New Year's Eve has come and gone, during which I finally popped open the first bottle of hard cider I brewed late last year. Results? Um, well it was ok. At first swig it is everything I wanted my cider to be: gorgeous golden blush color, good nose, lightly carbonated, sweet and peary. But then it finishes into a very strong sour note that isn't all that different from a Lambic. Which is not exactly a bad thing, but pretty jarring if you aren't expecting it, and not what I was going for.
However I purposely didn't pasteurize the juice before brewing, so I can't be too surprised. I am a bright shade of apple (or pear?) green when it comes to brewing, but I believe the sour kick at the end is the result of wild yeasts from the pear juice. Any thoughts? While it didn't turn out exactly as planned, I am still pleased with the outcome. The process was a blast and I now have a drinkable cider I made myself. Plus it's just damn cool. So how does one make Perry you ask? Well I'll give you a quick rundown, just forgive me for lack of pictures. Like I said, I am working on this photo documenting thing so bear with me.
First you need pears. No problem there, my trees give me enough to feed a small pear-loving town. I don't know the variety, but they are very hard and mildly sweet. I needed enough pear juice to fill a 5 gallon glass carboy, which is A HELL OF A LOT.
|About half of a hell of a lot|
I used a juicer to juice up the pears, which only took about 3 hours... I'm thinking next time I will rent an apple press. I added 1lb. of honey, and an English lager yeast. Then I slapped on the airlock and kept it in a dark and somewhat cool place for about 1 month. I then racked it into another carboy to remove some of the sediment, and let it sit again for roughly 1 month. Finally, I bottled it all into lovely green Champagne bottles, and corked them using plastic corks which I could put in (not so easily) by hand. Before bottling I added a very small amount (about 2 cups) of organic apple cider to the brew, as well as a small amount of sugar to each bottle to give the yeast something to chew on in the hopes of a little added carbonation. Then I bottled and let sit for just under, you guessed it, 1 month.
Now did I need to let the cider sit that long? Nope. I did take my time in the beginning after reading that honey can slow fermentation, but really I was just procrastinating. Luckily when making cider that is ok to do. So juicing aside, the process was very easy and fun to do. And I got 15 bottles out of my first batch, most of which I shared as Christmas presents. Next time I foresee using an apple press and pasteurizing the juice beforehand, but all in all I am thrilled with the outcome and can't wait to brew again. Next up, brown ale!