Posts Tagged ‘basque cider’

may PG meeting, cider, belgian small beer, temptation notes

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

the third thursday of may was last week, which meant that I was headed to culver city for PG’s monthly meeting.

  • the monthly style was IPAs, which drew a ton of kegs (12+) and commercial bottles as well as a great crowd (the raffle was especially entertaining).  after resting my blown-out palate, I pulled the cork from a bottle of my cider, which had just turned the corner after being sick with pedio for several months (a good thing!).  I was pleased with the results and held a more detailed (and lupulin-free) tasting last night.
    • basque cider
    • appearance – pale gold, great clarity, very slight carbonation
    • aroma – earthy funk, sweet cooked apple, spice
    • taste – clean, light funk up front with a lingering apple finish, mellow acidity
    • notes – although not as funky as I would have hoped (aroma was stronger than actual taste), this is a great alternative to a standard cider and a good intro to the wild side for the uninitiated
  • I also had a chance to try out a small beer I had made in the parti-gyle method while sparging vizcaino II.  I collected around six gallons of wort at around 6 brix and pitched a starter of WLP500 that I decided to leave out of my main batch.  after adding about 1/3 gal of leftover sour cherry juice from cabrillo II, the beer finished at 2.8 brix for an abv of around 2.6%.
    • pinky (belgian small beer)
    • appearance – golden apricot color, fine effervescence, fluffy white head
    • aroma – light floral belgian yeast, clove spice, slight belgian phenols
    • taste – light and crisp with a dry, slightly bitter finish, palate scrubbing carbonation
    • notes – good budweiser sessionable alternative, lawnmower beer, could use during a tasting as a palate refresher
  • I also managed to choke down a three-year-old, delightfully bretty bottle of temptation (004X1) and pitch the dregs into vizcaino II.  it had been a while since I had tried that beer and I was somewhat surprised to find very little lacto or pedio sourness in the flavor profile – just a very assertive brett character reminiscent of orval that provided a fluffy, long lasting head and great carbonation.  hopefully some of that brett character comes through in vizcaino!



homebrew waffles, cider update, brewing decor

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

saturday morning found me jonesing for some belgian waffles and maple syrup.  unimpressed with the instant batter collecting dust in the pantry, I decided to whip up some beer waffles for AP and me to enjoy.

  • a quick online search yielded a few batter recipes, one of which seemed like a good starting point.  I modified it as follows:
      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 12 fluid ounces of AP’s amber from the tap
      • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
      • 1/4 cup almond milk
      • 2 eggs, separated
      • 1 tablespoon honey
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • I followed the online prep directions and ended up with some very tasty waffles with a malty, nutty aroma and light, fluffy texture that crisped up nicely on the outside.  I plan on experimenting with the recipe by swapping whole wheat flour for the all-purpose and adding a high-gravity (perhaps bourbon aged?) stout instead of amber for a real decadent treat.
  • in other news, I kegged my latest batch of basque cider, which finished at 0.995 for an abv of 7.22%.  I also sampled my first batch of basque cider and discovered that it was “sick” – ropy, slick, and generally undrinkable.  according to my research, this may have been caused by oxygen exposure during bottling, and should dissipate over the next few months.  I’ll give it another taste in three months and hope for the best!
  • as a side note, I also spruced up my basement fermentation room with an original 1700s-era hop plant print from a french botanicals book.  I picked up the print at a local flea market and matted and framed it at home.  I have found that a mat cutter quickly pays for itself and helps you turn any two-dimensional beer-related media into a professional-looking display piece.  matted and framed pictures also make great gifts…




bottling the basque cider, holiday gift suggestions

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

with the holidays in full swing and an unrelenting stream of work rolling in, it’s been hard to find time to set aside for a little zymurgy-related activities.  however, I did manage to set aside a couple of hours to bottle up my first attempt at a basque cider.

