Original Post: Wyld Cyser
Style: Semi-Sweet Cyser
Brew Date: November 5, 2013
Tasting Date: September 5, 2014
ABV: approximately 15%
If you don’t remember, this batch was the result of me being over ambitious when apple cider went on sale. I bought a whole bunch with plans to make two batches of hard cider. One of those batches was Yellow Cat Mulled Cider. The other never happened. The cider started to ferment on its own sitting on the kitchen floor. I sprung into action by dumping all five gallons of the cider together and adding a ridiculous amount of wild flower honey, then let it ferment for a couple days. After it the wild yeast had some time to make the cider a little bit sour, I killed it with some campden tablets. After I was sure that had worked, I racked the cider into a fresh carboy with some champagne yeast and then forgot about it for the Winter.
Over the Summer, I killed that yeast with potassium sorbate and waiting until I had enough wine bottles to package it. That happened a couple of weeks ago, when I sanitized the bottles, back sweetened the Cyser with more wildflower honey and now here I am with the first bottle.
The Cyser is an orangish yellow color, reminiscent of white wine, though it is slightly hazy. It was crystal clear before I back sweetened it. I guess I should have done that before packaging day to give it more time to clear again. Oh well, it still looks pretty nice.
I get mostly the wildflower honey in the nose. It smells sweet and floral and… frankly, a lot like wildflower honey. If you aren’t familiar, wildflower honey is a little different from other varietals. It actually comes from a variety of different flowers. Unlike say, orange blossom honey which comes almost exclusively from orange blossoms, wildflower honey normally comes from bees in an area where there are different sources for them to collect pollen and make honey. As a result, it can change more than other types of honey, but in general it has a robust, floral, sort of green character that reminds me simultaneously of Spring and Fall. It give me sort of a fresh start, change of seasons vibe.
That is what this smells like, mostly. There are hints of apple and alcohol. The alcohol is not as prominent as I expected, though. Taking a sip, the apple cider comes through a bit more, but the honey still seems like the star. It is sweet. Sweeter than I planned on, initially, but I think the sweetness was necessary to mask the alcohol. Speaking of which, this is definitely potent stuff. The alcohol is evident, but the one-two punch of honey and apple cider keep it from being too harsh, which was my concern.
A coworker of mine is a sometimes homebrewer who has shared the story of his legendary cyser that was undrinkable even after more than a year of aging, but suddenly, after close to three years, became the most delicious thing that has ever touched his lips. I hope to age some of this stuff for a good long time, but I was also hoping to enjoy some this fall, less than a year after starting fermentation. I think it will get better with age, but it is already quite drinkable.
The one thing I don’t get from this is the tart, sour flavor I looking for from the short spontaneous fermentation. Amy and I greatly enjoyed one half gallon of the cider a couple days after it started bulging its plastic bottle then tried another after about a week and found it to be too sour to enjoy. I was nervous that the fermentation this cyser underwent would go too far, but I think all of the further fermentation and tons and tons of honey have completely covered any trace of the spritz-y tartness it may have gained.
As it warms, I’m getting a bit more of the apple cider character. Especially in the back of the mouth and all the way down the throat. The honey still comes through the strongest, and it tastes nice, but I was hoping for more apples on the palate. I’m hopeful that this will be the direction it will take with some more aging.
I hurriedly refrigerated this when I got home from work to prepare for these tasting notes, but now I’m thinking it would be better to take it straight from the basement at or close to room temperature. I packaged four bottles of this with less honey, I look forward to trying those, though now I’m nervous that I’ll like them better. I like this better now than I thought I would this fresh, but I think another set of tasting notes will be in order next year. I was planning on this for a good Fall drink, but it seems more appropriate for other times of year now. Maybe serving it with a cinnamon stick in the glass would bring out the Autumn cider feelings. I may have to try that as well.
My “finish the tasting notes by the end of a twelve ounce beer” rule doesn’t really translate to this 15% ABV cyser, but I think I’ve gotten all of my thoughts out. Maybe not in the most concise manner, but you’ve got to be used to that by now.