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Funking Up A Cider

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manticle

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This is something I am very interested in experimenting further with.

Those of you who see cider as a bit more than thin, apple flavoured alcoholic soda water with some artificial sweetener (or as a drink for the girls) may be familiar with some of the more complex funky French style ciders from Brittany and Normandy and so on.

These use the yeasts that are naturally found on the skins of the apples to ferment and give flavours that range from wine cellar to blue cheese. An acquired taste perhaps but one that I enjoy far more than pipsqueak or bulmers or dirty Granny.

Prickly Moses make a cider in this way.

I'm not really set up to make cider from apples, so like many I make mine from preservative free store bought juice. I like it dry so I just use juice - no lactose, no kegging early, no back sweetening, no artificial sweeteners, etc.

Last year, I splashed out and made a couple of ciders from a variety of tastier, more expensive juices and got a better result. I also started to play around with malic* and tannic acid additions to add some complexity.

However the point of this thread is that, in discussions with another brewer about the funky french yeasts, the idea of using or re-culturing bottle dregs from commercial French cider came up.

My last cider was fermented using about 80% preshafruit juice (granny smith and pink apple) and the rest berri cloudy juice so the resulting cider is cloudy. I used a dry cider yeast I bought from punkin (I think - was a while ago) and added about 5g of malic and tannic acid at the beginning.

When the cider had fermented out, I swished out the last bit of a commercial French cider along with the sediment and pitched it in. I also added about 10g of toasted oak chips.

Upon bottling, the cider tasted like a dry, slightly tannic beverage as I would expect but the funk from the French yeast is slowly starting to come through and seems to be increasing.

I make my ciders in the cooler weather so I probably won't knock another one out till next Autumn but I am intending to start experimenting with small batches and reculturing and storing some interesting yeasts (beer yeast is so readily available in so many strains that I rarely bother anymore). Hopefully I can work out which commercials will give me a good result and do a full batch using a starter made from that (no dry yeast or other commercially available yeast to be used). I have hopes for something from cidrerie d'Anneville.

Thought the idea may be of some interest to some of you. Kudos to Vitalstatistix for suggesting the idea in the first place.

*Not sure the malic adds much unless I were to add a culture to trigger malolactic fermentation - something I'm yet to play with as the amount I need to buy is much more than I need. Might just try tannic next time.
 

Fat Bastard

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This is something I have been thinking about too. Unfortunately my local Dan's don't stock the range of French ciders they once did so I have not been able to check for sediment in the bottles as yet.

I initially used Weston's Old Rosie scrumpy sediment with some success, although it turns out very dry. So dry Mrs. Bastard won't drink it without bulk (500g plus/20L) lactose, and even then it's pretty dry. A 4 teabag cup of tea for tannins and some brown sugar for a darker colour and a bit more alcohol.

Recently I did 2 batches with no additions bar the tea and used WLP-775 in one and US-05 in the other and by far and away the 775 has the more interesting and complex flavour. I wouldn't call it funky though. Both are still very pale and dry.

Could you perhaps dump a bunch of apple peelings from some wild/organic grown apples (and maybe pulp too) into the fermenter and achieve a similar result, or is that asking for something undrinkable?
 

manticle

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Worth experimenting with. I guess it's similar to lambic brewing - the 'wild' yeasts in a commercial should give a known or more controlled result whereas taking your chance with the naturally occurring ones here would be less so. Somebody else took the chance hundreds of years ago and it tasted good.

I plan to do a few 1 L preshafruit batches so no real cost if such a thing doesn't work - maybe I'll add that idea to my list.
 

Charst

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Recently made a cider with 20 litres of non pasteurised juice and left half a 2 litre bottle out in the shed. It began to ferment naturally.
Taste was clean, not funky, and marginally sweet, like fresh apple juice but carbonated. I bottled some in a half champagne bottle with a sugar tab. and it was very carbed when i popped it suggesting the yeast had not finished when bottled it.

Now I want to build up enough of this yeast to make a full batch. do I follow a similar process as make a beer yeast starter and boil the starter juice? will this boiling give me cooked apple flavours?

Happy to share the Yeast with you if you want to try it Manticle.
 

Mr. No-Tip

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It began to ferment naturally.

On a related note, how does one ensure the drink is safe? Page 64 of "Yeast" by White and Zainesheff suggested that 'media under aerobic conditions and with a high enough PH can support the growth of pathogens'
 

Steve@PMF82

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I have this bookmarked from a while ago, culturing different wild yeasts from the skins of different apples.
Have never got around to doing it, but it is something I would like to do one day.

 
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gap

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Have you thought of adding a little brett as per Wyeast Old Ale Blend 9097PC.

Or keeving, although it would appear you need to use cider apple juice with this process.

Regards

Graeme
 

Greg.L

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The French expression for funky is "sous bois". Mostly the flavours come from a wild mlf. Apple skins don't carry many yeast cells according to research, most of the wild yeast and mlf bacteria come from the cider house equipment. If you want funky flavours don't use a mlf culture, let the wild lactic acid bacteria (LAB) do their thing with minimal so2.

It's a pity Dan's stopped stocking the good ciders, i guess they just weren't selling enough. I got some Henney's and breton cider cheap from the remainders bin recently.
 

manticle

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Have you thought of adding a little brett as per Wyeast Old Ale Blend 9097PC.

