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Time Machine

Posted 2012/03/04

Homebrew - Simply Apple Fruit Cider

Having made a few ciders we settled on using a cheap juice from Kroger since it made a nice dry cider that we liked. Using some fruit we froze at Christmas I thought it would be fun to do some apple and fruit blends. To be vaguely scientific about it I thought we would ferment a big apple batch and then split it three ways, control and two different fruits. Since we already had blackberry and apricots the choices of fruit were easy.

I wanted to use some washed lager yeast that had been in the fridge a while so I kicked things off with a pure apple juice starter in a conical flask with the old yeast. This would give me a chance in case the yeast needed some reinforcements. The first stage used the same method as the Simply Apple cider we made in September.

Ingredients

  • 2.8 gallons of "Simply Apple"
  • 12oz pureed blackberries with added sugar until tasted sweet
  • 20oz boiled and pureed apricots
  • Saflager S-23 Dry Lager Yeast

Brew day was very straight forward, a simple cider like this is just a question of chucking everything together. After waiting 2 weeks it was time to rack into gallon jugs and add the fruit. This went very smoothly although the apricots did not want to fit through the neck of the jug.

The trouble came when I tried to rack out of the jugs on bottling day. A lot of the liquid was trapped in the fruit layer at the bottom of the jugs. I initially covered the mouth of the racking cane with cheese cloth to stop fruit from getting sucked up, but this clogged almost instantly. I really want the liquid in the bottom since each batch is only 1 gallon. In the end I poured both jugs into the bottling bucket using a strainer. The apricot one had much thicker gunk and blocked the jug neck even when just pouring it out. After some harsh words I got as much of the liquid out as I could. I think next time I should bag the fruit to keep it separate.

Starter:     02 Mar 2011
Brew:        04 Mar 2012, OG 1.032
Rack+Fruit:  18 Mar 2012 (14)
Bottle:      06 May 2012 (49), FG 1.002, ABV 4%
Ready:       13 Nov 2012 (185)
Summary:     Primary 14 days, Secondary 49 days, Condition 185 days

UPDATE 29/Aug/2012

2012-08-29 2908201223154479.jpg
We opened one of each fruit to see how it was going. I was suspicious of the apricot one because I had read (after making it) that the preservative used in dried apricots would give of sulphur compounds and wreck the taste. Both were completely dry and uncarbonated (desired). Both tasted like the cider they came from with a hint of the flavor of the fruits. We will wait at least another month for the final verdict.

Final Review

UPDATE 13/Nov/2012
After trying a bottle of each fruit at the start of the month I knew they would be ready. To get a good comparison I wanted to find a day when I could try the blackberry, apricot and the plain cider back to back.

Apricot
Very dry and not carbonated (as I like it). An obvious apricot flavor but a bit sour. None of the sulphur smell or taste that I was worried about. The alcohol flavor is hidden by the fruit which tells me that it is indeed ready to drink. There is a good amount of sediment but it looks like fruit in suspension rather than yeast. To my tastes there is not enough sediment to by nasty, it actually gives it some more character. On the whole I not sure that I like apricots enough to drink a bunch of these but it is quite nice to try something a bit different.

Blackberry
Again this was very dry and uncarbonated as intended. The fruit in suspension was a lot more obvious I think due to the darker color of blackberries. The blackberry smell was stronger than the apricot version. The blackberry flavor is quite strong but not overwhelming, you can still tell it was an apple cider at some point. The taste was fruity and tart, not very sweet. I liked this one more than the apricot, maybe because I like blackberries more? I think ti smelt nicer. The color was amazing, even with the fruit sediment. This version is very drinkable but by the time you get to the bottom of the glass the sediment starts to make it look a bit grim.

Cider
As a final taste test I tried the straight up apple cider from this batch. It smelt very tart and I think that is where the blackberry got that from. Unlike the fruit ones it was perfectly clear, with no sediment. It was very dry as expected but a bit rough in the after taste. I think it could do with a few more months of conditioning. This is interesting as I did not feel that about the fruit ones. Although I was trying to make it flat for some reason I feel like the apple cider should be slightly carbonated. I think I might be getting used to the US commercial sparkling ciders, even though they are way too sweet maybe I like the bubbles.

Conclusion

After drinking 12oz of each of the fruit versions it was quite clear to me that these things are in no way 4% ABV. My calculation is obviously wrong due to not factoring in the fermentables in the fruit. They had a good kick to them. I think the apple juice I used is a great base to experiment on. The main take away is kind of obvious, use fruit you really like the taste of! If you use a dark fruit you should try harder to get the sediment out because it looks a bit too gross at the bottom of your glass. I think next time I might try a commercial puree like they add to wine as it might have less sediment and be easier to syphon. All things considered this was a fun and drinkable experiment.

Starter

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Brew

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Rack

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Bottle

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Ready

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