2011 Hard Cider Recap

For the past several years, I’ve been brewing and bottling hard cider. You can read the Cider section of this blog for details. This evening, Kim and I bottled the final batch. So, I thought it would be good to take an inventory of what we have for cider and how the batches turned out.

In other years, I was much more detailed about my cider brewing, tracking the yeast that I used, the specific gravity before and after, how long it went through each fermentation, etc. This year I had too many other things going on, so I kept mental notes, but nothing very detailed.

The batch we just completed was five gallons of late season cider and one gallon of black current juice. We used a dry yeast normally used for light red wines. It has come out incredibly well.

When it was bottled, I did an inventory of the hard cider I have. Currently, I have around twenty five gallons of hard cider bottled and stored in the basement. About ten gallons are from this year. Four gallons is from 2009 and 2010. Another 11 gallons, I’ve classified as part of my reserve. What I’ve been doing is setting aside three 22 ounces bottles of each batch that I save for future years. Some of that is to see how the different ciders age. Some of it is to save really special bottles. It probably works out to be about three gallons a year for the past four years, with a gallon missing for reserves that have been tapped.

Based on the experiments, I suspect that next year, I’ll do a couple batches early in the year of just straight cider using an ale yeast. That is what most of the cider this year was, and it came out really well. I might do another batch using a Champaign yeast. I did that a few years ago, and it came out pretty well, especially after it aged. We didn’t do any maple batches this year, but the maple cider has always been really good, so we may try another maple batch next year. Then, the black currant came out very well, so we may try a few more batches of that.

I’m kicking around ideas for other ciders with fruit juice, as well as trying another pear cider, even though that didn’t turn out so well the first time around. If I do pears again, I’ll look for a place to get earlier season pears. Of course a lot can happen over a year, so we’ll see what things are looking like in the fall.

Any other hard cider brewers want to share their experiences?

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