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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 06, @01:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the original-applejack dept.

Craft Hard Cider Is On A Roll. How Ya Like Them Apples?

Hard cider is having a hot moment. Hotter still, if it's locally made and distributed. Over the past four years, the number of cideries across the country has doubled, from 400 to 800, according to The Cyder Market LLC, a small business that keeps statistics on the cider industry. [...] Wine has long had its connoisseurs. With the rise of the craft beer movement, drinkers have learned to appreciate the nuances of that brewed beverage, too. But cider, in many drinkers' imagination, remains an unrefined, blandly sweet drink, says Johnson. The reality is far different, he says.

[...] Hard cider's history in the U.S. goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers. During the American Revolution, many landowners had apple orchards and made homemade fermented cider using the cider apples that grew in their backyard, says Michelle McGrath, executive director of the U.S. Cider Makers Association. "Prohibition came and most of the cider apple trees were cut down in this country. But now, it's having a renaissance," she says. "It's coming back really strongly; it's taking market share from beer."

Nielsen's research says sales for regional cider are up 35.6 percent. McGrath says this is because local cideries have more varieties of cider that appeal to more sophisticated palates. In other words, cider seems to be going through what wine and beer went through years ago: people moving from drinking big brands to being more discerning, niche, and sometimes downright persnickety.


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Gaaark on Wednesday December 06, @02:11AM (7 children)

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @02:11AM (#605947) Homepage Journal

    Not a fan of the big name ciders, but would like to try a local craft.

    --
    --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Snotnose on Wednesday December 06, @02:25AM (2 children)

      by Snotnose (1623) on Wednesday December 06, @02:25AM (#605953)

      Dits. Some 20 years ago I tried a hard cider (Mikes I think), after the first bottle I was done with it. If I hear enough of a buzz I might try one again, but til then just no.

      / buying apple juice and fermenting it you say?
      // that might work
      /// I make pickles and kimchi on a regular basis, why can't I ferment apple juice?

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @03:09AM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @03:09AM (#605968) Journal

        (Mikes I think)

        Well, it think I spotted your problem.

        I haven't tried their Cider, but almost everything they make is just grain alcohol and flavoring.

        Got to be a craft made near you or in your local beer store.

        The thing is, the output of even a single mature apple tree is way more than your entire family can possibly consume, and sooner or later people start looking for something to do with all those extra apples. People naturally turn to Hard Cider after a while.

        Western Washington is a awash with apple trees. Everybody buys a house and gets a romantic notion about an apple tree in the yard. Or two. Maybe three.
        One is way more than you need by the time its half grown.
        I walk around my neighborhood, and people have signs out hanging on the Apple trees in their lawns: "Don't Ask. Just Pick." They can't bring themselves to cut them down.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Thursday December 07, @12:33AM

          by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday December 07, @12:33AM (#606493)

          Well, it think I spotted your problem.

          At the time it was the only one available. At the time I think Zuma? was being heavily marketed, it also sucked dinosaur balls.

          If memory serves this was before the craft beer revolution. Once I found Arrogant Bastard in the mid 90's I was hooked. Before that it was either the very pricey Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout (from England) when I had the money (e.g. Friday), or Becks dark.

          CSB. I was notorious for trying new beers I'd never seen before. This was when a new beer would pop up every 6-12 months. First time I had an Arrogant Bastard (basically a 6 pack in a bottle) I loved it. Had to pee, got up from my chair, and flopped right onto my face. In front of my wife. Not my best time, but I was an AB fan ever since.

          Funny how times change. I now do Zumba 3 times a week, and haven't had a Zuma in a couple decades.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @02:41AM (1 child)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @02:41AM (#605961) Journal

      would like to try a local craft.

      So find one: https://ciderguide.com/cider-maps/united-states/ [ciderguide.com]

      There are 63 of these brewers in Washington State alone. One is 4 miles from my home.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Wednesday December 06, @10:22AM

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:22AM (#606067) Homepage Journal

        One, not American.

        Two, not drinking anymore, lol-shit!

        Haven't touched anything in at least, what, 2-3 months?

        So, yeah. Would like to try, but no.

        ***FECK!***

        --
        --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @05:04AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @05:04AM (#605992)

      The difference with the really good stuff is the apples.

      If you get something like the abortion that Stella calls cider, and look at the label, you'll see the problem: they fermented a bunch of concentrate, which is made from surplus table and cooking apples. These are the wrong apples.

