Thursday, June 2, 2016


A bit ago, I made a cider for my daughter's college graduation.  I'm not a cider drinker, and not really even a fan, so when I tried the partial fill that I had from the bottling, I didn't really think much of it.  However, not too much later, she tried one, and really seemed to like it.  I thought I'd try it again, this time with some small tweaks here and there.

Brew Day: 2 Jun 2016

4 qts Harris Teeter brand Gravenstein apple juice
12 oz frozen apple juice concentrate
3 oz brown sugar

Yeast: SafCider

The previous cider I'd done had a good aroma of apples when opened, but the resulting cider was pretty dry, due to the yeast.  As such, I figured that I might want to start with something a bit sweeter this time.  For this cider, I followed a similar process as the previous cider; however, this time, I started with a 12 oz can of apple juice concentrate.  The ingredients list says "apple juice, absorbic acid", and that's it.  Because it's frozen, I don't need to pasteurize it, but I figured that raising the temperature a bit would make things more amenable for the yeast, and allow me to dissolve the brown sugar a bit easier.

So, I put the contents of the apple juice concentrate and some of the juice from the bottle into a sauce pan and raised it up to 160 deg F, and dissolved 3 oz brown sugar in the warm juice.

The previous cider had a bit of sediment from the juice, and my daughter was a little ooged out by it.  This time, I tried filtering the juice through a coffee filter (cupped in a strainer) as I poured it into the fermenter.

I'm going to dry hop this one with some Jarrylo (which I used last time) and a bit of Amarillo, just to see how the flavor comes out.

Addendum, 5 Jun: Checked in on the fermenters this morning during my usual rounds; there are three fermenters in the bathtub at the moment.  The cider is still bubbling away really well, about 3 bubbles per second, which makes a nice rhythm with the ginger saison, which is bubbling at about 1 bubble per second.  Clearly, it still has a while to go before dry hopping, but so far, so good.

Addendum, 10 Jun: Checked the fermenters this morning as part of m usual rounds.  The other day, I had checked and found that the fermenter cap for the cider had a crack in it, so I replaced the cap, and put the airlock back on.  The airlock cap has been sitting flush with the top of the post since I replaced it, but I know enough now that that is not an indicator of...well...anything.  I put the fermenter on a stable surface and took a close look at it, and I could see very small bubbles still rising in the fermenter.

This is one of the downsides of small batch failures.  However, I'm familiar enough with what can go wrong (for the most part) and prepared...I keep extra caps available all the time, and check the caps on a regular basis.  Fortunately, these are a low-cost item, so it's not hard to have a few on-hand.

I'll be looking to dry hop the cider early next week, and from there, likely bottle before the end of the week.  That'll put the first taste test around 4 Jul.

Addendum, 13 Jun: Dry hopped today with 10 g Jarrylo + 7 g Amarillo (I had it left over, so why not?).

Addendum, 16 Jun: Bottled today with 1 oz of brown sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got 8 regular beer bottles and one repurposed soda bottle out of the batch.  I also tried a bit of what was left in the siphon tube...a little dry, which apparently is a good thing.  We'll see how this batch turns out in comparison to the previous batch.

Addendum, 3 Jul: My daughter tasted the cider tonight...she liked it and initially said that it wasn't as carbonated as she would have thought, but her mind was changed shortly (and loudly).  I poured a little for myself, and took a whiff...slight apple scent from the glass.  The cider was very dry, with little if any discernible apple flavor.  My daughter said she liked it, and offered up the idea for trying a recipe that let a bit more apple through; as such, I'll need to consider something that's less of a champagne yeast, and go with a wine yeast that will let a bit of the fruit flavor through, or try a dry beer yeast.

Addendum, 8 Jul: I received an email from Northern Brewer this morning that contained a link to a Short Pours blog post on making cider.  In the blog post, there was a really good recommendation to use Red Star Cote de Blanc yeast in order to retain some of the apple character.  I think that's what I'm going to do with the next one...

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