Most common errors Part 1

Whilst we aim to make your drinks-making process as simple and easy to follow as possible, there are a few areas where even the slightest mistake can affect, or even ruin your entire batch!

So, we’ve compiled the most commonly reported errors seen when making your own wine, beer or cider, and how to avoid them.  

1. Clean and Sanitise

First up is cleaning and sanitisation. This is such an important step in making any type of alcoholic drink, no matter the scale of your operation. The biggest wineries and breweries spend a huge amount of time keeping their equipment clean and sanitary, as the cost of ruining and having to dispose of a batch is too high.

Infections or off-flavours occur when an unwanted foreign body, or bacteria come into contact with your beverage and start to consume the sugars, producing unwanted nasties in the process. The only thing you want to consume the sugars in your drink is the yeast.

To reduce the risk of the unwanted contaminations, you should thoroughly clean and sanitise your equipment. MYO Equipment Sanitiser can be used to effectively remove harmful organisms that can ruin your wine, beer or cider during fermentation. This should be used after cleaning your equipment – this is a different process to sanitisation, where you’re removing debris and materials that can harvest unwanted organisms from the surface of your equipment. There’s little point in sanitising if there’s something stuck on your bucket where bacteria can hide.

So, make sure you both Clean and Sanitise your equipment, before starting the winemaking process.

Additionally, you can also reduce the chance of infection, by:

  • • Working in clean surroundings – you don’t want anything accidentally falling into your fermentation.
  • • Wash your hands, remove jewellery and anything else that could potentially fall into the bucket.
  • • Keep the Fermentation Bucket covered with the lid anytime you’re not mixing or adding ingredients, and don’t lift the lid anytime during fermentation, no matter how tempting!

The above also counts when it comes to the bottling stage too. Although there is less risk of infection at this stage, you don’t want to get that far into the process only to put your wine, beer or cider in unclean / not sanitised bottles. Admittedly it isn’t the most exciting part, but it’s a critical one, so be sure not to skip this important step.

2. Temperature Control

Our second ‘Common Error’ is poor temperature control during fermentation. Yeast is happiest and works best in certain temperatures, and so in order for it to work efficiently within the recommended 7-10 days fermentation, your wine, beer or cider should be kept at a constant temperature of 20-25°C throughout fermentation.

Sometimes this is easier said than done, depending on the time of year and where the Fermentation Bucket is stored at home, as temperatures can drop at night or get too hot during the day.

Finding a good spot in your house that doesn’t get too hot during hotter months, such as a basement or dark corner of a room which isn’t exposed to sunlight is important. Ground floor spaces are generally cooler, and try to keep the Fermentation Bucket away from pipes or radiators that can heat up. In more extreme cases you can also try to keep your fermentation cool by keeping it in a large pan of water, and draping material e.g. a t-shirt over the top of the Fermentation Bucket, in a well vented room.

It can be slightly easier to manage the temperature during cold spells, with a little investment. Heat pads such as this are easy to use and reasonable in price. Alternatively, you can use blankets or other insulating material to try to keep the heat in the bucket.

In all cases, hot or cold, remember to monitor the temperature often to check it’s staying within range.

That’s all for part 1 – we’ll cover more errors in part 2.