-Brite                                                              Double Lever Corker                                        Portuguese Floor Corker
    • Siphon Tubing                                                  Wine Thief
    • Carboy Brush                                                   Test Cylinder
    • Wine Bottle Brush
    • Auto-Siphon
    • Bottle Filler
    • Hyrdrometer
    • Adhesive Thermometer
    • Cylinder Lock
    • 7.5 Gallon Fermenter
    • 6 Gallon Glass Carboy
    • 6.5 Universal Stopper
    • Wine Whip


    That's that folks. The fall grape season is almost here so next months wine post will discuss what and when you can look for fresh Northern Hemisphere Grapes.


  • Let's get you some equipment.


    Let's say you're a newb (hey we're all a newb at one point in time) and you want to get into homebrewing. Great! Let's get you some equipment.

    Best way to start? Get an equipment kit. We offer three that are tailored towards extract brewers. Plus, with a purchase of an equipment kit, you get a free Intro to Brewing (in-store) class. When deciding what kind of kit to get, check to see if you have a 3-5gal pot at home. Yes? Great! Then get either the Basic or Essential kit, if not then the Complete kit is what you need in your life!

    Some of you may have inherited equipment from family or friends. Be cautious of this. Rule of thumb; is it plastic, does it smell, is it sticky/moldy? If you answer yes to a few of these then you need to replace them, and remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Tubing and buckets are usually the first to go and need replacing.  Stainless Steel will last forever so don't throw it away if it's dirty! Just soak it in some cleaner (PBW) for a day or until clean.  Once you've gone through all your inherited equipment, make a list of what you need, and stop by the store. We'll help you find everything you need!

    Every kit starts with a Basic and then adds additional items. The Essential and Complete kits substitute the 6gal Fermenter with a 6gal Fermonster Fermenter (so you can watch the mesmerizing show of fermenting yeast).

    What comes in the kits...

    Basic Homebrewing Starter Kit ($95)       Essential Homebrewing Starter Kit ($146)     Complete Homebrewing Starter Kit ($190)

    • 6gal Fermenter                                              "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing"                Adhesive Thermometer
    • Bottling Bucket                                               #10 Universal Stopper                                       5gal Stainless Brew Kettle
    • Cylinder Lock                                                 Beer/Wine Thief
    • Hydrometer                                                   10.5" Test Cylinder
    • Auto Siphon                                                   Stainless Spoon
    • Tubing
    • Bottle Filler
    • Capper
    • Caps
    • Bottle Brush
    • Sanitizer
    • Cleaner
    • Thermometer


    Those are the basics, but of course there's a lot more than that! Stay tuned for next months All-Grain equipment post.

  • The, not so many, different ways to make wine

    Last week I told you about the many different ways to brew beer, this week is about the (not so many) different ways to make wine. Pinkies up!


    Concentrates Kits

    Just getting into winemaking? Then I'd start with a kit. These concentrate juice kits range in quality and size from 1 gal to 6 gallons. They come with easy to follow directions and all of your ingredients and additives pre-measured. In this way, all variables are removed, making them perfect for beginners. The process of wine making is the same all the way through with just a few additions when you get to grapes.


    Concentrate Kits with Skins

    Some kits will give you grape skins to experiment with, allowing you to have some influence over the outcome of your wine. Grape skins are arguably the most important ingredient of red wine because the tannins and color compounds in the skin are necessary to give red wine it's color. They also have the added benefit of increasing the body of the wine. The process of grape skins giving wine it's color is called Maceration and happens during fermentation.



    So you've done a few kits and you're looking for the next step; Juice! This option is literally a 6 gallon bucket of juice that you can buy either shelf stable (has been sulfited and pasteurized), fresh, or frozen. These are raw products and again have many options in quality. The juice we sell is all acid and sugar adjusted. Typically the lower quality juices you have to buy yeast for, others come with yeast packets and the higher quality juices (Mosti Mondial) are pre-yeasted. Fresh Juice buckets don't typically come with any extra ingredients, so you'd have to buy them separately, But their shelf stable counterparts do come with everything you need as a kit.



    The cream of the crop for winemaking is using fresh grapes straight from vineyards around the world. There are two harvest seasons; Spring and Fall. Spring season brings grapes from south of the equator (Chile and South Africa) and usually arrive late spring, and the Fall season brings grapes from north of the equator (California and Italy). You're now limited to when you can make certain wines, but it's worth it due to the superb product you're now using and the degree of control you can have.

