Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2011 Cider

Way back in early November, we procured two gallons of fresh, unpasteurized apple juice from an orchard north of Seattle that grows both culinary and cider apples. Cider apples are unfavored for eating, due to attributes such as tough skin, small size, or high levels of tannins or acidity—or all of the above. When making hard cider, size and toughness of skin are of little consequence, and tannins and acidity are actually desirable in cider (up to a point), since they contribute mouthfeel and flavor.

We fermented one gallon of the cider with a cider yeast, and one gallon with a German hefeweizen yeast. Roughly 3 months later, we bottled the two gallons, one (the hefeweizen cider) in the French style, i.e. at a very high level of carbonation, and the other at a more moderate level of carbonation.

The hefeweizen cider reached a final gravity of 1.008, which is very dry for beer but only semi-dry for cider. It has a soft, creamy mouthfeel with a Granny Smith aroma, and noticeable sweetness from the apples and yeast byproducts. I expect this will benefit from being highly carbonated, in order to enhance its aromatics and provide a crisper finish.

The cider yeast cider reached a final gravity of 1.006—a bit drier than the other. It has a stronger acidity and a more balanced mouthfeel. The taste is definitely less sweet, more reminiscent of a dry or semi-dry white wine. On first tasting I preferred the other, but at bottling this stands out as being a more balanced, complex, and drinkable cider. I think a lower level of carbonation will allow the excellent flavor and mouthfeel of this cider shine through.

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