Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hard Cider 2.0 - Upgrades aren't always better

It's that time of year again where cider has inundated the market place. The last time I made hard cider was my first attempt. I used an organic commercial cider and it turned out pretty fantastic. It's shown below on the left. This time i decided to use a local cider mill for my source cider because it's supposed to make the best hard cider.

I got into a bit of a hurry with this cider because I was in the middle of building a new brew room and it was taking up all my time. This caused me to forget the pectic enzyme before fermenting the cider. You can add the enzyme after fermentation but alcohol will inhibit it from clearing as well as it does before fermentation. This was a mistake because the fresh local cider it pasteurized using ultraviolet light only and doesn't go through any other process than press, pasteurize and package. As you can see from the image on the right it's a very cloudy cider and much darker than the Musselmans was.

I tasted this years cider after fermentation and if my memory is serving me it's not as good directly after fermentation as the Musselmans was. I remember the Musselmans having a very clean champagne dryness to it and thinking I could drink it just like this. The local cider wasn't nearly as good. It has a more muddled flat taste. Not as clean tasting and I wouldn't drink it the way it is.

There could be a couple reasons for this. It might have something to do with the missed pectic enzyme and clearing of the cider, but I doubt it. It's more likely the source cider (type of apples, lack of filtering) or the fact that I added 2lbs of brown sugar to increase the alcohol in this batch. I would expect the sugar addition to dry the cider out more but not muddle it up. At this point it's a mystery.

I'm not going to give up on this cider because I planned on back-sweetening it anyway. This will go a long way to improving it and I don't care much about clarity anyway. I'm not planning to enter it in any competitions and looks are the last thing I worry about.

At this point the ciders been clearing for about 3 weeks and pretty much looks the same as it did in these pictures. The pectic enzyme didn't do it's job which is probably because this ended up being a 7.5% ABV cider instead of a 5% cider. The brown sugar brought the gravity up 1.058-1.059 and it finished at 1.0001 ( a little high for cider).

I'll post an update after I back-sweeten, package and taste.

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