View Full Version : Experienced Beerman Does Cyser

01-06-2010, 04:33 PM
Howdy folks! This is my first post here, so I'll let ya know a little about myself. I'm 27 years old, I love beer, love beer, oh buddy do I love me some beer. I'm an experienced homebrewer in that respect and have been brewing for 8 years with extract, minimash, and all grain setups. I also like whiskey, and through some crazy turn of events, have recently become the minister of choice for my friends that have been getting married, hence the name ;) I've made one mead before, and I still have a couple bottles of it in my cupboard. They're about 7 years old now and rather tasty when i tried them 2 years ago. Anyway, I thought I would have no problems brewing a cyser, and I can't say that I have yet, but I thought I would post my recipe and process and get some feedback on my process and a few points of concern I have.

The recipe I used was taken out of the homebrewer's recipe guide by higgins, kilgore & hertlein.

4 LBS Clover
1 LB Buckwheat
4 Gallons Cider (I used an unpasturized local brand, Deal's Apple Cider (http://www.dealsorchard.com/) )
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Nutmeg (I used 2)
1 Ounce Yeast Nutrient
Yeast (I used WLP775 English Cider Yeast)
3/4 cup corn sugar for priming

I started off by making a yeast starter. I made the starter out of 12 ounces local honey and about 6 cups cider (about a 1 to 4 ratio). Starter was active 6 hours after pitching and was used 2 days after started and fermentation had pretty much slowed to a stop.

Beings that I was doing this on a stovetop, I used two different stainless steel kettles to pasteurize the honey and cider. In one I put 4 gals of cider, 1 lb buckwheat honey, and the nutmegs. This was pasteurized @ 160f for 20 mins. In the other I put 1 gal water + 4 lbs clover honey and pasteurized @ 160f for 20 mins.

***NOTE/Question***The honey I used was old...probably a good 5 years old. They say honey doesnt go bad, right? :) It was mostly crystalized but completely dissolved in the 1 gal water. Is this OK?

I cooled and combined the two in a 6 and a half gallon glass carboy and pitched the yeast starter @ 84 degrees F. I know this is a little high, and were I to do this again, after all that i've read here, I would ferment at much cooler temperatures. Ya live and ya learn tho. Thats what i'm here for! :)

Brew Notes:
Nov 22nd Brewday:
OSG = 1.073
Aerated for 45 mins using homemade filter/aeration stone.
Active fermentation 8 hours after pitching, temperature @ 75f
Kreutzen approx 1/2"
Nov 25th
Fermentation still healthy and active. Temperature hanging out around 74 f
Nov 27th
Getting home from work the temperature on the ferment has jumped to 79%. WTF? I need temperature control, though I suspect the roommate cranked the heat while I was gone and closed the door to the bathroom when she was done pooping. (The fermenter is in the bathroom closet)
Nov 28th
Fermentation still active but slowing. Temperature is down to 72 f
Dec 7th or 8th (My Brewlog says Dec27th...i think i was drinking cause it definately wasnt the 27th!!!)
Approx 2 weeks after initial fermentation, fermentation appears to have ceased.
Racked to secondary.
SG = .999
Tastes good and dry, slightly harsh, honey apparent...no taste of nutmeg tho. Very happy with it right now.

This brings us to today, and where most of my questions lie. The recipe says to bottle when clear. I have been aging the cyser in the secondary for approximately a month now. How long does this normally take and based on my procedures, do you think mine will completely clear. It looks clear-er right now, lots of lees on the bottom and It has not gotten any clearer for at least the last week or two. Its in the back of a dark closet so i cant really tell, but i doubt i could see my hand on the other side of the carboy if i were to look through. Will it get this clear? Or am I as clear as I'm gonna get. I understand I could rack to a tertiary fermenter but I want this to be carbonated so i still want some yeasties in there right? This gets into my question reguarding carbonation.
Will I need to add additional yeast before bottling to ensure carbonation? If so, what type should I use, and what is the best procedure for adding this before bottling?

Thanks for your time reading this post and for any comments and advice I receive. I tried to boldface any questions I have so they will be easy to address. All feedback is greatly appreciated!!!


01-06-2010, 05:17 PM
I'm sure some one with more experience will respond soon, but welcome to GotMead :)

Old honey does not go bad, per se, but crystallization can lower the sugar content of the surrounding liquid that the crystals are suspended in enough to allow bacteria or wild yeast to get a foot hold. If it tastes ok, it's probably fine.

Anything made from unfiltered apple cider will take longer to clear than a mead made with water. Pectic enzymes in the initial batch might help with this. So could boiling/skimming if you are going to use heat anyway. You could try sparkloid or a similar product, or just wait. Time cures an awful lot of mead making woes.

