My two previous attempts at cider have had mixed results. The first attempt (February 2009) was straight juice + ale yeast and turned out good - though certainly very dry and quite tart. I'm still drinking it and I like it. My second attempt turned out (so far) to be undrinkable - I think it might be overly oxidized. For that one, perhaps I got too complicated - juice + honey + raisins + dried cranberries + ale yeast. I'm hoping it turns around, but I'm not holding my breath.
This time, I tried a few new things:
1) I made a "reduction" out of some of the juice to drive the OG without adding other sugars and to hopefully add some body, complexity, and perhaps some residual sweetness via the caramelization process. I boiled 1 gallon of juice down to 2 cups and added that to 3 gallons of straight juice.
2) Used a wine yeast
3) Added some oak cubes to the primary fermenter for added character and complexity (per the BN podcast episode with Shea Comfort - one of the best episodes out there).
I'm excited about this one, and initial samples are promising, but only time will tell how it will work out.
Batch Size: 3.13 gal
3 gallons fresh-pressed apple juice
2 cups of apple juice "concentrate" - 1 gallon of fresh-pressed juice boiled down to 2 cups
3.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (added to boiled down juice)
1.50 tsp Pectic Enzyme - added ~6 hours before yeast
0.50 oz Oak Cubes, Hungarian, Medium Toast (Primary)
- Started on 10/23/10
- OG of fresh cider = 1.050
- reduced 1 gallon down to 2 cups and added yeast nutrient
- OG with reduction added = 1.064
- added pectic enzyme ~6 hours before yeast
- fermented in mud room - ambient ~60°F
- 11/3/10 - SG = 1.001
- 11/23/10 - SG = 1.000; racked to 3 gallon carboy (did not transfer oak cubes); topped off with some organic, stop & shop apple juice; mud room closet temp down to 58°F
- 1/23/11 - bottled with fructose - target volumes = 2.5
Bottled on 1/23/11