There is Something in Cider

What is this you ask, Helper Monkey Ciders? I thought this site was supposed to be about the brewskies, the cold ones, the beer?  What?  You don’t like cider? Have you ever had cider? Was it Wood Chuck? It was Wood Chuck wasn’t it? You can admit it. I’ve had Wood Chuck too, but it’s time to try something better. There are plenty of great commercial examples, but it is so easy to make compared to beer, why don’t you just make some yourself.

To make apple cider, take some apple juice and introduce it to yeast. It is as simple as that.

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Wait one minute Mr Helper Monkey,  that bottle already says Apple Cider.  Aren’t you cheating?

Cider is basically fermented Apple Juice, but the interesting thing about the word Cider is that in the US it is synonymous with Apple Cider. I suspect that it is because the US has had a love-hate relationship with alcohol. I would bet that it became synonymous during alcohol prohibition. Google would probably tell you, but I will leave that to you, my loyal reader. So, what I have here is non-alcoholic, non-fermented Apple Juice.

Don’t let Flanders fool you, there is no standard difference between what manufacturers call Cider and Juice in the US no matter what Apple Juice
Manufacturer websites claim. I have also seen websites claim that one is filtered and one is not filtered. Hard cider always designates the alcoholic version. Except for Canada, the rest of the world calls Alcoholic Apple Juice Cider, and non-alcoholic apple juice, apple juice.

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The flavors and aromas of beer are almost completely determined by the processing of the ingredients after picking.  This is not true with cider.  Like wine, cider is made in the fields, and the end flavor is predominately determined by the apples you use. There are books and books out there about how to choose apples to make the cider you want, but it really comes down to experimentation. Every region has different varieties of apples and the same variety of apples grown in different conditions are going to taste different. Your best bet is to go to your local Apple Orchard and try out different blends of apples. Or do what I did, and just try the house blend.

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It is very important to get Apple Juice that has no chemical preservatives, because that will just kill your yeast dead. If you have managed to get your hands on a non-pasteurized Apple Juice, you could just let it sit and it will ferment by itself, but you never quit know what you will get. If you want some insurance or you have pasteurized Apple Juice, Wyeast does make a specific cider yeast, but Wine Yeasts are also commonly used and they are significantly cheaper. Cote Des Blancs by Red Star (yes the same people that make your bread yeast) is one that is commonly recommended for cider. It was also praised by the employee at my Local Homebrew Shop.

Don’t just take your yeast and toss it into the must (fancy name for Apple Juice). Take your yeast and bloom it in some warm water. This means, pour it in water that is about 100 deg F. You don’t even need a thermometer. Your body is 98.6 on average. So use water that is a bit warm to the touch. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and it should bubble a bit and become creamy.

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Put your Apple Juice in a clean and sanitized container (or leave it in the bottle if you want), and pitch the yeast slurry. If you want to assure a drier cider, throw in some yeast nutrient. Then put it in a cold place, around 35-45 deg. F. Wait a couple of months and you got Cider. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Happy Beer Day

80 years ago today, alcohol prohibition ended in this country (USA). At the time, beer and wine under 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% ABV) became legal to drink. Alcohol by weight (ABW) became popular because the numbers are smaller than alcohol by volume (ABV) and it looked better to people who would control your life. If you look on a beer bottle, it more than likely has ABV, but ABW continued in this country until relatively recently.

To celebrate, I decided I should drink a beer that most definitely would have still been illegal 80 years ago. At 8% ABV it is still illegal in several states. Legunitas Hop Stoopid. A real celebration of what beer has become, despite the serious and long-term damage alcohol prohibition did to the country.

Take one sniff and there is no doubt that this is a seriously hoppy beer, not for the new beer fan or the faint of heart. You immediately get the grapefruit you are so used to from American hops. You also get the pine and grass of the American Northwest. You can almost smell the bitterness, but really that is just intense pine.

After a longer winter of stouts, porters, and milds, the hops assaulted my tastebuds. The taste rides right down from the aroma. Grapefruit, mango, pine, grass. It’s a little sweet, and not too terrible bitter.

It had a smooth mouthfeel and medium carbonation. The appearance is a clear dark golden color with a white head and good lacing.

This is a first-rate double IPA. I can already see myself drinking this on a hot afternoon in the dog days of summer.