Blueberry Cider

Ref 2020-12 Blueberry Cider Brewer Mangrove Jack’s
Style Fruit Flavoured Sparkling Type Cider, kit
Started Mon 28th Dec 20 OG 1.048 Status Archived, 5.8% ABV
Packaged Wed 6th Jan 21 FG 1.004 Fermenter Fermzilla
Handle 2020-12 Blueberry Cider
Brewer Mangrove Jack’s
Style Fruit Flavoured Sparkling
Type Cider, kit
Fermenter Fermzilla
Status Archived, 5.8% ABV ABV
Started Mon 28th Dec 20 OG 1.048
Packaged Wed 6th Jan 21 FG 1.004

From the vendor: A soft lingering scent of ripe blueberries blended with a sharp apple base. Refreshing and thirst quenching.

I’ve not really tried an off-the-shelf cider kit before so this (along with the Dry Hopped Cider) will be a new experience.

Milestones & Tasks

Jan 20 -1218dFirst taste
Jan 11 -1227dStarted conditioning
Jan 06 -1232dBottled 41 blue crown caps
Dec 28 -1241dStarted primary
Jan 202120Wed

Popped one of these last night and must say it was very nice; great fruity flavour with only a very slight syrupy finish that will probably abate over the coming weeks – after all it’s only been 2 weeks since these were bottled.

What was most impressive was the lasting level of carbonation – absolutely perfect for a cider drink that’s served straight from the fridge over ice. I note that two Easybrew carbonation drops were used per bottle, so I’m now a little worried about those brews I’ve bottled since where I’ve used more than the recommended amount. Let’s hope I’ve not created any gushers!

9 days
5 days
Jan 202106Wed

Today I bottled Mangrove Jack’s Blueberry cider into 41 blue crown caps using various recycled Okells bottles. Each bottle also received two Easybrew carbonation drops (total target = 500ml) but no non-fermenting sugar since I added the whole 5g sachet of sweetener at the start.

The bottles were then moved to the server room where it’s presently 20.5 ℃ and I’m going to leave them there for exactly 5 days as instructed, before conditioning for another 7 days. I read somewhere that the blueberry flavouring doesn’t make for a very long lived brew, but at the same time I don’t want to rush it either.

1 day
Jan 202105Tue

There’s absolutely no airlock activity here (probably means nothing on these vessels anyway) so I check gravity just now and noted 1.004 – coming in at a healthy 5.78% ABV. I can’t see this dropping any further, so I added the flavour sachet as instructed and gave it a gentle stir. Will bottle tomorrow after the yeast has settled back down.

2 days
Jan 202103Sun

As with the Dry Hopped Cider just now, airlock activity can’t be relied on as an indicator of fermentation since there may well be a leak on this type of vessel, so let’s take a reading. And, like the Blueberry, it’s coming in at 1.004 which is well below our threshold of 1.015. Will check in again in two days time and make plans for bottling in due course.

Edit 5 Jan: I just noticed that I made a mistake when I recorded SG, should be 1.004 and not 1.014. Get this bottled ASAP!!

2 days
Jan 202101Fri

I’ve been concerned at the lack of airlock activity on these two recently started ciders, and wondered if the strong smell of CO2 in the brewery might be due to gas escaping around the side of the lid or past the airlock grommet. My suspicions weren’t helped by the fact that I’m using two buckets which are different from all the others, and that there’s a sticker on each lid recommending the application of petroleum jelly to the grommet and around the rim of the lid in order to get a good seal. I hadn’t done this because I don’t want to run the risk of contaminating my brew with Vaseline, and because the lids and grommets appeared to fit tight enough, though a little warm water did escape from the edge of the lids during vigorous sanitisation.

On lifting the lids to check the state of the brews I was greeted with a slight foam of small bubbles, with more rising around the edges to the point where a distinct fizz could be heard. Satisfied that fermentation was happening I taped over the join between one lid and the bucket all the way around, but still the airlock remained static. Very strange. Could it be the grommet after all? Maybe I’ll try some silicone sealant before using those vessels for the next brew, and hopefully I’m not going to get any contaminants via the potential leaks before this one’s finished. Fingers crossed. 🤞

3 days
Dec 202029Tue

Absolutely no airlock activity for these two, you’d think I’m sitting on two tubs of water. A beer kit would be bubbling gently by now, as would our own home-made cider, so maybe these syrupy kits just take a little longer to get going? Can’t think why, with the amount of brewing sugar and yeast in there. Oh well, patience and all that. Ambient temperature 22.1 ℃.

1 day
Dec 202028Mon

Decided to start on one of the cider kits I picked up on my last Brew2Bottle order, a cheeky Blueberry number from Mangrove Jack’s. Using one of these pouch-based kits is just as easy as using one of Mangrove Jack’s beer kits, it just contains liquid syrup instead of ready made wort, and you need to add brewing sugar (not included) and sweetener (included) according to taste. There’s also a printed instruction sheet, a sachet of cider essence and a sachet of yeast, the latter of which you add once you have 23 litres of syrupy gunk in your FV between 18 and 28 ℃.

Getting the brew started is pretty easy; just add 3 litres of boiling water to the syrup from the pouch, pour in a kilo of brewing sugar, then top up with cold water to the 23 litre mark. I was using cold water which had been chilling in 5 litre Tesco mineral water bottles, and it turns out that just one of these is enough when you’ve almost-frozen it to crystallisation. On my first attempt I used three of these bottles and had to supplement the rest using boiling water again, because I lowered the temperature too much.

As it stands I pitched the yeast at 21.5 ℃ after getting an OG reading of 1.048, then stored the vessel at 22.3 ℃.