Last year was my first time making hard cider. At the time it was a spur of the moment idea I got after I read an article in Zymurgy which is the magazine that is a part of my American Homebrewer's Assoc. membership.
When I say "spur of the moment" I mean that I read the article the day I got the magazine and within a few days I had purchased the cider from one of the local apple orchards in the area. According to the pictures of this first batch that I took, I started the batch in September which really didn't give it a lot of time to age since it was to be part of the "Brewathlon Holiday 5 pack."
This year I am starting a little sooner then last year and this year is going to be a bit more experimental. The other night I stopped at the local food Co-op and purchased 6 gallons of cider. When I got to the check out counter the lady running the registrar looked at the 6 jugs of cider and without missing a beat asked, "So let me guess...you are making Hard Cider?" Apparently she too is a homebrewer and maker of Hard Cider.
So when I got back to the house I began cleaning and sanitizing my carboys...I say carboys because I am doing two 3 gallon batches (see previous post on Holiday Brew Plans). One of the things I like about cider making is that it is a very simple process...pour cider in carboy, add pectin enzyme and let sit for a few days, add yeast, then add adjunts.
Pectin Enzyme helps get rid of the cloudiness and makes a clear sparkling cider. Last year I added the pectin enzyme after I added the yeast and fermentation had already started...afterwards I read that the enzyme works best if used prior to adding the yeast because alcohol inhibits the clarification process. So this year I hope that I get a clearer result in the end due to adding the pectin enzyme (not that last years batch was not clear but we shall see if there truly is a difference
Currently the two batches are sitting down in the basement and I hope to make it to the Homebrew store this weekend to pick up the yeast. I think I am going with a hefewiezen for one and either a Belgian or Saison for the other but I am not sure. I think I will probably do some more research on the White Labs website and the Homebrew Talk Forums and see if there is some information on the use of these two strains.
Stay tuned for further updates..