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View Full Version : Planning a wild fermented cyser - thoughts please



DanM
10-06-2009, 11:50 PM
I am planning on a wild fermented cyser for next fall. The recipe will simply be 12lbs of honey, 4 gallons of unpasteurized, unfiltered cider and water to make 5.5 gallons. My general plans are to let the cider ferment on its own for 1 month to get the yeast and bacteria started. After that, I will at 2 lbs of honey per week for 6 weeks to not stress the yeast. I will then stash it in a cool dark place until next fall when I hope it will be done.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,

Dan

akueck
10-07-2009, 12:08 AM
Wild critters can be unpredictable. If it were me I would start with a smaller batch (or perhaps several small batches) and see what happens. If they turn out good you can pitch the whole batch into a larger one. If they turn out bad, you can write off the small loss. This is what I did to get my wild fermented ales, I started with three batches of a quart or two and stepped up the one that worked.

MagicNinja
10-07-2009, 12:34 AM
Wild yeasts are tricky buggers. You may not have enough floating around to do any good.

Have you ever made your own sour dough starter before? I would suggest you try it out, for one it will help you determine if there are enough wild yeast are around to get anything going. For two, home made sourdough bread is awsome. And three, with it helping to determine if there are wild yeast present, it will prevent you from losing all the cider/honey in some "catastrophic" event.

Sourdough is really easy to make.

In a very very clean glass or plastic bowl, at least 4 quarts in volume. Mix 1 cup of flour, all purpose, bread flour or whole wheat flour, and 1 cup of water. Use a wire whisk, silicon coated is preferred, just don't use strait metel, that can cause problems.

Whisk it all up, then cover with plastic wrap, or a cloth(not cheese cloth its to loosely woven, and no terry cloth{like bath towels}). And just let it sit on the counter. Every day for the next week or so you need to "feed" it. Just mix in another 1/8-1/4 cup of flour and the same or half as much water, re-cover.

After a few days you should see some bubbles and it should smell kind of beery or slightly alcoholic.

Check for any mold, I've seen white mold on some of my attempts while I was visiting my dad in Oregon. So look closely. Look up some better descriptions online on how to identify if your starter has gone bad

If you do want to actually make sour dough, you'll want to give it a couple weeks to completely stabilize. After a week you can safely store it in the fridge, but its pretty much a living organism so you have to feed it regularly, if its in the fridge once or twice a week is fine. If you do store it in the fridge, before you use it, you need to take it out and feed it every day for about 3 days before starting anything with it. To feed, when you take it out of the fridge there will likely be some odd liquid on the top, it could be gray or yellow to brownish. If its pink, throw it out. Just poor of this liquid, add a 1/4 of flower, and enough water to get it to the consistency you want it at. Then leave it out for 24 hours before returning it to the fridge.

Look up more information on the net, it'll be rewarding.

SOOO, back to the cyser.

You don't have to do this, but its a cheap way to make sure you have the yeast to need floating around before starting the cyser.

I recommend that you pasteurize your cider. You don't want any rouge germs in there taking hold and fowling the batch. You don't need to pasteurize the honey though. Just the cider on its own. Just bring it to 180 F for about 5 minutes. Or just take it to boiling and your done, you don't have to boil for any longer than it takes to get it rolling. OR just get pasteurized cider and save that step.

You really don't want any baddies getting a hold of this since there wont be enough wild yeast to fight anything off for at least a week or so(also the reason you need to give the sourdough starter some time before using it).

For starting the ferment, firstly you'll want to store it at around 70 F or so, just like any other mead. What exactly planning on starting this in? I suggest you just use a standard fermenting bucket, not a large enough. Cover it with a plain cotton cloth, a flat sheet will do nicely, just fold it in half, and half again. You'll probably want to secure it with heavy twine or light rope, whatever works.

I also suggest you use at least 1/4 of the honey you plan on using from the start, the anti bacterial properties will help prevent contamination from rogue bacteria.

Just make sure everything is clean, I can't stress that enough, since you are trying to use wild yeasts.

I really hope this works for you, ever since i first learned about lambic(beer fermented with wild yeast) i've always wanted to try it in my own brewing.

