Aging cyser

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pdhirsch

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Two days ago I wrote this in another thread:
> I'm drinking a 5-year-old cyser right now at this moment, and it tastes OK, but my notes say it was phenomenal at 2 and 3 years. I would not call it "phenomenal" now -- it's not bad, but apparently past its prime.

Today I'm drinking another 5-year-old cyser, brewed at about the same time as the batch I mentioned previously. A significant difference is that I backsweetened this second batch with apple juice after it fermented down to 0.994. But I didn't add anything that would stop the yeast, so this one has some carbonation whereas the first batch was still. Another difference is the yeast: the first (still) batch used D-47, and the second batch used Danstar Nottingham ale yeast.

The final difference is that this one tastes fantastic.

This intrigues me. But I've never had the patience to wait this long before, and I have only one 12-ounce bottle of left from each batch. Has anyone else managed to age a cyser for 5 years or more? And if so -- how did it turn out?
 

Mekpdue

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Quick comment and a question. 1) I don’t have the Cyser experience you do, however, the backsweetening is what kept your remaining bottles carbonated and fermented a bit more whereas, fermenting them dry and bottling kept them from that Pffft, when opening. Wine goes bad in the bottle too after it reaches its peak and ages out. Different grapes, different aging periods. Also, I’ve read that crown caps shouldn’t be used due to air leakage after 1-2 years.

2) Q: I’ll be taking 2 gallons off fermentation in a couple of weeks, then letting it clear. Then, like you, backsweeten one gal and dry bottling the second. I’m thinking strongly on bottling into 22oz beer bottles. Question is: Can I cork the 22oz beer bottles for the non-sweetened gallon for longer storage? If so, is this a standard #8 cork? Or should I just cap them all? For the back sweetened, I plan on capping since I’m too cheap to buy the wire caps with a cork underneath to hold back the pressure.
 

Raptor99

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I don't think that #8 corks will fit in a 22oz beer bottle. Is there any evidence that good quality caps leak oxygen any more than corks?
 

Raptor99

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From what I understand, the advantage of corks is that they do let in a small amount of air, which can help your wine or mead age. Crown caps do not let in small amounts of air the way that a cork does.

The cork in a wine bottle allows small amounts of oxygen in, resulting in a phenomenon called micro-oxygenation, which can be beneficial for the flavor of the mead.
Source: How to Bottle Mead
 

Mekpdue

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From what I understand, the advantage of corks is that they do let in a small amount of air, which can help your wine or mead age. Crown caps do not let in small amounts of air the way that a cork does.


Source: How to Bottle Mead
Yes, I had read that too. I believe the article that I wish I bookmarked was implying caps (some not all) have a higher amount of failure after a couple of years. I can’t attest to that, but did make me curious.
The other benefit to cork is if there is excessive carbonation the cork will perhaps protrude a bit before jettisoning for a visual cue, or if it explodes, the bottle is usually left intact, vice a capped bottle which has a higher tendency of rupturing and cracking.
 
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pdhirsch

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> backsweetening is what kept your remaining bottles carbonated and fermented a bit more whereas, fermenting them dry and bottling kept them from that Pffft, when opening

Yep, I expected (and got) the Pfft when opening bottles from the backsweetened batch. I used crown caps by the way, on 12-ounce beer bottles -- I bottled the cyser the same way I bottle homebrew beer.

It seems like the crown caps must be airtight, otherwise I would not have gotten the Pffft 5 years after bottling, right?
 

Mekpdue

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Yes, if you got the pfft, you had a great seal.

Thanks everyone for your comments on my simple question asking if I should/could use cork in a 22oz bottle or just cap, as I didn’t know the answer. After all, I am not an expert on corks or caps, and can only relate what I’ve read elsewhere, and here, I believe the answer is probably to cap the backsweetened, and either for the dry. Aging shouldn’t matter for at least 5years.

I’m also making a mental note that 22oz bottles should be capped and that corks are rarely, if ever, used in these bottles.
 

BWRIGHT

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From what I understand, the advantage of corks is that they do let in a small amount of air, which can help your wine or mead age. Crown caps do not let in small amounts of air the way that a cork does.


Source: How to Bottle Mead
A crown cap will most certainly allow oxygen to get into the bottle. Otherwise, you could store beer indefinitely. Some people age crown capped beers or "cellar" them in this fashion. While oxidation typically is not ideal, it is going to happen in any container. Whether it be a can, a corked bottle, or a crown capped bottle. What is ideal for long term storage is of great debate. I've not personally aged anything more than 4 or 5 years. Limited success with crown capped bottles. Better success with bottled mead. Not much experience with cans.
 

Raptor99

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A crown cap will most certainly allow oxygen to get into the bottle.
Do you have any evidence to support this? Or whether corks vs crown caps let in more oxygen?

There could be many other reasons that you cannot store beer indefinitely, including heat and light.
 

BWRIGHT

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Do you have any evidence to support this? Or whether corks vs crown caps let in more oxygen?
There is plenty of reading to be done on the subject, if you have an interest. Here and elsewhere. My evidence comes from years of bottling beer as well as cellaring some beers on my own. If you are familiar with the flavors that oxidation produces over time, it isn't hard to notice. Most people that cellar beer tend to only store imperial stouts, dark strong ales, etc. The oxidative notes tend to blend and meld much better with these types of beers.

On the other hand, an oxidized pale ale (or something similar) tastes awful when exposed to oxygen. I have much less experience with oxidized wine/mead as I use stabilizers which greatly reduce oxidization.

There could be many other reasons that you cannot store beer indefinitely, including heat and light.
If you are cellaring beer properly, heat and light are not of concern. Or of great concern, depending on how you look at it. Brown bottles, stored in the dark, at a cool temp (50ish).
 

Raptor99

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I don't make beer, and I think that wine has more natural protection against oxidation (e.g tannins). It would be interesting to bottle beer in bottles the same size, and seal some with corks vs caps. Store them together under the same conditions. Then taste them at 6, 12, 18, 24 months to see how they compare.
 
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