Tag Archives: Apple juice

Apples and milk, in bottles

It’s not really milk that went into the apple cider. I simply like the idea that lactose sugar is milk sugar, and therefore milk. The important thing is that the Sneaky Milky Cider has been bottled. Plus the samples tasted pretty good.

Sneaky Milky Cider 1 FG

Sneaky Milky Cider 1 the Final Gravity reading

On Saturday evening I got busy and bottling. There are three batches across three carboys. Each had a splash over two litres in them. These were some very small batches, the smallest I’ve ever done. Used the auto syphon again which works pretty well. Manually priming each bottle wasn’t a huge pain as the batch sizes were small, plus I used a few 500 ml bottles which sped things up.

Sneaky Milky Cider 2 FG

Sneaky Milky Cider 2 the Final Gravity reading

Gravity readings were a bit all over the place. I’m not surprised given the range of ingredients across the batches. The first one dropped from 1.060 to 1.012 which means after bottling will be 6.8% alcohol. The second one was more pronounced falling from 1.055 to 1.004 turning it into 7.2%. Then the third was more reasonable going from 1.055 to 1.011 and hitting 6.3%.

After gravity readings were done it was tasting time. The first batch had a nice sweet and apple flavour. There was also a hint of sour to this, but wasn’t overpowering or distracting. The second batch had similar characteristics but cleaner. That said, the sourness was more pronounced and it wasn’t as sweet as batch one. The last batch was noticeably different. It had a bigger mouth feel and overall rounder flavour. As a result this batch didn’t have the same noticeably sweetness or apple flavour.

Sneaky Milky Cider 1-3

Sneaky Milky Cider 1 to 3 for tasting

These ciders are only going to be bottle conditioned for a week before most of them are consumed. They will be the sweet cider option for those not drinking beer at a party this Saturday. The beer on offer will be the Pale Trial beers, 1 to 5 of both Eine and Zwie. I’m looking forward to hearing feedback on all of them. And I how that there’s enough to go around.

-Mikey

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Sweet like apple, sweet like milk

Sneaky Milky Cider 3

Sneaky Milky Cider 3 Original Gravity reading

A few months back in February I made the Sneaky Cider. Once I tasted it I knew this was something to revisit. It was easy, quick and nice enough. Nothing amazing but great vale on effort put in.

The biggest issue with the cider was the dryness. All the sugar in the apple juice was used up by the yeast, all converted to alcohol. That’s good if you want a strong cider, and you don’t want sweetness. Problem is, most people want cider to be sweet. Hence this being an issue.

I have been thinking how to overcome this issue for a while. The big companies, and even smaller commercial brewers, trend to put sugar or fresh apple juice back in. That’s fine if you can (1) remove all the yeast and (2) keep the carbonation or force carbonate. On a small home brew scale that’s not so easy.

Looking for alternative options to sweeten the cider, there are a few. Some range from easy to complex with quite a number tried and failed. But before looking up all these options I had thought of using what I use for beer. Lactose sugar. Yep, milk sugar.

Lactose is used in stouts as it gives both sweetness and helps with the creaminess. The creamy flavour mouth feel is not something you really associate with cider. But I’m hoping it’s either subtle or non offensive. Preferably both.

So, on Monday night I made Sneaky Milky Cider 1, 2 and 3. All use the basic 2 litres of apple juice and have sugar added to them. Details below.

Sneaky Milky Cider 1-3

Sneaky Milky Cider 1 to 3 in the carboys

Sneaky Milky Cider 1

  • 2 litres of apple juice
  • Around 80 grams white sugar (measuring was off)
  • 80 grams of lactose
  • OG = 1.060
  • Half a teaspoon of Champaign yeast
  • Half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient

Sneaky Milky Cider 2

  • 2 litres of apple juice
  • 80 grams white sugar
  • 40 grams of lactose
  • OG = 1.055
  • Half a teaspoon of Champaign yeast
  • Half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient

Sneaky Milky Cider 3

  • 2 litres of apple juice
  • 80 grams white sugar
  • 40 grams of lactose
  • OG = 1.055
  • Half a teaspoon of US-04 yeast
  • Half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient

Amounts of sugar are based on what the original Sneaky Cider was. I’m not sure if there’s too much, or not enough lactose. Also, there was a bit more than two litres of juice in each bottle. About 200ml more. That shouldn’t make any difference to the final product.

