Brewed Sept/Oct 2011
Kelly and I have been living at my Grandparents for the last several months, and it has been an amazing time. When we first moved in we were planning on just staying long enough to find jobs and get squared away with our own place, but we both ended up gainfully employed on the Peninsula and figured why mess with a good thing. We'll be here through the summer, then we're moving north a piece.
One of the best parts about living at their house is their beautiful garden. Seriously nice. There is an apple tree down by the dahlias that produces tons of super tasty, nice and tart, crisp apples every summer. Grandma always makes several delicious pies to freeze and enjoy for special occasions throughout the year, but that barely puts a dent in the over-load of apples that seem to condense out of the tree when the weather first begins to cool at the end of the summer. I'd guess we picked well over 100 lbs this year.
So, being dry cider super-fans, we thought it would be fun to make a big batch of cider brute for the big family Thanksgiving party at Kel's folks' house.
Being our very first foray into home made fermented beverages, we started with a trip to the local Homebrew Shop and just started asking questions.
Because we had never done it before we had no idea what we could expect- from juice yield to processing results- so we just decided to go as simple as possible... 1) extract the juice, 2) pitch some yeast, 3) bottle and drink.
Ian and Chelse came over to help with the "press." We set ourselves up in an assembly line where the apples were cubed and seeded (we read that the seeds can leave some harsh tannins in the must), pulsed in the food processor a few times in batches to shred 'em up (think grated cheese), and then collected in a mesh bag that we squeezed the shit out of over a fermentation bucket.
The whole thing was quite a production. I think we'll probably rent a bladder press next time.
Unfortunately we didn't take any notes, but a rough outline of the process was:
We collected just under 4 gal of must.
We read that pasteurizing the must would compromise the quality of the cider, but we were also told that a wild fermentation was a bad idea-- looking back I think it would have been interesting-- so we sterilized the must with a campden tablet.
48 hrs after the campden tablet was added, we pitched 1 packet of champagne yeast, covered with the lid and airlock and let ferment at room temp in my plastic carboy for about 4 weeks. Then we bottled with 4oz of honey.
No OG or FG readings were taken.
We drank most of it over the holidays, which upon reflection was a bad idea because it is supposed to really improve with time. It was well received, although it did throw some of the folks off that were used to sweet, English style cider as it was quite a bit different. Much closer to champagne than beer.
Great apple nose, tart and crisp taste, with a very light and dry finish and champagne like high-carbonation.
UPDATE ALMOST TWO YEARS LATER- better :)