5 gallons, 3 ciders: help me strategize!
Hey guys. I have been lurking for a couple of years and I finally decided I should contribute something! My first brew was a gallon of Whole Foods cider and Safale S-04. That was easy! Since then I decided I'd brew a cider each year around this time. Last year I did a full 5 gallons of cider from a local orchard with 2 pounds of brown sugar. This will be my third batch this year. I want to get serious and actually have a more thought out plan... and something a bit different.
The primary will be 4 gallons from the same orchard as last year, raw sugar to bring it up to 6% potential, S-04, and fermented at 65 F.
Racked to 2 secondaries:
1 gallon, I will be trying a Reverend Nat's Hallelujah Hopricot clone but hopefully a little bigger in flavor as I find the original to be a little too light on the palate. Lightly carbed, dry.
Added components to secondary: 5 grams crushed coriander, bergamot peel from one orange, a few fresh ginger slices (they use grains of paradise, but I thought I'd try a bit of fresh ginger instead), 1 oz hops (recommendations on type? The original uses Cascade and Amarillo), apricot juice.
I'm hoping to find apricot juice concentrate so that I don't have to dilute the cider too much. The other option is to simmer 1 quart apricot juice and 1 quart apple cider (unfermented) down to 1 quart total, only rack 3 quarts from the primary, and then top up with this concentrated apricot/apple juice. I've thought about dried apricots as well, but not sure how to use them.
The other 3 gallons will be a basic cider like I've done in the past. This will just be racked to a 3 gallon carboy, aged for a couple of weeks with lightly toasted oak (that's new for me), bottled, very lightly carbed if not still, dry, and served after 6 weeks (thanksgiving).
The last batch will be very different...
Dark, heavy, winter warmer. Still, semi-sweet. I started dreaming this one up and then found summersolstice's caramel apple mead and got some inspiration from that.
1 gallon double strength juice from frozen concentrate (hoping to let the apple flavor carry through)
8 oz molasses
0.5 lb amber dry malt extract (or step it back to light?)
12 oz 60L Crystal
raisins or dried figs chopped or rehydrated and pureed
raw sugar or honey (I'll take votes!) to bring the potential up to 12%-14%
spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. not heavily spiced but enough for added depth and warmth.
1 vanilla bean, split
Oak, dark toasted
4 oz caramelized sugar and potassium metabisulphite. Left to age for a year before bottling.
Question: Will S-04 with nutrient handle this much sugar? I really like how the ale yeast plays with the apples, so if I can't use it, what would be my next best option? Maybe Lalvin K1V1116 like in that caramel apple mead recipe?
That's all I've got for now. Please comment on anything that sounds off. I'd appreciate as much feedback as I can get. I will of course report back on these recipes once I taste them. Thanks for all the info over the past couple of years and the years that have yet to come!