MagicNinja
10-07-2009, 12:35 AM
Wild critters can be unpredictable. If it were me I would start with a smaller batch (or perhaps several small batches) and see what happens. If they turn out good you can pitch the whole batch into a larger one. If they turn out bad, you can write off the small loss. This is what I did to get my wild fermented ales, I started with three batches of a quart or two and stepped up the one that worked.

This was posted while I was writing by book there. And I don't know why I didn't suggest that, its a very good idea, DUH.

DanM
10-07-2009, 07:27 AM
Wild yeasts are tricky buggers. You may not have enough floating around to do any good.

Have you ever made your own sour dough starter before? I would suggest you try it out, for one it will help you determine if there are enough wild yeast are around to get anything going. For two, home made sourdough bread is awsome. And three, with it helping to determine if there are wild yeast present, it will prevent you from losing all the cider/honey in some "catastrophic" event.

Sourdough is really easy to make.

In a very very clean glass or plastic bowl, at least 4 quarts in volume. Mix 1 cup of flour, all purpose, bread flour or whole wheat flour, and 1 cup of water. Use a wire whisk, silicon coated is preferred, just don't use strait metel, that can cause problems.

Whisk it all up, then cover with plastic wrap, or a cloth(not cheese cloth its to loosely woven, and no terry cloth{like bath towels}). And just let it sit on the counter. Every day for the next week or so you need to "feed" it. Just mix in another 1/8-1/4 cup of flour and the same or half as much water, re-cover.

After a few days you should see some bubbles and it should smell kind of beery or slightly alcoholic.

Check for any mold, I've seen white mold on some of my attempts while I was visiting my dad in Oregon. So look closely. Look up some better descriptions online on how to identify if your starter has gone bad

If you do want to actually make sour dough, you'll want to give it a couple weeks to completely stabilize. After a week you can safely store it in the fridge, but its pretty much a living organism so you have to feed it regularly, if its in the fridge once or twice a week is fine. If you do store it in the fridge, before you use it, you need to take it out and feed it every day for about 3 days before starting anything with it. To feed, when you take it out of the fridge there will likely be some odd liquid on the top, it could be gray or yellow to brownish. If its pink, throw it out. Just poor of this liquid, add a 1/4 of flower, and enough water to get it to the consistency you want it at. Then leave it out for 24 hours before returning it to the fridge.

Look up more information on the net, it'll be rewarding.

SOOO, back to the cyser.

You don't have to do this, but its a cheap way to make sure you have the yeast to need floating around before starting the cyser.

I recommend that you pasteurize your cider. You don't want any rouge germs in there taking hold and fowling the batch. You don't need to pasteurize the honey though. Just the cider on its own. Just bring it to 180 F for about 5 minutes. Or just take it to boiling and your done, you don't have to boil for any longer than it takes to get it rolling. OR just get pasteurized cider and save that step.

You really don't want any baddies getting a hold of this since there wont be enough wild yeast to fight anything off for at least a week or so(also the reason you need to give the sourdough starter some time before using it).

For starting the ferment, firstly you'll want to store it at around 70 F or so, just like any other mead. What exactly planning on starting this in? I suggest you just use a standard fermenting bucket, not a large enough. Cover it with a plain cotton cloth, a flat sheet will do nicely, just fold it in half, and half again. You'll probably want to secure it with heavy twine or light rope, whatever works.

I also suggest you use at least 1/4 of the honey you plan on using from the start, the anti bacterial properties will help prevent contamination from rogue bacteria.

Just make sure everything is clean, I can't stress that enough, since you are trying to use wild yeasts.

I really hope this works for you, ever since i first learned about lambic(beer fermented with wild yeast) i've always wanted to try it in my own brewing.

Oh... my house has tons of wild yeast floating around. I am a pastry chef and I make at least 4 loaves of bread per week. I also have a nice Oud Bruin fermenting upstairs that might provide a little brett and at least 12 batches of beer over the past 2 years. I think I am safe when it comes to yeast in the house.

Just a little advice on your sour dough starter. Try sticking it in the oven with the light on. The oven light will maintain an oven temp of aprox 90-100f, the prime growing temp for yeast. It will take off like a bat out of hell! This also works wonders for proofing your bread.

