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Old 02-24-2011, 01:15 AM   #1
jwynia
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Default Fat Basset Black Strap Cider

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Nottingham
Yeast Starter: no
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: unknown
Final Gravity: unknown
Boiling Time (Minutes): 2
Color: amber
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 at 68F
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 3 months at 65F
Tasting Notes: Nice molasses aroma and complex, slightly sweet apple flavor.

Recently, at a cider tasting event at an orchard, I brought a wide variety of ciders, some not very good and a few that people really liked. Someone pointed out, however, that one of mine was something that people kept going back to over and over again after we'd tried everything: my "blackstrap" cider. Given that it's pretty simple and is based on store-bought juice, it's an easy cider to get started with if you've never made a cider before.

So, I'm sharing the recipe. Of course, going back to my notes, I see that I wasn't as detailed as I should have been, so this is my best guess at a few of the details as best I can recall.

Ingredients:

4 gallons "bottom shelf" apple juice*
12 oz blackstrap molasses
8oz lactose
0.7 oz black tea (I think I used a loose leaf assam, you can use what you can get, but try to get something better than that Lipton sawdust in a bag)
2 oz vanilla extract
Danstar Nottingham yeast (not 100% sure what yeast I used)

Process:

Pour the 4 gallons of juice directly into your sanitized fermenter.
Put 1 gallon of water into a pot on your burner and bring to a boil.
Turn off the burner and add the tea and let it steep for 5 minutes.
Add the lactose, molasses and vanilla extract to the tea.
Let the tea mixture cool a little and then add it to the cider. Since the 4 gallons is already cool, you can dump the hot tea in and it will still end up fairly close to pitching temp.
When the wort/must is down near 70F, pitch the yeast, put your airlock on and ferment until it's done.
I moved mine to a keg and "bottle conditioned" in the keg and let it sit for 5 months or so until we tasted it on Sunday.
*In the grocery store or Target or wherever, the big 1 gallon jugs on the bottom shelf are usually what you're looking for. It should be 100% juice, with no preservatives (except vitamin C). It can be pasteurized (and pretty much is certainly going to have been).

It pours a nice amber color, that's much darker than "pure"' cider tends to be. The lactose gives a hint of sweetness that keeps it from being super-dry, but nowhere near as sweet as, say, a Woodchuck Amber or similar. The molasses is present in the aroma and in the finish it accompanies the apple flavor. Overall, I think this is a really nice cider (and it seems others agree with me).

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Old 02-25-2011, 07:53 PM   #2
LexxTalon
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I'm assuming you used the molasses during primary? Didn't see it in the process...

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Old 02-25-2011, 08:03 PM   #3
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Oops. Thanks for catching that. I add it to the "tea water" to get it to dissolve easily.

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Old 02-26-2011, 02:23 AM   #4
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Rock on... yeh... that's what I assumed... thanks for again for the recipe... gonna rock this soon...

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Old 02-26-2011, 07:41 PM   #5
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i just added about 6 oz of mollasses( although not blackstrap) to a gallon secondary of a cider to try to get a similiar thing, i really jsut wanted a darker cider with more body, not sure how it turns out yet, but if its not what i wanted or too mollassasy, maybe ill try this one next

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Old 03-18-2011, 06:39 PM   #6
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I have this in primary at about 72°f... it's been going since the 12th... and seems to have been finish with primary yesterday. I'm going to take a reading tonight and see if it's ready for transfer.

The color on this is absolutely beautiful! Makes the mouth water just looking at it. I'm not a huge fan of molasses... so I'm hoping most of the flavor ferments out to something amazing... with maybe a slightly earthy/wood taste left over from it.

I don't have an lactose, as it was a bit pricey at the few shops I found that carried it... so I'm debating on just proceeding without it... or getting some for secondary. I think I'll taste the sample tonight and decide from there. Also... i used a good vanilla tea rather than black tea and vanilla extract. I'm expecting pretty good result with that. More coming soon.

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Old 03-18-2011, 06:50 PM   #7
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The color ends up more what I think people are wanting in a "rustic" cider than the really pale ciders that "pure" approaches end up with.

The molasses is mostly there in the aroma and a little in the finish. Hopefully, it's not too much. If it is, you could reduce that or go with one of the lighter varieties of molasses. I happen to like that flavor, and am happy with the result.

This is on tap in my kegerator right now and I've been drinking it nearly every night for a few weeks. I think I might dial the lactose back just a bit next time as it's a hair too sweet to drink a lot of. You could also backsweeten with Splenda or something else non-fermentable. I'm probably going to also try a batch with no sweetener at all and see how it turns out.

I'm also planning on trying a varieties of teas/spices/vanilla to get different flavors. To me, this basic technique (1 gallon of sweetened/spiced tea to 4 gallons of cheap juice) is something I'm going to keep riffing on for a while. I think there's lots of possibilities around it. For example, I've got a batch in the fermenter right now that uses maple syrup instead of the molasses.

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Old 03-18-2011, 11:22 PM   #8
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i've been experimenting in this area too, i liket he idea of maple syrup, maybe ill try that out too. last tiem i put 6 oz of mollasses to 1 gallon. and it turned out incredibly strong and overpowering, really thick, not really refreshing. so im letting that sit int he bottles for awhile. id really like to see how those flavors mature in yours though. i might try no lactose with this recipe, i like my ciders pretty dry.

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Old 03-19-2011, 01:52 AM   #9
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Here's a photo of what it looks like in the glass:

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Old 03-19-2011, 06:55 AM   #10
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The concept here is really awesome... but it's definitely a little strong on the molasses flavor for me... but the few that I've told about this, including an old-school homebrewer (and still master) are drooling to try this. So I'm just going to keep with it... make it as awesome as I can... and if they love it... just accept that it's a great cider, but just not my ilk of beverage.

I may try a batch with about half this amount next time too... and maybe I can get a nice balanced version that I myself will also love to drink.

I may still add the lactose as well... and I'm considering the use of camden to backsweeten... and give up on the sparkling side of this batch for now. Gah... really wish I had the kegging equipment to do both... but it's just not in the budget right now... oh well... here's to the future!

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