      The right apples are cider apples, that have, among other things, a much stronger and more tannic flavour profile. If you're short on those, you can make good stuff with crabapple juice.

      I could go on, but part of the reason that there's so much crap cider in the USA is that all the old skills were basically lost when prohibition came. The USA is relearning stuff that France and the UK take for granted.

      • (Score: 1) by tbuskey on Wednesday December 06, @09:54PM

        by tbuskey (6127) on Wednesday December 06, @09:54PM (#606429)

        The right apples are cider apples, that have, among other things, a much stronger and more tannic flavour profile. If you're short on those, you can make good stuff with crabapple juice.

        Most of the commercial cider I've had in the Boston area tastes more like a wine cooler. Because they're not using cider apples.

        The orchard from my home town, Poverty Lane Orchards, replaced many of their apple trees with cider apples. I find their cider a little dry.

        I went to the UK a few years ago and got to try some proper cider that was in between.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @02:22AM (10 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @02:22AM (#605950)

    Divest from alcoholic drinks big brand companies.

    In the near future, I hope to think the same for soft drinks/soda companies.
    Like ... craft cola for the connoisseurs? (grin!)

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday December 06, @02:25AM (6 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday December 06, @02:25AM (#605951) Journal
      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @02:33AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @02:33AM (#605957)

        As any connoisseur will tell you, nothing beats the (boutique) flavors which are born by carbonating drink with the concentrate already in, flavor which matures slowly over time in dark, cool basement.

        (grin)

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by anubi on Wednesday December 06, @03:15AM (4 children)

        by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @03:15AM (#605972)

        Really expensive way to go.

        Get a 20lb CO2 tank, carbonate in a 2 liter soda bottle using tire fittings and carbonate anything you want. I usually run the CO2 pressure around 75 psi or so.

        For safety sake, carbonate full bottles only.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday December 06, @07:17PM (1 child)

          by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:17PM (#606296) Journal

          I've done the same...unfortunately I've pretty much gone back to just buying bottled soda for two reasons:

          1) Filling that canister is a pain in the ass. Took at least a week of hunting to find somewhere that would fill it, and when I was there they mentioned that they wouldn't do it again -- they were in the process of switching from filling on-demand to just trading cylinders...I'm kinda reluctant to trade mine as it's brand new, but even if I wasn't they wouldn't take it -- I think mine is five pound and they only carry 3 and 10 or something like that. Haven't found anywhere else to fill it.

          2) Variety. Personally, I prefer flavored seltzer more than soda, but this one kinda applies to both. Have you ever looked up the recipe for a homemade cola? Goddamn that's a lot of effort! And the seltzer/soda flavors have gotten *really* good lately. I tried a honeycrisp apple seltzer a couple months back that totally blew me away -- none of the usual fake apple flavoring, it actually tasted exactly like biting into a honeycrisp apple. Moreso than any apple juice you'd buy even, so if I want that flavor what am I gonna do, start pressing my own apples? I find extracts don't really work in drinks, you need juice really, which limits the flavor choices significantly. So for less than a dollar per bottle it's not worth the hassle...

          My dad has a sodastream that he uses all the time, and as much as I hate that company he's too old and non-technical to be screwing with some DIY solution...but even before getting that he was drinking 1-2 liters of unflavored seltzer per day. If you're doing that, yeah, start bottling the stuff yourself...but if you're only buying a couple liters a month it's probably not really worth it...although I will say that the sodastream has the same issue with getting new CO2 cartridges...you used to be able to swap them in stores, but from what my parents tell me there's pretty much nobody that still carries them so you just have to buy new ones online now.

          • (Score: 1) by anubi on Friday December 08, @03:43AM

            by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @03:43AM (#607082)

            I understand your grief about buying a new fancy CO2 jug. Several years ago, I lucked out finding a couple of old 20-Lb steel CO2 jugs in a dumpster. ( They appear to be the same size as SCUBA tanks... would not be surprised if they actually use this same jug for both purposes ). I was working in Aerospace at the time, and came across a 0-100 PSI nitrogen gas regulator at surplus sales... believe I paid around $10 for it. I was able to do a little mechanical fitting alteration to get the proper CO2 fitting onto the Nitrogen regulator ( Nitrogen has a substantially higher tank pressure, and both gases are non-reactive ), so I should be pretty safe.

            The CO2 has tank pressures from about 500 to 1500 PSI, dependent on tank temperature, as the CO2 is given to me in a liquid state. ( If you want the precise pressure for a given temperature, consult thermodynamic tables for CO2 ).

