A lot of mead-related topics have been discussed recently, from mead in and of itself to its offspring, melomel and metheglin, to more modern variations such as acerglyn and JAOM. Now is where a transition begins from mead to cider, but before arriving at cider, what must be talked about is the this-meets-that drink: cyser. Thus, what is cyser?
The absolute short answer? Cyser is apple mead. Specifically, cyser is made from apples/apple cider, instead of water, and honey. While mead and cider fall into their own categories, what makes cyser special is that it is both and neither at the same time. From one point of view, cyser is a mead with apple cider; from another point of view, it is a hard cider with honey. Either way, the resulting product normally ends being tarter than mead, and sweeter than cider. Technically, it can also be considered a melomel.
Ultimately, it is a great alcoholic beverage perfect for a cool autumn day. Or any day of the year for that matter.
How to make cyser?
Simply put, the only two ingredients you will need is apple juice/cider and honey. If you are making this for the first time, it is recommend that filtered apple juice be used. Once you get the hang of it, and feeling a bit more adventurous is when you can decide go with store-bought apple juice, store-bought apple cider (which is raw and unfiltered), or even by pressing your own apples; you will need about a gallon of the juice. How much honey, on the other hand, is also up to your preference but our own recipe calls for one to two cups.
Pour some of the juice, about half of it, into a pot and heat it up without it coming to a boil, then add the honey to dissolve. Combine the now homogenous mixture with the rest of the juice, and let cool down. Once done, transfer to a carboy, throw in a Brewsy bag (just the contents, not the actual bag), give it a vigorous shake, slap on an airlock, leave in a nice warm place, and let the yeast go to town on the sugar. After a while, around seven days, you can begin the cold-crashing and racking steps.
Alternatively, a variation of cyser is to make hard apple cider and let it ferment until it is dry, then backsweeten with honey.
Why is it called cyser?
Unlike acerglyn, cyser has a well-known etymology which stems from old languages. Cyser comes from the medieval English ciser which, in turn, comes from the medieval Latin sicera, and Greek sikera. Both of the latter words come from the Hebrew word שֵׁכָר (šēḵār) which basically means strong alcoholic drink. It is wonderful when a word has such a rich etymology.
What is the history of cyser?
While it is hard to pinpoint where exactly cyser was first drank or discovered, it can be assumed that it has been around since at least the medieval times due to the etymology of the word. With that being said, however, it could very well be a more modern variation of mead/cider. All in all, regardless of its history, it will always be a drink that can be enjoy at any time.