Archive for the Cider Category

The Irish and the Apple.

Posted in Beer, Cider on April 28, 2009 by Aleforge

I finally got chance last weekend to bottle the experimental Cider and Irish Red Ale.  I have been so busy / lazy the past month that I have not been on the ball with my brewing responsbilies. Luckily when bottling I had some help, my daughter really enjoyed helping wash and sanatize the bottles. Which is good to know, because as she gets older she will become a huge asset in the war of bottling.


Bottled about 80 bottles in total, since the Cider was only a 3 gallon batch. Good thing to because I am not sure how well this stuff is going to become. Just a fair warning, the recipe I posted was quoted as being a “Wood Chuck” clone, and after several people have made it everyone agrees its anything but. It has an upfront tart flavor, coupled with toasted malt on the back end. Very unique but not what I expected well see how it ages. Its defaintly drinkable though which is a big positive, just not something you want to run around and try to impress people with.

The Irish Red also got bottled, finished up around 1.015 started up at 1.060 so its ended up at 5.86% ABV so its got a little kick to it not really happy with the color, its not as Red as I wanted. But that’s what happens when you use a partial mash kit and don’t tweak it.

On deck: Dunkelweizen and an American Lager. I’m going to move my chest freezer to the basement and dedicating it 100% to lagering now, and will be moving my taps to my old fridge. Hope to crank out a few different lagers this year as I so far have only made one since kegged beer always took over the keezer.

I also have to come up with an APA and PA recipe for two competitions I signed up for, both over at the HBT forums. And since its summer I have to get a Hefe going, as its my favorite summertime style. So thats 5 batches that need to be made in the next month…

Lastweekend My Wife and two youngest attended the Annual Earthday celebration in Forest Park. Schlafly beer was the ONLY available brewer handing out some of the delicious offerings. The brought out their new “Organic Ale” and it was a very well rounded beverage. The also had their Kolsch and APA on tap also. I had the Organic and an APA while listening to some drumming at the grass stage.  It was a great day, plus I got to hear some people mumbling as they walked buy “where is the bud light” which gave me a chuckle.

This weekend we are attending the STL Microfest,

It will be the first time attending and from what I hear is one of the best beer fests STL has to offer, one that completely blows away the “Heritage Fest” put on by AB. I will be attending the afternoon session on Saturday and did pick up the VIP access as well. Its also for a good cause, so everyone should run over and pick up their tickets before its sold out. (and it will)

I will be posting pictures from the event next week!


One down, 3 to go.

Posted in Cider, Meat on March 12, 2009 by Aleforge

Last weekend I had some extra time and I thought I would get the Cider on its way. It was a fairly painless and easy process that I highly recommend everyone trying out. I think one of the great things about Ciders and Meads is how little effort and time they take to get going. If you don’t have the time to setup for a full brewday you can always squeeze a batch in here and there. I think it took my about an hour from start to finish, mostly because I steeped some grains at the recommendation of the recipe author.


The one thing seen in the picture below that kind of threw me off was how little water was instructed to use to steep the grains.


This was just after placing the grains into the water, it was heated up to about 154’F.  I allowed them to steep for about 20minutes at this temp, then sparged with another quart of water at 170’F.  It seemed to end up working anyways and I after tasting the wort I noticed why using the grains was suggested in the first place. It really added a nice malty, faint toasty flavor to it. I am really excited that its going to help boost the body as the result, which will keep this from being as “watery” as my last batch of cider.

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Apples, I know you like them.

Posted in Cider with tags , , on February 27, 2009 by Aleforge

Who doesn’t like apples? Well I actually do know a few people who don’t but for blogging purposes lets just say everyone does.  I know for one thing my wife absolutely loves apples, well at least the kind you have to be 21 to consume. Yes I am talking about hard cider, the delicious adult beverage that surprisingly has some very limited offerings.  If your to lazy to brew your own and have no idea what I’m talking about there are basically 3 offerings on the market. At least out here in the Midwest, You have  Hornsby’s, Woodchuck,  and  Hardcore Cider. Each has its own character and each is good in its own right. I happen to like Hornsbys Amber because its dry and my Wife loves Woodchucks granny smith just in case your wondering. Anyways the only thing apple that I have made so far is some apfelwein, which to me (correct me if I am wrong) is a high ABV, dry German version of our American “hard” cider (apple jack) in the states. Its pretty much Apples, and champagne or wine yeast, something that will allow the brew to reach a higher ABV state before getting scared quitting.  American versions tend to use a lower tolerant yeast which will leave a session able, usually sweeter beverage. I made something that was in between last year and it turned out pretty well.

