This recipe started when I watched
The idea of dark, carmelized honey made me wonder what it would be like in a cider.
So, I made a batch using this recipe. I specifically used nothing other than water, apple juice and honey so I could enter it in competition. I may make variations that break that rule for flavor sake in the future, but, based on the taste when bottling, this stuff is pretty amazing as is.
4 gallons of Costco apple juice (any preservative free apple juice will work)
5 pounds (about half gallon) of "burnt" honey (instructions to follow)
1 gallon of water
Yeast - I use WhiteLabs Irish Ale WLP004 for most of my ciders, including this one.
Yeast nutrient - WhiteLabs, using the recommended amount for 5 gallons.
Optional - pectin enzyme if you're worried about clouding due to how I cool/heat the juice.
Take the 5 pounds of honey and put it in your kettle on your burner. You need to make sure you use a big enough kettle because when you cook honey, it foams up like crazy. Just watch the YouTube video to see this in effect.
Boil the honey until it's a dark mahogany color. In the pot, it should look like this when done:
The guy in the video cooked it until it was actually starting to burn, but I didn't go that far.
In a spoon, it's lighter, somewhere around 18SRM. You'll need to stir the honey every once in a while to be able to see what color it is because the foam will cover it up.
Once the honey is dark enough, add the water to dilute it and make it easy to pour when it cools and to get the caramelized bits off the sides/bottom of the pot. BE VERY CAREFUL and add the water slowly. When water hits boiling honey, it has the potential to launch napalm-like boiling sugar out of the pot at you. You've been warned.
Cover the honey and let it cool a bit.
In a sanitized carboy/fermenter, put the 4 gallons of juice. I tend to refrigerate (to almost freezing if possible) the juice so it can help in cooling down the heated honey.
Pour the cooled honey into the fermenter.
When the overall mixture is down below 70F, pitch the yeast. About 2 weeks later, I added nutrient, but I will do that right away next time.
I left it in the primary fermenter for 2 months and then bottled with sugar for priming. I also pitched more yeast when bottling because I wasn't sure if it would prime on its own and really wanted this batch to turn out.
When I bottled it, the taste I had was so good, I drank a glass with dinner even flat and warm. It's got a really complex, interesting flavor. Lots of the dark sugar flavors that complement and bring the apple flavors forward.
In a couple of weeks, when I crack the first carbed bottle, I'll post pics of it in a glass.