Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

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Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:40 pm

Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy, maybe after my corn runs, before I get back to rum.

I found some cider for about $5 a gallon... It's better than apple juice, is what I'm getting, right? And use EC-1118 right, then ferment around 65? No added sugar. What if I punch the recipe, since EC can take an ABV up to 18%, with a lot of cans of frozen apple juice concentrate, say 20 cans. Thoughts? Be shooting for a 5.5 gallon wash with 5 gallons cider and then the 20 cans of concentrate, some nutrient, and the yeast.

Advice please, those with experience-
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Re: Apple Brandy

Post by CatCrap » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:28 pm

What ABV / PA / SG are you going for? I don't know what the added 20 cans would give you. But i don't think you should shoot for over 1.08/9 or much higher than a 10% PA ABV. That's my opinion. I do think that using AJ concentrate instead of white sugar is a very very good idea, and the way to go. Then it will be pure apple flavor and you won't lose out on any flavor to white sugar. IMHO, 5$ a gallon seems a little steep.. but, if you can afford it.. Also, I would use Cider over Juice for sure, if you can. Cider will have more depth of flavor and probably more nutrients and probably ferment better and probably be less "adultered" than juice would be.

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Re: Apple Brandy

Post by CatCrap » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:31 pm

Also... just because EC theoretically can survive up to 18% doesn't mean you ever ever should go that high. I gotta believe any yeast would produce off flavors in that range.

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Re: Apple Brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:39 pm

Well 1 can of juice concentrate is 174g sugar, so 5 cans are about equivalent to 2lbs of sugar. I figure 20 cans are like adding 8lbs sugar, and the 5 gals cider are 2090g sugar. The estimate is right around 13lbs of sugar equivalent, for about an 11% ABV, and the EC can handle that easy.

So with 5 gallons cider, 20 cans, the EC, 5g of yeast nutrient, and a low ferment temp of 65F, am I missing anything important, or can I change/add/do anything else to have a good first experience at apple brandy? I wish I could get apple cider concentrate somehow, but no way, but yeah I'm not adding sugar at all; I wanted to up the ABV and push a ton of apple flavor into my mash without upping the volume of liquid, so the frozen concentrate was the best idea I had.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:23 pm

THis all sounds like a solid plan to me. ALthough there are others who'll hopefully come around with more experience than I. In my opinion, 11% is the top you want to go. I want to reiterate... that yes, the EC CAN handle 11%, i'm sure. But that doesn't mean it should. It probably CAN handle 18%, but does that mean you should? No, of course not. I cannot say this from my own experience however.. BUT i believe the 40-50 members here, probably much more, that have always always professed that it is not wise to chase HighAbv Washes. This is like the Turbo Yeast debate. Why do so many experienced members here vehemently protest and strongly discourage folks from using Turbo yeast and ultra High ABv washes? Because they have tried it, and at those high abv the yeast are highly stressed, and while they are capable of converting Sugar to alcohol and CO2 at that abv level, they are under enormous stress and will also produce lots of off flavors. You want happy yeast. You want your yeast to be in an environment where they have everything they need and nothing they don't and the correct conditions, including temperature, PH, nutrients, and ABV level.

So, i think 11 is about as high as i would go. And, if you're fermenting at 65 degrees, i'd expect it to be a rather slow ferment. Plan for 3 weeks, 2 if you're super lucky, but more likely close to a month. Just keep this in mind. Aerate the wash very well, give them enough of all the nutrients they need to go the distance. Airlock the fermenter, and don't even think about opening it up and poking around in there too soon. After the airlock seems to have stopped bubbling, give it a check. Also would be wise to get a SG and PH now, so when it is time to check, you can assess the progress. That way if you're sitting at 1.02, progress appears to have stopped, you can make more informed decisions as far as what you want to do. Apple juice is fairlt acidic, and the addition of concentrate could bring the PH down even further. Yeast action is naturally going to bring that PH down yet even further, so be prepared to moniter that PH and adjust if necessary. But, i gotta say that is NOT something you want to fuck around with. It is always a massive frustration to me when i get a stuck ferment, especially due to PH. When i was dealing with Molasses rum, and using some backset in ferments, it seemed like i had endless issues with PH and getting stuck ferments is such a pain in the butt. It becomes a waste of time to keep a stuck ferment taking up space, but you don't want to give up and throw it away, and you don't want to run it too early, A, because you don't want to miss out on possible ABV, and B, because you could have very serious foaming issues and that leads to puking, another not so fun activity.

