Last time I brewed Apfelwein I picked up 10 packets of Montrachet yeast to play with (.50 cents a pop). A couple moths ago my wife and I were at the grocery store walking down the juice isle and look out, the wheels started turning upstairs... haha.
Forward to today, experiment complete: Success!
I'm not really sure what to call this as it turned out tasting and feeling like a dry chardonnay but it's strange... it doesn't know what it wants to be; the fruit and tea flavor is still there but it is VERY light and minimal... One thing is for certain, it's wonderful on a really hot day when it's cold, and the humidity here in STL these past 2 weeks has been insane, you get the idea.
St. Louis Summer Tea (2 gallon batch)
2 gallons Arizona Sweetened Iced Tea with Lemon (sold in 1 gal jugs, no preservatives or additives)
1 (small, 15oz I believe) can of Oregon Cherries in syrup (no preservatives or additives)
1 qt water
1 tsp yeast energizer
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1 pack Montrachet yeast
1 funnel with a screen
1 2+ gal carboy
1 CO2 lock
1. Open and dump the entire can of cherries into a 1qt pitcher then add your water till it's filled to the 1qt level.
2. Using a masher, start going at it with the cherries in the pitcher, mixing and mashing until it appears and feels like it's very well mixed, then set aside.
3. Pour half of each gallon of tea into your carboy.
4. Dump a half pound of the dextrose into each now half filled tea jug.
5. Add 1 tsp of yeast nutrient to 1 tea jug, Add 1 tsp of pectic enzyme to the other jug, cap them, then shake them to mix everything up.
6. Dump the remaining tea / sugar mixture into your carboy.
7. Open 1 pack or Red Star Montrachet yeast and pour it into the carboy.
8. Using a funnel with a screen, pour the pitcher of cherry water through the screen into the carboy, avoid dumping the actual cherries in.
9. Cap it with your CO2 lock (used vodka in mine), put it in your brew closet, then forget it exists for 8 weeks.
As for carbonating, I used a little under 1/2 a cup dextrose added to 1 cup boiled water then racked on top of it. I'd recommend standard measurements to a batch, 3/4 a cup to 5 gallons, cut and go from there.
Fermentation was VERY slow on this, it took quite a while to get going and even then it was not a vigorous fermentation at all, but it sure the hell did ferment. I had an OG of 1.055 and a FG of 0.997, ABV clocked between 7.5 and 8%.
**WARNING** This is VERY dry. You may want to sweeten it back up a little bit but you'll need to add potassium sorbate to prevent your added sugar being fermented out again, which in doing so without forced carbonation you will not get carbonation in your bottles. On a side note though, this is very good even without carbonation, so find what works for you.
Bottom line though, it tastes really good and it is SUPER cheap to throw together, everything you need (minus the yeast, energizer, and enzyme) you could find at a local grocer and this 2 gallon batch cost me a total of 10 dollars (I got 23 bottles out of it, that is 0.43 cents a 12oz bottle!). As far as using a different brand or style of tea, just make sure it is not sugar free and it does not have preservatives or strange additives; Arizona works great.
Oregon Cherries: $3.00
1lbs Dextrose: $1.25
2 Gallons Arizona Tea: $5.00
One of these extremely cold on a 95 degree sunny day with a heat index of 110? Priceless!
I'm sure I'm not the first to brew something like this so if you have a similar recipe please share it, I'm all ears and eager to make more beverages of this fashion. If anyone else gives it a try, please post back what you think.