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How to make a Snakebite: Cider and Beer
What is a Snakebite Drink?
A snakebite is some combination of cider and stout or lager (or any other type of beer for that matter) layered in the same glass. If done properly, the cider and beer do not mix and remain separated in the same glass.
Full Video Recipe
Why Does A Snakebite Not Mix?
Snakebites, as well as black and tan beers, do not mix (if poured slowly) so long as they are the same temperature and the densities of the liquids are different. It's basic science, y'all: less dense liquids float on top of more dense liquids. For example, oil (less dense) floats on top of water (more dense) in the same way that the our cider floats on top of the stout we made in our snakebite. This happens because the stout final gravity was 1.014 whilst the cider was only 1.003. Note, it's possible to float stout on top of cider if it is less dense than the cider.
In order to pour the cider slowly, we bent a spoon and poured the cider over it
Brewing Homemade Hard Cider
Picking / Buying Apples
We picked about a bushel of a mixture of sweet and tart apples at an apple orchard. We also bought cider apples, which are apples that are bruised, blemished, and not desirable from a display standpoint, but plenty good enough for cider. Bonus, these apples are about half the price of the "you pick" apples.
Picking fresh apples
Crushing and Juicing Apples for Hard Cider
We used a standard apple crusher but modified it to accommodate a motor. The motorized apple crusher build video is here. The video lists all of the equipment you will need to make the crusher. This made crushing very easy and is well wort the investment if you are going to be making a lot of cider.
Throwing apples into our motorized crusher
We juiced the apples using a Macintosh Apple Cider Press. There are probably cheaper options out there but the probably aren't as durable as this one. Note, we put the crushed apples into nylon strainer bags before adding to the press which makes managing pulp very easy.
Adding apples to our press
Emmet spinning the press
Chemically treating / Pasteurizing Cider
We opted to chemical treat this batch of cider with potassium metabisulphite as opposed to heat treating it. One or the other needs to be done before fermentation in order to kill natural bacteria and yeast (unless you are trying to make "natural" or "wild" cider, which is a thing). We've heat treated and chemical treated in the past and both work great.
Your local homebrew shop should carry this
Fermenting Hard Cider
We fermented this particular batch of cider with Lithuanian Farmhouse Yeast from Omega Yeast. It produces a super interesting lemony profile with an incredibly full mouthfeel. We fermented at 66F for about 10 days.
Pitching our yeast
Brewing An "All Seasons" Stout
This stout is for any time of year. It's an all-purpose, basic, get the job done kind of stout.
We started with 7.5 gallons of Asheville, NC city water. The only chemistry adjustment that was made was the addition of some gypsum at the start of the mash to get the pH into the correct range. We took a reading with a pH meter and added gypsum until we hit the target, which was roughly 5.2 to 5.4.
Grains and Mash
The grain bill consisted of 6 pounds of pale, 2 pounds of flaked barley and 1 pound of roasted barley. We double crushed and then mashed in the Clawhammer Supply 10 gallon BIAB brewing system at 152F for 60 minutes.
Pouring grain into our mill to double crush it
Boiling and Fermentation
We boiled the stout for 60 minutes and added 2 ounces of Willamette hops at the start of the boil.
Adding hops to the hop basket
After the boil we cooled to pitching temperature and added Nottingham English Ale Yeast.
Transferring wort into a fermentation bucket
Pitching Nottingham English Ale Yeast
This beer fermented for a good 10 days. But it didn't ferment down as far as we expected. Final gravity was 1.018, which is probably good because the cider fermented down to 1.002, which is very low. This helped us get quite a nice separation between the two drinks when poured into the same glass.
The cider and the stout on their own taste great. High marks to both. Mixing the two together is even better. This was a super fun project and is highly recommended.
Ross said, "From concept to execution here, we really went the distance Emmet."
If you like this recipe you should check out these other recipes we've made