Tag Archive | skeeter pee

Homemade Labels For Homemade Brew

No more naked bottles!

At last, I have finally tackled the troublesome task of learning how to label my home brew.  The challenge for me wasn’t so much that I didn’t know how to design the labels.  I design things all the time in Photoshop.  The pesky problem lie more with choosing the print medium and method of adhesion.

Scraping labels from recycled bottles ranks right up there with cleaning the refrigerator and doing sit-ups as my most loathsome tasks.  The last thing I wanted to do was add to my label scraping misery by putting homemade labels on my bottles using an adhesive that would evoke four letter utterances from my mouth.

But, I just knew that the Skeeter Pee project had to be the one that finally freed me from the bondage of presenting naked bottles to my humble guests.  The naked bottle vs. label standoff is finally over!   I vow to never again subject partakers in my home brew to indecent vessels or mystery brews!

My adhesive solution: milk.  Yep, milk!  I read about it on a wine making forum and I thought I’d give it a try.  It made sense really.  If you’ve ever cried over spilt milk you’ll know it has a lot to do with the sticky mess spilled milk can leave behind.  Maybe milk was just the adhesive I have been hoping for.  Something to keep the labels in place just long enough for our beverage consumption pleasure but without the major label scraping headache I am accustomed to.

Utterly energized with the hope of at long last licking this troublesome problem, I sent my design to my printer.

Then, with printed labels in hand I then pondered the problem of the milk potentially smearing the printer ink (alliteration at its best!).  My crafty instincts told me that I needed to seal the ink in some fashion before applying the milk.  So I grabbed my trusty spray acrylic sealer and sprayed the printed designs.  After allowing the paper to dry, I used my paper trimmer to cut out the labels.

The first round of labels did smear a bit as I was too heavy handed with the spray sealer and I used my fingers to apply the milk to the back of the labels.  So the next round of labels I merely misted the labels with sealer, and used a basting brush to paint the back of the labels with an even coating of milk.  And voila!  Virtually no smearing and the labels were perfectly adhered to the bottles!  Hooray!

At this point I do not know how well the bottles will stand up to the chill of the refrigerator or being packed in a cooler full of ice.  But rest assured I will post an update after my milk slathered labels have been subjected to more adverse climate conditions.

If all goes well and the labels do the job they were hired to do, I plan to invest in a better quality printer paper for my labels.  The el cheapo paper I used for these bottles was a bit flimsy and I don’t think the ink saturated the paper as deeply as I would have liked for the best possible print quality.  My dear family will be my guinea pigs for my first batch of Skeeter Pee this weekend so I will have an opportunity to test their endurance as well as the ease in which they come off the bottles when it’s time for recycling.

Skeeter Pee

This recipe has been on my to-do list ever since I read about it on one of the wine making forums a couple of weeks ago.  With a family reunion planned for the beach in July, I bumped it right to the top of my wine making to-do list.  Sipping this lemony concoction while lazily lounging next to the beachside pool just sounds like a little slice of heaven!  And I was totally tickled to discover it’s drinkable in a matter of weeks, not months or even years!  Perfect!

Though I’ve never used one before, this recipe calls for using a yeast slurry from the bottom of another batch of newly fermented wine.  The Skeeter Pee will take on a bit of the flavor of the mother wine so I decided to use the slurry from the peach and white grape wine I started last week.  I racked the peach wine into my secondary fermenter and put the slurry in a jar in the fridge for safe keeping.  It will hang out there for a couple of days until it is time to add it to the mix.

With that done, I dissolved 16 cups of sugar in 8 cups of water and 1/3 c. of lemon juice.  I simmered this mixture for half an hour.

Here’s what it looked like after the 30 minutes lapsed.

I dumped this sugary mix into my fermenting bucket along with two bottles of lemon juice, 3/4 tsp. tannin, and 3 tsp. of yeast nutrient.  This is when I discovered I didn’t have the required yeast energizer and, as my brew shop is a bit if a hike from my house I decided to order it from Amazon instead.  Fortunately two-day shipping on this item is available free to me as a Prime member and the yeast isn’t to be pitched for another 48 hours.  Hopefully this oversight won’t ruin my Skeeter Pee.  I plan to check with the wine forum to see if this will pose a problem with the batch.

I decided to kick the volume up to almost 6 gallons since my five-gallon carboy is busy working on my chardonnay kit.  The initial gravity reading was 1.054 but I needed it to be 1.070.

With the 1.070 target in mind, I added more sugar syrup until I got it where I needed it to be.  I also added 1 cup of additional lemon juice to compensate for the larger batch.

The mix now needs to sit for a couple of days before adding the slurry to allow the preservatives from the lemon juice to dissipate.  So I covered the bucket and put it in the wine closet with the rest of my fermenting wines.  I’ll add the yeast energizer as soon as it arrives and post updates here as the batch progresses.

You can find the original Skeeter Pee recipe here.

Amazingly, for less than $15 this recipe will make over 5 gallons of crisp, refreshing lemon wine!  That’s over 30 bottles of wine or nearly 60 beer-sized bottles of Skeeter Pee.  Time will soon tell if it was money well spent.

Skeeter Pee Batch Update May 28:  Feeling antsy about the Skeeter Pee still hanging out in the primary, I decided I should rack it into the secondary.  I am not sure if it was okay in the bucket, but I assume like most wines it’s best to keep the oxygen contact with the wine at a minimum.

Gravity reading is .094 and it’s ready for the next step of degassing and addition of Kmeta, sorbate, and Sprarklinoid, but as I am a bit under the weather that is going to have to wait for another day or two.

Another update in a couple days…

June 20 Skeeter Pee Update:

I finally got around to racking the Skeeter Pee and backsweetening.  There was a good deal of sediment on the bottom of the carboy, but it wasn’t completely clear yet.  The sample I tasted was pretty good, but still seems too young for drinking.  Hopefully it will mellow quickly as I am hoping to take some along with me to the beach in a few weeks.  I’ll check it again in a couple weeks to see if it’s ready for bottling.

July 9 Skeeter Pee Update:

Today was the day I finally bottled up the Skeeter Pee.  Yay!   I took a gravity reading right before bottling, but I probably should have taken one every day for a few days to make sure no fermenting was going on following the last addition of the sugar.  Today’s reading was 1.022 though I don’t yet know if that’s where it’s supposed to be.  It tasted a little “hot” and undersweet to me so I am poking around on some wine forums to try to get some insight and advice.

The appearance of some bubbles around the plugs on the kegs also has me a bit concerned.  I really hopes this isn’t an indication that my Skeeter Pee started refermenting with the last addition of sugar.  I am pretty sure the kegs will be okay because they allow a bit of the gas to escape, but the wine and beer bottles went out to the garage just in case there happens to be any unfortunate explosions due to an excess of gas.

I am not in love with Skeeter Pee at this point, but I think it might be because I skimped a little on the sugar when I backsweetened.  I don’t generally drink sweet wines and I figured I could always add a bit of simple syrup when I serve it if it’s not sweet enough for myself or my guests.  I also think it will improve a good bit when I try it chilled versus the room temperature sample I took prior to bottling.

I am planning to serve this at an upcoming family reunion so I’ll update the post once more with the final, final verdict.