The mixed fruit cider looked like it was ready to rack off the last of the sediment…may get a tiny bit more over the next few months, while it bulk ages, but it should be pretty much done. I topped off with a little Culligan bottled water. It didn’t need much, but I didn’t want to leave much headspace in the carboy, for oxidation. Because the racking created a little oxygenation, I went ahead and put an airlock back on, for now.
Time to rack this little batch of cider. It’s a “Super Easy Cider”; my name for a commercial cider that basically just needs yeast and time. I am using White House brand “Fresh Pressed” Cider and harvested East Coast Ale yeast. What I have decided to do is rack the cider, take a hydrometer sample, and top off the cider with finished cider from a previous batch. In this case, I’m using a bottle of my Caramel Apple Cider.
I’m running short on half gallon carboys, so I racked to a gallon size carboy, cleaned the half gallon, sanitized it and siphoned the cider back into it.
The next step was to top off the current cider batch with the finished Caramel Apple Cider. It took about 3/4 of the bottle. I then replaced the airlock. I still saw some tiny bubbles rising before I started, so it needs a little more time. Plus, there was a little carb in the cider I topped with, so that will need to off-gas as well.
I did check the specific gravity at 1.003 and stuck the sample in the fridge for drinking later…waste not want not, right?! The flavor is a little bland and not very sweet. I’m thinking that I may prime with a little excess molasses at bottling, allow to carb, and then pasteurize. I have learned that East Coast Ale yeast is not the best choice for cider, if you like it to have a little residual sweetness. The apple flavor is still evident, but a little bland. Nice learning experience for very little money.
This is what will probably be the last racking for the crab apple/Pink Cripps apple cider that I have decided to call Caramel Apple Cider, due to the small addition of molasses and a cinnamon stick. It’s nice and clear now and I think I’ve managed to leave the rest of the small amount of sediment behind.
I had hoped to bump up the volume to 1-1/2 gallons, by boiling, cooling and adding 800 ml of water. There’s plenty of alcohol and I just don’t want to lose anymore volume.
I transferred the cider, by siphon, to a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, racking off of the sediment and trying to minimize oxygenation. I added the boiled water, cleaned my containers and refilled them.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to fill the half gallon; so I wound up with the volume I started with, minus the sediment, plus enough for a hydrometer check and a nice sample for evaluation!
I measured the SG at 1.013, down from an OG of 1.102…even after the small water addition. That makes the ABV 11.68%. Incredibly, the aroma is fresh apple juice. The flavor is deceptively smooth and sweet, with a nice touch of caramel. The finish is a tummy warmer, though! Really, very nice.
I have been trying to carb all of my ciders so far, but the ABV on this one has probably already overwhelmed the Edinburgh Ale Yeast and I don’t think carbonation would be an improvement in this case. I did have enough to fill a test bottle. The cider should be good for a couple of months, but I’ll check the tester in a couple of weeks.
Soon, it will be time to do the “final” racking for bulk aging on the muscadine wine and rack the crab apple/pear/Cripps apple cider to secondary. And finally, my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale should be ready for secondary sometime next week. So many good things going on and they all take so much time! The pumpkin ale should be ready before Halloween and should be good (maybe better) at Thanksgiving.
I drew just a couple of ounces from the Citra Belle Saison…the flavor has approved since I racked to secondary on an ounce of Citra hops. Needs a couple more days…should bottle Sunday or Monday.
The ginger beer that I bottled previously hasn’t really taken off in the carbing department. In fact, I considered dumping the bottles back into the “second runnings” batch and combining them. However, I checked a bottle yesterday and it had a small amount of carb. Not much, but enough that I have decided to leave the bottles and watch them to see if/when they need to be pasteurized.
The “second runnings” batch is taking a long time to really get fermentation going. I had it off the heating pad for awhile. When the weather cleared, I gave it some time in the sun for a couple of days, but then the temp dropped, so I put it back on the heating pad and covered it with the space blanket and the fermentation picked back up. It’s coming along slowly, but today was the first time that I believe I detected alcohol in the aroma when I opened the lid. So, while a longer process than I anticipated, the plan remains as originally envisioned: virgin batch is to be non-alcoholic and the “second runnings” batch will be fermented out for an alcoholic version. No photos for this update…nothing really interesting to see, just an update.
Additional update 8/16 10:15pm : I guess I was wrong on my second runnings ginger beer. I just took a SG reading and it looked like 1.066 when corrected for temperature and the OG was 1.062. So, either the the sugar is increasing in this bucket (not likely) or one of the measurements was off. I’m betting tonight’s measurement could be a tad off, due to some bits of ginger solids in the hydrometer sample. Would that affect it? I don’t know…seems like it might. At any rate. I’m thinking that there is no fermentation really going at it here, so I’m making an executive decision to add 1/8 teaspoon of dry Champagne yeast to the mix, after I strained it through cheesecloth and made sure I have at least a gallon of liquid left, which I do. With Champagne yeast at work, I will have to keep a close eye after I bottle it and definitely pasteurize; otherwise, the yeast won’t stop until it is bone dry and bottle bombs!
8/18…I had seen some activity with the addition of Champagne yeast to my Second Runnings Ginger Beer, but it seems to have stopped. I checked the temperature and it was over 100F. I guess a two gallon plastic bucket heats a lot more on a heating pad and wrapped in a space blanket than a 6 gallon glass carboy and I’m sure the yeast must be dead. I Googled and found “This strain tolerates fermentation temperatures ranging from 50° to 86°F….”. So the plan is to get the temperature down and pitch the yeast again…and no additional heat. The house is usually around 74F this time of year. Still trying! And I missed buying bottles yesterday and the home brew shop is closed today. I guess my Citra Belle Saison is going to dry hop a little longer that anticipated.
Got the white mold film over the surface over the Peach-Pineapple Tepache. I think I have enough fermentation happening here to go ahead and strain this batch. I sanitized a pitcher and some cheesecloth and strained…the liquid seemed a little thick and a little slimy. I believe that’s the peach peels breaking down. The SG is at 1.072, as is.
My next step is to add some Culligan bottled water to bring the volume to a little over a gallon. I should be able to bottle in 2 or 3 days and then I have to time bottling to about 36 hours and see if it’s ready to pasteurize. Previous batch was undercarbed at 24 hours and overcarbed at 48 hours.