Apple Cinnamon Cysor

I didn’t think that it would happen this year.  Usually every fall I grab some apple cider when its freshest and make my cider for the following year.  This yearly event is a time when I produce a pretty big cider (between 9 and 12%), and it usually takes close to a year for it to reach maturity.  With the crazy weather over the past year, Michigan’s apple crop was next to nothing.  This meant for me that I would be skipping my yearly cider.  Well as luck would have it, I found myself with some cider to play around with.  Sadly, this is not the high quality stuff I normally pick up at Gull Meadow Farms, there cider is UV pasteurized so the nuanced flavors hold up much better.  Instead I am using some general cider that is heat pasteurized. 

Taking the condition of the cider into consideration I had an idea that would allow me to bring complexity into the final product without having to rely on the apples alone. So I have started work on a cysor. Cysor is a blend of mead and hard cider. The blending brings complexity while sharing the strengths of the individual components. For an added dimension, I am playing on some thoughts of Christmas and cold winter days. This means adding in some cinnamon, specifically I will be adding a couple cinnamon sticks to secondary.

When working with fresh juices I do not boil them (though I am not sure how the pasteurization will affect this batch).  Pectin is an enzyme in apples that makes the liquid cloudy when it has been heated.  Instead of boiling I sterilize the juice by adding crushed cambden tablets.  This is a similar approach for stopping the fermentation to retain the sweetness of wines and ciders. 

This method makes the process take two days.  After adding the cambden it is common practice to allow the must to sit roughly 24 hours before pitching the working yeast.  For mine, I also use pectin haze (enzymes that help to stop the formation of pectin).  This is added to the must roughly an hour before pitching the yeast. 

For this batch I did something I have never done before.  Instead of my normal liquid yeast (WLP 715 Champagne yeast), I went with a dried yeast.  Lalvin’s EC-1118 is their version of champagne yeast.  The advantage of this approach, was not having to set up a starter before pitching.  Instead I spent a few minutes rehydrating the yeast the same day as pitching into the must. 


Champagne yeast is my usual choice for meads and ciders for a couple reasons.  The first is that I like to make my meads and ciders on the higher end of the abv range (from 9 to 13%).  These bigger alcohols need a yeast that can happily work in the bigger ranges.  I also like a drier finish to my ciders and meads.  The champagne yeast will devour the sugars quite nicely leaving me with a tasty dry beverage. 

The most important reason for my choice in yeast type though is champagne yeast tends to be a neutral yeast.  For specialty drinks like cider and mead I want to taste the flavors solely derived from the must (well that and specialty adjuncts), this yeast allows them to shine on their own merits.  There have been a couple times when I have used different yeasts at the start of fermentation.  But those were a choice to bring certain flavor notes into the final product (Belgian yeast strains are great in meads). 
The bigger beverages, wines, meads, and big ciders are labors of love.  They take a bit of time and commitment to be made well.  But as you would find with a big barley wine, the final product is something that you will have for aging to enjoy months or even years after it is finished. 
Time for a pint…

11 thoughts on “Apple Cinnamon Cysor

  1. I'll bet your place smells fantastic – there's nothing like the smell of apple cinnamon on a cold winter day! There's so much to brewing apple cider, had no idea. I'm impressed with how well you know your way around brewing this delicious drink.

  2. I love hard ciders during the fall, I can't imagine how delicious a home-made apple cider beer would taste. This looks like a fun process to make a hard cider. I'm looking forward to making an apple cider drink for my relatives over Christmas 🙂

  3. You'd be surprised at how little of the smell escapes during fermentation. My happy days are when I am making transfers and such. Those days mean samples and smells of the working nectars.

  4. Something I learned about patience when it comes to brewing (and it is a fitting lesson for life as well). When you have enough going on that your current project isn't your world, it is easy to focus on what is important right now without being anxious about the results.

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