I had some interaction with a new friend last night, Wines by Ari. Ari is also writing a blog about wines and has been brewing some wine at home. Check out her blog by clicking the link above. Anyway we were posting back and forth about heating your sugar and water versus stirring and she made a comment/question I get a lot.
She posted “That’s cool…I guess you get a arm workout in the process :)”
My wife and I used to shake our bottles when we first started. Back then, we used one gallon bottles only and shaking them wasn’t to difficult. Now we use a three gallon carboy to ferment in and only use the one gallon bottles for racking. I admit, shaking the carboy proved to be more difficult and we thought about using the same method Ari does. We were ready to concede to heating the sugar and water on the stove top. But, what pot to use? Will it ruin the pot? How hard will it be to clean? Should we buy a pot just for brewing (that would be a big pot for a three gallon batch)?
Then the most amazing thing happened.
My wife and “partner in wine” gave me one of the best Christmas presents I ever received! A beautifully crafted stir stick.
The stir stick is just shy of three feet long. It has a metal center covered in food grade plastic and can be used with a three or four gallon carboy. The tip, on the left of the above/below picture, is made of plastic and has arms that fold down. A user folds the arms inward and puts the tip through the neck of the carboy. Once inside the carboy, the arms open up when the tip touches the bottom of the vessel. See below…
stir stick closed and opened
This stir stick is then attached to a drill; preferably a cordless drill. Presto, stirring with no effort. We usually stir three or four times for about 30 seconds each and this is plenty. The first time we used the stir, our mix was totally different than what we were used to. It was mixed much better and when the yeast was poured in we had activity all the way to the bottom right away. The bubbling started sooner and was more vigorous.
Tip: Don’t use the stir once the yeast is added, a gentle swirl is more than enough to get the yeast moving through the mix. Too much oxygen is not good for the yeast.
Unfortunately, the stir doesn’t work in a gallon bottle and I haven’t seen one designed for a gallon to date. Maybe I should make and market one! When you graduate to carboys, I highly recommend you get one of these. They are well worth what you pay for them.
These are usually about $20 to $30 dollars. Stir sticks come in both food grade plastic and stainless steel with a couple different designs. Ours was purchased through Amazon.com.
Hope you enjoy!