Cider testing project batch #2

Batch number two of my apple cider experiments.  I am going to add a little tannin to this batch as well as some yeast nutrient.  From what I have read the difference between american ciders and English ciders is the tannin that is in the English ciders.  I have always liked the dry English ciders that I have tried so this hopefully will taste close to one of them.  I really should use the exact same yeast for all of these experiments.  But I have several in the fridge that are getting close to end of life so I need to use them up. Also adding a smidgen of pectic enzyme to help clarify it out.  I forgot to add any to the previous 2 batches I made (5 gallon farm apples and 1 gallon store-bought)

Stronger cider then last bottle I got.  Going to be strong when it is completed
Stronger cider then last bottle I got. Going to be strong when it is completed

Hard cider ingredients:

  • apple mix: organic unfiltered Cider.  (same as I used for batch 1)
  • yeast: Montrachet
  • pectic enzyme
  • yeast nutrient

Measurements:

  • Original Gravity (OG): 1.060
  • Final Gravity (FG): pending
  • estimated alcohol amount at FG of 1.0=8.2%

Now to let it bubble for a month or so.  Go Cider go

Cider testing project batch #1

As I watched my first batch of cider for the year bubble away I realized that I would have issues repeating any delicious cider.  Most of this is due to the fact I have to use whatever random varieties of apples that I find that are ripe.  The flavors of the different varieties mixed together make for delicious drinking.  Just not a consistent flavor.  So to do some experimenting I am getting multiple bottles of a local organic cider that has no preservatives in it.  This will make for more consistency as I try different amounts of sugar, or honey, or brown sugar,  and experiment with different yeasts. And the nice thing is that the cider I am getting is in 1 gallon glass bottles so all I have to do is add the yeast and an air lock.

gallon of cider to ferment
gallon of cider to ferment

This first batch will be a simple batch with no added sugars or clarifiers

Hard cider ingredients:

  • apple mix: organic unfiltered Cider.  (my first time use of pasteurized cider)
  • yeast: Champagne

Measurements:

  • Original Gravity (OG): 1.058
  • Final Gravity (FG): pending
  • estimated alcohol amount at FG of 1.0=8.0%

This is the sweetest cider I have seen with no added sugar.  Normally I have to add a lot of sugar to get to that high of reading.

I labeled the bottle with a sharpie so I don't get them mixed up as I start up more batches
I labeled the bottle with a sharpie so I don’t get them mixed up as I start-up more batches

I realized as I added the picture that I forgot a zero on the reading……It will still be good.  The cider is sweet but has a great flavor.  I think I will like this better than the batches that I made last year.  Sour apples make for a very sour cider.  Which is good for those that like sour apple vodka.  I prefer a nice dry smooth cider though.

Hard cider making 2013

Wonder cider maker Katy dooby doo
Wonder cider maker Katy dooby doo

It is that time of year to crush up some apples and make cider.  unfortunately it was not a very good year to get lots of apples for me to make multiple batches of different ciders.  The bad thing about mix and matching apples is that there is almost no way for me to duplicate a great hard cider from one year to the next.  About the only thing I can do is be consistent with the variety of yeast that I use.  Last year I used Champagne and Nottingham for all my batches of hard cider, which were all very good, but since I used a heavy waxen mix for every type of hard cider I made they were all very tart.  This years apples are a bunch of different variety that were about the only ones we could find. They

Hard cider ingredients:

  • apple mix: Northern spy, sweet seedling of some kind, waxen (no more than half a gallon of the five), Spitzenburg
  • yeast: White labs English cider yeast WLP775 (i wanted the strain from rogue brewery called pacman but they were sold out)
  • 5 campdon pellets to kill all the wild yeast
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient per gallon of cider

Measurements:

  • Original Gravity (OG): 1.050
  • Final Gravity (FG): pending 🙂
  • estimated alcohol amount at FG of 1.0=6.56%
This years yeast of choice
This years yeast of choice

This came out with a higher sugar content than any of the ones i did last year.  Last years cider was also just the early fall varieties and these are all winter apples except for the small amount of waxen’s we added as a filler.  The sugar content is close to a one gallon batch of red June apples that I used by them selves.  That was a good cider I back sweetened it and heat pasteurized it after it self carbonated.  It was gone in less than two weeks.

