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’ve dropped 2 points since my last measurement 14 days ago but right now there’s nothing going on, no airlock activity at all so I’m tempted to call it done at 1.005 (1.006 / 16.1℃) for 5.0% ABV.
In terms of taste it’s actually pretty good, with the Opshaug Kveik imparting an interesting flavour which makes me want to maybe sweeten this one just a touch but leave it flat like a traditional Scrumpy.
Next steps would be to rack it to a clean vessel along with some Campden and then cold-crash in order to take out some of that weird cloudiness that’s hanging around from the starter.
This one is right in the middle of my three siblings, coming in at 1.007 (1.008 @ 15.1℃) for 5.1% ABV. The taste isn’t quite as sharp as the other two, but it’s the cloudiest by far and has a slightly odd taste that I can’t put my finger on.
Worth noting that the starter was released on this juice 10 days ago whereas the other two were kicked off 13 and 15 days ago.
The Opshaug starter was more or less ready to go so I took a gravity reading and threw it in. A thin film of foam almost coated the top of the bucket and there was an audible hissing as soon as the lid came off. Gravity (before pitching) came in at 1.039 making for just 0.5% ABV from the natural yeast, so still plenty of sugar there for the Kveik to get stuck into. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.
It’s been a week since I added two Campden tablets to this bucket, and now the airlock is bubbling again. Maybe I should have been quicker to pitch my Kveik but the stir plate has been tied up all this time. What to do now? I don’t want to throw in more Campden and risk the brew tasting of nothing but sulphides, and it’ll be another 2 days before my starter is ready for deployment. Hmmm …
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.