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Yeast cultures supplied by Brewlab are held on agar slopes to preserve their viability and consistency.

They are stable for up to 6 months if kept in a refrigerator below 4°C.

They will be harmed by freezing and will deteriorate within one month if kept at room temperature.


To grow the yeast from the slope prepare a nutrient solution of malt broth.

Dissolve three table spoons of malt extract in 300 cm³ of boiled water in a clean sterilised flask or bottle of at least 500 cm³

When cool (below 35° C) pour some of the solution onto the yeast culture and shake to suspend the yeast cells.

Alternatively a flamed wire loop may be used to loosen the cells.

Do not attempt to disolve the slope. The cells only grow on the surface of the agarand should be dislodged by shaking. 

Transfer the yeast suspension into the rest of the nutrient solution and allow to grow for 24 to 48 hours in a warm environment (20-30° C) as a starter culture in your brew.

Cover the bottle opening with aluminium foil or plug with cotton wool.


Ensure that the yeast is working well before pitching.

It should show a frothy surface as gas is released and have a good sediment of yeast cells at the bottom.

Ensure that all of these are pitched into your wort to achieve maximum speed of fermentation.

Take care when handling the culture and starter bottles to avoid contamination particularly from fingers.


Maintaining an active yeast is essential in obtaining a good fermentation and requires a good temperature control and some degree of rousing when yeast is pitched.

Temperature during fermentation should be between 15 and 23°C and not vary excessively.

Too low temperature and the yeast will produce undesirable flavours.

Insulate fermentation vessels where possible and plot temperatures to check progress.

Rousing of pitching yeast ensures that sufficient oxygen is present for the yeast to grow.

This is particularly important for high gravity worts.

Rousing after pitching should not be conducted as stale and undesirable flavours may develop

Paul Shenton
01782 776655

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Posted in Experienced brewers By Paul Shenton

A Brief History Of Zinfandel Wine

14 Sep 2018 14:25:09

Do you know where did Zinfandel grapes came from before reaching California?

How was white Zin discovered?

This and many other burning questions about this wine will be answered in this post.

A Glass of Zinfandel Rosé Planted in more than 10% of the vineyards in California, Zinfandel grape plays a crucial role in the red wine industry.

It is used to make a type of ripe red wine of the highest alcohol content in the market (14%-17%).

It features jammy and fruity characteristics which are a result of the hot sun in California.

Here is a brief history of the wine.

The Greatest Discovery The origin of Zinfandel was unknown until 1960. Its production started spreading across California in the mid-1800s and it was accepted that the grape was indigenous to the USA.

It thrived well in Californian climate and up to date, there are people who strongly believe that it has existed for centuries in this area. However, in 1960, a professor who was exploring Italy spotted a lot of similarities between Zinfandel and Primitivo grapes and that is when people started questioning the origins of the grapes.

The professor’s survey led to the conclusion that Primitivo had a strong connection to the Californian Zinfandel. But several researchers did not agree to it so they kept on testing the fruits.

Finally, a DNA test confirmed that the grape had no connection to any of the Italian grapes, not even ones from the greatest wine regions in Europe. But its origin was discovered in the least expected place, i.e. Croatia. But how did Zin find its way to California? It was during the Gold Rush when the Americans were heading to the west.

After this discovery, everyone wanted to know the exact details of its movement into the US. In the early 1800s, a lot of grape vines from Vienna, Austria were shipped to the Long Island specifically to a particular horticulturalists. Zinfandel vines were also included in the shipments and that is how they penetrated the US at the time of the California Gold Rush.

Old Vine Zin is the oldest type of Californian Zinfandel. Their vines are at least 50 years old and their intensity and flavors are greater than the younger vines. The Old Vine Zin grapes produce a premium version of Zin and that is why they command a greater price. White Zinfandel was Born by Accident Now that you understand how Zinfandel came to California, you want to learn how it was discovered. Its discovery was made accidentally by Bob Trinchero from Napa Valley in 1972.

