Dry Hopped Cider

Ref 2020-12 Dry Hopped Cider Brewer Mangrove Jack’s
Style Dry Hopped Sparkling Type Cider, kit
Started Mon 28th Dec 20 OG 1.048 Status Archived, 6.3% ABV
Packaged Thu 7th Jan 21 FG 1.004 Fermenter Fermzilla
Handle 2020-12 Dry Hopped Cider
Brewer Mangrove Jack’s
Style Dry Hopped Sparkling
Type Cider, kit
Fermenter Fermzilla
Status Archived, 6.3% ABV ABV
Started Mon 28th Dec 20 OG 1.048
Packaged Thu 7th Jan 21 FG 1.004

From the vendor: Craft Series Dry Hopped Apple Cider kit from Mangrove Jacks is a cider making ingredients kit which will brew 23 litres of crisp and refreshing apple cider with tropical citrus flavours and aromas from the Citra hops.
This kit includes Premium Craft Series MO2 Cider yeast which ferments retaining the fruit character.

Milestones & Tasks

Jan 20 -1280dFirst taste: amazing!
Jan 12 -1288dStart conditioning
Jan 07 -1293dBottled 40 mixed caps
Jan 05 -1295dAdded 50g Citra pellets
Dec 28 -1303dStarted primary
Feb 202103Wed

It’s been a great evening. Our first outing to the range since the second lockdown was lifted on Monday, four great rounds shot, and two pints of MPA – one while bottling my first extract brew, another over excellent chicken & chorizo Jambalaya dinner. What better way to finish than with a comparison between two dry-hopped ciders currently hiding in the fridge?

Mangrove Jack’s Dry-hopped Cider

Great carbonation right off the bat, absolutely perfect for this type of drink. Looking back over my notes I see that each 50 ml bottle had two Easybrew carbonation drops, but so have plenty of my beers and none of them has this amount of fizz. Must be a cider ‘ting.

Taste is perfect at first hit, the hops adding a definite flavour of their own which is unlike anything else you can put in cider. Just wonderful. Sweetness is also great at the start, then you begin to wonder halfway through what it would be like with the sugar turned down by 50%. Not that it’s cloying or overly syrupy, you just get the impression that it would work equally well as a semi-dry or a dry cider. Repeating this at different levels of sweetening shouldn’t be too hard, as I recall there was a small sachet of sweetener to be added before bottling, with instructions to add half for a semi-dry cider and add all for a sweet cider. I added all because it was a ridiculously small sachet for 23 litres of brew, but next time I’m going to try just half.

Orchard Orgy Type 22a

My second hoppy dose of apples this evening, and this one’s a deeper shade of greeny-amber (damn this colour blindness!) with a totally different feel and taste.

First off it’s the carbonation, and there’s a whole lot less of it. Looking back over my notes just now (and in the bin, to get the bottle’s number) I see that I bottled 37 x 500 ml in total with various amounts of sugar and carbonation, but my bottle is #38 and it’s a 275 ml Heineken, one of the runts from the bottom of the bucket. (the other recent trial was probably #39) With no record of how much sugar and carbonation I added to this one it makes the comparison rather pointless … erm … yes. But to be repeated! *

Worth noting however that the cider in our own Type 22a tastes much more like real cider, and I’m not just saying that because I helped press it 131 days ago. There’s a scrummy, scrumpy complexity that you just don’t find in the extract concentrate, and I can’t wait to sample & compare some full-size bottles of this stuff over the coming weeks.

Oh, and the hops? Different too, and not as prevalent here as in the MJ version. Each had 50g of Citra added before bottling (MJ 2 days, 22a 3 days) and I’m inclined to put a difference in taste down to the type of cider that we started with rather than the extra day that was afforded to the Citra in 22a. It’s almost certainly something to do with our apples, most of which were of the sweet variety as opposed to dedicated cider apples.

… and the winner is:

Undecided. Let’s revisit once we know we’re comparing apples with apples, at which point I’ll get some photos and a second opinion.

* Scratch that – just read my notes properly and apparently the Heinekens had 2 carbonation drops and 10 ml sweetener. Well, they were flat, and tasted as though no sugar was added. Neither of those facts bodes well, though I suppose there’s the outside chance that the caps didn’t go on 100% right on the Heineken bottles, which have small shoulders and felt iffy during capping. As always, fingers crossed.

14 days
Jan 202120Wed

After 10 days of conditioning I can safely say that Mangrove Jack’s Dry-Hopped Cider is a resounding success. It’s as sweet as it needs to be (maybe add marginally less sweetener next time?) with no twang, no syrupy finish, and an indefinable, magic ‘green’ quality that just has to be the hops. This will be the best thing in the world on a hot summer’s day, on the beach, with a bucket of ice and something nice to look at. Cheers!

8 days
5 days
Jan 202107Thu

It’s now two days since finishing hops were added so I decided enough was enough. As I’m running a little low on bottles I had to use a mixture today, totalling 37 x various 500 ml plus 3 recycled Fischer flip-tops which were probably closer to 600ml. Pretty good yield! The FG of 1.004 against OG 1.048 promises 6.25% ABV, which is also nice. Each bottle was treated with 2 x Easybrew carbonation drops (target = 500 ml) except the Fischers which received 2 x Coopers carbonation drops, target = 750 ml. There was a slight configuration error with the labelling machine which resulted in the numbering sequence being truncated to one digit, so we have bottles 0 through to 9 four times over.

Finally, the sample from the trial jar tasted amazing – why have I never thought to add hops to cider before? I’m now glad that I’ve misplaced the bag of hops that came with the Pink Grapefruit IPA because there’s going to be 50 grams of Citra left over from the replacement bag when it arrives from Amazon. Think I might have to throw that in Type 22a on secondary, maybe with a little blueberry juice.

2 days
Jan 202105Tue

Checked in on this one and noted that like the Blueberry Cider just now it’s well and truly ready for bottling, let alone hopping. Gravity comes in at an amazing 1.003 (likely 5.91% ABV) which is way below the 1.015 threshold I needed – let’s just hope that my slackness in getting this bottled doesn’t cause too many hints of dead yeast.

Anyway, I tipped in the 50g pouch of Citra hops and then realised I should have added the also included apple essence first, since you’re not supposed to stir the hops once added. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll dissipate on their own accord over the next 24 hours, so I’ll give it a gentle stir then before leaving another 24 hours for the yeast to re-settle.

2 days
Jan 202103Sun

It’s been 6 days since I started this one, and as I can’t rely on airlock activity as an indicator of progress when using these vessels I’d better check in with a gravity reading.

There’s clearly not as much going on as before when I popped the lid, no fizzing and just a few islands of bubbles on the surface of the brew. Smell is on par with what I’d expect for a cider of this age, and gravity comes in at 1.014, making for 4.46% ABV and putting this into the right zone (1.015, if stable) for bottling.

I’m going to check in again two days from now, expect I’ll be dry-hopping and then bottling two days later.

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

Since I was sterilising everything in order to start the Blueberry Cider earlier this evening I thought I’d use up another vacant FV and kick off the Dry-hopped Cider as well. No real difference from the last one, except that there’s a packet of hops which needs to be added after approximately 4 days if the SG has reached 1.015 or below. Based on my experiences with similar hoppy beer, I’m going to make sure that the SG is stable for two days as well as being below 1.015, so that I can dry-hop and then bottle two days later, because fermentation will essentially be finished and I’m not going to compromise the flavour of the hops by waiting too long after dry-hopping.