Very small batch Cyser

Making a mead has been in my brewing pipeline for quite some time. Last fall I took a swing at a cyser, but it was really more of a honey fortified cider, than a real cyser. Having tried a really good example at one of the BFD club meetings, I knew I wanted to make a better example. After listening to Michael Fairbrother (member of, and former President of BFD) of Moonlight Meadery on BeerSmith’s podcast talking about meads, and specifically Kurts Apple Pie (Cyser) I had a fairly good idea how to make a cyser I was hoping for. Continue reading

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Cider with honey review.

This is just a quick review of last years cider. I don’t make a ton of cider, I try to make a batch a year, it seems like the right thing to do living where I do. There are numerous orchards with in a short drive. You can even see quite a few wild apple trees along many of my local running routes. This is what it’s like living in converted farm county. Continue reading

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Hollis Honey Perry

I got a text this past weekend letting me know a friend had some extra pear cider, asking if I was interested in coming over and helping make some. I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve never had fresh pear cider, and I never made Perry. I am a big fan of both pears and local fruit. Sunday morning I set of with my work crew and we headed to turn some pears into juice. The Cider grinder and press is a gorgeous piece that would look at home in a turn of the farm (1900’s). Osha and FDA certified it is not, with a hand crank powered toothed grinding wheel, a large open flywheel, and lots of wood. Continue reading

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Cider with a twist, Cyser

This fall was pretty hectic, starting a new job, having appendicitis, and a trip to California. All of this happening in the span of 3 months really cut into my free and brewing time. So much so, I nearly missed making my 2nd batch of cider. It’s not like making cider is time intensive either. The basic recipe is Cider + sugar + yeast + fermentation time. While I did finally make a batch, I did miss my preferred cider mix from the local farm. During picking season the farm will have single varietal fresh ciders along with their normal blend. These aren’t hard cider specific apples known for their acidity, or tannins, just single mac, macoun, or my favorite, honey crisp. Last years batch was a mix of honey crisp and cider blend, and after malolactic fermentation, aging on various items, it turned out quite well. Well enough to take a ribbon at a club only cider comp (1 of 8 or so). Continue reading

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Aging Hard Cider on stuff

raw hard cider

After trying my cider early this fall It was far to astringent to drink. Perhaps it was just too young and needed further conditioning. So, rather than pour it out, I decided to let it age.As you may have read I embarked upon fermenting my first cider this past fall. As it completed fermentation I kegged had carbonated it. Perhaps it was still too green, but when I tried it, it was very acidic, and difficult to enjoy. So, rather than let it go to waste I decided to cold age it in the converted chest freezer. There it sat for 4 months. I recently decided I wanted to free up the keg and make room, so I moved it to 3 growlers I had sitting around. So much for being ‘undrinkable’ it was half gone. Continue reading

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Fermenting Hard Cider

A few firsts. My first Cider fermenting. My first time reusing yeast. Hoping for the best on both accounts.
This is yet another long over due goal. I’ve wanted to make hard cider for a long time. Living where we do within a short drive to numerous orchards of every shape and size the fall smell of fallen apples is amazing. After some brief reading of how to make cider online, I figured it was easy enough to do, that I had to give it a go.
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Recipe:
3 Gallons unpasteurized cider
2 cups turbinato sugar
1/8 tb peptic enzyme
1 campden tablet
Yeast nutrient
600ml yeast / starter

Mix cider w/ sugar, enzyme, and camden. Wait 24 hrs.
Prepare your yeast starter*.
Add yeast to cider, and ferment at 70ish for 2-3 weeks. Rack off lees, cold crash, serve. Enjoy.
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If only it were that simple. So, what really happened? As I was fermenting the cider, I’d yet to really establish proper fermentation control, so it pogo’d as the crazy fall weather went from 65 to 35 and back. It went through a phase where it seemed very dmsy, or even sulfery. When it came time to stop the fermentation. Because of a bit of a mix up with my temperature controller, I didn’t have any means to actually cold crash the cider, or stop fermentation when there was still some natural sugar left. I figured it would be ok to just let roll. I was wrong. I did decide to carb it at low pressure (5psi at 40*) to see how it tasted subtly carbonated. It turned very dry, and w/out any sweetness. I decided to take a bold step and back sweeten w/ 1/2 can of grape concentrate, and to recarb. While it recarbed just fine, the cider isn’t very good. Described as ‘earthy’ and winey by the the brave souls I shared it with.

Plan for next time? I’m sure there are recipe tweaks I could do, but I think it comes down to two things. I need to be less hesitant to stop fermentation. Even if that means heat pasteurizing. Anything to keep that zing and sugar of a cider. Also, I’m going to do more research, perhaps try to pick the brain of Steve Woods of Farnum hill to get a better understating where my process has failed.

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