The sorry tale of the exploding cyder

Fascinated to see this product recall from Stella after several bottles of their Cidre have “been found at risk of bursting unexpectedly”.

Three things strike me about this.

First: that Stella makes Cidre (and what’s with the spelling).  I didn’t know the world’s biggest brewer Inbev had branched out into cider making and I confess to being a bit interested in whether it tastes as bad as their other beverages.

Second: the brilliant marketeers’ language… found at risk of bursting unexpectedly?  Do they mean that some bottles have exploded?

The third is that it’s reassuring to know I am not alone.  Last year’s bottle conditioned cyder from Cambridge Apple Day was a little lively to say the least.  Something like a hundred bottles exploded and others created nothing more than a spectacular fountain of cyder when opened

I’d read about this happening before, but it’s the first time that our cyder’s been affected.  So what happened?

Pooley & Lomax’s bible on cider-making has this to say:

[Burst bottles] are due to any or all of the following: too much yeast, too warm a temperature, too high a concentration of sugar, too great a length of time in the bottle, too thin-walled a bottle, failure to leave 2.5 cm gap at the top of the cider.  Follow the strictures in the section on natural conditioning and you will never have any problems.

Cambridge had a particularly cold winter and, despite storing the fermenters in a frost proof out-house, we noticed that fermentation stopped for more than two months, starting again when the frost broke in January.  We left bottling until early April, by which time it looked like fermentation had stopped.

We added the usual amount of sugar as a primer and stored in a shed in the usual way.  We then had an exceptionally warm spring and it wasn’t long before the first bottle blew. Thankfully they were stored safely and no-one was injured by flying glass.

So what did we learn?

This year we’ll be using the hydrometer to check that fermentation has really finished.  We’re also going to be a lot more vigilent on how much yeast goes into the bottle (hazy not cloudy) and we’ll be testing some different concentrations of sugar at the priming stage.

Any advice, tips or sympathy most welcome.  But don’t worry, we had several hundred bottles that survived and produced some of the best cyder that we’ve ever made last year.  Like champagne, but from apples.

Now stop reading and get scrumping.

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One Response to The sorry tale of the exploding cyder

  1. Pingback: Turning apple juice into cider | Cambridge Apple Day

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