Monday, January 9, 2012

Cochise Stronghold - Cider & Malt

With all my interest recently in cider, I purchased far too many apples and have a ton sitting around.  I had about 80-100lbs of the local apples I used to press the Arizona Homestead cider, and I really wanted to use them for something other than apple sauce.  However, I knew that I really didn't want any more cider.

Then I remembered an idea that I had come up with during the middle of the summer, malt cider!  Now, it wasn't a new idea at all, in fact I've already attempted this before. Unfortunately the results were middling at best, but I didn't really put the same level of effort into that beer.  I used DME and only did a half-hearted steeping of the crystal malt.  I also used an ale yeast, something that Ive began to shy away from in many beers recently but that's another topic altogether.  

With this beer/cider I really wanted to do something a bit different.  One of the techniques Ive always advocated is boiling down the first runnings to a thick syrup.  When you boil down the first runnings, you increase the malt depths immensely.  This approach also retains more of the sweetness of the malt, as caramelization and maillard reactions result in compounds that aren't fermentable by sacch.  So not only do you get more malt depth, but you retain a hint of sweetness as well, both things I really think were lacking in my first attempt at malt cider

What I wanted was a cider/beer that retained a lot of sweetness along with the apple flavor.  I think many fruits once fermented just don't taste quite right without a hint of sweetness to round out the flavor.  To do this I did two things, 1 - I boiled down ALL of my runnings into a thick syrup, 2 - I used a generous portion of crystal malt in the grain bill, 3 - I used Maris Otter.

When I brewed the beer I took all of the runnings, that's right ALL of the runnings and boiled them down to ~1gal. I did this not only to increase the malt depth and sweetness, but because I wanted to make sure my OG was sufficiently high.  Doing this allowed me to use a lot of malt to balance the acidity of the apple juice, and I was able to dilute the syrup with the apple juice to get to my desired batch size.  I didn't run off a lot of wort prior to boiling down (wanted to minimize boil time) but I ended up with ~4gal of wort that I boiled down to 1gal.  I don't recall exactly how long that took but it took quite a while! As a result of pulling so little wort I ended up with a terrible efficiency for the batch (58%), but I figure you win some and you lose some.

One last thing I decided to add to the brew was a bit of Dark muscovado sugar.  Ive used this stuff before in a a couple other beers, and I really love the dark/chocolatey rummy flavor it provides and thought it would be a good addition to this beer.  I also liked the idea of drying out the beer ever so slightly, I do have a TON of crystal malt in there after all.

One final thing I did was split the batch between two different yeasts, WL English Cider and D47.  I'm hoping to retain a good deal of apple flavor/aroma with the cider yeast, and the D47 I'm hoping to retain a bit more of the malt sweetness.(wine yeasts cannot ferment maltotriose).  In a nod to where these apples came from I decided to name the beer after the dragoon mountains, which were the hideout of a famous Apache chief named Cochise.

Chochise Stronghold
Malt-Juice Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
7.0Maris Otter
1.5Crystal 60L
1.0Crystal 10L
0.5Dark Muscovado Sugar
3.25galGrimes Golden Juice
0.75galGranny Smith Juice
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Sterling (7.9%)120
Mash Schedule
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastEnglish Cider WL775 (2.5gal)
Lalvin D47 (2.5gal)
58% effIBU11?
4gal BoilFG
Notes: Thinking about it now, I'm a bit worried I mashed too high - Going totally blind I think I would drop the mash temp to 150F if I could do it over again

Review - 5/20/2013 - Notes, Thoughts and Yeast Comparison


Jim Lemire said...

This is pretty much precisely what I have been thinking of trying with my next cider. Good to know someone is blazing the trail for me - I can't wait to see how this turns out and if the amount of crystal malt you used is a good amount and not too overwhelming.

With last year's cider I boiled down a gallon of cider to a thick syrup and added that to the batch, hoping it would retain some sweetness/complexity. The cider turned out pretty good, but still fermented out completely, so the result wasn't quite what I was looking for. I think you're on the right track with this method. It will just be a matter of dialing in the malts.

Ryan said...

I've tried to boil down a bunch of cider to a syrup as well, and while it made the end result a bit more reddish it didn't do much else.

I must tasted one of these the other day, and it tastes pretty sweet, I didn't grab a gravity reading but I'd guess its 1020+ which makes me a bit worried.....

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