Friday, September 24, 2010

Hard Apple Cider

This year we are experimenting with making hard apple cider.  The plan is to make a cider with a low alcohol level, around 5 or 6% alcohol by volume, and have it carbonated.  And to carbonate it using the "old fashioned" method, after the cider has fermented to a still wine, put it in a pressurized container, and add sugar.

One of our local apple orchards, Perry Lowe Orchards filled a container of ours with five gallons of fresh pressed cider without preservatives.  The specific gravity measured out to about 1.050, perfect for what we wanted to used it for.  Next we added quite a bit of yeast nutrient, as apples don't have much for yeast to eat besides sugar, and some acid blend, as it needed more of a crisp bite to it.  The must was innoculated with EC-1118 yeast, and was fermented for six days at a constant temperature of 60o F.

After that, the wine was racked into a 5 gallon cornelius keg.  There should still be living yeast in the wine, and just to make sure, a small amount of the slurry at the bottom of the bucket was added to the keg.  This yeast will help produce the natural carbonation we're looking for, all we have to do is feed it some more sugar.  Adding too much sugar would create too much pressure, and not adding enough would give the cider a weak, almost flat kind of carbonation.  After some online research, we added about 330g of sugar.

The cider will ferment then sit in the keg, and if all goes well, we could be drinking it in a month or two.  The plan is to leave it in the keg and dispense it using a special tap attachment and a CO2 injector.  Bottling a carbonated beverage requires some special attachments, and we didn't want to invest in anything like that as this is more of an experiment to see how well this method of carbonating a wine works.