Crafting Cider

Written by Justin on January 19, 2011

As soon as we started fermenting I knew one of the things I wanted to do was craft some ciders. We’ve got one of the best cider producers, Ace Ciders, just down the way from us and I’ve always loved hard cider. So last year we played around with a couple of single gallon batches, one with champagne year, another with a lager yeast. The champagne fermented out extremely dry, which gave it a great toastyness on a very dry apple wine flavor. The lager maintained more of the apple flavor and so we decided to scale that one. We proceeded to make another 5 gallon batch with the lager yeast and let it ferment out completely. The result was a dry but fruity apple wine. We then split the 5 gallons into two 5 gallon kegs and back-sweetened one with more apple juice and the other with apple and a little bit of cherry juice. Both turned out great and we had multiple requests for more this year.

So now the new year has rolled around and it’s time to start making some more cider. This I’m playing with a single gallon of pear-chardonnay cider, a 5 gallon batch of apple-chardonnay cider, 5 gallons of apple with lager yeast, and 5 gallons of apple with Trappist yeast.

The two chardonnays have actually been going since last fall when we got our delivery of chardonnay juice. The one gallon of pear-chardonnay finally hit the bottle this past weekend, and similarly the apple-chardonny is headed for keg in the next few days. Both are extremely dry but have great apple/pear flavors mixed in with a high acidity wine backbone. We are going to be carbonating both of them and I look forward to cracking them open in a few months.

On the straight apple front we bought a whole bunch of local apple juice and pretty much just dropped it into the carboys and pitched the yeast. The lager cider we have cool fermenting and we’ll let it go for a couple months before we split it and back-sweeten again. So if you enjoyed our cider last summer we’ll have more this year.

Our other batch is an experimental one. We recently came across Crispin Ciders and they had a Trappist cider that was excellent. So of course that’s what we are working on. We pitched a Trappist yeast into the apple juice and are fermenting in the ferm box (approximately 68°). I sampled the cider this past weekend and its got a great apple cider flavor with the obvious flavors from the Trappist yeast, that slightly fruity, earthy elements. I’m going to sample it again in a few days and hopefully force-carb it soon after.

All told we should have around 20 gallons of cider this summer for people to enjoy. We’ll keep you posted as it all progresses.

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