Time to try something new. This batch is going to be fun and very different.
- 5+ Gallons instead of my usual 1 gallon
- Brew Bucket instead of carboys
- Local cider instead of store juice
So to start with, I went to a local orchard and grabbed 6 gallons of unfiltered cider. The brew bucket has room for 6.5 gallons, but I’m not sure how much headspace to leave – so I’m going to err between 5 and 6 gallons. These jugs are also filled to the brim, so they are each actually more than a gallon.
Prepping the bucket isn’t too different than usual. You can actually make the sanitizer solution in the brew bucket, which makes it very easy to sanitize. Make sure to pour some out through the spigot, and get the lid as well. With everything sanitized, I added about 5 and a quarter gallons of cider. (The last gallon or so went towards batch 7!). I took the gravity right at 1.050, which should be a standard 6-6.5% ABV when fermented dry.
I added an entire packet of Nottingham Ale yeast (11g). I originally bought a 5-pack of yeast, but its likely going to go bad before I can use it all at 1g per gallon. Unfortunately I forgot to warm up the yeast to room temperature, as it usually lives in my fridge to keep it dormant. I should have make a yeast starter to make sure it was good. It ended up fine, but it took a while to get started.
The main concern I’d heard when looking at reviews for the brew bucket was that the lids sometimes don’t seal properly. The real test is to see if the excess CO2 is coming out through the airlock, or if the lid has a leak somewhere. If the lid was bad, I planned to go to a hardware store and find a food-grade lid with a rubber seal. I’d have to cut a hole and add a rubber grommet for the airlock though. I was worried about the seal for a couple of days, but the cold yeast took a bit to get started and fill the rest of the bucket with CO2 before the airlock started bubbling. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
The plan is to ferment until dry. Then I’ll rerack into 5 secondaries (and have a drink or two right there with any leftovers). One secondary will be plain cider. The other 4 are going to have fruit added in secondary for flavoring. There are lots of good options that I want to try out, but for now I’m thinking blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, and maybe pineapple. I recently read an recipe about mixing pineapple juice with apple juice as a base – so I might try that instead for pineapple and try something else. Perhaps a spiced cider with cinnamon or maybe some homemade vanilla extract.
The base juice is from Bolton Orchards. You can see it has no preservatives that interfere with the yeast. What I don’t see is whether or not its pasteurized. Most things are if they are being sold, but it doesn’t say…perhaps I might be getting some natural yeast in this batch…