Listen, it's Christmas. Which means it's time to embrace ugly sweaters and desserts no one likes. It’s tradition for goodness sake! It also means it’s time to turn those desserts into flavoured ciders. Well, at least that’s what it means for me. Over the last couple of years I’ve subjected my friends and family to my brewing experiments giving them as gifts. I’ll be honest, I’ve brewed them beer and cider I haven’t liked, but they "have." So, I’m not sure if they actually enjoyed the flavour, the side affects, or were being polite. All I know is that they've said they liked them. Listen, chocolate mint has no business being in a stout, no matter how many people swear by it. Gross.
I know that most people don’t like fruit cake. It’s the sort of dessert where you throw every ingredient in your kitchen in, including the sink. I can understand why most don’t like it. There’s a lot of intense flavours competing for your attention like orange zest, cherries, nuts, molasses, brandy, and an assortment of spices. The result is a spicy(not hot) moist cake that has a lot of textures that doesn’t appeal to the masses. I, on the other hand, really love Fruit Cake. I think it’s because I grew up eating my Mom’s. It's the best and I thought that it would translate into a cider well. I wasn’t wrong.
I made a fruit cake cider last year and it wasn’t as successful as this years. One of the biggest reasons was that some of the spices were too strong while others weren’t as present. A proper Christmas cake is balanced in flavour and textures. Too much of any one ingredient is the difference between success and failure. That’s no different for a cider. Unfortunately I lost last years recipe so I wasn’t able to make adjustments the way I wanted to. I did know that I needed to cut back on the spices in order for the brandy, vanilla, and molasses to shine. I think I achieved it this year. I’m happy with how it turned out and I can’t wait to give it to my friends and family to enjoy this year.
It has Christmas written all over it. If you are looking for something unique to give to your friends and family this holiday season make this!
Christmas Cake Cider aka Fruit Cake Cider
Ingredients for Cider:
5 Gallons of Apple Juice
1 Package of Nottingham Ale Yeast
2 Cans of Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate
Ingredients for Fruit Cake Syrup:
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Molasses
1 Shot of Brandy
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 Whole Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon All Spice
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Mace
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Orange Extract
Directions for Syrup: Make this a day before bottling.
Put all ingredients into a sauce pan except for the extracts. Turn on heat and bring to a simmer. Stir to make sure all the sugar has dissolved and spices haven’t clumped together. Let cool. Once the syrup has cooled to room temperature remove cloves and add in extracts and stir.
Directions for Cider and Bottling:
Pour almost all of the apple juice into a 5 gallon carboy. Keep about 1 litre behind. Pitch yeast. Rinse the rest of the yeast that sticks to the funnel with the juice you kept behind. Put your airlock on and let ferment for 2 weeks at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. After the primary fermentation is complete it is ready to bottle.
Rack cider into your bottling bucket. Mix in apple juice concentrate and fruit cake syrup stirring with a sanitized spoon until well combined. Bottle or keg. If bottling mine carbonated in 2-3 days.