Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cider, Cyser, and Graff (11/11/12)

Every year, Bob's Homebrew gets a sweet shipment of apple juice from an orchard that produces cider apples up north. Cider apples differ from eating apples in that they are cultivated for their unique flavors, not their sugar content. Juice made from supermarket apples ferments away to nothingness, but this juice is packed with residual flavors that ought to survive that fermentation. That said, it also tastes pretty delicious unfermented, not unlike a good apple juice.

Last year's cider batch split between cider yeast and hefeweizen yeast turned out pretty well, but I've always found cider to be a little bit boring. This year I decided to split up my three gallons into three different beverages. Prompted by Lee, one is a cyser (cider + mead), another will be dry hopped, and the third is a beer/cider hybrid called graff.

The cyser is made with a gallon of juice combined with 22oz of Wessel's Local Raw Honey. It's really about the easiest thing you could possibly do, and only requires mixing honey into apple juice. The mixing process proved harder than anticipated, but fortunately Andrew "The Fish" Haddock was on hand to help me out. The juice came pre-sulfited, so no heating was necessary. You typically need to add yeast nutrient to mead, but considering that cider likes to be fermented slowly, and already contains a health amount of yeast nutrient, I neglected to add any. I've never made cyser before (or even tasted it, for that matter), but considering that mead takes between three months and a year to mature, and cider needs about the same, I'm expecting this one to be a summer drinker.

The only thing easier than cyser is straight cider. It required nothing but yeast and an airlock, and that's all it got. Lee had mentioned not aerating it, which I assume is to prevent excessive yeast growth, but Bob let me know it had been heavily aerated between the pressing, the transport, and the dispensing, so that boat's sailed. Dry-hopped cider needs to be dry-hopped, but the dry-hopping will come later, and though I haven't decided on what hops to use, I'm leaning towards Citra or Amarillo, or hell, maybe even Palisade. We'll see how it all ferments. The OG was a high 1.063, and I pitched in half a packet of Wyeast Cider yeast into both the cyser and the cider.

The graff, which against my better judgement I have started calling Zach Graff, is 1.5 gallons of beer to 1 gallon of apple juice. The beer is a fairly simple reduction of our typical Belgian recipes: no specialty grains, lightly hopped with Saaz, and fermented with Wyeast 1388. The recipe is as follows:

Batch size: 1.5 gallons
Boil Volume: 2.5 gallons
Calculated OG: 1.066
Estimated FG:??
Estimated ABV:??
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth):27
Pitching Temperature: 65
Yeast: Wyeast 1388
Fermentation vessel: Bucket
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 2.5 38% 42.00
Hops/Additions Amount Time AA%
Saaz 1 60 3.0%
The gallon of juice was pitched after the wort was chilled, bringing the final concoction to 2.5 gallons. I really have no idea how well the juice will ferment, so I'm at a loss right now for estimated final gravity and ABV. My best guess leaves it around 7%. I thought about adding grains of paradise, but forgot. Ah, maybe next time!
Thanks to Solly for getting up early to help me get supplies, and Andrew for helping with the brew.

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