A few weeks ago I took a couple of bottles of cyder to my fencing club for the post-fencing pizza party crowd to try. One was the 2013-14 Solebury, Sugar, Raisins, and cider yeast (based on Smith’s 1728 receipt) and the other was the 2014-15 honey wheat cyser (from John Nott’s 1723 receipt).
Everyone (well, almost everyone) had nothing but nice things to say about both. But the honey wheat was the bigger hit, as judged by the flattering language used to describe it. Modesty (and a poor memory) forbids repeating them here.
Thus the honey wheat cyser continues to be a fan-favorite among family, friends, and strangers. Based on these unscientific surveys, it’s a good contender for Blackledge Winery to produce.
But alas, no. It can never be made for sale. It contains wheat and according to Federal regulation Title 27 – §24.200 General it is illegal to have grain, cereal, malt, or molasses in a bonded winery space, much less in the wine (or cyder).
No idea why this is the case. Attempts to gain clarity from various government agents have so far proven futile. Needless to say, it can never be, no matter how tasty it is.
- Same goes for the Penn cider (based on a 17th-century receipt from Gulielma, William Penn’s first wife), which also uses wheat. And yes, we could make the honey wheat cyser without the wheat, but then it’s just cyser. Though a wheatless Penn is a possibility.
Welcome to Pommel’s fourth cyder season! Last week I started several cyders, some old favorites and some new experiments. They are, from left to right:
- 6.5 gallons of the 1723 honey wheat cyser (so far this one remains a fan favorite) – Potential ABV 11.5%
- 1 gallon unchaptalized raw juice (cause I hate to waste fermentable juice) – Potential ABV 7%
- 6 gallons of the 1674 Penn spiced cyder – Potential ABV 8%
- 5 gallons for experimenting with fortifying and royaling – Potential ABV 7%
- 3 gallons raw Golden Russet (another house favorite) – Potential ABV 8.5%
All of them are fermenting with natural yeast only.
This season I’ve started using brew buckets. They’re certainly not historical, but they are more cost-effective than oak barrels. They allowed me to double production without doubling the expense. The juice will stay in the buckets for a few weeks before being transferred to glass carboys to condition for a few months.
Useful as the buckets are, I wish they
- Had a clear side or top to show fermentation
- Had their upper gallons marked (these are all 6.5 gallon buckets, but the printed markings only go to 5)
- Were wooden barrels
At least one of those wishes I could immediately grant myself. Seems a 6.5-gallon bucket will hold 7, so long as I don’t need too much head space.
I also purchased a digital scale which should cut down on the various mathematical conversions I’ve been doing. Though a stillard and scale would be more accurate (historically speaking).
The stillard (aka stilliard or steelyard) is the long object on the upper left and the scale is on the right.