Wild Cider & Mead
Baltibrewer Caiti opened several bottles of her wild fermented beverages and talked about her thoughts on cider and mead at our Feburary Meeting!
Some Traditional Ferments
- Basque sidra: Dry and sour, still, sharps and bittersharps
- Norman cidre: Dry, naturally carbed, cool & slow fermetations (keeving), bittersweets
- Welsh and English cider and scrumpy: Dry, funky styles from bittersweets, bittersharps
- Cyser, pyment: Cider + mead, wine + mead
- Methlegin: Spiced or herbal mead
- Braggot: Mead + hops and/or wort
- Select fruit - Sharps, bittersharps, & bittersweets preferable, though can amend with tannin or added wood at the end of fermentation. Mostly sweets/sharps commercially available
- Grind fruits - grinder or juicer
- Press - press or juicer
- Measure sugars (ranges widely - 1.040-1.055)
- Check for fermentation - may need to stir
- Monitor over 4-7 months and package when gravity reaches 1.000 or stable. Sulfite, back sweeten, and amend tannins if desired. If you don’t sulfite, assume any bottling sugar will completely ferment.
- Dilute raw honey at a volume ratio of 1:4 to 1:8 (12-6% finished abv)
- Stir to induce a wild fermentation - until air bubbles form, may need to stir multiple days
- Airlock and check back when vigorous bubbling subsides - monitor for a stuck fermentation (solution: add yeast nutrient and STIR)
- Monitor over 4-10 months and package when gravity reaches 1.000 or stable. Sulfite, back sweeten, and amend tannins if desired. If you don’t sulfite, assume any bottling sugar will completely ferment.
Notes to Consider
- Acetobacter: avoid by keeping your airlocks full and keep fermentations in a cool place.
- Sulfur: reductive environment - not enough dissolved oxygen (more stirring)
- Light isn’t a huge problem unless you are using hops. Avoid direct, prolonged light - but without hops there is nothing to “skunk”
- Good cider yeasts if you want to pitch something anyway: cider or white wine yeasts work well, including Red Star Cote Des Blanc, Montrachet, Premier Blanc, and Premier Cuvee.
- Apple varieties available locally (I recommend Brown’s Orchard in PA):
- Rome Beauty
- Stayman Winesap
- York Imperial
- Northern Spy
Helpful Links & Books
- Brown's Orchard Harvest Calendar (with varieties available)
- Cider Apples Guide From Serious Eats
- USCAM Cider Style Guidelines
- Good Books