After using honey to carbonate and seeing this cyser recipe on reddit, I’m in the mood to try something with honey.
So I start doing some researching. Theres quite a few cyser recipes out there (which is no surprise, as cysers go waaaaaay back) – and they all have a few things in common. Those are apple juice, honey, and yeast. They also tend to vary widely in how much of each of those things should be added. You can make a mead using juice instead of water, or you can add a bit of honey to a batch of cider. And anywhere in between. Trying to figure out the ratio of juice to honey was rough, as recipes ranged from 1-7 lbs of honey per gallon of juice. Guess its hard to go wrong.
The type of yeast can also vary wildly. Many people recommended sweet wine or champagne yeast to accommodate a higher ABV. Others specifically mentioned avoiding champagne yeast due to flavor reasons. The reddit recipe used a saison yeast. Nottingham Ale yeast was also recommended. I’m most tempted to try the EC-1118 yeast, as I really like the Nottingham Ale yeast and plan to stick with it for most ciders. Perhaps I’ll try two batches.
The only other consistent thing was that cysers take time. This will not be a 2 week project. Most sites recommended a 4 week primary and then 2 months in secondary to age before bottling.
So I better start finding some good local honey. Maybe 2 lbs per gallon to start with. Doing two batches with different yeast will let me compare them on equal footing.
I recently went on a trip to see some really good friends. They’ve recently expressed interest in making their own cider, so we decided to order some basic supplies and grab a few gallons of juice from Whole Foods. They started one gallon before I showed up, and then we setup the other two gallons a few days later.
When the first batch was ready, we bottled it into various pop tops and did different things to showcase what they could do with the other ciders. Two bottles were the basic hard cider with nothing added. For the first of those bottles, we tried adding it to a glass with maple syrup and a glass with honey. Both were quite good. The second of the basic bottles was drank as-is. It was a bit yeasty as we didn’t do a secondary or let it age, but overall tasted like a solid farmhouse cider. The last glass of the bottle was particularly yeasty in flavor, but a shot of fireball fixed that.
The other two bottles were carbonated. One with maple syrup, and the other with honey. Like the maple syrup batch I did, the flavor was greatly dulled by the carbonization process – but there was still a hit of maple and a solid bit of carbonation. I think I’m going to save maple syrup for a sweetener with no carbonation as the flavor gets too dull.
The honey worked quite well though. It added carbonization and a sweet honey flavor. I definitely need to look into making Mead or a Cyser (Fermented apple juice and honey) soon.
After bottling the first batch, my friends decided they wanted a higher ABV, which would come from adding more fermentable sugar. So they decided to take one of the remaining gallons and add sugar to it. So they sanitized a new airlock, popped off the old airlock, and proceeded to add lots of sugar to it…in mid-fermentation.
It bubbled over. A lot.
It was quite amusing to watch. Lots of sugar was added. We’re not sure how much. Or how much ABV it’ll end up at (they don’t have a hydrometer yet). But it was certainly a learning experience.