Hard Cider

on Saturday 04 November 2006 - 19:34:14 | by Tripper
Lets see... where do I begin. I have a problem, perhaps a disease. Maybe its the engineer in me or just the curious George. If I find a topic that interests me, I need to find out everything about it. Sure, there are some things that I just find out the basics and move on but 9 times out of 10, I need the whole 9 yards.

Enter cider fermentation. I spent some time last year pressing apples and getting the cider ready to ferment in an oak barrel. I enjoyed the time but moreso, the process and variables that can change flavors and taste. So like most topics that peak my brain, I began to search the internet and read books available. I found several different methods and additional subtle changes.

The problem with our product ended up being, well, everything. It tasted great when it was finished however shortly thereafter, it turned to vinegar. Once it starts going, there is no end to the flavor.

So I borrowed some carboys for my own experimentation this year. I plan on 10 gallons total. I have a 6 gallon, a 3 gallon, and a 1 gallon fermentation tank. This will give me the ability to really test out some of the recipes I have found.

Fortunately, I have a individual at work whom I can tap for knowledge. He has been brewing cider for several years and has an outstanding final product. This will be the 6 gallon unit, safe and somewhat guaranteed.

For the 3 gallon, I plan on changing it up slightly and introducing some outside influence like cranberries. I'll use honey as the sugar and rely on the natural yeast. (The main batch will be just honey)

For the 1 gallon, I plan on really switching it up and adding some hot peppers. At first, you might cringe but if you have ever had hot pepper jelly or relish, you might see the light. Only 1 gallon so if it fails, no big deal.

The cider will begin fermentation this week and I'll rack it in about 1and a half months. After that, I'll let it finish working and perhaps rack it a second time, bottle it, and let it mellow out.

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