The Trinchero family is well known in the Italian wine industry. They started producing wines in 1974 after purchasing an abandoned estate. Bob Trinchero inherited the estate in the late 1960s. He started a new brand that focused on varietal wines as opposed to generic wines. The homemade Zin created during the Gold Rush strike an interest in Bob and he expanded its production in Amador County under the label ‘Sutter Home’ .

The white Zin came about as Bob was experimenting with the wine to make it more robust in Amador. He took some free-run juice and allowed it to ferment into a white wine. At first, it came out as pale pink due to the exposure to red skins. It was lighter than the original Zinfandel and it got a lot of fans in the tasting room. He named it Oeil de Perdrix, which means eye of the partridge. Zinfandel grapes, grown at a winery and vineyard in Southern Oregon.

The Onset of Production In 1972, Bob Trinchero started growing Zinfandel at 220 cases. To comply with the US government requirements, he had to find an English name for the wine. And that is when he named it White Zinfandel. From 1975, he increased the production and for reasons unknown, the fermentation came to an end when the wine reached a residual sugar percentage of around 2%. It had a pink tinge and a taste that was well-received by consumers.

The drinkers actually stated to ask for its cases. Trinchero believes that if he had listened to the critics some decades ago, white Zin wouldn’t be on the market today. The most fortunate thing happened when customers accepted the wine and they still enjoy it to date. The beverage is light-bodied, refreshing, inexpensive, and very fruity. White Zin came from a humble beginning and has become the most famous and premium domestic wine. Other small wineries started making similar blush wines in order to save the old grapes which would have gone to waste or taken over by other varieties.

Trinchero was honored with a Doctorate degree in Oenology recently at Johnson and Wales University College due to his outstanding entrepreneurship and inspiration. He has made wine more accessible to consumers and removed most of the pretention that surround winemaking. In the Wine Spectator Magazine, Trinchero was recognized for having introduced wine to Americans more than anyone in the history of winemaking. Today, people connect wine to foods and events and are able to use innovative approaches that allow them to have responsible and fun experiences. As time goes by, Americans are growing savvier about wines.

This drink has become an important part of dinner and social events. The Different Versions of Zinfandel Zinfandel may be a single grape but it produces different styles of Zin. The red grape produces clear juice and it is upon the winemaker to decide how long it stays in contact with skins, stems, and seeds. And that is why the clear juice gets the red or pink tinge. The ripeness of the grape is another determinant of the outcome. In short, the winemaker has numerous styles at disposal.

Here is a list of the major versions. Zinfandel rose: the grapes are fermented dry. A little skin contact is allowed to give the wine a deep rose color Zinfandel big style: red Zin made from riper grapes featuring complex and intense fruit flavours plus a jammy quality

Zinfandel port: made from overripe grapes plus distilled grape spirits which are added to halt the fermentation before the sugar turns alcoholic White Zin: made from the red Zinfandel Skins and seeds are removed after crushing the grapes Late harvest Zin: made from overly ripe grapes with 1% to 3% residual sugar Zinfandel table wine: red wine derived from grapes with an optimal balance of sugar and acidity. Extended skin contact is allowed to produce intensely fruity wine You will find most of the Zin wines in retail outlets. Some have introduced new cocktails created from the same grape. It is the best juicy wine you can open at a barbecue.

This article is provided by ILoveWine.

Posted in Wine By Paul Shenton

Making A Yeast Starter Culture

13 Mar 2017 15:08:55

A yeast starter is recommended for older yeasts, if your starting gravity is high (over 1.060), for lager yeasts or if you simply want a faster start to your fermentation.  Here's how in four steps...

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Posted in Homebrew How To... By The Hopping Grape

Newsletter Christmas 2016

13 Dec 2016 16:54:57

We know you're all extremely busy at this time of year, so here is the condensed news from Hop & Grape. 
Simply click the links for more information.

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Posted in News By The Hopping Grape

What Is A Distiller's Parrot?

