Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bottling Cider

After ten days of fermenting, my first real batch of cider was ready to bottle.  Before I could get to work, I needed some bottles.  Back in Iowa, I had a large supply of clean re-used glass bottles with crown caps and a large number of clean re-used  plastic soda bottles of varying sizes.  I had any number of bottling and labeling options.  Here, I needed to re-stock my supply.

Three cartons of apple juice and a pack of 500mL soda bottles for use in brewing in Dublin, Ireland
Juice for the new batch, bottles for the previous batch
We purchased some new juice for the next batch and a pack of 500mL soda bottles to bottle the old batch.  We normally don't drink much soda, but had no choice here.  Dublin has no shortage of littered bottles in bushes and on the street, but I haven't picked up any food-safe sanitizer.  No on the salvaged bottles.

A bottle of Dettol antibacterial cleaner on the sinktop before brewing in Dublin, Ireland.
Cleanliness, such as we can
We do have some antibacterial cleaner, so I can take some precautions in making sure all my work surfaces are clean and safe.  A thorough cleaning is necessary before any brewing activity, especially when not working with sanitizers in the bottles.

Getting ready to bottle from the measuring cup
Hard-core brewers will probably balk at my methods, as I would have not more than a few months ago.  Normally, we bottle with a food safe plastic tube that gently transfers clear liquid from the fermenter to the bottles.  This avoids disturbing the yeast layer at the bottom of the fermenter and keeps the drink from getting too much aeration and oxygenation before bottling.

I can't use the tube because I don't have one, so I have no choice but to pour 1L of cider into a measuring cup from the fermenter before pouring into the bottles.  This is two pourings more than I'd like, but it has to do.  I primed each bottle with 1/4 teaspoon of white sugar for carbonation, poured away, and sealed them up.  My full yield was eight 500mL bottles.

Home made hard apple cider in cola and 7UP bottles in Dublin, Ireland
Cider in the still-labeled soda bottles

My measurements are much less accurate and exacting than what I was used to in Iowa.  Without a hydrometer, there was no reliable way to measure how much fermentation had taken place- and how much fermentation remained.  This meant that I had to be more cautious with my priming sugar.  If too much fermentable sugar remained in the mix, the bottles may have been over carbonated and become exploding bottle bombs under our sink.

Tasting update:

After a week of carbonating and clearing, the cider was tasty and refreshing.  No way to really know the alcohol content, but my best guess would be around 5-6% alcohol based on the ingredients.  The bottles were very light on carbonation, giving me more confidence to add a touch more priming sugar on the next batch.  I was tentative because relying on "bubble watching" in brewing is very inexact.  I will add more priming sugar next time.

This turbo yeast isn't really made for making wine like this.  Remember, this yeast is really made for distilling, so it isn't bred for making tasty products meant to be served as-is.  As such, this yeast creates a rather dry drink without much in the way of additional flavor compounds.  A good amount of apple flavor and aroma remains, which is what we want, but there isn't body or balancing flavors present with the apple.  The yeast has a low flocculation, meaning that the yeast sediment in each bottle is easily disturbed and the drink gets cloudy if not poured carefully.

Drinking through the batch, the drink did get better with age, as they tend to do.  Once I get my supplies going ahead of our consumption, we will be able to get some more set aside for aging.  In the meantime, we will keep enjoying tasty homebrew any way we can!

1 comment:

  1. Food quality tubing, bottles, hydrometers and carbonation drops and much more all available Tesco Clearwater (Finglas Road). Not sure why all the hardship ?


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