Orchard Orgy Type 25b

Ref 2020-09 Orchard Orgy (Type 25b) Brewer Farmer Jim's
Style Experimental Type Cider
Started Thu 24th Sep 20 OG 1.046 Status Available, 8.0% ABV
Handle 2020-09 Orchard Orgy (Type 25b)
Brewer Farmer Jim's
Style Experimental
Type Cider
Status Available, 8.0% ABV ABV
Started Thu 24th Sep 20 OG 1.046
Packaged Wed 6th Jan 21 FG 0.996

This is from a batch of apple juice which we pressed in September 2020. After around 60 days in primary fermentation (50 of which were reasonably cool) I revived her with a bit of sugar, wine yeast, and nutrient in an experiment to see how much we could push our own delicious produce without ruining it. Only eight bottles from this batch, but if successful it’s sure to be repeated.

Milestones & Tasks

Jan 27 -272dReady to taste
Jan 11 -288dStarted conditioning
Jan 06 -293dBottled
Dec 05 -325dAdded yeast & nutrient
Dec 04 -326dAdded sugar
Nov 17 -343dMoved from Port Erin to Onchan
Sep 25 -396dPressed 2020 apple harvest
Jan 202127Wed

Well, apparently these are now ‘ready’ but from the two I’ve sneaked down my neck so far I think we have a dud. Can’t really be sure until we sample the rest of this small batch, but there appears to be an issue with carbonation.

To be continued …

2 days
Jan 202125Mon

Enjoyed the taste, but there was no carbonation at all. Flat. I’m wondering if it’s a case of the wine yeast that was added on December 5th having reached it’s maximum alcohol tolerance and not being able to digest the carbonation drops in order to produce CO2?

The fact that was made a FG of 0.996 leads me to believe there was still something going on in there, and besides – doesn’t wine regularly get to 14% ABV? Don’t know enough about that process (or this yeast) to make any assertions, but I’m keeping it up there as a possibility. Two consecutive flat bottles should rule out leaks at any rate.

11 days
Jan 202114Thu

Can’t believe I lasted just 3 days before trying one of the precious eight – it’s not even ready for tasting for another two weeks! Blame the three Evil Dogs that slipped by in search of Bangers & Mash tonight. Still, awesome flavour (the 25b, not the ‘dogs) albeit entirely devoid of any carbonation. Did I drop anything in before bottling? Writing the flatness off as ‘too soon’ because I’m lazy and have high hopes for the next bottle.

Bottle #7 of 8: RIP.

3 days
5 days
Jan 202106Wed

Rocketfuel. The experiment to see how high I could push our own apple juice by adding yeast and sugar has yielded eight bottles of highly delicious, moderately debilitating fruity beverage – and that’s just an early sample from the trial jar. Crucially I neglected to get a gravity reading after adding the last batch of sugar at the start of December, but I have faith in my calculations at the time. Either way she’s at 0.996 at time of bottling. Going to write this one down as a conservative 8%, definitely to be repeated.

Another small hiccup was when I realised that the bottling wand doesn’t fit into the narrow hole on this demijohn. Instead of fudging something with a spare piece of tubing I decided to carefully decant into another vessel and syphons from there, with the risk that there will be some aeration and sediment in the bottles as a result. I briefly considered leaving the decanted brew to settle in the garage overnight before bottling, but the aeration was giving me doubts – better to put up with a small amount of sediment and get it bottled. Hope I’m right.

Anyway, we have eight clear flip-top 500 ml cider bottles, individually numbered:

  • Bottles 1-4 have 15 ml Erythritol and 2x Cooper’s carbonation drops (target 750 ml)
  • Bottles 5-8 have 10 ml Erythritol and 2x Easybrew carbonation drops (target 500 ml)

I realise I’m playing with fire by carbing so high on half my precious batch, but whenever I’ve used a target of 500 ml on my beer brews they haven’t been what I would call fizzy. OK for beer, but not what I’m hoping for with high-percentage cider. I’m storing these in the server room at 20.5 ℃ for 5 days and then moving to the garage for conditioning. Fingers crossed.

9 days
Dec 202028Mon

Things have been slowing up over the past few days to the point where I’m just seeing a small burst from the airlock once every minute or so. The ring of foam around the top of this brew is also shrinking, and seems to be made up of larger bubbles instead of the tiny ones we’ve seen until now.

Weirdly enough Type 25c in the adjacent vessel has started bubbling again a few days ago, despite me doing nothing to rouse it from its dormant state.

22 days
Dec 202006Sun

Some small signs of fermentation started to appear around 3 hours after the additional yeast was pitched, now that we’re 15 hours on she’s popping merrily once every couple of seconds, with a steady stream of tiny bubbles rising to the top. There’s little trace of the flakes of yeast save for the occasional floater / riser, seems to have dissipated itself nicely. A strong smell of carbon dioxide greets anyone unwise enough to enter the brewery.

1 day
1 day
Dec 202004Fri

OK, time to get serious and see if we can push the ABV a little on what’s left of this batch. We started on 25 September in Port Erin with an OG of 1.046 and that same brew is now sitting in Onchan at 1.003. Ignoring the fact that I measured it at 1.001 when I bottled 39 clear flip-tops from this 25 litre bucket, I’m now left with two demijohns of questionable size filled with something that should be around 5.6% ABV.

Assuming that I want to get to around 9% I’ll have to find an additional 3.4% from a starting point of 1.003, which (according to the propaganda provided with the hydrometer) means it has a sugar content of -12.1 g/l, rounded to 1.005 which is the closest value on the chart. In order to get 3.2% (again, rounded to closest value found on chart) I’ll need a total of 53.8 g/l and since I’m starting with -12.1 that leaves me having to add 65.9 g/l of sugar for my 9% ABV. I have as much confidence in this approach as I do in the fact that I’ve got 2x one gallon demijohns of cider left after filling 39 x 500 ml bottles from a 25 litre bucket. It just doesn’t add up.

I measured the capacity of a glass demijohn just now to be equal to six bottles of wine plus 200 ml, so 4.7 litres in total. Multiplying 4.7 by 65.9 gives roughly 310 grams of sugar per demijohn to bring it from 5.6% to somewhere near 9% ABV, not allowing for volume lost to SG measurements and general sloppiness. I’m also not accounting for losses due to the alcohol tolerance of our natural yeast in this brew – heard somewhere that natural yeast as found in apples will tolerate up to 8% alcohol before it dies, so I’m potentially gambling with 1% ABV and a saving in sweetener. We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it, for now I’m adding 310 grams of sugar dissolved in a little water to the first of my two demijohns, while I think about what to do with the second one.

Instructions for adding sugar to achieve desired alcohol content
Instructions B-side: look-up table for gravity and sugar additions
14 days
Nov 202020Fri

As well as bottling 39 clear flip-tops with assorted sweetener today I also racked off 2 demijohns from the 25 litre bucket that came back to Onchan recently. That bucket was one of the few FVs from our September pressing which hadn’t had anything added to it (yet) so I’m going to see if I can push the alcohol up via the addition of fermentable sugar. It’s been a long day and I just finished washing the bottling implements, will try to use the literature included with the hydrometer to work out how much sugar to add. The question is, how high can I push it before the alcohol kills the natural yeast that was present in the apples?

3 days
53 days