Apple Pressing at Cider Riot!


The vast majority of commercial hard ciders are made from the juice of dessert apples. These are the varieties you'll typically find in grocery stores. They're crisp, sweet, tart, and look picture perfect. While they're great for eating, these apples are not the best for making cider because they lack tanninswhich provide depth and complexity to cider.

Cider makers often add fruit, spices, hops, or other adjuncts to add layers of flavor when using juice from dessert apples. On the plus side, dessert apple juice is relatively inexpensive and widely available in bulk year-round.

The best apples for making traditional or "proper" cider are bittersweet or bittersharp apples. Bitter is the key word here. These apples are packed with tannins are are mouth puckeringly bitter. While not great for eating, they're ideal for making cider. These apples are grown specifically for the cider market and can be difficult to procure due to limited supply.

Each fall, Abram Goldman-Armstrong and his crew at Cider Riot! purchase bittersweets and bittersharps from Willamette Valley apple growers. They press the fruit and use the juice as the base for Burncider Dry Draught Cider, their limited release 1763, and other single varietal ciders.

I stopped by the brewery a few weeks ago, along with a band of intrepid volunteers, to lend a hand with the apple sorting and pressing process. Take a look at my video below to view the rack & cloth pressing process from start to finish.


The final yield was 1,000 gallons of juice pressed from many varieties including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Harry Master's Jersey, Porter's Perfection, Brown's Apple, Eliss Bitter, Sweet Coppin, Muscadet de Bernay, Muscadet de Dieppe, Muscadet de Lens, Champagne Reinette, Hereford Redstreak, Kingston Black.

It was a lot of work, but the end result is definitely worth it!

Never tasted a proper cider? You'll soon get your chance. On November 18th, Cider Riot! will host Pressing Matters: Proper Cider & Real Ale Festival. For more details, check out the event Facebook page.


A few of Cider Riot!'s single varietal ciders


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Homebrew #35: Obscuration Wet Hop IPA


Back in September, in the midst of hop harvest season, I decided to brew my first wet (or fresh) hop beer. My home hop garden produced a decent crop and a friend gave me big box of beautiful wet Cascade hops.

Wet Cascade Hops!

Since my goal was to showcase the hops, I opted to brew an IPA. I modified a recipe to use my wet hops and named the beer in commemoration of the total eclipse that captured the hearts of Oregonians this summer.


Obscuration Wet Hop IPA
Recipe Specifications (click for PDF recipe)
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.32 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.42 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal 
Bottling Volume: 4.90 gal
Estimated OG: 1.074 SG
Estimated Color: 6.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 62.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.8 %
Mash Time & Temp: 60 min @ 150°F 
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


Ingredients
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6 lbs, 2-Row Malt (41.9%)     
6 lbs, Pale Ale (41.9% )     
1 lb, White Wheat Malt (7.0%)       
8.0 oz, Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (3.5%)       
7.0 oz, Munich Malt (3.1%)       
6.0 oz, Wheat Malt, German (2.6%)       
0.50 oz, Zeus (dried) – 60 min   
10.00 g, Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) – 60 min           
0.50 oz, Zeus (dried) – 30 min
6.00 oz, Cascade (wet) – 10 min     
6.00 oz, Centennial (wet) – 10 min     
1.00 tsp, Yeast Nutrient – 10 min
6.00 oz, Cascade (wet) – 5.0 min
6.00 oz, Centennial (wet) – 5.0 min           
5.00 oz, Cascade (wet) – Steep/Whirlpool   
5.00 oz, Centennial (wet) – Steep/Whirlpool     
1.0 pkg, Joystick (Imperial Organic Yeast #A18)


Taking the 33 Brews Homebrewing Log for a spin


9/2/17 (Brew Day):  I used the BIAG (brew in a bag) method and my brew session went along without any issues. I hit my mash temperature and target OG. Since this was my first wet hop ale, I used a large volume of hops. Nearly 2.2 pounds went into this 5 gallon batch! Since the water content of wet hops is very high, a lot of hops are needed. The aromas produce during the brew session were incredible—juicy grapefruit, pine, and tropical fruit!



I hit my target gravity, and pitched a can of Imperial Organic Yeast’s Joystick strain. I never used an Imperial yeast, so I decided to give it a try. Eight hours after pitching, I saw initial fermentation activity, and after 20 hours, it was bubbling along quite rapidly and a nice krausen had formed (picture below).



9/24/17 (Bottling):  Final gravity = 1.01. Primed and bottled with 3.85 oz. corn sugar to achieve 3.2 volumes. I took a quick taste and was pleased with the citrus and pine flavors. Can't wait to try it when it's carbonated!


11/1/17 (First Taste):  I finally opened a bottle and had my first taste! I was glad to see it carbonated nicely. Head retention was good, and lasted for the entire drink. The color and body were exactly what I was looking for.

The overall bitterness was lighter than I expected. The challenge with brewing with homegrown hops is that you don't know the precise alpha acid data content of the hops. Due to the lack of this data, I used averages, which can be misleading. That said, if I brew this again (and I likely will next fall), I would double the 60 and 30 minute additions that utilized dry hops.

In terms of flavory, grassy is the the dominate hop aroma / flavor that I smell and taste. It has a bit of spice and grapefruit, but grassy notes dominate. I was hoping for more citrus and pine in this beer. I tasted those flavors at bottling, and am surprised they're no longer dominant. I expect most of the volatile hop aromas were lost during the five weeks I let the beer carbonate. I should have sampled a bottle a few weeks sooner.

Next time I brew this beer, I'll also augment the late additions and whirlpool with dried hops. I wouldn't change the malt bill.

Overall, I'm happy with it and think this was a decent first attempt at a fresh hop beer. With a few tweaks to my hopping strategy, I think I can do better next fall!


Have you brewed a fresh hop IPA?  Do you have any tips, tricks, or recommendations you can share?


First carbonated taste!

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