Its Cider Time!

A third of this years cider haul

Its early October, the evenings are starting to get cool, and the leaves on a few ambitious trees are starting to change colour. That can mean only one thing – its cider season! This year my brew-club arranged a buy from a local farmer, receiving in total 729 litres of fresh-pressed cider! This years cider was a mix of 5 or so apple types, and had a S.G. of 1.047 – on the higher end for ciders!

This year I am brewing 15 gal of cider, using three different recipes. The first is the same cider I brewed last year – simple, quick and \fantastic. The second batch is an apple wine, its constitution girded with frozen apple juice concentrate and table sugar. The last is a brew for my wife – a wine/cider mix which will be stabilized & back-sweetened once fermentation & aging is complete.

L->R: Apple wine, Cider-Grape Cooler, Imperium Brettania
Front: Classical cider

Recipes & details below the fold…

Common Elements:

A few things were kept the same between the three batches of cider. To each I added 2.5 g of potassium metabisulfate (0.5 g/ imperial gallon) in order to rid them of any bacteria or wild yeasts. 17 hours later I mixed in 2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme and 1 teaspoon (a double-dose) of wyeast yeast nutrient. After a further 12 hours the yeast were pitched.

Basic Cider:

This is the same as last years SWIMBO cider – which ended up being an amazing batch of cider better than any commercial cider we’ve found since. This is as simple as cider can be – 23 L of fresh-pressed cider, processed as above, and then pitched with good ol’ Nottingham Dry Yeast.

Apple Wine:

Cider yeast for the apple wine

This started off as a bit of an epiphany of mine – ciders are known to loose some apple character while fermenting, so why not add apple juice concentrate (the frozen stuff you use to make juice) to bump up the gravity and give the flavour a boost! So I added 4 cans (~1 L) of frozen apple juice concentrate (free of preservatives, although it does have ascorbic acid, which is OK for yeast) to 21L of cider. This only took the gravity from 1.047 to 1.053, so I added 2 kg of table sugar to boost it to 1.084. After treating the must like described above, a big starter of Wyeast Dry English Cider yeast was pitched.

Apple-Grape “Cooler”:

Cider yeast on a hemoacytometer

This is one for the books (perhaps the book of shame). This is a cooler-like beverage for my wife, and to be honest, is something I may enjoy the odd summers day. In this case a cheap 8 L (i.e. you get 8 L of concentrate to make 23 L of wine) cabernet sauvignon wine kit was mixed with ~15 L of fresh cider. This gave a gravity of a whopping 1.114. After sulfiting/pectin enzyme treating/etc this blend, the wine yeast which came from the kit was pitched. After fermentation, this will be split into two kegs, diluted with water, stabilized and back-sweetened. The end-goal is a cooler-style beverage that comes in around 7% alcohol.

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