You’ll see that I’ve used US-04 yeast in one. This is an ale yeast, but it should ferment clean enough. The reason for using this is to see if it won’t convert all the apple sugars. As the alcohol gets higher the yeast should slow down or even die. This would then leave some unfermented sugar, and the cider would be sweeter. We’ll wait and see.

-Mikey

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Sneaky cider, keeping it cool

Exactly two weeks ago I made another cider. Yeah, I know I’ve been complaining that I haven’t done a beer for a while and then I go make a cider! This was a little experiment in keeping something cool enough over summer months. While it hasn’t really been that hot, or even warm, things have gone well.

The cider itself is a real basic one. One litre of apple juice and 1.4 litres of apple & pear juice. Added in sugar, yeast and yeast nutrient. Whole thing done in about 10-15 mins. To speed up the process I used the blender to mix sugar into juice, one litre at a time. As there’s no boil everything has to be sanitised, including the blender.

What’s in Sneaky Cider #1?

  • 2.4-2.5 litres of apple and pear juice (Berri)
  • 1-1.1 litres of apple juice (Golden Circle)
  • 180 grams of white table sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Premium Brewer’s Yeast (Pat Mack’s)
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient

Learning from the mistakes of the last cider attempt, I kept sugar levels low. Worked out being only 20 grams per litre rather than the 120 grams per litre or 200 grams per litre of the last attempts. This should help in two ways. First it will keep the alcohol levels down to something considered normal. Second there shouldn’t be anywhere near as much left over sugar which will keep the sweetness down. It’s the second if theses that I’m really interested in. Last time it was undrinkable when first sampled. Then only just drinkable when it was done, but not for everyone.

Sneaky Cider #1

Sneaky Cider #1, in the carboy, in the water, in the pot

The really exciting part of the cider isn’t the recipe or how it might turn out. No, the real thing is the makeshift cooling set up. I’ve got my new big pot with water then put the carboy into it. The water goes up to about the same hight as the liquid in the carboy which means it works as insulation. That’s pretty sweet. But the best part is that I can drop ice packs into the water to chill the water back down, like during the day. And that’s what I did. For about a week and a bit I dropped 2-4 ice packs into the water every day. Well, nearly every day. The result was that the temperature ranged from about 17 degrees Celsius up to about 19 degrees Celsius. Not great control but, still good.

Now just gone two weeks I’m leaving the whole thing to do it’s thing before bottling this weekend. I’m half hoping as it gets warmer it encourages the last of the yeast to kick in or drop out. Not really sure how that stuff works, even after over a year of mucking around with the stuff. Then I’ll give it two weeks before we try and let you know how it turns out.

-Mikey

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Mikey’s Cider – review

So, Mikey was trying some new fancy screw on plastic bottle caps for making cider.  He made two lots of cider with different OSGs and we were excited to see what happened.

Well, the caps worked great.  There’s a little valve in them so the fermentation happens in an old plastic bottle; let that sit for a couple weeks and the cider is done!  Unfortunately I don’t think it was allowed to ferment for long enough…

The first bottle had an OSG of 1.089, which is pretty high!  I believe the final gravity was around 1.035 (I didn’t write it down, oops!), which is still much too high, and the sweetness was still there in a big way.

Mikey CiderUnfortunately the sweetness really took over and didn’t allow anything else through.  I was able to find a little apple tang at the back, but it was difficult.  The sweetness kept building up over a few sips and was quickly becoming difficult to drink.  It was tasting pretty close to straight cordial.

The second bottle, which had more sugar and an OSG of 1.111 was even worse!  There was no apple flavour to be found in it, just sugar.

We’re going to try and let it ferment a week or two longer and see if things can be recovered.  Mikey seems pretty confident but I’m a bit skeptical.  Let’s see if he can prove me wrong!

-Chas

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Cap off, Cup day crazyness

Tuesday was Melbourne Cup day. The race that stops a nation. Well, nearly. I forgot to turn on the TV and only got to see the winning jockey and trainer being interviewed. Whoops.