  • despite the healthy pellicle that formed on this batch, the resulting cider was remarkably smooth, with a slightly tart finish.  there was also a much more noticeable apple flavor when compared to earlier batches, which I am assuming is the result of using montrachet yeast instead of champagne.
  • the earthy lambic-like notes that I had noticed during fermentation had mellowed as well, and the cider was left with a subtle funk aroma that was in line with a year-old bottle of basque cider I had tried.  it almost seems as though the funk mellows with time in cider, instead of increasing as with some of my long-term beer experiments.  In addition to corking the cider, I also carbed and capped a few bottles to see if the fizz brings out any other desirable characteristics.

while I was bottling the cider, my mind started wandering onto the topic of holiday gift giving.

  • first and foremost, I am a big fan of giving homemade items as gifts – anything from pickles and beer to loaves of holiday bread and needlework lets the recipient know that some time, effort, and care went into the end product.  another benefit of giving homemade is that your gifts are usually less expensive to put together.
  • however, even when lack of time (or motivation) strikes, you can still come through with a thoughtful gift for the beer lover in your family by presenting them with a tasty beer and  food item pairing.  For example, it doesn’t take too much effort (or money) to score a nice obscure belgian (pannepot grand reserva, perhaps?) or fancy american sour (supplication, anyone?) and pack it with a savory chunk of creamy, palate-coating cheese (a little humboldt fog, maybe?) – in fact, one trip to a well-appointed whole foods would do the trick, and makes for a great after-work indulgence.  just an idea…


basque cider how-to

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

since prior commitments (and a full fermentation fridge) prevented me from participating in the AHA’s learn to homebrew day last saturday, in the spirit of general education I decided to throw together an explanatory beginner’s overview on how to make a basque-style cider, using some readily available ingredients and tools.

first, you want to clean and sanitize a fermentation bucket, bucket lid (with an airlock hole in it), and airlock.  I used a white HDPE 2 five-gallon ace hardware bucket, but any similar bucket will do.  I cleaned my bucket with five star’s PBW and sanitized it with star-san, but any food-grade cleaner and sanitizer will work (consult your local homebrew shop).






next, I added four gallons of pasteurized organic cider to the sanitized bucket.  I picked up the cider at whole foods on sale for about $6 a gallon, but there are other cheaper alternatives out there (just remember that the quality of your finished product is dependent on the quality of your starting ingredients).  from what I have seen, traditional basque cider is made using only apples, but if you are feeling adventurous, feel free to add different varieties of sugar, fruit, etc. to the juice.  also, if you have unpasteurized locally pressed juice available, you owe it to yourself to use that (in fact, you can add just unpasteurized juice to a sanitized bucket and let it ferment out itself by way of the wild yeast present on the apple skins).

after adding the juice to the bucket, I pitched the yeast.  I used an old slurry of white labs WLP570 belgian golden ale yeast after reading about the use of belgian yeasts in cider, but any wine or beer yeast will do (cider-specific yeasts are available as well) – again, consult your local homebrew store or look around online.  note that most yeasts will ferment the juice to dryness (i.e., there will be no residual sugars/sweetness in the cider).

in addition, I pitched some bottle dregs from a bottle of basque cider (specifically, isastegi).  the bottle I had purchased earlier this year had mellowed in the bottle, and the cider was light and complex, with a smoother sourness and complementary funk.  look online for where to procure bottles in your area (I have seen them in quality craft beer stores as far east as MN, so they shouldn’t be too hard to find).  try the basque cider before pitching the dregs, and if you don’t care for it, just leave the dregs out and you’ll just end up with regular cider.

after pitching the yeast and dregs, just cap the bucket and install the airlock (I fill mine with cheap vodka, but you can use leftover sanitizer).  due to the wild/funky nature of the fermentation, I would wait at least three months before bottling/kegging to let the bugs work their magic (I’ll probably transfer the cider to a keg after a month or so and sit on it for an additional five months before bottling).  if you chose not to add the basque dregs, you can likely bottle the cider after a few weeks.  also, if you use the basque bottle dregs, note that everything fermented in your bucket from then on will likely take on a funky note, so use separate containers for funky and non-funky fermentations.



despite my wordy explanation above, the process itself is very simple, and might be the most straightforward (and inexpensive) fermentation project one can take on.  good luck!

beachwood sour fest, patersbier revisited, basque cider update

Thursday, September 15th, 2011


last week AP and I caught wind of a serious sour lineup geting poured at beachwood BBQ’s seal beach location for their sour fest.

