Fermentor? or Fermenter?
So at the start of the pandemic last year I made an effort to save money on alcohol by trying to brew my own cheap stuff. So my two main goals are in this order, cost efficiency and taste.
This brewing method is damn near idiot proof it's so easy.
For starters let's compare the high price of store bought booze where I live so you can see why I might try to do this. If I were to buy a four pack of "Tallboy" ciders, lets say strong bow in for example, that would run me around 16.99. So basically 2 liters for 17 bucks at 4.5 percent alcohol. Moving forward my goal was that If I am coming in anywhere close to that price I really don't see the point of doing it. Might as well buy the high priced store bought stuff? I mean I still want to be able enjoy what I am drinking, otherwise I would just buy the cheap ass jug wine passionately labeled as "Red" to get lit.
It is certainly not the same level of excellence that major manufacturers produce, but with the methods used that is to be expected, at the significantly cheaper price it is more than good enough for this fool
So I started experimenting with different store bought juice's and adding in basic yeast to see what I could get. Your going to have different results based on the sugar content of your juice and it's purity as well. Some juice additives will inhibit alcohol conversion so best to stick with the least ingredients on the side
Here is the leftover primary fermenter on a running experiment I have , she is transferred into a growler trying to produce carbonation. Likely crap wine ish juice? You can see the left over frothy dried bubbles from fermenting, I have to say it smelled pretty sweet and fragrant for a a few days while fermenting
From what I have read and please correct me if I am wrong about this (Myc I am looking at you since I recently discovered your FOAF works in a brewery haha) The one nice lazy man side effect of using the baking yeast is that it wont be able to convert that amount of sugar in the apple juice brew much higher than 5% or 6%. Percentage is going to effect the taste and the higher you go it will start to get into wine like tasting territory, so with the bread yeast a guy does not need to worry as much about measuring alcohol content to signal when to stop primary fermetation?
I didn't bother taking the IBV of my brew but It has been tested many times internally and I got drunk so no worries there.
I know many people recommend using champagne yeast but I am not not quite sold on that one for the price I was going to have to pay for it. It was around two or three bucks a package at the local store. Where as five dollars worth of yeast from the grocery store (that I also happen to already own) and enough of it that it will likely last me a couple years at this rate. I only tried the champagne or wine yeast once so who knows, I will revisit this issue and try another taste test off. Me skills are slowly refining and there is less of a chance of getting an off taste of contamination from poor procedure. So with more control it may be worth trying to find a reasonably priced source. But for now I am sticking with regular old yeast
So far my favorite concoction has to be the Sun Rype 100% pure apple juice brew. I can't get frozen apple juice concentrate where I live as that seemed to be the cheapest source. I noticed that when you buy a cider "kit" they use concentrate.
Anyway I have to stick with the containers on the shelf. Brand is going to be different everywhere but for me Sun Rype 100% pure apple juice is the cheapest clean source. They seem to taste better than the one's that say from concentrate. When these go on sale for a dollar a liter (REG 1.40 ish) I can then convert 12 dollars into roughly 12 liters of alcohol at the 4.5 percent range. So substantially cheaper than 2 liters for 17 dollars. The price of the yeast is marginal, I am too lazy to price it out, even at an inflated 10 cents a batch it is still dirt cheap.
So the next step is your containers, you are going to need a a couple primary fermenters and a plastic siphon, and of course something to bottle it in. For a fermenter you can get the nice glass carboys but honestly for this particular exercise I like using a small garbage can better. I find cleaning those carboys are a pain in the butt compared to a wide mouth plastic bucket with a lid.
Like mushrooms sterile technique is important but in this case not nearly as precise. So clean and let dry your fermenter, they sell sterile cleaning supplies but so far hot clean water with soap has been doing just fine for this cowboy. Turn upside down and dry bottles on a towel and then store upside down. Or even better with the flip tops you can close them up and store upright
So now we have a clean vessel we are going to add in your apple juice, your going to want to fill the primary fermenter container closer to the top than the bottom to reduce the amount of air space that can potentially sour things up. Not sure how important this step is but something to consider. Then add in your yeast. I believe I was going with somewhere around 1 tsp for that amount of liquid. Place that dirty old lid on top and leave it unsecured so gas can release. Now it's the same as with mushrooms, leave that sucker alone. Let the yeast start to work its magic
Find a nice room temperature spot and leave it there out of sunlight for around a five days to a week. Be patient and don't peek at it five times a day for the first bit. She will be bubbling away, you will be able to see many bubbles rising while it ferments away, enjoy the rotting apple ish smell, your friends may even accuse you of farting when they come over.