But that’s not what Tuesday was about. Tuesday was a very special day. I went a little crazy and made some cider.

Yep, the guy who normally doesn’t drink the stuff has made some. It came around due to a couple points. First, summer is coming up and need some more ‘lighter’ drinks. Second, with summer comes festivals and outdoor events. They don’t normally like you bringing in glass bottles which means using plastic bottles.

I’ll be getting around to brewing some pale ales. And I’ll get around to trying plastic bottles for beer, actually it will be this weekend. This cider crazyness is all about me experimenting. I didn’t even have Chas helping out!

Those who know us or have been reading our posts for a while will know that we’re fans of Craig Tube. For those who don’t know him, he’s a Canadian home brewer who has been posting videos up on home brewing for years. There’s a lot if great instructional videos on kit and extract brewing. If you’re starting off go check out the Easy Home Brewing – Beer series.

Anyway, Craig did a mini review of some Pat Mack’s Home Brewing Caps. They allow you to ferment in a bottle! It looked really easy, like a lot more than what you do for a kit. So, I ordered some online and waited a few weeks for them to make their way from London to Melbourne.

The caps come with “Champaign” yeast, which is high alcohol producing yeast. The pack also comes with a couple recipes and a whole lot more online.

The promotion of these caps has been about producing cider. So, I thought that would be appropriate to try that. The recipe only needs apple juice and sugar, easy! There were two caps in the kit I bought and wanted to try two variations with different amounts of sugar.

Apple Cider 1+2

Apple Cider #1 and #2 in bottles with gravity reading

Bottle 1.
1.2 liters of apple juice
150 grams of sugar.
1/8 th (ish) teaspoon of yeast.
1/4 th (ish) teaspoon of yeast nutrient.

Bottle 2.
1.2 liters of apple juice
250 grams of (caster) sugar.
1/8 th (ish) teaspoon of yeast.
1/4 th (ish) teaspoon of yeast nutrient.

Process is exceptionally easy. Put juice in blender. Add sugar. Blend. Pour into bottle. Add yeast (and nutrient). Put lid on. Shake. Done.

The yeast nutrient was probably not required. But after the low fermentation I’d a few beers at my place I didn’t want to take any risks.

A you can see the only difference is the amount of sugar. I deliberately wanted to see how the difference in sugar levels would work. Of course the gravity readings were going to be high. I sort of expected something like the 1.089 original gravity for bottle 1. But was still a little shocked when it came in as 1.111 for bottle 2.

The idea is to only let it ferment for a week. Then they will go in the fridge for a week to settle out. In theory this should prevent full fermentation. That means it should still be sweet and should not be too high in alcohol. Will wait and see.

-Mikey

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Gauss’ Law – Hopped Cider

As mentioned, I made some cider this weekend!  Mikey doesn’t believe in cider so I had the aid of my friend who shall be referred to as the Cider Minion.  Although I’ve done brews on my own before, having a second pair of hands is always helpful, and Cider Minion was no exception.

I had originally wanted to do a proper batch of the Apple and Rhubarb Cider I made awhile ago.  The original brew was a bit haphazard so I didn’t do a recipe write up of it.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any rhubarb, but I did have some left over hops from a porter we made, so I decided to make a hopped cider.

Judging from the Apple and Rhubarb Cider, this stuff was going to be strong; I was aiming for at least 10% alcohol.  I wanted to make this cider stronger than the previous version because I thought a little alcohol burn would add to the taste and feel of the beverage.  So I’ve decided to call this cider Gauss’ Law based on a really bad pun that I’m not going to go into.  Puns are awesome by the way.

Ingredients

  • 7 kg of Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 cup dextrose
  • 4 grams Fuggles hops (bittering)
  • 2 grams Fuggles hops (aroma)
  • SN9 wine yeast

This was for a (what was supposed to be) a four litre batch.

Bring half a litre of water up to a boil and start steeping the bittering hops for 30 minutes.  At the 25 minute mark, add the aroma hops.

