The orchard I pick has Mutsu and Shizuka apples. These along with Orin apples were all discovered in Japan in the early to mid-twentieth century. What I find interesting is all three apples have the same parentage: Golden Delicious and Indo. They are siblings and just like humans, you can see the likeness at times and at others you scratch your head wondering how they can be so different. That is part of my love for apples and hard cider. It is so ancient and yet it feels like there is so much we don’t know and/or have lost. My Japanese Sun hard cider recipe uses the Mutsu (known as Crispin in England) apple as its main base with a few others blended to round out and augment the Mutsu characteristics. You might expect it to be like my Silver Sun hard cider, which uses 100% Mutsu apple. However, these two recipes demonstrate how slight changes can have big impacts.
Mutsu is not a classic cider apple. In fact, some might say it doesn’t have enough acid, which is why I blended it with Enterprise and a little GoldRush. Both have some tannins and acid to contribute to the hard cider. This is where I reference my apple database and confirm the data on the apples I’m using. I wanted to give a little more acid to the Mutsu without overwhelming it. The pear I added because I wanted to have some natural residual sweetness. This is why I also chose the Mangrove M-41 yeast, which has a high maximum fermenting temperature (82F). It’s classified as a Belgium ale with a mixture of esters and phenolic aromas though I personally put it in the phenolic category. It’s a medium attenuation and medium flocculation yeast. That’s why added the pears as I assumed it’d be drier than SafAle S-04 but not as dry as a Belle Saison or EC-1118.
As you can see from the picture, the color is pale gold with notes of amber, which is distinctly different from my Silver Sun hard cider, which is 100% Mutsu. The taste is also vastly different. Japanese Sunrise hard Cider has a clean apple nose with a semi-dry tart apple flavor. The effervescence is light. Like all my Traditional hard cider recipes, I try to focus on the fruit. The pear is not even noticeable outside of providing a touch of sweetness. This hard cider is really about making the apples shine. While the Mutsu is front and center, it wouldn’t shine if it wasn’t for the acid and slight tannins brought by the Enterprise and GoldRush. It would be like Tom Petty singing American Girl without the Heartbreakers: good, but not the same.
Want to make your own Japanese Sunrise Hard Cider? Go check out the hard cider recipe in the recipe section. If you don’t have access to Enterprise or GoldRush apples, you could use Rome, Winesap, or apples that are more acidic than Mutsu with some hints of tannins. However, you can’t make Japanese Sunrise hard cider without Mutsu. Need more information about how to make or enjoy hard cider? You can always get a copy of my book. Or, leave me a comment and I’ll responded.