    Making wine from fresh grapes means you need to have a way to crush/de-stem and press the grapes. We offer the crushing and de-steming services here! Otherwise this means a lot of manual labor or money spent on some pretty expensive equipment that will make the process much easier. You also need to buy all the ingredients needed on your own. Typically for juice and grape we recommend enzyme and nutrient additives that will help boost your wine which I will cover in a future article. We have instructions here in store, but what you add is up to you now! You have complete control.

    Of course, with this complete control there are now more ways to make mistakes, but we're here to help! If you buy our product then we offer free wine consultation. Bring in a sample and we'll give you some feedback. We're here to help you make the best wine possible!

    chilaen grape

  • The Many Different Ways to Homebrew

    Ever wonder about the different styles of brewing? Why some people brew extract and some all-grain, and what is this partial mash thing? If you're thinking about starting to homebrew, or if you're currently an extract brewer looking for the next step, then this will help you like it did me!



    The easiest style of brewing. Best for beginners to get their feet wet without having to buy expensive equipment. Called extract brewing because you use malt extract (dry or liquid) as a sugar source instead of all-grains (hence the name). Depending on your skill level, an extract brew day can take 2-3 hours. Just because you're an extract brewer doesn't mean you can't make great, high quality, beer, but you do miss out on the full range of ingredient control and brewing variations that are possible with All-Grain. Extract is the best way to start and master the general process of brewing beer, but to really get into the art of brewing beer you have to make your way towards All-Grain with each variation of brewing getting you closer to your final goal.


    Extract with Steeping Grain

    Adding steeping grains is the next step towards becoming a real brewing master. By adding steeping grains and doing a short mash you can make your beer even finer. Steeping grains do not add a lot of time, but now gives you the ability to customize your brew; focus on nuances and really fine-tune your malt flavor.

    Tip - make sure you crush your grains, but NOT the flaked ones. If you forget to crush them here in store, no problem! You can crush them by simply using a rolling pin over them, the idea is you want to crack the husks and not pulverize them in a food processor.

    Make sure to steep your grain between 145 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. If you steep them at a higher temperature then you risk extracting too many tannins from the grain husk. Beer that has too many tannins will be astringent, meaning it will have a drying sensation on your palate which is not always a desirable trait.


    Partial Mash

    The next step up on your way to All-grain is getting a portion of fermentable sugars from grain while still using malt extract. With each step we wean you off malt extract. This is not a difficult process, just requires a little more time and attention.

    Extra equipment may be required at this stage; good thermometer, bigger brew kettle, and an aquarium pump and aeration stone to oxygenate the wort.

    As far as the steps, it's the same as a full mash All-Grain process. However, less grain is used making it a simpler process. Gaining experience here will make going to All-Grain that much easier. Partial Mash is also helpful for brewing beers that don't have a malt extract equivalent (rauch malt, vienna malt, mild malt, etc...). It simply gives you more freedom to brew more experimental brews.



    The pinnacle of homebrew! This is the purest form of beermaking and the method by which you can have the greatest influence over the outcome of your beer. Brewing with only grain is how most professional brewers make beer. Malt extract is expensive, so going all grain will save ya a buck or two, though you'll just end up spending it on the new equipment you'll need. You'll need a bigger brew pot (at least 8 gallons), mash ton, hot liquor tank, false bottom, immersion wort chiller, and more depending on how far you want to go. With each step up the process has become longer, we're now at a brew day lasting 4 - 8 hours.

    The very basic explanation of All-Grain is soaking crushed, malted, grains in hot water to go from starch to sugar, then drain away the sugary liquid, which is your wort. Once you have the wort in the brew pot then follow the same extract process you've been using so far. The big issue here is that you now have to do full volume boils and no longer can opt for partials.

    At this point you're well on your way to being a master brewer. There's no beer that you can't make! Get creative and try putting your own spin on old favorites. If you ever have any questions or need help going from one level to the next then call or stop by! We're here to help you to create the best beer you can imagine.




  • In which we introduce our new blog.


    As the newest member of the Beer and Wine Hobby team I have a lot to learn. What better way to cement my knowledge then to share it all with you, post by post.

    About the store (in case you didn’t know) Beer and Wine Hobby has been around for 48 years! Starting in a basement and growing overtime to have its own storefront and warehouse at 155 New Boston St. (Unit T), Woburn, MA.

    The plan: to post twice a month once on homebrewing and once on winemaking. Discussing a new topic each month. If you have specific questions or topics that you’re interested in learning more about message me on Facebook or email the store at .

    This month will be a bit wonky with there being three posts and all of which being back to back. Next month the blog posts will be on the first and third Monday of each month.

    Coming this month: the different kinds of homebrewing and winemaking.

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