            While discussing the prospect of how to get them filled, my contacts told me that all the CO2 came from the same place, Matheson [mathesongas.com], and they got it from fractionating air. Many local welding and refrigeration supply shops had contacts to swap bottles, only one place in town could actually fill a custom bottle, and that was Matheson themselves. But being I had old steel jugs, I swapped 'em. Took me a couple of trips before I discovered that the local tradesmen were using the newer Aluminum jugs. And all it took for me to upgrade was just to ask!

            So, on my next trip to the refrigeration supply shop, I swapped 'em out for aluminum ones. Much improved design... especially the handle. About the only grab point I had on the steel cylinders was by the valve assembly... and I hated using the valve as a handle.

            They cost me right at $20 for a refill/swap, and they also take care of recertifying the tank ( yes, they actually have expiration dates for pressure tests! ). So, at my rate of use, it does not make much sense for me to own my jugs. They will time out before I even get 'em banged up. It takes me about two years to use a tank of CO2. And that includes other uses I come to occasionally when I just need a little compressed air for blowing the dust out of a computer, or tire inflation.

            I do not know of any harm that comes from use of CO2 as a tire pressurant, but I have been doing so as trotting the CO2 tank out to the fill site is usually a lot easier than trotting out the air compressor with extension cords... and I already use tire fittings anyway for carbonation. Pep-Boys sell a really nice stainless steel screw type schraeder tire stem that fits neatly in the cap of a standard soda bottle.

            Well, anyway, that's the story of my cheapie soda-pop maker.

            The most expensive part by far is the fruit juice . I am particularly fond of carbonated Ocean Spray cranberry juice.

            Adding the fizz is about $10/year or so for me. Use your own imagination of what concoction you want to be fizzy.

            I have even carbonated Milk of Magnesia, but it tasted awful and had a rather unpleasant side effect of not only acting as a powerful laxative, but also filling the gut with CO2, which was quite a messy deal.

            --
            "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 2) by aclarke on Thursday December 07, @11:39AM (1 child)

          by aclarke (2049) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @11:39AM (#606767) Homepage

          A friend of mine went the large CO2 tank route and uses it to refill his Sodastream. And mine too, which is a nice bonus.

          • (Score: 1) by anubi on Friday December 08, @03:04AM

            by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @03:04AM (#607073)

            Right on! Those tiny little cartridges they sell ( at a premium price too, no less ) are the pits. On top of that, from what I could tell, the SodaStream was also quite wasteful of CO2 by design.

            From what I could tell, I could easily spend $3 making a mug of sodapop. When what I had in mind was spending less than a dime to make a mug of it...

            --
            "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by schad on Wednesday December 06, @03:08AM (2 children)

      by schad (2398) on Wednesday December 06, @03:08AM (#605967)

      Like ... craft cola for the connoisseurs? (grin!)

      They already exist. You can usually find them in places that sell craft beers. Some of them may show up in your local Whole Foods.

      Beware, though. Just as exposure to craft beers mean you can't tolerate Budweiser any more, so too will craft sodas ruin your ability to drink mainstream sodas. Your taste buds (and possibly your health) will appreciate it, but your wallet sure won't.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @03:22AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @03:22AM (#605974)

        so too will craft sodas ruin your ability to drink mainstream sodas. Your taste buds (and possibly your health) will appreciate it, but your wallet sure won't.

        Thanks for the warning, appreciated, but given I can't stand sodas (craft or mainstream), no extra impact on my wallet.

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Friday December 08, @03:55AM

        by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @03:55AM (#607085)

        Second your observation of making your own sodas.

        If I was ever to work in a restaurant, one of the first things I would be wanting to do is serve my array of carbonated fruit juices. No telling what a good chef could come up with for me to carbonate.

        I do like some of them "hardened" with a shot of schnapps, brandy, or other liqueur. Doesn't take much, but the flavor change can be quite delightful.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday December 06, @02:28AM (11 children)

    No thanks. I'll stick with making my own if it's all the same to you lot. It's easy as anything, a hell of a lot cheaper than buying it, and your guests think you have magical powers.

    Also, applejack != cider. Applejack is what you get when you freeze hard cider and either skim the ice crystals off as they form or freeze it solid and let it drain into a new container until you have a big block of ice in the original container and some strong hooch in the other. It's illegal in all fifty states and quite dangerous as every bit of the methanol and other badness that distillation would remove is still there and now concentrated. You can poison the hell out of yourself with the methanol in it before you pass out from too much ethanol. Delicious in small quantities though.