I was planning on using a 6.5 gallon glass carboy with a 3 piece airlock, but I can easily throw a hop sock on top of it instead. However, the idea of 5 1 gallon batches makes some sense.

Thanks.

Dan

DaleP
10-07-2009, 08:30 AM
Are you counting on the yeast on the apples for your ferment? This was the traditional source of yeast for ciders. If hoping for the apple yeast, do not wash the apples before pressing and I would cut the honey additions in half. I have made some very tasty cysers at 2pounds of honey per gallon of cider, then priming with honey. Makes a nice dry sparkling cyser, well balanced between cider and honey, and also not so high in alcohol that it cannot be enjoyed in quantity.

DanM
10-07-2009, 10:06 AM
Are you counting on the yeast on the apples for your ferment? This was the traditional source of yeast for ciders. If hoping for the apple yeast, do not wash the apples before pressing and I would cut the honey additions in half. I have made some very tasty cysers at 2pounds of honey per gallon of cider, then priming with honey. Makes a nice dry sparkling cyser, well balanced between cider and honey, and also not so high in alcohol that it cannot be enjoyed in quantity.

The local home brew club will have a cider pressing at a local orchard, so I am sure they will not be washed or treated in any way that will effect wild fermentation. When you say cut the honey additions in half, you mean add 1 lbs per week for 12 weeks? I have never primed with honey, how much should I use to do this in a 5 gallon batch?

Dan

wayneb
10-07-2009, 10:13 AM
As far as priming with honey is concerned, one full cup of honey provides about the same amount of fermentable sugar as 3/4 cup of corn sugar, which is the "standard" dose for priming beer and sparkling wines.

DaleP
10-07-2009, 12:01 PM
I would use half the amount of honey(6 pounds not 12). Not sure what the tolerance level of the wild yeast would be, so I would add enough honey for the flavor and stop there.

MagicNinja
10-07-2009, 03:30 PM
You don't need a lot of honey for cyser since you are using the cider instead of water. Depending on how much what abv you want 1-2 lbs honey per gallon is good, 2 is plenty. Just use the mead calculator, and for apples put the measurement in gallons. You probably want to shoot for about 8 or 9 lbs total.

And yes, don't use the airlock, at least not until its fermenting, they're designed to keep stuff out, so you probably wont get enough exposure to the wild yeasts.

If they aren't going to wash the apples before pressing you can try to do some with an airlock to see if you get anything out of the wild yeast that are on the apples. But that could take a while to start, if at all, you never know. I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, so it might work better than i would anticipate.

Do a couple smaller batches to experiment with different methods.

akueck
10-07-2009, 03:55 PM
Depending on what kind of yeast you capture, the alcohol tolerance will vary. Most wild yeast will probably take apple juice and ferment it completely (or nearly so), but it's hard to predict how much honey they'll be able to eat. Adding it in increments is a good way to make sure that the most alcohol-tolerant yeast are favored, but you will want to check on the progress before adding more honey. Your fermentation might stop after you add 3 lbs, or maybe it will keep going through 12 lbs.

My wild beer organisms gave up at around 4% ABV. I finished it off with commercial yeast but the character of the wild yeast/bugs still dominates. If you want to push up the gravity and your wild guys kick out on you, you can still acclimate a starter of K1V or EC-1118 (or whatever) and finish it off with that.

Oskaar
10-07-2009, 11:18 PM
DanM,

Is that next fall as in 2010 or next fall as in like . . . now 2009?

If it's next year your best bet IMNSHO is to get a gallon of the cider from where your purchase will be made and let it go in the refrigerator. Remove the sealed cap, cover it with a sanitized cloth and see how it goes. I've bought cider here in So Cal from three distinctly different locations (Julian, CA; Oak Glen, CA; and San Luis Obispo, CA) in all cases the one gallon jugs I bought fermented completely while in the refrigerator with out leaving the top uncovered and yielded excellent cider. My advise would be to just buy a gallon of fresh pressed juice to enjoy, and let the other one go.

