Friday, December 30, 2011

Blackberry Cider Bottling Experiment

What would happen if you bottled one batch with CO2 and the other with ambient air? Would the CO2 filled bottles last longer and protect the flavor profile more efficiently? This is what I set out to find when I pressed and fermented this back on 08/27/2011.  Just look at the color of this blackberry cider! I have made allot of brews but fruit always creates the most beautiful colors through glass.

This brew is actually 2 experiments in one, on the one hand I was aiming at testing flavor preservation, but I also back sweetened with sugar and heat pasteurized it in a dishwasher to halt further fermentation. Here is the recipe:

Size: .75 gal
Original Gravity: 1.065
Terminal Gravity: .098
Additional Gravity Changes: Back sweetened to 1.015
Alcohol: 7.2%
2.5 lb blackberries (picked day of pressing)
.75 gallon distilled water
1.375 lb white table sugar
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1/4 tablet metabisulfite (Camden Tablet)
1 tsp acid blend
Nottingham Ale yeast

08/27/2011 - Picked and mashed by hand using no hot water. Added pectic enzyme and camden simultaneously. Added sugar until thoroughly dissolved into the must.

08/27/2011 - Added yeast, it has only been 12 hours since I sulfited the batch OOPS!

09/02/2011 - Somehow my hydrometer is measuring this batch as having an initial gravity of 1.082?

09/17/2011 - Very tasty, different kind of flavor from it's counterpart of blackberry wine made from the same berries. This flavor is distinctly more fruity and closer to the original flavor of a blackberry.

10/02/2011 - Gravity: 1.022, airlock still happily bubbling away! Tastes much more tart wit ha soft flavor that tastes the way lipstick smells, but with a twist. I have never tasted a cider so unique before!

10/15/2011 - Final gravity .098 Tastes tart, the lipstick aroma/flavor is still apparent. This has a good mouth feel. I will back sweeten with sugar to raise the gravity to 1.015.

10/17/2011 - Added 3 Tbs of sugar to each 12 oz bottle. I poured some into a plastic soda bottle and capped it with the rest. I will let the bottles carbonate until I feel the pressure is right on the plastic bottle.

UNKNOWN DATE - Ran all bottles through the dishwasher with the drying with heat setting on. Hopefully this will pasteurise the cider.

UNKNOWN DATE - The bottles have not burst while being left in the refrigerator.

First Tasting - 12/30/2011

Appearance: As dark as a Burgundy wine. Almost the same dark purple color as black cherry juice. If I left this on a table beside a red wine one would never know the difference.
Aroma: Blackberries, lipstick, red wine, alcohol. The aroma of this was noticeable and quite delicious.
Mouthfeel: Medium in body, but refreshing and too easy to drink.

Flavor: This is the most flavorful cider I have tasted/made to date! The blackberry flavor hits you right up front. Following this is a soft twist into what I can only describe as the flavor of how lipstick smells. Lastly to finish there is a lingering sweetness and a bit of heat from the alcohol.

Experiment Outcome: My friend and I who tasted this batch noticed almost no difference between either the CO2 bottled cider or the ambient air bottled cider. The only difference I would note was a slightly lesser amount of aroma from the bottle that was sparged with CO2. Between the two, I would choose to drink the bottle bottled with ambient air as the flavor was ever so slightly rounder, whereas the CO2 bottled one had a slight tartness and bite from the CO2.
Overall Impression: I really really enjoyed this cider and will be brewing this every year. It has such a great flavor I had to remind myself that it was to be sipped. Something I would change about the recipe next time is to let it ferment longer with the sugar I added to back sweeten it with, as it lacked in carbonation substantially. Small grains of sugar and pulp also remained in the bottle which poured right into the glass. I would recommend using Nottingham yeast for ciders as the fruit flavor was preserved if not accentuated very well.

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