    --
    Save Ferris!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:38AM (#605959)

      It might be suitable for your lawnmower if you are in a pinch though :)

      Applejack fuel for all your non-performance vehicle needs.

      The methanol would certainly give it some kick. Any remaining sugar might lead to excess carbonization though.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @03:12AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @03:12AM (#605971)
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Arik on Wednesday December 06, @04:21AM (7 children)

      by Arik (4543) on Wednesday December 06, @04:21AM (#605984)
      Applejack's not cider, but the applejack I know is not what you describe either. It's just a quick and dirty fermented drink, made with water, apples, and sugar. You can make a lot more with the same load of apples that way.

      "Applejack is what you get when you freeze hard cider and either skim the ice crystals off as they form or freeze it solid and let it drain into a new container until you have a big block of ice in the original container and some strong hooch in the other."

      That's ice-distillation, you can do that with any alcohol. I've made some very strong beer this way, but it's not practical to produce hard alcohol, there's a fairly low limit to what it can accomplish (at least assuming the homebrewer level of equipment rather than a lab somewhere.)

      "It's illegal in all fifty states and quite dangerous as every bit of the methanol and other badness that distillation would remove is still there and now concentrated. You can poison the hell out of yourself with the methanol in it before you pass out from too much ethanol. Delicious in small quantities though."

      Horribly confused. There are naturally trace amounts of methanol in cider, yes, but they cause no problem because they are just trace amounts suspended in a much larger amount of ethanol. Ethanol is a treatment for methanol poisoning - the ethanol blocks the body from processing the methanol which then passes through the body harmlessly. This has been shown in the lab to work with up to a 50/50 mix and this is more like 100/rounding error, it's no concern at all. It's similarly no concern after distillation, either heat distillation or ice distillation, because what's being removed in each case is the water, so you're left with a very similar proportion of ethanol to methanol afterwards.
      --
      "Unix? These savages aren't even circumcised!"
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:58AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:58AM (#605990)

        Professional, licensed winemaker here.

        It's not the methanol that's the problem. Conventional fermentation of apples produces tiny amounts of methanol that nobody cares about.

        The main problem from a toxicity standpoint is fusel alcohols. Technically, what people call ice distillation or freeze distillation is actually fractional freezing (ask a chemical engineer) but the difference between intelligently done fractional distillation (not creek hooch) and fractional freezing is that fractional freezing doesn't remove the heavier fluid components. In this case, that's the problem - fusel alcohols.

        And yes, the BATFE considers fractional freezing to be a form of distillation, and home distillation is illegal, period. This doesn't mean you have to panic if your cider freezes in your shed; just let the water melt back into the brew and you're OK with the law (other things being equal).

        • (Score: 1) by anubi on Friday December 08, @04:16AM

          by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @04:16AM (#607090)

          We had to consider the same thing when making Backwater Hooch. Wet dog. Devil's piss.

          The first thing off the still was methanol. We would use it for antiseptic on the farm.

          The center cut was the good stuff. You watched your pressures ( including barometric ) and temperatures carefully to know when to start saving the good stuff.

          The last stuff out was also terrible stuff, but we would run it for yet more wound dressing and veterinary usage as a topical antibacterial. These were the heavier fusel alcohols, some called it fusel oil.

          The word I got from Grandpa and his buddies is that the mobsters of the day would come by and demand so many gallons of hooch as part of protection rackets, and the locals would be bottling really bad stuff for the moonshine runners. So many people were getting terribly sick and dying from bad 'shine. But that was an inevitable outcome from Government trying to criminalize alcohol combined with the economic incentives thus created for the bad guys to circumvent those laws. Only the farmer who made the hooch knew for sure whether the hooch was good stuff or poison. It could all come from the same still, only difference being when, in the distillation process, one recovered the product.

          The guy waving his gun in a threatening manner usually got the poison, which he sold to someone else, and no-one knew for sure where all the methanol and fusel alcohols distilled in old lead-soldered car radiators came from.

