Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hello, hello, it's good to be back (and I brought Glühapfelwein)

Happy New Year! I was never the most prolific blogger on the planet, but I was always really good about keeping track of my brew days . . . until this fall, that is. That's when I learned something: apparently blogging is a lot like exercising--the longer you go without doing it, the harder it is to get back into the swing of things.

See, despite not having posted since September, I've been brewing just as regularly as I always have. I've brewed another Düsseldorf Altbier, a Doppelbock for the holidays (a portion of which had maple syrup added to the secondary) and, just last week, a Munich Helles. I also fermented a hard cider. The problem is, once I got behind on the blogging, I felt like my next post had to cover everything I had done in the meantime. So the task of getting back on the blogging horse seemed to grow larger and larger with each passing day.

But enough with the excuses... Rather than go back and cover everything over the past three months, I'm going to start quasi-fresh just to get going again. I hope to fill in the gaps here and there, but for now I'll get 2012 started by sharing a recipe I came up with that I think is pretty sweet: Glühapfelwein.

To explain what Glühapfelwein is, let's start with something you might be more familiar with: Glühwein. Similar to Gløgg, Glühwein is a German mulled wine that many Chicagoans know as the stuff you can get served in a little ceramic boot if you visit the Christkindlmarket (Chicago's German Christmas market). It translates roughly as "burning wine," and it's essentially wine that's simmered with various spices popular at the holidays. It's also generally sweetened with sugar.

Now, a few weeks ago the kids and I were watching the Claymation Christmas Special (the most underrated Christmas special in the history of television) and they had a running joke about wassailing. This led me to look up some wassail recipes, and I was surprised to find that many were cider-based. Well, by pure coincidence Leah and I made five gallons of cider earlier in the fall, so this gave me an idea: what if I made Glühwein, but instead of wine I used our cider as the base?

The end result is something I call Glühapfelwein (Apfelwein, literally "apple wine," being German for "cider"), and it came out awesome. I based it off of a fairly simple Glühwein recipe I found online which only uses two spices most people already have in their kitchen--cinnamon and clove--so it can make a good jumping-off point for those who want to experiment with other spices, but I found it to be pretty awesome as-is. It also would be lower in alcohol because our cider, at around 6.5% ABV, is significantly lower than a typical red wine, so I added enough brandy to boost it up to typical Glühwein levels. And without further ado, here's the recipe:

Pour 3/4 c. of hard cider into a sauce pan; throw in one cinnamon stick. Add 1/2 c. sugar and simmer until dissolved. At this point squeeze the juice of one orange into the pot. Spear ten cloves into the peel that's left and throw that into the pot too. Bring to a low simmer for 20 minutes to a half hour. After then, take out cinnamon stick and orange peel and add 750mL or 3 c. of cider. Heat for another ten minutes or until warm and carbonation is mostly gone. Just before serving, add 1/2 c. of brandy and stir well. Makes roughly 4 6-oz. servings.

One final note I should add... Our cider is fairly dry (I fermented 4 gallons of cider until completely dry and then back-sweetened with 1/2 gallon fresh cider) so if you use a commercial cider, or if your hard cider is sweeter, you may want to start with less sugar and then add to taste. Enjoy, and happy 2012!


Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

Welcome back to blogging, Russ. I try to post at least once a month, whether I brew or not.

11:34 PM, January 04, 2012  
Blogger RonPichel said...

Thanks for posting this. I was planning on doing something like this with my hard cider. I have one batch from store-bought cider fermented with sugar and honey, and one straight cider from apples we crushed and pressed. The second turned out with a sulfur taste/aroma that's pretty offensive (any ideas on what went wrong?). But the first batch I'm going to age for awhile, and it seems like it will be awesome hot or cold. I'm thinking calvados would be a nice substitution for brandy.

7:44 AM, January 05, 2012  
Blogger Russ said...

Señor- See if you can still do that if you make it up to three kids! ;-)

11:35 AM, January 10, 2012  
Blogger Russ said...

Ron- did you do anything to kill the nasties that may have been on the fresh apples? I once made a test batch of cider using juice I made with a juicer and got some funky flavors. With that in mind, some people recommend using sodium metabisulfite before fermenting to kill off wild yeasts if you're working with non-pasteurized cider.

11:39 AM, January 10, 2012  
Blogger RonPichel said...

Yes, I used 5 campden tabs immediately after pressing and then waited a day before pitching. I didn't get any bad flavors the previous year when doing things pretty much the same way.

4:24 PM, January 10, 2012  

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