Saturday, July 25, 2015

#33 Wild Pear-Apple Cider - Tasting

Recipe     -     Tasting

ABV: 6.2%
Grade: B+

As a homebrewer, this is one of those experiments that is just flat out cool.  I was able to take juice that was "going bad," and with the help of some microbes from ancient groves on the other side of the world, turn it into an interesting and tasty finished product.  It's certainly not perfect, but that's not keeping me from drinking it, and I learned a ton about cider making.

Now a note on the labeling.  I usually label each bottle with a batch number, then if I split it (like I did this one), I assign letters to the sub-batches.  The first one is usually what amounts to a control trial--the least adventurous ingredients or process, the one I'm most familiar with--with subsequent.  In this case, that was the half fermented with the English ale yeast, but I can't help think of the Spanish half first, so we'll start there.

Spanish Variant (33b):
When this was fresh, this was a really cool cider.  There was a crisp tartness from apples and wild bugs--not as biting as most cider from Asturias--that was balanced out by a touch of sweetness and the almost gritty tannin of the pears.  It all came together in a very tasty way.  Unfortunately, since then it has started to oxidize.  The crisp, brightness has been replaced by the cardboard/rat's nest kind of thing that just ruins a cider.  Interestingly enough, not all bottles have aged the same way; there are still a few here and there that remind me what this batch was like in its heyday ... and why I need to do this again next year.

English Variant (33a):
Uncarbonated, this was just kind of bland compared to the Spanish batch.  The ale yeast added a bit of esters that I always perceive as musty in cider, and didn't pop with a bright acidity from the wild yeast and bacteria.  However as it continued to mature, the smaller population of bacteria seemed to continue to work, bringing it closer--but not quite--to the Spanish half.  When it was fully carbonated it seemed to transform into a different beast all together.  The prickliness of the carbonation seemed to complement the tannin of the pears in a way reminiscent of the Etienne Dupont I recently shared with my sister.

It has also been interesting to see that this beer has not oxidized near as quickly as the uncarbonated half.  I knew that when yeast wake up to ferment the priming sugar, they will scavenge the oxygen remaining in the package, but it's surprising how dramatic the difference is.

This cider showed so much promise at bottling that it's disappointing to see it decline so quickly.  There is a French saying that "air is the enemy of cider," and after tasting the effects of oxidation I understand what they meant.  I wish I had fresh juice to get started on the next batch while the lessons are still fresh, but I guess I'll have to wait for fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...