Heres the recipe, I picked it up from JayHuff from the homebrewtalk forums, thanks Jay!

2 Gallon Juice / Cider – No Preservatives (except Vitamin c / asorbic acid)
8oz Crystal Malt 10L
4oz Chocolate Malt
Wyeast WLP300 Hefeweizen yeast

First thing you gotta do is steep the grains, bring 1qt of water up to 154’F. Using a muslin bag let the grains hang out in the pool for 20 minutes. While this is going on in a second pot bring another 1qt up to 170’f. After the 20 minutes is up gently pick up the bag and dunk it into the second pot. Dunk the bag gently up and down in this water for a full 5 minutes. This process is referred to as “sparging” however its a very down and dirty method to do so. You can of course steep and sparge the grains the standard way if you wish. After this is done, dump the apple juice / cider into a carboy and top off with both pots of water from earlier. Take a temp reading, if your down below 80’f you can pitch the yeast. I am thinking its going to be easier if I toss the juice in the fridge first. Add the yeast, nutrients if you bought any, pop on the air lock and let her go.

That’s pretty much it, its a very easy process and highly customizable. It should take a few weeks to ferment out, however do not even mess with it for a month. Apple juice / cider when fermented gives off a sulfur smell (rotten eggs) at first, if you let it sit a month it will go away.  Since this is a 2.5 gallon batch you will need about 1/2 cup of corn sugar to bottle carb it.

So I hear this stuff tastes VERY similar to Woodchuck granny smith. Since as mentioned its my Wife’s favorite she will be the best critic when its done. I will post the results as soon as they come in, in the mean time give it a try, its cheap and easy to make.


EPIC FAIL – But hey the ciders good.

Posted in Beer, Cider on January 20, 2009 by Aleforge

Well I got to try out my Wee Heavy over the weekend to see if it had any hope at all for making the grade for this weekends competition. I had my doubts so I wasn’t shocked, the yeast just didn’t seem to finish up and with my recent move I had to skip the secondary or possible re pitch and just bottle the batch. It looks great, but that’s pretty much where it ends, since the yeast crapped out at about 1.030FG its overly, well … sickening sweet. Which 1.030 is acceptable for the style, however the SG is usually much higher then 1.094.  So I got this great looking pancake syrup, with a 8% ABV kick. Now what? Well there is a slight chance, (although slight might even be pushing it) that aging with help smooth things out. However once the yeast stop, they stop. So the sweetness has almost no chance to chill out. So I am just going to leave it in the basement conditioning for a year or so and give it one more taste. If there is no change I got the suggestion to use the stuff in a BBQ sauce, or meat marinade. Which actually might make the loss easier to handle.

On the lighter note the hard cider turned out fairly well. Its a touch over carbonated, which is causing the apple flavor to hide even more, but its light and bubbly and has a small kick after a few glasses. This stuff will be really tasty on a hot summers day, that is if any makes it that long. The great thing about it is how easy it is to make, so I will be making a new batch and will change up the yeast type to try for a slightly different flavor profile.

So I am a little bummed but sometimes you just get bad batches, it happens. Now I have as with most winters a lull in my brewing ambition, but I know it will come surging back once the temps climb out of the teens. So I have plenty of time to try and nail my next adventure and as of today I am having a hard time deciding on what to make.  I most likely will get my kegerator going again and toss a few lighter session brews on tap for the spring season.


Brew Day.

Posted in Beer, Cider on November 10, 2008 by Aleforge

I setup in the garage and got brewing this past Sunday. It felt nice getting back into the swing a things, and my good bud Chris participated in the festivities with me.

It was fairly cool, around 45’F and a brisk wind so we fired up the fire pit and set the burner up just inside the garage. You had to be on top of the fire pit, or against the propane burner in order to not get the chills, so we migrated between the two all afternoon.


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