2015 Cider Extraviganza

As I pulled up to the farmer’s market, the rain began to fall on my windshield. The patter of rain combined with the rich smell of coffee from my thermos created a soothing environment; one which I was not willing to give up for the frigid rain and biting wind that waited for me outside of my vehicle. It was one of the first truly cold days of fall and with my winter clothes still in storage, I was poorly equipped for the weather in my cargo shorts and a t-shirt. With a grunt, and a final sip of my coffee, I got out of the car to make my cider purchase.

Mood's FarmMood’s Farm is located in South NJ, located far enough away from the major commerce areas to be considered rural, but not so far away that it’s a challenge to get to. The farm market where they sell their produce is a bit run down, but it’s age certainly gives the building character. If you are in the area, I certainly recommend checking out this local hub.

Among the home brew community, Mood’s is known¬† for one thing in particular… Cider. After pressing, they run their juice under a UV light, thus “cold pasteurizing” their cider. It allows for a preservation of taste but more importantly, it allows for fermentation without the interference of chemical preservatives. The juice that they create is primarily sweet, but it does have enough tannin and acidity to make it worth fermenting and acceptable as a hard cider without the need for chemical adjustments (although adding acidity brings this cider to a whole new level).

Cider from MoodsThis year I made a grand purchase of 20 gallons of Cider. 6 Gallons of that cider went to a class I taught at Keg and Barrel Home Brew Supplies, the remaining 14 gallons was mine to play with. I divided the cider up into 4 different projects: One Apple Wine, Once Hard Cider, and Two Apple Meads (Cysers). I’ve compiled my list of fermentations from this years cider, I will be updating them as the year goes on and the ciders reach completion.

The Cider Projects:

Mood’s Farm Butterbean Cyser (2015)

This is one of the four fermentations that came from this years haul from moods farm. I wanted to create a sack mead with a fair amount of residual sweetness. To accomplish this I chose a wine yeast with a low alcohol tolerance. In order to create a mead that I can drink in a few months, I chose to do staggered nutrient additions. I chose to use Butterbean since it is one of my favorite meads, and I was curious what it’s soft and mellow character would do for the cyser.

  • 1 Gallon of Mood’s Farm Cider
  • 3 Lb Butterbean Honey from Harvey’s Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
  • Nutrients: 1 g Fermaid K & 0.5 g DAP in 4 increments
  • 1 Campden Tablet
  • Yeast: Cote des Blanc (2 Packs)

Process: After sanitizing all equipment, I poured the cider into the fermenting carboy. I then heated my honey in hot water to allow it to become less viscous. I then mixed thoroughly and added my Pectic Enzyme / Campden Tablets. I then left the mixture covered with a paper towel and rubber bands. The next day I pitched 2 packets of yeast hydrated with Go-Ferm. I then added the first round of nutrients, but made a bit of a mistake and substituted Yeast Energizer for the Fermaid K. I continued this process of adding nutrients and degassing. After 2 weeks I racked from the brewing bucket into the secondary fermenter. (TO BE CONTINUED)

Mood’s Farm Wildflower Cyser (2015)

This is one of the 4 fermentations that came from this years haul of cider from moods farm. My goal was to create a dry mead and possibly back sweeten one gallon, spice or oak one gallon, and keep one gallon dry as a control. By trying different methods I can create 3 different meads from a single batch and experiment with techniques to see which one I like best for future batches.

  • 3 Gallons Moods Farm Cider
  • 5 Lb Wild Flower Honey from Harvey’s Honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
  • Nutrients: 4.5 g Fermaid K & 2 g DAP in 4 increments
  • 3 Campden Tablets
  • Yeast: Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead & EC-1118 (3 Packs)

Process: After sanitizing all equipment, I poured the cider into the fermenting carboy. I then heated my honey in hot water to allow it to become less viscous. I then mixed thoroughly and added my Pectic Enzyme / Campden Tablets. I then left the mixture covered with a paper towel and rubber bands. The next day I pitched a packet of wyeast sweet mead yeast. Unfortunately after 24 hours, I saw no activity. I then pitched 3 packs of EC-1118 that I hydrated with Go-Ferm. Every other day I either added nutrients or degassed by swirling the carboy. After 2 weeks I racked into a 3 gallon carboy and did some degassing using a vacuum pump. When trying the cider, it tasted very pleasant with a hint of honey although it was a bit boozy. (TO BE CONTINUED)