Hard Cider – Batch 22 & 23 – October 2010

At first this year, I didn’t think about making hard cider since I’m just bringing online ~15 gallons of cider from the 2009 batches. But then I remembered a conversation with JRR a number of years back, about forcing yourself to make cider each year, since it takes about a year of aging to get a batch in drinkable condition. So that means if you skip a cider year, it will be at least two years before you’ll have any hard cider to drink. With that in mind, two weekends ago I placed a special order for 10 gallons of un-treated apple cider (at $5 a gallon) with my cider guy at the downtown farmers market. Since last years cider had preservatives (sodium benzoate) and took FOREVER to ferment out. I worked out a deal with my cider guy for a special order of cider without any preservatives. Continue reading

Hard Cider – Batch 17 – Bottled and Kegged – August 2010

With fall very rapidly approaching, its time to start moving the 2009 hard cider inventory from the fermentor into a more consumable form (bottles and kegs). So the first batch on the production schedule is batch number 17, which used the Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast. The main reason for picking this batch, was that the grommet for the airlock broke in half (pic below) right before I left for Michigan two weekends ago. So I had to make an emergency fix with some Scotch tape to keep a somewhat airtight seal. Suprisingly the tape formed a good enough seal around the airlock, that it gave me enough time this week to clean out my last empty keg. Continue reading

Working with treated apple cider and the problems with sodium benzoate

Note: Keep in mind that this article was supposed to be posted in November 2009, I guess better late then never. For a current update on the ciders status, see this posting.

So get a load of this. It’s been about a month since I started fermenting this year’s batch of hard cider. And about two weeks ago, I finally bothered to take an FG reading to see how the fermentation was coming along. And what was the FG on the hydrometer…..it was the same as the OG….1.050. Then I started thinking to myself “What the hell just happened?” Continue reading

Hard Cider Gravity Check

Well its been a couple of months since the last gravity check on the hard cider, and surprisingly we are doing pretty good on the final gravity.

Here is the breakdown of the three different batches:

  • Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast – 0.996
  • Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast – 1.004
  • Red Star Cote des Blancs – 1.000

Out of the three batches, the batch that used the Premier Cuvee yeast is crystal clear (all pics below are from the premier cuvee batch), while the other two batches are still cloudy. But I think that the most surprising item is that the Cote des Blancs is the only batch that is done fermenting, while the other two still have some slow activity going.

I’m thinking about maybe pitching another batch of yeast into the Premier Cuvee & Lalvin batches for one final push, but I haven’t really committed to this idea. Part of it being that I’m already 4 months into these batches, and I still haven’t even bottled any of the stuff so that it can really lay down to mellow out. Not to mention that I’m short on wine bottles, even though I have 4 cases of empty bottles. Decisions decisions, so many little decisions to make.

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. Continue reading