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Scrumpy with Post-Fermentation Loomi Addition

The secret of making a good beer is all about what you do at the beginning. And I’m told the secret of making a good cider is about what you do at the end. So I decided to approach scrumpy with the same philosophy as I’ve always approached the making of slow booze – I followed my tongue.

Scrumpy is a traditional alcoholic cider that originated in the West Country of England. At the end of the season any apples on the ground would be crushed for juice that was then left to ferment for many months until it became a cloudy hard cider.

Wikipedia explains that scrumpy has evolved into a term “used to distinguish locally made ciders produced in smaller quantities and using traditional methods, from mass-produced branded ciders.”

To make a scrumpy you need enough apple juice to fill your sanitised fermenter. The apple juice needs to be preservative free. It may seem obvious, but note that if the apple juice contains preservatives it simply WILL NOT ferment.

I would suggest locals acquire freshly crushed juice from Southern Tasmanian orchards that don’t use concentrate or other additives. I don’t see the sense in fermenting with second rate products.

Step One: Sanitise your fermenter(s). Sanitisation isn’t sterilisation, but it will keep bacteria down to negligible levels. I prefer to ferment in glass.

Step Two: Pour the apple juice into the sanitised fermenter. You may (or may not) want to add a Campden tablet. Personally, I don’t add Campden.

Step Three: Bung on the airlock and wait. For a good six months, or until the airlock stops ticking over. And you’re done.

At the end of fermentation you’ll have a cloudy hard cider that tastes like a relatively cheap white cask wine. In the style of foot, or crotch. An average booze.

Noting that good ciders are made AFTER the fermentation, I purchased some dried lime called loomi from a specialty spice shop. My intention was to attempt to over-ride this cheap wine taste with a lovely lime after-taste. As I’m wont to do… I followed my tongue.

On bottling day I placed four whole loomi into a slowly simmering pot of 250ml water and waited for about fifteen minutes to let the juices release. I let this loomi dark water cool down without removing the solids.

Then I poured 7 litres of scrumpy into a large sanitised pot that I use for brewing purposes. I removed the solids and added the loomi water to the juice. I also added another half litre of high quality local apple juice in an attempt to back-sweeten and continue fermentation in the bottle.

I prepared the long neck beer bottles with the addition of a small half teaspoon of honey into each. This was for carbonation. I would advise in hindsight either to add the apple juice OR prime the bottles with honey. I may have over-carbonated.

The result doesn’t taste like lime. Three weeks later the bottles pour with the aroma of arse (the loomi was never sanitised so wild yeast have reigned) and a sparkling rise of carbonation that rapidly recedes. The scrumpy is fractionally darker, has a slight carbonation tingle across the tongue and tastes extremely pleasant. Slightly dry. High alcohol by volume. That taste of arse balances the flavours into something pretty sexy over the tongue. I’m impressed.

Scrumpy is a great entry point for anybody unsure of how to make slow booze. I already owned the fermenter so the estimated cost came in at around $1 per 750ml bottle. The trick with cider really does seem to be in what you choose to do after the fermentation. I dub this vintage Arse in a Glass 2016.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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