The Cider Year in Review

On this last day of 2009, I’m looking back and the successes and failures of 2009. In this post, I want to explore what has gone on with my Cider making. This was prompted by an email from an online cider making buddy talking about his experiences.

In his first batch, he used campden, champagne yeast, maple syrup and sugar tablets in the bottle. He described the outcome as having a lot of bite and high ABV. In his second batch, he used a Belgian yeast, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and bottled it with a bit of dry malt extract. I like some of the ideas that he experimented with. He said he thought the second batch was a little nicer and that they were ‘way too drinkable’ with a little ice and raw apple cider.

At the Hynes household, I am just finishing making my fifth batch. The first batch was started in September and used a Belgian Trappist yeast. As with most of my batches, I bottle off a little bit of it after the first fermentation, and then do a second fermentation before bottling off the whole batch. In this batch, I added two cups of Maple Syrup to the second fermentation. For each bottling, I like to set aside three bottles as a reserve to taste sometime in the future to see how it ages. With that am down to eight bottles of the first batch left. It came out quite nicely.

The second batch was made with pear cider. Some people really like it. However, for Kim and I it is a bit bitter. I have fourteen bottles of the pear cider left. I’ve been kicking around the idea of mixing it with some of the other cider to see how it comes out as part of mix.

The third batch was very similar to the first batch. I started it in mid October, this time using an Oktoberfest yeast. Again, I added two cups of Maple Syrup to the second fermentation. This batch also came out very well and we have fourteen bottles left.

The fourth batch was interesting. We started it in the beginning of November using some special heirloom cider from Beardsley Cider Mill. The cider was more tart than most fresh ciders with some quince added. I wanted to keep this pure, so I didn’t add any Maple Syrup to the second fermentation. We used a Weissen yeast and the tartness survived the fermentation. It is still fairly new, and we’ll see how it ages. It is a little tart for my tastes, but Kim says it tastes good. I’m interested in seeing what happens if I combine it with some of the pear cider and perhaps a little maple syrup cider.

Yesterday, we racked off the fifth and final batch of cider. The first test seemed pretty good. However, this time, we’re looking at doing the second fermentation in a different carboy, so I haven’t bottled off any of the first fermentation.

So, have you made hard cider this year? What worked well? What didn’t?

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