It’s been quiet at the Cydery these last few weeks because I’ve been busier
drinking tasting cyder than making it and I’ve been sharing some of the cyders with interested friends. The sharing is new for me for a couple of reasons.
First, up until this spring I’ve only done one-gallon batches, which produces six pint bottles per jug. That doesn’t leave a lot to cellar and share. This spring I made a six gallon batch which amounted to 43 pint bottles – more than enough to keep some AND serve some.
Secondly, and more importantly, this is only my second year of cydering and I still feel a novice (but only because I am). It’s taken a while, but I’m finally comfortable letting other people try what I’ve made. I guess it’s a lot like writing, painting, or performing: you never really want to show anyone your first attempts for fear that your work will be laughable.
Although things have been quiet that doesn’t mean the Cydery has been inactive.
The Trader Joe’s cyser (Part III) has spent four weeks in primary fermentation and lots of lees have fallen out.
Lots of lees.
As mentioned before, I’m making this again to see if I get the thick viscous goo layer that developed during secondary fermentation last time. That cyser came out well enough, but I lost volume to the foggy bottom.
I moved the jug so I could rack it off into secondary and let it alone so the solids could settle to the bottom again. When I came back to it a few hours later it was lightly bubbling again.
The previous TJ cyser seems to have carbonated slightly in the bottle which meant it was still fermenting. So it’s not surprising that this is still going a little. I’m waiting until these bubbles stop before racking it. Maybe that will help prevent or limit the cloudy layer. Or maybe it won’t. These are experiments after all.
After six months of secondary fermentation I bottled the Ceres perry I started back in November. Like the Trader Joe’s cyser, it developed a foggy bottom, but in primary. Since I tried not to transfer any of the goo I wound up with a lot of headspace in the jug. I didn’t fill it with water to make up the difference because I wanted to see how it came out as it was and because who wants weak perry.
We got four bottles of perfectly drinkable common perry. By drinkable I mean it wasn’t vinegar but it wasn’t the perry I expected it to be. My reaction seems to agree with one cider writer’s response to his own perry attempts:
Thus far… I’ve been underwhelmed by my own experiments with fermenting juice from dessert pears. The resulting “common perry” is drinkable enough, but seems rather thin and innocuous compared to the excellent traditional perries that are made from European bittersharp pears. 
Now I’m curious to try the perries I started in December, which I’m bottling next month.
As I look back over everything it appears the unfiltered juices (three of the pear juices during primary and the first TJ cyser in secondary) developed the viscous bottom layer. I wonder if they should be filtered before fermentation. Guess I’ll have to make more and see.
1. Ben Watson, Cider Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own, 3rd ed. (Woodstock, VT: The Countryman Press, 2013), 129.