Tag Archives: Apple

Mikey’s Sneaky Cider

Way back in February, Mikey made a really quick cider called the Sneaky Cider, and I finally got around to tasting it!

Firstly, it had a great colour.  Nice and clear, with the colour of a basic sparkling apple juice – not surprising considering it was just sparkling apple juice (with some alcohol!).

Sneaky ciderThe first impression was that this was a very dry cider, but not overly so.  Strangely, the whole drink resembled a Chardonnay.  This isn’t a bad thing, as I’m quite fond of the grape.  I usually like a drier cider, and, to my taste, this could have been even drier, but I acknowledge this isn’t for everyone.  All in all it was quite well balanced and, at 7.9%, the alcohol was well hidden.

On the flavour, initially there wasn’t a lot of apple flavours, but the drink was certainly refreshing!  As the drink warmed up, however, the apple flavours start to come through.  The flavours start off quite laid back, then a bit of aroma comes through, and, before you know it, the apple becomes the dominant flavour.  While the name of this cider came from the fact that Mikey made it quite quickly, the flavour is just as sneaky.

I like that this cider was on the dry side.  Popular ciders today are often to sweet and they take away from the natural tang of the apples.  This cider still had tang without feeling like you were biting into an apple: it tasted like apple, but not too much so!  Basically, it was different from what the commercial ciders are doing.

I really liked this cider.  I’d do this with some pork chops!


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“Gauss’ Law” Hopped Cider – Review

Quick note that there’s no brewing this weekend. Chas is overseas and I’ve already got a brew in the shed.

Last weekend we tried a few different brews. Chas has already put up his review of the stout. The review of the Australian Pale Ale will go up in a couple days.

Another one we tried was “Gauss’ Law” Hopped Cider. Another experimental cider from Chas. As was pointed out to us, a malted cider is called a Graff. Not sure what a hopped cider (with no malt) would be called. Anyway, we got around to share a bottle. And at over 10% alcohol I’m glad we didn’t have one each.

First up there was plenty of earthy apple aroma. Rich and woody without a strong sweetness. Good on the nose and matches well with the flavours.

Wow, this is complex and tasty. Initially it’s light and easy with the apple coming in quite subtlety then building big. It’s not until mid-late into it before the hops kicks in. There’s a good citrus hop flavour that sticks around for a long time. The bitterness keeps the apple in check and there’s no sickly sweetness anywhere in sight. If anything there’s a bit too much hops here. Bitterness does get a bit much after half a glass. But, that may be a good thing given the alcohol level in this.

Food wise this would match really well with duck, turkey or chicken. Preferably roasted. Would also work with pork.

If Chas makes more of this I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a couple bottles for myself.



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Malted Cider – Review

Malted Cider

Malted Cider in glasses

A while ago Chas ordered some malt for a brew and it exploded in the mail. A replacement of malt was sent, and about half of the original malt was still left. What a great opportunity to add malt to something, like a cider.

I’m no fan of ciders. I’ve made that view quite clear. But the rhubarb and apple cider Chas made was nice and enjoyable. So, I went into this with an open mind.

The first thing I noticed with the cider was an unpleasant off egg smell. Chas ensures me that the other bottles are fine and don’t have any eggyness.

The flavour was okay. Apple sweetness right up front, then a slight sour taste. After that the malt comes through a bit. There’s a bit of egg taste at the end which isn’t nice. The body holds well and if it wasn’t for the egg I might enjoy this.

Not sure what food to match this with. The dud bottle makes it harder. I’m thinking Italian, maybe a spicy and/or greasy pizza. Might work with a red meat Mexican dish like tacos or burritos.

I would like to have another one of these ciders. I think this could be tweaked to make it quite nice. As long as the bottle is good.


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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.


  • 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!


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Apple and Rhubarb sour cider – Review

Apple and Rhubarb sour Cider

Apple and Rhubarb sour Cider in glasses

As you have read already, Chas is making cider. My views on this are pretty clear. Cider is not beer and therefore not as good. I’m prepared to change that view if there are ciders that can show their complexity and range.