BUT i sure don't mean to be mr. doom and gloom. I"m sure all will go well, and you will be distiling some fantastic Apple Brandy in no time. I hope i am too! :ebiggrin:
So, when we get to that point, we can talk more about the run itself. One thing i know for sure, is to look to the heads for the apple flavor.

Are you going to be potstilling? I hope so.. Are you planning to do a double, single, or 1.5X Run?

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by cranky » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:42 pm

That's essentially making iced apple then distilling it, kind of like jacking only before fermenting. Like CC said just because it can go to 18% doesn't mean you should, I have actually reached 21% with 1118 but not for distilling purposes and it's not easy so I would keep it under 12%. One thing that may be a problem is acidity may need adjusted because the concentrate likely has pretty high acidity.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:48 pm

I have a potstill, with a thump keg, so I guess you'd technically kind of call it 1.5 times, or some would say it's a kind of double distillation. I typically, well always, run a wash through that all once and I'm done. Haven't had any issues with anything to this point.

I was planning on balancing PH of the was before I get the yeast started, maybe 5.5, or 6 if the yeast are going to drop it further, I don't know if it's like a rum/corn that you want at 5.5 when you start it off... I won't be into this for maybe 2-3 weeks because I'm on corn now, waiting for a mash to ferment out now (in my cornflake/corn thread) and doing a 4th gen after that's done. Then I was going to run the apple for a change of pace before I get back into rum.

I have 5 gallons of high quality molasses, 5 of blackstrap, 5lbs of Lyle's black treacle, some mead yeast, read wine yeast, some infected dunder, and some sterile dunder; I'm ready to get back fully to rum and learn a lot like I have on my corn walkabout. Thought the apple brandy would be a nice little interruption between them.

I'm only shooting for 10-11% ABV at the finish.

Hoping more experts with experience chime in.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by The Baker » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:51 pm

distiller_dresden said, 'I typically, well always, run a wash through that all once and I'm done.....'

What exactly do you put in the thumper? Just some wash, or.... ?

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by cranky » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:31 pm

I think it would be a good idea to get another fermenter and start that apple now. Let it work off slowly and finish, airlock it and it will be ready when you are rather than risking getting impatient and trying to rush things when the time comes. I never run apple (or much of anything) before at least a whole month is up, usually 3 or more months.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:08 pm

That sounds wise to me, Cranky.


Also, Dresden, The yeast will lower the PH at a manageable rate. By that, i mean, (manageble isn't the right term, it's escaping me) that it's not going to ALWAYS drop it by 2 points. There isn't a hard and fast amount that Yeast will move the ph bar. But, generally it's going to drop it by some percentage. So, if you bring it up to 5 i think you're safe. YOu don't want to much around with it too much or put in too much additives/ph adjusters. I'm not saying it won't be a succesful ferment and go to dry if you start at 4.... i just mean that if you start at 4, or below that, there is a chance the wash could become to acidic for the yeast to finish the job. So, i think it's a good idea to bring it up just a touch before the ferment begins. I'm starting to learn that it is best to set up your wash for ideal conditions and a successful Ferment at the beginning, and let it ferment to dry undisturbed. I have much less success if i have to adjust things midway through, or even near the end of fermentation. Best to get it right from the start so you don't have to adjust PH/Temp/Nutes in any way. I think that provides a cleaner end result. IMHO.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:13 pm

Hey Geoff (or should I say 'The Baker'?) I have a gallon thump keg which I charge with 32oz ahead of a run, typically with wash, the same that goes in my pot still. If I am running something I have run before and have heads/tails (feints) I will usually do a 22 wash/10 feints to up that ABV of the charge somewhat because I've noticed it gets things rolling sooner, and my output proof higher.

I will also, as is typical, charge with flavors, as with my cornflake/corn runs lately I'm going 20 wash/8 feints/4 honey and about 3 tblsp dried carnation malted milk mix.

