Thursday, May 2, 2013

Apfelwein (ap-fel-vine)

Literally translated: "Apple wine"

Yep, I'm branching out a little and trying my hand at some German hard cider for the fall.

You see, what had happened was... I needed a couple of 1 gallon glass containers to use later this summer to age some of the stout on the bourbon-soaked oak chips. I didn't want to use the 5 gallon glass carboy I have because I don't want to age the entire batch on the bourbon, and I was afraid that only putting 2 gallons in there would expose it to too much oxygen (which is no bueno for beer). Instead of just buying a two gallon carboy, I thought it would be more fun to buy two gallons of apple juice and ferment that, too.

Yes, this is how a homebrewer thinks.

Some time ago I stumbled upon a recipe for EdWort's Apfelwein and so here we are.

"Brewing" this stuff was probably the simplest thing I've ever done.


5 gallons of 100% apple juice (pasteurized, with no preservatives*)
2 lbs dextrose (corn sugar)

*Ascorbic acid is the only acceptable preservative
**The original recipe calls for Montrachet, but I couldn't find that, so I'm using Lalvin D47

Basically, you mix it all up, toss in the yeast, and let it ferment for a month or more.

 Sanitizing the carboy

To make sure the sugar was mixed in really well, I followed the original recipe's instructions to pour about half of one of the apple juice bottles into the carboy, then pour a pound of sugar into the now half-full apple juice bottle and shake it like crazy before pouring that into the carboy.

Makeshift funnel. That was Jen's idea. Don't be jealous of our creativity. 

The apple juice with the sugar added, before mixing it all up. 

All mixed up.

Our other makeshift funnel. Again, don't be jealous of the ingenuity here.

Almost done -- that's the rehydrated yeast in the bowl there. 

Done and sealed up with an airlock! Now we just have to wait.

After a month or two, I'll transfer it to bottles and let it go for a few more months. Apparently the longer it goes, the better.

When this goes into bottles, you can carb it up like you do beer, or leave it flat like wine.

Some people even carb it up pretty high so it ends up like champagne. I might try it both ways (leave some flat and carb some), but I haven't decided yet. Apparently the Germans will add a little Sprite to it if they want it sweet and bubbly.

We "brewed" this one on Tuesday night, and Wednesday evening this is what was happening:

Lots of sugar = lots of happy yeast... they are going CRAZY in there!

What you're seeing is the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast as they eat the sugar and produce the alcohol. Pretty cool stuff.

Word has it that it's an acquired taste, but after a few glasses it'll really start to grow on you. And since it takes a few months to properly mature, you might want to go ahead and get that second batch going a few weeks after you start the first.

Yeah, apparently it's THAT good.

But let's not lose focus here -- now I have what I need to age the KGB Stout on some bourbon-soaked oak chips!!

Double win!


  1. This is the coolest thing, my old petunia friend! Some Germans mix it with Sprite, that's true. It is called "Süß Gespritzter". Some others, myself included, like it better mixed with sparkling water. It's then called "Sauer Gespritzter". Anyhow, there is no way around you getting your "Arsch" over here and compare your "Äppler" to the original one from Frankfurt! When shall I reserve a table?

  2. Thanks for sharing a great post


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