Clear containers can provide and easy viewing window (Yes you can just pour out the top inch or so out of a purchased container and add the yeast for small brews). Anyway when you start to see only a couple bubbles rising up to the top every second or so you know it's pretty much done.
Take said container and place it on your kitchen counter overnight, by this time most of the yeast should be settled as a semi solid substance on the bottom of your container. Then the next day you can easily siphon off the contents without disturbing the yeast blob at the bottom. Sometimes with the smaller containers you can easily pour transfer and skip the siphon, the yeast seems to stay on the bottom. Transfered to second container so we can remove most of the yeast from the brew. Then your are going to want to add your sugar for bottling to add carbonation
They have online calculators that can achieve different levels of fizz, I went with something around 70 grams of dextrose for this 12 liter batch (It dissolves so easy) on my last one and it is super carbonated. like champagne level, might be to much for some but I really like the bubbles in my cider. I have blasted off a few of the swing caps when opening so I would say I won't try any higher than that or risk bursting bottles. Another thing I like for my taste is a bit of citric acid.
Since the fermentation removes that acidic taste that apples tend to have, I like to artificially place it back into the cider. Just a tsp or so. There has been some minor experimenting with flavor additives. This can really screw up the cost efficiency depending on what you buy, so bang for my buck I found that these extracts work the best. Two dollars for it and I only place in a few drops into that 12 liter batch, going for just a whisper of the additive. You don't want a strong artificial taste in there. So far only tried it with pineapple but I did like it, will use it again. Go for the alcohol based one's not the oil based. The oil one won't mix well
The fermentation process removes much of the apple juice taste and sweetness. I won't get too deep into back sweetening with this process we are going for a more dry style, but I think if you shorten the bottling fermentation time it should result in a less carbonated but slightly sweeter brew
Then we can start the bottling process
There are many ways to approach this. You can save old beer bottles and buy a capper for around 25 bucks. A box of 150 bottle cap goes for ten bucks. This makes nice convenient beers if your just looking for one or two a night style. My favorite so far has been re using the those flippable beer bottles. You have to be careful when buying these though, you can get cheap ass one's designed for olive oil and the glass will not hold up to the pressure created during bottling. So if you like beer then an easy method is to just slowly start collecting them from the liquor stores. They do sell the empties at brew stores closer to 60-70 percent of the one filled with tasty beer. Rooster math tells him that he doesn't mind paying that extra thirty or forty percent if it comes filled with tasty beer. Solid investment I say, as you can replace the flip tops cheaply when they seals start to break down
More recently I played with the growlers and they take the cake for make bottling a snap. I was not sure if they would hold up to the pressure but they have been performing well so far. Instead of filling say 10 standard size beer bottles and worrying about spilling in between pinching off the siphon and transferring between bottles, you can easily fill a couple of those bad boys and speed the process up. The only down side being what if you just want one drink. The growlers come with a bit of a drinking commitment.
Never mind that clear jug one on the left, I don't think it can handle the pressure, its a mini primary fermenter at this point
Anyway once that shit is bottled just let it sit around at the same room temp for around a week or two. It will produce the tasty bubbles that I like to drink. Then transfer to somewhere cooler so the yeast will settle. The fridge will speed this process up quickly but can overrun your fridge space, if you have a cold room that works well to settle the yeast out at a slower pace
And voila your brew should be ready to drink. You must remember that age and pouring are going to make a difference in how clear your drink is going to be. There is that blob of yeast at the bottom so don't be greedy and pour that last little bit in. It will substantially cloud up your drink. I found that when pouring out of the growler it is best to do it all at once. Since you likely have a couple mason jars kicking around I recommend filling them. Otherwise every time you set the jug back down it creates a big dirty swish that starts to mix the yeast back into the brew. So I have been trying to do one single pour into multiple containers and then cap and fridge until you can catch up to the jarred brew
Realizing one downside to maximum carbonation seems to be a more cloudy brew as you can see below. Could also be due to less ageing too these are fairly new. There is too much of a bubbly reaction going on inside the bottle when pouring it, i think made even worse by being forced to go extra slow pour in this case, the initial foam is huge and it will easily foaming over. Not even the horizontal pour can stop it
Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 19 March 2021 - 10:46 PM.