Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hooch Update...

...Such as it is!

And WARNING: This *may* be a bit rambly, k?!

So, admittedly, I have a tendency to go off half-cocked sometimes.  And this Hard Cider Experiment definitely falls under the heading of "Maybe you should've thought this through, first!"

Nevertheless - I figure I can always serve as a Bad Example, right?!

So I started posting my "recipe" last week.  And it was loosely-based on a recipe that I found online.  And I went all Gangbusters on it by purchasing a glass carboy and airlock and assorted ingredients, and combining everything in a kind of haphazard fashion, and - Miracle of Miracles - it behaved the way it was supposed to!  It started fermenting and bubbling and whatnot - Yay!

Well, after my initial throwing-together-of-stuff, I read thru the intertubes a little further and started second-guessing myself.  End result being: "Hmm. Maybe I should've used more sweetener.  Oh well!"

So the brew has been burbling most-happily all week long and yesterday, I noticed the burbling started to slow down (and, as of this morning, it had mostly stopped!).  In other words, fermentation was pretty-much complete.  But the contents of the jug were still *quite* opaque and I figured it needed to be transferred into another container at this point - and allowed to rest for awhile so the sediment would settle - but I really wasn't sure.

Now, I absolutely ABHOR shopping (I know - weird huh?!), so most of my acquisitions arrive via Big Brown Truck - courtesy of Amazon.  But I found a [somewhat] local Brewery Supply store up in north San Jose: Beer and Wine Makers of America.  I purchased my 3 gallon carboy there and was really impressed with the owner of the shop and how knowledgeable and helpful he was.  Last weekend, there were quite a few people in his (teeny tiny) shop, asking lots and lots of questions.  I was more of an "I know what I want so I'll get out of your hair" kinda customer - last weekend!

I made another trek out there, yesterday afternoon.  Thankfully, I was the only customer, so when he asked if he could help me I was all "Yeah, I bought a 3 gallon carboy from you, last weekend, to make a Hard Cider/Meady/Apple Cyser Brew and it's been bubbling quite merrily all week long.  But now the bubbling has stopped and I think it's time for me to do something else.  What's next?"

Well sh*t-howdy if he didn't tell me!  I pelted him with dozens of questions - including expressing my apprehension about not using enough sweetener. "How much did you use?" "2 lbs of honey per gallon of water, plus about half-a-gallon of cider" to which he agreed "Yeah. Your cider's gonna be bone dry." (Oops).  Also - there's not much I can do about it now, but he said I can add honey when I serve it.

(But for future Cysers, he suggested doubling the quantity of honey to 4 lbs. per gallon)

I expressed a desire for it to be sweeter and carbonated.  Apparently 'sweeter' isn't likely to happen at this stage of the game (apparently adding more honey will kick-start another fermentation which, I gathered, was not a good thing).  But I can increase the carbonation by adding corn sugar at a rate of up to 1 cup per gallon...

He also shared a few other helpful hints (that I can't recall, offhand), but the general gist I came away  with was:  Seems like Hard-Cider was probably a good choice for my first attempt at brewing.  Evidently it's pretty difficult to f**k-up hard cider - whereas, with beer, there's apparently a million-and-one things you can do to f**k that up.  So "Yay Me" for starting with hard cider, right?!

Okay.  So enough yammering.  What's going on with the Mad Scientist Experiment???

Well, I was right about needing to do something when the burbling stopped.  It's now time for a secondary fermentation.  I held onto the round glass bottle that the Martinelli's Cider came in, and I also picked up two more 1-gallon glass jugs at the brew shop.  I also picked up a couple more airlocks and a siphon (and bunch of other sh*t because I think I'm gonna attempt ***GASP*** Beer-Brewing, next!).

So today I sanitized everything.  Then I took another hydrometer reading:

I must shamefully admit that I have NO idea what this means (YET!)

Then I sanitized everything and siphoned the brew out of the 3-gallon carboy, and into 2 x 1 gallon jugs and 1 x 1/2 gallon (appx) jug.  And I think (but I'm not sure) that's called "racking."  Anyway, we are going into "2-stage fermentation" (I'm pretty-sure that's correct!) (I really need to read Hub's book on brewing - if only so I can sound somewhat-intelligent!!!)

I discovered that the whole "siphoning" chore is actually a 2-person task (just to get it started, anyway).  Thankfully, the beer-making kit has a wand-thingie that shuts-off the siphon if it's not pressed against the 'receiving' bottle.  So anyway, I siphoned-off most of the brew - being careful not to stir-up the yeasty sediment (yeasty stuff was about 1" deep, on the bottom of the carboy).

Hey - at least it's a pretty color, right?!!

I did sample a taste of it (poured the test-brew from the test-tube into a glass) and Hoo-Boy!  Yes, it is DRY!  (I suspect I'll be drinking "spritzers" with 7-Up!).

I did mix-up 1 cup of corn sugar (from the brew-shop) with 1 cup of bottled-water + a splooge of honey.  I divided the add'l sweetener "somewhat equally" into the secondary containers.  Then I popped airlocks on the top and we'll see what happens (presumably, the additional sweetener will increase carbonation - but not sweetness).

Now we let it set for a few more weeks.  No clue what's gonna happen next, but This Is An Adventure, right?!!!

(Yeah. Whatever!!!)

So there is an update on my latest Wild Hair...  More to follow, I'm sure.

(including a future attempt at beer-making.  I bought Hubs a beer-making kit a couple of Christmases ago - but it's been sitting in the box ever since.  I've used some of the beer-making components for my Cyser, but I picked up actual beer-ingredients yesterday so I may attempt that in the not-too-distant future).

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