My juicer isn’t the most efficient machine in the world, so a better juicer or an apple press would probably require fewer apples, but I managed to get 3.5 litres of apple juice out of the apples, which is what I was after.  This 3.5 litres needs to be added to a separate pot from the hops and brought to a boil for about 15 minutes.  This will kill any bugs in the juice.

Once the hops are done, strain them into the juice.  Also add the dextrose (this can really be done at any time).

I was surprised this time around.  Previously I’ve gotten a pretty decent hot break out of boiling apple juice.  This wasn’t the case, even though I’ve used Golden Delicious apples before.  Oh well…

Once your juice has boiled for at least 15 minutes, put a lid on the pot and let it sit in a sink full of cold water for at least 20 minutes, changing the water regularly.

Throw all of this into a 5 litre fermenter and pitch the yeast and it’s done!

Unfortunately this process only left me with about 3.5 litres all up, even though I started with half a litre of water for steeping the hops and 3.5 litres of apple juice.  I guess I underestimated how much I would lose to evaporation in the boil, or I under measured things.

The OSG I got was right on 1.070, which wasn’t quite as high as I was hoping for.  The OSG on the Apple and Rhubard Cider (which didn’t have added dextrose) was 1.064, I was probably a little conservative with the dextrose.  The previous cider managed to get a FSG below 1, but I don’t quite expect that with this one because the hops are adding to the specific gravity (although only slightly).  My prediction is an alcohol content of about 9.5% after bottling.  It’s not quite what I wanted.

Anyway, that’s going to take at least two weeks in the carboy, then bottling, then tasting.  We’ll see how it turns out!

-Chas

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Malted cider or un-hopped apple ale?

Hi everyone,

So as I mentioned in my last few posts, I have a juicer, and I have a bit of extra malt.  So why not try throwing some malt into some apple juice and see what happens?

20130518_145533I went down to my local market and found a pretty good deal on organic juicing apples, i.e. apples that aren’t pretty enough to sell as eating apples.  I bought a hell of a lot – about 7 kilograms!

I had read in various places that you get about 1 litre of juice from 1-2 kilograms of apples, so I thought that this would be enough for about 4 or 5 litres of juice.  Unfortunately I was pretty wrong and only got about 2 litres.  I’ve since found out that this ratio works better for apple pressing, which is a much more efficient method of extracting juice.  Using a juicer like I have tends to lose a lot of juice to the pulp it creates.

I’m not going to go out and buy a juice press, but next time I may try squeezing out the pulp.  We’ll see.

Anyway, after cutting up a whole bunch of apples and juicing them, I wasn’t left with the amount of juice I thought I’d get.  So from there, things began to turn into an un-hopped apple beer rather than a malted cider.

I set my 2 litres of juice to boil and added a cup of golden light liquid malt extract.  The hot break was huge on this one; the pot was only about a third full, and it still nearly boiled over!  Once that was under control, I let it boil for 15 minutes while I did some cleaning.

After the boil, I let the bottle sit in a sink full of ice water for 10 minutes, emptied the sink, and then filled it up again for another 10 minute bath.

Once this wort was in the carboy, I topped it up with about 2 litres of water – so this batch is going to be 4 litres in total.

Two litres juice, one cup malt, two litres water

Two litres juice, one cup malt, two litres water

The yeast i used was an SN9 wine yeast.  It’s what I had on hand, but, considering there’s malt in there, I probably should have gone and used an ale yeast. That’s something to experiment with later.

The wort was tasty.  It wasn’t overwhelmingly apple-y or beer-y, but had good hints of each.  So I’m confident I’ll get something interesting out this.

The OSG was 1.028, which is a little lower than I would have liked.  As a lot of that sugar is fructose, I should be able to get a final gravity pretty close to 1, so that’s promising.  Alcohol content should be around 4% after bottling.

I’d like to see if I can push the alcohol content a bit higher, so I might add some dextrose next time.  Of course the other option is adding more malt or juice, but, assuming the mixture of flavours is good, I don’t want to upset this balance.  Dextrose won’t alter the flavour.

Assuming this turns out tasty, I’ll also look at hopping it, which will make it a proper beer.

So we’ll give this a week and see what happens!

-Chas

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