Posts Tagged ‘keg jacking’

applejack, ice concentration techniques

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

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as hinted in my earlier post, I decided to use my new freezer real estate to jack (fractionally freeze) my cider.

  • originally intended as a basque-style cider served in sagardotegis, after two years(!) in a keg my cider was dry and satisfying, but not significantly funky or complex, as I had hoped (I believe this has to do with apple selection, wild yeast availability, and the quick initial fermentation brought on by simple apple sugars).
  • as a result, with a little under four gallons of cider hogging one of my four house taps, I decided to free up space and simultaneously create some holiday-appropriate hooch by jacking the cider.
  • although my previous attempt at jacking/eising was successful, it was slow and involved significant oxygenation of the resulting product.  in fact, most online eising references suggest simply freezing your beer/wine/cider in a plastic gallon jug, inverting said jug over a receptacle, and letting the end result trickle out of the bottom over the course of a two hour period until the ice in the jug is clear.  although this technique would seem to maximize yield, it would do so at the expense of a higher proof (and oxygenates the hell out of the liquid as it drips out).
  • as a result, I decided to try a different technique for jacking my cider.  first, I transferred the cider from a 5 gal corny keg into a 2.5 gal corny keg (after purging the latter with CO2), leaving about a third of the keg empty to allow for expansion during freezing.  then I tossed the smaller keg into the freezer of my new kegerator for a 24hr period.  after removing the keg from the freezer, I knocked the bottom of the keg against the ground a few times to center the ice in the keg.
  • I then purged some sanitized bottles with CO2, tapped the keg, and began filling the bottles from the tap (my growler filling insert/tube didn’t fit my portable tap or I would have used that as well to further limit oxygen exposure while bottling).  at first, the tap yielded a small trickle of liquid (presumably from ice in the dip tube), but after a little pouring, shaking, and knocking, all the ice was dislodged and my bottles filled up in a matter of minutes.
  • after no more liquid could be poured from the keg I popped the lid and saw that at least 2/3 of the keg’s volume had turned to ice.  I dumped this ice in my sink, but it would be possible to use the drip method described above to wring out every last drop of cider and increase your yield.
  • now for the tasting notes:
    • applejack (sampled ice cold immediately after jacking)
    • appearance: straw gold, minimal carbonation, hazy (likely due to chill haze)
    • aroma: boozy, floral, apple esters
    • taste: palate coating and prickly, strong warm apple
    • overall: a great, easy drinking holiday alternative to standard cider
  • my 3.5-4 gal of 7%abv cider yielded approximately one gallon of applejack.  the results of my jacking method were great – compared to other drip methods, “keg jacking” is much faster (10 min vs. 2 hours+), results in a higher proof result (at the cost of a reduced yield), and minimizes oxygen exposure.  I’m definitely planning on repeating this process with my next cider.

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