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).
This year I was hoping to do something similar, but in large quantity. However I missed my window, and this years crop was much more expensive than in past years. I was finally able to pickup cider in mid december. Thankfully making hard cider really isn’t that time consuming. This years batch was made with 3 gallons of Lull Farm unpasteurized apple cider blend. I first added 1 campden tablet, and pectic enzyme, to the cider and allowed it to sit over night to nock down the wild yeasts the cider. Next, I added a pound of local wild flower honey. Which makes this closer to a cyser, instead of a true cider. In addition to the honey, I added yeast nutrient, and one packet of safale us 05. A lot of folks use wine or champaign yeast, I assume because it can better metabolize the fructose and glucose in apple cider, since grapes are similar in composition. My understanding is that cider is highly fermentable, so I’m not too worried about us 05, a known hearty yeast, being unable to ferment it out. Last years nottingham yeast did just fine.
After pitching, during the fist week of fermentation, I tried to degas the cider a few times. I was also meaning to stagger the yeast nutrient as a local accomplished mead maker recommended during many podcasts this past summer and fall as a key to meed making, and I assume since honey is a portion of the fermentables in cyser, the same would apply. However, I slacked, and didn’t manage to do so.
I did however ferment the cider much cooler than I ferment ales, which tend to rip through at 65+, this sat at 55-60. It was in primary for 28 days, and now it’s been transferred to a keg for cold conditioning. The last batch I made seems like it underwent malolactic fermentation some time after it went into the keg, it went from very dry and acetic, to much more mellow after a few months in the keg. I’m hoping this happens again, as the first batch wasn’t any good until that transformation took place. When I transferred I took a sample, and it wasn’t bad. We’ll see if I need to back sweeten or try to inoculate for malo lactic fermentation.
Recipe can be found here: http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/77670/cider-w-honey
Current status: Transferred on 1/5/13 for cold conditioning, gravity was near 1.001.