Anyway, please, why do you ask, and educate or suggest away! I am only 5 months into the lifestyle zen of this, while I am quite taken by it (obsessed and in love I'd say), I am a sponge and completely humble.

CatCrap I agree completely; I was thinking of starting PH at 5.5 like it was a high sugar/gravity rum wash, so your suggestion of 5 is on par with that. I didn't realize it would be a long ferment, so I will get another fermenter and my ingredients this weekend and get started right away. Hopefully any advice and tips/adjustments the community has I can get before then...
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:18 pm

HOw have you liked the cornflake recipe? To be truly honest... almost a year later... i much prefer my UJSM to Cornflake. I did a fair amount of both, even a couple generations of the corn flake. It was a bunch of trouble with straining and more costly to use cornflakes. I don't think they give an impressive flavor. But that's just my opinion. Maybe you or others will like it more than i did. I think UJSM is a winner for sure. And.. cornflake is still some solid whiskey, it didnt suck. It just wasn't very corn forward, or flavor forward. Maybe it's my expectations that were off

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:22 pm

I don't want to get off topic; I have been made aware of that lately. But I'd love to talk at length about this, if you wanted to pop and comment in my cornflake/corn thread. But I love my spin on it, what I've been doing and how I've adjust it. My recent gen 2 just came off the still and into a big gallon jar for aging... I haven't had the opportunity to talk about it and really don't want to get dinged again here - pop over to my thread because hardly anybody has joined in there to comment.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by The Baker » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:02 pm

distiller_dresden wrote:Hey Geoff (or should I say 'The Baker'?) I have a gallon thump keg which I charge with 32oz ahead of a run, typically with wash, the same that goes in my pot still. If I am running something I have run before and have heads/tails (feints) I will usually do a 22 wash/10 feints to up that ABV of the charge somewhat because I've noticed it gets things rolling sooner, and my output proof higher.

I will also, as is typical, charge with flavors, as with my cornflake/corn runs lately I'm going 20 wash/8 feints/4 honey and about 3 tblsp dried carnation malted milk mix.

Anyway, please, why do you ask, ...
Thanks, I ask because I will get a thumper (soon, MAYBE) and there seem to be many possibilities as to what you might put in the thumper.

My name in the forum is the Baker because I was a baker, but my actual name sounds friendlier, I think.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:38 am

So there are two huge orchards near my house, and actually a hard cidery. They sell normal ciders year round too. Here's what I've worked out my cider recipe is going to be:

64 oz honeycrisp cider
1.5 gal apple cider
64 oz unfiltered apple juice (close to cider, but tastes like liquid apple sauce, delicious product they sell)
68 oz pear juice concentrate (found this on Amazon and thought it would be a sugar punch and nice addition for flavor notes)
156 oz Simply Apple (wanted to use some of this stuff because it's my favorite apple juice)
15 cans frozen apple juice concentrate
1 servomyces capsule
6 grams Fermaid K
Few drops olive oil
EC-1118, 64-66F

Total is about 5.5 gallons which will allow for settling of yeast and to draw a good clear 5 gallons to run in my still. ABV should project to be about 11%. I understand most of the flavor is going to be the heads? Is saving the backset to flavor the brandy once it's aged off a thing? Wondering if I should save some in sterilized jars hot from the pot so they seal. I think it might also be interesting to use some backset in the future as flavoring for a corn mash, or in a corn run, or maybe some in thumper for a rum...
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:10 am

Sounds awesome. I think you'll get a really nice balance of flavors from the different apple/pear juices. I'm dying to do a pear brandy next.. sounds soo good.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:25 pm

I've been reading and studying up and I know I need to make cuts a lot differently, and I'll be collecting in smaller jars, which is fine I have a back stock of pint and half pint jar cases unopened in my closet for when I need 'em. I need to start thinking about what I cut this to in order to age it, and what/how to age it. I don't have any BadMo barrels yet because BadMo has been out of commission making barrels for a short while, though I'm on a 'list' and I'm in contact... I could always transfer when I get one. In the time being I have gallon and 2.5 gallon glass barrel jugs I got at Kroger I really like for aging my spirits.

