I live in your average blue collar suburb. We don’t have any fancy restaurants. We don’t have any whole foods. We don’t have any Trader Joe’s. I stumbled into a TJ by work because I’ve heard lots of great things about their products and lack of preservatives (which is music to a brewer’s ears). I’ve been meaning to get another round of cider in prior to the season coming to as a final means to zero in a recipe. Thanks to my trip to TJ, I was able to do so. Most carts were full of food and other things.. mine was mainly things that would soon be booze.
This is round 2 on my Michigan cherry cyser. The previous version was fermented with a dry cider yeast packet and then transferred to a secondary with honey and tart Michigan cherry juice. It was then bottled and finished very dry. Drinkable, but dry and not very enjoyable. Heck, it was my 3rd or 4th creation ever. Since then I’ve been wanting to revisit this.
My knowledge on cider making is minimal, but in regard to the brewing process, it’s improved greatly. My equipment has taken a big step forward too. My goals are to make this a bit sweeter, have all flavors play an equal role, and have it finish around 1.016-1.020. If it comes out as desired, I’ll add some toasted oak chips to the next carboy and see what that adds. I’m not much of a cider guy, but I do feel that some barrel characteristics would add wonders for most out there.
My shopping cart consisted of:
3 gallons of unfiltered Trader Joe’s apple juice (cider wasn’t available, but this should do fine)
32oz tart Michigan cherry juice
2lb of Michigan locally sourced wildflower honey
I don’t intend to use all of the honey and cherry juice, but it’s better to have too much on hand than not enough. I also scored some mango juice and sweetened coconut for when I get silly for the Brew-B-Que IPA. More to come on that..
All of the juice was poured into my sanitized fermenter and I pitched a half packet of US05 yeast that I had lingering around my fridge. 48 hours later, there was no activity in the fermenter.. I think the yeast was totaled. Luckily, I had a half pack of US04 leftover that I pitched as a last resort as I was heading out of town in the morning and it needed to GET DONE. This concerns me a bit, but worst case scenario; I’ll add Brett and make something weird.
Fermentation lasted for 2 weeks and then settled to 1.010. This stuff was hazy.. I added a teaspoon of pectic enzyme to aid in clarity and let it sit for 72 hours. I then slightly warmed 1lb of honey and dissolved it 16oz of the Michigan tart cherry juice. The fermented must was transferred to the keg. I then proceeded to add this honey/cherry solution in. I added a little potassium sorbate / metabisulfate to assist in stopping further fermentation should I decide to bottle some down the line. I purged headspace with CO2, rocked the contents to mix, and into the fridge under 20psi pressure for 48 hours.
This has been on tap for almost a week now and the keg is nearly tapped. All the girls I know and friend’s wives are crushing this stuff by the growler. I can’t blame them! It’s mighty tasty on a summer evening.
When I do this again, I may go back to using kolsch yeast as I typically do with my ciders.