The following beer recipe is featured in the January/February 2022 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue along with the archives with Zymurgy Online!
Recipe courtesy of Nat West, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Others profess to produce a cherry cider, but none begin with 100% sour Granny Smith apples (eschewing all other apple varieties for their lack of sourness) unified with the superior Montmorency sour cherry (aka Prunus cerasus, a superior and vastly dissimilar cherry to Prunus avid, the bird cherry, the mere mazzard, so commonly used in cough syrup and children’s sweet-snacks) and the exotic Morello sour cherry (hailing from my native country of Hungary), fermented with an English Ale yeast (procured from a fine brewery in Chiswick, London), rounded out with a spot of Bartlett pear juice (undeniably the world’s greatest pear-flavored pear) and completed with a touch of spiciness (largely attributable to the ghost chili pepper, although married with a secret spice), precisely enough to make your vigor race and spirits embrace another gulp. This is a cherry cider like none you have ever tasted.
- 4 gal. (15.1 L) super-tart apple juice, Granny Smith if possible
- 1 gal. (3.8 L) tart cherry juice
- Wyeast 1968 London ESB YEAST
- ADDITIONAL ITEMS
- Fermaid K
- Super Kleer
- 10–15 cloves
- Dried chiles of your choice
Yield: 5 US gal
Ferment the apple juice at 62–72°F (17–22°C). Don’t let it climb above 72°F (22°C).
Add yeast nutrient—use Fermaid K, not plain old diammonium phosphate (DAP)—at 30–35% attenuation according to the dosage on the package, noting that the juice will go full dry, down to below 1.000 SG (0°P).
When fully dry, let the cider age in primary for 3 weeks. Chill, if possible, to help the yeast drop out of suspension. After 3 weeks, add Super Kleer according to the manufacturer’s instructions to clarify, and then transfer off the Super Kleer to a secondary container.
Add 1 gal. (3.8 L) of tart/sour cherry juice. Do not use “dark/sweet” cherry juice. It may be hard to find this product, but I can usually get it at Whole Foods Market. It can be much pricier than sweet juice. Look for Montmorency and/or Morello varieties. These are tart pie cherries, which are largely inedible.
Prepare clove tea by adding 10–15 cloves to a small pot with 3 cups (710 mL) of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour. Strain out the cloves and cool the tea (adding ice is OK). Add a quarter cup of the tea to the cider to start, and then, using ESP, stop adding the tea just before you begin to actually taste the clove in the final blended cider.
Make a tincture by soaking a couple of dried chiles in vodka for 1–3 weeks. Ghost chiles are great, as are habaneros. The hotter, the better. Be careful with this tincture! Do not use fresh chiles, as they will give a vegetal flavor and aroma. Depending on the Scoville intensity of the liquor, add an amount that produces an ever-so-slight hint of heat. It’s very easy to overdo it. Maybe get a friend to help taste it with you.
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