Tag Archives: Brewing Caps

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!

-Chas

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New equipment is fun, and some bottling

Christmas was good for me. Got a couple vouchers for home brew shops. Yay. Oh, and the Australian Pale Ale #3 needed to be bottled. Was a bit distracted, and a bit lazy, so only got around to bottling on Thursday.

Bottling Tree

Bottling Tree with just the first two levels and full of bottles.

As I had some hot vouchers in my hand I went down to Australian Home Brewing to pick up some new equipment. First thing was a bottling tree. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while. Will be using it for both bottling days, and cleaning bottles. So, this is something I’ll be using a lot. As you can see from the photo I’ve only put the first to parts on, it’s all I need.

Also picked up some hops, bigger capper with caps for big bottles and a small 15 litre fermenter. I’ll keep the hops under wraps until start brewing with them. Tried the capper on a wine bottle I had saved, didn’t quite work. Will be looking for the right bottles in the future. The small fermenter is really useful as I can use it for bulk priming, like for this brew, or other brews between the carboy and 30 litre fermenter.

Bottling took a fair bit longer. Partly because I was trying new equipment and partly because I kept getting distracted. The carboy was poured directly into the small fermenter which had the dissolved sugar. Hopefully I didn’t get too much air into it, I think I might. Hopefully I didn’t get too much trub transferred, I’m pretty sure I did. Again, I split the bottling up into some stubbies, a bigger 500 ml bottle and some plastic bottles.

There were also two 1.25 litre bottles with the brewing caps. Just to see what happens I’ve decided to leave one bottle as it for condition. The other bottle I transferred into a new bottle and left the yeast/trub behind. That second bottle is sealed and without any extra sugar for carbonation. Strange, the beer from the bottle that was transferred wasn’t that carbonated. So, this could go either way.

Australian Pale Ale 3

Australian Pale Ale 3 in original bottle, gravity reading and re-bottled.

Gravity reading was really good, 1.012 for both the carboy and 1.25 L bottle. That means the beer from the carboy will end up about 5.0% with the bulk priming, while the 1.25 L bottles will remain at 4.5%. That’s pretty good. Plus the flavour was good. Quite a bit of orange flavour with some other citrus and other fruit. Hints of some floral and grassy notes. Will be interesting to see how it all settles down.

Given the heat in Melbourne is finally starting to kick in there’s not going to be another brew at my place for a bit. That might change if I get my act into gear and sort out a brew fridge. Will keep you all posted.

-Mikey

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Wait, what hops was that?

Last Sunday was a brew day. Yay! Fun times with Chas. Let’s plan this, and then make lots of mistakes. Um, that’s not so great.

This brew day was a continuation from Australian Pale Ale 2 and my search for an easy to brew tasty Pale Ale. After bottling on Friday, and having a sample taste, I knew that the next attempt needed to be a multi hop brew. And that meant different hops at the same times.

As well as trying a new recipe, I wanted to use the brewing caps again. That meant upping the volume of the brew. That caused some issues I didn’t realise until Chas pointed out. I’ll get to that later.

Australian Pale Ale 3

Australian Pale Ale 3 in Carboy and bottles with brewing caps

The brew was based on the Australian Pale Ale 2 and was a 30 min boil with light dry malt extract. Given the bigger volume of water there was more ingredients. Measured out 800 grams of the dry malt for the base. As most of my Galaxy hops went in the last brew I picked up some new hops. Warrior hops for bittering. Crystal hops for flavour and aroma, to be topped up with the last of the Galaxy. All three hop additions were measured out and ready to go.

First up get water to a boil and add the malt. Then after the hot break in went the first hops. Then… Um, what hops was that? A quick review of the bowls with the hops… Yep, that was the aroma hops. Crap. Okay, now what?

After a bit of running around like a crazy person I did some recalculations. New schedule with a new set of aroma hops, being just Crystal. Back to the brew. Added the original bittering hops. Flavour hops went in. Then at flameout in went the aroma hops.

Moved the pot to the ice bath for chilling. Have got a lot better with the chilling of theses small batches. Four trays of ice cubes and about one litre of near-frozen water. Works pretty well.

Then realised the volume issue(s). Given this was a three hop brew I wanted to make just a little more. So, four litres fot the carboy, then 2.5 split into two 1.25 litres plastic soft drink bottles. And that’s where the problem started, there was too much for the carboy. Solution was to use the 30 litres fermenter. Poured all in and topped up with cold water to required 6.5 litres. Oops, forgot to strain the hops out. Poured back into pot. Added yeast. Oh no, forgot to take gravity reading. Do that.

Finally ready to transfer into the bottles. Filled both, not quite to the top. Then filled carboy, and there was too much! Because the bottles weren’t filled to the full 1.25 litres there was well over 4 litres for the carboy. In the end we filled up the carboy to a few centimetres from the top and only threw out a tiny amount of the wort. Thank goodness for blow off tubes.

  • 4 litre boil
  • 800 grams Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 1 gram Galalxy & 2 grams Crystal hops @ 30 mins
  • 4 grams Warrior hops @ 25 mins
  • 2 grams Galaxy hops & 6 grams Crystal @ 5 mins
  • 2 grams Crystal @ flame out
  • Teaspoon of re-hydrated US-05 yeast

The Australian Pale Ale #3 ended up tasting quite grassy with some really well rounded spice. A fair amount of hops left after even after filtering. I’m happy with this. The gravity came in at 1.046 which is exactly what was calculated. Mind you, that did include the yeast, so we’ll wait and see.

-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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