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Brewing up a Cider – Apple of my Chai

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Apple of my Chai is the name of a cider we brewed to pour at the Brewer’s East End Revival (B.E.E.R.) homebrew club table during the inaugural edition of Great South Bay Brewing Company’s Punktoberfest. This event is GSB’s celebration of all things fall, Oktoberfest and Punk Rock. The edict for bringing a beer to pour at P-Fest was that it needed to be “fall themed”. This of course opened the flood gates for pumpkin and Oktoberfest style beers. While we are fans of those categories of beer we thought bringing a cider would be a change of pace for us and the patrons who would come and try a pour (or two).

This time of year is perfect for cider or hard cider as it has sometimes come to be known. Cider is a beverage fermented from apple juice with yeast which can range from sweet to dry and still to highly carbonated. Cider is a versatile and tasty beverage which deserves all of the attention it has been garnering recently. Apple of my Chai will be our second foray into brewing this gluten free fermented tipple. We thought it would be a perfect fit for Punktoberfest and also because it just so happens to currently be Cider Week in NY.

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The idea to create a cider came to us because we really enjoyed our first cider experiment (which resulted in 5 separate 1 gallon batches) as well as our follow up beer/cider hybrid endeavor Amalgam in the Middle. Also crafting a cider takes less equipment, though no less care, than brewing a beer so while our home “brewery” is still small a streamlined process benefits us from time to time. It also made sense to us to brew and bring a cider to a festival which was supposed to feature fall themed beers. In NY what could fit more with fall then apples and by extension cider? The answer is nothing. So, we decided a cider was what we would make and headed to a local orchard for fresh pressed cider. Richter’s in Northport NY had just begun pressing cider when we called up about coming by to purchase five gallons. If you call in advance you can stop by and they will fill your carboy or in our case fermentation bucket up. You can get the cider pasteurized or unpasteurized if you would like (leaving your container to be filled if you choose unpasteurized).

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Now a standard cider is a fine drink to bring to a festival but we thought that adding a little spice wouldn’t hurt either. We choose chai to blend with the cider we would make. The apple pie-like spices and notes of black tea figured to mingle well with the tart apple notes of our finished product. We set about fermenting the cider with Danstar Belle Saison yeast. Using this type of yeast would impart some spicy phenols and fruity esters of it’s own to the cider and we took steps to ensure the formation of these compounds by starting fermentation around 68-70 degrees then ramped it up to around 83-85 during primary. When this process was finished we added the tea and spices after racking the cider over into our secondary fermentor. We then placed the bucket full of Apple of my Chai in a 68-70 degree environment. A light amount of fermentation kicked off after this addition so we have to be honest we are a touch concerned with how AomC is going to turn out. We will be kegging the cider for Punktoberfest this week and will be at the B.E.E.R. table serving it to thirsty patrons. Oh, and we will also have a beer pouring at the Karp’s Homebrew & Hardware table as well. This beer was brewed using the yeast we gathered from the fermentor of Apple of my Chai after primary fermentation. If you are going to be at Punktoberfest come by and give both of our drinks a try in honor of Cider Week in NY!

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Written by A+K

October 23rd, 2013 at 8:34 am

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