Blackberry Port – 2016

Now that it’s berry season, I’ve decided to make a small batch of Blackberry Port.  They were selling for about $3.50 a pound the other day at Costco, which, I’m told, is a very good price for blackberries.  I did some research and settled on using Jack Keller’s recipe.  Here is what I did:

Day 0 – I got six 18oz packages of blackberries at Costco, 6.75 pounds.  I threw them in a mesh bag and mashed them in a big pot with a potato masher.  I was shooting for a starting Brix of 25.  So with some trial and error, I ended up dissolving 6 cups of sugar into 9 cups of water and poured it in.  I added 1.5 tsp of acid blend.  I covered and let it sit over night.  The liquid volume of this is just over 1 gallon at this point.

Day 1 (morning) – I added .5 tsp of Pectic Enzyme (apparently to dissolve the fibrous material in the berries)

Day 1 (night) – I pitched the yeast on top.  Every day after that I manually squeezed out the mesh bag of berry skins.

Day 4 – I took a Brix reading and it got to 8 Brix, which was a lot lower than I was expecting.  Apparently this ferments quicker than grapes.  I poured in 20oz of grappa to arrest the fermentation.  Presuming 90%abv of the grappa (a wild guess), using the Pearson Square, that means that this is now at 17.5% abv with 8 Brix worth of sugar remaining.  That should be enough to stop the fermentation, but I’ll likely have to add both grappa and sugar down the line.  Note that this tastes terrible at this point, yeasty, silty, hot alcohol (in a bad way), and not super sweet.

Day 6 – To extend the maceration period slightly, I let the mixture sit for 48 hours after the grappa addition.  I then squeezed out the bag one last time and poured the port into one 1 gallon container with airlock, and one sealed 1 liter Monkey Head bottle.  Now we wait ….  Rack and clarify.

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