The cyser has finished fermenting and cleared up, so we bottled it today. We wound up with nine 12 oz. bottles from each batch. We saved a small glass from each batch and tasted them after bottling. We’ve found with past batches that cider/mead/etc. change quite a bit after bottling, and can take 6 months or more to work through some of the sweaty/cheesy off flavors. But still it’s nice to get a preview of what the different batches will taste like:
The first batch was made with Tupelo honey, and it was bone dry (my refractometer reading may have been off, but I think it was somewhat south of water). The honey character shone through, though it was a little reedy. It seemed the like the most prototypical “mead” flavor we’ve produced.
The second batch was made with dark, molasses-like Everglades honey. The dark, almost smoky flavor was definitely there, as was some sharp green apple flavor.
The third batch was made with wildflower honey from our Uncle John. This seemed lighter than the others (despite having more residual sugar), and had a velvety complexity that gives me hope it will mature well.
The last batch was made with a lighter honey we got from Uncle John last year (clover?). Since we had a larger jar of it, we used more and the resulting cyser has the highest ABV of anything we’ve brewed (12.8%). It had a higher final gravity, with a rich mouthfeel to go with that. It also had the strongest floral honey flavor, and was definitely the sweetest.
We were at the homebrew shop to get some priming sugar and some extra bottles (cleaning the labels off of bottles is my least favorite part of brewing — we keg some full batches, but small batches and especially mead/cyser need too long to mature, so bottles it is). So we also picked up the grain and other supplies for making a sour saison. We’ve tried various Brett yeasts before, and quite liked the funkiness. But we never got anything like sourness. After doing some reading, it looks like we just need to wait longer for the bacteria to do their thing, and add some wood to the fermentor to give them a good platform to live on. So that’s our plan for the next batch: a single primary fermentation with 5 batches in 1-gallon growlers that we can just leave for a year or however long it takes.
It was also nice to see our local homebrew shop move into a new, larger location. They even have a nice self-serve grain room now where you can pick and measure out your own grain. They’ll still do it for you if you want, but I really enjoyed getting to paw through the gain myself.