I know a lot of us bloggers have a tendency to highlight our successes and minimize our failures. Looking at my own blog I see that my notable failures rarely make the roster, while my successes tend to get highlighted. So to even the scales somewhat, herein I present the results of my worst idea of 2015…
The recipe itself was merely a footnote in a previous post; a slight deviation of my normal cider recipe – in place of good o’l Nottingham yeast I used a Belgian yeast (safale T-58). The idea was simple, and its an idea I think remains sound. Simply put, I was hoping that the fruity character of the Belgian yeast would accent is apple flavors of the cider, while the phenolics would create a character like a spiced/mulled cider. On paper it was a winner; in practice is was a real loser.
Aroma: Smells like cider; apple plus a slight yeasty note.
Appearance: Golden, slight yeast haze
Flavor: A conflicting and poorly balanced mix of flavors. About the only thing that is right is that the finish is dry – which is how I like my ciders. After that, it all goes wrong. The most obvious ‘flavor’ is a clash between the apple notes of the cider must and the stone fruit character of the yeast. Yes, in hindsight it is pretty obvious that apple would clash with the raisin/date/dried fruit note of the yeast, but that didn’t enter my thought process when planing out this recipe. But if that were not enough, the spice character of the yeast also conflicts – as in this beast is a Mexican standoff of three conflicting flavors. In place of the (hoped for) clove character I instead have a stale “5-year old cheap pumpkin spice” character. The sort of thing you would expect from jar of budget-bin mixed spices found in the back of your spice cabinet (or in any starbucks-branded scone). In other words, the flavor was that of apples fighting with dates, fighting with something akin to an unnamed brand of underarm deodorant. Either of the former two would be OK, but the three together are wrong, wrong and wrong.
Mouthfeel: Its a cider, so its dry and crisp. Even poor yeast selection couldn’t screw that one up.
Overall: Disappointment in a glass. Sort of like liquefying every date you ever had in middle-school – not overly good, but hidden potential was there. I don’t think the concept itself is flawed, but T-58 is not the yeast to make this work.