I ended up being a bit busy, so this sat in primary for a few weeks extra. But boy was it worth the wait.
So we have a gallon of 4.1 (brown sugar) and a gallon of 4.2 (maple syrup). The additional sugar at the beginning changed the flavor a bit, but mostly made it more alcoholic (~6.5% instead of ~5.5%). The brown sugar was fairly reserved, but had a slight difference. The maple syrup was definitely a bit woody. Not too bad on its own, but this is the backsweetened attempt!
First thing we did is we reracked 4.1 to remove sediment and allow for more room in the carboy. We then added 1 and 1/3 thawed apple juice concentrate and let it mix while bottling 4.2.
For 4.2, we added a teaspoon or two (we weren’t being too accurate) of maple syrup to each bottle before filling. We also added some to a glass that we filled – it was delicious. Sweet and lots of maple flavor complimenting the cider. Definitely needed a wet rag to wipe down the bottles due to the maple syrup. We also did an unsweetened bottle to see how the wood flavor ages. Seems like a good time to introduce a new element to our versioning – an ‘s’ will now indicate that its been backsweetened (and hence, will need cold crashed).
Once the maple was done, we turned out attention back to 4.1 with the apple juice concentrate. Our taste test had me worried. It was VERY sweet and VERY apply. Too much so. I think the extra 1/3 might have overdone it. Good news is that I’m going to let it carbonate, so it’ll hopefully eat some of that and tone it down.
Overall it turned out to be a great session. The maple was delicious as any maple cider I’d had. The super-apple flavor was a bit strong, but would hopefully be fine after letting it carbonate. Both batches have gone into a bin (to contain any bottle bombs) and I’ll cold crash them in a few days.