Damson Port

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dean_wales
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Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:38 am

Hi Guys,

This autumns booze from fruit making is getting a little out of hand due to it being such a good year and I think I am starting to make a lot of quantity that may not have the quality if you get me. But hey-ho it is fun all the same!

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I picked a whole load (30kg) of damsons last month which I promptly washed and froze as I had no time. Most went for jam and jelly making but some were held back for alcoholic fun!

Last week I thawed 8kg and after some hand squelching and mashing put them into a FV. I added water to the three gallon mark along with cambded and pectolase and left for 24 hours.

I decided that I wanted to make a stronger (15%-20%) drink as I already have some red wine from grapes on the go. So I picked up a sachet of Alcotec 48 Turbo Yeast and pitched it along with 2kg of sugar and 250g of chopped raisins.

Four days later, after the most vigourous fermentation has died down and the damsons dissolved a bit, I strained the damson soup into a clean FV and topped up with a little more water to 3 gallons again. I also added a further 1.5kgs of sugar and a small 250ml can of Youngs Red Grape Concentrate.

This liquid is now fermenting away in the bucket but I have a few questions on what to do next...

- So far I have added 3.5kgs sugar (plus a bit from the damsons?) to three gallons of liquid, how much more do I need? Ideally I want to produce a 20%abv finished product that also has a final gravity of 1.020-1.030?

- The fermenting must looks a very pale pink. I know it will be milky due to the sheer amount of yeast but I do want a rich dark port style drink as it will need flavour and body to carry the alcohol. Do I need to add any more fruit or adjuncts to make this happen. My two considerations at the moment are adding some mashed elderberries, some kind of fruit syrup (polish one?) and/or lots more red grape concentrate.

- At what stage should I transfer to demi johns?

- I know that people using the Alcotec yeast to ferment washes for distilling add carbon etc to remove off flavours. Do you need to do this in my usage? I am essentially just planning on using it as a high gravity wine yeast!

Thanks
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Re: Damson Port

Post by Pinto » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:26 pm

Dont think i'd have used the alcotec as it is designed for carbon scrubbing so might affect the flavour; only time will tell. If i might suggest, for future hi alcohol brews, look at using Gervin GV4 (purple pack) as with careful nurturing and nutrient support it can reach the magic 20% too :-)
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dean_wales
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Re: Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:26 pm

That's a shame - my usually fairly reliable LHBS owner said he thought it would be OK.

In essence it is just a sugar wash with a few damsons thrown in. I wouldn't use it in an all fruit/juice wine. It just seemed like an ideal candidate to get a very strong sweet drink!

Any ideas on how to make it more port like?

Dean.
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Re: Damson Port

Post by jmc » Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:15 pm

dean_wales wrote:That's a shame - my usually fairly reliable LHBS owner said he thought it would be OK.

In essence it is just a sugar wash with a few damsons thrown in. I wouldn't use it in an all fruit/juice wine. It just seemed like an ideal candidate to get a very strong sweet drink!

Any ideas on how to make it more port like?

Dean.
Blackberries will help make it more port-like. Can you get any of these?

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Re: Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:55 pm

I didn't pick any this year unfortunately - I could buy some though. Maybe a blackberry suryp would be better as I have already strained this batch!

I definitely think that a handful of elderberries would be good for colour and tannin. Not too many though as I am not mad on the flavour and they take some serious age to mellow!

I think waiting till the alcohol level gets too much for the yeast and only then adding another 250ml-500ml of red grape concentrate with the sweetening sugar would be good too as that would not get fermented.

The FV does smell very sulphurous right now though.... :-(
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Re: Damson Port

Post by jmc » Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:33 pm

dean_wales wrote:I didn't pick any this year unfortunately - I could buy some though. Maybe a blackberry syrup would be better as I have already strained this batch!

I definitely think that a handful of elderberries would be good for colour and tannin. Not too many though as I am not mad on the flavour and they take some serious age to mellow!

I think waiting till the alcohol level gets too much for the yeast and only then adding another 250ml-500ml of red grape concentrate with the sweetening sugar would be good too as that would not get fermented.

The FV does smell very sulphurous right now though.... :-(
If you add a syrup during fermentation I'd be wary of potassium sorbate & sodium Bisulphite in the syrup.
Bisulphate can normally be removed by boiling syrup for a while 1st but I don't think sorbate is destroyed by boiling.

Alternatively you could add the syrup as a sweetener post-fermentation, to replace sugar and grape concentrate you were thinking of adding.
In that case the preservatives in the syrup wouldn't be a problem. I'd still keep it under airlock for a while after adding any fermentables as a precaution.