You will learn several things about cider:

1. The fermentation will start up a bit quicker if you leave it stand and let it come up to within about 10 degrees of room temperature for about a day and then set it back into the refrigerator

2. You will smell sulfur during the early, mid and late stages of the fermentation (this will help you to know the smell and learn when to be ready to add nutrients)

3. You will get a sense of how far the feral (notice I do not say wild yeast, ask WayneB why) yeast will be able to go. How's that? If your cider is dry, your yeast will be able to metabolize more sugar and will probably make a good cyser if the sulfur production is low during the ferment. If it is sweet, you'll know that your yeast probably won't be able to metabolize the additional fermentable sugar from honey so you should go with a selected yeast strain (I prefer DV10)

4. You'll also get an idea of what kind of apple character will be left in the cider once you're done with the ferment and can use that as a thumbnail for your honey addition when you make the must for your cyser.

5. At the end you'll know about what it will cost you based on the cider, how much honey you want to add based on a feral yeast or selected yeast, nutrient and fermentation vessels.

6. You'll have a good idea of how you want to approach your cyser, and what questions to ask here for any further ideas you may have.

Hope that gets you thinking,

Oskaar

wildoates
10-07-2009, 11:22 PM
It got me thinking, Pete!

DanM
10-08-2009, 09:30 AM
DanM,

Is that next fall as in 2010 or next fall as in like . . . now 2009?

If it's next year your best bet IMNSHO is to get a gallon of the cider frome top uncovered and yielded excellent cider. My advise would be to just buy a gallon of fresh pressed juice to enjoy, and let the other one go. where your purchase will be made and let it go in the refrigerator. Remove the sealed cap, cover it with a sanitized cloth and see how it goes. I've bought cider here in So Cal from three distinctly different locations (Julian, CA; Oak Glen, CA; and San Luis Obispo, CA) in all cases the one gallon jugs I bought fermented completely while in the refrigerator with out leaving th

You will learn several things about cider:

1. The fermentation will start up a bit quicker if you leave it stand and let it come up to within about 10 degrees of room temperature for about a day and then set it back into the refrigerator

2. You will smell sulfur during the early, mid and late stages of the fermentation (this will help you to know the smell and learn when to be ready to add nutrients)

3. You will get a sense of how far the feral (notice I do not say wild yeast, ask WayneB why) yeast will be able to go. How's that? If your cider is dry, your yeast will be able to metabolize more sugar and will probably make a good cyser if the sulfur production is low during the ferment. If it is sweet, you'll know that your yeast probably won't be able to metabolize the additional fermentable sugar from honey so you should go with a selected yeast strain (I prefer DV10)

4. You'll also get an idea of what kind of apple character will be left in the cider once you're done with the ferment and can use that as a thumbnail for your honey addition when you make the must for your cyser.

5. At the end you'll know about what it will cost you based on the cider, how much honey you want to add based on a feral yeast or selected yeast, nutrient and fermentation vessels.

6. You'll have a good idea of how you want to approach your cyser, and what questions to ask here for any further ideas you may have.

Hope that gets you thinking,

Oskaar

Yes. It will be put into the carboy in early November with the expectation of it being ready by next October.

The comments about the alcohol tolerance and unpredictability of wild yeasts makes me second guess that part of the plan. I will instead make two batches, a wild fermented cider and a commercially fermented cyser. I would prefer not to pasteurize the cider, so I will add campden tablets and a couple of pounds of honey at the outset to get the fermentation started.

Thanks everyone for the advice! Hopefully, I will have 12lbs of good honey this afternoon.

Dan

akueck
10-08-2009, 11:35 AM
The comments about the alcohol tolerance and unpredictability of wild yeasts makes me second guess that part of the plan.

Don't let it totally throw you off. Definitely give it a try, just allow some room for it to not work 100% of the time. (When I asked for advice on spontaneous ferments from Vinnie of Russian River he said "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't". It makes it more of an adventure, hehe.) Low alcohol tolerance can always be cured by adding commercial yeast later.

Sasper
10-08-2009, 01:11 PM
And dont use sulfites in the wild cider. You'll risk killing the wild yeast present.

DanM
10-08-2009, 10:18 PM
Okay... A slightly new plan. I will make a cyser with 5 gallons of cider and 10 lbs of honey with commercial yeast and an experimental batch of 2 gallons of cider and 2 lbs of honey.

On the honey news... I now have 12 lbs of blueberry honey to play with. I just need to wait for the cider pressing party.

Dan