Or keeving, although it would appear you need to use cider apple juice with this process.

Regards

Graeme
I think I would need to be using all apples to keeve. I've read a bit about the process but never ventured down that road.

I've read about people using brett with cider on the babblebelt forum and I think citymorgue II might have done it. For me, it's not the brett flavour that I'm chasing but I'm sure it would give an interesting result.

@Mr no-tip - fairly certain the pH of apple juice is low enough not to warrant concern. I'm not a doctor though so don't take that as medical advice.

@ charst - I would avoid boiling apple juice. Not needed at any point
 

manticle

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So bit of an update: I bought several bottles of juice (3 x 1 L preshafruit and around 2 L of a blend of other juices when I couldn't get preshafruit).

Bought a bottle of ecusson cidre brut, a bottle of bordelet sidre doux tendre, a bottle of dupont cidre bouche and for laughs a bottle of schloss apfelwein when I noticed some sediment in the bottom at the shop.

The bordelet dregs went into the juice blend (which I didn't fancy the taste of) and the others went into the preshafruit. Yeast nutrient, lids on tight, shake like crazy, repeat over a few hours.
In a water bath in an 'off' mini fridge and left with lids dialled back a touch.

After a bit of time (less than scientific but it's early exploratory days) the preshafruit juices started to show a bit of cloudiness and some brown sediment resembling yeast. The blend remained clear. Opened them up and had a whiff - I think this was a mistake as I probably exposed them all to too much oxygen. However all bar the blend smelled a little like the commercial bottles from whence they came with the dupont having the most characteristic odour. The dupont is the one I used in my full batch cider mentioned earlier and is the funkiest of all the cidres with the apfelwein coming a close second.

Forgot about them for a while then opened the fridge one morning to find some ropy/filmy growths in the preshafruit and a lovely blue mould skin on the blend. On advice from Dr Andrew Lea via email and Dr Smurto via PM, I ditched the mouldy one although I did check gravity and had a tiny sip before tipping. Gravity was 1030 (suggesting very slow fermentation by something, although I did forget to take OGs) and taste was of sweet, fetid apple juice - not what I'm chasing. The others I have left - if I close the cap tightly for a day, then release, the bottles swell so fermentation of some kind is definitely occurring and all smell as they should (I don't recommend the smell test for anyone else and I will avoid for future experiments).

Thus far, I would suggest that it is entirely possible to harvest yeast from some of these commercial ciders. How long it would take to ferment a full batch without making a large, time consuming starter (this has been going for 3-4 weeks now and there's only a litre in each bottle) is anyone's guess so my initial experiment with adding known yeast to ferment then adding funky yeast to finish might give the most predictable results. In a few weeks or so, I might try the ciders and see which gives the best result, then try and harvest a supply of yeast for future. Then whether I do a split batch with one funk only and one known yeast with finishing funk will be the question. Preshafruit is pretty pricy.

Will update the thread again in a few months if there is any interest.
 

NickB

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I had planned to do a 'panty dropper' cider from supermarket juice bottles. Poured them all in the fermenter, then cut up about 2 kg of apples and dropped them in. Used the CB dry cider yeast so went for an ambient ferment (around 25C). About 2 weeks later, cider looked like it had fermented out. Went to brew a beer the same day and noticed an unopened double pack of cider yeast......

Left the cider to go for another 3 weeks.... Started to develop a pellicle and all.

So I unwittingly made a spontaneously fermented cider. I have kegged it today. A small taste tells me FG is well below 1.000, but there are some funky flavours happening which might turn out great....

Time will tell ;)
 

NickB

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If it turns out OK, I'll send you a bottle :)
 

brettprevans

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Re adding brett to cider. Use brett c not brett b. Awsome resut.

Keept the updates coming mants.
 

winkle

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I had planned to do a 'panty dropper' cider from supermarket juice bottles. Poured them all in the fermenter, then cut up about 2 kg of apples and dropped them in. Used the CB dry cider yeast so went for an ambient ferment (around 25C). About 2 weeks later, cider looked like it had fermented out. Went to brew a beer the same day and noticed an unopened double pack of cider yeast......

Left the cider to go for another 3 weeks.... Started to develop a pellicle and all.

So I unwittingly made a spontaneously fermented cider. I have kegged it today. A small taste tells me FG is well below 1.000, but there are some funky flavours happening which might turn out great....

Time will tell ;)
The apples usually have yeast on the skins, just waiting for windfall to occur (I'm not so sure about the waxed and polished ones). You may wish to skip the next bit of drivel.
When I were a lad in Stanthorpe we'd collect all the bird chewed, hail struck and other unsellable but sound fruit & dump them into a big concrete bin then crush the lot. The biggest hassle was keeping the vinegar flies away. No need to add additional yeast. After a few weeks of fermenting in something like a demijon the result was funky scrumpy cider - quite good if you drank it early on.
 

NickB

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Yeah, I'm guessing it was the skins as I didn't have the fermenter open.

Geez Perry, you are a wealth of knowledge! I wouldn't have know looking at you ;)
 

Damien13

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Well, I can say that Nicks Sponto Cider was frigging delicious.
I am a fan of the funk, and it was bloody great....
 

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