I have never actually done a sparkling mead intentionally, but the manufacturer of your yeast says that it is tolerant to 12%, and you are sitting at about 14% or more (couldn't get the sugar volume or apple juice exact on the calculator) so even if you prime, the yeast may not have anything else to give. If you really want it to sparkle, you could try pitching a champagne yeast that you have first acclimated to the alcohol level of your mead.

Medsen Fey
01-06-2010, 05:20 PM
Welcome to GotMead Reverend!!!

I think you're going to end up with some good tasting stuff, though it may take some considerable aging for it to smooth out. Fermentations done at 75-79 F tend to be harsh, with fusel alcohols and some medicinal character but aging them (sometimes for 1-2 years) really improves them.

You are correct that honey doesn't spoil, but unless it is frozen, it does darken and loses some of its aroma and flavor over time. Fresher honey makes better mead.

You'll find most folks around here are not big on pasteurizing or boiling our musts. For a reverend brewer I know this reeks of heresy, but the fact is that it really isn't required. I believe the loss of volatile aromatics and flavor elements from the honey and juice just isn't worth it.

Another issue with heating is pectin. Apple juice is full of pectin which creates haze that may not clear, especially when heated. If you did not add any pectic enzyme to your must, adding some now will probably speed your clearing quite a bit. Due to the alcohol content, you'll need to add a dose higher than that recommended on the package; 2-3X should be plenty. If you want to prove that there is a pectin haze, you can check it by taking a small sample and mixing it with methylated spirits (or rubbing alcohol) which will cause the pectin polymer to form in gelatinous strands.

The other thing that will aid clearing is time. A few months is often needed, but most meads will clear if left alone. Putting them in a fridge (or cold place) for a few weeks may speed the clearing as well.

When you get ready to prime it, in most cases there will still be enough yeast left to carbonate in the bottle. However, the cider yeast you used has an alcohol tolerance of 8-12% ABV, and you are probably around 9.5% so it isn't a sure thing. You can try it, and if it doesn't work you can try rebottling it with a Champagne yeast such as EC-1118. Alternatively, you could acclimated some EC-1118 to your must, adding it for priming and bottling to be sure.

I hope that is of some help!


01-11-2010, 02:26 PM
Thanks for the advice/help! I'll post back if I have more questions. Ok wait, I do have one in regards to pitching additional yeast at bottling. If I made a high gravity starter (around 1.073 for example), would that be what you mean by acclimating the yeast?

Medsen Fey
01-11-2010, 04:05 PM
Not exactly (though you could take that approach). What I would typically do is rehydrate the yeast with GoFerm, and after 20 minutes, I would add a volume of must (with the priming sugar dissolved in) equal to the the amount of liquid with the rehydrated yeast. Essentially this lets the yeast get used to a 1/2 strength version of your must.

When that starts bubbling well, I would double the volume again by adding more of your must. Once that is going good, I would double the volume again and wait for activity to get going. By the time you are up to a cup or a pint, you'll essentially have a starter with yeast that are used to the alcohol and acidity (and other factors) of your must and will be sure to carbonate. This usually only takes a few hours.

Since your ABV isn't going to be too high, you might be successful just by tossing in some EC-1118 without taking the time to acclimate it - it is pretty hardy. But if you acclimate it to the must, the odds of success will be higher.

I hope you get a great result.


02-10-2010, 03:06 AM
Due to initial taste testing and enjoyment during bottling coupled with the lack of other sources of booze in my house, I broke down and threw a bottle of cyser in the snow to chill and enjoy this evening before bottle conditioning and aging was complete. I am currently doing just that.

http://img31.imageshack.us/img31/5375/dscf1974c.th.jpg (http://img31.imageshack.us/i/dscf1974c.jpg/)

I did not use any clarifying agents and I think it seems pretty dang clear to me, however I did do what you suggested with the ec-1118 so to speak. The still product tasted sooooooo good that I'm wishing now that I would have left half of it unprimed. This bottle, only 2 days old, is already showing slight carbonation, as you can see in the picture i think. Initial thoughts are that it seems a little yeasty (probably from the addition of ec1118) but i'm thinking that will go away as bottle conditioning is finished and be replaced by a tart acidity that will compliment the dryness of this beverage...At least, that is what I'm hoping. Initial brew on the 22nd of november makes this bottle only about 2 and a half months old. I'll try again in 2 weeks...or 2 hours...

02-10-2010, 11:56 AM
That looks yummy! Make sure you save enough so you will eventually get to the point where you can find out exactly how it will taste with some age! ;)