So I made my now yearly expedition to Sky Top Apple Orchard Saturday to buy fresh, local apple cider to ferment. Last year I made one batch of apple cider mead (“cyser”) (see recipe) and it is just now aging into a very fine brew. It is starting to grow scarce, however. So this year I got 8 gallons (8 gallons! I felt like an Arabian adventurer making off with hordes of treasure from a secret cave. I paid for the cider (“what’s 8 times 6.50?” the cashier asks, grabbing a calculator) and they pointed me in the direction of their freezer and let me have at it) of cider and tonight started prepping them for fermentation.

Frustratingly, Sky Top doesn’t pasteurize their cider, so that means I have to do it. Hooray extra steps. But tonight I boiled 8 gallons of cider (house filled with the smell of caramelized cider from when it boiled over the pot), divided the pasteurized cider evenly into two separate brew buckets, added about 3qts of honey (approximately 8lbs), some spices, and now I’m letting it sit overnight to cool. No other way around it, that cider’s not getting cold before I need to go to sleep.

The changes I made to last year’s recipe are pretty drastic. I want it sweeter–still scratching my head how Wyeast 4814 made such a dry cider–and so I added more honey! Really, Erick, 2lbs of honey? That’s all? I guess I was expecting more sweetness out of the cider and the brown sugar. This year, 8lbs of honey. I simplified the recipe as well, eliminating the brown sugar and raisins and cutting back on the spices. Always cutting back on the spices. Let’s see if I can actually figure out how much cinnamon to add to get the flavor I want instead of just guessing each time. Yeast? Probably EC-1118, I’ll see if I change my mind to D47 in the morning. Anyway, here’s the recipe, times 2:

  • 4gallons of cider (pasteurized)
  • 3qts of honey (approx 8lbs)
  • 3 long cinnamon sticks
  • 3 crushed nutmeg nuts
  • 5tsps Fermax
  • 1/2tsp irish moss
  • 1 packet EC-1118 yeast, prepped according to directions

Oh, and minor problem (for those still reading), the batches are smaller than I want. I’ve been meaning to start making legit 6-gallon batches so there’s no vast real estate at the top of my carboy to oxidize the mead while it’s aging. I’m considering maybe buying 2-3 small 1 gallon carboys (read: gallon jugs?) and doing a couple small batches with different flavors while combining the rest into one large 6 gallon batch. Could be fun!