Our old apartment returns to wine friendly temperatures (middle seventies Fahrenheit). So I pack the kids into the back seat, and we carefully crawl over speed bumps home. I only yell at them once for splashing each other. Once they reclaim their place as living room decoration, we seem ready for fermentation. I quickly clean the equipment. However, the must is only a few inches deep, while the hydrometer is 10 inches long: too long to check the specific gravity (relative density, brix) of the sugar to liquid.
I rack some must into a sterile wine bottle that will fit the hydrometer.
The specific gravity sits at 1.030 brix. This means that the potential alcohol will end up at around measly 4% of volume. You might recall my Barbarescowelches started at 1.080 brix giving it almost 11% potential alcohol by volume. Blueberries have only 65% of the sugars that grapes contain. So I cheat. Not interested in blueberry beer, I stir in some dissolved organic cane sugar (maybe a cup, or two or three). If smart, I would recheck the specific gravity to determine the potential alcohol. But I am far too impatient to waste time being smart. It is time to ferment.
Internet wisdom claims Montrachet yeast from Red Star is the weapon of choice. Developed by UC Davis in 1963, yeast strain 522 can turn sugar into alcohol until it reaches 13% or dips outside of 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It can even survive small amounts of sulfur dioxide (in case I get cleaning crazy). Other strains of yeast are tougher, but my fruit is not concentrated enough in flavor or body to cover up more than 13% alcohol on the palate. Balance is the goal. Well, at least drink-ability would be nice. So, as before, I add my single-celled militia of millions to a cup of warm water and wait. Nothing. One hour then two pass by. I get angry and dump the yeast into the must, cap it, air lock it and go to bed.
With morning light I check the tank. Eerie silence. No gurgling air lock like last time. I crack the lid. Nothing.
Maybe it is too cold. The yeast packet may be a dud. Maybe it was the change in location. What if red is the new black? Maybe blueberries lack the sugar or nutrients to restart yeast.
I look for life. A white film runs to a blue patch on the otherwise burgundy juice and skin bag. Not good. In my mad dash to clean and re-rack, I did not rinse out the “rinsing is not necessary with one step” oxyclean. The yeasts may never wake up. Billy Mays’s revenge is at hand.