  • Cider started: 10/15/2013
  • Yeast started dropping out of suspension: 10/25/2013

Bottling hard Cider

After you have your delicious brew ready to bottle there are only a few steps left before you are ready to age and bottle up your Hard cider.  The first step is to sterilize all of your bottles and equipment.  This is a step you do not want to skip.  Just a little contamination will ruin all of your hard work that you put in to getting and making your cider.  The hardest part I have had in bottling up my cider is estimating how many bottles you need for your batch.  The standard you will see on an internet search is two cases of bottles per five gallon batch.  I have found that this is a little under what you will actually need.  All of my batches are for a carbonated cider so i use one liter soda bottles for my extra cider over the two cases.  The bonus of doing this is you can tell when your cider has carbonated to the point you want to drink.

If you are going to bottle your Hard cider flat (also called still cider) you can skip over this part and go straight to the bottling section.  To make a sparkling cider you will need to add a sugar primer to your brew .  As long as it is fermentable sugar you can use any kind you have available.  Each type  will add to the distinctive taste of your bottled cider.  I have used white sugar, brown sugar and honey in my batches.  All of them are good so it is mostly a matter of preference.  If you have used a specific type of sugar to boost the alcohol content I would recommend using that same type as your primer.  For a five gallon batch add 3/4 cup of sugar  dissolved in 4 cups of warm water to it.  Adding more than this can cause you to make a bottle bomb if it over carbonates and explodes.

On to the bottling stage! Raise your full carboy up higher than the tops of where you bottles will be.  I use the convenient kitchen table and have my bottles on the floor.  Then insert your siphon hose and start filling bottles.  Having two people at this stage makes it much faster but it is easily done solo.  Fill the bottles to about one inch from the top and move on to the next bottle.  If you are lucky enough to have a 2nd person helping you one person can fill and the second can cap the bottles.  A good capper will press down the edges of your caps and seal the bottles tightly.  You cannot reseal screw off lids.  As a rule they do not completely seal and can ruin your batch.  Once capped let your bottles set at least two weeks to carbonate.  The one you filled in a soda bottle is a great gauge on how much bubbles you have in there.  Finally chill and enjoy the fruits of your laber.

Hard Apple Cider part 1

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Hard apple cider is one of the easiest alcoholic drinks that a home brewer can make. And my personal favorite to drink on a cool evening. As with anything that you make always use the best ingredients that you can get. I am lucky enough to have access to an apple orchard on our family property and can press my own mix of apples. Mmmmmm fresh cider out of the apple press is the best part of fall. Now for the basics of making hard cider.

Ingredients:

  • 5 gallons of apple cider (fresh or store bought)
  • wine/ale yeast of choice. (I use Nottingham ale yeast for the majority of my batches. But it is a matter of taste preference)
  • 5 campden tablets (only needed if you use unpasteurized cider)
  • 6 gallon glass carboy and airlock

If you have never brewed any type of beer or wine before you will need to remember the first rule. STERILIZE everything that will be touching the cider. Any brew store will have something you can use to sterilize the carboy and many bottles. I use unscented bleach for my sterilizing. One cap full per gallon of water is all that is needed. Add and let sit for 20 minutes to make sure that all the little critters that might be in it are dead.

Pour the cider into the carboy and add the crushed campden tablets. Cover the top of the carboy with a cloth and rubber band it around the top (you don’t want fruit flies to get in and contaminate it) Let sit for 24 hrs for the campden to kill the native yeast. After the wait time add in your yeast following the instructions on the package for how to re hydrate it add it into the must (yes it is called a must after you add in the yeast). Last but not least add the air lock to your carboy. After a couple of days it should start bubbling and your cider is on its way to making a wonderful beverage. Let bubble and ferment for 2-4 weeks or until all the sugars are converted to alcohol. With no added sugar to your batch you will end up with a hard cider that is 4%-7% alcohol depending on the varieties of apples that you use. At this point you can either decide to make it crisp and bubbly or kill off the yeast and make a flat cider.  I prefer it with a little carbonation over a flat batch.  Stay tuned for part 2 on how to bottle and prime your batch of hard cider

How to Bottle your cider