For wood options I have medium toast American oak spirals, medium toast Hungarian oak cubes, light toast French oak cubes, medium toast French oak chips (not a big fan...), and a big bag of Jack Daniels used barrel wood chunks (been GREAT for aging my cornflake/corn shine). I know the aging is going to go at LEAST until Fall.

I'm kind of thinking an even mix, maybe even leaning into French light 40%, Hungarian 30%, an inch of American med spiral, and some of the JD chips without char on them (BIG thick chunks). Thoughts/input?

For reference here's my handy dandy toast flavors chart -
Oak-Flavor-Chart1-e1439428578405.jpg
Also, do I make cuts with any of the brandy backset, or apple juice, or just water?

Back to my ingredients for the ferment, I guess since everything has to be pasteurized in the US, I can just dump when it's at room temp and pitch yeast once the yeast is ready, no boil or heat required, that's novel.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by Hoosier Shine9 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:23 pm

Hey DD,
here is close to what I use as a base for my Caramel Apple.
If you are going to make Apple Brandy no need to let it clear.
I would let it finish or real close.


5 gals of tree top apple juice (sometimes Motts if the store is out of tree top)
10 LBS table sugar (wal mart brand cheap stuff)...for Brandy I would cut this to 5# that should give you a sg of about 1.080 or about 11%
1 packet Lalvin EC-1118 yeast
1 tablespoon yeast nutrient (wyeast beer nutrient blend)

No rocket science here, just dump everything in the carboy and let the champagne yeast do it's thing. Primary till all bubbling of the air lock stops then wait a week. After the week is up rack to 2ndary (optional)
I used "super-kleer K.C."{kieselsol-chitosan} in 2ndary (optional) to clear the cider and the stuff is amazing. Cold crash in the freezer for an hour and bottle.

Do not attempt to drive, operate heavy machinery, or anything requiring coordination or basic motor skills after drinking this. this ends about 14.5%-15%.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by cranky » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:53 pm

distiller_dresden wrote:So there are two huge orchards near my house, and actually a hard cidery. They sell normal ciders year round too. Here's what I've worked out my cider recipe is going to be:

64 oz honeycrisp cider
1.5 gal apple cider
64 oz unfiltered apple juice (close to cider, but tastes like liquid apple sauce, delicious product they sell)
68 oz pear juice concentrate (found this on Amazon and thought it would be a sugar punch and nice addition for flavor notes)
156 oz Simply Apple (wanted to use some of this stuff because it's my favorite apple juice)
15 cans frozen apple juice concentrate
1 servomyces capsule
6 grams Fermaid K
Few drops olive oil
EC-1118, 64-66F
That is a good mix although I don't understand the olive oil and the extra nutrients aren't really necessary but probably won't hurt. Yeast love apple and it should have everything they need and Honeycrisp doesn't have as much flavor as most other apples, it will increase sugar.
distiller_dresden wrote:I understand most of the flavor is going to be the heads? Is saving the backset to flavor the brandy once it's aged off a thing? Wondering if I should save some in sterilized jars hot from the pot so they seal. I think it might also be interesting to use some backset in the future as flavoring for a corn mash, or in a corn run, or maybe some in thumper for a rum...
I like adding pear into the mix but be aware the pear flavor may come over in a different place than the apple or even throughout the run. Apple flavor will be in the heads. For me pear comes through throughout the run but has the most just at the end of the hearts and early tails. I can't say anything about using the backset.
distiller_dresden wrote:Back to my ingredients for the ferment, I guess since everything has to be pasteurized in the US, I can just dump when it's at room temp and pitch yeast once the yeast is ready, no boil or heat required, that's novel.
If you buy directly from the source it does not have to be pasteurized, it is supposed to be the one way to get it unpasteurized.

As far as oaking it is easy to dominate the apple with the oak, I do a lot of weird things and oaking is one of them, I never use a fresh piece of oak on apple brandy, you are going to let it age a long time anyway and you want the oak to enhance not dominate.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:31 pm

Hey Cranky, glad you stopped by! If it's not pasteurized then I'd better do some heating right, because I don't want wild yeasts...