          Believe me, I do not want to drink hooch that wasn't made by family or a really trusted friend.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:33PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:33PM (#606189)

        Applejack is the correct term for hard cider that has undergone the ice process.
        Maybe in your neck of the woods they use the same term for simple hard cider, but I believe this is sloppy slang and not historical usage.
        Please see:
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applejack_(drink) [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:13PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:13PM (#606293)
          More likely some troll put their own wierd regional usage on wikipedia a few years ago and the ignorant worldwide have started following it.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @08:26PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @08:26PM (#606365)

            In places where it reliably gets cold enough outside to pull the ice distillation trick, I have never heard "applejack" refer to anything but ice distilled cider.
            But, we are talking regional usage of a word here, which can vary. If you look at the wikipedia article, it says that *historically* applejack referred to ice distilled cider, so if we have to go with which usage is "correct", I would have to say that using applejack to mean ice distilled cider is "more correct."

            • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday December 06, @10:33PM (1 child)

              by Arik (4543) on Wednesday December 06, @10:33PM (#606456)
              Nonetheless, I definitely grew up in cold weather, and 'apple jack' was used by all the old people in the sense I gave. Never heard anyone use it to refer to ice-distilling prior to the internet.
              --
              "Unix? These savages aren't even circumcised!"
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:14AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:14AM (#606557)

                Maybe the region I am familiar with (New England) is more alkie than yours. ;-)

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday December 06, @02:31AM (3 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @02:31AM (#605956) Journal

    Hard cider tastes very good going down, but it is a head-splitting hangover after drinking not very much of it. Sip a bottle as a complement to your meal, but don't drink it in volume.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @02:57AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @02:57AM (#605965) Journal

      You could say the same for wine.

      Hard Cider is not a generic product that you can pigeonhole.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @05:17AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @05:17AM (#605999)

      Maybe the problem is that you're sensitive to sulphites. Try looking for sulphite-free cider.

      Long story, they use sulphites to control yeast growth, it's an easy way of getting sweeter ciders.

    • (Score: 2) by Sourcery42 on Wednesday December 06, @03:26PM

      by Sourcery42 (6400) on Wednesday December 06, @03:26PM (#606158)

      Couldn't agree more. Anything more than one of these for me is headache in a bottle for some reason. Haven't touched the stuff since the craft craze took off, but that matches my experience with Woodchuck and Hornsby back in the day exactly.

  • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Wednesday December 06, @08:20AM (5 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @08:20AM (#606036) Homepage Journal

    I make my own beer, so I thought I'd have a go at cider. So far only the one attempt, but it was...less than successful. The problem seems to be: the fermentation destroyed the flavor - with no remaining sugar, the cider is just harsh, and not interesting to drink.

    Looking at the ingredients, many of the best ciders are actually a mix: hard cider mixed with apple juice. That's not possible for a micro-batch brewer to reproduce, because we rely on in-the-bottle fermentation to provide carbonation. I suppose you could add the apple juice when serving, but that's not ideal, since you can't keep fresh juice forever.

    Any other brewers here?

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:55AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:55AM (#606059)

      If you want sweet cider you could add maltodextrin, or some sweetener.

      or you could add perservatives to kill of the yeast, add juice and artificially carbonate that. "soda stream", dry ice in bottles, keg and tap system.

      or you could chill the bottles before the yeast have fermented the last of the sugar. keep them chilled or they might explode.

    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Wednesday December 06, @10:50AM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:50AM (#606080) Homepage Journal

      I used to brew my own wine and beer (from kits....)

      Tried making sake once from scratch: the first two bottle were GREAT. After that, it spoiled quickly. Must have not gotten something sterilised properly.

      --
      --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @03:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @03:39PM (#606163)

      The reason that you got no flavour out is that you used the wrong apples.

      Table apples have lots of sugar, a crisp structure, large amounts of flesh relative to their skin, and mild, acidic notes.

      Cider apples have a fair to high amount of sugar, but a more crumbly structure (easier to press), small flesh compared to skin (most of the flavour components are in or near the skin), and dark, bitter overtones to their flavour.

      As an amateur without access to real cider apples, try crushing crabapples. They're as close as you'll get to the real thing.

      Then ferment it thoroughly, and let it age for at least six months - a year is better.

      The difference in the experience will be like night and day.

      Source: I do this for money.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Taibhsear on Wednesday December 06, @04:09PM

      by Taibhsear (1464) on Wednesday December 06, @04:09PM (#606174)

      The problem seems to be: the fermentation destroyed the flavor - with no remaining sugar, the cider is just harsh, and not interesting to drink.

