My Own Angry Orchard

As you may be aware from reading a previous post, I made a good hard apple cider recently and bottled it three weeks ago today.  This being my first fruit-based product and containing lots of sugar and active yeast, I was weary of bottling them in glass.  When my babysitter was to arrive this morning, I contemplated moving them to the shed from the kitchen floor where nothing would ruin if one popped or a cap came loose.

“Nah,” I told myself.  “…it’s been three weeks already.  It has to be settled by now.”

At 11:28 this morning, I got a text from the babysitter: “…one of the bottles in the box in the kitchen busted….”  Great.

No one was in the kitchen and no one was injured.  For that I am thankful.

I came home today to find the bottle, expecting to see a bottle broken at the neck with the cap still attached.  I did not find what I expected:

2013-02-18 17.06.12 2013-02-18 17.06.19

They had swept up the rest, including the cap.  There are still glass shards around the inside of the box.  This wasn’t a bottle popping, it was an alcoholic grenade.  I had originally thought they’d be under some pressure, but I guess I was wrong about them being safe after a few weeks.  Now I’m going to keep them outside somewhere they won’t get too much sun for a while and check on them later.  I don’t think I’m comfortable with shipping these quite yet.

I’ll report later if there are more incidents (and start drinking them tonight).  I’m just glad I didn’t give too many away so far – someone could have had a bad day.

Ben on Beer Episode 12 – First Hangout

This episode is the first to be carried out via Google+ Hangout and was a success after some trial and error. We talked about the status of Ben’s cider, some news in Decatur, Georgia, and the prospect Continue reading

Play

Ben on Beer Episode 11 – Hard Cider

In this first episode of 2013, we talk about hard cider and get distracted a lot.  It is a good “first show back,” and we drink Biere de Mars from New Belgium Brewing.  The cider talk stems Continue reading

Play

Batch 22 – Dave’s Caramel Apple Cider

Years ago when I met my friend Bill, he gave me a bottle of apple cider he’d made.  I popped the latch-top on the bottle a few days later and it hissed and popped like I’d just cracked open some champagne.  The cider was crisp and clear, and almost more like champagne than cider.  Still, I was impressed.  I had asked him how he made it and he explained the simple process.

I found a recipe a few months ago at HomeBrewTalk when I was beginning to think about making some cider at home, and the “caramel” in the name got me hooked.  My wife doesn’t like the taste of alcohol or hops, but loves Moscato wine because it’s sweet and has very little bitterness.  She might like a sweet caramel-flavored apple cider, so this is certainly worth a try!

The recipe, roughly, is 5 gallons of apple juice, 2 pounds of dextrose (corn sugar), and Nottingham ale yeast.  Dissolve the dextrose in water on the stove (medium heat) and cool it.  I ended up with about a half-gallon of sugar-water, so it reduced my apple juice quantity by that much.  Combine everything in the fermenter and pitch the yeast.

After fermentation (on bottling day) we’ll add some apple juice concentrate (five 12oz cans) to the volume plus some cinnamon dolce syrup.  We will bottle and wait for conditioning (carbonation) and enjoy!  All credit for this recipe goes to the creator.  I assume his name is Dave.

We’re big fans of the Simply Orange people, and they make all sorts of good juices including apple juice.  There’s an unfiltered, pasteurized Simply Apple that finally went on sale this week, so I jumped at the chance and made a few trips to the store to overcome the quantity limits.

I got the dextrose dissolved, everything sanitized, and rehydrated the yeast:

I pitched this yeast just before the last bottle so I could flush the yeast from this dish and the funnel.  That way I didn’t have any unused or wasted yeast!

I put a bung and airlock on and set it in the corner of my bedroom.  Within two hours it was bubbling to beat the band, which was very encouraging.

I’ll update this post as the process continues and let everyone know how it goes!

Update (01/15/2013): It has slowed to about 1 bubble every two seconds, and I’m obviously going to give it more time.  It seems to have slowed so far due to the dying of the yeast (they’re getting pretty drunk by now) given their activity for the last 9 days or so.  I may have it in the bottle by next week, but who knows?  Everything still looks good and I’m looking forward to tasting this one!

Update (2/4/2013): I bottled this a week ago today.  Even with the additives, it still had a very dry mouthfeel and was quite tart (I always taste on bottling day).  I felt as if needed to check on it; I put a lot of sugar in when bottling – back-sweetening the cider that much could have had negative effects, the most worrisome of which is exploding bottles.  No such event has occurred, and I’m looking forward to the 2-week mark when we can have a taste.  If I can stand to wait that long we’ll have a first assessment on the show for February 22.2013-01-28 20.48.42