June 24, 2013

Cider Fermentation Panel: Bottling & Tasting


Last weekend I met the guys at Leidel's orchard for a final taste and to bottle the ciders.  I'm glad we tasted these again as there are some big differences on a few batches.  We purposefully didn't look up our old tasting notes and only compared after we had re-tasted them all and made new notes.  Here are our notes from this session:

  1. Brett drie (BSI)
    - some tartness, light, crisp, refreshing, although a bit thin.
  2. Brett custersianus
    - sweet, tropical, pineapple/mango, nice body.
  3. Brett nanus
    - barnyard and pineapple aroma, tastes strongly of pineapple juice. great flavor, but kind of intense.
  4. Brett lambicus (wyeast)
    - not flavorful, watery.  slightly cheesy and tart.
  5. Brett bruxellensis (wyeast)
    - very flavorful. pear, melon, citrus and a bit of alcohol.
  6. Brett claussenii (WL)
    - pungent aroma, citrus, floral, and dry.  saison-like.
  7. Brett fantome
    - pretty good mouthfeel.  complex, tart apple, a very soft blue-cheese like funk (good), nice funky aroma.
  8. Saccharomyces paradoxus
    - watery, slight funk and citrus.
  9. Brett blend
    - got a lot going on, but not very flavorful as a whole.  funky, fruity, citrus.
  10. Brett blend and oenococcus
    - muted flavor as compared to #9.  The acidity was mellowed, and so I see there may be potential value in this addition, but likely only as a secondary fermentation, or partial blend.
  11. Brett blend with maltodextrin addition
    - As compared to #9, a bit drier of a finish, thicker body, more robust flavor. a bit more alcohol.
We decided only Drie, Custer, Nanus, Brux, Claussenii, and Fantome were worth bottling.  The plan is to open these bottles over the summer and get a good understanding of each strain and how they may develop now that they are off the traub. For larger production this fall, we will be making a couple blends from the strains we like best.

Some interesting information comes in comparing our notes from the sampling we did a month ago.  The biggest changes were in Nanus and Claussenii.  A month ago Nanus tasted of rotting fruit and cheese.  It wasn't even drinkable, but now it was one of our favorites and had a huge pineapple flavor.  Claussenii was very stale in flavor, but now has a beautiful floral/citrus flavor.  

If you are looking to brew a brett cider, it is important to note that brettanomyces continues working even after fermentation has completed and it may take a couple months to develop the desired flavor.  For those homebrewers who don't want to wait more than a month, I would recommend Wyeast's B. bruxellensis (note: this is different than White Lab's) as it had a great flavor profile in both tasting sessions and is an easy strain to obtain.

On a side note, I also bottled up my Cider Keeve and Foraged Farmhouse the previous weekend.  More on that coming soon...
Bottled cider keeve.
Bottled Cider Keeve.


Josh Osborne said...

Did you end up adding maltodextrin to the cider? If so, how much in each carboy?

Levi said...

@Josh - Batch 11 is the maltodextrin addition. I put 5 ounces into the 3 gallon carboy.

Jeffrey Crane said...

I imagine you will continue to get some big flavor development once in the bottle.
Thanks for posting all these tasting notes.

sachin pannuri said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
George Gorospe said...

I pressed 10 gallons of cider 2 weeks ago and fermented 3 gallons with a blend of Brett. The majority of the blend was Drie and Wyeast Brix. The cider went down to 0.995 within a week. Taste is really fruity but a touch thin. The cider is crystal clear already. If I add a few ounces of maltodextrin, will the Brett work on that or will it leave it alone?

Levi said...

The Brett will certainly eat the maltodextrin. I even used it as priming sugar (accidentally) for bottling one time.

Let us know how your brett cider turns out!

Chris Murphy said...

I have not had a lot of success with brett taking over. Thinking maybe its the wild yeast that take over or maybe malic masks it?
I hit my cider with SO2(25ppm or so) and I think that leaves a bit of the natural yeast and they seem to take over. Just bottled a carboy last night that sat around for a year, Brett Claus was the only thing added.
Your experiment was with really plain cider, mine always has predominant malic profile, maybe that is masking the brett?
What you think?

How did you start the brett cider project in March? Frozen cider?

Levi said...

Make sure you have a large healthy pitch of brett. Also, when you do 100% brett, it won't be as funky as you might be expecting, so you might have had success and not realized brett can be that clean of flavor. Experiment with other strains.

As for the March timeline, We got the cider from a large press out west that operates year round. The benefit was we could get a neutral cider and have it pasteurized. These were both attractive for a large side-by-side experiment.

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