      I brew cider myself. This all depends on the yeast you use, the apple juice you use, and several other factors. If you want sweeter cider you use a less hearty yeast that can't survive past like 4-5% alcohol and add sugar or honey in so the yeast doesn't ferment all of the sugar before it all dies off. Or you kill off the yeast before all the sugar is fermented. Or you cold crash the yeast so it slows or stops fermentation before it's too dry for your taste. You can also backsweeten it, basically putting in more sugar/honey before sealing up the bottles. This can kickstart the fermentation process again though depending on your setup. Personally I like a dry cider and have had several batches still come out very flavorful. I usually use a real hearty yeast and dump in a bunch of local honey and brew until nearly flat so mine are usually around 9-11% alcohol. Most of the commercial ones out now just throw in artificial flavors and resweeten it. I can't stand the majority of those on the market because of how sweet and fake it tastes.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @10:47AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @10:47AM (#606079)

    What is "hard" cider. How does it differ from regular cider like Strongbow?

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday December 06, @11:13AM

      Hard just refers to the fact that it's an alcoholic beverage as opposed to an unfermented one. It's not an official technical term that I know of.

      --
      Save Ferris!
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @11:15AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @11:15AM (#606088)

      I think:

      UK: apple juice = US: cider
      UK: cider = US: hard cider

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:29PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:29PM (#606137)

        In the US, "apple juice" is what we call straight, unfermented juice.
        "Cider" is a bit ambiguous. It could refer to unfermented apple juice with spices or other flavorings, or it could refer to fermented apple juice.
        It is almost always the former. If it is the latter, to keep things clear, we frequently call it "hard cider."

        • (Score: 2) by aclarke on Wednesday December 06, @06:00PM (1 child)

          by aclarke (2049) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @06:00PM (#606241) Homepage

          To clarify further:

          North America:
          Cider: unfiltered, non-fermented apple juice
          Juice: filtered, clarified cider
          Hard cider: fermented juice or cider

          Those who are more into it will still call "hard cider" just "cider" in North America, but around here in Ontario at least there's a distinction between "juice" and "cider". Juice is see-through yellow, and cider is brown once the apple solids oxidize.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @08:34PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @08:34PM (#606374)

            I am the poster (living in the USA) that you replied to, and I agree with this clarification.
            In North America, apple juice is for babies and small children. Cider is for teens and adults. Sometimes *especially* so. ;-)

    • (Score: 2) by Taibhsear on Wednesday December 06, @04:14PM

      by Taibhsear (1464) on Wednesday December 06, @04:14PM (#606180)

      "Apple cider" is the liquid squeezed out of apples. Sometimes they spice it. It's typically opaque and sharp flavored.
      "Apple juice" is apple cider that has been filtered and clarified to be transparent. Much more mellow flavor.
      "Hard cider" is apple juice or apple cider that has been fermented to be alcoholic. Typically clear but can be brewed unfiltered to still be opaque.
      This is in the US. UK might have different terminology. Strongbow is definitely considered a hard cider here.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by aclarke on Wednesday December 06, @05:58PM

    by aclarke (2049) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @05:58PM (#606239) Homepage
    Last year I made my own hard cider for the first time. It was surprisingly easy, even though I'd never purposely fermented anything before. I did three different batches. For two I used champagne yeast, and for one I used bread yeast as I didn't have any champagne yeast and I was too impatient to go buy some. For two I used straight pressed cider, and for one batch I used cider mixed with pureed apples, and then siphoned the juice off after the first racking.

    For a first attempt, I think it tastes pretty good and most people agree. Hopefully I can improve next time. I started getting more scientific about it by the third batch, for instance measuring specific gravity so I knew how much sugar to add before bottling. For reference, the alcohol eats the sugar, and since it's in the bottle, the carbon dioxide given off produces the carbonation in the bottle. Not enough sugar and you don't have much carbonation. Too much sugar and the pressure in the bottle gets too great and it off-gases through the pressure-release built into the lid, or you end up with undigested sugar, making your cider sweet (which I didn't want).

    We gather our own apples every fall from our own farm and other neighbours. We take it to a local mill and have it pressed, then frozen in milk bags [wikipedia.org] and then they go in the freezer. We had a terrible apple crop this year, and I still had some hard cider left, and I was busy, so unfortunately this year I didn't make hard cider.
  • (Score: 2) by t-3 on Wednesday December 06, @09:08PM

    by t-3 (4907) on Wednesday December 06, @09:08PM (#606402) Journal

    Michigan is great for cider - we have an abundance of orchards and a lot of knowledgeable brewers. I wish there were more meaderies though, the only good local one is rather expensive (bit very good).

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