Can you give me an idea what you do? I saw you leave a jar loosely covered lid over the heater vent; what do you do with oak/wood, how do you wood it? What types of things do you do to your brandy?

I'm willing to be patient and wait at least until October to even taste it properly. I just am not sure what to do once I make cuts, or to what to proof down to in order to age it. Do you add anything after you've aged it, or when aging do you drop a piece of apple, or pear, or something in? After aging, any kind of sweetener, honey, little apple juice? I want to have something really special and have an idea what I'm doing. I've been poring over the apple brandy threads, they're kind of light on finishing techniques...

I found wood chunks on Amazon I'm excited about, they're from Spanish and French brandy barrels that are retired. Like others of these we bastardize, they're for smokers, but score. They had some port barrel ones too, but I can't think of a use for them at the moment so I didn't order any. The oak barrels are Hungarian and French oak. But so now not only is the oak 'used' like Jack Daniels oak barrel chunks, but it's also had fine brandies soaking on/in/through it.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by Stargazer14 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:48 am

Dres, make sure your cider (which sounds fresh) or your other ingredients do not have preservatives,
I've been making apple brandy but one time made the mistake of not reading the label on 25 gal of cider well enough,
for a month I had no fermentation but I did not give up and overwhelmed it with yeast until it took off. Actually was one of my best, but not worth the trouble.
Fresh cider is the way to go.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by cranky » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:41 pm

I wrote this in 3 increments as time allowed so it may seem a bit broken
distiller_dresden wrote:Hey Cranky, glad you stopped by! If it's not pasteurized then I'd better do some heating right, because I don't want wild yeasts...

I'm willing to be patient and wait at least until October to even taste it properly. I just am not sure what to do once I make cuts, or to what to proof down to in order to age it. Do you add anything after you've aged it, or when aging do you drop a piece of apple, or pear, or something in? After aging, any kind of sweetener, honey, little apple juice? I want to have something really special and have an idea what I'm doing. I've been poring over the apple brandy threads, they're kind of light on finishing techniques...
Non pasteurized isn't really a problem unless you are going to wait a long time before running it. One year I had a poorly fitting lid and let it sit something like 6 months before getting to it and found 3 inches of mother on top of 10 gallons of really nice apple cider vinegar. I ran it off anyway and it produced fine brandy.

I have a couple threads going if you haven't read them yet
viewtopic.php?f=58&t=68085//url
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=67216
viewtopic.php?f=94&t=48881&start=90
That first link is the locked final recipe that's talked about on the second link and the 3rd one covers a few years of dealing with fruit, I'm pretty sure my methods are covered in there somewhere.

Experimenting isn't necessarily a bad thing but of course I have already been doing that for years now. I don't think adding apple juice is very beneficial and it takes a long time for it to settle down afterwards. A little bit of hard cider might be ok but I can't really say. I did condition my barrel by aging hard cider in it before using it for the brandy and think it is working out ok.
distiller_dresden wrote:Can you give me an idea what you do? I saw you leave a jar loosely covered lid over the heater vent; what do you do with oak/wood, how do you wood it? What types of things do you do to your brandy?...

I found wood chunks on Amazon I'm excited about, they're from Spanish and French brandy barrels that are retired. Like others of these we bastardize, they're for smokers, but score. They had some port barrel ones too, but I can't think of a use for them at the moment so I didn't order any. The oak barrels are Hungarian and French oak. But so now not only is the oak 'used' like Jack Daniels oak barrel chunks, but it's also had fine brandies soaking on/in/through it.
I like the idea of well used brandy barrels, I'd actually like to give port barrels a try. My best results so far have been using whiskey staves that I cut into 6" long, 1" wide by whatever thickness they are. I sanded them down so they were fresh oak, toasted the TP way, I think I did some at 375 and some at 400 and gave them what might be a called a light char, some might not call it char at all, it's basically just darkening the wood a bit. I personally don't want to get the dominant flavors from a heavy char. I can't remember if I conditioned them in neutral for several weeks or if I used them to age Unicorn Sweat but I made sure they were used. I probably did the neutral because I didn't want to add a whiskeyish flavor to them. I then used (I think) 2 sticks to a half gallon and left them on the heater vent with loose lids for a long time, maybe a year, maybe 9 months, something like that. I know a lot of people do brandy the same way as whiskey but in truth the people who have been making brandies for centuries do it differently for a reason. I believe most do not use charred barrels, only toasted. Calvadose makers never use new barrels...that's not exactly true because a few will put the new brandy in a new toasted barrel for a very short period of time, something like a week, before moving it to a well aged barrel. They say the new barrel adds some sweetness. I try to replicate what they do on a micro scale, the wood should accent and enhance not dominate so I do what I can to make that happen.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:34 pm

