Simple Cyser - a cider mead anyone can make.
This months article will feature a simple recipe that can be made without a lot of expensive equipment, and produces a nice, drinkable alcoholic beverage that would go well with a dinner, or just sitting around with friends enjoying company. I am hoping to make this as easy to understand for the non-brewer as I can, without losing the experienced ones.
The subject of this article is a simple Cyser that can be made with a minimum of equipment, and does not require vast brewing knowledge to produce a tasty beverage. I learned this particular drink from a great book on making meads called "Mead Made Easy"2 by Dave Polaschek with Tim Mitchell. In this book he describes a "Hangover Cyser" that is perfect for making the next day after a party, and part of the recipe is drinking some of the leftover apple juice. I have simplified this recipe some, so that anyone can make it.
Traditional mead contains nothing but honey, water, and yeast, but there is a small problem with this. Honey lacks a high volume of the proper types of sugars that are necessary for healthy yeast fermentation. This is one of the reasons traditional mead can take over a year to ferment out. Something brewers over the ages have done to aid the fermentation process is to add things with sugars that are more readily fermented by yeast. Adding apple juice is a great way to add enough sugars (fructose) to get the yeast going, and provides a nice flavor to the drink.
"Cyser - Honey and apple juice. This evolved into hard cider, and was likely the `strong drink' referred to in the Bible. It can vary from a cider-like taste to a taste almost like a sherry wine." 2
Without further ado...
It is best to bottle the result in a corked or crown capped airtight container, but if you don't have expensive brewing and capping equipment, just make sure that the Cyser is finished fermenting, and bottle in clean sterile glass bottle, with screw top lids. Make sure you drink it fairly quickly if you do this, as it will go bad after a while if not properly sealed. Since this Barony has quite a number of brewing types, you could ask someone to use their bottling equipment in exchange for a nice massage, or chocolate.J I usually save Martinellies bottles, and cork them like wine bottles with a cheap plastic Corker ($6). A one-gallon batch will usually make about 5 Martinellies bottles full. Its a good idea to age corked bottles for a few months, to let the character fully develop, but you may start drinking it immediately.
Sanitation is VERY important. An infection can ruin an entire batch. A soak in a weak bleach solution (a 1/2 teaspoon of bleach in 2 gallons of water, yes that weak) and good rinsing of any bottles or anything in contact with Cyser. Common sense is your best weapon against infection here.
1) "Alcoholic Drinks of the Middle" Ages by Mark Shapirohttp://www.geocities.com/Paris/1265/calcohol.html
2) "Mead Made Easy" by Dave Polaschek with Tim Mitchellhttp://www.best.com/~davep/mme/pubpage.html
"The New Complete Joy of HomeBrewing" by Charlie Papazian
I hope you find this article of interest, and will gladly answer questions in person or via e-mail. I would also love to hear your experiences with this if you try, and of course samples would not be turned away.
Lord Frederick Badger, Innkeeper, and Head Brewer of the Inn at Amberhaven.
(Brander Roullett -email@example.com)