Belated Bottling (and Other Bits)

The good thing about bottling cyder is that if you don’t get to it right away you can say you’re just bulk conditioning. Which is to say that since this spring has been so busy I’ve “allowed” the cyder to bulk condition a little longer than usual before bottling it.

This season’s cyder includes a few old favorites, some new twists, and a couple of brand new experiments.

Honey Wheat Cyser

Honey Wheat Bottles

6.5 gallons, 21 bottles, 4 one-gallon jugs, 11.5% ABV

Based on John Nott’s 1723 receipt, this cyser remains a favorite among first-time samplers. Ten of these bottles has a sugar cube (.08 oz.) added to each bottle before they were filled. Many period receipts (including this one) call for adding sugar to the bottles to increase the carbonation (but not enough to burst bottles – I hope). I thought I’d try it.

Golden Russet

Golden Russet Bottles

3 gallons, 21 bottles, 8.5% ABV

Another 3 gallons of Golden Russet (the lazy man’s cyder). This is straight fermented juice, with nothing added.

Penn

Penn Bottled

6 gallons, 23 bottles, 3 one-gallon jugs, 8% ABV

Penn cyder is based on a 1674 receipt from Gulielma Penn’s (William’s first wife) receipt book. Astute readers will recall that Blackledge Winery recently announced the release of their Penn Cider as well. I made both. There is a difference between them: the Pommel Cyder Penn includes wheat, which the original receipt called for. The Blackledge Winery Penn does not, because of Federal regulations (which is also the reason Blackledge can’t make a honey wheat, despite it being a fan-fav). I’m looking forward to comparing both Penns in the near future.

On a side not, when I pulled the airlock off of Penn before bottling, it bubbled up like a freshly-opened soda.

Bubbling Penn

Raw BLend

Raw Blend Bottled

6 gallons, 11 bottles, 1 three-gallon carboy, 7% ABV

Out curiosity I wanted to see what the raw blend we use at Blackledge tasted like. So I fermented some.. It’s totally untouched (unchaptalized).

Fortified Cyder

Fortified Jug

1 gallon, 10% ABV

I added enough brandy to the raw blend to bump up the ABV from 7% to 10%. It’s going to sit and steep for a few months.

Cyder Royal

Cider Royal Carboy

3 gallons, 10% ABV

This cyder royal is a blend of raw blend cyder, brandy, and “sweets” (sweets is itself a boiled blend of water, sugar, and egg whites). According to the 1710 receipt it’s based on the cyder royal is going to sit and condition for 3-4 months.

This was a big season at the cydery. It’s the largest volume of cyder I’ve made at one time. Fermenting and conditioning used all of the glass carboys I had. Now, with the remnants of last year’s cyder, every lightning-stopper bottle I have (all 96 of them) and 8 one-gallon jugs are holding this year’s cyder.

While it’s nice to have to so much cyder to enjoy throughout the year, it’s still a lot of work to get it all bottled (which is code for a lot of washing up – I felt like a scullery maid all the while).  Since more cyder means more work, I’ve been thinking of ways to reduce or minimize tasks. One of the ways that I found was to strip the labels down to a strip. These new labels, which have the added benefit of also being a safety seal of sorts, requires less paper and needs only two instead of four cuts per label. They go on much faster as well. Just run them across a glue stick and apply.

Glue & Vice

Helps to have a third hand to hold the glue stick.

There’s still a little of last season’s cyder left to give the new ones time to recover from bottle shock (if that’s really a thing).

 

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