You think I could benefit/not go wrong by sanding some choice/large chunks of the brandy wood, then toasting them in the oven before aging? Wrap in foil and 375/400 for 2 hours, right? I don't want char either, overpowering, even in my corn and rum I don't like it. I want toast, in brandy, light toast.

I have been reading a LOT about brandy, in Calvados I read one of the types they hit new barrels for 3 months, strict, then pulled and are into used barrels for 3 years after that. There are variances, but you're right, they are all new barrel for some length, short, then used barrels for length after that. Hmm on the port, really, for brandy? I was worrying it might overpower, but perhaps it would add a subtle sweetness that brandy wood isn't going to, and port wood would definitely be wonderful for whisky...
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:36 pm

distiller_dresden wrote:Hey Cranky, glad you stopped by! If it's not pasteurized then I'd better do some heating right, because I don't want wild yeasts...

My understanding is that EC-1118 has the "killer" gene breed into it. That means that it will destroy or outcompete other yeasts. So, in two ways you can ensure success. Make sure you pitch enough, or go on the heavier side, to ensure that EC will be the yeast that dominates and does the heavy lifting and fermenting. And second, choose a yeast like EC, which you've already done. I don't think the wild yeast will be an issue. If anythig, it could theoretically help out the process, but i don't see any way in which it could harm your ferment. I'm not completely sure, but pretty sure that EC is a type of yeast that has the "killer" effect, that allows it to sort of neutralize other yeasts. I don't really go for mixing yeasts anyways.. but i think that' why you wouldn't (in another scenario) want to mix other yeasts with EC-1118. I think KV-1116 may have the Killer gene as well. Not sure though

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:41 pm

In fact, i would say DO NOT heat your juice, as you may drive off or evaporate some of the more delicate aromas of the apple juice. You could gently warm a portion of the wash, that may be advisable. I wish i had done that for mine. My theory on that being that a warmer ferment will work faster/harder, so in order to kind of get the ball rolling and get your ferment started strong, bringing up the overall temp could be a good idea. Like.. if you heated half of it to say 100, added it to the rest which is at around 60, it would all be around 80 degrees, which will get the yeast started up and moving. Assuming your fermenter isn't insulated, it should drop down in temp pretty quickly. The action of the yeast will produce some heat, but not much, especially a less than crazy acting yeast like EC and a sugar source that's natural. So, the yeast action may keep that heat and keep it a little above your room temp, but not much. I"m not advocating for you to ferment the WHOLE TIME at 80 degrees, just to get it started a little bit above room temp, even if it's 75ish, just to get things started. i think this would help ensure a healthy ferment, and help ensure that you won' t have an infection. If your yeast colony gets off to a good strong start, in that nice acidic environment, it will help to avoid a bacteria competition and infection. I'd say infection would be more of a worry/risk for you using unpasteurized juice. I'd be more worried about Bacteria than about Wild yeast.
Just my 2 pennies. :ewink:

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by CatCrap » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:54 pm

One more thought.

So, i bought some used whiskey barrel chunks on amazon also. I really like them i think they give really great flavor. My only thought on this, however, is that to US, they are not COMPLETELY used. I think about it like this... They're chunks. So they're cut up pieces of the staves. So, when they are being using in their original application, in the barrel,The spirit is going to soak into the wood, and soak in and out and in and out over time with temperature swings, BUT, it's not going to soak all the way through. How far does it soak in? I don't really know? But.. let's assume it soaks through 3/4 of the way. I don't think it does, probably more like half way, but lets be conservative. So, that last outer 1/4 of the stave is, for all intents and purposes, still "new" oak. So, the chunks we buy, they do have a portion of used oak, but they are also always going to have the outer edge of the stave as well. So it's really a combination of new and used oak. For me, i've found i think this to be a really great thing. It doesn't have the intensity of all new oak, so it's not so risky to over oak. It has some new oak, where we can get some of that nice wood intensity, but it also has some oak that has been tempered down a bit by being used once for whiskey already. So.. not sure if i'm crazy, or this makes sense. Did i explain what i mean well enough? Do you understand? Do you all think what i'm saying makes sense?

