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Christmas Cyser 2009

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This is my second year making a cyser, this year I’ve timed it better for the holidays and it should be ready around December 10th. Cyser is both a cider and a mead, that may be a little confusing but if I say it’s a mix you might get the mistaken impression that you blend of the two. You can do this, but I like doing it all in one shot.

There really isn’t enough information presented here or in the video to teach you to brew a batch, unless you’re an experienced homebrewer already, but its something I like to do so I thought I’d share.

The Primary ingredients are:

  • 1 Gallon Pasteurized Unfiltered Apple Juice
  • 1 Gallon Commercial Apple Cider Without Additives
  • 6 Pounds of Unprocessed Raw Honey
  • 1 Pound of Brown Sugar

Yes, this will make a sweet batch and that’s the way I make it because that’s what those I share with like.

I boiled the honey and brown sugar together with 1/2 gallon of water and brought it to a soft boil for about 5 minutes, then scooped the ‘scum’ off the top.  Then when I cut the heat off and I added added a table spoon of yeast nutrient and and a teaspoon of yeast energizer, stirred it in well and let cool covered until until 150 degrees.

Added it to juice/cider in a sterilized 3 gallon carboy with an airlock and pitched a tube of White Labs Yeast Sweet Mead Yeast, which promptly hung.  I’m not sure if the yeast was too weak to do the job, or if the tiny little shop that serves the greater Boise region didn’t keep the yeast stored properly (I’m guessing the latter as White Labs has a great reputation;) but, after 36 hours with only a few bubbles I pitched Cote des Blanc in a starter.

I made a 6 oz starter with 1 tablespoon each of yeast nutrient, yeast energizer & dry DME, after it cooled to 70 degrees I pitched Red Star Cote Des Blanc, it got active in a hurry and I pitched it after a few hours of bubbling merrily away, it’s doing a great job with a must with a starting gravity of 1.317, as you can see in the video.

Last year’s cyser tasted great, but was an aesthetic disappointment.  I’m going to work on having a clearer batch this year, I which may call for me to figure out a low-cost filtration option.

© 2009, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

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Brewing Report

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Memorial Day was a bit of a brewer’s report card for me, and here’s the results of a tasting session:

The Lemon Head was interesting, it went too sweet which surprised me because sitting on the yeast with that much sugar it should have gone much deeper into the alcohol flavors, but it just might be that the acids and bitterness of the lemons combined with the alcohol it fermented as high as the yeast could and the rest was leftover sugar, it also didn’t carbonate much. Next time I think I’ll brew a high gravity beer then back flavor it.  I think it got an OK rating and Shae went home with the few bottles I’d put together.

Bragg’s Golden Braggot, braggot is a mead (honey wine) and malted drink (beer) at once. It went very dry and had a strong wine flavor, next time I go higher gravity on the beer side as this batch was mostly honey for fermentables, it was 6:1 honey to malt, I think I’ll bump that up to 2:1 next time with a slightly more assertive hop.  Key took home a 6 pack and I’m aging about 18 mor 12 oz bottles, I’ll call it a successful batch though.

Sour Puss Lambic definately had the funky sour tastes but was too light on the fruit flavors, I put in about 8 lbs of fruit but the yeast and souring cultures seemed to eat them all up.  When I popped the lid on the fermenter the scent was pure lambic, so I hit that perfectly, but lesson learned was to have a fruit concentrate on hand to back flavor it.  We tried mixing a lingonberry concentrate and it balanced up very easily with only a few drops to a 2 oz taster.  I’ll go mixed on this, its technicall correct, the flavor needs work, and nobody wanted any to take with them.

The Hard Apple Cider followed a trand of mine of going very fry, meaning high alcohol, I had to back sweeten it with soft cider, but next time I’ll use concentrate.  This was one of the better recieved and Kit got the rest of the batch to take home.  Next time, sour green apple cider.

The Red Death Melomel, a fruit mead, went very dry and the alcohol flavor is a bit of a knee in the groin.  It all stayed home with me.

The Holiday Cyser was a bit of a surprise, its mead and hard cider in one, with a spiced flavor that comes from a little cinnamon and a mix of honey and apple, it came out rather sweet and I’d cut that down by blending in a few cups of strong tea as the tannins reduce the cloying element of the sweetness.  It went rather well, expecially with those that like sweet spicy drinks.  Shae took home a half gallon and I have another gallon aging in the brew fridge.

After my last batch of Scotish 60/- (60 shilling) fermented out badly I was a little nervous when I tried my first Porter.  I’d rounded up the ingredients fresh in Seattle and brewed it up, I think I pulled it out of the fermenter a little early and it hadn’t finished conditioning, I compressed a three week process into two when it was all said and done, but it came out very well despite.  It was flat when we tried it but the flavor was very pleasant even then, I’d intentionally kept the hop profile a little lower than the brew shop’s recipe, to keep it in line with Black Butte Porter, but the malt really came through well.  Its a mild ale, a little light in color but I fan fix that with the steep next time, but it goes down really well.  I force carbonated it in the tap a draft and it is a gamned good ale, but a little heavy on a hot day.

As far as ales go, I may just have to alternate between 60/- and Porter.  Well, the 60/- in the summer and the porter in fall and winter.

Over all, I think I have a way to go, but pretty good for a brewer with under a year to his credit.

© 2009, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.