Tag Archives: Cider

Sneaky Milky Cider 1-3 – Review

After only a week in the bottles, on Saturday 18th it was time to open the Sneaky Milky Ciders. There were three versions and from the bottling I was pretty sure that number three would be a winner for the sweet tooth drinker. I wasn’t wrong. There wasn’t a huge amount of the cider brewed, but still plenty left over afterwards.

I’ve put all three cider tastings into one review. They deserve to be rated aginst each other. The idea was to make a sweet tasting and very easy to make cider. So, without any more delay lets get into it.

 

Sneaky Milky Cider 1-3

Sneaky Milky Cider 1 to 3 for review

Sneaky Milky Cider #1

Has a clear ‘Granny Smith’ apple aroma. It’s apple-y but also slightly sour.

Light fruit and sweetness in the start and some sour comes in. Quite refreshing at first.

Fills out with slightly more creaminess. Then moving to be more apple flavour before settling back into a Granny Smith apple flavour of slight sourness. Finishes with a dry and hint of tart taste.

Overall I’d classify this one as a dry cider.

 

Sneaky Milky Cider #2

Has more of a nondescript apple aroma. It’s slightly sweet  but nothing much either way.

First very light flavours. Hints of apple and sweet. Then the apple sweetness picks up. It becomes a bit like a fake sweet apple flavour you find in lollies. Verging on sickly sweet and still not quite tasting like real apple.

There is some slight filling out of the cider. But not much, leaving an empty feeling to it. Ends sweet, but also very dry. My mouth is confused. The front says sweet and the back of my mouth is desperate for water.

Along the way there is plenty of sweetness. Once that’s gone there isn’t much too this. This makes you want to drink some more, just to have something. But that’s where the real problem lies. At 7.2% this is going to mess you up, quickly.

 

Sneaky Milky Cider #3

A much sweeter aroma than the other two.

Starts as a soft light sweet apple taste. Then a full apple flavour builds. More sweetness and the apple flavour stays with you right to the end. Feels like there’s some good body to this.

Really enjoyable, at least compared to the other two. Plenty of flavour and easy to drink the whole way though. Overall I’d classify this as a sweet cider. Sweet tasting and sweet brewing.

 

 Verdict

The winner is clearly number three. Is it the yeast flavours? Or is it that the yeast didn’t eat through all the sugars? Does it matter? Not really. But I think it’s more to do with the former, rather than the latter. Will more be made? Absolutely. Next time I’ll take the lactose up a level and see what happens.

 

-Mikey

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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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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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Malted Cider 2 – review

On Saturday Chas had another brew day at his place. Was another good day with what should be a good beer. He’ll cover the details later. We did some tastings on the day. My Sneaky Cider and Chas’s Malted Cider 2. Two different takes on cider.

Malted Cider 2

Malted Cider 2 ready for drinking

The Malted Cider, a graft, was the second attempt by Chas. The first one was an okay drink. But each time I tried some it was eggy in aroma. Chas said that there was less egg smell in the other bottles. Anyway, onto the new version. And it had a slight eggy smell. Granted it was very slight, and Chas assures me that there isn’t any of that in other bottles. The main character for the aroma was the rich sweetness. Not a sickly sweetness like raw sugar, more like rich fruit.

After the smell the first thing you notice is the feeling. It has a big creamy mouth feel. This fills out and gives the cider a lot of substance. I really like that a lot. The sweetness slowly builds. it doesn’t become too much, and that keeps this grounded. The malt helps with body and keeping the whole thing under control and smooth. There’s a nice apple flavour along the whole way. And that’s good, ‘cos a lot of apples went into this.

This isn’t a drink I would choose for a session. More of something for an easy match with dinner after work, or before dinner. And this comes in at 6.4% alcohol. So another good reason not to knock back a few of these in a row.

I’m really impressed with the substance of this cider. We talked about it on Saturday and agreed that there’s something missing. It’s like the cider is halfway between two points and doesn’t know where/what it wants to be. Maybe a different yeast and/or temperature might help. Or maybe just a different malt?

-Mikey

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Malted Cider 2 – let’s try this again

I’m baaaaaaaack!

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s been awhile.  Mikey hasn’t stopped reminding me.  It’s mostly Mikey’s fault I haven’t been around in awhile.  As Mikey mentioned, brewing slowed down a bit over the summer, so there wasn’t much to write up.  Although I pushed through the heat and still did a couple a brews, giving Mikey an opportunity to write reviews for things like the Red Dog Pale Ale 2, since Mikey was slack, I had nothing to review.  Unfortunately I just got out of the habit… because of Mikey.

Anyway, nearly a year ago I mixed some apple juice with some liquid malt; I called it a malted cider, some call it a graft.  Either way it’s pretty tasty.

20140208_113144The recipe was about the same as last time, just with different apples this time.  Last time I got some organic apples, this time it was just a whole bunch of Pink Lady apples, they worked out pretty well.

I also changed up the method somewhat…

  • First, all the apples were chopped and let to sit for a few hours.  This just softened them up a tiny bit and I’ve been told this gives a slightly sweeter cider (otherwise it’s way too dry).
  • Next, we juiced all the apples, as would be expected!  In the pot and since there is a bit of froth (and eventual evaporation), it’s hard to tell how much juice there is.  So we didn’t add the malt right away.
  • We gave the juice a 10-15 minute boil to kill any nasties.
  • This went into the fermenter.
  • Golden light liquid malt was then added at a ratio of half a cup per litre of juice.
  • We then topped the fermtenter up with cold water at a ratio of one litre of water to one litre of juice.
  • Pitch some wine yeast and done!

It’s a pretty simple recipe!  All the chopping and juicing of the apples took a fair while.  It also made one hell of a mess but it was a bit of fun.

In the end we got a OSG of 1.053, which we were pretty happy about!  Considering we’ll probably get a pretty low final gravity, since the fructose in the apples will ferment almost completely, this cider should have some kick!

Let’s see what happens…

-Chas

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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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Taking Inventory

As mentioned in my last post, I’m back from my trip!

I meant to do an inventory last weekend, as mentioned in my last post, but jet lag got the better of me.  I had a ton of other stuff to catch up on as well so there was no beer related activity.  Fortunately, Mikey and I got back into it with an easy kit IPA; I’ll be writing this up later.  We also managed to taste a couple brews.

I did this inventory because I had a lot of home brew floating around the house, stored in different places.  I also had stashed empty bottle in various places.  It was good to pull everything out, get everything organised, and see what I had left.

What I found was:

inventory

That’s 58 bottles of beers (including the Little Creatures) to work through!

I have a habit of avoiding drinking the last few beers of batch, so they get put into the back of a cupboard and forgotten about. Unfortunately I’m going to need about 60 bottles for the brew I did yesterday, So it looks like I have some work to do in order to get more bottles!  Fortunately there is plenty to choose from…

Finally, let us all take a brief moment of silence for all the tasty home brew that was so good I drank it rather than saved it.  It will be missed until I make it again.

Anyway, I’ll be posting up yesterday’s brew soon, and there are some reviews coming as well.  Stay tuned.

-Chas

 

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