How do sugar and the fruit affect what you brew?
After learning the concepts about the roles of sugar and the fruit play in brewing from lesson 1 and 2, we will take these ideas into practice in this lesson.
The key factor affects cider/mead body | The fruit
It is mentioned in lesson 2, there are three forms of fruit for brewing, fresh fruit, juice, and frozen fruit. To get a clear main tone for cider/mead body, the juice is the one to go for. To get an extra hint of flavor, using fresh fruit is recommended. If you don't want to use juice and yet want to get a stand-out tone of flavor, frozen fruit is an alternative choice. Please check lesson 2 for more detail.
To make a good homebrew cider/mead, the ingredients play an important role. The fruit is which gives the soul to the cider (if you are making the mead, it will be honey giving the soul to the mead). When picking the ingredients, make sure that you like the taste when you eat it directly. Since fermenting is a scientific process, the cider/mead flavor may not be exactly the same as the ingredients. The ingredient's flavor may combine with the yeast, creating the flavor that is far from our recognization of the ingredients.
The perception of one ingredient includes the color, the taste, and the smell. Once the ingredients are done fermenting, the change of its color, taste, and smell may totally change our perception of the ingredients. If we want to keep the original color, taste, and smell of the ingredients and minimize the effects of the yeast, we need to fully understand the characteristics of the ingredients. Among all, the most effect and important part is Brix. Let's focus on it. We can put the rest of the parts aside for now.
The crucial touch | The sugar
The applications of sugar were mentioned in lesson 1, saying that the yeast will consume sugar and produce alcohol. The most common types of sugar sources are white sugar, brown sugar and honey. For clear taste, white sugar is a good choice. Brown sugar has a complex combination which is more difficult to control the result. And honey is highly recommended since it is natural and give pure taste. You can read lesson 1 for more detail.
Back to the track. You may be curious, why the Brix is the most important part if we want to keep the original characters of the ingredients? We all know that different fruit has different degrees of Brix. Besides Brix, there are more. We recognize fruit or any other food by its appearance, the aroma, and the taste, together they make the flavor of the fruit. When we put fruit in our mouth, we recognize it by aroma and taste. Brix takes a big part of the taste. If the brix gets so low that one part of the flavor will be missing, leaving only the aroma. There's a high chance that we won't be able to tell the fruit only by the aroma. Therefore, if the cider/mead has the same degree of Brix as its ingredients, ut can carry out the most flavor of the ingredients. For homebrew newbies, we highly recommend you to follow this principle.
＊ Your cider/mead stays at its best and fresh for two weeks. There will be a very small amount of yeast remaining in cider/mead and it will continue fermenting at a very slow pace. So the remaining sugar will become less and the alcohol level will increase each day. The decrease in sugar will lead to lower Brix and affect the taste. The taste will gradually become nothing like the one we recognize and like.
＊Store the cider/mead in the fridge with low temperature can prolong the tasting time.
Make the cider/mead taste better | Remove the yeast
The yeast taste usually comes out after you swallow the cider/mead. There are three ways to cut down the yeasty taste. First, reduce the amount of yeast used to 1/4 packet. Second, after the fermentation is finished, put the pitcher into the ridge to let the yeast settle. Third, put the pitcher into the freezer and cut off the yeast layer when it freezes at the bottom.
The principle is to reduce the amount of yeast in the cider/mead body. If you add less yeast at the beginning, the remaining yeast will surely be less. But the downside is the fermentation time may be longer. Or you let the yeast settle in the fridge and only pour out the clear part of cider/mead. Or you can choose the frozen method to let yeast freeze at the bottom and cut it off ( this is a bit similar to making champagne).
Leave your comments below if you have any related question, what kinds of honey you used, or just want to share with us your thoughts.