Sunday, December 14, 2008

New England Cider and Wild Cider

Back in October during the peak of apple season here in New England I decided to experiment with some cider. I bought 4 gallons of unpasteurized cider from a local orchard.

Three gallons went into a fermenter with 1 cup chopped raisins and 12 0z molasses. The raisins and molasses were boiled with some water to sanitize. The total volume ended up at 3.5 gallons at an OG of 1.060. Fermentation was done with Lalvin 1118 Champagne yeast. When fermentation finished White Labs 675 Malo-lactic bacteria (I think this is just Pedioccocus and Lactobacillus) was added. This is supposed to smooth out harsh acidity from the apples. After six weeks I bottled the cider with an ounce of corn sugar for a slight bit of carbonation

The fourth gallon of fresh cider went into its own fermenter by itself. I wanted to find out what happens when the cider is left to its own devices and yeast. After about 2 weeks there was a small krausen and after another week the airlock was releasing at 5 second intervals. Even though I was encouraged by the apparent fermentation the sulfur smell was off putting. Even though fermentation has finished and the cider cleared brilliantly I am holding off on bottling in hopes that the unpleasant smells will dissipate.

1883 Guinness Porter Tasting

The beer appears to be black as its poured but a close looks shows a dark red. Given that Crystal 40 and Chocolate malt added up to only 15% of the grist this is surprisingly dark. One finger of foam can be coaxed with an aggressive pour.

The aroma is a bit fruity from the yeast. The taste gives an interesting combination of fruitiness at the start followed by an unusual roastiness (spell check tells me that roastiness is not a word, I'll say empyreumatic instead). I presume this empyreumatic flavor comes from mashing/boiling the chocolate malt separate from the main mash. The hops play their supporting role well.

Overall an interesting brew. Next time I brew a porter or stout, I will remove the Crystal malt in favor of some Amber and Brown malt. A cleaner yeast that does not compete with the malt might be nice as well.