  • news of lines, crowds, and general chaos (at lunchtime on a tuesday no less) had me skeptical at first, but while grabing a pour at naja’s I heard that some of the sours were making their way up to beachwood’s long beach location.
  • upon making our way to long beach on saturday, our suspicions were confirmed – long beach was stocked with over a dozen sours, all available as five-ounce pours (for a price). to top it off, there were no lines, no crowds, only an enthusiastic homebrewer/bartender who gave us tons of great advice on both food and brews.
  • within a few minutes I was tearing into a smoky chopped brisket sandwich and chasing it with rarities like BFM’s abbaye st bon chien 2010, craftsman’s fireworks saison, ballast point’s sour wench, allagash’s interlude 2009, deschutes’ the dissident 2010, and lost abbey’s red poppy 2010.
  • the next day I dusted off the brew rig and got the strike water going for a rehash of my patersbier.  I decided to redo this brew as a SMaSH:
    • 18.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 100.00 %
      2.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (60 min) Hops 12.3 IBU
      2.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (10 min) Hops 4.5 IBU
  • I also tweaked a few other elements, such as upping the mash temp from 148 to 152 for a little more maltiness, opting for a vigorous 90 minute boil to drive off any DMS in the malt, and cooling the wort to a balmy 69F with my bootlegged fermentation fridge before pitching my stepped up WLP500 slurry from my yeast bank.
  • the boil got a little too vigorous at times, resulting in a couple boilovers, but I was more than satisfied with my OG of 11 brix (1.043), which was dead on, accounting for an efficiency of 80%.
  • however, the best surprise of the day came as I kegged my basque cider attempt for long-term aging.  I was hoping for any signs of funk at all, but was wholly unprepared for the viscous pellicle that gretted me upon cracking open the fermentation bucket.  the cider was viscous and ropy, a sure sign of “sickness” during wild/sour fermentation.
  • to top it off, the cider smelled fantastic – the aroma had a great barnyard/lambic character similar to the basque ciders that donated their dregs.  I’m definitely excited to bottle this up in a few months and try it sporadically (and to try another batch with dregs and a less attenuative yeast).

basque cider attempt, beachwood long beach, library sourfest

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

lately I have been on a little cider kick.  not just any cider, mind you, but the funky, lambic-esque basque cider found in spanish sagardotegis.

  • after reading about the isastegi sagardo naturala over at lambic and wild ale, I picked up a few bottles to try, along with sarasola’s sagardoa.  I was greatly impressed with both ciders’ complex funk and smooth tartness, and grew interested in emulating them.
  • unfortunately, there is little information available online regarding techniques for producing basque cider, so I either had to pick up a book on cider and hope for more info on specific apples and yeast/bugs or just ad-lib and hope for the best.  the homebrewer in me immediately chose the latter, and I ended up pitching the dregs of two bottles of basque cider into a gallon of pasteurized, unfiltered organic juice.
  • after a few days with no visible activity, I combined the gallon and dregs with three more gallons, added a packet of red star montrachet yeast, and placed my fermenter into the fridge at 67F.  with significantly different juice from the basque region and questionable bottle dregs, I’m a little pessimistic about the results, but I’ll be happy with even a small amount of earthy complexity in my resulting cider.

last weekend AP and I also met up with OA and friends in downtown long beach to try out beachwood’s new brewery.

  • after hitting up a happy hour ommegang hennepin and turkey burger at congregation, AP and I made the 30 second walk over to beachwood.  the long beach venue was less crowded than their seal beach counterpart usually is, and we got a table as soon as we got in.
  • the guest taps were pretty killer, and highlights included selections from jolly pumpkin (which I have gratefully been seeing more of in socal), lost abbey, ballast point, and alesmith.  I grabbed a pour of bam noir and watched julian shrago pour candi sugar into a steaming boil kettle behind the bar.  pizza port’s boneyard barleywine took precedence over any beechwood brews as my last pour, but word on the street is they’re pretty tasty.
  • I anticipate many more trips over to downtown LB now that two great beer spots are on the same block.  now beachwood just has to finish up their bottle shop and I’ll be set…

in other news: