Sunday, November 1, 2009

Caramelized Apple Cider

So, I was about to brew up another batch of apple cider for next year, and I started reading about some other peoples attempts at cider. I hadn't really thought about it, because I like a very dry cider, but a lot of people like their cider a bit sweeter. I'm not big on artificial sweeteners, don't really like the flavor of stevia, and I didn't want to bottle off of a keg. That's when I remembered a post by the madfermentationist about blending some of his eis-cider with a caramel cider from SteveG on BBB.

It seems Steve's cider turned out far too sweet for his liking, so they blended the two making something that was better than either alone. There wasn't too much info on Mike's blog about Steve's cider so I started digging on BBB. I found a thread where Steve described his entire process. Essentially he had too much cider on his hands so he did a ~ 10:1 reduction, added this syrup to another cider reduction (16qt boiled down to 9qt) and fermented this out. Overall he used 6.5gal of juice and ended up with 2.25gal in his fermentor! I really like caramelized sugars, wort, etc, the flavors are always amazing and they really add depth to a brew. In fact in many of my beers I try to boil down a bit of the first runnings into a thick syrup that gets added back into the rest of the wort.

Now I'm not as lucky as Steve to have an apple tree in my yard, so I went the normal route and bought some Treetop apple juice at the grocery store. I then took 1.5gal of the juice and boiled it down to about 16oz. The syrup tasted amazing, the apple flavor was very strong and while sweet it was quite tart. The color difference was amazing, it started a typical golden apple juice color and ended up being a beautiful red. I added back enough water to get the syrup back to 0.5gal. This was added to another 0.5gal of straight juice. I will ferment this out, and as activity dies down I will add more juice, until I reach a total batch size of 2.5gal. Adding the juice incrementally like this I believe helps to preserve more of the delicate apple flavor. Hopefully this method will give me a nice cider that has a bit of residual sweetness to balance the alcohol.

Caramelized Apple Cider

3.5 gal Apple Juice
1.0 tsp Fermaid K
Nottingham Yeast

1. Boil 1.5gal of Juice down to ~16oz
2. Add water to the syrup to bring volume back to 0.5gal
3. Boil Fermaid K in a small amount of water and add to syrup
4. Chill reconstituted syrup
5. Mix reconstituted syrup with 0.5gal of juice and put in fermentor
6. Ferment out with Nottingham
7. Add an additional 0.5gal bottle of juice each time fermentation dies down until you get to 2.5gal in the fermentor.

2.5gal: OG 1072: FG 1008

Just a tid bit of extra info, TreeTop apple juice has an OG of 1.052


gabrielm said...

Great post, but I am confused...

You say: "and I didn't want to bottle off of a keg" which leads me to believe that you are making a sparkling cider that will be bottle conditioned. Normally, you would have to use artificial (non-fermentable) sugar or risk the creation of bottle bombs.

How does increasing the OG with reduced cider solve this issue?

Ryan said...

By boiling down and caramelizing the apple juice non-fermentable sugars are created

In SteveG's cider the cider apparently turned out very very sweet, and was carbonated, Im hoping that by not doing as large of a reduction as he did, my cider will retain some sweetness but not be cloying only time will tell though

James said...

Very interesting recipe....

A couple of questions...

How long did it take for you to reduce/boil 1.5G>16oz?

What is the FermentAid K for? What purpose did this serve?

How would you describe the final taste and appearnace of this recipe?

Did you bottle condition it as you would a beer?


Ryan said...

1 - 30 to 40min if i remember correctly

2 - its a yeast nutrient, apple juice doesnt contain as many nutrients as wort

3 - I havent tasted it yet, it takes apple cider at least 1yr to come into its prime, before that its generally a bit yeasty and the apple flavor doesnt really pop out

4 - yes it was bottle conditioned

JC Tetreault said...

any tasting notes yet w/ the cider reduction? I'm planning to do a spin on this weekend, adding in some DME, as well...but I really just want to add a bit of malty depth, and just a touch of sweetness. wondering about the perception of sweetness left from the reduction you did, in the quantities mentioned.

Ryan said...

No, not yet, with the level of alcohol in it ~8.4%, Im a bit wary of opening them up too soon, in my experience with other ciders the drier and higher alc the longer it takes for the acids/etc to mellow and the flavors to come together

Another reason Im waiting is that I want to do a side by side with a straight up cider for comparison, but I have a batch that should be ready for tasting in about a month or so

JC Tetreault said...

well, I just finished with a less aggressive version, with 1 gallon reduced down to a syrup, added to 5 gallons of unpasteurized fresh cider.

hoping the caramelized sugars are unfermentable, and will lend some sweetness in addition to the brighter acidity, aroma, flavor. fermented with a blend of chimay and nottingham yeast.

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