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by cranky » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:27 pm

1118 will dominate and help finish the cider to a much lower S.G. Even at the lower temps it is fairly quick to start, I just sprinkle it on top and let it do it's thing. I will gently shake it after a few to 12 hours and twice a day after that to settle the foam out. Unpasteurized cider will foam like crazy so don't overfill it. There are some pictures on my apple cider recipe thread (link in my signature) but basically it's not unusual for me to blow out airlocks or fill them up with foam. This usually happens 24-48 hrs into the ferment. Pasteurized juice foams a lot less but still foams considerably.

You can actually get away with a lot with brandy, Infections won't start until after fermentation so if you keep an eye on it and it looks like it is getting infected you run it. I have a tendency to get lacto infections and don't really worry about them. I don't think it is that great of a risk with commercially produced cider either because they are no longer allowed to use drops so the apples are pretty clean to start with. There is always the possibility that the vinegar flies got to it but like I said, that won't start until the ferment is complete and takes quite a bit of time to convert a full batch.
distiller_dresden wrote:You think I could benefit/not go wrong by sanding some choice/large chunks of the brandy wood, then toasting them in the oven before aging? Wrap in foil and 375/400 for 2 hours, right? I don't want char either, overpowering, even in my corn and rum I don't like it. I want toast, in brandy, light toast.

I have been reading a LOT about brandy, in Calvados I read one of the types they hit new barrels for 3 months, strict, then pulled and are into used barrels for 3 years after that. There are variances, but you're right, they are all new barrel for some length, short, then used barrels for length after that. Hmm on the port, really, for brandy? I was worrying it might overpower, but perhaps it would add a subtle sweetness that brandy wood isn't going to, and port wood would definitely be wonderful for whisky...
I think you will do well to sand and re-toast the brandy wood, I might have to look into that myself, and now that I think about it, I think I have used some apple wood as well. I actually found a broken apple branch that had been suspended in the tree for a number of years, cut the heart wood into sticks and toasted that. I think that works very well but of course not everybody can get properly cured apple wood. Lots of fruit woods are good for aging as well. Did I mention I do a lot of weird things for aging?
I use Japanese maple sometimes too but that is almost impossible to get. My barrel bungs are turned Japanese maple and contact the spirit in the barrel. Yes I would like to try port staves and see how that turns out.

I'm not exactly sure where I'm going here, my train of thought is getting derailed and it's my bed time so I guess I'll leave it at that.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:40 pm

Damn Cranky; I would love to get hold of just one piece of Japanese Maple. How I use wood that would last me years, since I only have a 5 gallon pot still and use cubes now, even then I would just use made chunks. I think I may have located a flooring/cabinet place with the breed of wood, is buying wood from a place like that, the wood if raw is dried proper right? Mind if I ask how you got hold of some?

I don't have any way to get fruit woods, unless I looked on Amazon - I ordered the Port barrel chunks, once I mentioned and thought of them in my whisky, oh man. Wonder how that might be in brandy?

CatCrap-
I get what you were saying/your idea. I have some Jack Daniels oak barrel chunks though, and I gotta say, I think that it does get into the whole barrel, but you're partially right, I don't think the outer parts get as soaked as the inner. But the 'angel's share' does go out through the barrel, so there is obviously spirits getting all the way through all barrel aged spirits, just at a very slow rate so you're not seeing dripping or something. It is obviously much heavier and denser a soaking and pulling back for the inner layer though, you're definitely onto something there.

