So after a couple of days I got scared for batch 2.2. The entire bottle seemed to be full of some cloudy material that I was afraid was a growth. I was almost ready to write the entire gallon off. But I decided to wait a few days…
Oh man was I glad I waited. Turned out the clouds were from the cherries disintegrating, and not from a growth. You can see some of the clouds still (and can imagine how it looked fully cloudy) in the picture below. The clouds started to settle, and this beautiful deep red liquid appeared. I’m even more excited for it now.
After dealing with batch 2, I’ve got room for another gallon. I decided to go back and try another EC-1118 batch after opening one of my original growlers. It turned out pretty good after some more aging.
Remembering the overflow I had in batch 1.2, I knew I needed to take a little out.
Which was pretty convenient, since I also needed to use my new hydrometer and graduated cylinder to figure out the gravity! I’ll go over the details in a different post – but the OG is 1.050. Assuming the previous ciders from whole foods have a similar OG, my cider is probably around 5% alcohol since I’ve let my primaries go until fermentation ends and the cider is dry.
Pretty excited to see how batch 3.1 does.
At the same time that we bottled batch 2.1, we racked 2.2 into secondary with a bit of flavoring.
This cider is going to have orange peels and cherries for flavoring, to pay homage to one of my favorite ciders, Angry Orchard’s Old Fashioned. I’m not usually a huge fan of Angry Orchard, as they are usually very sweet and almost syrupy. But the Old Fashioned is very different than most of the Angry Orchard flavors. Its got waaaaaay less sugar, and lets the flavor from the cherries, orange peels, and bourbon barrel aging provide a hint of sweetness. Its pretty good.
I don’t have a bourbon barrel to age things in, and while I could look at adding a bit of vanilla extract or something, I’d prefer to keep it easier for my attempt at adding flavoring.
I bought and peeled a few oranges. To prevent anything from growing, I soaked them in vodka for a few days before draining the vodka (and keeping for some orange-based vodka drink). The cherries I froze and thawed a couple of times. This keeps things from growing, but also breaks down the cherries a bit to allow for the flavor to easily transfer to the cider.
I use a straw and an empty beer bottle to pit the cherries. I originally had a mash bag that I was going to put the fruit into, so I could easily remove it later – but the narrow carboy opening made it too difficult to use. Putting the fruit in directly is fine, but will make removing the fruits later somewhat difficult.
After adding the cherries and orange peels, I topped it off with a new airlock to let it go into secondary. Adding a bit of sugar from the cherries means that it will probably ferment a little more, but shouldn’t be too much. The combination of racked cider (minus the yeast sediment) and fruit filled up the carboy to just the right amount so I didn’t have to worry about oxidation or overflowing.
Looks pretty good. I’m not sure how long I should leave the fruit in. If I leave it in too long, then the cherry flavor might overpower everything. If I leave it in for too short, then I might not actually get much flavor. I’ll keep and eye on it and see how it goes.
Batch two has been going for a month or so now, so its time to bottle! Or at least, its time to bottle half of it. I’ve decided to bottle 1 of the carboys to see how it differs from my first batch of Nottingham Ale. The second carboy I’m going to move to secondary and add some flavor – but more on that in the next post.
With my lessons learned from the first batch, I’ve enlisted the help of my new flatmate to bottle things. Having an extra set of hands is going to make things much easier.
As usual, I’ve sanitized everything in preparation. I’ve got my carboys on a high table, and my bottles on the ground. I’ve also got a nice new set of 16oz pop top bottles to bottle into. And a few smaller ~11oz pop top bottles that happened to contain some good German Dunkel (good excuse to buy and drink some beer, I needed the bottles!).
A second set of hands really did make everything easier. I’m able to hold the pump steady to avoid disturbing the yeast. My flatmate is able to hold the bottles and use the bottling wand. I’ve even got an extra hand to take some photos of the process!
A taste test proves pretty promising. It already tastes better than the first batch. I’ll let these age for a bit, but I’ll be breaking them out at some event or another. I ended up with 7 full 16oz bottles and a half-full 11oz bottle – which I’ll drink quickly since it isn’t filled up to the neck. Batch 2.1 is looking pretty good.