Made First Batch of Hard Cider this weekend

Its that time of the year again. With the fall harvest fast approaching, so it could only mean one thing. Time for fresh apple cider! And with fresh apple cider, it means that its time for me to make some hard cider!

Since the local homebrew shop that I use doesn’t carry White Labs (long story from the owners), my only other option was a Wyeast Sweet Mead smack pack or Red Star dry yeast. So I ended up going with the Red Star Premier Cuvée dry yeast (PDF datasheet), since I’m looking to make more of a dry cider instead of a sweet cider.

On Saturday I went to the Farmer Market downtown and picked up some un-pasteurized cider, and what a deal. For just a 1 gallon bottle it was $4, but it was 2 for $7…..and with an additional $.50 discount. I ended up getting 5 gallons of cider for $17, what a deal. I did a quick OG measurement before adding the cider to the fermentor, and it came in at 1.050. So it should result in a pretty high ABV after everything is said and done.

But now the long wait begins, since making hard cider takes forever compared to beer. I equate it more with making wine instead of making beer, since it needs a lot of bottle aging (>1 yr) to mellow out the cider.

But with five gallons doing its thing, I plan on picking up another 5 gallons next weekend. Since the first 5 gallons will make a ~24qty of 750ml wine bottles, I might as well try to make as much as possible while the fresh cider is available. I kind of regret not making hard cider last year, because now I have to wait another year before the batch will be ready. So technically there will now be a 2 year gap since the last time that I made hard cider, due to the aging that is required. Call it a “hard” lesson learned, that I won’t be making again in the future.

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