Oh, Cranky, forgot to mention - the olive oil. For me it's a sort of protective. There have been studies, and follow up practices right here on the board, where instead of oxygenation - I know, I KNOW, but INSTEAD of aerating the mash a few drops of olive oil have been added. I don't know the science, but the yeast performed the same without oxygen using the olive oil. I use a few drops now just in case I may not aerate well enough, even though I use a stick blender to aerate the shit out of my mashes before I pitch. Every advantage I can give my yeasties, the way I see it.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:47 am

Juiced in, waiting for it to come to room temp, as the multiple were cold from the cidery. (that's a word, right?)

Made 1.5 changes, based on shopping with my dad, a substitution based on what I've learned about Calvados, using 100 different types of apples and balancing the flavors and acidity, sweetness, etc.

64 oz honeycrisp cider
1.5 gal apple cider
64 oz unfiltered apple juice (close to cider, but tastes like liquid apple sauce, delicious product they sell)
68 oz pear juice concentrate (found this on Amazon and thought it would be a sugar punch and nice addition for flavor notes)
104 oz Simply Apple (wanted to use some of this stuff because it's my favorite apple juice)
64 oz Kroger 100% juice white grape peach
15 cans frozen apple juice concentrate
1 servomyces capsule
5 grams Fermaid K (just a dab less due to input RE nutrients in cider and unfiltered juice)
Few drops olive oil
EC-1118, 64-66F

I'll be aerating shortly, then at 6p est we're seeing THE MOVIE. I'll get a picture after at about 9p est and post, if there's anything happening by then. I ALSO plan on saving a 32 oz jar of this from BEFORE I pitched nutrients and yeast and all that, because I want to use some of it in my thump keg for flavoring when I run it. I think this, with the wash, will be the best flavor additive I could use, instead of any other juice since it IS the constituent body of the brandy in whole. It has ALL the flavors. I'm excited, this wash tastes mother frigging gosh damn AMAZING and even the white grape peach, as little as there is when you consider the saturation of apple, is hinting out. The peach is a little tease floral of flavor. I only hope the brandy turns out like a ghost of this. After pitch, it is up to my cuts. I'll be collecting 4oz jars.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Post by distiller_dresden » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:14 pm

For anyone following this recipe, I imagine you can use the liquids even using whatever cider or juice, but when you use the 15 cans concentrate you're going to end up where I was, which was with a PH of about 3.2. It took me 7/8 c potasssium bicarbonate to get PH to 5.4.

Also - WARNING; my fermenting container is a 12 gallon thing I picked up for feed storage. LUCKY, because I went first with a 1/2 cup of PB and the foam within 30 seconds literally came, after liquid about halfway, to within 2" from the top. I was worried watching it and praying to all the gods, Christian, old pagan, Greek and Roman pantheons, Norse, Gaiman's American Gods. In the end that's where it stopped, and I went 1/8 c at a time after that and stirring and stirring and stirring to drop the foam back into the juice/wash to test PH before I added more if necessary.

But final recipe:
64 oz honeycrisp cider
1.5 gal apple cider
64 oz unfiltered apple juice
68 oz pear juice concentrate (found this on Amazon)
104 oz Simply Apple (or 2 bottles)
64 oz Kroger 100% juice white grape peach
15 cans frozen apple juice concentrate
7/8c potassium bicarbonate to bring PH up to 5.4
1 servomyces capsule
5 grams Fermaid K
Few drops olive oil after aeration, just before pitching yeast
EC-1118, ferment @ 64-66F (room temperature)

Saved 26oz in a sterilized 32oz mason jar, before raising PH or adding any nutrients, for using some mixed with wash in my thump keg when running. Will refrigerate. As said above, wash tastes amazing, color and consistency is almost like an all molasses rum wash. I'm going to save 1.5 gallons of backset and do this recipe again, but next time use the backset in making the recipe somehow adjusting the initial liquids, substituting frozen concentrates for the liquids I remove to replace the apple sugars they represent. Thoughts on this? Surely this would have same effect as in a rum and a whisky?? If not, I plan on using the backset in a future whisky and rum mash, part of it, to add... Something, I don't think it's ever been done before!

From grams of sugar on all labels: using an online calculator with 100% converstion and highest attentuation yeast setting, final ABV should be at 11% (substituting juice sugars as if they were pounds of sugar in 5.5 gallons water).
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