I just pitched the yeast into this year’s batch of homebrew apple cider; hoping it turns out as tasty as the batch we brewed in 2010 (didn’t do one in 2011). The original gravity is at 1.063, so its potential is right around 8% ABV.
Here’s the recipe I’m brewing this year:
- 5 gallons of unpasteurized apple cider (This year’s came from Draper Girls Country Farm)
- 2 lbs. raw honey (This year we used a blackberry honey from Eugene, OR.)
- 3 tbsp. whole cloves
- 9 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vial White Labs WLP775 English Cider Yeast (Lot #: 1775TTH8338341) - Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- 3/4 cup honey (at bottling time)
- 1 cup water (at bottling time)
- 6-gallon brew kettle
- Long-handled spoon
- 5 or 6 feet of plastic tubing (to fit auto-siphon)
- 5-gallon plastic food-grade bucket with airlock and thermometer strip (Primary Fermentation Container)
- Wine thief or turkey baster
- 500ml graduated cylinder
- 5-gallon glass carboy with airlock (Secondary Fermentation Container)
- 48 12oz. glass “beer” bottles (not the screw-top kind)
- Enough metal bottle caps for all of the bottles (you’ll want a few extra)
- 5-gallon plastic food-grade bucket with bottling valve (Bottling Bucket)
- bottling wand
(“Must”, by the way, is what you call the cider prior to fermentation.)
Start out by cleaning any equipment that will come into contact with the must. Yeast organisms live everywhere, and adding whatever random yeast happens to be on your tools into the must will have unpredictable (although not necessarily unsatisfactory) results. You don’t necessarily need to have a 100% sterile environment the way some brewing guides seem to recommend; just realize that the cleaner everything is, the more predictable the result.
Pour five gallons of unpasteurized apple cider into your brew kettle.
Heat the must until it is steaming but not yet boiling. If the must begins to boil, it will start to form pectin, and you will have cloudy cider. (As long as you immediately remove from heat and stop the boil, your cider will probably still taste fine; it just won’t look as nice in the glass.)
Stir in 2 lbs. of raw honey and dissolve thoroughly.
Add 1 tbsp. of whole cloves and 3 cinnamon sticks.
Keep at this “steaming” temperature for about 30 minutes. (This both brings out the flavor of the cinnamon and cloves and also reduces the number of naturally occurring yeasts in the cider, which might throw off the flavor of the final product.)
Remove from heat.
Using the auto-siphon and plastic tubing, transfer the must into the primary fermentation container and install the lid and airlock to prevent contaminants from falling into it.
Let the must cool to around 70-75° F. (This can take a long time depending on the temperature of the room; it took mine about 15 hours in a 67° F room.)
Remove yeast from refrigerator and allow it to warm up for several hours.
Remove the lid from the primary fermentation container.
Using either a wine thief or a turkey baster (sterilized in either case), fill your (also sterilized) graduated cylinder with the must.
Gently drop the hydrometer into the graduated cylinder. Give it a few quick twists to dislodge any bubbles stuck to it. When the hydrometer comes to a rest, record the specific gravity and adjust for temperature of the must.
Return the must from the graduated cylinder to the primary fermenter.
Shake the yeast vial, open it, then pour the contents into the must.
Replace the lid and airlock.
Fermentation will usually begin within 5-15 hours. Most likely the airlock will start bubbling, but this is not always the case. Lack of bubbles doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Trust the yeast to do it’s job. :-)
Let it sit for about
two weeks.Try to keep the temperature of the must between 60-75° F, and store it in a dark place away from sunlight (placing a box over the container works, but mind the temperature as fermentation produces heat.)
two weeks,use the auto-siphon to rack off the cider into the (cleaned and sterilized) secondary fermentation container. Be careful not to suck up the yeast cake and sediment at the bottom of the primary fermenter, and try not to let the cider fall through the air or splash too much, in order to prevent the alchohol from oxidizing.
Again, using a wine-thief or turkey baster, transfer some of the cider into your graduated cylinder and record the gravity reading (don’t forget the temperature adjustment).
Do not return the cider to the fermenter, since you don’t want to oxidize the alchohol.
Add six cinnamon sticks and 2 tbsp. whole cloves to the secondary fermenter.
Install the airlock on the secondary fermenter.
Let the cider clarify in the secondary fermenter for at least 4 weeks. As long as you keep the temperature between 60-75° F, and keep it out of sunlight, the cider can sit in the secondary almost indefinitely. Like wine, still cider improves with age. (You must use a glass carboy for this, though; the plastic fermenters will slowly leech oxygen into the cider and ruin the flavor.)
Again, use the graduated cylinder and hydrometer to take another gravity reading. A fully-fermented and clarified cider should be close to 1.000 after adjusting for temperature.
Make sure your bottling bucket, bottles and bottle caps are clean and sterile.
If you prefer sparkling (carbonated) cider, dissolve 3/4 cups of honey into 1 cup of boiling water and add this to the bottling bucket.
Use the auto-siphon to rack the cider into the bottling bucket.
Attach the bottling wand to the spigot, open the spigot, and bottle your cider. Fill each bottle to just slightly above the neck, leaving 1.5-2” of headspace. Cap each bottle after filling (made easier with two people.)
For sparkling cider, let the cider bottle-condition for at least two weeks; the longer the better. Store the bottles at 60-75° F, and keep away from sunlight.
Chill the bottles in the refrigerator several hours prior to serving.