Monthly Archives: December 2013

I’m Out Of Patience and Space

If you’ve been reading along, you know that last month I started a test batch of perry. For reasons I still don’t understand, while it was in primary fermentation it separated into a hazy upper layer and a cloudy bottom layer. To avoid transferring the cloudy layer, I only racked the upper two-thirds into secondary fermentation. Now I’m watching it closely because it has a lot of head space, making it vulnerable to oxygen exposure which could turn it to vinegar.

Rather than sit and wait to see what happens (will the perry come out? will I like it?), I jumped right into experimenting with new pear juices and yeasts, because why not?

Besides, they looked so lonely on the shelf.

I put together four test batches, using two kinds of pure pear juice and two kinds of yeast.

They are, l-r:
Knudsen juice & WL cider yeast
Gerber juice & WL cider yeast
Knudsen juice & Nottingham ale yeast
Gerber juice & Nottingham ale yeast

The few true perries I’ve had (that is fermented pear juice, not fermented apple juice with pear flavoring) were made from nothing more than juice and yeast. Pear juice has more sugars, including more unfermentable sugars, than apple juice. When fermented, perry finishes a bit sweeter than cider. Which is why I didn’t feel the need to add sugar to these.

I also didn’t take any hydrometer readings. I planned to. I bought this combination wine thief/tester:

It’s supposed to make taking hydrometer readings less wasteful by allowing you to take a quick sample, measure the juice, and put it back into the jug. Since I’m making small test batches I don’t always take readings because I don’t want to sacrifice any juice. Unfortunately, the juice levels in the gallon jug weren’t high enough to get any hydrometer readings. I’d guess, however, it works great with three gallon carboys or larger.

The cydery is now at capacity, or so J. has told me. Nothing else can be started until all of this is bottled.

“This,” by the way, amounts to about 14 gallons of cider and perry.

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Christmas For the Cydery

J., my wife, got me a great gift this year: a personalized six-glass tasting paddle.

Thanks, Love! I’m sure we’ll put this to very good use. But first, we’ll have to make six varieties of cider. That’ll be OK, right?

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Bigger Batches Means More Cleaning

Like so much in life, I don’t always think about the amount of work that goes into my work. For example, I was so excited to make a larger batch of cider this time around that I never gave a thought to having to clean everything. Naturally, the more you make, the more equipment you need, the more there is to clean. It’s all worth it, but now I understand why larger cider makers make it clear that they need a convenient source of water and floor drains to make the work easier. Having water and drains in the same space as the brewing is certainly better than moving large glass carboys between the second floor bathroom tub and the kitchen. Fortunately, no boys or carboys were harmed in the cleaning of the cider equipment.

Yesterday I racked off the ciders and perry we started last month. That includes six gallons of a sugar and raisins batch as well as three test batches, including:

These are l-r:
– November blend juice, 1/2 lb light brown sugar, and WL English cider yeast
– Trader Joe’s unfiltered juice, 1/2 lb light brown sugar, and WL English cider yeast
– Pear juice and WL English cider yeast

The foggy bottom never fell out.

You’ll notice that the perry (on the far right) is pretty low. That’s because it had a foggy bottom. I used Ceres juice, which includes pear puree. I was hoping that the solids would settle out, leaving clear juice above. Instead the juice separated into a clearish top and a thick, cloudy bottom. After three weeks in primary ferment and no change in fogginess, I cold crashed it for a week hoping to reduce the cloudiness. Before I put it in the fridge I marked the top of the cloud with a piece of tape so I could see how much everything settled out. After a week it only went down an inch.

Since I only racked off the clearer juice, I lost a lot to the the puree. I’m hoping once it settles into secondary I can cap it to keep the air out so it doesn’t turn to vinegar. I doubt I’ll use the the Ceres juice again.

Here’s the cydery as it stands at the moment:

There’s room for three more gallons on the top shelf. Just sayin’.

 

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