After slightly over a month of fermentation in the primary carboy, I’ve racked my wild yeast Apfelwein to the secondary carboy. It already has a brilliant clarity, so I’ll really be surprised if I find much of any sediment at all in the secondary fermenter.
Since I started this batch, I bought myself a refractometer so that I can more precisely measure the sugar levels of my brews. I saved a bit of money by getting one that only measures in brix, but that’s alright. There’s plenty of calculators around to easily convert to specific gravity. Specific gravity is the measurement of solids in water, in this case we measure sugars which are fermented into alcohol by our yeast. The original gravity of the Apfelwein was measured with a hydrometer and measured in at 1.055 SG. Tonight, measuring it with the refractometer, it measured at 6° brix. The total alcohol by volume is at 4.2%. Since this is the first time I’m using this yeast, I’m not sure if it is done fermenting, though I’m pretty sure it is. I’ll know for sure if when I take my next reading, the specific gravity has not changed.
This is a wild yeast after all and I know nothing about it’s performance. It is highly possible that using it over time, it may mutate into a yeast strain that is more alcohol tolerant and can produce higher alcohol concentrations. We’ll see. This yeast produces a lot of fruity notes, so I’m very curios as to how things will turn out with it. Since I plan on reusing this yeast a few times to see how later generations perform, I’ve saved the yeast so that I can wash it and have it ready for my next batch. Yeast washing is a process of separating good, viable yeast from the sediments that are created during the fermentation process. I think that for my next few batches of beer, mead and cider, I’ll plan on making an extra gallon of must or wort to ferment with this yeast. Those should be fun experiments.
So, what about the Apfelwein that I originally started writing about? How does it taste, etc.? Taking in mind that this is still a very young apfelwein and most apfelweins don’t come onto their own for several months, this isn’t too bad. It’s a bit sweet, since roughly half the sugars were fermented out and it’s a lower alcohol concentration than I was hoping for. It is fruity, and not just as in apples. If you’ve ever had Welch’s White Grape Peach Juice, that is what I’m tasting here. I find it very interesting, considering this is fermented apple juice after all.
I think it’s time to leave this youngster alone for at least a few more months before I test it again. I’ve been told at 4 months apfelweins become drinkable and at a year, they just start to come into their own characters. We’ll see what time has in store for this youngin!