Busy weekend, but lots of good came of it.
Friday afternoon, to kick it off, I racked the cider started earlier in the week. No issues, smell is great, and looking forward to the end result. I didn’t have quite 5 gallons after racking, so topped up with a small amount of distilled water and a cup or so of the apple cider stored in the refrigerator. Oh, had a friend try some of the fresh-pressed cider that was used to make the cider. “Best juice from apple they had ever tasted,” and I have to agree.
This weekend we took Jenna to Greenville to celebrate her birthday from earlier in the week. Provided a great opportunity to stop at Grape and Grains, where I picked up yeast. Lots of yeast. Should be everything I need to start a couple more wines or meads, once I free up a couple carboys…
And yesterday I started the first of those, my first cyser, a mead using apple cider rather than water and often combining other fruits and spices. The recipe I am using is Ken Schramm’s, “Fall’s Bounty Cyser”, and I am loving the multi-sensory extravaganza so far.
I started by blending each of the fruit additions in apple cider, to get the sugars and flavor more accessible, before adding the cider fruit slurry to the fermentation bucket. Fruits included 0.5 lbs. of dates and 0.5 lbs. of raisins. I also blended 1 lb. of dark brown sugar with some more of the cider. In all, blended or not, I used 4 gallons of cider.
This cider was not my own fresh-pressed, but after the work and cost, I was fine with picking some up from Whole Foods. It is still supposedly no preservatives or additives. Even after shaking it still wasn’t as thick as my own fresh-pressed stuff. I still have another half-gallon. Not sure whether to drink it (mmmm) or save it in case I need some for topping up when I rack.
To the fruit and cider slurry, I added 8 lbs. of wildflower honey. It is a very dark honey, and probably one of the best tasting honeys I have used (in my own opinion). The recipe called for a medium to full-bodied honey, and I think this will be a nice fit. The color after blending and mixing all the ingredients is a dark brown – much darker than my cider was. I added 1 tsp. of yeast nutrient and 2 tsp. yeast energizer, and about 2 cups of water to bring the volume up to 5 gallons. And then I set to pitching the yeast, 10g – 2 packets – of Lalvin D47.
Rather simple, and no chemicals added for sanitizing. The recipe gave no SG measurements, and the author explained that he never checks it. I did, and found and SG of 1.112. Woohoo!
The smell of the brew is excellent, and when I went to stir it this evening, I found a white head of foam unlike any I have seen on cider, mead or wine – more like the krausen on a beer, but without the usual green mess from the hops. Not too surprised, as the blending of the fruit in the cider produced a lot of foam at the time, as did simply pouring the cider out of the half-gallon jugs it was packaged in. I stirred, and got to try some of the resulting foam, more tan than the pre-stirred white, more uniform than the cloudlike mass of bubbles I saw when I first removed the lid.
How to describe it? Deep honey and apple flavor, with a more complex twist from the dates and raisins; very sweet still, of course. The smell combination is simply delicious. Excited!