Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Cider 2011

We bought a gallon of organic apple juice* from Whole Foods to ferment back in early July, which came in a handy 1 gallon glass jug. We're making this primarily for our friend Matt, who was generous enough to bring some of our brewing equipment to Seattle for us. We used Nottingham, a dry ale yeast popular among homebrewers, to ferment the cider. Most home cider makers use champagne yeast, which ferments significantly drier—often under 1.000 (the specific gravity of water). Our final gravity was 1.004, which is still drier than beer and many styles of cider, including most cheap commercial ciders. In cider terms, a final gravity of 1.004 would qualify as semi-dry. I estimate the ABV on this cider to be ~6%. (We didn't take an original gravity reading because we didn't have sanitizer at that point).

We didn't add any sugar to this cider, which is commonly done to boost alcohol content. We did, however, add a teaspoon of black Assam tea at pitching, to provide a low level of tannins that is typical of good cider but lacking in most apple juice. Ambient fermentation temperature was 68-70ºF.

We got nine 12 oz bottles out of the gallon of cider, leaving about 15% of the original cider on the lees to avoid a large quantity of tea and yeast in the finished product. At bottling, the cider was fairly dark, for cider, and at an enjoyable level of dryness, with a pleasant tartness. It was still a bit yeasty for my taste, but that should settle out more while it's in the bottle. I just wish we had more time. I'm thinking about acquiring apples and access to a cider press this fall in order to make cider properly.

*I use the terms 'cider' and 'apple juice' in the British senses, according to which cider is fermented apple juice, regardless of whether the juice is clear or cloudy. For the record, ours was cloudy.

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