Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cider Series: Spiced Belgian with "House" Brett

So this beer got out of hand and not really on purpose. So as explained before I use 1 gal containers to do all my Dreg Series beers. And the cheapest way to get 1 gal glass jugs is with cider in it. At Henry's I noticed they had a new Santa Cruz Organic Cider. The jug was actually 3/4 gal and I figured that size might fit better in my brewing cabinet.

So the yeast I had at this time was WLP500 the Chimay strain (from my Trappist Series). I thought that this might be a great yeast for the clove notes you can get at the higher fermentation temperature range. I pitched about 50mL of the yeast. This beer was fermented in my brewing closet which is from 70 -75F.

This cider was fermented while I was out of town for a week. I noticed when I got back that the stopper was knocked off. At that time I didn't notice anything different with the beer. At this point I took a gravity reading and taste. Very dry down to 1.002 and just a bit of clove and fruity esters. Not as much character as I was hoping for.
I realized the holidays are coming up so lets really boost the spice. So I toasted 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 tsp all spice, 1 tsp cloves until they just start to smell. (As a sidenote this is a great way to instantly have the house smell like the holidays). A cup of cider was added and simmered for 15 minutes. This was cooled and added to the cider. And then....
Looks like we have a Brett infection. I guess it was just waiting for a bit of sugar and probably oxygen to become visible. There is hardly any sugar left in the cider so I didn't think that I would get much Brett character.
After a few weeks I decided to bottle this beer. I wasn't concerned with bottle bombs since there isn't much sugar left. I bottled using 5 oz fresh 1.050 cider. I calculated by assuming it takes me .7 oz of sugar to get 3 volumes in .75 gal of cider. Calculations:

.7oz/16oz = .04375 lb 

.04375 lb x (45 pts/1 lb) = 2 points

2 points x (1 gal/50pts) = .04 gal

.04 gal x (128 oz/1 gal) = 5.12 oz

I assumed that the cider will not be 100% ferementable like the sugar but it should be close because of the Brett. So this should end up very dry but I am a fan of sweetening once in the glass. (Just pour an once or two of fresh cider in your glass)


  1. How did it turn out?

    I am looking into how to funktify my cider more. Little brett additions weren't enough the last 2 years. Good stuff on your blog, I am gonna look into your sour experiments a bit more.

    BTW this years cider was pressed just off the north end of west cuesta ridge, so it was cool seeing your blog with a SLO link, home of my cider and bike adventures.

  2. Oh, I meant to add a tasting note:
    The Chimay yeast gave me a big banana fruit flavor. It was pretty interesting and it has remained in the beer. I tasted one recently and the banana really adds some nice complexity.

    As for the Brett, I did not get a big effect from the Brett. I got a bit of a coconut flavor, but zero funk. I've even had a bottle recently and still no funk. I think that it just was not a good environment for the Brett (very little sugar and high pH) or I had a weak strain.

    In summary, I say yes to the Belgian yeast and I don't know about the Brett. If you really want some Brett flavor you might want to build up a good starter and pitch at the same time as the Sacc yeast or as a Brett Only fermentation.

    Or your best bet would be to sour/funkify a small batch of pale beer and then blend with the cider. And for that base beer make sure to mash high to leave plenty of sugar for the Brett.

    Good Luck and let me know how it goes.

    And what is the name of the place you got your cider? I made some cider once while in college from apples at See Canyon Fruit Ranch.

  3. I buy apples from Windrose farm in Creston and press them. Got apples from Gopher Glen in See canyon 2 years ago. Plenty of fruit here, but you should hit up Julian, I bet you can get some old school specialty cider apples up there.

  4. I have wanted to, but I drink very little cider so not sure if it's worth the trip.

    You press your own apples? What do you use?


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