In The Bottle!

On the advice of my brewing guru, Phil, I added another 4 L of juice to my batch of cider. After some conversations with him, I realized that I made a mistake when doubling the original batch – I added twice the sugar called for! On the surface, this might not seem like a sensible idea, but when it comes to sugar, yeast, and alcohol, not everything is as it might seem. By adding double the sugar, I ended up setting myself up for a much more alcoholic cider than I had intended, since the yeast feeds on whatever sugar is there.

About 8 days after adding the 4 L of juice, the airlock had nearly stopped bubbling, so I took hydrometer readings. Turns out, my cider came out around 14%, when the recipe aims for 7%. However, based on taste tests of the samples, I decided to bottle soon. Perhaps fortunately, I came down with a cold around the time I had planned to bottle, which meant that the yeast had time to settle in the bottom of the carboy. By the time I got to bottling, the cider was actually very clear – no clarifying agent required!

I asked my friend Steve to assist with the bottling, and his Dad was kind enough to loan me a bit of hardware and some sterilizing solution. I added about a cup of apple juice to the carboy, with a packet of demerara sugar dissolved in it, to provide a littke bit of secondary fermentation. We expected the bottling process to take a long time, but managed to bottle 24 regular sized beer bottles and 4 1L bottles in less than an hour. So, the batch produced about 12 L of STRONG cider in 32 days, and cost less than $20 for the ingredients. Not a bad return on investment!

So far, no carbonation seems to have happened. I’ve cracked open a couple of bottles so far for family, and the general consensus is that it’s definitely tasty. I’m glad that I was delayed in bottling, as I think it helped both the clarity and taste. I’ve also given away 2 of the 1L bottles, as well as 4 of the beer bottles, and suggested that they not open it until at least Christmas, to make sure it has a chance to carbonate a little. Not sure if it’ll actually happen, but here’s hoping!

For my next batch, I think I’ll go half-and-half with Macintosh juice and Golden Delicious juice, as the one thing I don’t really have in this batch is bite. I also think that a larger batch is in order. Since Virginia and I are in the process of buying a house, I may hold off until after we move to get this batch rolling. I’m also going to do a larger batch – the carboy wasn’t nearly at capacity, but I wanted to avoid too much dissapointment if the first batch failed, but since it’s been such a resounding success, I think it’s time to ramp things up.

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