Saturday, September 9th, I started the first batch of cider for the 2011 season. It was the first day that Beardsley’s Cider Mill was open and I went over and filled up my five gallon jug. The mix of apples is Honeycrisp, Gala, and I think some Macintosh; basically the same as my first batch of last year. The cider is very sweet tasting and fruity. However, as an early cider, its sugar content is low. This year, it has a specific gravity of 1.050. Last year, I started on the 18th and had a specific gravity of 1.052.
Last year, I used a Trappist yeast and the resulting hard cider came out very nice; light, crisp and fruity. We’re looking to do something similar this year. For a yeast, I picked up Belgian Abbey II yeast. I added it to the jug and it is busy fermenting.
Since it is often still warm for parts of September, the first batch of cider often ferments fairly quickly, and after two or three weeks, is ready to rack off, let settle for a week and then bottle. Last year’s batch turned out very nicely for drinking right away and aged nicely to be quite good a year later. So, like a Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine meant to be drunk right away, the a hard cider made with Honeycrisp apples and Belgian Ale yeast seems to be a nice Cider Nouveau, and I expect quite a bit will get consumed pretty early on.
I picked up my yeast at Maltose over in Monroe. While I was there, I got a fascinating discussion about craft distilling. There was a couple getting supplies for a new craft distillery they are setting up. Doing a little research, I found a directory of craft distilleries. The list includes three craft distilleries in Connecticut, and by the sounds of it, a fourth one will begin operations soon. I hope to find out more and write more about craft distilling soon.