Friday, December 30, 2011

Holy Cow it's Malted Cider!

It seems that I have neglected to fill my watchers in on my brewing wherabouts for a long time now. I have not walked quietly into the night with an empty glass in hand! Nay, I have been in pursuit of the perfect brew, just too damned lazy to get to this blog to update. Chalk it up to full time work and growing family, I make no more excuses except to say that I look forward to hearing from y'all.
The wife came to me two weeks before Thanksgiving and asked for me to brew a nice beer for our Turkey Day. Ah, I love her, even when she speaks to me with beer ignorance. How can I possibly come up with something that will live up to my expectations in just two short weeks? What can I brew that will accompany the fine fare my culinary trained wife plans to put on the table? This query led me to the backyard, to start up the firepit, smoke a nice Rocky Patel and think. Think like the Thinking Man I was excepting for the fact that my hand was not on my chin but rather on my nose, with five dogs and a fire in the backyard it was steaming up like a Christmas Great Dane Poo.
Huzzah! Something struck me like a thunderbolt. Why not whip out a lovely cider? Cider is great, it works so well with Turkey and Mashed Spuds and Cranberries and stuffing and cheesecake and well, the list goes on, we were expecting twenty or so for dinner that day. It was time to get to work!
I have always enjoyed the ciders in bottle from the shop, the only problem was always their expense and the fact that I have never, ever brewed one in my entire life. That wasn't gonna stop me, I was not in a conservative mood. No two week heavily hopped ale for the table, no stinkin' way. It was cider or nothing else.
I jumped in my beat up redneck truck and hustled down to Costco, purchased four gallons of apple juice, pasteurized but not treated, natural with no chemical additives or ascorbic acid to kill the yeast. Then I made my way to the homebrew supply shop and picked up a #5 can of Munton and Fison LME (unhopped), I figured a booster would add balance to the force with this brew. Add a packet of Montrachet Yeast and my total take for the day was about 32 bucks for five gallons. Not bad considering a four pack of the commercial stuff requires at the very least a Lincoln note.
My philosophy as a brewer is the path of least resistance. I added the four gallons of apple juice to a five gallon plastic water bottle, uncooked. Why the hell not? It was already pasteurized and I was ready to smack it like a bitch with some strong ass yeast. I heated the LME on the stove with a little bit of water and added it to the batch, topping it off almost right to the top with five gallons. I threw caution to the wind, pitched the yeast to the batch dry and set it up in my Stepdaughter's bedroom closet to brew away.
Fermentation did not take long at all, it was well under way within two hours. After two days it was pumping CO2 like a fully carbed beer, this lasted for four days total, then on the fifth, sixth and seventh day it rested. No blowout of the airlock at all due to the acidity of the apple juice, if you try it at home be sure to top it off all the way to the very top with just a wee lil' bit of space for good measure. Don't worry, trust me!
One week in fermentation and the yeast was packed to the bottom like a bunch of Old West Chinese Coolies in the back of a railcar, this Montrachet sure did its job very well and left no room for loss. I was quite pleased with my situation.
I did not taste it at this time per my regular routine, I sent it straight to my beer cooler transferred to a nice corny. One week to rest, force carbed to serve and voila! My batch was ready.
Wow, this is an easy to make, easy to drink, well balanced and crisp with brilliant acidity brew. It also displays a nice head retention, I reckon due to the malt addition. It was a little "winey" the first week, but definitely on my higher scale of drinkable and enjoyable, what a treat it was for the family to play some foosball in the garage, all doped up on Turkey and smashing down cider. Fifty people showed up and everyone who tried it came back for seconds, more often than not thirds.
As the weeks went by, the "winey" flavor dissipated and it is still quite an enjoyable beverage to have around. Be sure to make a Black and Tan with this stuff it will surely blow yer mind clean off. Next year I will be sure to brew the same batch around early October in order to be ready for the Holidays. Oh, and if you like, don't forget to take a pint, reduce it and add sugar, it is a great booster for raspberries on cheesecake, I know this for a fact because cheesecake is the wife's favorite food and I pissed her off by eating too much of it. Ah well!
It will be back to the drawing board soon, I have been in the mood for something strong and toasty, I will keep you updated as my mind wanders. Until then, have a great and prosperous New Year! Time to go police to dog poo in the backyard (first on the "list", many more chores to follow)