Alternative Priming Sugars in Cider experiment

This is a combination of experiments.  The first is the BBR-BYO #9 experiment (Basic Brewing Podcast April 14, 2011 – New Experiments and Scandinavian Brewing) where you hydrate dry yeast for one batch, and then just sprinkle it on others.  I won’t go into the results of that one here (no spoilers). 

 

For this experiment I chose to replicate the cider brew that was in the Basic Brewing Video   (Jan 30th, 2011, Simple Cider).  The simple steps were:

 

  1. Buy two jugs of Treehouse cider from Costco.  This is pasteurized and has no preservatives, and comes in a pack with two 1 gallon jugs.
  2. Add yeast (Red Star Pasteur Champagne ).
  3. Place airlock, tin foil, or just light screw the lid on.
  4. Wait (and beg forgiveness from your wife for leaving yet more crap on the counter).

 

Photo of the jugs:

 

clip_image001

 

 

Now at the end of the experiment I had 2 gallons of cider which I needed to bottle.  Never satisfied to do things simply, I decided to play with alternative priming sugars.  I grabbed some sugars around the house, and using the method discussed in the Basic Brewing Podcast (October 28, 2010 – Alternate Priming Sugars) I tried to calculate the correct amounts to match the amount in 1 carb drop (take grams of sugar from nutrition label and make it  equal to that of a 12 oz, and I think I target 2.4 volumes for 12 oz. Using http://kotmf.com/tools/prime.php I targeted about 2g. There was a fair amount of guess work, and honestly on the honey, which was hand labeled "Blackberry," I just did a dollop.  All of the other sugars were unopened so I did not sanitize them.

 

I added each sugar to one each of the batches, but because their FG was different, I did not taste batch vs. batch.  I actually labeled each with tape, then a paper label.  Each type of sugar priming had its own cap (which I kept a table of as well).  Here are the bottles complete:

 

clip_image002

 

Following is the table of the priming schedule, I managed 10 bottles per gallon: 6  sugars had 1 from each batch, I did 2 carb drops , 1 just still, and 1 with a campden tablet and apple juice to sweeten it.

 

I tasted 2 of them with my friend Toby.  I then brought 6 bottles to the National Homebrewers Conference in June of 2011.  There I gather some friend, hornswoggled John Palmer, and met with the Basic Brewing crew and recorded a podcast.  Only James had a slight clue what I was up to, the tasting was blind.  Here are my notes from memory.

 

Sugar

Amount

Tasting Notes

Tasted with Toby

 

 

Apple juice

16 ml

It was definitely more apple flavored than the honey, almost "concentrated."

Honey

Bit on fork

Carbonated but drier than the Apple Juice.  No Honey flavor

 

 

 

Tasted on Podcast

 

 

Carb Drop

1

Control:  Good bubble, good flavor

Muscovado

2g

Less carb, interest flavors

Cinnamon Syrup

2ml

Less carb than expect, no cinnamon at all

Mini marshmallow

2

Funniest, coated the tongue

Light Agave

4g

Most carb, almost a gusher, different flavor than carb drop though

Still

0

Did not like compared to carb’ed ones

Mixed

?

Mixed the remain, was actually quite good

 

 

 

Not Tasted

 

 

Camden Tablet and Apple Juice

15ml

Thought on this, and it  was a bad idea 🙂

 

The details will be on the podcast which should air in late July.   It was a lot of fun and we finished with a Princess Peach Ale, which was enjoyed by all.

 

My favorite line was from Steve who said "I thought you were going to do some thing like Glucose, Dextrose, Fructose."  Really he should have known better 🙂

 

Conclusion:

 

I was surprised how much the priming sugars added flavor.  Even the agave, which I expect to have little flavor impact, had an impact.  The Cinnamon Syrup was also the surprise in not imparting the expected flavor.  I was hoping for apple pie on that one.  I also was worried the mini-marshmallows were going to not dissolve and land in a  cup like a hot chocolate.

 

In the future I would probably do a few more sugars:  maple syrup, brown sugars, different honeys, different juices, DME, among others.  I might also just add cinnamon to see what that comes out like.

 

Most people felt they like the carb drops the best, but I think you could really tweak the final flavor of a cider like this.  I think I would recommend the apple juice.

 

clip_image003

 

http://twitpic.com/5d25kl

 

Big thanks to the (starting on my right in the photos):   John Palmer, Andy Sparks, Nathaniel Muller, Steve Antoch, Michael Berta, Steve Wilkes, and  of course James Spencer who took the photo!

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One Response to Alternative Priming Sugars in Cider experiment

  1. Dennis says:

    Hey, I enjoyed this episode of BBR. This and a few others inspired me to use some orange juice to carb up an American wheat. I wouldn’t use orange juice again, but I would definitely try other juices- the texture of the orange juice left some odd floaters, but the flavor was nice. I have a complete write-up over at my blog, which ironically seems to use the same wordpress theme. Destiny perhaps.

    http://lifefermented.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/alternate-priming-sugars/

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