As an example Ribena contains sorbate & Bisulphite
see http://www.ribena.co.uk/products/original/
Ingredients

(after dilution): Water, Sugar, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (5%), Citric Acid, Vitamin C, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulphite), Colour (Anthocyanins). Product before dilution contains 22% juice. Contains no artificial colours, artificial flavours or sweeteners

Interesting article on Sorbate -
Everything you know about potassium sorbate is wrong!

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Re: Damson Port

Post by Dr. Dextrin » Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:11 pm

My latest experiments with port-like drinks have been from the opposite end. I infuse fruit in vodka and sugar, like when making sloe gin. Then, after straining out the fruit, I blend with an equal quantity of full-bodied red wine (any flavour, really). I guess you could use a high-alcohol yeast in the wine to minimise the amount of spirit needed, but I just use my regular hedgerow red.

So far, this has produced good results in small trial quantities. You get a really big fruit hit because the fortifying spirit is basically a fruit liqueur instead of just plain spirit.

I'm not sure if it would work with damsons, though. I tried infusing a single damson in a small amount of spirit and didn't manage to extract much flavour, although the damson tasted brilliant afterwards! It works well with blackberries, sloes & elderberries, though.

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Re: Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:24 pm

That's funny as what recipes I had seen regarding damsons warned against fermenting on the pulp for too long with them. Apparently the flavour is too strong/unpleasant! They certainly are strongly flavoured and quite sharp when eating them.

And yes JMC any syrups I add will be only after the yeast has maxed out and along with the sugar will be aimed at increasing sweetness and fruit flavours. I may just add some powdered tannin at this stage if needed.
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Re: Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:39 pm

Now racked to three demi johns (threw half a gallon away :shock: )

It had fermented out pretty much to zero so time to add more sugar to keep it going! I tasted some of the half gallon I threw away and although it was obviously rank there were no obvious off flavours from the yeast, hoping the low temps of 17c (this yeast likes 20c to 30c) will keep flavours neutral.

The damson acidity seemed about right and was quite pronounced. It definitely will need a big sweet round fruit flavour and some tannin adding though.

It is still looks like strawberry milkshake though!

Dean.
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Re: Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:36 pm

OK so this experiment continues with varying levels of success...

I have been concerend lately at the yellow ring/film forming at the neck of the demi john. It looks like this:

Image

I could be some residual fermentation I suppose but it seems much more likely to be spoillage. Hygiene wasnt great in the early days of this brew, lots of lessons learnt.

Anyway, I tatsted a glass and it seemed remarkably good - damson aroma followed by big hit of damson acidity and lots of alcohol. Gravity at around zero.

So I decided to finish off the brew as planned. I racked all three gallons off the trub into a big bucket, degassed and mixed in a whole bottle of Blackcurrant and half a bottle of cherry Lowicz suryps. This had been warmed to a simmer on the hob with a few hundrew grams of extra sugar.

ImageImage

Doing so brought the gravity back up to 1.030 which is right were I want it for this dessert wine. I tasted it and it was really nice, just lacks the dark tart tannin of red grapes. Pleasant though and easy to drink. I have a feeling though that I have now filled it with pectin so will be extremely cloudy, but that is not important here.

It got a good dose of camden tablets (2 per gallon) to hopefully kill of the yellow film nasties.

Will keep an eye on the airlock and specific gravity over the next few months - if it is stable then I will bottle in the spring.

Dean.
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Re: Damson Port

Post by TC2642 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:05 am

I made some pretty good damson port for xmas 2014. My method was to make some Damson gin, decant off the gin and then stuck some of my blackberry wine on top of the used damsons, left for about a month before decanting, the leftover damsons leave a very nice tasting porter type wine with no added hassle.
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Re: Damson Port

Post by brewtalk » Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:51 am

If it comes out being less then pleasant you could put it in 2 liter coke bottles and freeze it solid and put the bottle upside down in a sterilized bucket and let the booze escape and the rest stays frozen in the bottles. it will leave you with a high alcohol mixer good with any fizzy drink or fruit juice.

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Re: Damson Port

Post by dean_wales » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:09 am

TC2642 wrote:I made some pretty good damson port for xmas 2014. My method was to make some Damson gin, decant off the gin and then stuck some of my blackberry wine on top of the used damsons, left for about a month before decanting, the leftover damsons leave a very nice tasting porter type wine with no added hassle.
I wish I had some blackberries - they are definately the fruit to use with damsons to get the dark rich colour you need.

Had a taste test yesterday. Veeery sweet, so drinkable if a little rough. Going to try and add some tannin to one DJ as it is a bit meh flavour wise.

Next year I will make a wine with 50/50 damsons and blackberries.
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