Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Trader Joe’s Cyser Part III, The Honey Wheat Cyder, and the Perry

It finally worked and the key seems to be time. The third Trader Joe’s cyser, started back in May, didn’t develop a foggy bottom like the last one had. Everything was the same, except I let this batch sit in primary a little longer than usual.


It fermented clear and dry, which is what I wanted, but it also means it won’t carbonate in the bottle like the last batch did.

In October I started two new batches, another honey wheat cyser and a perry with orchard juice. I let them sit in primary for six weeks to see if the honey wheat stopped fermenting and the perry cleared more. Neither happened. The honey wheat was still bubbling ever so slightly and the perry remained hazy. They were racked into secondaries this past Wednesday. The honey wheat will sit until March and the perry until May.


l – Honey Wheat
r – Perry

While racking I took a taste of each of them. The perry has a much better feel and taste than the previous ones, which were not good. The honey wheat had a sweetness and fullness to it that I wasn’t expecting, since the previous one came out like a dry white wine.

Now I’m waiting for the last six gallons of orchard juice to come in. In the meantime, I need to figure out what cyder we want six gallons of.

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Single-Varietal Cyders & the Workings of Wild Yeast

Sometimes my cydering experiments are guided as much by serendipity as intention. I had only started reading up on single-varietal ciders, thinking it was something I’d try next year, when a couple of single-variety juices suddenly became available. So I jumped right in.

A single-varietal cider comes from juice pressed from only one kind of apple. If you’ve had Woodchuck’s Granny Smith, or any number of imitators, you’ve had a single-varietal cider. They’re tough because one apple has to do all of the work – it has to be sweet enough, bittersweet enough, sharp enough, and bittersharp enough. Not many individual apple varieties are so well-rounded, which is why most ciders are made from a blend of apple types that balance each other out.

Thanks to the local homebrew shop, who imported some from an Upstate New York orchard, I was able to get  Golden Russet juice. Golden Russet cider seems to be universally acclaimed, so it seemed like a good place to begin. I started a batch last Thursday morning.

3 gallons Golden Russet, no added sugar or yeast. Potential ABV 9%.

Another popular single-varietal is Gravenstein. Whole Foods offers a Gravenstein-only juice (without preservatives). I know I’ve said in the past I wanted to avoid store-bought juice, but it’s tough to find raw Gravenstein locally. I started that going yesterday morning.

1.5 gallons of Gravenstein, no added sugar or yeast. Potential ABV 6.25%.

Yesterday was day four for the Golden Russet and wild yeast batch. I was starting to worry because nothing seemed to be happening. For most of Monday it looked unchanged, but by the early afternoon tiny bubbles started collecting on the surface:


Three hours after that it looked like this:


Yet another reminder that you work with wild yeast on its terms, not yours.

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Cidering is Fraught With Peril (Really)

Cidering can be dangerous, and not just because of the effects of alcohol. It has always involved large machines which are designed to shred and press flesh. That’s fine when it’s an apple being spindled and mutilated, but it can have painful, even fatal, consequences when it’s a person.

One such accident occurred outside of York, PA in 1800 and was later recorded by a local artist. According to Lewis Miller, David Miller (no relation, we assume) was busy grinding apples when his hand was caught between the stones. Lewis’s rendering of this incident is presented below.

October 13th 1800. David Miller loseing his hand in the Apple Mill dreadful Ground up. it was at George Spangler’s farm one quarter of a mile from York [PA]. he died on the 21nd day of October in his 23. year his brother Joseph Miller was present at the time and Stop, the horse to go forward. as Soon as he discovered his brothers hand in the mill. A young woman throw an apple at him, he turned round to See, who throw, and his hand caught….

Between the machines and the stinging bugs, cidering can be perilous.

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