Cyser Apple Honey Mead

(5 gallons/19 L)
OG = 1.095  FG = 0.995
ABV = 14%

4 gal. (15 L) apple cider or juice (with no preservatives)
10 lbs. (4.5 kg) honey (favorite variety)
3 tsp. liquid pectic enzyme
3 tsp. yeast nutrient
3 tsp. malic acid
3 tsp. potassium sorbate
1 packet champagne yeast
250 ml wine conditioner (optional)

Step By Step
In large, non-reactive kettle heat the honey with cider/juice. The ratio should be one part honey to two parts cider. Bring temperature to 175 °F (80 °C)  and hold for 15 minutes.

Add the remaining apple cider/juice to the solution and top off with water to 5 gallons (19 L). Stir thoroughly. Add the malic acid to your primary fermenter (a seven-gallon plastic fermenter with a lid and airlock works well) and mix well. Add the pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient mixing well. The specific gravity should be around 1.095.

Disperse the yeast in 4 oz. (113 mL) warm water. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Pitch the yeast and place the fermenter in a warm place (70 to 78° F/21 to 26 °C). Monitor the sugar level (specific gravity) to check for fermentation  progression by using a hydrometer about every other day. When specific gravity has reached about 1.020, siphon this liquid into a clean, five-gallon (19 L) carboy and top up with cold, pre-boiled water if necessary. Top with a bung and fermentation lock. The fermentation will continue to progress slowly at this point, often taking a number of weeks to finish.

After three more weeks, or when the specific gravity reaches around 0.995, rack into another clean carboy. At this specific gravity reading, your mead will be dry. Top up with cold, preboiled water.

After another week, check the titratable acidity (in grams per liter) of your mead. If it is much below 5 g/L or tastes flat, try adding an acid blend in order to bring the titratable acidity up to around 7 g/L.

At this point, if you have the equipment, you could filter the mead into a clean carboy. After the acid’s adjusted (and after you’ve filtered, if you did) add some postassium sorbate to prevent a re-fermentation in the bottle. Let the mead sit (bulk age) for one month.

After a month, if you wish to bottle your mead in homebrew or champagne bottles with crown caps, do so. Adding wine conditioner is an optional step that might improve the body and mouthfeel of the final cyser. If you decide to use a bit of wine conditioner, mix it thoroughly into the mead before you bottle it. Bottle-age your cyser for 5 months before consumption.

Issue: Summer 2000

A cyser is traditionally a “sack mead,” or a sweet mead, that’s made with honey and apples. This cyser is quite like a wine, and will have a wine’s higher alcohol content when it’s finished. An important note: When buying the apple juice or cider, be sure it doesn’t contain any preservatives — like potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate or sulfites — which would kill the yeast. Check at a health-food store or find a cider producer who’ll sell you juice right off the press.