Sunday, March 9, 2014

Calyx Cyser

8 hours after pitching.
Some ideas take a while to play out completely.  I've been tossing around the idea of making a cyser for the past couple years, but despite (or perhaps because of) the simplicity of the process, it just never happened.  I had the honey.  I had access to the cider.  I had picked the brains of cider makers and (re)read information online and in The Compleat Meadmaker.  But for some reason I just never set aside the time and made it.  Then, two weeks ago I had the chance to judge on the Open Category Mead (26C) panel of the America's Finest City Homebrew Competition put on by Quaff.  It's an interesting category to be a part of because none of the offerings can be considered "out of style" which means that basically anything goes.  Prior to the judging the pessimistic and optimistic sides of my personality clashed with one another over this fact.  Would the meads be terrible, with random ingredients disproportionately added, or concoctions that didn't make the cut elsewhere being thrown in for a lack of other options?  Or would the brewer's creativity and instinct carry the day, with unique combinations and techniques making for completely original meads that changed my ideas about what a mead could be like?  I honestly had no idea what to expect.

7 ounces of chopped dates.

Luckily the goblet was half full and I was blown away by the quality and crafstmanship of the meads that I had a chance to drink.  I was surprised by the range of ingredients and the ways that they were incorporated.  Berries, spices, herbs and a variety of other additions accentuated the beauty of honey in liquid form and snapped me out of whatever malaise was keeping me from making my cyser.  So yesterday I went ahead and put everything together.  This is my first cyser, so I played it relatively safe and borrowed heavily from Ken Schramm's Falls' Bounty Cyser recipe in The Compleat Meadmaker.  The result was Calyx Cyser:

Calyx Cyser
Cyser  Click for more information about Cyser from the BJCP website.
Brew Date:March 8, 2014
Yield:4 gallons
Batch No:136
General Information
Informed by Ken Schramm's Fall's Bounty Cyser in the Compleat Meadmaker.
3 gallonsJuice - Apple Cider
0.75 poundsBrown Sugar, Dark
0.40 poundsFruit - Dates, pureed
6.20 poundsHoney - Orange Blossom
Total Boil Time:0 minutes
Manufacturer:Lallemand - Lalvin
Product ID:71B-1122
Temperature Range:59–86°F
Amount:12 gr
Water Profile

San Diego, CA

Calicum:68 ppm
Bicarbonate:590 ppm
Sulfate:205 ppm
Chloride:94 ppm
Sodium:94 ppm
Magnesium:26 ppm
No heat method.  Mixed honey and brown sugar into the apple cider.  Chopped the dates and added them to the carboy.  

I omitted raisins and went with some different ratios and yeast, but the basics of Schramm's recipe remain intact.  I chose Lalvin 71B because I like its aromatic-enforcing qualities and the smoothness it produces from the high metabolization of malic acid.  I followed the staggered nutrient addition schedule that's worked well for me in past meads:

1.  During yeast rehydration:  5 grams of Go Ferm
2.  When visible signs of fermentation are evident:  .75 tsp Fermaid K; .75 tsp of DAP (+ aeration)
3.  Roughly one week later:  .5 tsp of Fermaid K; .5 tsp of DAP  

Click here for the BrewBlog link.