25 Nov 2016 14:14:17

A distiller's what?  A distiller's parrot is a handy little piece of equipment used to allow ongoing alcohol measurements while running your still to enable you to take your cuts accurately where you want them.

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Posted in Experienced brewers By The Hopping Grape

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

27 May 2016 11:42:11



Ingredients (makes approximately 1.5 litres)

20 heads of nice, fresh elderflowers (not picked by a busy road). Leave ‘creamy coloured’ heads to mature to berries for later wine making.

1.8 kg granulated sugar, or caster sugar

1.5 litres water

2 unwaxed lemons

75 g citric acid



large bowl


cloth (to cover the bowl)

fine straining bag




1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.

2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl.

4. Pour over the boiling syrup and then stir in the citric acid.

5. Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

6. Next, strain the cordial through a fine straining bag, and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and keep in cool dark place.

(If desired, Campden tablets may be added to preserve your cordial for longer.  Follow the guidance on the bottle.)

To serve, dilute to taste with still or fizzy mineral water or lemonade.

Posted in Recipes By The Hopping Grape

Elderflower Champagne Recipe

27 May 2016 09:50:41



2 kg sugar
10 unwaxed lemons
heads of nice, fresh elderflowers (not picked by a busy road). Leave ‘creamy coloured’ heads to mature to berries for later wine making.
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Champagne Yeast
yeast nutrient

Approx. 16 litres of water


large spoon
5 gallon/23 litre fermentation bucket
straining bag
bottles (able to hold higher pressures)


Sterilise and rinse all equipment.


1. Boil 4 litres of water and dissolve the sugar.
2. Transfer into a brewing bin and add top up with water to the 16 litre mark.
3. Remove the florets (a fork is useful) as too much green stalk can impart bitter flavours.
4. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
5. Allow to cool to 20
oC, add the yeast and stir.  (If you prefer, you can omit the yeast and see if the natural yeasts can do their job.  If no fermentation is evident after a couple of days, add yeast and continue as planned.)
6. Cover and leave to ferment for around 2 weeks. 
7. Strain the liquid through a straining bag and syphon into sterilised bottles; PET, champagne or glass swing-top bottles are best.
  Standard wine bottles are not suitable.
8. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for a further eight days before serving chilled.


This will make a drink of approximately 4% ABV.


You must check your bottles EVERY day to make sure there is no build-up of pressure which could be dangerous if you are using glass!  You might need to release any build-up of pressure by opening the lid and allowing excess gas to escape.  It is easy to spot plastic PET bottles starting to expand and swell; just turn the cap and let some pressure out before resealing.




Open with care, ideally outside as there is a tendency to fizz over, especially if not very chilled. Pour carefully as bottles will contain some sediment.




Best served in a glass jug with plenty of ice.


Posted in Recipes By The Hopping Grape

Still Spirits have had a number of customer complaints about cream liqueurs forming a plug and thickening like yoghurt after mixing.  Their testing has shown that hot water is the best option in order to create a cream liqueur with minimal to no plug formation.  As a result, they have changed their cream liqueur base instructions.  These will be amended from batch 1247.


55031 - Still Spirits Top Shelf Liqueur Base 400g:

Slowly add pack contents into 220ml hot water. 
Mix thoroughly with a whisk or stick blender. 
Add alcohol as per essence bottle and top up to 1.125l with water. 
Finished liqueur will keep for 1 month at room temperature or 6 months in fridge.  Please note liqueurs should be kept for only 5 days if using fresh cream.


55037 - Still Spirits Icon Cream Liqueur Base 160g:

Make as per mixing instruction on your Irish Cream Liqueur pouch using hot water.
Finished liqueur will keep for 1 month at room temperature or 6 months in fridge.  Please note liqueurs should be kept for only 5 days if using fresh cream. 

Posted in Homebrew How To... By The Hopping Grape

Taking Over At Hop and Grape

29 Jan 2016 23:02:00

Thinking of getting in to the homebrew business? Our reflections on the trials and tribulations of taking over one of the country’s best established home brew shops.

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Posted in Features By Hop Grape

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