And so it starts.

2 gallons of last years brew, 1.5 cups of honey in one, ‘plain’ ol’ cider in the other. 2 grams ale yeast in each. 1/2 teaspoon of pectin to clear out the cloudiness, and 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrients to make sure the little bugs get their RDA of ‘stuff’ to help them grow.

By grow, I mean eat sugar, poop alcohol and fart carbon dioxide. Until there’s nothing left to eat, the fartin’ is all done and they’re too drunk to do anything else.  Classy critters, ain’t they?! If the specific gravity is correct, the honey version should end up at about 7% alcohol, the non-honey one about 6%. We’ll see when they’re done brewing. That should be a month or so before they’re taste test-able.

Whichever tastes the best, we’ll make a 6 gallon batch and hope it continues to follow in it’s parents path. Might even end up making some wine with either blueberries or blackberries before it’s all over. Ready by October regardless.

Did you know that fresh fermented hard cider is NOT carbonated. It’s also very dry and pretty lacking in the ‘sweet’ column. If you don’t carbonate it or sweeten it and then bottle it, you more or less have apple wine. You can’t really sweeten it either. Because there is still active yeast in it, and it eats sugar, you can’t ‘prime’ it like you carbonate bottled beer. To carbonate it, you have to either make things you pray don’t explode (bottle bombs) or pour it into a keg, kill the yeast, ‘back-sweeten’ to get some sugar into it then over-pressure with CO2 it for a few days. If you aren’t careful, well …ask any older Miller about the ‘sun porch incident’. * (detailed below)  Commercial ‘breweries’ can pressurize bottles. Safe to say I’m not a commercial brewery, so we’ll be kegging it when we’re ready. I found a 5 gallon Cornelius keg last time I was home, so we’ll be ready for the big time come October.

The beers I brewed a few weeks ago are ready to age in the fridge for a few weeks. First taste of all 4 versions was a mixed experience. They are definitely heavy beers, and very flavorful. I thought I’d made a mistake with the honeyed version of the Nutt Brown. It was WAY stronger tasting than I’d had in a long time. I thought it was bad, so I poured it out. Turns out, the ‘normal’ Nutt Brown was just as strong, so maybe I did it right. I didn’t get sick, so I’m pretty sure it’s just a very solid tasting beer. The Dirty Soxx though…it’s definitely a solid beer. Might have to rename it as ‘Black Hole’ instead. VERY black and very heavy, drinks like soup. VERY, VERY good though and on par with some of the better stouts I’ve had before. Slight bitterness, but some very interesting smoother flavors follow the initial shock. Both the ‘normal’ and the ‘honeyed’ version (the one with ‘bee vomit’) are amazing for my 2nd attempt at home brewing. Getting lucky 3 batches in a row, I’ll take that as a sign. They’ll mellow out a bit over the next few weeks, but I won’t have to stop at a grocery store for beer for a while now.

That’s all she wrote for now. I’ll update one we start making bubbles in the cider. But, for the most part, it’s ‘set it and forget it’ for a few weeks. Until then, enjoy!


*( WAY back when, long before Jesus Christ had even enlisted and Grandpap still ruled the earth, my father decided to try to make some ‘Apple Jack’ on the sly. Since the fresh cider was stored in the ‘sun porch’ {the area that was eventually finished off to make Bob & Kay Miller’s TV room} to keep it cool/cold, my father…in his infinite wisdom, decided that he’d just hide his creation in the middle of the rest of the glass jugs of cider. To his credit, hiding it in plain sight was a smart thing to do. To his unlearned mind though, and his fathers dismay, he tightened the caps on however many bottles he decided to ‘experiment’ on. With sugar to assist with increasing the alcohol level, and a handful of raisins for their their natural yeast and nutrients, those little bugs farted enough to blow the bottle apart…taking with it, as the story goes, quite a few of the surrounding bottles. Rumor has it that for many years later, on the right day, with the right wind and weather conditions, you could still smell apple cider in that room. Sadly, our ‘hold my hard cider and watch this’ moments took place long before most of us were gleams in eyes, but it still makes for a good story. )

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