This might just be the first cider to do that.

First, it’s not sickly sweet, or driven by sweetness, like a lot of commercial ciders.
Second, it’s for more than just one flavour. The majority of commercial ciders are apple flavour. There’s more range now but still it’s one flavour: pear, raspberry, strawberry, and any other berry you can think of.

Third, commercial cider has to be served very cold for it to be drinkable, but this one… no wait, it still needs that.

There is a lot of sourness here. And I do mean a lot. There’s just enough sweetness to prevent this becoming undrinkable. Keeping this cold helps a huge amount.

A quick note on the gravity. Original was 1.058, final was 0.994. That gives it an alcohol content of 8.9%. As a result there is a big body here that helps hold it all together and drives the big flavour.

My criticism is that:

  1. It’s not a beer.
  2. The sourness becomes a bit too much by the end of a glass.
  3. The alcohol level stops it from being a session drink.
  4. The flavours could be slightly better balanced.

Overall I’m pretty happy to drink this non-beer.


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So I bought a juicer…

So I bought a juicer by mistake.

As you may be aware, juicers make juice.  If one pours this juice into a container, pitches some yeast, and then seals it with an airlock, one has a lovely cider.  This is why I bought a juicer. According to the instructions, I also have the option of drinking the juice before I ferment it, but I don’t see a reason why I would do such a thing…

My new juicer!

My new juicer!

So this thing is hardly top of the line, but it will get the job done.  I’ve opted for the model that can fit a whole apple down the chute, just in case I want to do that.  I’ve done some research on juicing – maybe if I really get into this whole cider thing I’ll discuss juicing methods at length.

I’ve looked into cider making and the process is pretty simple:

  1. Get/make juice.  If you’re using store-bought juice, be sure there are no preservatives. Preservatives will mess with the final taste and may kill your yeast.
  2. Set juice on a low boil for about 15 minutes.
  3. Cover pot and cool the juice as quickly as possible.  This can be done by placing the pot in a sink full of cold water/ice.  Change the water out after 10 minutes.  Ultimately you want the temperature to be below 30 degrees C (slightly warmish).
  4. Put juice in carboy or fermenter.
  5. Pitch yeast.
  6. Place lid and airlock.
  7. Magical process!
  8. Bottle as per beer.
  9. Magical process!
  10. Cider!

The whole purpose of this cider endeavor is to just play around with different fruits and see what happens, so I’ll keep you updated.  I’ve already got a small batch of apple and rhubarb going in my new 5 litre carboy.  I’m not going to do a full report on this one though as it was all really haphazard. If it turns out remotely OK, I’ll do a proper batch of it and give the full recipe.

I have already learned a few things:

  • Apple or pear is probably your best base.  Start with this for the bulk of your cider and add other things to taste.  Just be careful of too much citrus, the acid may kill your yeast.
  • Your local brew shop will have good quality apple or pear juice in concentrate if you want it.
  • Similar to glucose, fructose, which is the main sugar in fruits, will ferment completely. If a sugar ferments completely, it won’t leave any sweetness or taste – it will all turn to alcohol.
  • Fructose will break down into other non fermentable sugars if you cut the apples up and leave them to sit for about 24 hours.  So if you want a dry cider, juice the apples immediately, if you want a sweet cider, cut them and let them sit.
  • Just the pure juice gives a pretty good OSG (I got about 1.045).  Feel free to add some glucose if you need some extra kick though, it shouldn’t alter the taste since it will ferment completely.
  • Use a good wine yeast.  Your brew store should be able to recommend something.  Just remember, don’t use a beer yeast.

I want to do some brewing this weekend.  If Mikey is available, we may do a lager similar to the big batch we did a few weeks ago, but tweaking the recipe slightly.  Alternatively, if I’m able to get enough apples, I might have a play.

Then again, I haven’t discussed the prospect of Random Cider with Mikey – he may love or hate this idea, but if he loves it, we may end up making cider together.

Regardless, I’m going to start experimenting with Random Cider as time goes by.


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