I just put away 40 silver crown cap 500 ml bottles of Trip to Oslo and 45 of the same for Best Wellies using the traditional racking cane method. Each brew was first transferred to a clean bucket containing 850g Erythritol and 200g Brewing Sugar dissolved in in hot water to make up 1.5 litres. A single 500 ml PET bottle was also filled for each brew in order to test carbonation progress.
I decided to go with Erythritol rather than Xylitol because it doesn’t share the latter’s laxative effects and because I wanted to increase the sweetness and carbonation from Allotment Riot, which received 550g Xylitol / Erythritol mix and 150g Brewing Sugar. Will be interesting to see if this works out, though ultimately I think we need some real cider apples if we want to make the kind of brew that doesn’t need to hide behind a ton of artificial sweetener. Maybe just stick to apple juice for the next harvest and resume cider operations in a year or two when the new trees start to bear significant fruit.
We’re at 1.004 with Best Wellies (1.005 / 15.6℃) and I’m going to leave this one another week to make sure she’s done, because we were 6 points higher at last check-in 2 weeks ago. There’s a slightly tart sourness to this cider which makes me want to sweeten it substantially and carbonate it for a sunny, summery drink. Maybe cross-flavour with some fruit? A little natural cloudiness as well so this too will be cold-crashed.
This one is the slowest of the three, weighing in at 1.010 (1.011 @ 15.0℃) for 4.6% ABV. This is about where we want to be, but it’s no different in taste from Allotment Riot (now 5.8% / 1.002) – dry, sharp, acidic.
Interesting to see the difference in alcohol content at this stage between two ciders using the same yeast, which must be down to starter vs dry pitch.
Both these brews have been chugging along nicely, popping their airlocks every second or so for a couple of days now. Allotment Riot (below left) grew a nice foam hat about 25 hours after pitching the starter, which then covered the entire surface. It’s since thinned out a bit and started to recede as soon as I opened the bucket in order to take this picture.
Allotment Riot (front left) and Best Wellies (front right)
I decided that this bucket would be fermented with dry-pitched yeast, so today I threw in a packet of Mangrove Jack’s M02 and kept the temperature as it has been for the past week or so. MJ reckon that M02 is happy between 12 and 28℃ so 15℃ shouldn’t be a problem, and true to form it started bubbling away 24 hours later.
Since getting more serious with our ciders these past couple of years I’ve been thinking about ‘killing off’ the natural yeast (along with any nasties) and using an external beastie to do all the heavy lifting, but I’ve always shied away from adding sulphides at the start of a brew because I couldn’t get my head around how that might affect the subsequently added yeast.
Well, the clever chaps over at Vigo Presses reckon that it’s OK to add Sodium Metasulphite as long as you leave at least 24 hours before pitching your yeast, as that “allows time for the free sulphur dioxide to disappear before the yeast is added so as not to inhibit the yeast”.
Sounds like a plan to me. I’ve ordered a couple of packs of Mangrove Jacks M02 cider yeast which should be here in 2 days or so, and this morning I added 2 crushed Campden tablets to each 23 litre bucket, first dissolved in a little warm water. The change in colour was immediate and very apparent, generating a light coloured swirl in the dark apple juice. There shouldn’t be any fermentation now but I fitted airlocks just in case.
We put in a full day at the orchard today, and pressed three buckets worth of juice which will become cider, despite being mainly composed of eating apples. My intention is to split these three ways; one will be stopped early to make a naturally sweet low alcohol cider, one will be allowed to go on for longer and may be sweetened artificially at the end for a semi-dry finish, and one will get the Kveik treatment, just because I can.